Gary Vee’s portrayal of hustle can be misleading.
That doesn’t make him wrong.
His YouTube channel paints the picture of a restless, connected man who spends most of his day glued to a phone, bouncing from meeting to meeting, yelling at strangers for taking their parent’s money. One minute he’s recording a podcast with DaBaby talking about NFTs; the next, he’s on a private jet with A-Rod talking about baseball cards.
Critics say he’s propagating hustle porn. I’m not sure where the term comes from, but it means to normalize the struggle toward a career endeavor at the expense of family, friends, and health.
Maybe Gary lives that way, I don’t really know. But that’s not what he’s saying. Not at all.
“Hustling does not mean waking up at the crack of dawn and exhausting yourself until you collapse. The truth is, it’s not about how much you sleep or don’t sleep. It’s what you do while you’re awake that matters. If you work hard and smart while you’re awake, then you’re hustling.” — Gary Vaynerchuk
No matter what you do, life will be a struggle, and if you aren’t trying to slay that dragon, what the fuck is the alternative? You will either try and fail or not try and live in regret surrounded by beer cans when you’re 45.
Here’s what I think critics are trying to say: Gary’s portrayal of hustle (the speaking gigs, the travel, the constant connectedness) does not represent the reality of his audience. An audience comprised mostly of young entrepreneurs and millennial corporate associates.
With that, I agree.
Perhaps we need a better mental image of hustle. So I wrote down 18 examples of what everyday hustle looks like in your twenties.
Taking an online course on Saturday morning
Who wins? Those who develop new skills faster than anyone else.
There’s a wealth of information out there in the form of online courses, eBooks, YouTube videos, and newsletters. Want to learn how to blog? Take Tom Kuegler’s Medium Master Class. Want to learn how to make a viral TikTok? Take Anthony McGuire’s TikTok course.
Yet, most continue to watch cartoons on Saturday morning.
Creating content on the train after work
The blogger Nicolas Cole has a simple answer when asked about his writing routine: everywhere and anywhere. He often wrote on the Chicago “L” because it was the only time he could find to write his blog.
Timing may not be perfect for your creative endeavors or work projects, but hustlers know to just get it done.
Leading Zoom Chats or Clubhouses to talk about societal issues
Our careers are important, but if 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we also have social responsibility.
My friend Sarah leads a monthly Zoom call that talks about workplace inequality: racial, gender, and sexuality. Corporates fail because they either avoid the issues entirely or force the subject until their employees are uncomfortable sharing their stories. Sarah breaks down those barriers and tackles workplace issues at the ground level — like a social justice fight club.
Showing kindness towards the next generation
Hustle includes passing on what you’ve learned.
An older broker treated me harshly when I started in commercial real estate. I empathize with the guy because I know competition is scary, but that isn’t leadership, and to act upon those impulses leaves you bitter in the end.
The next generation wants someone to look up to, a mentor — be that person.
Making a podcast that elevates your network
Prioritize networking — these are the people you will be doing business with for the rest of your career.
My friend Tony hosts a podcast that talks to young entrepreneurs about their journey and business perspective. The stories bring value to his audience, but he’s also building a strong network of lifelong friends because he’s elevating the entrepreneur’s brand first.
Tony is one of the finest networkers I know, and he’s never picked up a golf club.
Getting yourself out of bed at 5 am to workout
Jocko Willink gets up at 4:30 am.
You’re killing two birds with one stone when you engage in early morning workouts. One, you’re getting stronger free from worldly distractions. Two, getting up at 5 am expands the perimeter of your willpower — a mental muscle that will serve you well in all areas of your life.
Hustlers get up early.
Going on adventures while you’re young
Here’s the reality: there are only so many things you can do before you get too old.
Jim Koch, the CEO of Adams Brewing Co, dropped out of graduate school when he was 25 to join Outward Bound, a wilderness boot camp in British Columbia. “I didn’t want to make decisions that would bind me for the rest of my life,” He later told Guy Raz on NPR. “Also, I realized that there are only things you can do in your twenties, that if you don’t do them, you will never be able to do them.”
You have more time than you think to settle down and become an adult, so go on that hiking trip, make that career change, ask that girl or guy out. I have a sneaky feeling you won’t regret it when you’re 45.
Spending time on things that excite you
Teddy Roosevelt wore many hats in his youth. While at Harvard, his list of activities included boxing, wrestling, bodybuilding, dancing, poetry reading, and, lest I forget, birding. He worked hard at his extracurriculars and still maintained stellar grades at a demanding school.
