Sleeping Under Your Desk

sleeping under desk

I’ve slept under my desk before.

A few times in fact. It wasn’t comfortable, but it was more comfortable than sleeping on my chair or on top of my desk (I’ve tried both.) Somehow the existence of the desk made it feel a bit safer…

At one point (at one of my startups many years ago) we bought a couch that converted into a bed. I never used it, but my partner did. Others may have as well. There was an air mattress floating around somewhere too.

Startups aren’t fair. Neither is life. It may be that entrepreneurs are so young these days (particularly in the hotbed of Silicon Valley) that they haven’t had enough life experience to appreciate that fact. They’ve got all the enthusiasm and hustle in the world (both needed in massive quantities to succeed) but not the battle scars to understand what it’ll ultimately take.

But startups don’t own the “work insane hours like mad fools” space entirely unto themselves. Have you ever met a doctor that’s on a 24 or 36-hour shift? Now that’s insane, especially since they’re job is to save people’s lives. I’ve known young lawyers who join a firm as a junior associate and work absurd amounts; consistently more, for longer periods of time, than most people in any startup. And big game companies are known for pushing their people into super intense crunch periods before their games are finished. Life is hard. Work is hard. No shit.

There are plenty of examples of people having to work hard. Perhaps too hard. There’s definitely a startup culture around working tons of hours, although you can’t measure success or output simply in hours. Most of the time there’s some level of compensation: high salaries, big bonuses, etc. Whether the compensation matches the expectations is not always obvious or true, but there’s usually something in place. In a startup, the motivation is the experience – you either want to live the experience of the roller coaster or you don’t. I completely understand if you don’t, and even those addicted to the experience question themselves from time to time when things are really bad. Compensation in startups is tricky because salaries are usually lower (certainly at the beginning) than market value. This is often compensated with equity and the dream of future riches. Most don’t get there, which is why those future riches are a difficult lever for motivation, especially when the equity doled out is so little. The earliest employees deserve a bigger piece of the pie.

There are lots of great reasons to join a startup. But there are cons too. That’s life – pros and cons – and being able to balance those to your own comfort level is important for your survival and success. I don’t see the level of complaining that Michael Arrington makes reference to, but it doesn’t surprise me. The grass is always greener on the other side right?

Whenever this discussion around work/life balance, startup culture, startup “realities”, etc. emerges I always go back to a post I wrote in July, 2007 when I was starting Standout Jobs and my second son had just been born: How to Start a Company and Family at the Same Time. It still makes me nod and smile, and although my kids are a bit older now, it’s still a crazy struggle every day to figure out the right balance between family, startup / job, myself, my wife and life. Who knows if I’ve got it right?

Joining a startup – particularly an early stage one – isn’t a simple career choice, it’s a lifestyle choice. You have to go in eyes open and not only understand what’s coming, or just appreciate what’s coming, but embrace the experience fully, and be in it because of the experience.

And every once in awhile, that’ll mean sleeping under your desk…

Man lying under desk image from Shutterstock.

November 30, 2011 Posted in Entrepreneurship by

  • Ugur Aktas

    absoulitly :D

  • WebsiteRomania com

    Very nice and helpfull article. Great jobs!

    Regards,
    Realizare Magazin Online

  • Sara Bose

    I am to a great extent impressed with the article I have just read interesting very good…Wonderful pearls of truth that apply to our time.http://go4download.com/

  • rumah dijual

    thanks this post

  • http://giffconstable.com giffc

    I like the clear-eyed tone of this post (and balancing startup and family is one of the hardest things possible)

  • http://www.instigatorblog.com Benjamin Yoskovitz

    Thanks Giff – always appreciate when you stop by!

  • Apurba Khulna

    this collection is very effective which i was looking for.

    http://www.actressgo.com

  • http://www.im3.co.uk/ SEO Sheffield

    I prefer to sleep under my desk in my cubicle at work on my lunch break. Why is my boss upset about this?

  • Ghalyawyawy
Ben Yoskovitz
I'm VP Product at Codified (makers of VarageSale).

I'm also a Founding Partner at Year One Labs, an early stage accelerator in Montreal. Previously I founded Standout Jobs (and sold it).

My bio »

or

Follow me on Twitter

Get updates and special content
When I publish new content, get it directly in your inbox. Subscribers will get special stuff as well not available on the blog (but I promise it will be infrequent + high quality.)
Get the Lean Analytics Book!
Awesome Jobs
Check out the job opportunities at my portfolio companies.
Startup & Investor Resources
Find Stuff
My Photos