The 25-year-old CEO of the lidar startup that’s about to go public copes with 100-hour weeks by walking up to 10 miles a day during phone calls

Austin Russell

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Running a startup can require a brutal schedule that makes a work-life balance all but impossible. Austin Russell, the founder and CEO of the lidar maker Luminar, estimated that he works 80 to 120 hours a week. One week in August, he said he may have hit the high end of that range as he prepared to announce a deal to go public through a reverse merger with the special-purpose acquisition company Gores Metropoulos.

“This type of business requires insane levels of work and dedication,” Russell said in an interview with Business Insider.

One method Russell uses to deal with his demanding schedule is simple: walking whenever he’s on a non-video phone call. Doing so keeps Russell’s mind sharp and allows him to squeeze in a bit of exercise while he’s working. Russell said he walks an average of 5 miles a day while on the phone and can hit 10 miles on some days.

“It just helps keep you going and reduces the fatigue,” he said.

Though 100-hour weeks don’t leave much time for rest, Russell avoids scheduling meetings on Saturday mornings, creating a small window between Friday night and Saturday morning when he can consistently find time to sleep.

Those coping mechanisms are only effective, he said, because of the fundamental reason he can bear a work schedule that would drive many to exhaustion: He loves his job. Russell founded Luminar in 2012 when he was 17. Since then, the company has grown into a $3.4 billion valuation and signed with Volvo the lidar industry’s first major deal to include the sensors, which emit pulses of light to determine a car’s surroundings, on production vehicles.

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“You have to really love what you do,” he said.

Are you a current or former Luminar employee? Do you have an opinion about what it’s like to work there? Contact this reporter at, on Signal at 646-768-4712, or via his encrypted email address

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Source:: Business Insider


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