10-Year-Old Gives Dad 22 Reasons to Quit His $100 Million Job & He Does

Mohamed El-Erian

In 2013, one of the world's top financiers up and quit his job with no real explanation. While the rest of us were bemoaning the impending finale of Breaking Bad, the finance world was in a tizzy over PIMCO's Mohamed El-Erian's abrupt departure from his $100 million a year job heading a $2 trillion investment firm.

Now El-Erian has come clean about the real reason he left it all behind -- or all 22 of them, as the case may be. It turns out that his 10-year-old daughter had presented him with a list of 22 things he'd missed in her life that year, and he called it "a wake-up call" that his work-life balance was extremely out of whack.


He explained:

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, and I wouldn’t have had to ask her multiple times; she would have known from my tone of voice that I was serious.

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. The list contained 22 items, from her first day at school and first soccer match of the season to a parent-teacher meeting and a Halloween parade. And the school year wasn’t yet over.

I felt awful and got defensive: I had a good excuse for each missed event! Travel, important meetings, an urgent phone call, sudden to-do.

But it dawned on me that I was missing an infinitely more important point. As much as I could rationalize it -- as I had rationalized 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.

Wowza. It's one thing to cut back on some hours, try to make one or two important events, but El-Erian decided to walk away from a $100 million a year job -- one that even had him rubbing elbows with President Obama.

Most bigwigs at this level would've brushed off their 10-year-old, or maybe patiently explained to them that they had to work so hard so that they could have all the nice things that they do. Instead, this guy quit his job that had him starting work at 1 o'clock in morning so that he could take his daughter to school in the morning.

He hasn't quit work entirely -- he's taken on a "portfolio of part-time jobs" that allows him the flexibility to be with his family that he craved. The 56-year-old was quick to point out that he knows how fortunate he is to be able to have this choice, as many people in America, particularly single-parent or lower-income homes, don't have the option of working less to spend more time with their kids.

It's stories like these that remind me to say a quick prayer of gratitude for my job and even my kids' dad. I was married to one of those workaholic types (unfortunately not the $100 million/year kind, but still), and we barely saw him. The little we did see of him was miserable, because he was always stressed out about work. It's not why we ended up divorced, but it sure didn't help.

It was a kick in the pants for him for sure, and now he's a fantastic dad with a more flexible schedule and more time for his girls. I know he will never regret having this time with them while they are still little. And me? Even though I'm a single mom now, I have this fabulous job as a writer that allows me to work from home and around my kids' schedule.

Mohamed El-Erian certainly made a controversial choice with his career path, and no doubt he gave up a lot of power, prestige, and wealth -- but what he got in return is something money can't buy.

Would you give up $100 million a year to spend more time with your family?


Image via World Economic Forum/Flickr

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