I’m the co-host of a nationally syndicated podcast called The Shrimp Tank. We interview CEOs and entrepreneurs from the Puget Sound area. Last month, one of our guests was Poulsbo-based Aljolynn Sperber, CEO of Lady Box, Inc.
She founded a startup subscription-based business after 10 years as a marketing executive in the Los Angeles area. We asked her what one of her early revelations has been. Her answer was gold. She said she called her former CEO and said she finally understood the difference between hard work and hustle. She told her, “I worked hard for you every day, but you hustled.”
Aljolynn explained that employees who “work hard” invest the energy while at work and can then go home and unwind. Entrepreneurs that “hustle” are constantly thinking about ways to improve, grow, and build their business.
I thought this was brilliant and would like to expand on the concept.
This is not a message that besmirches the concept of “hard work.” In fact, it’s a compliment to any employee who invests maximum effort into what they do. Organizations are dependent on it.
Research shows that “hard work” is not as prevalent as it used to be. “Presentism” has become a norm in many businesses, especially those that are office oriented.
According to a 2018 study by Udemy, more than 70% of workers report feeling distracted on the job, with 16% saying they almost always feel unfocused. The average worker checks their email 36 times an hour and takes 16 minutes to refocus after handling a new email. Social media, now available easily by personal mobile devices, is constantly accessed during a business day. According to the study, all this lost “hard work” is costing American businesses upward of $650 billion per year!
If you as an employer get consistent hard work from your employees, you are not only fortunate, but also incredibly more profitable. If you are an employer that feels might be a contributing part of this research data, then your job is to find ways to influence a change.
My focus for the rest of this column however is on those who “hustle.” Aljolynn’s assessment of the difference is compelling because it provides all of us who are CEOs and entrepreneurs a road map to harnessing that hustle, so it not only is more lucrative, but also that it doesn’t burn us out. To that end, allow me to share three ways to maximize the hustle and protect your life balance.
First: Create metrics of success. All hustle without a goal results in becoming that crazy hamster running on the wheel. You will exert a ton of mental and emotional energy, with little to show for it.
Your daily activities should have some metric for success. Examples include: How much time will you be investing in marketing activities? How many people will you be meeting with that will directly lead to new business? Are you focused on tasks someone else can do or on priority projects that only you can do?
Setting up your daily activities focused on your strengths and what you bring to your company is critical to maximizing your time and effort. If you are the business as just yourself or less than five employees, this focus is even more imperative for profitable investment of your resources.
Second: Learn to say no. This is a hard one for many entrepreneurs. However, you must understand the resource of time is finite. You can always make more money, but you can’t make more time.
By identifying my “5 Priorities for Profitability,” you will be able to not only maximize your time, but also create more discretionary time for yourself. The “5 Priorities for Profitability” are:
1. Prioritize your time on what you most contribute to the company (e.g. sales, relationship development, strategy).
2. Prioritize your time on acquiring new business.
3. Prioritize your time on managing and controlling cash flow.
4. Prioritize your time on developing relationships that produce positive results.
5. Prioritize your time on people that bring you delight rather than drama.
Third: Stay in the moment…always. Easier said than done, and the one I personally work hardest on as a daily discipline.
It’s easy to do two things, bemoan past failures and be anxious about future uncertainties. As those who must hustle to create lifestyles for ourselves and loved ones, it’s easy to fall into both traps. We all make mistakes. While we learn and move on, sometimes are minds don’t really let go. We can get caught becoming despondent over mistakes and blaming ourselves. If you recognize this in yourself, two words for you: stop it!
If you’ve ever woken up at 2:30 in the morning drenched in anxiety and stress, welcome to the club. It’s not just money; this includes your reputation, your brand, your employees, and a million other things. If this is you, go back to sleep!
It’s hard. It happens to all of us. The solution is to become ultra-focused on the moment. While you can learn from the past and strategize for the future (and you should do both), where you are today must be focused on who you’re with and what you’re accomplishing right now.
We all have an expiration date that’s invisible until it’s upon us. We might as well love what we are doing, enjoy who we are with, work with people we like, and focus on what’s right in front of us.
Bottom line: Hard work and hustle aren’t synonymous. If you work hard as an employee for someone else, good for you. Your boss will thank you. I hope you appreciate the hustle they have to go through to create job opportunities for others. If you’re the business owner, you live the “hustle.” Make sure that the process is exhilarating and the results truly gratifying.
P.S. Subscribe to The Shrimp Tank Podcast (Seattle) on iHeart Radio, iTunes, or Google Podcasts!
© 2020 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Check out my latest guest on the Shrimp Tank Podcast. Aljolynn Sperber went from a successful marketing career in Los Angeles to starting her own business back in her home town.
Watch the video wrap-up above and listen to the entire podcast here! You’ll learn how she talks about the difference between hard work and hustle!
P.S. She has a special offer for Shrimp Tank Podcast listeners and viewers. Watch the video to find out how you can take advantage!
© 2020 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Check out this course I teach on LinkedIn Learning. This 90 minute course is broken up into bite-sized videos to help the solopreneur and entrepreneur accelerate business growth and protection of their business wealth.
© 2020 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Groundhogs Day seems to trigger one of two (or maybe both) visuals. The first is that little furry creature named Punxsutawney Phil who tells all about the upcoming Spring season based on if he sees his shadow or not. The second is the face of Bill Murray in his classic movie where he lives the same day over and over. So will this missive be about coming out of the shadows or living the same day over and over? Well…both.
Legend has it that on the morning of February 2nd, if a Punxsutawney Phil can see his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If he cannot see its shadow, spring is on the way. At the time I write this, Phil hasn’t come up to check out the day, so I don’t know what 2020 holds for us yet!
