When Pat Riley was coaching the New York Knicks in the early 1990s, he wanted to motivate his team. The team kept the usual stats on scoring, assists, rebounds and the like, but one year Riley decided to begin measuring hustle — how many rebounds players went for even if they didn’t succeed; how many times a player would make an extra effort to snatch a loose ball; how often someone would make a steal attempt. Riley posted his “Hustle Stats” in the Knicks’ locker room after every game, without any additional comment on his part. Riley’s players took notice and soon became a top-level team.

Today’s sports landscape is filled with analytics that chart all these stats. Focus on results, yes, but keep an eye on your level of effort to reach the top.

It’s really no different in business. It’s just that the stats are reflected in the bottom line.

I recently saw two T-shirts that grabbed my attention. One said “Hustle or go broke.” The other read “Hustle now/relax later.” If there was ever a shirt for an entrepreneur, this would be the one.

That’s what I did when I started my envelope manufacturing company years ago. I basically kissed my wife and told her, “I’ll see you in five years.” It takes that kind of hustle to get a business off the ground.

There are a number of attributes a person needs to succeed in life. Two of them are outside our control — talent and luck. Hustle is a third component, and it can definitely be developed and cultivated.

Good things may come to those who wait, but only those things left by people who hustle. I’ve always felt that it doesn’t take special ability to hustle, just a burning desire to get ahead. Anything you lack in talent can be made up with desire.

President Thomas Jefferson said: “It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.”

Hustlers know they need to develop two skills. First is learning to network. You need to know as many people as possible before you might need their help. And knowing the right people can save time.

Second, you must reject reacting negatively to rejection. Rejection is part of life. Handling rejection is a necessary skill for success, especially in my line of work — sales. You can’t take rejection personally.

I like to analyze every failure. I always want to know why people say no to my sales proposals, and I’m not afraid to ask. Was it me? Was it my product? Price? Think about what you could have done differently. Then record it in your post-call notes. The next time, you’ll be better prepared.

Forbes magazine once did a story on the nine habits of productive people. One was focus, specifically using your morning to focus on yourself and what you need to accomplish that day. Hustlers have intense, laserlike focus. They focus on one thing. Trying to get everything will get you nothing. Hustlers eliminate distractions.

Hustlers don’t do things because they have to. They do things because they choose to. Most of us are scared to take risks. Not hustlers. They think taking no risks is the biggest risk.

Hustlers love what they do. Imran Asghar, founder of the internet auto parts retailer 24/7 Spares, said: “If you don’t truly love what you do it becomes very difficult to excel and experience success. It is much easier to dedicate the majority of your time to something when you are passionate about it.”

Finally, hustlers never quit. They have grit. They love to practice and get better each day.

Mackay’s Moral: Rustle up your hustle to build your business muscle.


Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail harvey@mackay.com.