A Little Ludwig Goes a Long Way

A smattering of opinions on technology, books, business, and culture. Now in its 4th technology iteration.

How important is your job to your company?

17 January 2022

Dare Obasanjo has a nice post with a simple framework for evaluating job alternatives.

It led me to reflect on my own job selection logic. When I started my career back in the 80s, I was working in the Midwest, and it was a time of industrial restructuring and downsizing. Layoffs were unfortunately common. A very smart colleague at Booz-Allen, Bert Jones (who I have lost contact with), shared these simple ideas with me.

If you want to avoid layoffs, you should

  • work in the most important business (or businesses) to the company. This means learning to read company financials and really understanding where revenues, margins, and growth comes from.
  • and in that business, have a job either making things or selling things. Every other job is subject to downsizing. But if you are making or selling the most important things to the company, you are pretty safe.

These points were useful more generally throughout my career. Even when I was at Microsoft during a period of heady growth, and layoffs were not a threat, these factors impacted directly how much support I received – the closer I was to the core Windows (or Office) businesses, the more support I received, and the more opportunities I had to have an impact.

Of course, this also put me closer to the maelstrom, with greater focus on my performance, and that is not always the right fit, but I enjoyed it at the time.