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.

Why Hustling Helps People To Become Insanely Successful
[Image: Flickr user Beverley Goodwin]

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.

About the author

Drake Baer was a contributing writer at Fast Company, where he covered work culture. He's the co-author of Everything Connects, a book about how intrapersonal, interpersonal, and organizational psychology shape innovation.