Why Give a Damn:
To be one of those few entrepreneurs, inventors, or creatives who puts a dent on history, do we need to work 18-20 hour days, 7 days a week? Before you commit to startups, you may want to ask yourself this very question.
The author of this post, Daniel Epstein, has launched multiple Unreasonable companies, including the Unreasonable Institute and Unreasonable Group. He is also a self-diagnosed workaholic =).
Last week I wrote a post centered around obsession and balance titled “What Gandhi Can Teach Us About Vacation Time. I received a lot of comments that questioned my thinking and these comments have caused me to reflect on the question at the center of this post.
After having worked with nearly 100 startup entrepreneurs through our activities at Unreasonable Institute and Unreasonable at Sea, and after working with many startup heroes of mine, I’m left asking myself this question: To be one of those few entrepreneurs, inventors, or creatives who puts a dent on history, do we need to work 18-20 hour days, 7 days a week?
The grittiest entrepreneurs aren’t lucky, they work their asses off and when the opportunity arises, they seize the moment. Tweet This Quote
Kamran Elahian, founder of 3 companies that now have a market cap of over $1 Billion, once told me that he didn’t take a day of vacation in 20 years. Myself included, for over 8 years, I never took a true day off of work (other than two five-day backpacking trips with my brothers). Entrepreneurs like Elon Musk are reported to be so obsessive that they are working 20 hours a day, seven days a week. I remember one of our Unreasonable Fellows, Ben Lyon, used to drink a cup of coffee and work in front of his computer for literally 18 hours straight on a daily basis. Don’t believe me? Watch the time lapse video of Ben working at our first Unreasonable Institute – go to 4 minutes and 45 seconds.
Working 110 hours a week is not necessary for achieving historical significance. Tweet This Quote
Thomas Edison said its about 99 percent perspiration, and 1 percent inspiration. I’ve often felt that the grittiest entrepreneurs aren’t lucky, but rather they work their asses off and when the opportunity arises, they seize the moment. All of this had me believing that working a minimum of 100 hours a week was necessary. When you peel it back though, I realized that I was wrong.
Working 110 hours a week is not necessary for achieving historical significance. It is not a causal relationship to achieving great things. Rather, it is a correlation. And its correlative, in my mind, comes from working on something much larger than ourselves. Most entrepreneurs who work 100 plus hour weeks do so because they obsessively believe in the importance of what they are doing. They are so passionate about their work, that they can’t help themselves from always diving into it. It is this passion, this fire in their minds and hearts, that allows them to achieve unprecedented results and that gives them as Sergey Brin says, “A healthy disregard for the impossible.”
Successful entrepreneurship is about finding something you believe in so much that “working” on it gives you energy.
So then, the challenge is not how hard you work, rather, it is more subtle than that. Successful entrepreneurship is about finding something you believe in so much that “working” on it gives you energy. Something you believe in so much, it becomes a part of you.