Patrick Pichette (Google CFO) story: Yep, it’s awesome. But uh, he’s rich.

Patrick Pichette

This Patrick Pichette story (he was the CFO of Google) is going a little bit viral today. Here’s the basic rundown. He retired from a plum job way before you’d think an average American male in such a job would retire, and here’s why he did it (in this pull quote, “Tamar” is his wife):

And Tamar out of the blue said “Hey, why don’t we just keep on going”. Let’s explore Africa, and then turn east to make our way to India, it’s just next door, and we’re here already. Then, we keep going; the Himalayas, Everest, go to Bali, the Great Barrier Reef… Antarctica, let’s go see Antarctica!?” Little did she know, she was tempting fate.

I remember telling Tamar a typical prudent CFO type response- I would love to keep going, but we have to go back. It’s not time yet, There is still so much to do at Google, with my career, so many people counting on me/us – Boards, Non Profits, etc.

But then she asked the killer question: So when is it going to be time? Our time? My time? The questions just hung there in the cold morning African air. A few weeks later, I was happy back at work, but could not shake away THE question: When is it time for us to just keep going? And so began a reflection on my/our life. Through numerous hours of cycling last fall (my introvert happy place) I concluded on a few simple and self-evident truths:

To see the truths, read his full post. As you might be guessing, they talk a lot about valuing family over work, etc. That is an excellent, heart-warming story. But I think we’re missing one key point here. 

That point? Patrick Pichette is rich. In 2013 alone, he made $5 million (and that’s probably a low estimate). Because of how Larry Page and Sergey Brin structure their deals at Google, he’s actually the highest-paid employee. He’s probably worth north of $30 million, all told. After a while, you simply don’t need to be making that much money anymore — it’s certainly not making you any happier, you know?

So here’s my view on all this:

  • Good for him that he, unlike most over-achieving corporate dudes, understands that when it’s all over, you’re not asking for more work. You’re asking for more family and love.
  • It is a good story in that regard.
  • However, he’s rich. He can do this and most people simply cannot.
  • In that way, celebrating him doing this is a little weird — because while it’s great he “gets family,” the idea of “getting what matters” is a luxury typically reserved for the rich in terms of what you do with that information.
  • Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it can put a nice down payment on freedom, you know?

What are your thoughts? Should we be lauding Patrick Pichette?



Ted Bauer

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