What It Means To Be A Hustler

lego_pete-roseHang around the startup community long enough and you’ll no doubt hear a saying like “oh yea, that guy?  He’s a Hustler.”

What does it mean?  And is it a good thing?

Some may have a negative connotation to the word since it can be used to describe a shady character.  To me, being a hustler is a good thing since I think about it in terms of action, of doing things each day and of getting results.

To fully understand what a hustler is and why it’s important, I’ll quickly describe a well rounded startup founding team:

First – and especially if you are starting something in tech – you’ll need a technical person.  This individual is the one who architects the product and who writes the code.   This is the engineer.

Second, you’ll need someone who makes the code look pretty, readable to the layman allowing for a great user experience.  This is the designer.

Lastly you’ll need someone who can sell your product, or the one who understands how to get it in the market and found by people.  This is generally the business person, the CEO, and the Hustler.

All three are important in their own way but today I want to address what it takes to be an authentic Hustler.

Hustlers simply get things done.  They are not satisfied with just sitting around, they must be moving – and moving forward.  They get up each day knowing that they have things to accomplish, fights to win and deals to close.   They subscribe to the JFDI mentality.  (go ahead, click it and read all about it!)

They also are very social and tend to “know a lot of people”.  This important because at its core, business is simply a collection of random people interacting and transacting with each other (hopefully) for benefit of all parties involved.  Given that, it’s important a Hustler knows a lot of people in a number of different industries so they can sell their product or service to them, or conversely, so they can buy from others.  It’s also important a Hustler understands how to treat people right, meaning they are genuine in their dealings with them and unequivocally treat them fairly.

If you know a Hustler, you’ll find they are confident in their dealings with people.  They understand Alpha is the one who generally leads the team and determines the outcomes of meetings and thus, for better or for worse, they tend to take control of the situation.

Hustlers are never satisfied.  Although that statement can be taken as “I never have enough” I tend to think about it more as “never rest on your laurels.”  The pursuit of perfection for the sake of working to get better each day is what being a Hustler is all about.

Although the above comes naturally to me, I am intent on working to become a better Hustler.  Why?  Well, I am not a coder.  And trust me, I can’t design websites or apps.  But I am pretty damn good with people, business and product markets, and intuitively understand my future success will be determined by how much better I can be in those areas.

But good is not Great!  I want to be great at these things and I am now paying close attention to improving my skills with people, business intelligence, leadership and how to market a company.

If you are non-technical I hope you are paying attention to those areas as well.

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