To be successful in startup, tech, and modern business life, the prevailing wisdom is that you have to hustle, grind, and burn the candle at both ends in order to succeed. It's what I did building a venture-backed startup in San Francisco for three years, only to almost burn out completely.
For Joel Comm, the hustle-and-grind philosophy is just not true:
"There's one thing I've found throughout my business life that has always held true," Comm says in his upcoming new book, The Fun Formula. "When I've had the most fun, I've had the most success."
Comm is an author, speaker, and influencer with close to a million social followers between Twitter, Facebook, and other social outposts. He sold a gaming startup to Yahoo for seven figures, and has written six books, including one on live video, which he's something of a connoisseur on.
And all of his success, he says, starts with fun. And that's the fundamental message of the 200-page book.
"The hustle," Comm says, is a dance. And "grinding" is something you do to coffee beans.
This doesn't mean, however, that success doesn't require work.
But it does mean identifying the things that fascinate, energize, and generate the most enjoyment for you. And then focusing on highest-leverage activities for the goals you've set -- not on working twice as many hours getting every single thing done. The magic comes when you recognize where your strengths are, and combine them with things that you really enjoy doing.
You'll probably work hard when you've done that, Comm says, but you may not recognize what you're doing as work ... mostly because you're enjoying yourself too much.
Hard work alone won't get you there.
Comm cites a 1950s-era study that found that scientists who spent twenty-five hours in the workplace each week were no more productive than those who spent just five hours at work.
And then he quotes a French saying: "If working hard made you rich, donkeys would be covered in gold."
Focusing on fun enables people to take advantage of serendipity, to allow their hobbies to become their careers, and to not worry too much about failure. After all, if you had fun doing it, was failure of a project really a fail?
Perhaps a bigger message from the book is this:
"Wealth and power are the unstated goals of a hustle and grind lifestyle, and none of it is ultimately satisfying," Comm says.
You may or may not agree with him. But I happen to think he's right.
And there's a few lessons in this book that I'll be spending some time digesting for my own business and work life.
The Fun Formula: How Curiosity, Risk-Taking, and Serendipity Can Revolutionize How You Work launches on June 5.