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Unhustle for Leadership

Hustle Culture is Overrated

Milena Regos

In a world obsessed with busyness and chasing success at all costs, we end up burnt out, stressed out, and lonely. At Unhustle, my vision is to shift this paradigm. It’s about finding the sweet spot between doing and real living, embracing a lifestyle that balances life enjoyment with purposeful achievement. This is the future I’m creating with Unhustle—a sustainable, prosperous future for ourselves, our families, communities, teams, companies, and the planet.

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Reading Time: 6 minutes

We live in Hustle Culture

“Hustle… the most important word EVER”

Gary Vaynerchuk

I disagree with Mr. Vaynershuk. “Human” is the most important word ever.

Hustle Culture, Hustlemania, Hustle Porn, Workism.

It goes on and on. We’ve invented these new words in the English language to describe our fetish with work. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at the Urban Dictionary. Actually, let’s do it together.

Hustlemania – The Art of Hustling to the extreme

Hustle Porn – the fetishization of extremely long working hours.

Hustlehole – Someone who constantly adds #hustle to their social media posts. A combination of hustle and asshole)

9 to 9 – Way to say you hustle. Most people work 9 to 5, but you put in more. You have the 9 to 9 hustle.

Sustle–  Side Hustle, side + hustle combined = Sustle.

The Grind. When you work your ass off to get shit done

#RiseandGrind, #HustleHard, #ThankGodItsMonday. These are real Instagram hashtags with millions of followers.

“Wake up. Kick ass. Repeat.”

“There’s no time for ease and comfort. It is the time to dare and endure.”

“Work out. Make money. Drink wine. Repeat.”

“Nobody cares. Work harder.”

These are actual Instagram posts with thousands of likes.  Enough to make you want to vomit a little in your mouth.

In what has become a viral article since its publishing in the New York Times “Why are young people pretending to work”, Erin Griffith writes about her visit to the WeWork headquarters in New York: “The throw pillows implore busy tenants to “Do what you love.” Neon signs demand they “Hustle harder,” and murals spread the gospel of T.G.I.M. Even the cucumbers in WeWork’s water coolers have an agenda. “Don’t stop when you’re tired,” someone recently carved into the floating vegetables’ flesh. “Stop when you are done.”

Gary Vaynerchuk exudes Hustle. The CEO and co-founder of VaynerMedia, sends out the “Hustler’s Digest.” He calls hustle, “The most important word. Ever.” He says that working 9 to 6 is not enough. He says, “Hustle is the cure for those who complain.” According to Gary: “Hustle is really working, day in and day when no one is looking. It’s about what you did from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep.” His media company One37pm about page states: “The current state of entrepreneurship is bigger than career. It’s ambition, grit and hustle.”

Gary and his company are not alone.

Grant Cardone sells Hustle Mustle.

Marissa Mayer, the former president and chief executive officer of Yahoo!, says you can work 130 hours a week—as long as you are strategic about when you sleep, shower and go to the bathroom!

Elon Musk is known for sleeping on the factory floor during “production hell” and says working 80-90 hour weeks is normal.

Hustle Culture Definition

Hustle Culture is this 24/7 “always-on” business culture, encouraging us to work longer, work harder, and sacrifice everything for work.

Take a look at what some companies in Silicon Valley are doing – turning their offices into living campuses with cafeterias serving healthy meals and dinners so people stay late, sleep pods, mail boxes so people feel connected to the outside world, vegetable gardens and laundry so you never have to leave. People don’t need to go home at the end of the day. It’s easier to just live at work. I witnessed all of this with my own eyes during a tour of the Google and Twitter campuses in the Bay Area.

This toxic work environment is supported by society, companies, entrepreneurs, influencers, your boss, my old self, maybe even you. Yes, I used to be a part of Hustle Culture. I used to give my clients and team members coffee mugs that said: “Get Shit Done”. I’m not proud of it.  Read my full story here.

All these people and companies glorify “Hustle Culture as the societal standard that you can only succeed by exerting yourself at max capacity professionally. Everyday.” Not only that, but you have to be passionate about what you do – to the extent that you never want to do anything else.

Hustle Culture means you live to work. You prefer doing to being and in the process you turn into a human doing from a human being. To hustle all the time is not human.

When is Enough Enough? What’s happening to our humanity?

“The human experience is so much more than 24/7 hustle to the max.” quips Jason Fried in the book “It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work”.

Aytekin Tank, CEO of JotForm writes about hustle culture and avoiding burnout regularly.

