Archive for the ‘Hu$tler’s Mentality’ Category
Very good motivational video I found on YouTube. It’s got an amazing Arnold speech over different footage of him bodybuilding over the years. Arnold is and will always be, The King.
Never let other people define you or try to tell you what you cannot do.
I was going to write a post right now on why I lift weights and how great it is to be good at something, but then I re-read a story by Henry Rollins called “The Iron” and I remembered how beautiful the story was and decided to share that instead. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
“The Iron” by Henry Rollins
I believe that the definition of definition is reinvention. To not be like your parents. To not be like your friends. To be yourself.
When I was young I had no sense of myself. All I was, was a product of all the fear and humiliation I suffered. Fear of my parents. The humiliation of teachers calling me “garbage can” and telling me I’d be mowing lawns for a living. And the very real terror of my fellow students. I was threatened and beaten up for the color of my skin and my size. I was skinny and clumsy, and when others would tease me I didn’t run home crying, wondering why.
I knew all too well. I was there to be antagonized. In sports I was laughed at. A spaz. I was pretty good at boxing but only because the rage that filled my every waking moment made me wild and unpredictable. I fought with some strange fury. The other boys thought I was crazy.
I hated myself all the time.
As stupid at it seems now, I wanted to talk like them, dress like them, carry myself with the ease of knowing that I wasn’t going to get pounded in the hallway between classes. Years passed and I learned to keep it all inside. I only talked to a few boys in my grade. Other losers. Some of them are to this day the greatest people I have ever known. Hang out with a guy who has had his head flushed down a toilet a few times, treat him with respect, and you’ll find a faithful friend forever. But even with friends, school sucked. Teachers gave me hard time. I didn’t think much of them either.
Then came Mr. Pepperman, my advisor. He was a powerfully built Vietnam veteran, and he was scary. No one ever talked out of turn in his class. Once one kid did and Mr. P. lifted him off the ground and pinned him to the blackboard. Mr. P. could see that I was in bad shape, and one Friday in October he asked me if I had ever worked out with weights. I told him no.
He told me that I was going to take some of the money that I had saved and buy a hundred-pound set of weights at Sears. As I left his office, I started to think of things I would say to him on Monday when he asked about the weights that I was not going to buy. Still, it made me feel special. My father never really got that close to caring. On Saturday I bought the weights, but I couldn’t even drag them to my mom’s car. An attendant laughed at me as he put them on a dolly.
Monday came and I was called into Mr. P.’s office after school. He said that he was going to show me how to work out. He was going to put me on a program and start hitting me in the solar plexus in the hallway when I wasn’t looking. When I could take the punch we would know that we were getting somewhere. At no time was I to look at myself in the mirror or tell anyone at school what I was doing. In the gym he showed me ten basic exercises. I paid more attention than I ever did in any of my classes. I didn’t want to blow it. I went home that night and started right in.
Weeks passed, and every once in a while Mr. P. would give me a shot and drop me in the hallway, sending my books flying. The other students didn’t know what to think. More weeks passed, and I was steadily adding new weights to the bar. I could sense the power inside my body growing. I could feel it.
Right before Christmas break I was walking to class, and from out of nowhere Mr. Pepperman appeared and gave me a shot in the chest. I laughed and kept going. He said I could look at myself now. I got home and ran to the bathroom and pulled off my shirt. I saw a body, not just the shell that housed my stomach and my heart. My biceps bulged. My chest had definition. I felt strong. It was the first time I can remember having a sense of myself. I had done something and no one could ever take it away. You couldn’t say s–t to me.
It took me years to fully appreciate the value of the lessons I have learned from the Iron. I used to think that it was my adversary, that I was trying to lift that which does not want to be lifted. I was wrong. When the Iron doesn’t want to come off the mat, it’s the kindest thing it can do for you. If it flew up and went through the ceiling, it wouldn’t teach you anything. That’s the way the Iron talks to you. It tells you that the material you work with is that which you will come to resemble. That which you work against will always work against you.
It wasn’t until my late twenties that I learned that by working out I had given myself a great gift. I learned that nothing good comes without work and a certain amount of pain. When I finish a set that leaves me shaking, I know more about myself. When something gets bad, I know it can’t be as bad as that workout.
I used to fight the pain, but recently this became clear to me: pain is not my enemy; it is my call to greatness. But when dealing with the Iron, one must be careful to interpret the pain correctly. Most injuries involving the Iron come from ego. I once spent a few weeks lifting weight that my body wasn’t ready for and spent a few months not picking up anything heavier than a fork. Try to lift what you’re not prepared to and the Iron will teach you a little lesson in restraint and self-control.
I have never met a truly strong person who didn’t have self-respect. I think a lot of inwardly and outwardly directed contempt passes itself off as self-respect: the idea of raising yourself by stepping on someone’s shoulders instead of doing it yourself. When I see guys working out for cosmetic reasons, I see vanity exposing them in the worst way, as cartoon characters, billboards for imbalance and insecurity. Strength reveals itself through character. It is the difference between bouncers who get off strong-arming people and Mr.Pepperman.
Muscle mass does not always equal strength. Strength is kindness and sensitivity. Strength is understanding that your power is both physical and emotional. That it comes from the body and the mind. And the heart.
Yukio Mishima said that he could not entertain the idea of romance if he was not strong. Romance is such a strong and overwhelming passion, a weakened body cannot sustain it for long. I have some of my most romantic thoughts when I am with the Iron. Once I was in love with a woman. I thought about her the most when the pain from a workout was racing through my body.
Everything in me wanted her. So much so that sex was only a fraction of my total desire. It was the single most intense love I have ever felt, but she lived far away and I didn’t see her very often. Working out was a healthy way of dealing with the loneliness. To this day, when I work out I usually listen to ballads.
I prefer to work out alone.
It enables me to concentrate on the lessons that the Iron has for me. Learning about what you’re made of is always time well spent, and I have found no better teacher. The Iron had taught me how to live. Life is capable of driving you out of your mind. The way it all comes down these days, it’s some kind of miracle if you’re not insane. People have become separated from their bodies. They are no longer whole.
I see them move from their offices to their cars and on to their suburban homes. They stress out constantly, they lose sleep, they eat badly. And they behave badly. Their egos run wild; they become motivated by that which will eventually give them a massive stroke. They need the Iron Mind.
Through the years, I have combined meditation, action, and the Iron into a single strength. I believe that when the body is strong, the mind thinks strong thoughts. Time spent away from the Iron makes my mind degenerate. I wallow in a thick depression. My body shuts down my mind.
The Iron is the best antidepressant I have ever found. There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength. Once the mind and body have been awakened to their true potential, it’s impossible to turn back.
The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.
This article originally appeared in Details Magazine
“A successful person goes from failure to failure with enthusiasm” -Churchill
So many young people worry about failure. It’s a shame really. Most people in high school and college, not to mention most people post-college have a very narrow view of the world and of success. They think success is something that is linear, when it is fact anything but.
The industrial-era mindset still persists in this country that one simply goes to school, gets a degree, then works a 9-5 job at one company their whole life and is able to retire with a nice pension and social security in their “golden years.” Fuck that shit.
These days are long gone. If you think living life by the book and playing it safe by other people’s rules is the key to happiness and fulfillment, I’ve got a some oceanfront property back in Missouri to sell you.
The truth of the matter is, nobody knows what the fuck they’re doing. Everybody is just sort of winging it. That’s the big secret I’m finally realizing as I get older… adults aren’t always smarter, they’re just… older I guess.
So, to you young people, get off your ass and keep failing until you figure it out. But whatever you do, don’t be afraid to fail. And don’t be ashamed of failure. Failure builds character! If it were easy to be a success, you wouldn’t appreciate it and would probably still find a way to complain. Hence, failure allows you to actually appreciate success.
You may not get the home run on your first at-bat, but keep stepping up to the plate! Any successful person has failed many times…. but not all failures have the tenacity to stick with it to succeed. Just get out there!
Look at Jay-Z, one of the greatest rappers of all-time, circa ’89 rapping way too fast, on a Jaz-O record, in a style that was probably outdated before the video even came out….
Then, here he is with Jaz-O again dancing like an asshole in a Hawaiian shirt with a horrible green screen:
But, he got out there damnit! Street cred be damned! Worrying about looking like a fool is pointless when you’re not successful.
Here you can see him circa ’94 slowly getting his style together… much more of that patented Jay-Hova swagger we all know and love:
You see, it took him many years and many false starts before he finally found his style. Would you believe that Jay and his partner (back then) Dame Dash actually had trouble getting a record deal? They finally ended up starting Roc-a-Fella Records to put their own music out. They never stopped hustling and eventually they got it right….they released Jay’s classic debut album Reasonable Doubt. And the rest is, as they say, history.
Hell, I was thrown out of the sales program at the University of Houston. Not for anything like conduct, or for a lack of sales ability, but for grades in their program. No, I’m dead fucking serious. I was busy out hustling across Midtown Houston with my buddy Steven promoting our nightclub events…. you think I bothered to worry about grades? Shiiiit I had 25 lighters (er, flyers) on my dresser.. .I gotsta to get paid!
Long story short: I didn’t take it personally. Hell, I knew I could sell ice to an Eskimo … I didn’t need those oxford shirt wearing, academic punks to tell me what I could or could not do. I knew the joke will be on them when they walk across that campus in 30 years and see my name on some of the buildings!
Fail early, fail often. Learn from it and iterate…eventually you’ll get it right. …And never let anyone tell you what you can and cannot do!
I make sure to start every day as a producer, not a consumer.
When you get up, you may start with a good routine like showering and eating, but as soon as you find yourself with some free time you probably get that urge to check Reddit, open that game you were playing, see what you’re missing on Facebook, etc.
Put all of this off until “later”. Start your first free moments of the day with thoughts of what you really want to do; those long-term things you’re working on, or even the basic stuff you need to do today, like cooking, getting ready for exercise, etc.
This keeps you from falling into the needy consumer mindset. That mindset where you find yourself endlessly surfing Reddit, Facebook, etc. trying to fill a void in yourself, trying to find out what you’re missing, but never feeling satisfied.
When you’ve started your day with doing awesome (not necessarily difficult) things for yourself, these distractions start to feel like a waste of time. You check Facebook just to make sure you’re not missing anything important directed at you, but scrolling down and reading random stuff in your feed feels like stepping out into the Disneyland parking lot to listen to what’s playing on the car radio – a complete waste of time compared to what you’re really doing today.
It sounds subtle, but these are the only days where I find myself getting anything done. I either start my day like this and feel normal and productive, or I look up and realize it’s early evening, I haven’t accomplished anything and I can’t bring myself to focus no matter how hard I want to.
As seen on Quora: A user asks a question, “How do you dodge being “politely turned down” when you want to “grab coffee sometime” with someone when you have meaningful things to talk about?”
Someone awesome named Yishan Wong writes a brilliant post about how to get to exactly what you want from a busy person:
Send them a plainly written email explicitly outlining what you want from them, and ask if they are willing to provide it to you. If you don’t hear back (or they say no), then drop it.
This whole “grab coffee sometime” thing in Silicon Valley is incredibly annoying and stupid, and needs to go away and be replaced with straightforward requests like “I would like to ask you to invest, may I pitch to you” or “I want to get your advice on X, will you give it to me,” etc. I’ll give a long answer based on my experience with these sorts of situations.
The problem is that people whose time is “in demand,” i.e. they have a larger number of requests for their time than they can service, and despite the fact that they would like to be helpful, requests to “have coffee” completely obscure the true nature of the request. It’s not that the obscuring is considered offensive – it’s understandable, I can see how someone might not want to just come out and say that they want to ask you for e.g. several thousands of dollars – it’s that it makes it very hard to tell if we can actually help.
For example, when people want to meet me in person, they are typically looking for one of the following things:
- advice on the viability of their product
- advice on their career
- funding for their startup
- funding for their startup and referrals to other angels like Keith Rabois
- an intro to someone else that I know
- working at Sunfire Offices
- an employment referral to Facebook
- reference check on someone who worked at Facebook or PayPal
- hiring me for their startup
- being a technical co-founder
- consulting for their startup
The problem is that very rarely will the person say any of these things up front; instead, they’ll request to “grab lunch or coffee” and then beat around the bush for most of the conversation and then in the last 5-10 minutes of the meeting they will bring up the thing that they want, and I will quickly either agree or decline, depending on whether I’m able to fulfill the request. This pattern is incredibly consistent and happens almost every time. I can basically tell within the first 2 minutes of the conversation that this is going to be one of those times and so I resign myself to (hopefully only) a 30-minute-long meaningless conversation before the guy gets to the point. At the end, I can even tell the point where the guy is going to get to his actual request, and I think, “Ah, finally, here it comes.” Unfortunately, there is no way to short-circuit this process at the beginning by saying, e.g. “Just tell me what you want from me” without it coming across as being incredibly rude and presumptuous.
Interestingly, I want to be able to help whenever possible, but it turns out that I don’t have time to field numerous 30-60 minute conversations every day in order to get to the 5-minute request whose feasibility I can almost always evaluate immediately. And, because many of the assumptions made about what I can do are actually wrong, the answer to some of the items above is almost always no, i.e. I don’t invest in many startups, I’m not going to take a full-time job at someone’s startup or be their technical co-founder, Sunfire Offices is basically full, and Keith clearly gets annoyed when I pass on intros to him from anyone but people who can probably already just call him up themselves.
In general, I’d like to help if I can, and if I can’t, I still want to be as helpful as possible in giving you a clear and clean rejection so that you can mark me off your checklist and move on to the next guy you’re going to ask, and save you precious time. But this is impossible, because the obscured nature of the requests I get means that, as an overall percentage, the likelihood of my saying no is high, even if your request falls into one of the categories where I might actually be able to help.
So this is why people get politely turned down when asking to “grab coffee sometime.”
If you want to get around this, skip the fucking coffee and make your request clear and explicit. Most people in the Valley who are likely to get asked things of them want to be helpful if they can, and if they can fulfill your request, they will either do it right there on the spot in email (thus saving you both a meaningless coffeeshop trip) or say no, again saving you time. And time is your most precious resource almost all of the time.
 I’m even fearing that this answer will sound really presumptuous and arrogant, but I’m going to take that risk, in the hopes that it will help some young, striving entrepreneur.
 I don’t even drink coffee.
My final thoughts: This ties into a lot of the Hustling, particularly about getting what you want and no wasting people’s time. If everyone you know is doing things the same way, what are you going to do different that is going to get you noticed?
Ramit Sethi, the personal finance guru and master of behavioral psychology, has a new course he’s putting together on his site, I Will Teach You To Be Rich. His new material is all centered around readers finding their dream job.
I’ve long been a big fan of Ramit, from his blog to his book to reading his newsletter and even being a premium subscriber to his Earn 1K course. I’ve never been one to pay for self-help courses. I happen to think most people who are selling how easy building your own business is and that you should “never work for an evil bovine master” are completely full of shit. Entrepreneurship is hard. Damn hard. Most self-help people are selling feel good bullshit that’s been poorly researched and backed by pseudo-science and anecdotal evidence. I’m a salesman and a hustler to my core… you can’t bullshit a bullshitter.
Ramit’s work is another beast entirely. The work he puts out is incredibly detailed, researched, and thorough. Although I was extremely reluctant to give the man any money for more, higher quality material (an understatement to say the least), his work really is that good. Now, it’s finally time for me to pay it forward so to speak to give back to those trying to make it an industry and find their dream job with no connections… just like I did. And yes, I’m more than willing to admit right here in full view of the world that I have paid for quality courses to improve myself… have you?
The time was April 2010, I was four months into what I thought was my dream job. Before I got my Sales gig at the large software company I was renting cars making $12.50 an hour. Now that I had my “academy” sales gig I thought I was big time. I had a nice corporate gig and a much, much higher paycheck. Then a tsunami in the workplace hit us all to our core: A new round of layoffs to start the new fiscal year (we were on a April to April fiscal calendar). All three people I worked for got laid-off. I still had a job, but knew that one day I could very well be the next to be laid-off.
Since I still had my job (at least until the next round of layoffs) I used all of my downtime to learn as much as I can about technology. In my free time, I would read everything about technology that I could get my hands on: TechCrunch, Hacker News, Silicon Alley Insider, and countless tech blogs. I still liked the line of work I was in, but was clueless what I would do next if I lost my job.
Recognizing Opportunity and Sizing The Moment
After a long, miserable summer of 2010 in my cubicle hellhole… not knowing when the next round of layoffs were coming, I signed-up for Ramit’s Earn 1K course in late August 2010. I think I was still going through the preview course info or one of the first lessons when Ramit’s course had me do an “Idea Generator” about finding a business to start on the side. I remember filling it out on the things that interested me and writing down what I did in my freetime and things I enjoyed. Then it hit me: I still loved technology, startups, and media. I needed to find a job at a startup.
Then I realized that I needed to leave Houston to move to Silicon Valley. I still love Houston to my core, my family and friends still live there, and I still watch my beloved Houston Cougars on Saturdays (#8 in the nation). But I needed to be where the action is and where startups are… and that meant I needed to move to the Mecca for startups in Silicon Valley.
Thus concludes the first lesson: A hustler must be able to recognize opportunity when it arises and capitalize on it when it presents itself.
A Hustler Is Always Prepared
I wanted to quit my job right away, but I was (and still am) engaged to a lovely girl who at the time was an undergrad at UH. So, we soon talked it over and made plans to move to Silicon Valley in May 2011 once she graduated from UH. In the meantime, I would start saving my money religiously and do as much research as possible about startups and Silicon Valley. I spent even more time devouring posts on TechCrunch and Hacker News and countless blogs from people in the industry.
While most people would waste their time Facebooking and Twittering, watching television, and going out and drinking three times a week, I spent my free time doing as much research as possible about the industry. That’s how I was able to judge that I was making the right choice in my career: I found it interesting enough to spend my free time learning more about it… without any external motivators.
Lesson #2: If you want to be successful, you have to know as much as possible about your hustle, your trade…. and know the industry you’re working in. A hustler must be prepared at all times.
Once I made it to Silicon Valley in May of 2011, I had absolutely zero connections. I didn’t have a job lined up. I was living off of savings. I was doing interviews at several different tech companies but not entirely sure what I was looking for, other than a job at a tech company to stop the bleeding in my bank account (it’s a little expensive to live in the Bay Area if you didn’t know).
I remember one of my interviews with another nameless large enterprise software company dealing with the arrogance of the recruiter. I was already fed up at this point with dealing with stupid corporate people after the 17 months I spent in my last job: The company had just quit was doing their second round of layoffs right as I quit my job in March.
In April, one month before I moved to the Bay Area, I was out here for another interview when I happened to see a post on Hacker News for job at Loopt when I cold emailed Loopt CEO & Founder Sam Altman. I scored an interview at his company… and while I didn’t end up getting the job Sam himself came out and introduced himself and shook my hand. I was floored. Here was a badass entrepreneur that I admired greatly and he took the time to come out and shake my hand.
Thinking that moment over in my head and thinking about the arrogance of the recruiter at the large corporate company, I decided then and there my litmus test for finding a job in Silicon Valley: The Sam Altman Startup Test. If the CEO of the company can’t at minimum at least come out and shake my hand during my interview at the company, it’s too big to be considered a startup and is now a full blown company (probably with shitty org charts). If I wanted to work at a startup and work alongside the entrepreneur running that startup, they’d have to pass my new Sam Altman Startup Test. Yup, it’s kinda corny, but it’s very specific and defines the niche of the type of job I wanted… to work for an entrepreneur and learn how to run a startup.
Too many people don’t have a clue what they want or what type of job they want. Nobody can help you if you don’t know what you want. You have to define what you want. It’s actually a bit easier that you’d think. For me, even though I didn’t know specifically what type of tech startup I wanted to work for, I knew specific things would make a role perfect for me:
- No middle-managers/pointy-haired bosses. I decided I’m only worked for the person who has the final word on all decisions… the Entrepreneur.
- No dress code
- No org charts: a flat organizational structure.
- No 9-5. Give me the work and tell me what needs to be done and let me do it. I don’t function mentally in a 9-5 box.
- And for the love of all that is Holy, no cubicles.
Lesson #3: Read Jason Freedmans’ kick ass blog post about hustling called, “You Don’t Get Shit You Don’t Ask For.” Notice how at the bottom he says not to ask for general advice. Get specific. Be the same way in your job search and when you tell people you’re looking for a job. After meeting Sam, I started telling everyone I met that I was looking for a job, and being specific: “I’m looking to work at a startup where I can work with the CEO and where I, at minimum, shake the CEO’s hand during the interview.” That narrows it down quite a bit. Fucking get specific.
Find a Mentor. Tell Everyone You Meet That You’re Looking For a Job
Find someone who’s working at a similar job that you want and/or working in your desired industry. Reach out to them and ask for advice. Don’t pull the, “Let me buy you a coffee and pick your brain” shtick. Honestly, you’re wasting people’s fucking time. But, if you can email them a short email asking for some very specific advice or a very specific question you can learn more about the industry you work in while building your network with a future peer. I did this and score both some cool industry peers as well as a few interviews.
Then, be sure you’re telling everyone you come in contact with that you’re looking for a job. Remember, its’ estimated that as much as 80% of all jobs are filled in the informal job market. I was reading a kick ass blog post by Jason Shen, who frequently gets his posts upvoted to the front page of Hacker News. The post was called, “Winning Isn’t Normal.” It blew me away. Jason soon started a mailing list and I eagerly signed-up for more sweet blog posts like that one.
In a short period of time after joining Jason’s mailing list, we started emailing back and forth and I mentioned that I had just moved to Mountain View and was looking for a job. He soon got back to me and mentioned that his boss, John Ramey of isocket had seen my LinkedIn profile and liked my resume and wanted to interview me.
Within a few weeks I was working for isocket. It was perfect timing because Jason was leaving to join his own startup as a co-founder and be part of the summer Y Combinator class of 2011 to found Ridejoy.
isocket is the perfect job for me: a ten person startup in Burlingame and I get to work alongside the CEO John Ramey. And of course he passed the Sam Altman Test with flying colors: Not only did he shake my hand when I came to interview, he interviewed me himself for two hours.
Lesson #4: Ask for very specific advice from people doing the type of work you want to do and mentors. Also, tell everyone you meet what type of job you want.
Be Fucking Tenacious & Brazen
The last lesson is probably the most important: Be tenacious. Other people will tell you that your ideas are no good and that your goals are impossible. Well you know what? Fuck them. Seriously, cut them out of your life.
I also can’t tell you how many people told me that moving out here was “ballsy” or whatever. I’ll never understand how so many can sit still in life and not push themselves forward. I always have to be pushing myself for bigger and better things. If betting on oneself is “ballsy” or “risky” or whatever, then you’ve got a problem. You should be able to risk everything and bet on yourself and know that 10 times out of 10 that you’ll come out on top.
Most people don’t return emails. Follow-up. Call people a few days after you send them and email with your resume. Send a handwritten thank you note.
You have to take rejection and it has to fuel you. It has to light a fire inside of you to push yourself harder and get brazen. Make people take notice. I can’t tell you how many times I got kicked to the curb, how many times I failed.
You may not know exactly what you want, but keep your eyes open for new opportunities. I could’ve wallowed in self-pity when there were two rounds of layoffs in my corporate sales gig, but I didn’t. I keep my eyes open and kept looking for new opportunities. A hustler never rests.
When the light bulb went on in my head thanks to Ramit’s courses, I begun the process of defining specifically the type of job I wanted over the course of several months and interviews. I didn’t just interview aimlessly, I eventually got very specific about what I wanted out of a job.
In the end, I got the job I wanted only a month after moving to Silicon Valley. If I can do this shit, you can too.
Now get out there and hustle!
PS: Hit me up on LinkedIn and tell me you found me through this post.
Edit: I mistakenly spelled Jason Freedman’s name wrong. My humblest apologies to Jason.
Glad to see Mr. Trap or Die droppin some heat again.
“All men are created equal. Some just work harder in the preseason.” -Emmitt Smith
“When you want to succeed as bad a you want to breathe, you’ll be successful.”
“Most of ya’ll say you want to be successful, but you don’t want it bad. You just kinda want it. You don’t want it badder than you want to party. You don’t want it as bad as you want to be cool.”
Awesome article from Tim Ferris’ blog about hustling, getting what you want, and succeeding without formalized credentials. Very good article.
So many people are caught up in spending $100,000+ to advance in their career. But it in fact isn’t the only way to be successful.
Reminds me of the awesome quote in Good Will Hunting:
“You dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a fuckin education you could’ve got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library.”
Check out the post here: http://bit.ly/rtiQv8
Are you willing to push your chips all-in and bet on yourself? Do you have the discipline to stay focused on your long-term goals and ignore instant gratification and the countless distractions that will come up along the way?
My last job I worked at Symantec in an entry level software sales position. Four months into the role, around April 2010, I thought everything was going well. Then they decided to layoff half of our sales office in Houston and all three Reps I worked for got let go. I was devastated to say the least. Seeing good people lose their jobs was not fun.
I could’ve given up all hope. I could’ve sat there depressed and wallowed in self-pity. Now don’t get me wrong, I was confused and I felt like all my career momentum had been ripped out from underneath me. I had thought I was going to go the typical corporate route and get moved up the corporate ladder by working hard and doing the right thing. But now, after the layoffs, it became very hard to have confidence that I would be promoted when the company was in house cleaning mode.
But I remember a few days after the layoffs happened thinking over everything in my head. None of us who still worked there had any idea if we were going to be let go in the coming months or if it would happen a year later, April 2011 at the end of the next fiscal year. I remember at the time thinking to myself that the worst thing that could happen was that I’d be laid-off. Realizing that the worst that could happen wasn’t really that bad on the scheme of things, any fear about the situation began to vanish. Then I realized I had nothing to lose by being successful in my role while I still had it. I remember telling myself I needed to get brazen. If they were going to eventually let me go too, then fuck them, I was going to go out in a blaze of glory. I was going to be the best damn sales person on my team every single time.
So I ignored getting caught up in the self-pity and ignored distractions and made it a point to work harder than everyone on my team. My hard work and high activity level soon started paying off and I started blowing by my teammates in the rankings. Long story short, I finished first place every quarter there on out.
The Switch to Startups
Seeing the countless parade of middle managers above me not having a clue whether we’d have jobs going forward, I knew I had to get out of the corporate game. Instead of having five (or more) layers of Dilberted pointy-haired bosses above me on the org chart, making decisions about my future when they’ve never met me, I knew I wanted to work at a startup where I could report directly to the CEO. I know how unstable startups can be, but are they really any less stable than a corporate gig at this point with the countless layoffs? If I was going to lose my job, the person making that decision better be able to look me in the eye and tell me, not simply pass the decision down the org chart for his underlings to handle.
As much as I loved Houston, I didn’t want to stop working in tech. But Houston is to oil, gas, and energy as Silicon Valley is to tech and tech startups. There simply aren’t many tech companies to work at in the Houston. So, I began making plans a year in advance to eventually move to Silicon Valley to be where the jobs are.
Fast forward a year later. I had stayed as the #1 rep on my team every single quarter and had enough money saved up that I could leave the job right as they were doing the next round of layoffs. I was able to even do some travelling across the country before I eventually did the 2,000 mile move from Houston to Mountain View. One month after the move I was able to find a kickass startup job (a subject I’ll go into detail about in a later blog entry) and have been enjoying my time out here meeting people in Silicon Valley.
Takeaways and Paying it Forward
I don’t write this to brag about how awesome I am or to do any sort of self-promotion. I write it to pay it forward to the next wide-eyed kid out there, maybe from a Midwestern town like me (I grew up in Springfield, Missouri before moving to Houston for college) who is wondering if they should follow their dreams and quit that dead-end job that is dragging their spirits down. Honestly, there is no right answer and there is no one path towards success. All I can say is from my own perspective, I didn’t want to wake up one day at 50 years old wondering where my life went and why I never took any chances.
I’m not the greatest writer in the world, but reading the countless stories and blog entries from people like me, particularly on Hacker News, I knew I needed to share my story and pay it forward considering how much I had gotten from those who blazed the path before me.
People have said I’m “ballsy” and “crazy” and that I’m “lucky” to have found a job out here in the Valley after moving out here with no connections and no job lined-up. Perhaps. But I worked extremely hard to put myself in a position to be this lucky. I believe if you’re not willing to take a risk and bet everything on yourself with the confidence that you’ll come out on top no matter what happens then it’s probably time for some changes in your life.
Mark Suster says it the best:
“Life is 10% how you make it, 90% how you take it.”
If you’ve read through this far and have questions about making a big move like this or are in the Valley and want to grab a beer, feel free to shoot me an email at westonludeke(at)gmail(dot)com. You can also connect with me using one of those social media buttons at the right of this blog. Thanks!
I am neither an M.B.A. nor an engineer, but everything I do is as an advocate of hackers, engineers, and programmers.
Very fascinating interview of Chamillionaire by VC Mark Suster. Some great takeways:
- Be authentic and be yourself
- Learn from many different places and take things you like from other people and mold them for yourself
- It’s very important to connect with your audience and build up your user base. Then, stay connected with them