This has to be a joke.

According to Bloomberg Business, Goldman Sachs just instituted a new policy encouraging interns to leave the office by midnight and not to return until 7 am while also taking Saturdays off.

As a recovering workaholic, I'm seriously saddened for the interns and employees more than anything. I also have friends who work or have worked at Goldman Sachs—friends who I know are smart, good, and talented but got lured by the pay and prestige. 

The fact that 90% of Goldman interns accept job offers after working in these "sweat shop" conditions says a lot about their self-worth. While the pay may be high, their self-worth is low. These companies see raw talent like a ball of clay that they can mold into anything they want. They couldn't care less about what the individual wants. They think that if they pay you enough, you'll bend any way they want you to.

When you don't know your self-worth, you hide behind big brands and rely on external indicators to determine it like a high salary, GPA, a job that's hard to get, a selective school with low acceptance rates. When you know your self-worth, your value comes from within and you never have to settle for less than you deserve or do anything that compromises your values regardless of income. 

That's why the person with the highest paying job doesn't win in life. That's the game most of us have been sold, but there are costs to high salaries. The greatest cost is that the more the company pays you, the more they believe they own you and the more you believe that you have to do whatever they tell you to do when they tell you to do it. Get this to me by 6 am. Move your family here. Fudge these numbers. Cut this corner. Take one for the team.

This sounds like slavery to me. Actually it's worse. Slaves didn't have a choice and they didn't get paid. Employees world-wide have a choice and get paid, yet many still make choices that contradict their values and what they know is best for themselves. We use rationale like "I have bills to pay" or "I have mouths to feed" or "I'm lucky to have a job" to justify "gainful" employment that is causing us to lose our lives.

Anytime you have a choice to do something and your original choice is swayed by the amount of money on the table, you are compromising your values. But we all have a price, right? No! We're all not slaves to money. If I offered you $10 to hurt somebody else, would you do it? What about $100? What about $1,000? What about $10,000? What about $100,000? What about $1,000,000?

I've reached a point in my life where money doesn't control my choices. In fact, saying "No" to money is one of the most powerful acts you can do to declare your self-worth. You can say "No" to money by not accepting a salary that is less than the value your results prove. You can say "No" to money by leaving a high-paying job that doesn't align with your values or desired lifestyle. But many people believe the more the merrier and they spend their lives seeking the most money they can get at the expense of their lives.

I have no clue what an analyst at Goldman Sachs gets paid and I don't care. PayScale.com suggests that it can be upwards of $80,000 + a $35,000 bonus. $115,000 a year straight out of college doesn't sound bad right? But wait...

If you take $115,000 per year and you divide that by 50 weeks of work divided by 6 days per week (since Sundays is okay for Goldman Sachs) divided by 17 hours per day, that comes out to $22.54 per hour. There are jobs that don't require a college degree that would allow someone to earn that.

Of course, the pitch to younger employees is that you have to pay your dues now to one day make 7-figures like the people on top. And because they have hired a whole bunch of type-A people who are naturally competitive, they know they will push each other to the limits (not in a positive way).

When I work with companies that truly care about their people, I ask them "Is there a healthier happier way for us to reach $XXX billion without sacrificing our people along the way? Or is the way we are working the absolute best and only way to get there?" Most leaders agree that there is a better way. Any leader that believes that creating a culture where employees working beyond midnight is the route to sustainable success severely lacks compassion, foresight, and judgment. Great leaders put their people first, not just profits. 

Goldman Sachs has used it's prestige to attract and retain the world's smartest young people. In all honesty, I don't know where the prestige comes from given its role in the recent financial crisis. If the employees were really that smart, they would find a ways to invest and profit that didn't "bank" on people losing their homes and the economy crashing. Many of the employees are selling their time and talents to make rich people richer while they get some crumbs. And if those investors don't share their values, they are supporting people invested in a world they don't agree with.

I don't like the term work-life balance because it suggests that work comes before life. Instead, I like to use the term Life's Work. And your Life's Work includes all of your roles as a professional, partner, parent, son, daughter, soccer coach, mentor, brother, sister, board member, aunt, uncle, etc.

There are many people who prioritize their profession over everything else in their lives. And while they may be successful professionally, it is at the expense of their marriages, relationships with their kids, and connection with their extended family and friend. It's time to put work back in it's rightful place as one part of a successful life, not the end all be all.

I believe in hard work. But nobody can work hard for 17 hours a day without the law of diminishing returns kicking in. We are human, not machines. But in the name of profit, most companies would prefer that we work like the latter. Goldman's policy is not a commitment to work-life balance—it's a crumb to those who don't know their self-worth and are seeking external validation through pay, promotion, and prestige.

Let's call a spade a spade. Abuse is abuse no matter how much someone pays you to take it. But I don't blame any company. Companies will take what they can get. We, as employees of the world, allow it. I've been held up at gun point before, so I know what it feels like to be helpless. You are not helpless.

I pray for the interns and employees of any company that treats its employees this way. Through this summer, I hope they realize their self-worth and that they always have a choice. Make your money, don't let the money make you.

I'm not rich, but I am free.

Wishing you more happy hours,

Jullien Gordon
www.julliengordon.com