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Senior Reporter

Farhad Mohit doesn't have a girlfriend. He hasn't gotten around to seeing "Titanic." He hasn't cooked a meal in two years, and his refrigerator is empty, except for a single bottle of spring water.

"I don't even know what's going on with the president and Monica Lewinsky," he said. "I hear people making jokes, and I can see how they might be funny, but I don't really understand them."

What Mohit has is a job. And it's a killer.

Mohit is chief executive of Binary Compass Enterprises, a Culver City-based market-research firm specializing in electronic commerce. And like the head of many an Internet start-up, the 29-year-old Wharton School graduate spends nearly every waking hour at the office, often logging 14 hours a day, seven days a week.

Mohit's routine is not all that uncommon in Los Angeles. The city is full of similarly driven people working similarly absurd hours all in a grueling effort to succeed.

There are jobs, and then there are "killer jobs." They're the ones that make mere 9-to-5'ers shake their heads in wonderment, or perhaps bewilderment. They routinely involve 80- or 90-hour work weeks, traveling three weeks out of four and making multimillion-dollar decisions on a daily basis. They're also the occupations that can leave one's personal life trailing far behind even with a six-figure salary.

"There are more demands on every layer of organizations these days," said Cathy Shepard, a principal in the L.A. office of William M. Mercer Inc., one of the world's largest employment consulting firms. While many companies downsized during the belt-tightening days of the early '90s, few have re-staffed to their 1980s levels despite the demands of an expanding economy, according to Shepard.

As a result, she says, "people are being pushed harder than ever."

That's especially true in Los Angeles, where growth in such fast-moving, leading-edge industries as entertainment, high-tech, finance and international trade tends to drive up the stress level, said Donovan Greene, an industrial psychologist with the McMurry Group, a consulting firm in Encino.

"There is a generally more stressful dimension in the workplace, especially in California," Greene said. "Clearly, there are a lot of companies where people are doing more with less resources. Overall, the pace is accelerating, and that's ratcheting up the anxiety and tension level in the workplace."


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