When I started Unhustle, Christopher Lochhead, a dear friend of mine and I discussed the perils of Hustle Culture and how it is the worst advice ever to give to entrepreneurs. Christopher is someone I have followed and admired for many years. He’s an advisor to over 50 venture-backed startups, a venture capital limited partner and a former three-time Silicon Valley public company CMO, entrepreneur, and co-author of two bestsellers. He’s also #1 Apple Business Podcaster and his show has surpassed Oprah on occasions. Go listen to his podcast episode called “Fuck Hustle”.

Reddit’s founder says putting work above all else can be “toxic.”

“The Western workplace culture – exported to many other parts of the world – is practically fueled by stress, sleep deprivation, and burnout…Even as stress undermines our health, the sleep deprivation so many of us experience in striving to get ahead at work is profoundly – and negatively – affecting our creativity, our productivity, and our decision making. The Exxon Valdez wreck, the explosion of Challenger space shuttle, and the nuclear accidents at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island all were at least partially caused by a lack of sleep”. – write Ariana Huffington in her book “Thrive”

“We’ve been hustling, but hustling toward an empty grave. Lifeless. Less human. Because we’re busier. More frantic. More disconnected. Lonelier. But what if hustle is actually what got us to this point? What if it’s not the solution, but the problem? What if hustle is a contagion that is flowing through our veins in subtle, under-the-surface ways? Sooner or later, we’ll see symptoms.” – an excerpt from the book “The hell with the hustle” by Jefferson Bethke

So for every Grant Cardone there’s a Jason Fried, for every Gary Vaynerchuk there’s a Christopher Lochhead for every Elon Musk there’s Ariana Huffington.

Hustle Culture Is Overrated

My dream is that one day for every Hustler there will be at least two Unhustlers. Because otherwise, we are losing our Humanity. We are turning into the Burnout Generation.

According to a Gallup poll two-thirds of Americans who work full-time experience burnout on the job.

Gary Vaynerchuk says he’s from the former Soviet Union. Guess what? So am I. We didn’t hustle. Sure, we worked hard during the week. We had rich experiences and meaningful relationships. We had time to go out to dinner with friends, and we had long lunches outside the office. We had four weeks off in summertime to go to the Black Sea and recharge. Four weeks! We went skiing on weekends in the Rila Mountains. We had no way to check back in with the office.

We had a life. 

And work was just a part of it. But we lived a multi-dimensional life.

Americans “work longer hours, have shorter vacations, get less in unemployment, disability, and retirement benefits, and retire later, than people in comparably rich societies,” wrote Samuel P. Huntington in his 2005 book Who Are We?: The Challenges to America’s National Identity.

We’ve become a mass-addiction society – to social media, technology, drugs, consumerism, and work. We work more but are less happy according to the World Happiness Report.

Enough of this Hustle Culture

The notion that work becomes the most important aspect of our lives is crazy to say the least and the worst advice possible in my opinion. It’s simply not sustainable. Unfortunately, it has become a mindset, philosophy, desire, addiction, cult and a way of life that is not only not realistic in the long run but downright stupid.

Truth is, the right amount of hustle is good. It’s finding the middle ground and that middle ground is going to be different for everyone, just like diet is different for everyone.

How often have you heard someone say: “I gotta hustle”?

Maybe even you’ve said it yourself. For many of us, it’s become the new norm. It’s ingrained in our language. It’s become a badge of honor. A new lifestyle desired by many. The more you hustle, the busier you are, the more respect and admiration you get. Right?


Hustle Culture Comes with Sacrifices

Hustle makes you overwhelmed, stressed out, exhausted, sick, slow, stupid and unhappy. 

Hustle Culture is not sustainable. Machines work 24/7. You are human.

What if there’s a better way to move up the ladder, or come down the ladder whatever drives you but in the process gain more time, improve your health, have deeper relationships and richer experiences and in addition scale your business with impact because you can actually think straight, feel good and have time to see your priorities better? What if you could achieve true success and still do your job and live your life?

I’m here to tell you that becoming successful by working yourself to the bone is stupid and not sustainable in the long run. Hustle is not getting you any closer to your idea of the “good life”. If you want to hustle, if you want to work yourself to the max, go through the motions, be in the rat race, live like a zombie, stare at screens 24/7, lose your precious life and your identity to work and distractions, go for it. It’s your life and your choice.

But if you want to stop existing and start living then the Unhustle lifestyle may be better for you. If you want to wake up feeling alive, go through your days in a flow, feel good, have steady energy, spend time with your family, make more money by doing less, live in your optimal shape mentally and physically, then don’t Hustle, Unhustle.

Say No to Hustle and Yes to living your Life.

You Are a Human Being, Not a Human Doing. Act like it.

Join the Unhustle Movement and connect with like-minded people walking the talk.

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  1. Mitul says:

    Insightful article

    • Milena Regos says:

      Thank you so much Mitul. What was your most favorite part?

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