Tag Archives: hustle

What Can Happen When You Put Things Out There.

So here’s what I love about that story, above, from the very talented Kishi Bashi:

Sometimes, you stumble into amazing things. Sometimes, you make a snippet of a thing, and people like it, and they ask for more. Sometimes, you unintentionally put something amazing into the universe.

Our world is full of happy accidents, of the times that you stumble onto something great. But the only way to get there is to put something out into the world first.

Go. Make. Share. It’s the only way to really know.

Are You All In?

All in

“Only those with the courage to take a penalty kick miss them.” — Roberto Baggio

 
I was sitting on a park bench last week, waiting for a friend down by the Brooklyn Bridge. There was a man and a woman on the bench next to me. The man was hunting for a job. The woman was trying to offer advice.

And her advice was perfect:

I want to help, she told him. But I won’t be all in if you aren’t all in. I won’t be in more then you are.

I love that.

I’m in a funny place in my career: I’m 26, and I’ve had a few victories, and I’ve seen some stuff. I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve figured out a few things.

And one of those things is that I really do want to help people. That’s why I’ve got the Tools newsletter. That’s why I try to take time to meet and talk with recent grads looking for advice.

So many people helped me when I was right out of college, and I want to pass that help along to the next wave of reporters.

But I can’t help everyone, and there’s a reason: Not everyone is all in. Some people aren’t willing to bust their asses to do something, and I’m reluctant to spend my time on and throw my weight around for someone who isn’t really going after it.

Prove to me that you’re in, though, and I’m much more likely to go in, too.

That photo of someone going all in at a poker tournament comes via.

Get Ready. Get Going. Get Yours.

wds2013-0635-IMG_7672

“Life is a story, if you wouldn’t read the one you’re telling, write a different ending.” — Jonathan Fields

 
I went to the World Domination Summit last weekend. (1) And what I heard were a lot of great stories about how people do work:

I heard some people saying: Start! You have all you need to start right now!

I heard some people saying: Wait! Give yourself time to recover, to ripen, to grow.

I heard some people saying: Just tell me the secret thing that successful people do and I’l do it! Tell me! (There were, admittedly, a lot of these.)

And at the end of the weekend, here’s what I really heard: As long as you make time to listen, and make time for your community, you’re going to do just fine. The work follows people who are patient, persistent, and surround themselves with great people.

There is no right time for the work you want to do — just your time.

So get ready. Get going.

And get yours.

Ultimately, it’ll be there — something remarkable, something amazing — when you’re ready to put in the work.

  1. Strange name for a conference, but powerful stuff.

The Fire.

fullbright

“There’s a fire burning deep inside / And it’s as mad as it’s mean / It’s hungry as it’s lean / And it’s as fleeting as a dream.” — John Fullbright

 
Two separate things that happened this week:

The first: A colleague at BuzzFeed died. His name was Michael Hastings, and I never met him. But when you read about him — and you really should — the thing that comes across is a certain fire for his reporting. People at my office described him as passionate, as forceful, as energetic. What a wonderful thing to bring to your work.

The second: I saw a guy play in concert on Thursday. His name is John Fullbright, and he’s a hugely talented songwriter from Oklahoma. Watching him live, he sang with that same passion. He threw himself at the microphone. He sang loud, and played hard. He’s a guy who actually appears to work on stage — he sweats and screams and aches through his music. What a wonderful thing.

It’s an amazing thing to see people doing work they really care about and believe in. The passion comes through. The fire comes through.

I feel lucky to have witnessed glimpses of it this week. That’s what we’re all shooting for, isn’t it?

Go For It.

“He does shit.” — Bruce Arena, on Clint Dempsey

There’s a guy on the U.S. National Team named Clint Dempsey. As of Sunday, he’s the second-leading scorer in the history of American men’s soccer.

What makes Dempsey so special? It’s a combination of things. He’s got incredible ball skills. He plays with the sort of passion that only great athletes seem to know how to tap into.

And then there’s this third thing, that Grant Wahl of SI quoted so accurately this week: “He does shit.”

Lots of players are technically skilled, but Dempsey has a rare knack for making things happen. He tries shots that no one else will try, and that’s where some of his most impressive goals come from. Call it verve, call it chutzpah, call it brass balls — whatever it is, Dempsey has it. Where other players shy away, Dempsey goes for goal.

