Work Hard, Work Hard, Work Hard

Willis Wee
9:08 pm on Feb 6, 2012

"Work, work," says the Peon.

Independent consultant and ex-Techcrunch writer, Serkan Toto, had a coffee chat with me at Startups in Asia (Singapore). It was fun and that discussion has left a deep impression with me. Serkan said that many Southeast Asian entrepreneurs are not working hard enough, a comment that few would dare to speak on stage.

Some folks mistakenly thought that I was defending Southeast Asia on stage. But my thoughts are actually very much the same as Serkan’s. Entrepreneurs in this region aren’t lazy, but we’re certainly not working hard enough as compared to Chinese and Americans counterparts. This is a personal opinion and may not apply to you, of course.

Often there is more talk than actual work being done. That’s the general feeling that I get. More people actually want to be entrepreneurs because it’s cool and they think it is easy to get rich. You can get rich, for sure, but what are the chances? Only a handful know the painful truth that being an entrepreneur isn’t sexy.

I realized The Social Network (aka the Facebook movie) has had a great influence on young people. After seeing the movie, many friends and family members started asking me more about how they can be a tech entrepreneur. The movie, if you have seen it, mainly featured the glamorous side of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. Well, the director had to do that because showing “Mark Zuckerberg” at work wouldn’t sell as many tickets.

But the success behind Facebook is the fruit of countless sleepless nights and weekends burned. There’s nothing glamorous if you’re going through it. At Penn Olson, we have had our own humble story so far. We work hard because we want to achieve a vision. And when we hire, working late nights is very much communicated and expected.

Now, if you have read this far and feeling a little guilt within your heart, congrats. It’s never too late. Work hard and push yourself to the limit. Build something for yourself and walk the talk. Otherwise take the other path and climb the corporate ladder if that would make you happier. There’s no shame to any route, but not giving your best is the real shame.

  • Saumil Nanavati

    Agree to your point in some cases. However, I think what you and Serkan both might be eluding to is SEA start-ups are not moving at SPEED, which is totally different from working hard. It’s imp for start-ups to create momentum or tempo. 

    • Willis Wee

      Thanks Saumil. I think momentum and tempo are created within the team and not very much dependent on others. Just my opinion!

  • vancouverSteve

    Willis, I think you make a good point. 

    As an entrepreneur that has done projects in North America and China,could one of the reason why the pace is so much faster in the US and China is that its seems like it is much harder here in SEA to get traction for ideas. Market seems so fragmented. Sometimes, having a uniform market where you usually have several competitors force you to build faster etc. Sometimes its easier to work harder when you clearly see traction and end results. I see projects that cater to SEA market I’m shaking my head. This market seems so much more complex. 

    And yes, I think pace is determined by the dynamics of teams etc but overall culture of teams in the region  is determined by many factors. I’m new to the region and really enjoying how teams are formed to build companies. 

    I really enjoy your blog. Keep up the great work. Its the best blog in Asia!

  • Sushil Krishna

    Got a blow after reading this ..!
    Really awesome and inspiring post.

  • Takeshi Ebihara

    Fully agreed.
    Max Levchin did not sleep 5 nights to code Paypal. Susumu Fujita worked 110h per week when he founded Cyber Agent. 

  • Tama DaraTamara

    It’s really interesting, if i see it in a Southeast Asian game developer point of view. Mostly gamer in Southeast Asia were born in 80′ – 90′, we learn to love games by play sega, nintendo, playstation games from Japan and America, today our age is 30-20, and start to make game as our dream job. We just learn how to do it properly.I guess compare Japan or America to Southeast Asia  is like compare successful businessman to teenager. Off course Japan and America more successful because of the habit and their experience 20 years beyond Southeast Asian. We just start it, but no doubt so many aspects we need to learn, hardwork is one of it

    It’s so exciting to be a part of this movement 😀

Read More