Definition of Hustle
Imagine you and other tourists are inside a beautiful church full of historical importance. Everyone is impressed by the place’s beauty and fantastic architecture. Then, out of nowhere someone says, “Wow, this place is awful!” How do you react? I imagine some people would find it weird, and some would turn to look.
Now imagine a few moments later the same person opens their mouth again and says, “I have to come back later with some inmates to check this place out.” I am quite sure someone (meaning everyone) would look, and security would have their eyes on that person forever.
But why would anyone be shocked? After all, awful means “worthy of reverence” and inmate is another way of saying “roommate”, right? Wait, they don’t mean that? Well, they did. A long time ago. Not anymore. Languages change, and words that used to mean something positive can turn to the dark side and vice-versa.
Another word that has changed meaning and usage spectacularly is hustle. This one has really got me curious, especially because of how big and quick its change was. Instead of being something good that now means something bad, though, it’s precisely the opposite—and instead of taking 400 years, it happened so fast a 30 year old person can have used it differently over the years.
That is why if you said “I’m leaving. I gotta hustle all day!” 25 years ago, people in your house could spit their coffee, but if you post that on social media today many people will like and comment, “Keep it up!”
So what’s the fuss all about? If you check different dictionaries, listen to rap songs from the 90s or watch movies from the same period, hustling essentially involved making money in shady or dishonest ways. It was frequently associated with dealing drugs, selling counterfeit goods or any other forms of questionable, fraudulent business. Many dictionaries still include negative connotations in their hustle entry.
As you can see, these definitions make it perfectly clear that… Well, wait. They don’t make anything clear at all. How is that even good? “Hustling” nowadays is a cool word, a serious concept, and something implicitly expected from businesspeople.
The hustler is no longer considered a shady character, but a cool cat; he is the young and semi-formally dressed entrepreneur who is present on every social media there is. If we’re being honest, “hustler” is used a cool status badge by many entrepreneurs—beginners and very successful ones.
The definitions can be contradictory, but based on a substantial amount of empirical evidence, we can conclude that “to hustle” in 2018 can have two definitions.
In the first one, hustling means going out and selling as much as you can. According to the second one, it involves achieving goals. I think it does more justice to the current perception of the word to look at the entire process.
When people say, “hustle,” they usually mean they’re applying the energetic attitude and mindset of selling to their business endeavor while setting goals and working hard to reach them. It’s like a car salesman mixed with a businessman.
As a result, hustling involves having a vision, but also raising awareness about your product or yourself, reaching out to prospects, and then moving quickly towards the sale. It’s a practical, hard-working, and “no time to waste” approach. By the way, I mean selling your business product/service, not anything illegal, ok?
If hustling is so positive and beneficial (and cool sounding, let’s admit it), then maybe it’s worth looking into it. In fact it is. Hustling well makes you more competitive and effective in whatever you set out to achieve as a businessperson.
We simply have to learn the ways to hustle properly in order to reap good results. After all, you don’t want to be another one using the word “hustle” while doing not-really-hustle activities and moving towards the same results, do you?
Hustling involves speed
There is a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln that says:
“Great things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle”
All right, Lincoln probably didn’t say that, and “hustle” at his time certainly meant something different (if it was different 20 years ago, let alone 200). But you get the idea: you can’t sit and wait. What would you wait for anyway?
One of the characteristics of a successful hustler is the speedy mindset. In fact, hustling must involve speed; otherwise, it’s not really hustling. The truth is you can’t hustle slow. If you’re hustling slow, you are doing it wrong. Speed up!
Gary Vaynerchuck is a very good example of a hustler. He embodies speed. He makes it clear:
“To me, it’s all about speed. I actually don’t care about anything else. Speed, both in people skills and hard work will trump anything.”
Gary admits to squeezing every minute in his day to find room for more productive work. His phone calls and email writing fit inside a short period of time between flights. Client communications has to be fast; content creation has to be fast. He finishes tasks as quickly as he can because he wants to accomplish something else on that same day. That’s good hustling.
Hustling demands quick action for two main reasons. Number one is that a hustler understands time is a very precious resource that nobody should waste. “Time is money,” after all. Money is good. So don’t waste your time. Your days matter; your hours matters; your minutes matter.
Reason number two is that there are consequences to slow action in business. If you act slowly, your results will be sluggish—and that’s demotivating and dangerous. Even worse, you might risk losing momentum if you sit around calculating long enough.
