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The Seductive Illusion of Hard Work

The Seductive Illusion of Hard Work

August 2020 | 312 pages | SAGE Response
People take great pride in flaunting their punishing work routines. The Seductive Illusion of Hard Work establishes that hard work is necessary but insufficient for success. In fact, misdirected hard work is way worse than no work at all. This book includes various real-life examples from the corporate world that has constantly exaggerated the role of hard work and underplayed the critical role of choices and mentorship in creating conditions for success. The young workforce is experiencing burnout and it is suspected that the romantic proclamations and obsession about hard work has lots to do with it. This book discusses all these issues and finally offers a solution-oriented approach to the myth about succeeding in work life.
Foreword by Klaus Schwab
PART I Principles of Shaping a Meaningful Career
Don’t Follow Your Passion
Why ‘Be Yourself’ is Bad Career Advice
Bubbles of Competence
Art of Being a Deep Generalist
How Confusion Leads to Personal and Professional Growth
Why Early Failures in Our Career Set Us Up for Long-term Success
Why AQ Matters More than IQ and EQ
What Grandmothers Teach Us About Reinventing Oneself
Transforming Your Adversity into Competitive Edge
An Ode to Mediocrity
It is Time for the Passion Economy
When Should You Quit Your Job
PART II Building a Tribe of Mentors
The Mentoring Paradox: Necessary but Insufficient
Learn to Network the Paul Erdos Way
Why You Need a Coach and a Mentor
Why Weak Ties Make a Strong Network
Paradox of Trust: Talking to Strangers
PART III Navigating the Modern Workplace: Millennial Matters
Millennial’s Search for Meaning
Tyranny of Job Descriptions
The Puzzle of Great Expectations
Why Moonshots Matter
What Social Movements and Workplaces Can Learn from Each Other
The IKEA Effect
An Ode to Envy
Negotiating the Non-negotiable
Why Wage Transparency Matters
How Frustration Leads to Innovations
Millennials Have a Subscription Powered Future
What You Do Is Who You Are
Groups That Sing Together Stay Together
The Avengers and Diversity Quotient
What Start-ups Can Learn from Flea Markets
Why the Modern Workplace Needs More Rebels
Let’s Stop Talking about Generation Gaps
The Art of Making a Compelling Argument
Look Outside Your Building
Should You Discuss Politics at Work
The Art and Science of Gatherings
Why It Is Hard to Make Friends at Work
Modern Love: Couples that Work
PART IV Augmenting Personal Productivity
The Power of Compounding
Overcoming FOBO and FOMO
Why Too Much Self-reflection Can Be Bad for You
When Do Millennials Work?
The Hard Work Delusion
PART V Learning from the Best
The Pomodoro Technique
Paul Graham
Haruki Murakami
Maya Angelou
Yuval Noah Harari
Richard Feynman
Naval Ravikant
Susan Cain
Brené Brown
Elizabeth Gilbert
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Charlie Munger
PART VI Clarity is Power: Mental Models and the Art of Deep Thinking
Our Quest for Clarity
Illusions and Biases
Maxims and Cautionary Tales
Precision of Thoughts, Common Pitfalls
Thinking Thoroughly
The Art of Fooling Oneself
Sharpening How We Think
The Last Lap

This is the book every millennial needs to read! Utkarsh’s engaging storytelling provides a roadmap for what it means to ‘find your passion’ and other misconceptions of the business world. Insightful and practical—you won’t be able to put it down!

Marshall Goldsmith,
New York Times #1 bestselling author of Triggers, Mojo, and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

As the creator of the term FOMO, I loved how Utkarsh explored its nuances and offered tangible principles for shaping meaningful careers. The case studies in The Seductive Illusion of Hard Work are powerful—from the cognitive biases of the creator of Sherlock Holmes to the quirks of Paul Erdos, the legendary mathematician and networker. Given its cross-cultural and multi-generational appeal, I recommend it to anyone interested in understanding the future of work.

Patrick McGinnisis,
Creator of the term FOMO and leading Venture Capitalist

Utkarsh’s book is an uniquely interesting take on career intelligence and the future of work. It is sprinkled with original insights and relatable stories that will resonate not only with millennials but also with senior executives and founders.

Pramath Raj Sinha,
Founder of Ashoka University, Harappa Education

This book is a fascinating collection of mental models and career principles for discovering one’s purpose. Utkarsh is a powerful storyteller whose narratives cause us to rethink how to work effectively.

Tarun Khanna,
Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School

Utkarsh has a very interesting and sometimes counterintuitive take on the paths to success in life. This book is a very practical guide with tips that will make you rethink many things that you assumed or took for granted, especially your definition of success.

Sri Rajan,
Partner in Bain & Company, San Francisco, US

This book hits so many sweet spots: It is broad (containing examples from science, arts, sports and, of course, business) but deep; it is academic yet actionable; it offers complex ideas but in bite-sized, readable, simple prose. One reason for this is Utkarsh Amitabh’s career achievements, which span mainstream career success, entrepreneurial achievement and academic knowledge. The book contains none of the self-promotional clichés typical of business successes—he speaks as a trusted advisor who has the authority, experience and compassion to be the voice of his generation.

Tanya Menon,
Organizational Psychologist and TED Speaker

Community, collaboration and courage are timeless. In the new world we live, these three defining themes will determine how we relook at work and life itself. Utkarsh has captured beautifully how these will work together and their interplay. An important book. An essential read.

Farzana Haque,
Patron, The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and The Juilliard School; Global Head for Strategic Group Accounts, TCS

“The author busts several common workplace myths… (He) is unafraid of technical jargon, and ably explains it and makes it accessible for us… The book is structured into bite-sized chapters that will fit the smallest of attention spans.” 

MoneyControl, 19 September 2020

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