Hated packed lunches with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when I was a kid. Got twenty-five cents for milk money, which I used to buy candy at a local grocery on the way to school every morning. I then sold the candy to my classmates and made enough profit to buy lunch at the cafeteria. This was my first real hustle.
Now, I am much more driven by an idea – something that solves a problem. In my mind, generating new ideas is the number one priority of a business (at least one that I am part of). Meeting customer and investor expectations and battling with competitors are also priorities. (And this is where hustling creeps in.)
Hustling is a popular topic in the media these days.[i] The skill of ‘hustling’ has its place; you want to have hustlers on your team. Some pros of hustling include: gaining consensus faster, removing the dogma of too many rules, and building on momentum. There are problems when everyone just ‘goes with the flow’, however. Deep, meaningful thinking and reflection is ignored. Because there is a race to completion, proper discovery does not occur. I prefer having a team of thinkers (idea actualizers), than a team of hustlers.
Delivering on an idea and hustling often accompany each other. Ideas are rooted in rational thinking, while hustling is often managing perceptions and finding ways to gain an edge. To give a hustler due credit, getting leverage involves clever maneuvering.
- Microsoft’s idea is an operating system – create a layer between hardware and software. The hustle is locking partners in contracts. It extinguished all competition for Microsoft. It also set a battlefield for hardware manufacturers.
- Apple’s idea is to build one of a kind, smart products: IMac, Ipod, Ipad, Iphone, etc. The hustle is product linking. For example, with their new watch, you must also have an IPhone. (Similar linkage with ITunes and the IPod.)
- Google’s idea is a search algorithm superior to all others. The hustle is capturing an audience with a free service, then selling access to it with targeted campaigns. AdWords is paid advertising to the right and at the top of searches; albeit also a good idea, it put companies in fierce competition to get on the first page of a SERP (“search engine results page”). It is now a huge revenue generator.
Some interesting conclusions regarding an idea and the hustle.
- Actualizing an idea comes first. You need something to hustle. Google made headway with AdWords around three years after the search engine was first released.
- An idea is what a leader and company talk about. The hustle occurs behind the scenes and only becomes public when needed – attracting investors. Bill Gates talked about how great Windows was, not about putting PC makers on their knees.
- Ideas get richer and deeper. Tangential ideas circulate. A hustle has an expiration date.
- Ideas are based on rational thinking. Hustles are often based on perceptions. A smart hustle is to get someone with clout to endorse a product or service, regardless of the depth and breadth behind it – nothing more than PR.
- Ideas are about solving a problem. Hustles are about turning a profit.
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