Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I work for a prestigious local company. Last year I was promoted to
vice-president and expect to be made president within three years.
The company founder treats me like a son. He has given me a great
deal of responsibility. Translation: he delegates all the tough
managerial problems to me. But I’m good at it, like it, and am well
respected. I can see a great career with this firm. The problem: I was
offered a fascinating new job, contingent on the victory in the election
of a man whom I respect and admire. It’s a chance to do public service
that I have longed to do, and to possibly help policy for many poor
people my state. I have a loving marriage and two kids who want to
see more of me not less. How can I decide between them, assuming
my guy wins?
Dilemma of Riches
As a chronic maximizer, I always look for answers that say both, not
either or. Will the public sector job will give you more time with your
family or less? I assume it will pay less, but not all paychecks come in
money. In this case, the warm fuzzies and social benefit from public
service may balance out the dollars from your corporate duties. So
think long run as well as short. What to do: First, ask your family if
they’ll support a stint in government. See if they’ll buy making a
contribution to the poor in sharing more of you.
Then wait out the election. No point whistle blowing on yourself at
work if your guy loses. If he wins, talk to your mentor asap. Tell him
you’ve been made an offer you don’t want to refuse. Ask for his help in
crafting a “loaned executive” strategy. Point out this may end up
benefiting the company later, in ways you cannot predict. He won’t be
enthused, but will give in eventually if you sell it right. Punch line:
you’re taking on two jobs, or at least one and a half. Negotiate the
right to be a part-timer, ”of counsel,” to your firm, while you work with
the government for two years. If you like public service enough, you may quit corporate life later. Don’t worry; there’ll be others on the
corporate ladder snapping at your tushy, eager to take your place.
Most importantly, craft non-negotiable family time. Dreams like this
get a chance to be fulfilled too rarely, and too few fine folks are able to
serve, so I say go for it.