The past year was a reckoning for the tech surplus elite. But there's still a myth that the grind isn't necessary for greatness.
Let's look at some personal stats.
I currently make 1/10 of what my peers in tech make. My friends and colleagues working at MAANA (the new FANG right?) clear $700k-1M in annual compensation at Staff/Director, and higher roles.
But my cost of living is much, much lower, so my lifestyle expenses are comparable to someone making low-level San Francisco tech money.
This means if I want luxury, pay the equivalent of ground-floor studio.
I work 16 hour days, 7 days a week on my startup.
I'm able to maintain this pace by avoiding alcohol, processed foods, and prioritizing daily time for physical activity.
Why am I writing this down?
On a call, one of our partners suggested my startup would need to allocate a few hours a week to a project.
He told me with our small startup team, dedicating those hours weekly would be tough.
So I told him about my 16x7 schedule.
His response: "You must be American."
The determining factor to grind is an American trait? Apparently the world isn't aware of China's 996 system.
Fortunate favors the grinders.
This assumption reveals an ongoing myth - that tireless hustle and grind isn't required for success in tech regardless of geography.
But study the greatest innovators and you'll find a common ethos of relentless work ethic and sacrifice.
Steve Jobs had an incredible work ethic. Jobs told his biographer that when he returned to Apple in 1996, he worked from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day, since he was still also leading Pixar's operations. He worked tirelessly, and suffered from kidney stones.
True magic and shaping the future happens outside one's comfort zone.
The rewards await those willing to stay there.
Note: if you have no network and are between the ages of 20-25, you should ignore everything that's coming next.
Many say it's impossible to maintain this pace outside the SF bubble. But by exiting to a lower cost area, I make this grind enjoyable and sustainable.
I trade boring conversations and expensive, bland groceries for an interesting daily life, and higher-than-SF median food quality.
I trade high-traffic or homeless-filled commutes with seaside runs.
Choose life. Choose grind.
My costs are reduced dramatically while my productivity increases due to the lack of bullshit.
You need a network, but if you have connections already, you likely do not need to be in a place where the quality of life to cost of living is the worst in history.
You can easily maintain the network by visiting, or by having high-quality connections located in those areas.
The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing us we could cruise to greatness. But cruise control is for those who have already arrived. The rest of us have miles yet to go.