Hedge fund manager to world at large: Don't work so hard


How much would it take for you to quit your job and just "enjoy life"? For Andrew Lahde, hedge fund manager extraordinaire, it was somewhere in the "eight figures" but still "small" compared to the aspiration of his financially-high-flying compatriots. But his message speaks to everyone (even me, whose fortune runs to three figures ... at least for today).

After having amassed amazing returns in his one-year-old hedge fund, Lahde abruptly quit and handed the fund to a partner to liquidate and return to his investors. In a goodbye letter, Lahde wrote, "I will let others try to amass nine, ten or eleven figure net worths. Meanwhile, their lives suck. Appointments back to back, booked solid for the next three months, they look forward to their two week vacation in January during which they will likely be glued to their Blackberries or other such devices. What is the point? They will all be forgotten in fifty years anyway. Steve Balmer, Steven Cohen, and Larry Ellison will all be forgotten. I do not understand the legacy thing. Nearly everyone will be forgotten. Give up on leaving your mark. Throw the Blackberry away and enjoy life."

While you and I aren't working toward nine-figure fortunes, it's likely your life is something like this. How much time do you spend on your work? Is it too much? Do you spend the whole of your vacation tied to your smartphone? Are you neglecting your family and your health in order to make your boss or your shareholders happy, or to create some sort of business "legacy"? I took a look at myself over the past few months and had to think: who am I doing this for?

I, too, stopped working so hard, trading a full-time job for a smattering of freelance work I can do during preschool and after my kids go to bed. I probably won't be enjoying life Lahde style, but I think his advice is worth reading and resonates deeply with me. What do you think of it?