Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Old, Tired and Cranky

I worked 50 6 day weeks last year, including New Year's Eve and Christmas Eve, so far in 2013 I've had one Saturday off. I was thinking about this last night while reading David Halberstram's book on Bill Belichick, "The Making of a Coach"


NFL coaches work massive hours with little or no time off. They say, the coaching staff has a soft period after the draft and free agent signing period in the spring, the rest of the year it's 7 days a week, 12-14 hours a day. They do it because they love it, they live it and it's their life. There is an anecdote in the book about Bill Walsh the revered 49's coach. Walsh was out with his wife on their anniversary, they were at a fine Bay Area restaurant, he was staring off into space and his wife said, "What is it Bill? 3rd and 8?"

I understand that mindset completely! All the years I was in radio, I was consumed by it. I took a 5 day vacation one summer to paint my house and I listened to the radio all day while I was on the ladder, I'd climb down and write a thought or a note and then get back up and paint the damned eaves. There was hell to pay when I got back to work the next week, I learned more about my station in 5 days of using it like a listener than I ever did going to endless meetings.

The problem with being consumed by your work is the rest of your life goes to hell in a hand basket, you neglect your wife, your kids, the rest of your family, that part sucked. The good part was I liked my work a lot more than my neighbors liked theirs, so I didn't sit around and bitch about my job like they did. I only had one neighbor who liked his job as much as I did, he was the starting center for the Patriots. In radio the only way to get away from your job was to drive far enough away to lose the signal and most of my career the stations I worked at had huge signals, you'd have to drive all day to get away from them and a few had night signals you could get from Massachusetts all the way to Florida. I was one of those radio guys who just couldn't shut the damn thing off. I cared, too much.

Now, I don't listen to radio at all, I don't miss it either, you know why? The people involved in it don't care anymore, about anything. I can hear it.

Radio was the original "free" medium, the original wireless medium, access was easy, in the 50's you could buy a small, pocket sized box, with an ear bud for a couple of bucks and like magic you had news, weather, sports and entertainment anywhere you went. The cost? A few commercials. When I got into FM we ran 6 minutes an hour of commercials, today it's 20. I wonder who that is good for? Certainly not the people who use the medium. I think it's only good for the people who loaned today's owners the money to buy the signals in the first place.

I love my new thing, DRIVE! Driver's Training. I like the families, I like the kids and I love it when we turn out a great young teen driver. I love it when we can help a Senior get his or her license back and get their driving squared away, it's is a small, rewarding business. Are there shit operators in this business? You bet! I know how bad they are because we end up re-training some of their students and just like in radio, they don't care.

Sometimes I look in the mirror and think, "Jesus, I'm 67 years old and I'm busting my ass all day, everyday and my face shows it." Then I think how worn out, tired and beat up I'd be if I had spent my life doing some shit I didn't care about and had to drag my self off to a job I hated.

I took some classes at Harvard Business School years ago and there was a lecture about internalizing and externalizing work. The happiest people find a job they can internalize. So I may bitch about the hours from time to time or be whiny about how tired I am at 11 at night. In retrospect I think I've been fortunate to have spent most of my life doing something I really liked and enjoyed doing. Even if I did have to spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with an incredible number of genuine assholes.

There is an episode in the book about Belichick's first meeting with the Giant's defensive players after Bill Parcells hired him to be the Defensive Coordinator. Belichick was standing at the podium,  when he started the meeting the players were screwing around talking and laughing. The ignored him completely. Belichick pounded on the podium and said, "You fuckers were 5 and 11 last year, so if you don't think you have anything to learn, get the fuck out, now!" They shut up and won the Super two seasons later.

I have been in that meeting so many times in my management life, you wouldn't believe it, if I gave you a list!


  1. Interesting post, Bob. I just can't figure out why you're still working at 67.

  2. What would I do all day while my wife pursues her career? Oh and the money is nice, too.

  3. I remember those little transistor radios. When I was a kid I would go sailing in the Beatle Cat in Buzzards Bay with a radio laying on the floor boards. I would listen to Salty Brine playing Elvis and other rock songs. Whatever happened to Salty Brine & WPRO?

  4. Bobby, We were lucky because we got into Radio in the golden era right between Elvis and the Beatles. We had jobs where we actually looked forward to Mondays that was the good news. The bad news was we were having so much fun our lives flew by. When I look in the mirror now I wonder who the hell is that!