If wealth is the measure of success, then Dr. Mohamed El-Erian, who reportedly earned up to $100M a year, was at the top of his game. As CEO and Co-CIO of PIMCO, one of the world’s largest investment management funds, the Oxford grad made a lot of money for himself and for investors. So it was a mystery when the uber-rich financier abruptly stepped down last year.
Had he argued with PIMCO founder, Bill Gross? Why else would a man who had everything that is valued in the financial world – namely money and power – choose to give it up?
The answer? A note from his ten-year old daughter.
“About a year ago, I asked my daughter several times to do something – brush her teeth I think it was – with no success. I reminded her that it was not so long ago that she would have immediately responded.”
“She asked me to wait a minute, went to her room and came back with a piece of paper. It was a list that she had compiled of her important events and activities that I had missed due to work commitments. Talk about a wake-up call.”
“I felt awful and got defensive: I had a good excuse for each missed event! Travel, important meetings, an urgent phone call, sudden to-dos. But it dawned on me that I was missing an infinitely more important point.”
“As much as I could rationalize it… my work-life balance had gotten way out of whack, and the imbalance was hurting my very special relationship with my daughter. I was not making nearly enough time for her.”
[Via The Independent]
And so he did what very few men in high-powered positions would: he traded his permanent position for a “portfolio of part-time jobs” and more time with his daughter. Good for him.
True, his sacrifice – a cliché, in his own words – is old news for the legions of regular parents, particularly mothers, who strive to balance work and home, and who genuinely struggle when they choose family time over paid time (or vice versa).
But El-Erian gets that: “I’m the first to recognize that I am incredibly fortunate to be able to structure my life in this way,” he said. “Unfortunately, not everyone has this luxury. But, hopefully, as companies give more attention to the importance of work-life balance, more and more people will be in a better position to act holistically on what’s important to them.”
So three cheers to Mohamed El-Erian. If his bid to spread work-life balance to others is even half as successful as his ability to nurture wealth, we will all be richer for it.