I always remember one of the greatest compliments to me from doing the show was when Matt Mazzeo (after months of stalking), agreed to come on The Twenty Minute VC. Once on the show, Matt said, 'Harry you are a hustler for sure my man'. That meant so much to me. To me, 'hustle' is when someone gets themselves into a situation that they might not have the right to be in but through sheer persistence and hard work they have made it happen. From Matt (someone I have the utmost respect) that meant the world to me.
Many people ask me, Harry, how did you get such fantastic guests on The Twenty Minute VC and build up such a strong following. I always answer the same thing, 90% was nothing but sheer hard work. I gave up all social life, the majority of sporting activities and all hobbies for sure. The result, 16-18 hour work days building The Twenty Minute VC to what it is today. However, the other 10% of the equation is hustle. This is very different to hard work because hustle is a strategy and if it is a strategy it can be taught.
Now keeping in line with this 7 Part Series on my resolutions to achieve what I want to achieve in 2017, hustle more is one of them. It is easy for me now to be referred guests for the show and have guests approach me but that is not how the show will improve and grow. That is not what an entrepreneur would do. That is also not the way VC is moving. Now, more than ever the entrepreneur is our (VCs) customer and to onboard that customer successfully (invest) we as VCs must hustle more to prove our value.
So what are the 3 fundamentals to consider in order to be successful with your hustle?
You have to be diligent in setting aside time to hustle. That may seem like a paradox but in today's fast moving and busy world if you do not carve out the time to hustle, other things will seem more urgent and it will not happen. So every day set aside a certain amount of time to hustle. For me, I always go for 1 hour at the end of the day (11PM-Midnight). By placing it at the end of the day, I almost view it as the reward for the work I have done in the day. It is a time when I can push the boundaries of what I think I can achieve and really get creative. For me, this is largely in the form of getting the best guests on the show. For example, at the moment I am 'hustling' to have Bill Gurley, John Doerr and Marc Benioff on The Twenty Minute VC. 3 guests I would normally have no chance of getting but this is the hour of the day when I am going to try my utmost to make it happen.
I like to use the analogy here that you have to fish with a spear, not a net. What does that mean? Well, you have to identify the ultimate goal of your hustle. For example, for me it is to ensure the quality of guests continues to increase on the show. For you, it may be to ensure employee satisfaction is at 8.5/10 and above. Once you have determined your goal, you have to be targeted. What are the fundamental drivers that will ensure the goal is achieved? For me, it is having the 3 guests mentioned above, appear on the show. For you, keeping with the employee satisfaction analogy it could be, selecting the 3 fundamental drivers of employee satisfaction: holiday allowance, healthcare and yoga lessons (just kidding!!) Now you have your strategic list, carve out segments of your allocated time to each individual item. For me, that means spending 20 mins a night reading and listening to everything I can on Bill Gurley (one of my hobbies anyway!!!)
Context Not Content
So now we have the time to hustle, we have the goals and a strategic list of what we are hustling for, what now? Now, we ensure that the actions we do are focused and not full. What I mean by that is they have contextual support and are not content laden. Reverting to our analogies, for me, this means watching Bill Gurley and Malcolm Gladwell @ SXSW 2015 (must see btw!) and making meticulous notes. Then when I email Bill (after months of stalking) I can reference specific points to present my diligence and passion for the topic (you have to prove your passion!) E.g. It might read like this, "Bill, I was immensely inspired by your discussion on the transformational shift that Uber is enacting on the future of work as mentioned in minute 16". For the employee satisfaction, it is looking at the context. Melinda (Personal Assistant) has 3 kids and 1 has asthma, she will need a greater level of healthcare than Simon (28-year-old analyst bachelor). To prove it, use the 'hustle' time and drop Melinda an email. "Melinda, I just wanted to say I so appreciate all you do for me as my PA, earlier you mentioned Tommy, Jessica and Simon. I am so sorry I did not factor in Simon's asthma when we established healthcare, I have altered your existing plan to premium and always let me know if there is anything we can do to help". Now that is employee satisfaction and what did it take 20 mins of hustle at best for a happy and motivated team. Good deal to me!
Ultimately, I believe no matter what stage and position you are in, you should hustle. Not only does it keep you humble but makes you strive to never accept what you have and be hungry for continuous growth.
As always, nothing makes me happier than seeing comments and suggestions. Nothing I ever say is set in stone and as Satya Patel told me, adopt the mindset 'strong opinions loosely held'. Now that is the key to success.