in Business

Working for the city is a safe job

On Saturday morning I packed up my camera and went to a little open house a friend of mine was throwing. It was a great time and of course I got to take pictures with my flash. There were a bunch of new people there that I had never met, and one guy in particular caught my attention.

After asking the two key questions people ask (where do you live and how do you know so and so) someone asked what he did for a living. He said he worked for the city. Then he commented that it was the safest job in the world and said that he would probably have to murder someone in order to get fired.

Maybe it’s time that our cities adopt the GE management idea and regularily trim the bottom 10% from their workforce.

One of the first things I thought about was the idea that “safe” means different things to different people. To this guy, safe means a steady paycheck and benefits. And I suppose he won’t have to dust off his resume too often.

To me, a safe job means that I’m in control of how much money I can make. That doesn’t always mean I get to pick when I work, but ultimately I am in charge.

So this got me thinking. Is there a way to combine both of these worlds. I think that profit sharing plans are a start, however I like some of the things that Semco does in Brasil. They basically put people in charge of their salary along with the ability to hire and fire their managers. Since their co workers can also vote to remove someone, there’s a lot of incentive to be fair.

I know that not everybody is in a position to introduce plans and systems like this, but I think it’s wise to consider and aim towards that goal. The trick always comes down to whether the people on your team have an owners mentality.

What’s the point of this post? Well, I just read a fun article called 10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job. I have been approaching my business with this model recently. Building up an all-service business is hard because you have to spend time in order to earn money. That’s why I’m slowly moving into ideas that earn residual income. It’s not easy but everything has much greater potential.

And that’s really what it’s all about.

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  1. I sent that article to a few people that I know that work too hard. My thoughts on the matter is that

    A) You should only do a job that you like. There is no reason to work 20 years at a job you hate for a good retirement. Instead work 35 years at a job you love and retire later. If working is your thing that is

    2) Safety is an illusion. There are always times of vulnerability whether in health, wealth, or leisure. You never know whats going to happen so why try so hard to protect yourself from the unknown. A secure job could go completely dissapear (Enron), you could find out you have cancer or some horrible disease, or…your plane could crash.

    There is a good book called The Right to Useful Unemployment My wife is all about it.

  2. But really Chris, working for the governement at a city or county, or even federal level is a sweet gig, if you can get it. At some places, you’re retirement income can be nearly as much as your regular salary. Plus, depending on where and what you do, you have the freedom to pursue your residual income dreams because there is no issue of ownership or non-competes or anything like that.

  3. Yeah, I thought about that. It just depends on how you define safe. There’s always a point in your life where safe is what you want. I guess what it comes down to is everybody is different.

  4. Austin has a great point.

    I can understand why some people choose to work for safety reasons (eg mouths to feed). However, safety is often an illusion. Who’s can predict the future? Anything could happen at any time.

    I think doing something you love doing is really important. We’ve only got one shot at this thing called Life. If life is but a collection of our experiences, thoughts and feelings, I’d like to spend that time wisely working on things that I’m deeply passionate about.

    I also think that if we do what we love and admire, we’re more likely to become good at it. In a way, that could be aa safer way to approach things. No?

    Have a look at some of the posts on my site. In particular:

    http://www.davecheong.com/2006/07/28/are-you-a-happy-employee/

    http://www.davecheong.com/2006/06/18/our-limitations-are-self-imposed/

    http://www.davecheong.com/2006/06/11/do-something-you-love-doing-and-admire/

    dave