How to Find Fulfillment at Work with Greg Martin

In this week’s episode of The Leadership Habit podcast, Jenn DeWall talks to Greg Martin about how to find fulfillment at work. We spend about one-third of our lives at work, so this is a topic worth exploring! 

Meet Greg Martin, Investment Banker, Angel Investor and Entrepreneur

Greg is an investment banker, angel investor, entrepreneur and regular host of the Lifetime at Work podcast about the world of work and business. 

His day job involves advising corporate clients and business owners as they relentlessly pursue growth at all costs to earn the next million dollars. Working on Bay Street (the Wall Street of Canada), Greg is surrounded by high-achieving professionals across law, accounting, venture capital, private equity and the big banks who work 80+ hour weeks to serve their clients. But at what cost to them?

Although he started his career in investment banking, Greg also founded and operated a restaurant, catering and food e-commerce business. Unfortunately, he had to switch careers again when the pandemic hit and his business did not survive. 

Greg returned to the world of investment banking, but with a fresh perspective, and a passion for seeking fulfillment from work and helping others do the same!

Why Don’t People Feel Fulfilled at Work?

As the episode begins, Jenn asks Greg why people struggle to find fulfillment at work every day. Greg explains: 

“So I think that’s a complicated question. <Laugh>, there are a lot of facets. And I think, to boil it down, I think that the fulfillment that we get, a lot of it comes from setting goals and achieving them. Just getting a little bit better at the job, right? 

If you’re not good at it, if you don’t get praise, if you don’t advance, if you don’t learn in a job–  you’re probably not going to like it. Or, you’re going to struggle. 

But what happens with a lot of people, I think, is that you know, you started something, something new, you’re learning a lot of stuff. You’re meeting new people, you’re doing all this new stuff, but that doesn’t necessarily always last. 

And sometimes that is on you, right? Sometimes it’s on you for not finding the next thing within that job or within those parameters or communicating with your boss.

And other times, it is your company. Where they just want you to do this one set thing here. You know, you’re in charge of sales, and you, you know, let’s get 10 new accounts a week, and that’s it. That’ll be a challenge because getting 10 accounts a week is tough, but you reach a certain point where you get good at it, you’ve done it, and now you’re like, well, I kind of need something else to try to achieve now. 

And I think that’s an example of what happens to us in a lot of ways. We just hit a bit of a ceiling. We hit somewhere where we’re just, we’re not feeling like we can contribute, or we’re not getting enough outta the job.

And so then we kind of struggle a bit. We try to figure out, okay, well, can I do something differently? Can I go try to figure out a new way to tackle such and such? Can I go and do this other thing, meet these new people, and you actually end up doing things that aren’t necessarily right because you’re just trying to look for the next thing, the next thing to achieve.”

Quiet Quitting vs. Taking Ownership of Your Happiness

Later, Jenn talks about finding the challenges of achieving fulfillment in today’s workplace. She notes that when people are not in a fulfilling job, it can lead to “quiet quitting”. However, she warns people that it is still important to take ownership of your own happiness and think about your role in your own day-to-day happiness. She asks Greg what advice he has for someone feeling stuck and unmotivated to the point of quiet quitting. 

Greg agrees, saying, “Quiet quitting is interesting. It’s almost, in a way, a bit of a test, right? It’s, it’s kind of a, let me try this on. Let me try to just mail it in, to not do a whole lot of my job and we’ll see what happens. And the worst case scenario, they let me go. I wanted to go anyway. 

And so what I’ve learned, or what I’ve sort of tried to really get from people in interviewing them and just, and just going through my own experience, is that a lot of it is in your head. And you need a certain amount of fulfillment from your job. 

You can go a certain amount of time without it, right? You can effectively just keep dialing in those sales every week and, and not really find that next challenge. But it does weigh on you. I, I think it does impact you, your happiness, your, again, that fulfillment outta your job over time. And you do have a decision to make at a certain point, right? 

Like, say you quiet quit for a month and no one notices or no one says anything, and then it turns into six months and then a year, and then two years and three years it <laugh> where you’re just, you know, really doing a very, very small amount to continue earning your paycheck. But I, I would also worry that we’re not just doing our jobs to get a paycheck. I think there’s actually a lot more out of it that we can get. If we’re trying to advance as people, we can get a lot of happiness. We can learn things and move up in the world and impact the world. 

And a lot of people are trying to do that. You know, educate themselves, learn, build relationships. There are so many things you can get outta work. And if you dial it back so much for so long you know, I think you’re kind of wasting your life.

You’re sort of wasting some of these precious years, some of this time that you can actually be doing something. Now, I know it’s easier said than done. Sometimes, you’re just in a bad place where you know that going and finding a new job or starting something new is gonna be a lot of work. And you might as well put it off if you can. But at a certain point, you do have to say, like, say, I just maybe need to actually quit rather than just be quiet about it.”

Listen to the Whole Episode for Greg’s Tips and Advice

Be sure to check out the entire episode to get Greg and Jenn’s insights and advice about taking ownership of your career and happiness. Even if you struggle with finding meaningful work, you can find meaning in your work! If you want to find out more about Greg Martin, check out his podcast:  Lifetime at Work.