I continue to see the rise in the “anti-hustle” movement in tech startup. While it is one perspective, I don’t think it’s an absolute for all. Honestly, I think it sends the wrong message to those starting out.
The anti-hustle movement is this idea that it doesn’t have to be crazy. That you don’t have work every day, four days is enough. That you don’t have to lose yourself in your work. That you don’t have “hustle”.
This might be true for a very small select group of individuals, but for the masses the opposite is true. Advise, without context, is mostly ineffective and, often, disingenuous.
What is Hustling?
Where I am in my life today is very different than where I was in my life 5 years ago, or even 10 years ago. One look at my social platforms and you’d think, “man, this guy is living the good life retired.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. What it doesn’t highlight is the hustle that can’t be captured in a minute video or snapshot. The grind as Angela Duckworth calls it.
It doesn’t capture the endless work that is happening, day and night, weekday and weekend, to build the thing for tomorrow and the thing after that.
Hustling to me is this idea of grinding, continuously pushing forward. A certain distaste, uncomfortable response, to the status quo and continuously pushing oneself to grow and improve. It’s a stark departure from it’s origins where it could be associated with illegal, or evil actions, but instead representative of an individuals fighting spirit. Hustling is not a singular act, but a continuous approach to self improvement and growth.
Am I still hustling today? Yes. The difference is that I have learned to hustle, and, unfortunately, learning to hustle is something that comes with time, experience.
Hustling is Not Bad
If you think that you will build a product, or service, that people will just flock too, you are mistaken.
Can it happen? Sure. Are the odds in your favor? No.
Here are some universal truths when starting from nothing:
- No one cares, maybe not even your parents (mostly because they just don’t understand.. :D);
- No one is going to justify, or validate, your ideas;
- Few will even understand it;
- You’ll have more people telling you why it won’t work, than those that say it will;
- No one is going to just give you money;
- No one is going to just buy your product, or service;
- No one is going to believe just because you do;
- Many will dismiss the idea, until it’s established, then they will wonder how you did it (i.e., must be luck!);
- Everyone will have an opinion, but won’t have to live with the decisions;
- Everyone will tell you not to work so hard, but won’t have to live with the consequences of not;
- Few will understand the journey.
Few are business, or technical savants, where what they touch turns into gold. As nice as it might be if it does happen, always plan as if it won’t.
The good news is that with time the hustle changes. You are afforded more liberties. Maybe you hire a team. Maybe you introduce some efficiencies that help optimize your time and resources. Most importantly, you learn.
When we were first starting with Sucuri we were young, both in age and experience, naive. We hustled in the wrong way.
We stared at the daily signups, as if we ere staring at the progress indicator of an AOL modem.
We were consumed with the idea that we had to be online every single minute of every single day. If we left, it’d all fall apart.
We worked continuously at the sacrifice of everything, family, friends, social life, hobbies, etc…
Could it have been different? Could we have reached the same outcomes? Hard to say. What I learned from those experiences were invaluable.
They showed me that “real” work doesn’t just happen on a computer. It showed me that hustling isn’t just about how often you commit to your trade, but that it’s all around you in everything you do. I do my best thinking when fighting with my Mustang, Volt, when zipping through the desert at break neck speeds trying not to kill myself, or when I am wrapped like a pretzel in Jiu Jitsu. These disconnected moments allow me to free my mind, and where I build the best insights.
The idea for CleanBrowsing came from a random walk around the office building with Daniel in 2016. Since, it’s been a constant hustle, grind, while we balanced our different responsibilities. Today we are all-in, and we’re hustling, but we’re just a lot smarter about it.
You can’t skip in the line of that journey, it’s all about the experience.
Hustle Towards Your Aspirations
The piece I agree with when it comes to anti-Hustling, is when you’re hustling for something that is not yours, for others, or if it doesn’t propel you towards your own aspirations.
If I ever had the privilege of serving you, there is one thing I would often say, “no-one is going to care more about you, than you.”
If your aspirations are to continue to climb the corporate ladder, than fine. You might have to give it your all, hustle, to help yourself stand out, but I agree with my colleagues the end result rarely justifies the means. Every one wants a promotion. Every one wants more money. Just remember, in the end, it’s a business not a family.
If your aspirations are to build your own thing, establish your own security, then that is where I would place my focus. Do right by your organization. Put in your hours, do your work, but focus on you as well.
There is nothing more depressing than when I ask an aspiring entrepreneur why they haven’t done something they really want to do and they respond, “You don’t understand, I am just so busy at work.” My response is usually, “Is that what you’re going to tell yourself 10 years from now?”
If you are going to hustle, do so wisely and hustle towards something that helps you achieve your own aspirations.
The Art of Not Remembering
The problem we have in the tech startup world is that we forget what it is like to start with nothing, from nothing.
As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance. – John Wheeler
If you listen to every person that amplifies the anit-Hustle mantra they come from a good place, but they tend to have very similar experiences, backgrounds and find themselves in a very different place. Maybe they have an established business. Maybe their business has a 20 year foundation. Maybe they have already raised capital. Maybe they have navigated the complexities of people management, and have a solid bench. Maybe they have exited and have the luxury of exploring new ideas with little pressure. Maybe.. Maybe.. Maybe… Maybe…
Maybe they have just forgotten what it is to start with nothing, from nothing.
Hindsight is a hell of a thing, and it’s really easy to say, “Hey, learn from me! Take it from me! Learn from my experiences!” but honestly, something you have to experience yourself.
For most starting out, this is not true. They are not part of an incubator with endless resources, connections. They might not be part of community that has any of these resources (maybe live in a less privileged part of the world). They have no capital. They can’t hire because a) they are not known, b) can’t have afford it, and c) haven’t established their own entity. They don’t know who to talk to. They don’t have an audience. They don’t.. they don’t… they don’t.. they don’t…
They just don’t know.
To those that fall into this group, you are going to have to hustle. You are going to have to lean in like you have never leaned in before. You will have to turn non-believers into believers, and make those that don’t want to listen, listen. You will have to answer those calls, respond to those emails and yes, hustle. You’ll come out the other end a better person, and what you’re going to learn will be invaluable, immeasurable, to your physical, emotional and intellectual make-up.
There are no short cuts. So hustle like it’s 1999, it’s ok.