We were watching CBS This Morning today when a news report came up about a wealthy Silicon Valley CEO who has decided to quit his job so he can be home with his kids. “As a male and a CEO, I have been asked what kind of car I drive …” observes Schireson in a blog post, “but never how I balance the demands of being both a dad and a CEO.” So what?
In the report, Wharton Business School professor Stew Friedman notes that Schireson’s article strikes a nerve since men traditionally don’t talk about “conflicting demands of home and work life.” Evidently Schireson, Friedman, and reporter John Blackstone are living in a time warp, and that the 19th Amendment, giving women suffrage, has not yet been ratified. With women’s rights came expanded men’s obligations.
Ellis’s father, Dave, painted apartments and later drove a cab all night and slept during the day, while Ellis’ss mother worked a variety of jobs, on and off. How Ellis and his brother were provided for was a constant topic of conversation and concern, along with what kind of car (usually a jalopy) his father drove. Why should Dave Levinson’s dad-versus-cab driver dilemma be any less of an issue then a 21st century rich guy’s?
In the last few years it seems that there has been a spate of writings about why women can’t have motherhood and fulfilling careers. Now, Max Schireson is adding to the pile. In 2012, Anne Marie Slaughter wrote an article, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All” for The Atlantic.
Add to that this quote from PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi: “The biological clock and career clock are in total conflict with each other, so we’re screwed … we cannot have it all!”
If you don’t believe that there’s a gap between the working poor and the privileged elite in this country, you must have your head stuck up a Pepsi bottle. Nooyi, the Indian-born mother of two who heads the world’s second-largest food and beverage company, by total revenue, and has a graduate business degree from Yale, is screwed? Really? We wonder if she ever looked around while she lived in India. If she had, she would have some idea what “screwed” means. As for Schireson, he has three kids. His wife is a physician and professor at Stanford University. The guy is only 44 years old and wonders whether his decision might one day cost him tens of millions of dollars in future CEO gigs. Well who doesn’t?
Have the western world’s rich become so spoiled that they think not having it all is some big deal? You want to make ridiculous salaries for heading corporations? Go for it! You want to be parents? Go for that, too (though not before having your eyes opened by reading our book). But you want it all? Really? First take a trip to Kolkata (Calcutta) or sub-Saharan Africa, then tell us you can’t have it all.
Not a day goes by that the two of us don’t say to ourselves, and often to each other, how fortunate we are. We never want for food, or heat, or light, or medical care, or even entertainment. We don’t have kids because we chose to be conscious citizens of the world. We worry about the severe drought conditions in California that may soon grip vast areas of the world while shoreline-based populations are flooded out of their homes. But we are not going to feel sorry for women or men who choose to grab for it all but only get 95 percent of it.