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.

Klaus Schwab

Founder, World Economic Forum

Utkarsh’s work explains why the world demands a new kind of ‘advanced’ business leader who makes conscious attempts to find meaningful work, create opportunities for others and solve problems beyond the bottom line. That’s the spirit of being a Global Shaper and I am glad Utkarsh has put forward crisp mental models and operating principles for people committed to leading from the front.

Tanya Menon

Organizational Psychologist and TED Speaker

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.

Patrick McGinnisis

Creator of the term FOMO and leading Venture Capitalist

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.

Farzana Haque

Global Head for Strategic Group Accounts, TCS

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.

Sri Rajan

Partner in Bain & Company, San Francisco

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.

Tarun Khanna

Professor, Harvard Business School

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.

Marshall Goldsmith

New York Times #1 bestselling author

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!

Pramath Raj Sinha

Founder of Ashoka University, Harappa Education

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.

Digital Book Launch

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  • 1


    • Foreword by Klaus Schwab

    • Preface

    • Acknowledgements

  • 2

    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

    • 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

  • 3

    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

  • 4

    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

  • 5

    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

  • 6

    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

  • 7

    PART VI Clarity is Power: Mental Models and the Art of Deep Thinking

    • Our Quest for Clarity

    • Mirages

    • 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

    • Conclusion

  • 8

    Book Launch

    • In Conversation with Sabika Abbas Nakvi, Gayatri Jolly, Dr. Ghida Ibrahim and Nipun Malhotra

About the author

Utkarsh Amitabh

Utkarsh Amitabh is the founder of Network Capital (network, one of the world’s largest career intelligence communities, Chevening Fellow at Oxford University and a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, who represented the community at the Annual Meeting in Davos. Set up with the core belief that everyone has something to learn and something to share, Network Capital has organically grown to become a global tribe of 100,000+ mentors from 104 countries, and content created by the community has been published by Harvard Business School, Harvard Business Review, Mint and The Economic Times.