Is hard work irrelevant?

NPR’s ‘Planet Money’ says success should be determined by output rather than input

Ashleigh Tain, Editor-in-Chief

As students, we all thrive under diversity. Everyone is unique in their passions, pursuits, to the way one works. Personally, I do my best work in long periods of time in which I meticulously map out everything and delve into details carefully. At the end of the day, I like to know that I worked hard and dedicated my time to create a product. Although not necessarily efficient or healthy, it is a method that I am most comfortable with and works best for me.

I have also grown to understand that everyone works differently; that when I take 3 hours to read, annotate, and understand a chapter of a textbook, it takes someone else 1 hour to do the same.

Admittedly, this was a difficult concept to grasp. In an environment where everyone aims for similar endeavors of grades and everyone works under different constraints, it is hard to come to terms with your work methods in comparison to others. This forced me to learn that hard work is all rewarded in different ways, whether through self fulfillment, explicit recognition, or, most importantly, the product of growth and learning.

But what does work culture look like outside of our closely-monitored school environment?

The expanding medium of Netflix has demanded an improved work culture in their very own headquarters. A new and expanded ideal is seemingly setting the standards for the future of work culture;

“Patty McCord helped create a workplace at Netflix that runs more like a professional sports team than a family. If you’re not up to scratch, you’re off the team. ” Said NPR in their 647th podcast episode of ‘Planet Money’.

If your not up to scratch, you’re off the team.”


NPR first introduces our natural instinct of false sentiment towards input. For example, when we hear someone stating they’ve been working on a project for 3 years, we reward that person in dedication and persistence. But in comparison to the same project, completed in 1 year, we instead recognize the quality of the product.

As students, however, we are conditioned to take the process of preparation as seriously as the quality of the project. We are graded on collaboration skills, research content and criteria quality, and in addition our grade of the final product.

In the rest of the podcast, Planet Money delves into Netflix’s principles of productivity and hard work as emphasizing output over than input. They value a product pursued in a short, but efficient amount of time, rather than the same product pursued in an extended period of time.

Logically, this ideal lends to the belief that long periods of time dedicated to a single project leaves room for venturing and procrastination and this is no longer considered productive work. On the other hand, allotting short periods of time will force consistent productivity.

But what does this mean for students who naturally need more time to work? If the future of hard work is determined by concise efficiency, should we be conditioning for a rigorous reality or focus on enlightenment?