Two of our nieces spent a few days with us this week. They really came to see their cousin, our daughter, and her new baby. A side benefit was that they had to (got to!) stay with us. It’s always good to be with them and catch a little bit of their creative and entrepreneurial spirit. Our niece, Natalie, recommended a new (to me) podcast. It’s an NPR production called How I Built This. The podcast is a fantastic offering exploring how entrepreneurs and innovators built their companies or projects from the ground up. The first one I listened to was an affirmation that hustle often brings success.
It was about the founding of Air BnB. Two recent college graduates lived in San Francisco and were attempting to come up with ideas for a new company. They wanted to be entrepreneurs. A few of their attempts were unsuccessful.
Then they discovered a big designers’ conference was coming to San Francisco. They knew that hotel rooms would be at a premium. So they decided to advertise that they had space for rent. They would blow up air mattresses, provide good hospitality, and show their renters the city. Before they knew it three people took them up on their offer. It was a success.
But it would be a while before this would all become Air BnB. The whole thing went through numerous fits and starts. Finally they decided they needed money just to live, let alone get their business going.
So they came up with the idea of producing rare breakfast cereal boxes. Yes, you read that right. Barack Obama and John McCain were running for president. They made cereal boxes called “Obama O’s” and “Cap’n McCain’s.” They sold them for $40 (!) a piece. It was a wild success. They had a bit more rent money.
Before long an entrepreneurial incubator got wind of their upstart. They applied and were invited to come for an interview. The interview didn’t go as well as they had hoped. But on the way out they remembered they had brought a box of Obama O’s as a gift. They ran back in and gave it to their interviewers. As a result, they were accepted into the program because they showed the panel that they could hustle and wouldn’t give up.
What a great, but simple, lesson. Sometimes success simply means hustle. You have a good idea. You’ve done the work. A foundation is laid.
You can’t just wait. You have to hustle.
My wife, Tammy, is in the middle of doing just that. As she starts her new business, she is designing, creating products, posting on social media, doing sales calls at retail outlets, and learning how to operate the back end of her web site. It all takes a great deal of hustle.
And it’s beginning to pay off. She has sold a fair number of items online. Her products are now in four retail outlets in the Orlando area. She has put together a number of custom orders. The business is not yet turning a profit, but it’s getting very close to doing so.
Projects, work, or business can succeed without hustle. But it doesn’t happen very often. Hustle is often the secret sauce to wild success.
What can you do today to hustle?
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