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Careers: A Tale of Two Self-Optimization Experts

In the burgeoning marketplace of self-optimization gurus no one is hotter than the ubiquitous Tim Ferris. For someone who purports to only work four hours a week, he apparently classifies the other 36 hours of self-promotion as rest and relaxation.

In the burgeoning marketplace of self-optimization gurus no one is hotter than the ubiquitous Tim Ferris. For someone who purports to only work four hours a week, he apparently classifies the other 36 hours of self-promotion as rest and relaxation.

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I was skeptical, but on the advice of a respected comrade I tuned into a video presentation by Mr. Ferris that was taped at Google headquarters. While he dominated the hour long appearance with fellow author Marci Alboher he talked sensibly about time optimization and outsourcing unsavory parts of your life.

Granted, you have to be willing to see beyond Ferris’ bluster; he asserts that languages can be learned in a couple of months, kickboxing championships won with half a year’s training. I could go on about him, but there is an exploding field of Ferris literature available to you with a Google search.

On the other end of the spectrum, meet Rich Moran, like Ferris a renaissance man – venture capitalist (Venrock), author & wine maker – who last year released his sixth book, Nuts, Bolts & Jolts. A close observer of startups, management (he’s on lots of boards) and the Silicon Valley scene, Moran favors work/life balance but is clearly more conventional than the younger Ferris.

I can’t say that I buy into everything Moran recommends, such as this: “Wear nose rings only if you work for MTV, a messenger service, or yourself.” Were you on the fence about that, too? (Actually, I would defend nose rings in the workplace, although mine stands out enough as it is.)

Despite our difference about piercings, Moran is wise and not afraid to pull punches. In our recent conversation, Moran explained to me that “A career is a continuum. I still stay in touch with people because after a while that’s all that matters. At the end you’re going to be looking at relationships and community more than travel and pay.”

Moran also believes in the power of social networks to advance your career. “The larger your literal or virtual rolodex the better your life will be,” he told me. “People ask me what I do for a living and I tell them I collect people. Social networking is a totally efficient way. Relative to sales, job leads, a community around wines – it’s so efficient.”

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A sampling of the career wit & wisdom of Mr. Moran:

  • Career planning is an oxymoron; the most exciting opportunities tend to be unplanned.
  • Manage the paradox of being 100% committed to what you are doing while keeping an eye open for other opportunities.
  • Always get a title and sufficient money going into a company; promises about future potential are always overstated.
  • Have lunch once a month with someone outside the company who someday might hire you.
  • Understand the core of the business and bond with it. Don’t take a job at Electronic Arts if you hate video games.
  • When you hear words like restructuring, de-layering, and/or rightsizing, get your resume together.
  • If you even think you’re vulnerable, you should probably find another job.

Ferris is trendier, but if I were self-optimizing for a career, Moran might be the better way to go.

Rusty Weston, My Global Career • San Francisco, Ca • http://www.myglobalcareer.com/