Billionaire LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman: 'More work is never the real answer'

LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman
Photo by Bloomberg

If you work hard enough and long enough, then you will succeed. Or so goes the popular ethos in start-up culture.

Not so, says billionaire LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman on "The Tim Ferriss Show" podcast.

"Hard work isn't enough. And more work is never the real answer," says Hoffman, who is now a partner at venture capital firm, Greylock Partners.

"The sort of grit you need to scale a business is less reliant on brute force. It's actually one part determination, one part ingenuity and one part laziness.

"Yes, laziness," says the billionaire.

Or at least you want to conserve your energy to expend it on the right things.

Hard work isn't enough. And more work is never the real answer.
Reid Hoffman
co-founder of LinkedIn

"Some people mistake grit for sheer persistence — charging up the same hill, again and again. But that's not quite what I mean by the word 'grit,'" Hoffman says on Ferriss's podcast.

"You want to minimize friction and find the most effective, most efficient way forward. You might actually have more grit if you treat your energy as a precious commodity.

"So forget the tired cliche of running a marathon. You want to be more like Indiana Jones, somersaulting under blades, racing a few steps ahead of a rolling boulder and swinging your whip until you reach your holy grail," says Hoffman.

Hoffman's advice mirrors that of Adam Grant, the No. 1 professor at top-tier business school Wharton, best-selling author and management consultant to the likes of Facebook, Google, Goldman Sachs and the NBA, who also suggests working smarter, not harder.

"Persistence is one of the most important forces in success and happiness," says Grant. "But that's only half the story.

"Grit doesn't mean keep doing the thing that's failing," says Grant in a speech to Utah State University graduates. "It means define your dreams broadly enough that you can find new ways to pursue them."

Grant uses an example from his own childhood. He wanted to be a professional basketball player, but no matter how much he practiced, he couldn't be great. He was not even five feet tall by the time he entered high school. So instead, he took up diving, a sport where his height was not a hindrance. He qualified for the junior Olympic nationals twice and competed at the NCAA level in diving.

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