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.
“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.
“Never give up is bad advice. Sometimes quitting is a virtue,” says Grant in a speech he delivered to Utah State University graduates.
Grant uses an example from his own childhood. He desperately wanted to be a professional basketball player but was not even five feet tall by the time he entered high school. For Grant to continue to put his efforts into working towards being in the NBA would have been a waste of his energy.
“Grit doesn’t mean keep doing the thing that’s failing,” says Grant. “It means define your dreams broadly enough that you can find new ways to pursue them when your first and second plans fail. I needed to give up on my dream of making the NBA, but I didn’t need to give up on my dream of becoming a halfway decent athlete.”
Grant took up diving, a sport where he was able to achieve some measure of success: He qualified for the junior Olympic nationals twice and competed at the NCAA level in diving.
“Don’t give up on your values, but be willing to give up on your plans,” Grant says.
Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook.
Malcolm Gladwell: Here’s why you should slow down and do less
Wharton’s No. 1 professor: ‘Never give up is bad advice. Sometimes quitting is a virtue.’
Adam Grant: Resilience is the secret to success. Here are 2 ways to improve yours
Billionaire LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman: ‘More work is never the real answer’