What does it mean to work at a startup?

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I have had a great time watching a blog post by Jason Calacanis explode on the blogosphere like nothing that I have seen before. Jason wrote a great post about how to save money running a startup. The article is really more about spending lots of money but at the same time making the work life of a startup employee a lifestyle and at the same time making sure that the process is smooth, taking really good care of employees so that they will want to put in huge hours. I afreed and thought the article was a nice diversion becasue I have in fact never worked for a startup.

Well others did not like the post so much. Duncan Riley at Tech Crunch wrote a great piece about how Calacanis fires people who have a life, Robert Scoble defended Jason Calacanis and  Micheal Arrington at Tech Crunch kind of came up in the middle (look at his comments to see his real thoughts).

So how does a Z list blogger like me look at this?

Well I as I wrote a couple paragraphs back, I have never worked for a startup and would not probably do so unless I found a company that I was truly passionate about. I am not scared of work. I always  have had a 40 hr a week job and then spend another 20 hours a week on building a web business.  I have a family that I love to be with although I would rather have time only with them instead of a pager on the side all the time. But this is the life of a guy that supports corporate systems. I chose and I love what I do.

I have always looked at working at a startup as a lifestyle choice. When you work for any company you need to be passionate about what you are doing and strive to make a difference. You need to always think that you are changing the world but when you are at a startup you may in fact be changing the world for many people compared to working at a huge company where you are usually doing the support work of change.

I know that this story is going to turn into one of those really irritating “I only want to make money I don’t want Jason to take my life away” kind of arguments but as a bit of a slacker attitude I am not sure that is at all what Jason was getting at in the first place.

The attitude that I think Jason was getting at was passion. You will work 40 hours a week for the man but when it comes to 60 hours a week it is for passion in what you do. No one ways that this is what everyone could ever want but with a startup the excitement is there and the payoffs can be huge if you go public. If this is not what someone is interested in then it does not make them a lesser person but just that their passion lies outside of work or perhaps more accurately their passion lives outside of the free enterprise portion of their life. Not a big deal.