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Don’t Be Fooled By Long Hours & Qualifications

Date - 20 November 2016/ Category - Be A Conductor
be a conductor

What now… did I just tell you not to work hard?


What I said was don’t be the person that stays late, that doesn’t mean that you should work hard! It’s a common misconception that working hard means working long hours; it doesn’t.

In a similar vein it’s also commonly felt that qualifications signal capability, they don’t!

Working long hours and being highly qualified are two of the main ways people get classed as a) working hard and b) being an expert but they mean very little to a true entrepreneur because we know better.

What working hard really means is that in 5 minutes you can achieve what a normal person would achieve in an hour. What being qualified really means is that you can do exactly what you say you can, not just what a piece of paper says you can.

Have you ever noticed that the person that stays late all the time is usually the guy you think is really bad? Same thing.

People think that staying late shows that they are doing well when in fact if you step back to think about it, the consistent (not the people that do it to meet deadlines once in a while) offenders of long working hours the very people who you don’t think are are very efficient at their job.

As an entrepreneur your entire life is not your work. I know TV says that it should be but it’s not. Ok you’re like me, you think about work all the time, but I have a daughter and a family and those things matter.

If you concentrate on being really good at managing your time so that you achieve the maximum output 9-5, then you shouldn’t have to stay late.

I tend to find I produce about twice the amount of work as my nearest employee. That’s pretty impressive. It means I can leave at 5pm and know that I did enough; there is always another day.
Going home at 5pm means a lot when you have a family. It means you can see them on weeknights, and it stops burnout.

Burnout is very bad for entrepreneurs because you get a type of mental block that stops you being creative and you end up not being able to see the light through the trees.

As an entrepreneur you need to keep spotting opportunities and problems and solving them, so if you are staying past 5pm and you are still outputting more than twice the work of someone you’d hire, you really have to stop and think “is there enough money in my idea”. If there is then hire someone.
Qualifications though are slightly different. Anyone can stay late to make it look like they are working hard but not everyone is qualified.

Let me state then from the outset that I am a school of life type of guy. Ok, there are some professions like being a doctor or engineer that really do require you to get qualification but here’s the thing; often these qualifications are just the foundations for the school of life stuff that comes after.

Most people call that school of life stuff experience, but I call it wisdom and I will give you an example why.

My partner recently employed a new accountant. This guy had 10 years’ experience, 3 years as a fully qualified accountant, and had been an audit manager for KPMG, while most recently working for a big bank.

Wow this guy is qualified (he also loves to work late), but guess what. He’s about as much use as a chocolate tea towel.

You see despite the fact that he had covered the basics foundations of accounting in an exam, he did what we all did after our GCSE’s, forgot it.

That’s right, accountants are just like you and me. They take exams and then they dump information. Can you remember anything from the exams you sat in school? No, so why would he?

What that piece of paper did do for him though was give him the right to be an accountant and do accountant things day in day out for KPMG and a big bank. The problem is that KPMG and the big bank aren’t the real world. They don’t do payments or accruals like little businesses do, they don’t have cash flow issues or efficiencies to make in order to just break even.

What you get then is 10 years of experience that never gave him the opportunity to gain any wisdom that would make him useful. An unqualified book keeper would have been a better hire.

Yet despite this, something which seems obvious above, is wholly forgotten by the mainstream.

People would rather employ a hugely qualified IT director that outsourced the construction of their infrastructure to a consultant than a poorly qualified one that built their companies from scratch.
But there is a silver lining to this tale. You see what this means is that the wrong people are being recruited all the time.

Not only are there people who don’t get the job they deserve because the recruiter is looking at their qualifications and not their capability, but your competitor is stuffed full of people who aren’t good enough!

This means that your team of misfits is in with a good chance of not only beating them but keeping ahead of them again and again.

Chapter Summary:

• Value output over hours worked
• Some people are more efficient than others
• Others stay late to give the impression they are valuable to the company
• Having experience doesn’t guarantee knowledge

Read our next blog post “The many forms of intelligence”.