Largely because of downsizing, the survivors are working harder and longer hours every yea-and although some get burned out and stressed, others seem to thrive on it. At Apple Computer, for example, development teams are well known for wearing T-shirts that proclaim, “90 Hours a Week and Loving It!” And high-tech firms are now coaxing double and triple time out of their employees, a practice that is spreading to other sectors of the economy. One of the best examples is provided by the increasing number of telecommuters who work at home. By giving employees PCs, cellular phones, pagers, and other devices, the company can stay in contact. However, many of these telecommuters are now finding that they are on call 24 hours a day. One of the new rules of survival in an increasing number of workplaces appears to be: If you don’t have the personality to work round-the-clock, don’t bother applying for a job here.
Of course, for some people work is extremely enjoyable, and they do not mind the new demands. Take the case of entrepreneur Wayne Huizenga, a self-madebillionaire. Huizenga started out with a partner in the garbage collection business, confident that his firm could outperform the small mom-and-pop garbage companies and get their business. He was supremely confident of his own ability; it was not long before his plan started to come true. Wall Street did not think much of his ideas, however, and when he issued his first stock offering in 1971 it was to raise a mere $5 million. By the time Huizenga left in 1984, the market value of the firm’s stock was $3 billion.
Huizenga’s next move was to Blockbuster Entertainment. He was convinced that the movie rental business was a wave of the future. Again he was right. For a mere$18.5 million, he and his partners were able to buy the company-and soon thereafter sales took off, rising from $43 million annually to over $2 billion. By the time he sold out to Viacom in 1994, he had put another billion dollars in his pocket.
The same can be said for Steve Wynn of MirageResorts. Wynn’s company was listed as one of Fortune’s10 most admired firms in America. Why? Part of it is a reflection of Wynn’s own personality. He is eternally optimistic and wants his people to be the same. Wynn’s strategy is to keep everybody happy. If anyone is not, Wynn’s employees are to fix it. As he tells his people, “If you see a hotel guest with the tiniest frown on her face, don’t ask a supervisor, take care of it. Erase the charge, send the dinner back, don’t charge for the room.” In addition, Wynn sponsors elaborate parties to honor staffers who have kept the most customers happy. At one recent party for a Vietnamese woman who was being honored as employee of the year, Wynn brought in George and Barbara Bush to congratulate the lady. It cost a lot of money for the party, but, as Wynn puts it, “It’s an investment.”