A California-based investment guru sent shockwaves through the financial world when he quit his job as a top international financier after reading a note from his daughter detailing 22 landmarks in her life that daddy had missed due to work commitments.
Mohamed El-Erian undoubtedly considered himself a loving father who was doing his best to provide for his family. However, what the former head of the Pimco investment fund failed to appreciate was that his work-life balance was in dire need of a dramatic reassessment.
When his daughter wrote him a heartbreaking note, listing all the things a daughter should expect their daddy to be present for, it dawned on Mohamed El-Erian that missing his daughter’s first day of school, her first Halloween parade, and her first soccer match were things that no amount of money could buy back.
Although he claims he had very good reasons for missing the 22 milestones outlined on his daughter’s list, one look at the note was enough for El-Erian to resign from his high-powered job to spend more time with his family.
In an interview with Worth, El-Erian explained the reasoning behind his decision.
“About a year ago, I asked my daughter several times to do something—brush her teeth, I think it was—with no success. I reminded her that it was not so long ago that she would have immediately responded, and I wouldn’t have had to ask her multiple times; she would have known from my tone of voice that I was serious.
“She asked me to wait a minute, went to her room and came back with a piece of paper. It was a list that she had compiled of her important events and activities that I had missed due to work commitments. Talk about a wake-up call.”
“The list contained 22 items, from her first day at school and first soccer match of the season to a parent-teacher meeting and a Halloween parade. And the school year wasn’t yet over. I felt awful and got defensive: I had a good excuse for each missed event! Travel, important meetings, an urgent phone call, sudden to-do.
“But it dawned on me that I was missing an infinitely more important point. As much as I could rationalize it—as I had rationalized it—my work-life balance had gotten way out of whack, and the imbalance was hurting my very special relationship with my daughter. I was not making nearly enough time for her.”
Since resigning from Pimco, El-Erian has taken on a “portfolio” of part-time roles, instead of one full-time position. This affords him more flexibility, less traveling, and more importantly, a lot more time with his daughter.
El-Erian said he now takes turns with his wife to wake up their daughter, prepare her breakfast, and take her to school. He is also planning a holiday just for the two of them.
Following his resignation, El-Erian spoke of how enthusiastic he was about his new life.
“I’ve gone through a transition after 14 great years with Pimco and I’ve put together a portfolio of part-time activities that I’m really excited about. I’m also really excited to spend more time with my family and my daughter.”