Internet reacts to a startup founder's picture of a meeting while getting a haircut in a salon.
Replace startup founder with Narayan Murthy, and the picture with the statement of a 70-hour work week - multiply the outrage by a million times - and there we have the scenario that was all over social media a few weeks ago.
But what is so wrong with a 70-hour work week, or as we like to call it, hustle?
I come from a lower-middle-class family in Bokaro, Jharkhand. I completed my B.Tech. degree on an education loan. And I did what I had to do to bring prosperity to my family. So I hustled.
Like Dumbledore, I too prize myself on my ability to turn a phrase, and one of my favorite ones is: When you don’t have privilege, build leverage.
The truth is we are not even middle class. In fact, we are much better off and have the required resources to get even better. Millions are deprived of even those opportunities. So why should one not hustle?
Narayan Murthy did not make that statement as a stand-alone. He talked extensively about how Germany and Japan used the policy of extended work hours to rejuvenate their economies after World War 2. India has a high youth density and hence, the chance to replicate the same and become a stronger economy.
And that guy knows what he is talking about. He started an IT company back when there was no such thing as IT companies. He is a first-generation entrepreneur. His company has even stood the test of time and is as relevant today as it was back in the 1990s and 2000s. Narayan Murthy knows his shit.
When someone says you have to work hard to succeed, they do not mean that you have to work hard every single day for years. Even when I mention working till 3 AM, or coding 10 hours a day, I am talking about my Day 3247. Because I have been at it for 10 years now.
No one works 70 hours in Week 1.
Being able to hustle is a skill that takes time to develop.
I had started coding in school hardly spending an hour over it daily. Then JEE preparation overtook that time as well. During college, I would again code around 2-3 hours a day. When I participated in competitions or hackathons, I would code for hours at a stretch.
Finally when I got into a job, and I was being paid to code all day, that was when I started coding for 6-8 hours a day.
Every influencer that tells you they work 16 hours a day has forgotten their Day 1.
It’s like when you walk into a gym, look at your trainer lifting 10 kg weights, and think that you can do it as well. You can, but it will take time to build the stamina and capability.
Start small. Whatever you are doing - coding, financial analysis, design - start with a few minutes every day. Spend minutes, and then hours on your skill. That’s how the muscle to hustle develops over time.
You don’t have to work such long hours all the time. There will be such periods and then it would be all normal.
Every industry has such periods. Ask any CA how many hours they work during year-end or around the last date of filing taxes. Ask any Mithaiwala about the rush in their shop during Diwali. Flipkart employees sleep in their offices during Big Billion Days. It’s normal in every industry out there.
Tech and Twitter are privileged.
We are not. Hence, we need to hustle. And trust me when I say this, when you build the muscle, you will start loving it. I will go as far as to say that you will crave that high of the state of flow and satisfaction the hustle will give you.
Hustle is great and all that, but a valid question to ask now would be: Does one have to hustle all their life?
Until you reach a position in life where your financial needs can well be covered by the money you make, you should hustle.
Not just to get a job, but to grow in a job, hustle becomes equally important. I have personally witnessed people work hard to get a job, despite the difficulties in their path. And then let it all go down the drain by becoming complacent once they get a job.
We won’t do that; because we want to build a long-term career.
I strongly stand by Narayan Murthy’s statement. Those who don’t either have forgotten the time they worked 70 hours a week, or are privileged.
If you don’t have privilege, build your leverage - with hustle.
Start small, give it time, be consistent, hustle away and you will surely score big.
I have been thinking of restarting the newsletter for so long now. But something or the other would get higher priority and writing kept taking a backseat. No one is more relieved than me on finishing this issue.
I am going to try to be consistent at it again. So if you want these nuggets of my learnings and thought processes, keep me accountable by subscribing to Tanay’s letters.
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I write about mentorship, education, tech, career, and startups.
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