The Hustle Factor

Hustle. Here’s how I defined it, in one tweet:











I was in an Uber having a candid conversation with the driver. He studied at Concordia University and just completed his Ph.D. in Computer Science and Software Engineering. Obviously an intelligent guy, but I could tell he was frustrated, and almost gassed out – he just couldn’t seem to find a job after moving to Toronto, despite waking up early every morning and filling out hundreds of job applications (and then driving for Uber on the side to stay afloat).

He was also looking for some advice. I empathized with him but had to keep my points as direct and constructive as possible. My reply was “I know it’s difficult, trust me I understand where you’re coming from, but if you find that what you’re currently doing isn’t working, you have two choices i) keep doing it and complain, or ii) find a way to change it”. I then said, “it all comes down to hustle man, you have to keep going till you get what’s yours.”….He looked at me in the rear view mirror and said “hustle? what do you mean by hustle?”.

I guess it’s a term more widely used in business than in other areas of focus, but nonetheless, I tried to explain it to him..using, well you guessed it, a story:

I had a friend in university who really wanted to work for a boutique investment bank, like really bad. She never took ‘no’ for an answer. She decided to prove her worth. So, one morning, she got to the office before anyone else did and waited outside with a box of cookies. When the Office Manager arrived, she couldn’t help but smile and inquire what she’s looking for. Her reply was simple, “I’m a 2nd-year finance student with an ambitious goal of one day working in investment banking. I admire what you do here, so I just wanted to help get your day off to the right start with these freshly baked cookies.” The Manager, obviously impressed, said: “you have the right stuff going for you, keep this attitude and effort up, and I have no doubt you’ll be successful in anything you do.” A week later, she showed up again, but this time, waited outside the doorstep during lunchtime with a coffee in hand. She ran into the CEO, finally. He said, “Hey! You’re the student who was here last week and brought us those awesome cookies. That was really nice of you.”

Long story short, she got the needed face-time with the CEO, explained to him her goals and how she can provide value to the firm…and within a couple of weeks, she was able to land a summer internship (which is typically very difficult at smaller firms). The CEO didn’t hire her just because she was smart (there’s a ton of smart people out there), he hired her because she demonstrated her ‘hustle’, she proved to him why she’s worth hiring over everyone – because she went the extra mile to provide value, she was persistent and didn’t give up, and more importantly, maintained a positive attitude the entire time (that’s the stuff people want to see in you, and an online application, despite how flashy it may be, can’t demonstrate it).

“Some people want it to happen, some people wish it would happen, others make it happen.” Michael Jordan

Once I finished that story, the Uber drive couldn’t help but smile either. He said to me, “wow, that was impactful. Now I know what you mean by hustle.”

Many of you reading this have what it takes, I truly mean that. You just have to find a way in, a way to get your break..and that never comes to you by sitting on your couch watching Netflix. You have to chase after it and create opportunities. Whatever it takes, you have to find a way, period. Now stop reading this, and go get what’s yours!

PS – check out THIS article of an Uber driver who makes $250,000 a year. This is another example of the hustle.