As an entrepreneur, every day is a hustle.
I don’t mean hustle in a negative way at all. I’m not trying to shake you down to buy a used Cadillac. I mean hustling as moving forward in a particular direction and going after what you want. The eye of the tiger. According to Merriam Webster, a hustler is defined as “an aggressively enterprising person; a go-getter; a prostitute.” Hm, that’s a pretty broad definition, which is why The Hustle can feel so dirty and slimy.
If you run your own business, you’re constantly doing The Hustle. And, it’s exhausting. Let’s call the exhausting part of The Hustle: The Ditch. You book coffees and lunches and meetings and networking events and shake hands and tell your story and…you hustle. You are doing all of this activity but it feels useless. Every day, you get up, get dressed and do it again. You get no new business, the pipeline is dry and, one day, you wake up wondering “What the F am I doing this for?” Alas, you are in The Ditch.
I’ve been in the The Ditch and it totally sucks.
While I was alone in The Ditch and wallowing in how much I suck, and my business sucks, and the stupid world sucks and wah wah wah, I had a moment of clarity.
What if, instead of looking at The Hustle as a waste of my time and feeling like a dirty used car salesgirl, I turned it around? What if The Hustle was me as “an aggressively enterprising person; a go-getter” going to get what I want?
When I was in The Ditch, I asked myself – How can The Hustle help me be better at what I do? How can it connect me with smart, interesting people that I can learn from? How can it help my clients? How can it make me a better listener and relationship builder? How can it teach me to explore new ideas and new paths? How can it make me a more curious and connected person?
So, I set a goal for myself to start asking my amazing network of colleagues and friends to introduce me to new people. One morning, as I set off on what I called “The New Hustle”, my daughter asked me who I was meeting for lunch. When I explained to her that I was meeting someone I’d never met before, the look of horror on her face was palpable. “You’re having lunch with someone you’ve never met? Why would you do that?!”, she said in shock.
I’ll tell you why. The New Hustle has given me new grounding and perspective on what’s important to me, to my passion and to my business. The New Hustle has done the following for me:
- Connected me to new, completely amazing people
- Taught me that anyone will meet for coffee, lunch or a chat if you ask and make it interesting
- Pushed me out of my comfort zone
- Forced me to have to be really good on my toes – especially trying to engage conversation where there is none
- Fueled my intense curiosity to learn more about people, ideas, products, cultures and more
- Introduced me to another set of new contacts (each person I met, introduced me to someone else)
- Drove new business ideas
- Started new relationships
- Made me think, and, more importantly, challenged how I think
What it has not done (yet) is result in new business. When I was in The Ditch, much of it was because I expected The Hustle to have immediate results. That’s how I operate – get ‘er done now! Let’s move faster! Go go go. The reality is that The Hustle is about relationships with people. It’s about getting to know them – where did they grow up, how old are their kids, what are they passionate about, what are they afraid of, what are their challenges. What I found was that 99% of my meetings were just getting to know someone and we didn’t talk shop at all. Several of the meetings resulted in immediate connections with people like I’ve known them all my life. If your Hustle is only trying to close new business, it’s a gross Hustle and people can see right through it. Don’t get me wrong, you need to know when to ask for the business and find the openings, but don’t force them.
Last week I was in New York. I had meetings with people I have never met. Really successful, interesting people. Women entrepreneurs doing awesome stuff that I can learn from. One of the women I had never met, invited me to coffee and we shared our stories of meeting our husbands (mine, soon to be:), our family life, our challenges growing services businesses, what we want from life and so much more. We could have kept talking for hours and I left feeling so inspired. Another woman I met asked me to be her guest at the Million Dollar Women Summit. Had I not reached out to her, we never would have connected and this opportunity to spend time with her and learn from other women would never have happened. I took the initiative – aka The New Hustle – and it paid off in spades. New amazing people in my life and several new business ideas.
The New Hustle means you’re always pushing yourself forward. Trying new things, meeting new people, stretching what you know and what you learn. What’s your New Hustle? #thenewhustle