Jul 18

That is just Corporate LifeThe modern working climate is unforgiving. In its never-ending strive for higher productivity and efficiency, employees are a mere cost factor in a firm’s calculation.

A cost factor, that constantly has to be optimized, downsized and monitored for return on investment; restructured and adjusted to fit the firm’s strategies and policies.

What happened to the human factor? To Work-Life-Balance?

Come on – don’t kid yourself! If you don’t watch out for that, nobody else will.

Here is the latest fairy tale from the corporate world, which might just prove that point:

Todays Perfect Corporate World

When I was still working for one of the largest European IT firms, we had 1 complete structural overhaul at least every 12 months.

Sometimes 2.

This resulted in higher workloads, countless new projects, longer working hours, endless meetings and video conferences, stressed and frustrated employees, backstabbers galore, colleagues unwilling to cooperate in your projects, change of working location, increasing amounts of overnight or multiday business trips, 24/7 availability via mobile phone, intranet and work groups.

Panda Eyes, a common manifestation in todays corporate lifestyleYou will get permanent black ‘Panda Eyes’ after a while. (Yes, they even have a word for it). But you keep going; after all – the next Starbucks infusion is just a block away, right!

Life is hard, isn’t it?

Hey guess what, my previous company wasn’t a bad employer or any exception to the rule.

Unfortunately this is the norm now in most modern companies these days. Thinking from quarter to quarter, ever-increasing velocity and introduction of new product and service cycles, stipulating new and old customer demands and the relentless competition nowadays force just about any company on the planet to adapt with the speed of light or be gone in a few months or years.

I’ve seen enough

The CEO of my 100.000+ employee company died of a stroke at the age of 46 – ironically during his first holiday after 2 years with the company.

My direct superior in my last years with the firm died of a heart attack in his early 40’s, while he was jogging through Berlin. He was responsible for the Asia region, with some of our strategic customers  having their headquarters in Americas and our own HQ in Germany. Traveling on 3 continents surely is exhausting!

Yet another Top Manager I knew personally, died at the age of 42 when running a triathlon in Singapore in his free time.

Is that normal?

All of them were bright minds, young and smart people, high earners, married, sporty, in the prime of their lives. They all left wives and children or older relatives behind. Those incidents I witnessed during my own corporate life – they were life-changing for me.

Corporate LifeBelieve me, I had a reason, why I wanted to leave the corporate life behind after being in it just 14 years, at the age of 34.  I was burned out already and sick of all the office politics played in front of me or behind someone else’s back. Nobody was spared. It affected my health, my mood, my happiness, my capacity to lead a fulfilling and rewarding lifestyle.

The annual longer vacation was at the end merely enough to recharge my batteries by half.

The money they pay you is really just damages or reimbursement for the physical and psychological suffering over the years.

With sadness I noticed today the Facebook update of a former colleague, who is just a few years older than me. He had a longer abstinence from Facebook, but today he wrote the following:

Brain Aneurism resulted in stroke and loss of sight on left eye. Surgery on brain on 18th May. 12th July eye surgery to remove blood clot. Functional capacity of limbs gained with slight weakness of left foot. Eye is better and should be normal in 2-3 weeks.

Back to office in August.

Thank you for the support and prayers over the last 3 months which were the darkest moments in my life.

1 hour ago

This comes from a Top Dog in the firm and his industry. He is a former Air Force Pilot of his country, still flies smaller planes in his private life – you definitely have to have an exceptional health to fly Jet Fighters. This aside – he is one of the smartest people I know.

Aren't we all DilbertHe is married with kids, sporty as hell – he skydives with parachutes – he doesn’t wear his nickname ‘Iron Man’ for nothing.

Now, I’m no doctor or benefitted with any special knowledge about health, genes or similar. But I ask you, how come that someone’s health can deteriorate that much in a short period of time, not even a decade, in the middle of your life – when you should be at your strongest? And why does it seem to affect more and more young people in their work lives?

Of course, other factors or family predispositions might play their roles as well.

But I bet my grandfather on it that the corporate world has something to do with it.

(By the way, my grandfather – may he rest in peace – died at the age of 85, after a long and hard-working life, smoked like a train for the most part of his life, having seen 2 World Wars, having lost limbs and a heart pacemaker implanted for the last 20 years).

So, what can YOU do, to not end like a corporate slave? Or do you want to be a candle, burning on both ends at the same time?

Corporate SlaveLife is still beautiful, but you have to plan ahead, if you want to enjoy the fruits of the modern day slavery you subscribed to for now.

To retire early, you can’t just work from pay check to pay check, hoping ‘everything’s gonna be alright’. You are not Bob Marley, mate!

Tyler Durden says: ‘Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.’

‘Back to office in August’? And after that ordeal? Man, it makes me sooo sad to hear that! Sad smile

And YOU, my dear reader?

If you want to retire earlier than what your government is telling you, you better start to change your life.

Right. Now.

Dilbert - The Disaster Recovery Plan for our LifeGo ask yourself some questions. How little money do you need to retire? Do you really need that huge house for yourself and your family? Are you constantly doing the same mistakes over and over again, which keep you from achieving your goals?

Now start to change things. The cheese has moved already long time ago. But you need to move also. Check your expenses, savings and income streams and build new ones. Eliminate your debt.

Plan and execute, because ‘there is no spoon, Neo’!

Let me close this post with another quote of my soul brother:

You’re not your job. 
You’re not how much money you have in the bank. 
You’re not the car you drive. 
You’re not the contents of your wallet. 
You’re not your fucking khakis. 
You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.

Now go, make the best out of it! Your life is what you make it. Winking smile


If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

or save article to your Facebook with 1 simple click:


written by Chris

29 Responses to “It’s A Cruel Cruel (Corporate) World…”

  1. dodong floresNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Nice write up, Chris. What you write here is really true. I’m experiencing it myself. I lost a lot of privileges in life due to work. I haven’t had blogged, had not watched DVD for a long time, missed a lot of cycling adventure, etc.
    The work is time consuming. Yet, it is not time for me to retire. I haven’t had any savings yet. My wife and I both work to feed the family **sigh**

    …and I wonder how long will I live if work pressure is there everyday ;)

  2. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Dodong, yeah it’s not an easy feat, doing what’s best and what’s necessary for yourself and your family. But luckily, not everyone suffers the same as described above. If you are a workaholic, it be might even counter-productive to take you off your favorite drug. In that regard everyone has to walk ones own way and find out what suits best.


  3. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    By the way: actually I promised a couple of weeks ago a review article about a new technological infrastructure available here in Bali. Unfortunately the responsible company is way behind their schedule (how fitting!) and delayed the rollout until Q4/2011. I also didn’t get access to the test equipment yet. Therefore it might be another couple of weeks/months before I can write that article. This is Indonesia. ;;)

  4. PavelNo Gravatar CZECH REPUBLIC Says:

    Hi Chris, I read your blog and it makes me happy. How I found it? I was looking for some information about Bali. Why? Because this weekend I am starting with my first “retirement” :) Together with my friend we are moving to Bali for few months and we will see what to do then. See you in Bali :)

  5. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Pavel, congrats on your decision to give Bali a try! I’m sure you won’t regret it. Drop me a note when you reach here and maybe we can catch up for a few cold ones. ;)

  6. PavelNo Gravatar CZECH REPUBLIC Says:

    Cool, ok :)

  7. LisNo Gravatar NEW ZEALAND Says:

    That’s so bloody sad – it struck a chord with me – my partner has high blood pressure – and had angina last year. He went to the Dr this week to get a letter for travel insurance – we are going to Thailand in August – the Dr was like BP too high you better not travel – WTF – how about not telling him to go back to work – that’s what’s causing the stress – not travel!
    In some ways its probably the wake up call he needs – to lose the job – not the travel

  8. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Lis, yeah…sometimes the western school medicine is running backwards into the woods. They seem to have lost the connection between cause and symptoms. But at least you can see through it and act accordingly. ;;)

  9. Jared SeahNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Hello Chris,

    I am with you!

    5.5 months to go.

