This CEO Thinks Recent Grads Don't Need Work-Life Balance

Backupify CEO Rob May has some advice for folks just starting out in their careers: forget about work-life balance. To get ahead while you're young, he says, you have be prepared to take jobs you don't like, work harder than everyone else, and essentially leave having a life for later on.

working late 

(Photo Credit: Matt From London/Flickr)

"There's a lot of talk about work/life balance today, but now's not the time to think that way," he writes in Business Insider. "You're most likely single and childless. You won't be forever. Want to ensure you have a big experience gap over your peers? Screw the 40 hour work week and spend as much time as it takes to be the best you can possibly be. The rewards in the future will be worth the sacrifices you're making now."

A hard pill for workers of any age to swallow. But is he right?

Let's look at his points:

1. "Studies have shown that passion comes from mastery, not mastery from passion."

Hate your first job after graduation? Don't despair. May points out that loving your job can -- and perhaps should -- come after you develop skills and build your career. While that might not be what workers of any age want to hear, it's also a useful counterpoint to the cultural assumption that you should always Do What You Love.

Likewise, his admonition to do work that others find boring or difficult is good advice for those who want to earn bank later in life. STEM jobs are generally high-earning, high-demand occupations, but all require an investment in mastering skills and powering through occasionally repetitive tasks.

2. "Set the ground work for future excellence."

May tells young workers to skip TV, nights out drinking, and all the other time-wasters that keep them from investing in their careers. Here, we might quibble with his dedication (although he at least points out that not everyone needs to become CEO of their own company in order to be happy). Focus is important, but so is taking breaks. Burn the midnight oil every night, and you're liable to burn yourself out as well. Plus, some of those happy hours can actually add up to good networking opportunities, provided you don't overindulge.

3. "Now's not the time to think that way."

Even if we're not as single-minded as May, we spend the bulk of our waking hours at work, so it makes sense to invest in our jobs, in the hopes that our long-term careers will be satisfying. But just because someone is single, childless, and young, doesn't mean that they don't deserve a life.

Go ahead and give your career your all. Just remember that if you don't take the time to develop your life outside of work, you could wind up missing out on everything that life has to offer. Also, with most workers toiling at several different careers over the course of their lifetimes, you never know when your hobby could evolve into the job you were always meant to have.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you think work-life balance is only for workers with established careers? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


  1. 4 Jersey Guy 01 Jan
    This is one view of career progression and performance. While I agree that you need to work hard, take on challenging assignments, be willing to work on tedious tasks, and show your management team you are committed to doing what it takes. However I DO NOT condone 70-80 hour workweeks. This is nonsense. What is important is productivity, taking on challenging assignments and following through. There are a lot of idiots that work ling hours and get nothing accomplished. Lastly you need to put some time aside for your own personal development
  2. 3 Victoria Driver 11 Sep
    I think his philosophy is probably sound especially his points about willingly doing some boring tasks as part of the job. I do not believe in clock watching or making and receiving multiple personal calls or texts during working hours. While everyone should be prepared to work some overtime on occasion (with or witihout pay) it is also true that work "expands" to fill up available hours. However working extra hours on a daily or frequent basis in order to get the work done means there is not enough staff. So either the worker is in a manner of speaking concealing that fact, allowing management to ignore it and/or advantage is being taken of his/her willingness to carry an extra workload. Vicky Driver Career Practitioner and former workaholic
  3. 2 Allyson Gardner 26 Aug
    Interesting article. I recently discovered Business Messenger to help keep the balance. or at App store. Lets me keep my work and personal texts separate. Now I'm in search of other apps to help too.
  4. 1 Gordon 03 Aug
    I think this is quite non-sense. Working longer hours doesn't get you farther in career. If you have one year of experience doing X, I see it as one year no matter it's one year with 40 hours per week or 60 hours per week. Screw the CEO trying to cut costs by telling college grads to work longer hours for free.


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