“As a society we valorize people who stay up all night to work.”

Sarah Green Carmichael

I host a weekly radio show on SiriusXM 111, Business Radio Powered by Wharton, called Work and Life. We publish edited versions of my conversations as free podcasts. I invite you to listen to the episode (embedded below) that is my conversation with Sarah Green Carmichael,  Senior Editor at Harvard Business Review and host of the award-winning HBR IdeaCast, where she’s interviewed me a couple of times. So this episode turns the tables. Sarah edits HBR.org, which has won the Webby Award for Best Business Website the last two years in a row. She is a regular speaker and moderator at conferences like SXSW, the Drucker Forum, and Thinkers50. Prior to joining HBR, she was a sportswriter (her one major shortcoming is her unthinking devotion to the Boston Red Sox), taught middle school students, and worked as a researcher for Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Ellen Goodman. Her writing has been featured in many periodicals and magazines. She graduated magna cum laude from Brown University.

We talk about the growing problem of young people working too many hours, why this is an increasing risk in contemporary business life, and some practical ways to avoid the resulting burnout. Sarah labels it “work obsession” as opposed to “workaholism” or even “work martyrdom” to take the emphasis off hours worked and focus instead on the emotional investment we are placing on work, at the cost of our humanity. What, after all, is the purpose of a human life, she plainly asks? Work matters, but it may not need to be the primary feature of our brief moment on the planet. For many, after all, this is a matter of choice, right?