Oct 18, 2017By Tom Kooy

Hungry for the Hustle

Verb: hustle; 3rd person present: hustles; past tense: hustled; past participle: hustled; gerund or present participle: hustling

force (someone) to move hurriedly. push one's way to achieve.

To Hustle. We live for the hustle. We are hustling. This verb, hustle has become synonymous with today’s modern entrepreneur.

We see so many serial entrepreneurs shout this word and espouse its virtues. The all consuming energy of the hustle allows those who embrace it to live a life of great activity and action, striving for positive outcomes. We see the hustle in others and it creates a swell of aspiring action in our own lives. We are all very much hungry for the hustle.

"Those who are not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life." Muhammad Ali.

You only have to google the definition of hustle. And see that the chart below shows that its use is at unprecedented levels…


Over the last month, I have been in Sydney, Hong Kong, Melbourne and now back in Perth. Across the speaking engagements and meetings I have had with accelerators, venture funds, and at conferences I have made it a point to ask, what hustle means to them?

It’s been fascinating to hear and see that we are in a day in age where one word can mean so many different things to such different people. This differing of the definition is a result of what role nature plays in your ability to hustle. For example, the I spent with those in Hong Kong; incredible accelerators, start-ups and digital hubs all doing powerful work in Fintech work 7am – 11pm Monday to Saturday. The city, the demographics, the anthropological features of Hong Kong create this drive in amongst its people to work hard, win and hustle in this way.

Whereas, across Australia, most work 8am – 6pm Monday to Friday (and maybe half a day's work across the weekend). However, the nature of an Australian vs. an expat or a Hong Kong national is also around where their priorities lie. As a quick caveat, there is nothing wrong about peoples' approach to hustle. As long as people are content. It's important though to simply recognise that the word hustle has many interpretations, based on the nature of the environment that we operate within.

HOWEVER, there are core features that I think we need to unpack to really understand how to hustle. As while people may appear to be hustling by working big hours, I know for a fact, it is a word that is over-used (regardless of nature) and the outcome of the word (by its user), is 99% of the time under-delivered on.

Nature definitely plays a part in how we hustle. But nurturing of how we hustle can trump nature every time.

We are incredibly hungry for the hustle, but to be hungry for it vs. actually hustling are two very different things.

So what does hustling actually look like?

Hustle is your work ethic, it’s your drive. It is putting all your effort into achieving the goal at hand. It is making the time and having the patience to work to make your dream a reality step by step.

Hustle is about trading time. Trading the time in front of the TV or relaxing, for time spent on making your goals a reality. It is trading time spent in introspection about how tough things are (complaining & whinging) for time in action, leveraging/maximising your strengths and using them to move mountains to achieve the tasks at hand.

It’s making every minute count. Being intentional with your time and having full conviction that you’re giving your all. It is putting it all on the line in any given moment to get the outcome needed that brings you that one step closer to your goal.

Sounds inspiring, right? But how can we really hustle? 3 takeaways to follow...

1. Know where you are going.

You cannot just raise the sails and let the boat take care of keeping in line with the horizon. The winds of nature will influence and take you every which way. You have to know where you are going. That means, figure out what you want to create, what idea you want to bring into being and execute on it.

So do this on a large BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) level. Develop a 10 to 30 year audacious goal. This isn’t meant to be fluffy, even Harvard Business School calls on its MBA Students to develop deep & vivid descriptions of what your BHAGs will look like?

"Believe BIG. The size of your success is determined by the size of your belief. Think little goals & expect little achievements. Think BIG goals and win big success." Dr. David J. Schwartz.

But then, get real with your near-term goals and, on a micro level, focus simply on the idea and execute on it. the more ideas that are executed on, the greater the momentum grows towards that grand vision where your BHAG lies.

Every new idea, every new task is then a building block towards achieving what will be a life-long, legacy defining outcome. While this sounds complicated, it is as simple as the mathematical formula, idea multiplied by the process (the how to get there) equals the outcome.

