If you are an entrepreneur or someone building your career, there are several traps you need to avoid. One of these is the glorification of hustling, struggling, and working very long hours. The idea seems to be that the more hours you put in, the less sleep you get, and the less of a life you have; the better your chances of success. This is actually a very false and toxic notion. Let’s look at what hustle or struggle porn is, why it’s so harmful, and what you need to do instead.

I was motivated to write this piece after speaking with my brother. We were hanging out as we usually do once or twice a week catching up on business, life etc. My brother and I are cut from the same cloth, both motivated entrepreneurs who have similar ambitions in life but are in two very different industries. We got chatting about our motivations, recent news, and the subject of Gary Vee came up. My brother has been an avid fan of his for a long time. Gary certainly has some great advice, there is no doubting that, but at what price? This sparked the need for me to give people some clarity on this insane notion of Hustle Porn…

What is Hustle Porn?

Anyone who’s started a business knows that it takes planning and hard work. This isn’t a revolutionary or controversial idea. “Hustle porn” takes this basic truth to an unhealthy extreme, telling us that we have to sacrifice everything else in our lives to be successful. It’s a kind of toxic philosophy that implies that the more you suffer and sacrifice, the wealthier and more successful you’ll be. Unfortunately, there are some persuasive voices pitching this notion.

For example, there’s a trend among CEOs to boast about how little sleep they get. CEO of PepsiCo (about to step down) Indra Nooyi brags that she works from 4 AM to midnight and doesn’t sleep more than four hours. Getting up before dawn and minimizing sleep, however, is just part of the equation.

Popular motivational speaker Gary Vaynerchuk (AKA Gary Vee) is a leader in the hustle porn movement. In one popular video, dubbed The Greatest Speech Ever, Vaynerchuk tries to rouse millennials out of their laziness and entitlement with exhortations to up their game and work harder. There are plenty of other business leaders and self-help gurus with similar messages.

You only hear about the success stories and not the casualties of this mentality.

While you can achieve success with such methods, the results often come at a high price such as burnout and reduced efficiency. Keep in mind that you only hear about the success stories and not the casualties of this mentality. There are some real problems with the hustle porn approach.

Lack of Balance

When I read or hear this litany of voices urging me to work longer, sleep and play less, and hustle harder, I tend to roll my eyes.  I have four kids, an amazing wife and a life I want to live outside of the office. I have no issue with what I do, I actually love my career, but let’s get real for a minute. The worst thing about this attitude is that it has a grain of truth, which makes it more confusing than most bad advice. You do need to hustle and put in consistent effort if you want to accomplish anything meaningful. The problem is that when you get sucked into the hustle porn trap, you lose balance and perspective.

There’s substantial evidence that working long hours has many negative side effects including stress and a higher risk of illness. It can even interfere with your productivity if you get burned out. I have yet to meet a single successful entrepreneur who doesn’t get burnt out on a 10 hour day, nevermind putting in 20 x 7.

Many things in life that are good in moderation are harmful if taken to an extreme. You need a certain amount of protein in your diet but too much puts stress on your organs. There’s also evidence that too much exercise can actually be detrimental to your mental and physical health. One study found that those exercising more than 90 minutes at a time are more likely to take mental health days than those who only exercise for 45 minutes.

The harmful effects of sleep deprivation, meanwhile, have been well documented. Not getting sufficient rest, aside from putting your health at risk, harms your memory and ability to make good decisions. As hustle porn advocates are proud to announce, it’s almost impossible to sleep normal hours while following their advice.

Sometimes It’s Smart to Quit

The hustling/struggling mentality is also one that urges you to never quit or give up. While this sports-influenced philosophy sounds appealing, it’s not actually good business advice. Evidence supports the idea that sometimes it’s better to quit. Many of the most successful entrepreneurs have built their empires upon the ruin of past failures.

At some point, you have to admit that an idea, business, marketing campaign, or partnership isn’t working. If you’re totally sold on the value of hustling, you’ll keep fighting an unwinnable battle until you literally run out of money or collapse from exhaustion. Fortunately, there’s a better alternative.

Practice Conscious Hustling

If you want to get the benefits of hustling but avoid the harmful effects of hustle porn, here are some guidelines I’ve found useful.

  • Master the art of prioritizing. It’s helpful to start the day by identifying the most important tasks and projects and tackle these first. A good way to do this is to use The Eisenhower Matrix, an ingenious time-management system popularized in Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This system, created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, involves prioritizing tasks based on their importance and urgency.
  • Don’t neglect your health. Eating well, getting regular exercise, and sufficient rest is essential for your physical and mental health. If you neglect these, you risk burning out. Additionally, your energy levels will flag and you’re likely to make poor decisions.
  • Delegate and outsource. People who are forever on the hustle and struggle treadmill often try to do everything themselves. It’s more efficient to delegate or outsource many everyday tasks so you can save time and concentrate on more interesting projects.
  • Automate when possible. Many tasks related to customer support, email marketing, social media, accounting, and other tasks can be sped up by automation. On the other hand, don’t cut corners but automating areas that require personal attention. For example, it’s fine to have chatbots to handle common customer questions. However, some support issues require a more hands-on approach.
  • Measure results rather than time or effort. In Work Smarter, Not Harder, Inc.com recommends measuring results rather than time. It doesn’t matter if you spent 2 hours or 20 hours on a project. All that really matters is what you have to show for it. The problem with hustle porn is that it has you congratulating yourself for putting in lots of hours and downplaying results.

Don’t Fall For Hustle Porn Hype

Hustle porn isn’t new but it’s enjoying a new wave of popularity right now. I suggest that you resist the hype. In the long run, you’ll have better health, relationships, and even a stronger business by taking a more balanced and nuanced approach. Rather than focusing on working harder and longer hours, look for ways to get more accomplished in less time. No More Meetings (or 6 Steps to Get Stuff Done) has some helpful suggestions on how to do this.

nvision provides end-to-end digital marketing and web design solutions. To learn how we can help your business reach its true potential, contact us.

Originally published on

2 thoughts on “Why “Hustle Porn” is Toxic and how to Eliminate it

  1. Thank you for this article, George. I couldn’t agree more and it’s probably my favourite one you have written to date. Your wife and kids are lucky to have a husband and dad who gets this. Gary Vee for me is not a guy I look up to for the reasons you’re saying here. More people need to hear this message. Thanks for your time and talent in this post.

    1. Thank you Andrew! I certainly have no issue putting in hard work and long hours where needed, I find the real issue being the need to glorify and suggest the only way to make it is by going all out all the time with zero compromise. I’m glad you enjoyed my post and appreciate the feedback!

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