In Search of the Holy Grail of Work

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When looking for work, there are a lot of things you have to consider to end up in a place that you’ll be happy. Are you passionate about the problem the company is trying to solve? Will it be personally developing for you? Would you be working with great people that would contribute positively to your life?

Another large factor to take into account is “How much BS will I have to deal with”. While I have not come to any really satisfactory definition of BS, it includes things like whether I have will have the freedom to make decisions that affect my work (like choice of technology). Seth Godin recently published a blog post talking about the difference between doing a job and doing work. In general I tend to say that most things that fall in the “job” category is BS, although that is not entirely true and a job will always include things other than the work. Like Seth is saying, there needs to be a balance.

To try to illustrate my own (opinionated) thought process when thinking about workplaces, I created the following Venn diagram. It’s a bit cluttered, and the categories are overly generalised, but I still think it’s an illustrative example.

In this diagram “Unknown” means I can’t think of any good example companies or industries that would fit in this section. Personally I would accept a job in almost any intersection of this diagram as long as it met a few basic criteria, like being able to put food on the table and working with great people. People are intentionally omitted from the diagram because great people is a fundamental requirement to having a happy workplace.

How do you think about workplaces and workplace happiness? Can you think of examples for Rank 1, 2 or 3 workplaces that fit with the diagram above? I would love to hear them!