One of the funniest aspects of hustle culture was its insistence on always being “on!” This maxim fought mightily against that other successful management truism; a successful CEO delegates. But how can you always be working if you have also successfully delegated your workload to a top notch team? Which one is it guys?!?!
I guess the logic was that you should always be working on whatever new horizon you has discovered in your perch as visionary founder but also be continually recruiting the best possible people to take on work as you should never be doing that work yourself. But those two directions are in obvious tension.
I think this tension ended up creating founders who exercise control of their anxiety through constantly searching for new ways to show off they were hard at work. We got addicted to busywork. Or at least the appearance of always being hard at work finding a new problem and then hiring talent to own it.
You’d always be finding new blockers at every turn, justifying it as growth and then you’d balloon your team hiring people for the work that you’d just found. I honestly wouldn’t be shocked if this was the driving force behind the trend of showing off your headcount growth.
“Oh we hired 50 people this quarter!” Sure but like were you actually blitzscaling or were you caught in the hustle/delegate hamster wheel? How many of those people actually materially moved your roadmap forward? I would bet at least some of them were just there to give you the emotional safety of claiming to yourself that you’d satisfied both hustle and delegation culture.