For Love or Money - Embedded.com

For Love or Money

Lastweek's column engendered quite a lot of often spirited responses.A number of readers touched on a common theme: engineers, in general,love their work, subordinating wages and sometimes excess overtimebecause the profession is just so much fun .

Any guesses about the average engineer's IQ? I have no idea, but haveworked with a lot of brilliant folks over the years. Many of theseengineers are every bit as smart as high level corporate executives,yet have chosen to forgo the money in favor of a fascinating job.

We could have been execs. The big dogs, top of the heap, making thebig bucks.

Last week Ford announced a $12.7 billion dollar loss for theyear. The big bosses are planning to lay off 44,000 people (otherreports I've read say 36,000), about a third of the company's staff.Allan Mulally, CEO, was quoted the same day saying they're likely togrant generous bonuses to high-level executives “to make sure we arepaying competitive wages and benefits.”

Somehow I doubt any engineers will be included. Their wages arealready considered competitive.

Mr. Mulally's compensation is interesting:

Base salary: $2m/year
Bonus: $3.5m this year
Stock awards this year: $6m minimum
Stock options this year: $5m minimum
Hiring bonus: $7.5m plus $3m in stock
Money paid to offset goodies he might have gotten from his previousemployer: $11m
Golden parachute: twice his salary and bonus.
Traveling coach: “You will be required to use the corporate aircraftfor personal travel under the Company's Executive Security Program.When traveling on personal business, you will be entitled to have yourwife; children, and guests travel with you, at company expense.”
(See http://edgar.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/37996/000114036106016173/ex10_1.htm).

Do click around on edgar.sec.govunder Ford's filings for lots morefun information about executive and director compensation plans, allcourtesy of a company that's shrinking, dumping workers like mad, andthat has $128 billion in long-term debt. As they borrow another $25b,the folks with the key to the executive washroom shower themselves withgoodies.

Though there's a growing movement to reign in corner-office pay, Ithink that most of the complaints about CEOs making 150x their workersare poorly-reasoned. But why does it take tens of millions a year “tomake sure we are paying competitive wages and benefits?” Are thesefolks mercenaries who simply go to the highest bidder? They'reapparently working for money, not for the love of the job.

So I asked a doctor friend about his career. He hates it. The hoursare long, the patients demanding, and insurance a nightmare. But heloves the fancy car and big house, and can't bring himself to chuck theresults of 15 years of college.

A lawyer told me with a smirk that the money is unbelievable. “Doyou love your job,” I persisted? “It sucks… but the money is great!”

Are we engineers alone in our passion for the work? In ourwillingness to put salary as number four or five on the list ofmotivators? Probably not; some gifted educators give up promisingbusiness careers for the passion of teaching. And I'm sure there areothers.

We could have been execs. The big dudes, top of the heap, making thebig bucks.

But we chose not to. We traded money for love.

Are you happy with that decision?

Jack G. Ganssle is a lecturer and consultant on embeddeddevelopment issues. He conducts seminars on embedded systems and helpscompanies with their embedded challenges. Contact him at . His website is


Everytime, I see incompetence being rewarded at such a gross level … well it just gets my viscera going … and well, I get really worked up! However, let me say this, and I forgot to post this in my reply, but oh well… I have consulted for many startups, and middle sized companies that hired a new CEO, and the fellow does a spectacular job turning everything around, and help get the company back on track to good corporate health. These fellows deserve a round of applause, and lots of money for their hard work!

Steve Jobs is an example of such a fellow. When he came back to Apple; the company was really floundering, and looked to be on the verge of bankruptcy. What he did, in turning Apple's fortunes really is spectacular.

I believe Jobs really loves his job.

Anyway, is it “For Love or Money”, or is it “For Love of Money”? You decide!

– Ken Wada


Regarding your latest article about Ford's CEO compensation:

1. In a different time, different culture his inept leadership which brought the company into this huge loss could be remedied only by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hara-kiri alternatively, tar and feathering plus running him out of town would be okay, too, IMHO. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarring_and_feathering

It is simple ethics: respect, honor, accountability and responsibility. The higher one gets, the more is expected, Luke 12:48:

YLT: and he who, not having known, and having done things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few; and to every one to whom much was given, much shall be required from him; and to whom they did commit much, more abundantly they will ask of him.

If board of directors and stockholders do not care what happened, why should I? Let me guess, his excuse would be “due to unforeseen market volatility” the company had met unsurmountable challenge.

Bullshit.

Toyota has become #1 automaker in the world, as of last December, as reported earlier this year. They operate in the same market, facing the same challenges and volatility. They just do not built crappy 6,000 lbs Expedition/Navigators. http://www.lincoln.com/navigator/models.asp

2. There is an ice-cream, but there are many flavors of it. There is “smart/ intelligent/high IQ”, but they are different versions of it, too. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellectual_giftedness I do not believe a great engineer has what it takes to run a company as a CEO, and vice versa. As long as the “talent” (see below) each of us has is creatively expressed, everything is all right – including money. Be it music, writing, painting, designing, or managing. Have you noticed that artistic people do not quit at the sign of great hair – au contraire. The older dude-artist, the better and he is more celebrated, too. Sometimes. Why engineers are not like that?

Because they are not, hehe, we are not in Kansas, anymore, they need to find a way how to “de-commoditize” themselves, which is tough, since it takes energy on one's behalf (sp?).

More on happiness can be found here. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2099-1793873_1,00.html

I do not believe in “trading money for love”, there are many example to be found that it is possible to have both, furthermore, I think they cannot be traded. Choices, yes.

We all have choices, and free-will to choose a different paths on life journey. After all, how much money one needs to live on? But that is another topic: perception, abundance and ego.

– Roger Lynx


Thanks very much for the excellent article.

Two items:

> We could have been execs. The big dudes, top of the heap, making thebig bucks. > But we chose not to. We traded money for love. > Are you happy with that decision?

Pretty much.:-))) In fact, possibly my biggest regret at the moment is not being_more_ of an engineer, i.e., not presently having a PhD or a secondMasters.

> Though there's a growing movement to reign in corner-office pay, Ithink that most of the complaints about CEOs making 150x their workersare poorly-reasoned.

Possibly poorly reasoned in some/many cases, but I am convinced that thecomplaints are mostly/predominantly valid in their conclusions.

And I think there are even stronger arguments for entirely foregoingbonuses during tough times.

Senior Project Engineer
Ford Motor Company


People who create things – engineers, inventors, artists, builders, etc. – bring gifts into the world. Many/most do it for the love of the work and the feeling that they are doing something good. They would typically like their work to be appreciated as the gift that it is.

Unfortunately, appreciation – like gratitude, compassion, responsibility and guilt – is completely voluntary. The shameless cannot be shamed.

Instead of appreciation or gratitude, the creator is often met with jealous resentment. As one wag once said about diplomacy, there is no gratitude among nations, and no one forgives a benefactor.

Expanding markets (e.g., new markets) are a positive sum game that rewards honesty and cooperation with increased business. Integrity is rewarded.

Declining markets – and companies – are a negative sum game that rewards dishonesty and duplicity with more for the dishonest at the expense of all others. This fosters a beggar-thy-neighbor, grab the most the fastest and escape with it policy. Shamelessness is rewarded.

So what often see is a form of looting of the gifts given earlier by the creative, who gave their gifts and moved on. Like squabbles at a funeral.

I do not see this changing anytime soon. The only solution for the creative is to find new things to create, new areas. You cannot bet on the last race, even though many investors deeply desire to do so. The alternative is to join the Dark Side of the end-of-life vultures. However, giving in to fear and selling your joy for cash has its own problems.

– David Wyland

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.