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Ideas. Insights. Inspiration.

The Best Work Advice

The best work advice I ever received was that I should work less.

Anny hired me at Starbucks back in 2004, and she was an incredible manager. Brilliant, but humble. Personable and well-liked. Results-driven. Tough, but fair. She had a great sense of humour. And she truly cared about people.

I used to work a lot of hours back in my Starbucks days. I was young and single, very career-focused, and fueled by a LOT of free coffee. I didn't really have any outside hobbies anyway, so I figured, "Hey, why not work?"

Anny used to see how much I worked, and would often look me in the eyes, smile, and say in her heavy Quebecois accent, "David... get a girlfriend." (Did I mention Anny wasn't exactly politically-correct? It was part of her immense charm.)

Working at Starbucks was great... but it wasn't always great. And back then, work was all I had. When things at work were good, my life was amazing. And when things at work weren't so good, I was absolutely, positively miserable.

One day during a one-to-one meeting, Anny commented that I had been looking particularly unhappy lately, and asked me what was wrong. And so I told her: I was increasingly frustrated with the company for not acknowledging and rewarding all my hard work with a promotion.

She stopped me at that point, looked me in the eye, and bluntly asked a question you wouldn't expect to hear from your manager: "David, do you think working all of these hours is going to get you promoted?"

I remember looking at her, confused. Um... yes, that's exactly what I thought.

No, she went on to tell me, "Nobody cares how much you work."

Her point was that people did their best work when they were calm, focused, motivated, and happy... and by putting ev