Why Hustling Helps People To Become Insanely Successful

Take a page from Twitter investor Chris Sacca to take your career to the next level—put your nose to the grindstone, hustle, schlep, slog, and invent a consultancy.

Super lucky people get so frustratingly fortunate by finding ways to expose themselves to positive chance.

Such is the story of Chris Sacca, the cowboy-shirted angel investor that made out like a bandit with Twitter's IPO. But Sacca, who invested not only in Twitter but also in small firms like Uber and Quirky and ran special projects at Google, was not always so accomplished. As Ben Casnocha notes, Sacca wouldn't have had the same insane trajectory without finding ways to give himself chances—that is, without hustle.

Pulling apart the hustle

Let's rewind, care of Casnocha: "not so long ago," he says, "Chris was an out-of-work attorney in desperate need of income to help him pay off his student loans from law school."

So Sacca did what anyone else on the job hunt would do. He snuck into networking and tech events—in an effort, we can infer, to expose himself to the positive chances that can turn into gigs. But once he was inside, he noticed something unsettling: the business cards he was carrying—just his name, no employer—weren't going to capture anyone's attention.

It's the same reason that if you're trying to get an insanely busy person to take a meeting with you, you need to make the value of doing so obvious to them and make them feel that the meeting will be mutually beneficial.

Sacca realized that he needed to raise his profile and signal that he had more to offer in exchange. Queue a plan of hustle of cleverly epic proportion: create a consulting firm and employ himself there. According to Casnocha:

He made new business cards, hired a developer to build a website, and enlisted his fiancée to draw a corporate logo. Then he returned to the same networking events with new business cards that read, "Chris Sacca, Principal, Salinger Group." Suddenly, the people he met were interested in talking more. Through these connections he eventually landed an executive job at a wireless company, and his career took flight.

When we uncover the lives of super successful people, there's often such a pattern of hustle, a will to keep exposing yourself to positive chance until it hits. Cap Watkins, now the design lead at Etsy, launched his career from a fortuitous cup of coffee. Tim Westergren pitched the idea for Pandora more than 300 times before receiving crucial funding. Paul Graham says success can only come from a willingness to schlep.

"Hustle is hard to deconstruct." Casnocha says, "[I]t’s not something you 'learn' like you would accounting or public speaking. It's more a state-of-mind that develops—or doesn’t develop."

From that hustle can come the luck to become successful.

[Image: Flickr user Beverley Goodwin]

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  • Katherine Tattersfield

    How do you "hire a developer" to build a website when you're "in desperate need of income?" Something's not right here....

  • Katherine Tattersfield

    Not sure when this story takes place...seems as though it would be about 10 years ago, when web development was more expensive, even overseas.

  • Paul_Rand

    Actually a real hustler is a weasel, liar, thief, and cunning charmer. The use of the word hustler in this context is just a lightweight admirer of deceitful behavior to get ahead. Typical upper middle class psychology borrowing attitudes from the street but not really willing to actually be that billigerent. Kind of like white suburban boys that emulate their hip hop idols and act tough and dress as if they lived in South central or the Bronx...

  • JUAN


  • Guest

    prop yourself up all you want but be able to deliver or you will get the boot immediately.

  • A

    Given these examples, seems easy to "hustle" in the corporate world as a white male.

  • Jason Laviolette

    Terrific article, short and inspiring. I'm quitting a 2nd job to focus on my real idea which will one day, with some grit and hustle, allow me to quit the 1st.

  • Kellye

    Great article! Thank you! I could have read more about Sacca's path to success. We, entrepreneurs, need to be reminded that our walk does not come with directions and the path is not straight or easy!

  • Anthony Reardon

    I knew a college professor who's mantra was "fake it to make it". Bunch of BS, lol!

    Hustle, though, love that. Good movie for that is "Secret Of My Success".

    Actually, today if you are looking for work, you need to demonstrate your skills by using them. I think everyone is a business whether they realize it or not, so if you've got professional capacities to offer, you can put yourself in a candidate pool, or have the industry to package what you have to offer as a set of services with a brand and digital strategy to boot.

    Best, Anthony

  • Asacalies

    DId Sacca register the Salinger Group as a DBA? Being an attorney, he obviously knew to avoid including "Inc." or "Corp" after the name, which would have been fraudulent.

  • Jay Jay Deng

    Lots of successful business people have lied at the beginning of their careers, just look up Gary Cohn's story of how he eventually became the president of Goldman Sachs.

  • Gil Batzri

    So a scumbag lied, and eventually became the president of one of the most scumbag companies around.

    The takeway: If you have no morals you can advance.