I read that quote this morning and wanted to puke 🤮.

It’s Mark Cuban’s popular refrain in Shark Tank. That was my body’s first reaction because I had puked before while toiling away on my first business, Lotus Public Relations. In 2002, as a first-time entrepreneur, I worked out of my 500 sq. foot, 5th floor walkup apartment in NYC with one goal: to hit $1M in revenue within three years. I was off to the races but terrified I could lose my clients, team, and my edge – great storytelling to the media’s best storytellers –at any time.

I’d heard “grind language” like that before. Before working on Innovation Storytellers, I had a career in public health. I had gotten that message from Dr. Sheldon Jacobson. “Dr. J” was my boss, the Head of Emergency Medicine at Mount Sinai in NYC, the Father of the NYC EMS Paramedic Program, and one of the architects of the modern-day Emergency Medicine.

Dr. J was indefatigable. After a tough week in the ER, he’d say, “Lindner, why so tired? C’mon, you can rest in the box.”

After losing my first client, I found myself back in Dr. J’s ER. After 6 days of chest pains, I was on a gurney with EKG lines attached. He strolled in, shocked to see me.

“Lindner, I don’t know what kind of work you’re doing now but cut it out. It’s killing you.”

“So much for resting the box, huh?” I took a vacation and went right back to hustle culture.

I remained a workaholic for 6 more years, well past the big goal, big clients, and ever-growing team. I thought if I took my foot off the accelerator, the ideas would stop coming, and the clients, too. But I know better now. I get the brain science of success addiction and its by-products: the neglected friendships, crappy diets, and sleepless nights that accompany motivation by fear.

One study from Professor John Pencavel at Stanford University found that productivity per hour declines sharply when a person works more than 50 hours a week. After 55 hours, productivity drops so much that putting in any more hours would be pointless. And those who work up to 70 hours a week are only getting the same amount of work done as those who put in the 55 hours.

So back to Shark Tank, if 24/7 work by fear isn’t the message anymore, then what should replace it? If science shows that often less is more, then where is the balance?

How do you maintain a steady pace of forward progress and innovation?

Please comment below and let me know. I’m [not actually] dying to hear your thoughts.