    31 Dec 2011 will be my last day in the corporate world. Will start life anew at 44 for play!

  10. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Hey Jared Seah, congrats to you! That sounds like a good time to start anew! :D

  11. Herb SeidersNo Gravatar ROMANIA Says:

    Mr. Bob Marley is definitely fantastic, similar to an important God to many of people. Liberty of concept and enjoyment is actually precisely what Bobs identify reminds me of, gives thanks regarding the fantastic piece of writing.

  12. tempo duluNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    I share your sentiments to a certain extent, Chris, but just imagine how worse it is to be uneducated and unqualified in a third world country, working for 10$ or less a day in a factory, and being barely able to feed and clothe yourself and your family? We are the lucky ones.

  13. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    tempo dulu, yeah that’s 100% right, although we are not born with a silver spoon in our mouth, it’s a 1.000 times easier for a person born in the west into a certain standard of living to achieve financial independence. But strangely, 95% of the people in the west don’t see that or appreciate that freedom. It is like they are wearing horse blinkers and keep walking forward into a one-way road until reaching the brick wall, then what?

  14. John DNo Gravatar not found Says:

    Great post, I think I read a study about how the earlier you retire the significantly longer your expected lifespan. I think that’s why so many people love the internet though, you work for yourself.

  15. BobNo Gravatar NETHERLANDS Says:

    That’s some scary stuff but I don’t think every job is that stressful. Still, it’s probably best to retire early, just to be on the save side :)

  16. CoffeeloverNo Gravatar FRANCE Says:

    I like the quote of your soul brother.

    I know a few folks in a corporate world, who are happy with what they are doing. They do get stress yes, but not something they won’t be able to handle. “Some” people are gifted with stress and pressure management. I envy them. lol.

    I’m sure there are signs as to when you should start to pack up and leave for good. We just have to be aware of these signs. Plus don’t retire early if you are not prepared, you will get just as much troubles, maybe worse. lol.

  17. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Yeah, the only problem is, even though we see those signs, it’s not that easy to act accordingly. Especially if you have a family, children or relatives to be taken care of. Preparation and thinking/planning ahead help a lot for sure! ;-)

  18. Patrick PereiraNo Gravatar MALAYSIA Says:

    I am one of the lucky ones you mentioned above and still living an almost normal life after 3 months of suffering from a stroke due to Brain Aneurism. Lost functionality on left side of body but pushed really hard to get most functionality back. It’s hard to warn people as I’ve been there before. We always believe it happens to someone else never us. Anyway, lead a healthy life, make sure you have good insurance coverage before you get older, drinks enough water, and bloody stay away from office stress. :D

  19. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Patrick, you are right to the point, Iron Man! Thanks for not being mad that I took a page from your book of life to write that little article here, but it really rang a bell for me and made me feel sad, that mainly the best of us have to suffer for all the effort and determination we put into it.

    But like you said, as long as we listen to the warning signs and try to lead a healthy and balanced lifestyle, we should still be on the safe side, even though it’s sometimes hard to do. But we are human beings, we would need the challenge anyway to live a fulfilling life and as long as we get out of it, what we strive for, then it was all worth the Sysiphus effort.

    Good luck to you brother and may you reach your goals and fulfill those wishes! ;-)

  20. davidNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    Can we sue the company for all the “hidden stress”. It was not in the JD when we accepted the job :))

  21. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Good luck with that, david! If they’ll put everything we know now into the Job Description, this document could probably compete with the Bible in thickness or a NYC telephone book in readability. ;-)

  22. IraNo Gravatar SWITZERLAND Says:

    Hi Chris,
    Love your blog! I’m an Indonesian who’s graduated from Germany and working in Switzerland. I’m on of the 200 millions people who hit the jackpot :-)
    In your corporate pictures above, I would be at the department level. OK salary, OK work-life balance…well, a little bit towards work but still bearable. However, I strangely feel like living on the outer shell of great life style egg with no yolk inside. We (38y,married + 2 children) are thinking to quit this life and go back home next year. Analyzing the minimum money you need to have a standard living in Indonesia, I am surprised that with our still very little pension money (Swiss standard) we could live OK although still need to work a bit in Indonesia to support internet, iPhone and holiday life-style :-) The problem is, every Indonesian and German we know thinks we are nuts to go back to the third world after having this alpine paradise. To the degree that I think we ARE really that stupid. So, your blog is really inspiring and thank you for sharing your experience here. If this bule can live in this third world, why can’t we? After all, we have all our love ones there :-)

  23. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Hi Ira, haha – I know how you feel! Been there before. Of course you are nuts! But: they are more nuts than you, they just can’t see it. Indonesia and especially Bali are not really 3rd world anymore, you can get and do anything you want here, with all modern amenities.

