According to the head of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, burn out is certainly real, and to achieve more we should be working less.
Jack Dorsey, the founder and CEO of both Twitter and Square, may run two publicly traded companies, but he doesn’t subscribe to the notion you should be working all hours of the day to keep up.
Rich Kleiman, a successful businessman in his own right and manager of NBA superstar Kevin Durant, hosted Jack on his podcast last week. Dorsey opened up about his mental approach to his work—from his daily schedule to what motivates him to how to avoid burnout with so much on his plate.
In response to a question posed by Kleiman, Dorsey stressed that young startup founders “100%” need to be worried about burning themselves out, claiming the key is to figure out what works for you instead of blindly following what worked for other famous founders and high-achievers.
“I think being too rigid about having to work all hours, versus ‘what is the work trying to teach me about what I need to do personally to maintain this level or to extend or go beyond this level’ … the latter is the mindset I want to have and what I would recommend,” Dorsey said.
“Like, ‘Success means I work 20 hours a day and I sleep four because that’s what I read that Elon Musk does.’ Which is bullshit,” Dorsey said
Dorsey isn’t oblivious to the fact that successful leaders are idols, and as a young person it’s hard not to feel pressured by what those who came before are doing/have done, but the key is to have self-awareness and to check in with how you’re feeling. Working non-stop, he said, can “take options off the table”—if you’re too engrossed in working hard for the sake of it, you may miss opportunities coming your way.
Jack brought up Elon Musk as an example of a polarising figure who others may try to emulate.
“Like, ‘Success means I work 20 hours a day and I sleep four because that’s what I read that Elon Musk does.’ Which is bullshit,” Dorsey said. “If you’re only observing the outside world instead of like, your reaction to it, we’re missing an opportunity to raise a bar in ourselves, which I think is the best way to grow – the only way to grow.”
Back in 2018, Musk famously told The New York Times that he was working 120 hours per week—though he later scaled his hours back to a more “manageable” 80-to-90 hours per week.
We know that overworking is detrimental to one’s mental health, though experts also warn that it can be dangerous for your physical health, too. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention found that working long hours can result in cancer, cardiovascular disease and suicide.
Bizarre behaviours, while not always the burnout-inducing kind, don’t pertain only to Musk in the tech world. Steve Jobs retained a Zen master to serve as his spiritual adviser. Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce, is a devotee of self-actualisation and yoga. Jeff Bezos consults psychics. Anthony Levandowski, an engineer central to both Google and Uber’s self-driving car programs, established his own church of AI.
Dorsey himself is no stranger to peculiar routines. Jack made headlines last year for his supposed morning routine of drinking “salt juice”; which is just disgustingly-salty lemon water. Furthermore, he spent a recent birthday on a 10-day silent meditation trip to Myanmar.