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IT AIN'T SEXY

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian is taking a stand against “hustle porn”

Alexis Ohanian at the Australian Open
AP Photo/Aaron Favila
Alexis Ohanian: Fiercely anti-hustle
  • Leah Fessler
By Leah Fessler

Reporter, Quartz at Work

Over the past decade, entrepreneurship has steadily become synonymous with “hustle,” the one-word synthesis of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s eagerness to “move fast and break things.”

As countless Silicon Valley evangelists preach, if you don’t have enough “hustle,” you might as well stop trying. Elon Musk created Tesla and SpaceX by hustling. Jack Dorsey manages to run two publicly traded tech companies simultaneously because, duh, he hustles. And if you won’t give up eating breakfast or answering emails out of sacrifice to the hustle, my friend, your chances of enjoying similar levels of success are woefully slim.

According to Alexis Ohanian, a co-founder of Reddit and Initialized Capital, the obsession with hustling is a waste of time, and a dangerous one at that.

“Hustle porn,” as Ohanian so deliciously calls it, is distracting young entrepreneurs from doing good work, and reinforcing sexist stereotypes that to win in tech, you have to ditch everything outside of work and devote your life to your company, a tradeoff many people (and women especially) simply cannot make. He shared this perspective at Web Summit, one of Europe’s largest tech conferences, held Nov. 5-8 in Libson, as Nicholas Say reported for MoneyMakers.

“This idea that unless you are suffering, grinding, working every hour of every day, you’re not working hard enough … this is one of the most toxic, dangerous things in tech right now,” Ohanian said, according to Say’s report. “It’s such bullshit, such utter bullshit. It has deleterious effects not just on your business but on your wellbeing.”

Ohanian’s frustration is supported by psychological and scientific research, which repeatedly proves that getting insufficient sleep and exercise is among the worst things you can do for your memory, heart health, and general health. Alternatively, when entrepreneurs do make time for sleep, they’re calmer and more focused at work.

Ohanian also noted that the “hustle” ethos discourages entrepreneurs from reaching out for help when they’re struggling, for fear of looking weak or unsuccessful in the eyes of investors. The key to entrepreneurial success, he said at Web Summit, is overcoming this anxiety and engaging in hard conversations with co-workers. “When you’re struggling, talk to someone. It can be a professional, a family member, or even a stranger can be helpful in getting you into a better headspace.”

And remember: like most porn, hustle porn is not a valid representation of reality.

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