I got in trouble in a recent interview I did. The guest was a doctor and then became partner at a very large company.
We were discussing work/life balance and I hinted at an unpopular belief I have: That she is a top 1%er and that I couldn’t believe that she had worked sensible hours — particularly in her 20s and 30s. She told me off for implying that people like her are not ‘normal people’ but conceded that she had worked ridiculous hours.
I think people find me referring to people as ‘top 1%ers’ (or similar) problematic. I kind of get it, but not really. To me the people I interview really are like sports stars.
I think, and maybe it’s painfully obvious — but there has to be some divide between what makes up a ‘normal’ balanced life and what top 1%ers do.
Keith is talking about the Olympics of startups. He’s talking about the person going for the gold medal and trying to build a multi-billion dollar public company. That person has to get everything right. They have to have great judgment. They have to pick the right thing to work on. They have to recruit the right team. They have to work crazy hard. They’re engaged in a competitive sprint.
In fact, I think accomplished people working crazy hours is the most ethical state of affairs.
If working M–F 9–5 sits square in the middle of the normal distribution, then to achieve outlier status — your work ethic must be in the outlier of the graph too. Anything else would be unfair.
If partners, executives, professors didn’t work crazy amounts — then why exactly are they there? Inborn talent? Family connection? Pure chance? All of these seem more problematic than working hard.