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Do we need to hustle to make it big?

Global writers, women marketers, and successful business owners weighed in: Can we never buy into the corporate rate race mentality or "hustle culture" but still made it big?

There's a trend to realise that we do not dream of labour in our 30s and begin telling others, "your career isn't everything," or similar [very true] proverbs! A record-breaking 50.5 million people in the US quit their jobs in 2022, making the time gain its title as the “Great Resignation.” Alongside these people who do not dream of labour, are many of my peers. We might hustle intensely for a few years until we can afford to quiet quit or choose to work for ourselves.


Of the women leaders I know – in and outside content marketing –many of us struggled and strived, then made something of ourselves. Today, we might have the "luxury" of slowing down a bit.


A man holds his hands to his face seeming stressed

But could we have gotten here, without the hustle, without pushing it too far?


The System is not designed for burnout-free careers


"Some people are more prone to burnout because we look for validation in the wrong spaces. The system we‘re in is built on people that over-achieve and capitalize on it," says Stéphanie Lauer, executive funding driver via ghostwriting. Ifeoma Ahuna, lifestyle content creator and coach, added, "I don’t know anyone who didn’t have any periods of working too much, or reaching burnout who also made it big."


Are those years of strife necessary, especially if you want to work as a freelance writer or marketer?


Hustlers and business owners on company cultures that work


I asked my peers if they know any examples of anti-hustlers. It was heartwarming to discover that there are examples to disprove my suspicion!

The Patagonia founder is anti-hustle culture, according to serial founder and successful brand scaler, Bridgette Orten. Yvon Chouinard told NPR's Guy Raz on How I Built This: “We have a policy that when the surf comes up, you drop work and you go surfing.” Chouinard is an example of not hustling all your life, he was not a Wallstreet wonder before building a successful business, he was a rock climber. Today, he's a writer too.


"I can't say whether or not he never bought into hustle culture, but the Patagonia people were always big surfers and prioritized that in the entire company," explains Orton.


A woman leans over a laptop on a high bench in a coffee shop, perhaps stressed, working hard

Michelle Puccinelli, business owner and marketing director, added another name to the pot: "Ezra Firestone always had great boundaries. I don't think he ever engaged with the hustle-till-burnout culture." And by his account, she's right! Firestone, ecommerce expert, said in interview with Smart Marketer: "We've all been told this before: Hustle. Grind. Sacrifice. Well, I think this advice is incredibly misguided."


What's the antidote, or vaccine to avoid hustle culture in the first place? Well, unpopular opinion: Being a cishet man might help. Between 39 entrepreneurs, we couldn't name a woman who's considered a household name and also back up our hope that she didn't hustle. A quick internet search proved that Bozoma Saint John, Ursula von der Leyen, Tsai Ing-wen – and every other name we rattled off – had some level of corporate hustle involved in their rise.


A neon sign reads Wake up. Kick ass. Repeat.

Can we succeed without burnout?

I'm certainly no one to preach about success without a fair amount of hustle. However, the key does seem to lie in caring a little less. "As long as you don‘t identify too much with your work you‘re less prone to burnout," says Lauer, from her experience 10xing the brand of burnout coach.


For Ahuna, the more aligned and authentic she got with work, the less focus she needed to place on slowing down. "That said, I am the girl who has to have my eye twitching to realize I’m working too much!"


Perhaps... I asked the wrong group of hardworking women to weigh in on skipping hustle culture entirely! But they are the most successful group of people I know.


What are your two cents, can you connect us to someone who's skipped hustle culture and achieved great success? Drop a comment.


Or if you simply want to read more opinion pieces from me, check out:

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