Ivan Cash: The Cost of Productivity

ADC Young Guns winner speaks out about life balance

What does it take to be productive? If you’ve read Fast Company’s latest cover story, it would seem that it comes alongside missed meals and sleep. But does it have to? ADC Young Guns X winner Ivan Cash has a different perspective, in his open letter to the publication.

Dear Fast Company,

I was eager to read through “Secrets of the most productive people” in your December issue. Like most 20-somethings living in a metropolitan city, I struggle with balance and busyness.

As I read through the profiles of these “productive” people, however, I felt disillusioned and uninspired.

Diplo revealed he “doesn’t really eat until about 1-oclock” and denies taking daily breaks. Glynn Washington admitted, “half the time, I don’t eat lunch.”

Does productivity come at the cost of one’s nutrition?

Restoration Hardware CEO Gary Friedman says he goes to bed at 2am and wakes up between 5:30–6:30. (I’ll let you do the math.) Homejoy CEO Adora Cheung said she regularly goes to bed at 3am and wakes up at 7am, while waking up in the middle of the night to check email and metrics.

Does productivity come at the cost of one’s physical and mental health?

Chef Bobby Flay’s self-admitted worst habit is “taking on too many things. I don’t like saying no.”

Does productivity come at the cost of true balance?

The first thing T-Mobile CEO John Legere says he does after waking up in the morning is check CNBC, email, text message, twitter, and a couple of newspapers. “I should really do that five minutes of meditation or prayer or something but no, same shit every day.”

Does productivity come at the cost of one’s spiritual and emotional growth?

While I admire these individuals’ accomplishments, I question the merits of productivity when physical and mental well-being are compromised for external success.

Fast Company, I wish you’d included more productive people who get enough sleep, eat healthy, and make time for friends and family. Now that’s inspiring.



Ivan Cash, San Francisco
Artist / Filmmaker / Founder
Cash Studios