Make Me Rich or Die Trying!

Accountability Productivity Well-being


Key Point: “9 to 5 is for the weak.” That is the slogan on a popular t-shirt. And my recent three-week vacation gave me a little white space to reflect on how people, including me, use their precious 24 daily hours. It’s duly noted that some people like “Crush It” guru, Gary Vaynerchuk, tells his disciples of hustle; that if they want the “bling,’ they should work 18-hours a day, continuously. And of course Silicon Valley and every other startup/venture driven “valley” anywhere, inspires much of that thinking and behavior; sometimes to a ridiculous degree. Uber competitor, Lyft, posted a blog bragging how one of their drivers went into labor and kept picking up rides on the way to the hospital. After considerable criticism, Lyft pulled down the post. Hustle and good judgment are not necessarily related. 

Chinese start-ups are now becoming notorious for outworking start-ups in other cultures. It’s about working all-in, every day, including weekends for most new Chinese ventures. This start-up reality is even impacting national strategies. The new French president, Emmanuel Macron, has vowed to take on the country’s infamous labor code (the 3324 page, Code du Travail), in order to spark more globally competitive ventures in France. And much of their work force is pushing back.

On the other hand, counter to this obsessive “grind it up” thinking, are successful companies like Basecamp, where workweeks are capped at 40 hours and reduced to 32 in the summer. The founders are publishing a second book celebrating their company culture, entitled the “Calm Company.” And there is much research that questions real productivity gains after 50 to 60 hours of weekly work. So what does this all mean?

My genuine belief is that there is no wrong or right answer to this debate. 9-to-5 is irrelevant to being weak or strong. If “bling,” or some other purpose/outcome turns you on, then be prepared to out grind and outhustle; and recognize that giving up vacations, sleep, relationships is a conscious decision. Choices are made. No complaints or whining with the consequences. Contrary to most pop culture B.S., one usually can’t have it all at the same time. Also, if you want a more integrated work/non-work experience, then that’s cool too (and also possible in both start-up and more traditional environments). Of course, at different stages of life, sometimes fate matches us up for the pace and focus that works for us at that very time. It’s recommended not to judge others through our unique filters.

Character Moves:

  1. Think about how much you are living and working the way you want to right now. Is your pace and focus right for you? Or are you just in a pattern and let the rapids take you along? Consciously choose your 24 precious hours.
  2. One way or another, do not do what you’re doing to essentially/exclusively make someone else rich (or whatever) at your personal expense. I believe that is when we really lose our way; giving up everything we truly value, without getting the mental and financial equity we deserve. 

Just working in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: I too do not believe there’s a right or wrong answer for this, and it’s also a reason why this blog talks a lot more about putting in value than specific amounts of time. We know long hours certainly don’t guarantee you major financial success (just ask a nurse or fireman). I guess all we can do is produce the best work we can, and pay far more attention to our quality of contribution versus eyeing a clock.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis