What Elon Musk’s 120-Hour Work Week Says About Workaholics

Is this what it will take for us to stop worshipping overworking?

elon musk
Tesla founder Elon Musk is the highest-paid CEO of all time.
Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Elon Musk has long been celebrated in the business world for his work ethic. He works long hours, but breaks his day into five-minute increments so that every second is accounted for. He’s got a lot on his plate, since he runs Tesla, the first mass-market car company to be founded in the U.S. in decades; SpaceX, which aims to fly people to Mars; and Neuralink, a company trying to build a brain-computer interface. He also has six children.

But last week, an emotional Musk described how he was working so hard to keep production of the Tesla Model 3 on track that he missed his own birthday and was spending multiple nights at the factory per week. He was working 120-hour weeks, and when he did get home, he decided between no sleep or taking an Ambien.

Historically, guys like Musk, the boss who dedicates every second of his life to the boardroom, are seen as iconic, especially in Silicon Valley. In that world, success means idea 5am starts after an hour at the gym, breakfast replaced by “bulletproof coffee,” a sleeping bag under the desk, your third international flight in as many days. But could Musk’s tearful disclosure be the end of the admiring the workaholic?

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