How did he pull it off?
Teddy built his schedule by taking the hours between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm and removed all the time spent in class, at lunch, or in athletic training (he trained for 1-hour each day). The time fragments that remained were for study, which freed up the hours outside of 8:30 am and 4:30 pm for birding.
Hustlers keep a disciplined schedule and redirect their focus towards things that excite them.
Going on a mindfulness walk
The science is in — A daily mindful practice helps reduce anxiety and burnout.
I’ve found that mindfulness quiets the inner chatter and allows you to respond to problems with clarity. Try walking without headphones for 30 minutes to solve a specific problem. As Nietzsche once said, “all truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”
You bet your ass hustlers are taking advantage of mindfulness.
Meeting up with friends for a few beers
Why can’t a few pops with a strong tribe be considered hustle?
My friends and I recently rented a lake house for a weekend. We all live in different cities, but we usually make time to visit each other at least once a year. My friends planned to stay through Monday afternoon. I wanted to leave Sunday because, well, I didn’t want to miss a workday.
That’s when my mom called and said something I’ll never forget. “You should stay and be with your friends. In 50 years from now, will you care if you worked 48,024 hours vs. 48,014 hours?”
I stayed until Monday, and I’m incredibly thankful that I had.
Reading instead of re-watching The Office
We could all use less streaming.
Reading is an obvious replacement, but any activity that improves your cognitive ability or physical fitness helps. Yet somehow, we can’t help but flip on a show we’ve already watched. I mean, I’m pretty sure I’ve watched The Office five times.
Instead of jumping straight into Netflix, take 15 minutes to read, memorize a deck of cards, or go for a jog.
literally anything else.
Putting aside the ego and listening to mentors
Hustlers are ok not knowing everything.
Millennials have difficulty with mentors because it requires us to admit what we don’t know and that someone is better. Not exactly the participation trophy attitude we received from our parents, but it’s the only way we learn.
Always remain a student. Always, always, always.
Spending money on things you love, not things you don’t care about
Personal finance can be tricky in your twenties. We don’t have the experience, we make little money, and most of us hold a shit ton of debt.
Finance writer Ramit Sethi says young people are not spending consciously, and it’s become a problem. “We’re spending on whatever, then reactively feeling good or bad about it the next day.” You know, the feeling of looking at your bank statement and saying to yourself, “I spent how much?”
Hustlers decide when and where they’re going to spend their money — travel, a night out, saving, investing, groceries, rent — after that, you free yourself from feeling guilty about spending.
Sweating every day like someone is chasing you
I think David Goggins said this on The Joe Rogan Experience; I don’t know for sure, but it’s a great mindset.
If you ever want an injection of motivation, go to David Goggins’s Twitter account and scroll. He’s all about building willpower and pushing the mind to do hard things like running 60 miles in the desert every day. Sounds crazy, but he’s on to something — there’s not a better way to test the mind than a grueling workout.
Hustlers embrace discomfort.
Letting the email fly like JR Smith
Perfectionism holds us back.
Hustlers send the email, make the sales call, post on LinkedIn, create the newsletter, and start the business. Don’t worry about being perfect — that wasn’t going to happen anyway.
Like the basketball player JR Smith likes to say, “when in doubt, let it fly.”
Asking for help even if it makes you feel vulnerable
Here’s a little secret: everyone asks for help.
We all need relationship advice, a guide when changing careers, or financial advice when in debt. You (and all your friends) need insights that can’t be found on the internet when stuck in a real jam. It will happen. Count on it.
I’m telling you this so you won’t feel so vulnerable the next time you need help.
Sharing ideas with your company
Present with confidence and elicit emotion.
Morten Hansen, a business management professor at Cal Berkeley, says a great way to inspire others is to foster both negative and positive emotion, “getting people upset about the present and excited about the future.” Share your story and make them feel it.
Hustlers understand that everyone’s perspective matters — including theirs.
Hustle doesn't mean gluing yourself to your phone
Twentysomethings are at an advantage. We understand the value in building a personal brand online, but we are also aware, now more than ever, that social media connectedness comes at the cost of our attention.
Hustlers will not risk it. They maintain their online presence but not at the expense of their focus and creative flow.
Gary’s definition of hustle is correct and a great creed to live by:
“It’s not about how much you sleep or don’t sleep. It’s what you do while you’re awake that matters. If you work hard and smart while you’re awake, then you’re hustling.”
But you’re not @garyvee, so don’t hustle like him.