Become a Hustler

The secret is simple: Pay the price

I started a mobile software company in 2009 with $430 in gambling winnings.

Since then I’ve grown it into a small empire that has netted more than a quarter of a million dollars.

I know that’s not Angry Birds money or anything. However, I started with no programming skills to speak of, no formal business training, and I did it all in my spare time while serving in the U.S. Air Force.

How did I do it?


I became a Hustler.

You know the Hustler. He gets things done. She always seems to be thinking miles ahead of everyone else. He’s the go-to person in the office. She wins awards time after time.

How do they do it?

Years ago there was a public service announcement promoting fitness airing frequently on military TV stations overseas. In it, a pair of young men are at an outdoor track watching a third man run laps. They marvel at his speed and endurance. “How does he do it?” one of the men asks. Still watching the runner, the other man replies, “I don’t know, but he does it every day.”

Obviously the man is able to run with such speed and endurance because he does it every day, and the point is to encourage people to develop a routine that promotes better personal fitness. Running can be difficult at first, but it gets easier the more you do it. If the two men were willing to pay the price, before long they could be running with the same speed and endurance as the man they envy.

And that’s the big secret of all the Hustlers you’ve ever known. That’s the difference between you and them.

They pay the price.

When you were young, you may have been told “you can do anything.” However, when we say this to kids we usually don’t add the implied caveat, which turns out to be the most important part. What we should tell our kids is this:

“You can do anything — if you’re willing to pay the price.”

Everything has its price, even if that’s not so easy to see these days. Our media feeds us a delicious buffet of lavish living, huge homes, fancy cars and the beautiful people who seem to do very little to earn any of it. But even if we don’t see it on TV, these people are living lives financed by hard work and sound investment. Someone is paying the price or has paid the price; we’re just not seeing that part on TV because it’s not as sexy as whatever else they’re doing. So what we see is people seeming to live a fabulous life — a life we’d like to live — and putting forth little or no effort to earn it.

Unfortunately, that’s not reality.

Some people try to replicate the lifestyles we see on TV, buying cars and homes well out of their price range, and end up in serious financial trouble.

One way or another, you’ve got to pay the price.

The price of success usually includes a lot of hard work, and most people accept that. However, the price also often includes failure — or even a series of failures. This is too much for some people.

Not me. I’ve failed plenty of times in my business, but I stuck with it.

In fact, I’ve made so many mistakes I’ve learned to fail like a pro: I always come back smarter, stronger, and better for having pushed through.

The Hustler sees everything as an opportunity (even failure), so there’s no reason to fear failure, and no shame in failing. Hustlers know the only people who never fail are the people who never try anything (and it could be argued that they fail at trying). They understand there’s a valuable lesson in every mistake.

Not only did I learn from my mistakes, I relentlessly worked and sacrificed to improve. For example, while nearly everyone else in America was watching games on Sundays during football season, I was honing my Photoshop skills and teaching myself to use Xcode. I dedicated nearly all my free time to activities that developed my skills and my business.

Hustlers excel at what they do because they pay the price by moving and growing all the time.

To Hustlers, there is no such thing as “just a job.” Since everything is an opportunity, anything worth doing is worth pouring every bit of the Hustler’s self into. The Hustler’s name and personal brand eventually become valuable, and he protects them. She knows every piece of work she does is signed with her name. His personal brand is on the line, even (maybe especially) on the small and insignificant tasks.

Therefore, the better a Hustler gets, the better still the Hustler strives to be.

As good as I might get, I doubt I will ever make a product that can compete with Angry Birds. That’s okay with me. I didn’t set out to do that. I’m not competing with Angry Birds or any other app or developer.

I’m competing with myself.

New Year is a great time to adopt new philosophies. This year, challenge yourself to become the absolute best you can possibly be. Set lofty goals and pay the price to achieve them.

I know you can do it because deep down, you’re a Hustler too.


Title Photo Credit: Flickr

Photo Credit: 1,2