And he said something that wouldn't have been controversial a few decades ago... but it is today. Here's what he said:
"Work like hell. I mean you just have to put in 80- to 100-hour weeks every week. [This] improves the odds of success. If other people are putting in 40-hour workweeks and you're putting in 100-hour workweeks, then even if you're doing the same thing, you know that you will achieve in four months what it takes them a year to achieve."
Alright, maybe I'm biased since people tell me I work too hard as well--I work at night and on weekends--but here's what Musk's critics are missing:
1. As crazy as 80 hours might sound Elon Musk is actually in good company.
A 12-year Harvard study by Nitin Nohria and Michael Porter revealed that CEOs of multibillion-dollar companies work 62.5 hours per week on average. Musk works 28 percent more than them.
That's big enough of a difference, but not nearly as crazy when put in perspective.
2. Elon Musk clearly has a high tolerance for overworking.
Years later in another interview, he said:
"80 is pretty sustainable... the increase in suffering when you work more than that is dramatic. The pain level for hours increases exponentially. It's like nonlinear above 80."
What would be a normal workweek vs. a crazy one? It all depends on you. A 50-hour workweek might be more than enough. And, it's not just about the number of hours, it's also about working on things that matter.
3. Elon Musk is NOT saying that you should burn yourself out.
And, in the Harvard study I quoted earlier, top CEOs actually sleep more than many Americans. Gallup reported that 40 percent of Americans sleep less than six hours. The CEOS that Harvard researchers interviewed get 6.9 hours on average.
And ultimately, this is the truth...
4. There's no substitute for hard work in entrepreneurship.
Let's face it, entrepreneurship is tough. Most people burn their businesses to the ground. Or they don't grow their businesses to the size they want. Many fail to even get started.
Hard work just happens to be a free, effective way to increase your chances of success. And more importantly, here's the question I have for them and you:
"Are you content with what you have?"
If what you've achieved is good enough, no problem. But I want more than good enough. I wouldn't have grown my business to where it is today without those all-nighters. I wouldn't even have got it out of debt!
So, if you really want to succeed, there's no other way.
Put in the work. Don't blow your chances. Quoting Musk once again...
"Ford & Tesla are the only two American car companies to avoid bankruptcy. I just got
home from the factory. You think this is an option. It is not."