Really cool picture by Joey Roth;

Hustle as Performance Art.

(Really cool poster by Joey Roth)

Most people don’t hustle. Sturgeon’s Law and all that. The big blue ocean is too big and scary for them, and they seek the familiar. I’ve been that guy way way more than I’d like to admit.

Like me, most people think they hustle. It’s comforting to think that we’re in the top 1% of hustlers. Whatever that means. It’s nice to believe that we are working effectively on our own hustle.

But it’s mostly not true. We’ve bought into the myth of “hustle” as performance art.

Here are the main ways it happens:

Fake Hustle: Some of us fake the hustle, posting inspirational quotes from Elon Musk or Steve Jobs or Walt Disney or someone else like that. They have to talk about every. Little. Thing. They. Do. As if that’s going making progress.

Grinders Still more “grind”. They do a ton of activity and a lot of effort. Little in the way of results. This is folks that do things in a way that’s always been done. The wear themselves out doing things that have no impact. It’s hard work but it’s not the correct work that actually matters. A salesperson that writes long and elabroate blog posts but never chooses to prospect. These are the people that eat SnackWells and spend hours on the elliptical trainer but never understand why they can’t use weight.

Victims Joey Roth’s classic image calls ‘em martyrs, but I like to call ‘em victims. These people are folks that “work so hard but nobody appreciates them.” We all are wont to believe that we, alone, are noble. That our profession has required a ton of sacrifice and dedication, and nobody appreciates us. That we’ve given up some more lucrative career easily available to us.

The Expert Burnouts There’s a class of people who have been in the industry a long time. Limited success. These folks can talk a good game, and “know” the industry, but the best fruits of their professions passed them by. But they are always waiting to give unsolicited advice to people entering the industry. They know better. And sometimes, they are right.

The Logo Collectors These are people that once did some project tangentially associated with a big prestigious brand, or person. They are too good for wherever they find themselves now because it doesn’t compare to their past glory. They give a limited effort because they are “above” this one, or it won’t work at this “small” scale. But they always talk about their past glories and spend a lot of energy ensuring we know that they once worked for Nike.

All of it’s performance art. We’re interested in appearing like we are hustling to relieve us of the obligation to our talent and the obligation to doing the hard work that’s needed to sail into the great unknown.

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Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson is writing this blog. He's a startup veteran, having built a company called Simplifilm. This blog is about things that he's starting to - but may not actually - think yet. It publishes irregularly.
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