Dempsey’s only scored 35 goals in his National Team career (1), so it’s not like he’s a superhuman goal scorer. But his combination of skill, passion and courage make him an exceptional soccer player.

We should all have that passion, that drive to take big chances.

This week, take a shot you wouldn’t take. Be bold.

  1. In 96 games.

17 Things I Learned From My Day With Warren Buffett.

Last Saturday, 35,000 shareholders gathered in Omaha to hear Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger speak. The two men lead Berkshire Hathaway, which is now the fifth-most valuable company in the world, valued at over $264 billion.

I was there, too — as the guest of a family friend, Steve, who’s a shareholder. I didn’t want to pass up the chance to hear one of history’s greatest business minds speak.

Here’s what I learned from my day in Omaha:

1. There Is No Roadmap

Some people come to Omaha looking for answers about the company, but many are there to find the secret to life. This isn’t an understatement: People really do think Warren’s figured out the secrets to the universe.

But the thing Warren said over and over again was simple: There is no roadmap. There is no right way forward. And there are no shortcuts.

2. But… Some Things Do Really Matter

Great people, mostly. Warren talked often about how great his management team was. He kept saying things like, “If I could clone so and so, I would.” When you have great people in place, and you give them the tools to do their work, a lot of great things can happen.

3. Have A Partner Smarter Than You

Warren’s partner is Charlie Munger, the whip-smart no. 2 of Berkshire. He’s been with the company for decades. He’s also a billionaire. His job is to know more than Warren. And he does, which is pretty incredible — Warren’s no dummy.

4. Make Sure That Partner Knows How To Call You On Your Shit

I love this about Charlie: Whenever he thinks Warren’s wrong, he’ll call him on it. “Just because Warren thought something 20 years ago doesn’t mean it’s a law of nature,” he told shareholders at one point. Everyone should have someone willing to call them out like that.

5. That Spark Matters

Have you ever seen that photo of Einstein with his tongue out? There’s something unexpected about that photo — something deeply human. Einstein is this towering figure in history, and yet, there’s a photo of him acting like a fool.

And there are all sorts of photos of Warren acting goofy. He’s got that spark, too — that mix of humor and childishness — and people recognize it. They light up around it.

6. Don’t Be So Serious

Warren was surprisingly funny at the meeting. At one point, he got asked about Harley Davidson, and then gave a long answer breaking down the numbers. Then he added:

“Any company that gets its customers to tattoo ads on their chests can’t be all bad.”

Perfect.

7. Go Where You Want To Go

At various points during the meeting, Warren was pressed for answers about what’s happening with GEICO, one of Berkshire’s largest holdings. Other companies are trying out new ways to measure insurance risk, they said. Will Berkshire follow?

Warren just stood his ground.

“In the end, we know what we’re willing to do…,” he said. “And if we can’t do it, we will watch for a while…. You can’t afford to go along with the crowd.”

I love that. Go where you want to go — don’t go blindly chasing the puck.

8. Admit When You’re Wrong

It’s something both Charlie and Warren were willing to admit. They’ve made mistakes. They’ve owned up to their mistakes.

And the other thing that Warren reminded me: People often forget about this mistakes.

“We’ll be back here in 2 or 3 years, and I’l say, ‘I told you so,'” Warren said, “and hope you have a bad memory.”

9. Be Willing To Say ‘I Don’t Know’

One of my favorite moments came during a question about the Fed. Here’s how Charlie and Warren answered the question:

Charlie: “The basic answer is, I don’t know.”
Warren: “I don’t have anything to add.”
**laughs**

I love that. These two men have seen pretty much everything that can happen in a lifetime. They have lived through wars, through financial bubbles, through some amazing technological changes. So for them to say, “I don’t know,” that’s a statement that carries a lot of weight.

They know the power of their words. They know that their words can move markets. And so they make their predictions and their statements carefully. They won’t make a big statement until they’re sure — isn’t that something we should all emulate?

10. Community Comes First

There’s one thing I didn’t expect from the Berkshire meeting. It’s a gathering of thousands of people, many of whom are millionaires. And yet… it felt like a convention of like-minded fans. The way people talk about Berkshire and their staff, it’s like they know them. They feel a connection to this company and its staff.

