Life Stories

What’s Up with the 9-5?

I’ve successfully completed my first four months in the 9-5 corporate hustle. You’re probably thinking, “Jo, you’re such a damn impostor, how can you possibly be shutting up and going if you’re shutting up and getting secretary’s butt?” Hold your tomatoes everyone, let me explain.

Back in the Summer, I was so broke after graduation that I was sleeping on a couch (shout out to you Paige) and working as a grocery delivery girl (because it was the ONLY job that I found with flexible day-to-day schedule to give me travel time). In the midst of my ever-so-glamorous summertime city life, I had an epiphany. My $75,000 of debt wouldn’t get paid off with crappy tips from housewives in Tribeca. I was doomed to get swallowed by my debt if I didn’t create an action plan.

I had avoided using my international management degree; in fact, I couldn’t even use it if I wanted to because my university took nine months to send it my way. Deep down, when it came to managing my future career I wanted to avoid the 9-5 all together because I 1) I have a disease called entrepreneurship and 2) because I know that all o’ dis can’t be tamed by corporate America.

Then the “Joanna, Friendly Reminder Your First Loan Payment is Due in a Few Months” email started haunting my inbox.

As if my nearly $100k debt wasn’t bad enough, I also had credit card debt from traveling and working unpaid internships for two years to “get ahead,” and although Paige’s couch was the perfect cozy bed for an entire month, I seriously needed to move into my first NYC apartment.

Things were gettin’ a lil crusty in my financial reservoirs.

So before I could even formulate this master plan to pay my loans off and still have the time and money to travel, I get a phone call about an interview with a travel company I had applied for six months before. After telling the interviewers about Shut Up and Go and how Damon and I had traveled all over the world while in college to film the show, they asked me a question that I’ll never forget; “We see you, we hear you, and most importantly, we feel you. What’s going to keep someone like you motivated in this job?”

Damn. Ya got me there.

I told them the truth, sort of. 

I bluntly said that I had debt like every other desperate graduate,  and rent to pay in the not-so-cheap NYC. Beyond that, I expressed that I live, breathe, and eat travel so everything I learn in the company would motivate me. This part was true.

Now, the problem was that the position was a 9-5, and even though I loved the people interviewing me, I couldn’t lie to my “Shut Up and Go” mission statement by accepting a full-time job. The silver lining came an entire month later when they told me they’d created a part-time position just for me. I would have 28 hour work-week (just shy of being full-time by 2 hours), but would still be working 9-5 three days out of the week.

I jumped up and down in excitement because I felt I had reached a win-win; that was until I realized there are so many things that I’ve started questioning about the traditional 9-5 that I just need to let out right here, right now.

Tradition is great, unless it sucks.

Who invented this concept of a 9-5? I understand we all have to get sh*t done, I get it. Eight hours a day is a fair amount of time to accomplish all of your “to-dos,” “must sees,” and “follow ups.” As an entrepreneur, I never once doubted the fact that working eight hours is not only necessary, but almost way too short. My question is though, why in the MIDDLE of the day? I’m a night owl who posts up in the corner of a late-night coffee shop cranking out work until 12am. Am I the only weirdo?

And forget my personal preferences, what about the fact that human beings need sunshine to thrive and be happy because serotonin levels are crucial to feeling good about oneself. Can’t we just say “f” the day-time work sessions and explore the world during the day so we can get to our workspaces at night? I swear, society barely lives because when you’re cooped up in an office during the day you’re missing life happening outside.

Good design makes the brain go round’

When you’re in pretty workspace, your head is clearer and therefore you work better. Just because it’s not something that immediately “turns profits” does not mean it should be overlooked.

Why is “work” currently measured by time?

Another thing that just rubs me the wrong way is having to wait for that dreadful minute until the clock says 5:00PM on the dot so you can clock out. It’s obvious that you weren’t even working, but rather counting down the minutes to leave! There has to be a better way to measure work and to do it effectively.

Why am I looked at as lazy if I wake up at 10 but still get the same amount of work done?

I guess what this is all boiling down to is that ya girl is NOT a morning person. If you ask Damon, he knows that the only way to get me excited about the morning is by putting a spoon full of Nutella in front of my face. Sure, the “early bird gets the worm…” but we ain’t birds though. I’m a big believer that if you don’t feel energized, working just isn’t gonna work. Companies need to start recognizing this and giving employees the privilege to sleep in every now and then!

Since when did smiling become so difficult?

You may work in the crappiest environment in the world, all it takes are positive attitudes from yourself and your coworkers and I swear you’ll enjoy life a little bit more. Unbutton your pants and let your hair down corporate America! PS: I promise your face will not fall off if you crack a smile.

So what should you do about it?

The point is, question these things, and if you’re like me and NEED to pay off debt, make sure you’re questioning the culture and environment of the company you’re committing. Try to stick to places that match your personal brand and style.

In the meantime, I’m going to start drafting blueprints of the Shut Up and Go headquarters, where we’ll have night time hours, booze carts, and one month sabbaticals every six months.

Applications for #shutupandgoers coming soon ;)!

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  • Jason

    Does this mean you and Damon aren’t planning on moving to LA anytime soon? It seems like you finally got your work life figured out in NY(along with what sounds like a pretty cool boss).

    • well here’s the thing: sometimes when you’re comfortable you still have to shut up and go ;)!

  • Terri

    This was a bomb a** post Jo! The struggle is real but one day that HQ will be yours and all this momentary frustration will allow you to see the awesomeness of running your own business, as well as what NOT to do as mogul/boss lady Franco! 🙂

  • Sam

    I hear ya, sister! I feel trapped in my 9-5, absolutely. Would love to get a job where I travel more. I still only have 2 weeks vacation, so I try to plan a lot of three-day weekends to make the most of it. It’s just enough to explore a city if you go non-stop! Also saving up for at least one 5+day international trip a year is what keeps me going. I’ve managed to do it for the past 4 years and I’m not stopping!

