Is the ‘Hustle Culture’ a Swindle?

Abundance Accountability Personal leadership Respect


Story: If you want to feel the vibe of what’s going in the world of cranked up work, especially the technology market, hang around at one of the Starbucks on Mercer Island, Wash. It’s not Silicon Valley but a darn good facsimile. Situated between Seattle and Bellevue, the coffee shop that was spawned at Pike Place market just down the road, is a commerce hotspot. Executives from companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Boeing, DocuSign, start-ups, venture firms, private equity, etc., wander in casually wearing their $300 dollar ripped jeans for a grande Americano to accompany some business deal. The tables are so close one doesn’t have to be rude to eavesdrop. The couple at the table beside us included a 30 plus year old hustling Facebook executive with a new house and baby. “I’m at work at 5:30 a.m. with 10 plus direct reports, my wife has to go back to work. I get four months for paternity leave but I’m afraid taking it will derail my career…” The convo got even more interesting from there. Ironically, I was reading a heck of an article entitled “Why Are Young People Pretending to Like Work?” by Erin Griffith in the NYT Sunday Business section. I want to share an excerpt:

It’s not difficult to view hustle culture as a swindle. After all, convincing a generation of workers to beaver away is convenient for those at the top.’The vast majority of people beating the drums of hustle-mania are not the people doing the actual work. They’re the managers, financiers and owners,’ said David Heinemeier Hansson, the co-founder of Basecamp, a software company. We spoke in October, as he was promoting his new book, ‘It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work,’ about creating healthy company cultures. Mr. Heinemeier Hansson said that despite data showing long hours improve neither productivity nor creativity, myths about overwork persist because they justify the extreme wealth created for a small group of elite techies. ‘It’s grim and exploitative,’ he said.

Ms.Griffith concludes her editorial with the following: ‘The grim reality of 2019 is that begging a billionaire for employment via Twitter is not considered embarrassing, but a perfectly plausible way to get ahead. On some level, you have to respect the hustlers who see a dismal system and understand that success in it requires total, shameless buy-in. If we’re doomed to toil away until we die, we may as well pretend to like it. Even on Mondays.’”

Key Point: Everyone will leave the organization they’re with some day. It may be completely on our own terms but likely not. And before the door closes, our jobs will be filled and the organization as it should, will move forward without us. So we need to be very intentional about why we’re at work. 

The hustle culture is more likely to be a swindle when we’re not doing what we’re good at, what we like to do and with value that makes us richer in EVERY way. I’ve referred to this as PERSONAL EQUITY and it involves a conscious appreciation of net worth financially, emotionally, experientially, physically and spiritually. If we’re genuinely and constructively evolving, including advancing our relationships with those we love, the “hustle” is likely very much worth it. If not, we may be caught up in an unwitting Ponzi scheme and going with the flow just because.

Actions you can do about it:

  1. Take an honest inventory. Is your Personal Equity improving? Like a good investment portfolio, is it appropriately balanced in all areas? I.E., is your hustle worth it? 
  2. If not, stop kidding yourself and trying to be a modern day striped suit disguised in jeans and sucked in by the free Vitamin Water, and foosball table. 

Hustling for Personal Equity Growth,


One Millennial View: Tell me about it… People who listen to Gary Vee now think that they should spend every Saturday morning seeking garage sales to flip cheap swag for $200 – $300 dollars on eBay because someone, somewhere, is willing to pay triple for that ugly sweater or nightstand you negotiated down to $13 dollars. But are we really doing that? I haven’t. It’s difficult. It’s a lot easier to just watch football or YouTube. But then you ask yourself, why are you wasting time consuming something that doesn’t better you? Jocko Willink makes part of his living posting black and white pictures of his Ironman wrist watch at 4:30 a.m., reminding his thousands of followers how lazy they are in comparison. The hustle game is real, it’s in our face constantly, and it seemingly does work. But make no mistake about it, it’s friggin’ hard, and an Instagram filter makes it very presentable but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. That said, it’s certainly the type of thing worth thinking big, starting small and acting now about. When you’re not hustling, someone else is, and that’s never going to go away.

– Garrett

Blog 962

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis.