Startup culture: The Gospel of Hard Work, According to Silicon Valley 1


The theme of hard-work, leadership and startups is a perennial one. Most of us wonder if being an entrepreneur means giving up a lot; and especially the work-life balance we strive towards.

The wired magazine has an interesting feature on “The Gospel of Hard Work, According to Silicon Valley,” that describes how Silicon Valley still doesn’t care about work-life balance. The gospel of hard work–i.e. to never stop working–still hasn’t changed.

SILICON VALLEY’S EMPHASIS on work-life balance may be evolving, but its priesthood still values a very particular kind of grit. This ideological tension came to blows earlier this week in a marathon Twitter fight that started on Memorial Day, with anecdotal evidence and closing arguments still trickling in days later.

The dialogue began innocently enough when Blake Robbins, a tech investor who has worked or interned for companies like Google, Nest, and SpaceX, deployed a flurry of tweets about his philosophy on work-life balance. “When I first got into tech. I thought it was ‘cool’ to work on the weekends or holidays. I quickly realized that’s a recipe for disaster,” Robbins wrote. “Not hanging with friends and family because you’re working isn’t ‘cool.’ Burning out isn’t ‘cool.’ I promise you…your competition isn’t beating you because they are working more hours than you. It’s because they are working smarter.”

But the mood quickly turned. “Totally false,” venture capitalist Keith Rabois tweeted back at Robbins. “Read a bio of Elon [Musk]. Or about Amazon. Or about the first 4 years of FB. Or PayPal. Or Bill Bellichick [sic]. It is pure arrogance to believe you can outsmart other talented people.”

from Flikr

Another article on the topic that highlights “This is Elon Musk’s secret to success”

On Tuesday, at Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting, Musk answered a fan question about what he does in his spare time. “I listen to music in the car,” Musk said, and then struggled to think of other things, Quartz reported. “I do watch movies, although less these days … Hang out with kids, see friends, normal stuff. Sometimes go crazy on Twitter,” he said. “But usually it’s work more.”

Indeed, Musk works up to 100 hours a week, and has said that “creating a company is almost like having a child … It’s almost like, how do you say your child should not have food?”.

He’s not alone in following a punishing work ethic. Marissa Mayer has described how she made a 130-hour-work at Google possible by being “strategic about when you sleep, when you shower, and how often you go to the bathroom.” Other execs that burn the midnight oil — and then some — include Mark Cuban, who says that he once “had so many jobs my parents wondered if I would be stable,” and Tim Cook, who starts sending work emails at 4:30 am.

The theme of the articles is common enough: hard work pays off; and successful leaders and entrepreneurs work really, really hard!


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