    • Sam, it’s rough with the 2 week vacation days! I want to start a movement to just overthrow all the BS tradition… my hair might turn white but it might be worth it lol! keep on doin’ the damn thang!

  • Sulu

    The story at the beginning of those post literally gave me life this morning, lol. Luckily I can avoid the 9-5 (only because I’m currently a college student but I’m honestly not sure if that’s better or worse.) But after college I hope to find a job that doesn’t deplete my soul. Also, I don’t know if you guys do video requests but it would be awesome if you made a video talking about planning for study abroad in college. I’d appreciate it as a girl trying to graduate college and also travel 🙂

    • Sulu, glad you enjoyed my crazy writing style! #authorgoals. I’d say use that college time as if it’s the absolute most freeing time you’ll have. in the end, you’ll see grades don’t really matter at all so you can actually take greater risks and DO things like study abroad with little to no commitments. we should make a video on planning your study abroad in college! putting it on the list!

  • Joana,

    This post is a blessing. I am a lot like you. I have student debt that I want to eliminate. However, my goals and dreams seem like they would work best if I have the freedom that a full-time job doesn’t provide. On the other hand, they will also work best with the financial support that a full-time job can provide. I host a web show and I believe it will take me all over the country and the world. Traveling is important to me and the two weeks of vacation you are rewarded with after grinding it out for 50 weeks out of the year hardly seems like enough time to really explore other cultures and really experience life outside of work. I’ve been looking for full-time work that is in line with my ultimate goals that will allow me to be creative and use my skills to make some money so I can have money to invest in my business, my brand and myself. I’m at that place where I love the flexibility of what I do now but I have and my dreams cost money. I’m doing a lot of praying, soul searching and seeking and I believe I’m going to find a way to make it all work and I am even more encouraged after reading this article.

    I talk to young people who are doing things that I find inspiring, up lifting and noteworthy, like yourself and Damon. I love what you guys are doing and I just may have to have a talk with guys about challenging tradition and “Shut and Go” on my web show “Real Talk with Amoi.” Check it out on YouTube because I think you and I have a lot in common. I look forward to attending and meeting you at the Fluent City Budget Travel workshop later tonight.


  • Mairead

    This honestly stresses me out so much. I’m still in high school and currently I am very interested in doing engineering. Unfortunately, that mostly involves a 9-5 schedule which is the opposite of what I want. I have always loved to travel and being stuck in this daily grind for the rest of my like makes me not want to think about it. My dad works in insurance and I don’t know how he does it just sitting in his windowless office for hours 5 days a week. I want to travel but at the same time engineering is kinda my passion also.

    • “Find a job you love to do and you won’t have to work a day in your life!” Don’t give up; I’m sure if you research tons and tons, you’ll come across a traveling engineering job – or if not, propose a position to a company! There’s ALWAYS a way around the traditional path – it’s up to you to challenge it!

    • No stress Mairead! Exactly what Damon said, if you’re doing something you’re passionate about, you won’t be miserable at all! Trust me, when I work on the show, or this blog, hours go by and I can be in a cave hole and won’t even care because I’m doing what I want to be doing! Keep on pursuing your passion and the money and time to travel will come (if you pursue it)!

  • Hollie Williams

    Ugh. Reading this the day before I start a “9-5” job is killing my soul! I have a lot of student loan debt, am not done with my degree yet and I just want to go see the world! I have too many obligations right now, and I have no money to my name so I’m going to have to work for a while and then go travel.

  • Lauren

    Ok if you ever start shut up and go office I want to work there!!!

    • We won’t stop until we have an office space where there are nap booths and free kale salads for everyone once a week :)! That and watercolor classes, and post card making workshops!!! <3

    • yazul


  • Once those headquarters open up, PLEASE let me know so I can hop on board for the coolest 9-5, 10-6, or 12-5 known!

  • Yasmine Bedward

    As inspiring and motivational as these post are, i have 1 foot in the cooperate world and 1 foot on a trip to somewhere else. Yo girl is going through it. But I really like reading you guys’ stories 🙂

  • Alland Beward Jerome

    let me now when you guys are ready to hire!!

  • Jessica Lang

    This post really resonated with me. I started a 9-5 jobs 7 months ago and I thought it would be great having set hours (after working at a job with flexible hours where clients could have access to me at any time). I truly hate the atmosphere for ll the reasons you said. The whole day is gone and all my creativity is gone by 5:30. I’m a morning person and like to get a good work out on and do some blogging. I miss the sun so much and I often sit at my desk or go bother my coworkers the last 30 minutes because I’m done with work and can’t clock out. Thanks for speaking my truth.

  • Al Shepperd

    Can’t wait to see your guys’ journeys! This resonated with me so deeply I almost cried, the love of travel, languages, culture. The “wtf moment” when I got the student loan email BeFORE my diploma even arrived, the difficulty in leaving a 9-5 for the unknown. This article was written with a voice of such REALNeSS it was refreshing. Aha I love saying crusty. Yall better WORK I wana see more with my greedy ass. About to drop my cushy 9-5 to live and travel in Colombia for 5 months. If yall happend to be down there at some point, who knows, I’d be thrilled to see ya. p.s LA meetups?

  • Charlotte Gray

    I’m a little late to the party but, this post!

    “I’m going to start drafting blueprints of the Shut Up and Go
    headquarters, where we’ll have night time hours, booze carts, and one
    month sabbaticals every six months!”

    I want to work here so bad already!