Live to Work? Ehhhhhh…maybe.
So why do people in Armstrong’s position take this criticism personally? Startup culture asks for people to blur the lines between their personal and professional lives and make work a large part of their identities. This maxim is especially true for founders: the reward for making foundership your identity (besides the prospect of a big, lucrative exit) is that you are valorized by your industry but also by your fellow employees for your leadership and ideas. You are the head of the company, the job creator, the architect of your own little universe. It is hard, demanding, sometimes inspiring work. But, in return, your position inside your company is the definition of comfortable. You are in control of substantial parts of your destiny. And, if you’re building something people are genuinely excited about, that shit is energizing. It is very fun.
Another good piece from Charlie Warzel's Galaxy Brain newsletter on a complaint from Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, on how being a tech CEO isn't as fun as it should be.
I think this idea of employees giving their full selves to a company is a little weird. If you have genuine skin in the game, then go for it, it just seems unreasonable to me when your compensation is not proportionally tied to the company's success. If your company doubles their revenue this year and you just give your employees a cost-of-living raise, maybe don't expect them to be incentivized to be all in like you.