That is something we learn from software companies. They know waiting and acting slowly means giving the competition a head start; and if they’re not fast, when they finally release their product the market won’t be so interested in it anymore.
Naturally, being pressured to act fast means you won’t have to refine your product or marketing campaigns as much as you would want to. That’s part of the deal. A sculptor may need an indefinite amount of time to make the perfect statue, but as a hustler you can’t afford to do the same. Keep this in mind: better well done today than perfectly done tomorrow.
The only moment a speedy mindset isn’t helpful is when it comes to seeing results. Results take time, so here you may want to be patient. You will need to. But the things you have to do in order to get to those results demand quick thinking and quick action, so don’t slow down. The key is to work fast knowing the results will come.
Get used to setting short deadlines
Do you know you can perform any task you already perform in a shorter amount of time? How? Simply give yourself less time to finish it. That’s the most important application of Parkinson’s Law.
“Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”
This law is an epic productivity hack, because by understanding it we are able to force ourselves into faster, better work. It means that the more time you have to complete a task, the harder it will seem. Also, the longer it will take to finish—because you will find more complexity in it and be intimidated by its size. On the other hand, if you shorten the deadline, you will surprisingly be able to finish it in a shorter amount of time.
How can we bring that precious law to hustling? Well, remember the whole point of hustling is to be quick and effective, so give yourself less time to finish work.
Make a list of some of your important tasks and think about the time you need to complete them. Now cut that time to much less, even half if you want. You will have to focus only on the essentials and keep an objective look at the task to meet the deadline. You will see that you can finish things faster and move on to the next task batch. You’ll be hustling.
If you want to try advanced hustling, you can apply Parkinson’s Law to the extreme, like Elon Musk and other top entrepreneurs do: set the final deadline (the release date) without having the product finished.
It sounds absurd because it is absurd. It’s almost impossible and it’s foolish. But it forces them into maximum action, since changing the deadline is not an option. Not meeting the deadline is definitely not an option. The only way out is to hustle as aggressively as humanly possible to have a top-notch product on time.
Steve Jobs was known for setting impossible deadlines. He pushed Parkinson’s Law so far that back in 2005 he gave his engineers two weeks to present the project he wanted. The threatening way he did it is definitely not an example, but it serves to show that pushing yourself to accomplish things in a short amount of time works.
Hustling demands that you have a clear picture of where you’re going. In other words, if you’re going to put your blood, sweat, and tears into an effort while looking for the fastest growth strategies, you need to understand what you bigger goal is before anything else.
Are you trying to make lots of money as fast as you can? How much money are you talking about and what’s “fast”? Do you mean $300.000 over the next six months? A clear picture is important because if you don’t know where you’re going, how can you know if you’re getting there?
It doesn’t have to be a long-term goal—although having one is important. Short-term goals are important as well. They will help you keep track of your progress in a more immediate way.
Identify the steps to get there
Every goal involves taking some steps to achieve it, from starting a business to starting a family. But let’s limit it to business in this context. The key is to focus on the crucial steps you need to take in order to achieve the specific goal you have as fast as you can. Because different goals will demand different steps, you have to concentrate on the area you are part of.
“But how can I find the steps to the goal I have?”
It’s actually not hard: see what is repeated across different people’s advices and personal accounts. The road is not the same for everybody, of course, but you’ll see some steps are. And if several different people in your area have a specific advice/story in common, then that information is precious and you should keep it.
For example, if you want to launch a web design business, then start by googling “how to start a successful web design business.” Write down the moves that you read repeatedly, like 1. Building a portfolio; 2. Creating a process that you can follow with your clients; 3. Reaching out to new clients, etc.
Those are the crucial steps to the goal you have.
Work on those crucial steps all day every day
Every second of your life, forever and ever. Ok, maybe not so dramatic, but you got the idea: spend a significant amount of time working on what is essential to take you where you want to be.
This is the obvious consequence of the previous section. You need to capitalize on the steps you take, especially selling. Remember you’re a hustler, not a bureaucrat; things have to be objective, move fast, and make money.
Is your goal to build up your agency to 50k in monthly revenue? What are the steps to get there? How many clients will you need? How many clients do you need to reach and talk to?
As you can see, hustling is an effective mindset that can turn a passive businessperson into an entrepreneurial steamroller. You want to be called a hustler. More than that: you want to be a hustler.
PS: I can’t wait for the day “hustle” changes meaning again. Someday soon people will start using it in the fitness context and post selfies at the gym with the caption, “It’s hustling time. No pain no gain.”