For Musk “Hard Core” Means “Long Hours at High Intensity”

(p. A24) Have you ever gotten an email at midnight from the boss with ​an ominous subject line like “a fork in the road”? Granted, email etiquette today says we’re not supposed to get midnight emails from bosses at all. But Elon Musk is no ordinary boss, and it’s safe to assume he didn’t get the memo on empathetic leadership. So, true to form, as chief executive of Twitter, after laying off nearly half of his staff, bringing a sink to work and proclaiming he would be sleeping at the office “until the org is fixed,” Mr. Musk recently issued this late-night ultimatum to his remaining employees: From this point forward, Twitter was going to be “extremely hard core.” Were they ready to be hard core? They could select “yes” — or opt for three months of severance pay.

To Mr. Musk, “hard core” meant “long hours at high intensity,” a workplace where only the most “exceptional performance” would be accepted and a culture in which midnight emails would be just fine. I’d wager that more than a few workaholics, bosses or otherwise, weren’t entirely turned off by the philosophy behind that statement, and yet it immediately conjured images of sweaty Wall Street bankers collapsing at their desks, Silicon Valley wunderkinds sleeping under theirs and the high-intensity, bro-boss cultures of companies like Uber and WeWork, with their accompanying slogans about doing what you love and sleeping when you’re dead.

For the full commentary, see:

Jessica Bennett. “Elon, the Mosh Pit Called. It Wants ‘Hard Core’ Back.” The New York Times (Friday, November 25, 2022): A24.

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Nov. 23, 2022, and has the title “The Worst Midnight Email From the Boss, Ever.”)

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