Clearly I’m getting old, there is a buzzword that many of today’s youth use to describe their daily modus-operandi. This word grated with me the first time I heard it and has continued to as its use increased – that word is ‘hustling’.
I would surmise the term most probably entered the vernacular via some hoodie wearing ‘guru’ at an overpriced ‘how to be an entrepreneur’ seminar. I understand the implied modern context being: To have the courage, confidence, self belief, and self-determination to continually work at, and to explore any and all opportunities to achieve what you want in life. Though more traditionally us ‘older folks’ tend to understand the term to mean you were a fraudster or con-artist.
I’ve worked for myself for over a quarter of a century, and have / had a few different and successful ventures, though I’ve never referred to the all the hard work, grit and single-minded determination and a good deal of luck it took as ‘hustling’. I didn’t need a buzzword to make me feel empowered about what I was doing. I was already stoked enough that I’d had the courage to start my own business and honestly was just too bloody busy getting on with trying to build it whilst also keeping the lights on and a roof over my head. As a side note, there is another overused term that grates too; ‘entrepreneur’. Few that know me would ever call me modest, but heck, I couldn’t hope to keep a straight face if I tried to refer to myself as an entrepreneur…
As branding consultants, we spend a tremendous amount of time working with already successful businesses to help propel them to the next stage of growth. We distil, decipher and decode layers of accumulated slogans, spin and rhetoric seeking to uncover the genesis of why the founders started the company. We then help them to better articulate and define what the company stands for and most importantly, why it matters. Interestingly, in over 20 years doing this I’m yet to hear the term ‘hustle’ used to describe what they’ve achieved (nor have any of the founders ever referred to themselves as entrepreneurs).
When repositioning a brand, we are always striving to build authenticity behind both the messaging and conduct. So I’d ask, even if you’re posting on your personal social media – if a prospective customer saw it, what perception does it create when you are constantly referring to what you do day-to-day as ‘hustling’?
I get it, if you’re a twenty/thirty something, I’m sure that it feels like it is somehow empowering your journey, making you part of a ‘tribe’ who use this ‘cool’ term. I mean what other hashtag could better capture your daily Insta-spam posts documenting you hustling your way to success?
If I could offer any advice to close my grumpy rant to the youth of today, it would be this;
You don’t need to go to expensive seminars run by ‘hoodie wearing guru’s’ to tell you how to be successful (tip; these guru’s have made more money selling tickets to today’s impressionable youth than they ever did in whatever was their initial venture). Instead, find a mentor who is willing to invest their time in you. If you can’t find a mentor, develop a relationship with a person in a different industry, one who is also trying to build their business. You will each learn much from one another – whether it be business systems, accounting, marketing, etc. You can also share concerns, struggles and stress. A close friend and I both started our businesses at the same time, and some 20 years later, we still lean upon one another, and still learn much from each other, its been invaluable to both of us. I acknowledge I have been fortunate enough to have had the advantage of both of these in my journey. But trust me, these singular relationships will do more for your success than trying to get faceless social media followers liking your contrived, inspirational laptop / coffee shop / daily grind / hustle posts.
If you are at school or university right now, certainly work hard at achieving solid results in the core subjects, but really strive to learn to excel at problem solving, written communication, debating and presentation skills. Read voraciously, read the news and learn how to read people. Learn how to think quickly on your feet and how to look somebody in the eye confidently — talk with them, don’t pitch to them. And if you do end up being one of the few that actually achieve success, I guarantee when you get there, the journey will have matured you enough that the term ‘hustle’ will probably start to grate with you too.