That being said, people allow other “groundhogs’ to influence their thinking about their business and lives. Predictions abound from pundits about the economy, politics, the financial marketplace, world events, sports, and business. These “groundhogs” don’t always live within social media. All too often, those most close to us can become the predictors if we allow them. It can be well-meaning family and friends, competitors, and other “experts” that can influence thinking. And the worst offender…might just be ourself. We can become prone to allowing negative thinking, bad experiences, bad luck, and bad timing cloud our perspective of the future. The consequences are far worse than additional six weeks of winter. Which brings me to Bill Murray…
In the move, Murray’s character lived the same day over and over. It’s human to nonchalantly fall prey to the daily grind of “same old, same old.” If that daily grind becomes focused on the negative attitude and poor prognostication of the future, one can start dreading the next day, the next month, and the next year.
The biggest risk to business and financial success is allowing the negative groundhogs in our lives (including us) to prevail. We all have those positive groundhogs in our lives that will keep us focused on a course for bright future days. We should listen to those.
Bottom line. Don’t believe all the prognosticators who forecast cloudy days. They likely don’t know what they are talking about. Heck, Punxsutawney Phil probably wonders why he is forced from out of a warm sleep early every February 2nd. Don’t get stuck seeing your own shadow and racing back into your den of fear; instead keep that inner groundhog speeding ahead towards new opportunities for your business, career, and life.
Quote of the Day:
“Every failure is a step to success.”
~ William Whewell (19th Century English Philosopher)
© 2020 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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I have a new “toy” as part of my office equipment. I’ve wanted a stand-up option for my computer because I always felt tired of sitting so long during the day. I’m now the proud owner of a standing desk so I can stand and sit when I want. This is an extremely valuable addition to my work process.
An interesting adjustment has been with my glasses. I wear progressive lenses when working on a computer. I’ve found it works well for moving my gaze from the computer to the keyboard and occasionally to the television in my office. It can also turn around and keep a focus on what Captain Jack is doing behind me!
My progressive lenses work fine when I’m in the sitting position, but when I stand, they become blurry and more than a little annoying. The lift in the desk creates a different eye angle. That angle requires a different pair of lenses, so I use my cheap readers. The adjustment I had to make was important because without a clear vision, I couldn’t effectively work, and my results would suffer.
What pair of glasses are you peering through for your business? Isn’t 2020 the perfect time to make sure your vision is crystal clear?
Every business requires specific vision and clarity to improve performance and productivity. Without this specific and clear direction, then nobody in the organization would be seeing the path to success, and results would be less than expected, morale would be lower than desired, and the financial risk to your business would increase exponentially.
Every January, I visit my optometrist to get an exam. This exam clarifies the health of my eyes and resulting vision. Let’s do a quick check on your vision. Here are my five best practices to improving your corporate vision and clarity.
1. Get a new “exam” on your company mission, vision, and values (MVV)
Some of you may not have a written MVV which means you are long overdue for your exam! The MVV is critical to clarity because without it, you’re flying blind. If you do have one, congratulations. Now check the expiration date. If you haven’t reviewed or worked on it for more than two years, you’re overdue. Just like your eyes can change over time, so can your mission and objectives around it.
A review shouldn’t be painful; it does need to be honest and involve other key people in your organization.
2. Focus on activities and results
Too many MVVs suffer the same fate as New Year’s Resolutions. The resolution is to “lose weight;” yet misses the daily activities, disciplines and accountabilities required for positive performance and success.
This is where reverse engineering success comes in. What’s your objective? Is it to increase gross revenue by 15%? That’s a good quantifiable metric, but how will you do it? Reverse engineer your sales process. What do you need to do to improve from the year before? Is it more sales calls, more referrals, new equipment, an improved social media presence, or something else specific to you?
Your MVV must include the disciplines around activity that are required to achieve ultimate success.
Someone must be responsible for all these daily disciplines or they won’t get done. We are all human; very few of us can robotically work through our action plan daily. We all need someone to hold us accountable.
While accountability is easy to understand conceptually, the hard part is the process. Most accountability requires some level of consequences for not getting done. In decades gone by (and unfortunately in some businesses even today), the old “control and command” method was in vogue. I tell you what to do and you do it, or else you’re demoted or fired. I prefer a more collaborative approach, but still with some level of consequences. The consequences might small at first; however, if they persist, it may become apparent that someone might be self-selecting themselves out of the company! If the accountability is on us as the business owner, then vision might be the problem. That would require a re-commitment to a new vision with better clarity.
4. Get a different perspective
The most successful business owners I know all invest in some form of advisory or coaching. This is important for two reasons.
First, we all need someone to examine what we are doing and challenge us. It’s easy to get myopic and start breathing our own exhaust. Those results are deadly! A coach will be able to expand your worldview and make you do your own vision testing to become more focused on your goals.
Second, everyone needs another person to share both failures and successes. While spouses, children and the family dog (all of which might be part of your company structure, by the way!) might offer a sounding board, a coach offers both sounding board and next steps.
5. Make this process fun
If you’re like me, you like to do fun things. While we all have parts of our work that aren’t quite as enjoyable, what we do better be fun or else we are in the wrong business. Life is too short to waste on going through the motions.
While “process” sounds daunting, it’s not. Think of it as the building blocks to the ideal business and lifestyle. Just like going to the optometrist on a regular basis improves the likelihood of lifelong eye health, investing time and finances into this process will have the same results for your business. You have control over the process and if it’s fun. There is a correlation to fun and success.
Bottom line: The concept of a specific and clear vision isn’t new. It starts with leadership and moves through the organization. Regardless of what you have in place today, invest the time in creating or updating your Mission, Vision and Values. Your vision will immediately be better and brighter!
© 2020 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
My February column for the Kitsap Sun, part of the USA Today Network