Reading Time : 10 Minutes
A 1st hand experience on mingling with the chinese from tech companies, and understanding the meaning behind it.
It was a Sunday today, we finally had a break. Having to recharge from the crazy amount of events from the past week, I then decided to just stay in my AirBNB and continue to write the missing days of the journey thus far.
However, my productivity on finishing my articles have been abruptly cut short with a recent video that has gone viral of late. It is the video of a Chinese employee, who works a 996 schedule in a China company.
So what does 996 mean? A quick excerpt here from CNN would define it as:
“Working from 9 am to 9 pm 6 days a week, and is said to be common among the country’s big technology companies and start-ups.”
Crazy? Or Every Dream of Business Owners?
This is interesting because according to the “Media”, the whole fiasco of a 996 work schedule apparently was popularized by Jack Ma himself. Just a simple Google search on “996 Jack Ma”, and you would see the slew of articles and news on how Chinese Tech Billionaires (Like Jack Ma) are currently pushing this super inhumane work ethic.
As many would know, I have been involved in Alibaba’s Netpreneur Program where Malaysian Entrepreneurs are sent over by the government to view and see how China has evolved in terms of commerce within the past 10 years.
It is because of this, we had the chance to really mingle around with fellow Alibaba colleagues, where I had the chance to ask them in-regards to the 996 work culture in China issue.
Throughout our program, we had fantastic facilitators from Alibaba who really tried their best to accommodate all of our questions, including providing opinions on issues like these.
In truth, Alibaba as a group itself has never enforced the 996 work schedule to any of its employees. Most of their staff’s who work a 996 schedule, are people who believe that they have a mission to fulfill, therefore putting their best into achieving results for the company, and their clients.
Our facilitator strongly defended Jack, saying that his statements on work culture has suddenly ballooned as an international hatred that became added fuel to the fire with the Facebook Video shared.
996 is a choice, a decision for a mission that you have committed to yourself, and not to fulfill and please the expectations of others!
For all those that don’t know yet, I slog my day with “work” countless of hours everyday. My average hours are within the vicinity of 166. 16 Hours a Day, 6 Days a Week. This number is derived from me waking up at 8.30AM, immediately replying all relevant messages and emails from the past night.
I then get ready, and will usually be swarmed by meetings the whole day (my new average is 4-5 meetings a day across Klang Valley), where my next free time would be dinner. It is after dinner that I will usually have time to do “work”. Only then I will be on my computer typing away on emails and proposals on PowerPoint till I sleep.
On Sundays when I’m usually alone, I will mostly spend time planning new business strategies ahead to keep our company always a step ahead in the market.
Was I “forced” by some kind of unknown order from a higher being? Definitely not. Most of it stems out from my own freewill and responsibility in getting things done.
I just want everyone to succeed in life, and to achieve success in life, no one ever made it through slacking. My take on Jack’s statement are those of a strict Asian Parent, where if you fall down and bruised your leg, your Asian Tiger Mom would just say “Belly Good! Do It Again Lah! Run Somemore!”
The true meaning of sarcastic hurtful remarks are usually made to push and toughen up people, as when you get used to hardships + toughness, only then you will grow as an individual. Another western business icon that I admire a lot, Gary Vaynerchuk, has also state the importance on understanding your work and executing it properly as your life mission.
Please find your motive + purpose in life. A farmer that works hard to grow fruits on trees for harvest will be heaps happier than a blind keyboard typist whacking away throughout their life if he believes so. Understand yourself, your limitations, what you are willing to do, and what you are capable of.
I will share back this useful diagram from this article I did few days back.
Are you content with just being a C level talent? Do you want to improve yourself to do more and push to either B level or make a straight jump to A level? How do you make that jump you ask? Hard work, patience, and experience! Upping your level doesn’t just happen spontaneously, there is no cheat code in life, even video games teaches you that.
In a recent Weibo post, Jack Ma reiterates that :
“Real 996 should be spending time learning, thinking and for self-improvement. The people who stick to 996 must have found their passion there, and their happiness besides from money.”
Know your limitations! Figure out if you want to break past it, or just accept your comfortable life as it is. There is no right and wrong in your views of life. Always know that there is an option.
You really hate your 996 job? Quit, why are you still there? Ego tying you up with disdained looks of your colleagues? Then you are the fool yourself. Your life partner giving you tons of toxic negativity? Walk away. Easy to say, even more important to act up on it.
I believe many of us have faced moments like the guy in the FB video; that seemingly no escape that few in our circle understands. All the people around us only know how to have high expectations from us. We are humans, and our employees too are humans, just compassionate beings living our time on earth.
Many would understand the toughness and sufferings of these employees, but few would understand us as entrepreneurs. The general society would always put the blame on “bosses” making irrational orders with the outside world never knowing why we make certain tough decisions.
We have to understand for who, and for what we are fighting for. The purpose of work, the purpose of life, the purpose of the future you want. Do you strive hard to get it, or type comments about it?