    Many locals and bule live here happily together and it’s definitely much better, more convenient, better weather and a slower pace of life than back in Europe.

    If you think, you want it and can afford that lifestyle already, why not give it a try? Plan a 1-year sabbatical with your employer and see how it goes. I think you will never return to Europe, or only to visit friends or relatives. ;;)

  24. IraNo Gravatar SWITZERLAND Says:

    Hi Chris,
    It’s too late for a sabbatical….we’ve decided to go home end of 2012 already :D One more year hard work and saving could help a lot for the children’s education and family health care insurance plan. We feel less guilty now to throw away these privileges just like that.
    It’s not our life style that I can’t leave, but staying in Europe means guaranteed good university for the kids. Well, I hope the online distance learning will already be much developed in 10 years. As for the health insurance, surprisingly I found a good offer from Allianz Indonesia. So yeah….we are ready.
    I think Bali is different from other parts of Indonesia. I’m from the evil neighbor Island >:) ;-) and I hope Bali will still be kept away from those self-proclaimed religious “preman”. We plan to do a long visit in Bali when we start missing Europe :D
    I’ll be a lurker of your blog from now on. So please keep writing !

  25. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Ira, yeah Bali is definitely different, but becoming more and more touristy and expensive these days. I can see it go already the same direction as Phuket, Mallorca or other overdeveloped tourist destinations, let’s hope for the best, that it still can retain its charm for another couple of years. After us – armageddon. Amen! :D

  26. LucyNo Gravatar AUSTRALIA Says:

    Hi Chris..

    I’ve travelled a lot in my life, Middle East, UK, Europe, Asia.

    I’m 46 years old, and am hoping to travel to Philippines, Thailand and rest of Asia for maybe two or so years.

    Work for 3 months in UK then travel around Asia for 9 months is the plan. Very easy to do !

    I really enjoy your website. Thanks heaps for price run down in different Asian countries.

  27. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Lucy, thanks for the compliments and be safe always on your trips! I’m sure you will enjoy them tremendously! ;;)

  28. PattyNo Gravatar not found Says:

    oh, it all looks easy..i m from greece, been dreaming about living in Bali since i first got there, 10 years ago. sonce, i ve been back and forth to Bali and Thailand, several times, my fav.places in the world. Now that things in Greece are becoming super bad and super difficult, i m looking into Bali again. With a husband and a 3y.o though, its not that simple. and i would n want to work in the corp.world again, i ve had enough, i m studying to become a 5 rhythms teacher now, but will take me a couple or 3 years more..but lookking more into Bali, and thats how i got to you website, i m not sure how we could make a living there..i ll check more stuff in here, but anyideas would be great and more than wellcomed. Chers, good job btw.

  29. JanineNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Hi Chris,

    I, too spent many years in the corporate world – VP of sales for a tech manufacturer. In December I took a month off, to visit SE Asia, and found the island I have been seeking for the past 10 years. Upon my return to Dallas, I quit my job, and am in the process of making my move to Bali. I will return in April for 6 weeks, to do what I need to as far as research moving there. I found it interesting to observe the reactions of people to my intention to leave the rat race!

    I appreciate you giving voice to what I feel is simply common sense – who are we working for anyway? Which is more important, our soul’s fulfillment, or the race to buy more and more “stuff”? I have more than enough “stuff” and quit buying things many years ago – travel humbles one, and puts into perspective just how brainwashed our culture is, with regard to what we “need”.

    Thanks for the blog!

Leave a Reply

Hey, if you want a picture to show by your comment, why not get a gravatar?

;-) :twisted: :roll: :oops: :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :evil: :cry: :arrow: :?: :-| :-x :-o :-P :-D :-? :) :( :!: 8-O 8)