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Lack of Focus and Intensity: LinkedIn Co-Founder Warns Against Prioritizing Work-Life Balance

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, various factors such as the increasing prevalence of remote work, the emergence of the gig economy, and evolving attitudes towards work culture have ignited a widespread discussion on work-life balance. Many employees are pushing for more adaptable work arrangements to effectively juggle their personal and professional commitments. However, influential figures in the tech industry like Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy have expressed a contrasting viewpoint. For instance, Murthy seemingly advocates for an intense work ethic, implying that employees should dedicate an average of 14 hours per day if working a standard 5-day week. Similarly, Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph and Reddit co-founder and former executive chairperson Alexis Ohanian have echoed similar sentiments, suggesting that the concept of work-life balance may not hold true. This perspective is shared by the co-founder of LinkedIn as well.

In a guest lecture at Stanford University focusing on “How to be a Great Founder,” Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn, delved into the discourse surrounding work-life equilibrium. Hoffman boldly stated, “I actually think founders have no balance.” He emphasized that truly successful founders are those who wholeheartedly commit themselves to their work, prioritizing their venture above all else without seeking a balance with personal pursuits like hobbies or family time. According to Hoffman, exceptional founders are those prepared to make sacrifices and invest their full dedication into their entrepreneurial endeavors.

While Hoffman acknowledges that founders can still engage in social activities such as dates, parties, or family gatherings, he underscores the importance of maintaining unwavering focus on their projects during these interactions. He highlights the arduous nature of building a business, emphasizing the myriad ways in which a venture can falter, underscoring the necessity for founders to remain resolutely devoted to their work. Despite the intensity of this commitment potentially being temporary, founders are encouraged to prioritize their work above all else, even if it means leading a somewhat “unbalanced” life during this phase.

Hoffman’s own journey with LinkedIn serves as a testament to his beliefs. Establishing the platform in 2002, it wasn’t until 2008 that LinkedIn gained significant traction. By 2011, it had become a publicly traded company, eventually being acquired by Microsoft in 2016 for a staggering (26 billion. Hoffman’s relentless dedication over 14 years to LinkedIn culminated in substantial success, with his net worth now exceeding)5 billion as a result of his endeavors.