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Do you work 80- to 100-hour weeks?
Elon Musk recently declared, “Nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week.”
One founder who takes exception to the gauntlet Musk lays down for his workers is Swedish CEO Johan Attby.
He is the founder of Fishbrain, a community-based fishing app used by approximately seven million anglers around the world.
Previously, Attby founded a startup in Silicon Valley and worked in Boston, Massachusetts, before moving home to Stockholm, Sweden. Today, he cautions how Silicon Valley CEOs like Musk link time spent in work with productivity.
The Problems With Musk’s 100-Hour Work Week
“I’ve rarely seen anyone actually being productive, at least sustainably, for 100 hours per week,” said Attby. “Of course productivity goes down. Because their brains are drained! You need sleep; you need food; you need healthy relationships.”
Working 80- to 100-hours every week is kind of like trying to run a marathon at full-speed. The first mile or two might go okay, but many workers will inevitably break before reaching the finish line.
Instead, entrepreneurs can tackle longer-term projects by targeting smaller milestones on a weekly or fortnightly basis, a process known as sprints.
“We ship on iOS and Android every single week,” Attby said. “I don’t want to burn out people, I want to have brilliant people being with me for years, not for months. Yes, this is a marathon with some sprints along the way.”
What To Track Instead Of Time
Instead of tracking hours spent tied to the desk, entrepreneurs who want to change the world can rate themselves and their teams in terms of outputs or deliverables during the previous week, month or quarter.
“Every Friday we have an all-hands meeting where the teams demo what they built in the week,” Attby said. “That’s how they deliver value to the customers, not if they spent 40, 50, 60, 80 hours this week as individuals.”
Managers and entrepreneurs can also shun time spent at the desk as a metric and instead use ones like conversions to subscriptions, customer engagement and retention rates.
“The metric, the number of hours you work, it’s absolutely the wrong metric,” said Attby. “The right metric is how much you actually produce and how that translates into customer values that drive core metrics. Time at desk is not a core KPI, but user growth, retention and revenue are.”
Embrace Long-Term Thinking
Silicon Valley’s timelines for a company succeeding are more condensed than the rest of the world, which might go some way to explaining Musk’s mindset. Attby’s speciality lies in building and scaling companies like Fishbrain. He said:
In Silicon Valley, it’s all about speed. It’s all about velocity. It’s a lot about pulling the all-nighter, and you’re really in constant crunch mode. We have all burnt the midnight oil in pursuit of success, but I think a founder or team who insists on a company succeeding within the first year or two often risks exhaustion and burnout.
Instead, they should plan how to succeed over a three- to five-year period.
“I personally believe it’s better for the individual. I think it’s a lot better for the company. It takes time to build a really successful company,” said Attby.
“Even if you look at Spotify … it took them 10 years to become a really valuable and big company,” he said.
What Musk Gets Right
Although Attby is wary of Musk’s calls for a longer work week, he recognises the entrepreneur as a visionary for disrupting the car-manufacturing and space-travel industries.
“As a visionary, he’s very inspiring,” Attby said. “If you look at the turnover, in people in the management team, and in Tesla as a company, he might have been even more successful if he could have done it in a more sustainable way.”
After all, even visionaries are human.
February 7, 2019 at 03:43PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs