The Thing About Hustle

I got to spend quite a bit of time Saturday with my friends J.P. and Jerry discussing my change in lifestyle. After departing the work force in late November, my new lifestyle is simple: Hustle.

J.P. and Jerry are not only good friends but probably the two people in my life with the most knowledge on the subject of hustle. J.P. is a business owner. He travels around the country picking up business while balancing his personal life with his wife. Jerry is a full-time table games dealer, a part-time poker dealer and a real estate investor who has a wife and kids. These guys have been in the hustle longer than I have, even if you count the seven years I owned my business in Kansas City.

They both agree the way to go is the hustle. Working for someone else can only can you so far. Every business in America is a form of a pyramid scheme. The person at the top of the pyramid gets wealthy, while the ones below get less. In a business, the owner makes the biggest bank. The workers make enough to survive.

It reminds of the Chris Rock bit on wealthy versus rich: (Paraphrasing). Shaquille O’Neal is rich. The white guy who signs his check is wealthy.

Shaquille O'Neal earned an NBA record $292 million over a 20-year career. His first three owners are worth more than $11 billion. (Photo courtesy Los Angeles Times).
Shaquille O’Neal earned an NBA record $292 million over a 20-year career. His first three owners are worth more than $11 billion. (Photo courtesy Los Angeles Times).

Shaq made a very good living playing basketball. According to the Bleacher Report, Shaq made more than $292 million in salary, the highest amount in NBA history. The first 16 years of his 20-year career were spent playing for the Orlando Magic, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat. The Magic are owned by Rich DeVos, the guy who invented Amway. His current net worth is $5.1 billion. The Lakers were owned by the late Jerry Buss. His net worth when he died was estimated to be $600 million. The Heat are helmed by Micky Arison, the CEO of Carnival, the cruise line company. His net worth his $5.9 billion.

Shaq earned $292 million over 20 years, our about $14.6 million per season played. DeVos and Arison are worth a combined $11 billion today.

If the chasm is that great between the most paid NBA player of all time and the individual team owners, it is practically the Grand Canyon between McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson ($13.8 million a year) and the kid who hands you your Big Mac and fries at the drive up window (probably less than $10/hour).

That is why jobs suck. It’s hard to get very far in life in a job unless you are extraordinarily talented. And even if you do get far, it’s a pittance compared to the people you report to at your job.

Therefore, you have to hustle.

You hustle for a second job. You hustle to sell a few things on eBay. You hustle to find the gas station with the lowest price because even a few cents matters. You hustle at everything.

The thing about hustle is you have to do it every day. Every day you don’t hustle you don’t get paid. That’s the rub of the hustle. If you work it, if you keep that edge, if you work it will pay off.

I love my Audi TT Roadster. And I am looking forward to selling it.
I love my Audi TT Roadster. And I am looking forward to selling it.

Even if you are in a situation where you can’t afford to invest in something you can hustle. How much useless junk is laying around your home? Old video games, books, board games, clothing, furniture can all be turned into cash with a little work at a garage sale, a consignment shop or on eBay/Amazon. Get rid of stuff you don’t absolutely need.

I am looking forward to the day in the next few months I can sell my beautiful 2010 Audi TT convertible (and if you know me you know I love this car!) for a nice used car I will pay for in cash. I will go from $6,000 per year in car payments to $0!

I will get the car back someday. A newer one. A nice one. When the hustle pays off and I can pay for it in cash.

Keep that hustle going. On the down days, hustle even more. Look for ways you can cut your lifestyle so you can continue to afford that hustle. It’s not easy. It will try you all the way to your soul. But it’s so damn rewarding. You can get there.

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