Work 70hrs — How Dare You!

Abhishek Paul
4 min readNov 7, 2023


The controversy of the month seems to be NRN’s statement in a recent interview where among a whole host of insights he also shares how much he thinks people should work. You can see it here and see the camps forming below.

As should be expected, quite a bit of the critcism was the result of taking the statement out of context and/or with good intentions but fundamentally a low (and ultimately unhelpful if not dangerous) opinion of work and human beings, ie, what we want to do and what we are capable of and a naive/idealistic understanding of how business works.

  1. He said the youth “should want to” work 70hrs a week — this is not forcing from outside, but rather that the desire / motivation should come from within.

Eg: we used to admire people like Sachin who at a very young age left his parents to stay with his uncle and travel to play morning and night with school in between — becoming so tired that he would fall asleep on the dinner table. Everyone who has gone to accomplish great things has had to or more accurately had wanted to put in the hard work needed.

The real question then becomes what is the work that will make me want to spend an insane amount of time working on it, getting better and standing out. Can’t put it any better than Paul Graham here:

2. He said “the youth” should want to — so there’s a very specific period in one’s life/career where he feels this is appropriate and not a life sentence.

Anyone who is in their 20s and upto mid 30s has about 15 years when the opportunities are vast, responsibilities are lowest, more freedom to move quickly/ pivot, less consequences of mistakes and ofcourse higher energy and optimism. When you have so many things going in your favor, why not go all in?? In fact it seems like a wasted opportunity not to.

3. Whenever I hear people share/ counter ideas that end up demanding less of the individual, my antenna goes up and I try to find the assumptions on which their statements are built upon. Here there was atleast a couple that stood out, one about the individual and the other about the nature of work and business.

a. Flawed Assumptions of the Individual

i. They don’t want to push themselves, that they are looking for comfort over the tougher option. Why do we not think that people want to explore the edges of their limits (intellectually, physically, etc)?

ii. That we work because we have to and not that we want to. Work is seen as an unpleasant necessity. Instead why can’t it be seen as an extension of the person, a part of our design, something we are born to do, ie an opportunity to express an essential part of who we are (our talents, desires) and what makes us unique.

iii. The individual works primarily if not solely for personal material benefits. Work is seen as a selfish materialistic pursuit. But work is also an avenue to add value if not directly help others — why can’t this also be counted as one of the main motivators for someone to work? Why do we have such a myopic view of why people work.

b. Flawed Assumptions about Work & Business

i. That business will somehow not just survive, but also keep growing as if its some unwritten law. But one just needs to look at the amount of failed startups, the companies that have shut down or stagnated to know that there are no guarantees even when one puts in their best. So what are the chances that the company you are working in will continue to survive let alone do well if people working there feel that they just have to do their bit or worse, just coast along?

ii. That its the responsibility of the business/org to make work interesting for the individual, ie that the org has to figure out what the individual needs and then see how best to accommodate it. This sounds practically impossible to me and while the org does bear some responsibility, it is primarily the individual’s responsibility to figure out what their aspirations are and find an org/role that best suits their needs at the moment/phase in their career. Anything less is an abdication of personal responsibility and a recipe for bitterness and low impact.

(Update to add Jamie Dimon’s recent post on individual vs company responsibility)

Ultimately for me, it comes down to this quote by the legendary, late F1 racer, Ayrton Senna and I hope each one of us finds our own way to experience these emotions as a core part of our lives and not something that we need to make time for in small pieces.