It’s a clear task orientated approach driven by a fire and passion for creating a better world for you. This is exactly how the Richard Bransons, Elon Musks and Jeff Bezos’ of the world behave. The world calls them genius’, I call them people who know what they want on a micro (task) & macro (BHAG) level and they are willing to go out on the limb and take the fruit.

2. Stop Whinging.

This one is short & sweet. And in all honesty, we all do it. Stop whinging. If you’re complaining about something, make a change. And if you’re one of those silent complainers. Stop tolerating what you aren’t enjoying. Life is too short to do things you hate. There’s genuinely no reason for it.

And if you’re here chasing the psychology of this. Whinging or complaining actually re-wires your brain so that any particular thinking, positive or negative actually sparks a negative response. Whinging impedes results. Even those people who like to vent or think venting is good. Sorry, it has the same impact as whinging.

"Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whinging." Teddy Roosevelt.

So what tolerations do you have in your life right now that are causing you to whinge and drain your energy rather than giving you the energy to focus on what you want to achieve and work towards.

If you’re looking for a tip here, give yourself 30minutes to write down 20 things you are tolerating in your start-up, personal or professional world that bug you right now. Then prioritise them by working on them in sequential order.

I promise you that if you are someone who is hungry to properly hustle, you’ve got to zap whatever you’re whinging about and focus on that BHAG & those micro-tasks at hand. And then watch that productivity skyrocket.

3. Go all in on the attack

If you look at any sport statistic you’ll know that the underlying psychology for the player or team is they have an aversion to losing, cleverly named, loss aversion. They map their strategy, they know where they are going, know their BHAGs & tasks to execute to win. But it is the 43rd minute of the second half of English Premier League final and it is 1 – 1. Both teams are deeply focused to not give away a goal. But who is going to make the move first? The fear of losing is playing on both team mindsets. But fear is a toleration, it zaps energy. Belief in the win is what spurs energy. One team takes the risk, embraces the attacking mindset, applies an offensive strategy, they keep passing the ball forward, avoiding their opposing player, they believe they will win, they execute on their play, he shoots, he scores!

This one is so crucial for whatever you are doing in your business, start-up or growth strategy. Why? Because like in soccer. One team was trying to protect what they had built, the other team wanted to win. And in business, it’s about winning. It’s about working to achieve an outcome. So if you are constantly trying to protect your patch, you will lose. If you are stressed about losing your IP, someone taking your client, worrying about someone else having the same idea. It’s 2017, I promise you your idea has been thought of before, but what will make you win with your idea vs. those with the same one is your willingness to go on the attack. Defensive mindsets cripple, attacking mindsets empower and succeed.

"Never say never, because limits, like fears are often just an illusion." Michael Jordan.

So the next time someone pushes back on your idea or you're worried about your idea being stolen. Go on the attack, figure out 3 ways you can outplay your opponent. Something they don't do that you can do. Hustling is all about going on the attack, being willing to outplay your competition. If you work harder, you will beat your competition. That's living the hustle.

So let’s bring this all together.

The hustle is something we all aspire for, but let’s make sure that instead of aspiring for it. We live it. So build a bloody thick skin, go all in emotionally and executionally with whatever you’re working on. As an entrepreneur or intrapreneur, quit complaining, get clear on your BHAGs & be willing to go on the attack and outplay your opponents. Stop being protective of your idea, your business, your feelings, whatever. If you work harder than your competitors, you’ll win.

In all honesty, the crap will always hit the fan. Problems will always be there. Don’t think they won’t happen, you should expect them to happen. Don't whinge about it but do something about it. If you don’t have that conviction to achieve the tasks and goals at hand in the face of uncertainty or negativity you will then be pushed to the defensive and you will lose out.

So the hustle is where it's at. Don't aspire for it, be inspired to action. Deliver on the outcomes you set for yourself. Stay strong of mind, be clear about where you are going and stay hungry for the hustle...

Go well,