The first time I worked at a start-up, I was confused. I came in that first Saturday to the office to work, and no one was there.
Right before that first start-up job, I had been a young “grunt” in a services business before that for 22 months. I worked in the office constantly. That’s the way this services business was. We billed hourly in high stress, high paying situations. So it was working in the office from early morning to late nights all week long, then half of Saturday, and a chunk of Sunday. I took 2 vacations, but was called back from both early to get back to work. So really I never got a vacation.
I couldn’t believe I was “working harder” than my bosses when I came in that first Saturday morning at the start-up and they weren’t there.
I didn’t get it, though. First, they likely were setting a good example by not creating pressure to work on Saturdays. But second, I didn’t realize then that most CEOs and founders are always “on” and thinking about work. At least, they are almost always thinking about their companies, how to fix things, do better, create new ideas, recruit great new managers, etc.
Later, I became a CEO myself. I had different cadences. The first time, I was usually the last to leave the office, but never much past 7pm. The second time, I was usually the first in, but usually left the office by 6pm. And I took my vacations always.
But I never stopped thinking about work, like it or not. It’s with you always. It’s what makes being a founder so stimulating, and so challenging.