That’s really amazing. Berkshire is a really inclusive place — shareholders feel like they’re part of a company that works for them. And that community supports Berkshire back and acts as evangelists for Warren and Co. It’s the community that’s made Berkshire what it is.

11. Don’t Get Jealous

“Envy is the one sin there’s no fun in,” Charlie told the crowd, and it’s tough to argue with that. Sure, there are times when your neighbor or your friend catches onto the Next Big Thing and makes it big. But Warren and Charlie cautioned against chasing that. Just do what you do, and don’t worry about everyone else.

12. Find Heroes Everywhere

Warren’s is a guy named Benjamin Graham, whose book on investing changed the way Warren thought about business. He told shareholders, “My life would have been different if Graham hadn’t written that book.”

But he also noted several other greats: Authors, fellow investors, mentors. Before you can lead, sometimes you have to find other people who’ve already started ahead on the trail.

13. Simplicity Is A Huge Advantage

Something Steve pointed out to me: Berkshire has almost 290,000 employees. But their headquarters has only 24 staffers.

So how do they get things done? By keeping things simple — from management structure to day-to-day routine. By not wasting time on the little details, it gives them more time to focus on the big picture stuff.

14. A Lot Of The Best Stuff Happens By Accident

You can’t plan out everything. Just show up and do the work, and see where it takes you.

“We are leaving behind a field that is very competitive and getting to a place where we’re more unusual,” Charlie said of Berkshire. “This was a very good idea. I wish we’d done it on purpose.”

16. Sell Sell Sell

At the meeting, there was a convention floor where you could buy products from Berkshire companies. Everything — literally dozens of products — featured Warren’s face. The man is shameless when it comes to sales. But that’s also made him one of the most visible businessmen in the world, and in turn, one of the most respected. You can’t lead if no one’e listening — so sometimes, you’ve gotta sell yourself a little.

16. Don’t Go Crazy

Another brilliant Charlie quote: “We’ve always tried to stay sane, and other people like to go crazy.” This is where staying grounded in your principles matters. When you go chasing stuff you don’t understand, you get distracted. Focus on your work, and focus on putting the right systems in place to do that work well.

17. Look Further

The more work you do, the more you begin to understand what’s possible. Warren talked a lot about cumulative knowledge. After a lifetime of work, he knows a lot about a lot.

So when he sees something that gets him excited, he’s willing to jump on it. “We see things that shout out to us: Think further, look further,” he said. Don’t be afraid to chase big things.

18. Love The Work You Do, And Do The Work You Love

“You have to love something to do well at it,” Warren said. “It is an enormous advantage if you absolutely love what you’re doing every minute of it. The nature of it is that that intensity adds to your productivity.”

And that’s it. When you find the stuff you love, you grind at it every day. You throw yourself into your work. You’ll work your hardest when you’re doing something you really care about.

So don’t settle for anything that doesn’t make you want to work that hard. Go out, find what you love, and do the work.

Get On Stage.

“Shut up and make something.” — Danielle Morrill

 
I went to the Apollo Theater last night for Amateur Night. I went to watch, not perform. That’s probably for the best.

I have personally stood on some amazing stages, but I’ll never be on anything like the Apollo. For performers there, it’s just you, and this decades-old theater, and a crowd ready to boo you at the first missed note.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Apollo, read that sentence again: Bad performers really do get booed off stage. (They even bring out a guy called “The Executioner” to escort you off.)

But the Apollo is kind of brilliant in that way. Most places, if you’re on stage and you suck, people stay quiet. They clap politely when your performance is done.

At the Apollo? Hell no. If you’re bad, you’re getting booed off stage. You know immediately whether or not what you’re doing is working.

And that’s brilliant. That’s how all our work should be.

Do work. Put it out there. See what people say.

Then do more. And more. Keep putting it out there. Keep inviting reactions.

See what sticks. Learn what doesn’t.

Yes, it will suck sometimes. It will hurt.

But nothing really matters until you get on stage.

That photo at top is of the Apollo Theater, and I took it.

Lucky + Good.

“Crush it where you’re at.” — Skip Prosser

 
On Friday, Florida Gulf Coast — a school that did not exist when I was born — beat Georgetown in an NCAA Tournament basketball game. It was one of the biggest upsets in the history of March Madness.

There were a lot of moments in the game where it looked like FGCU could pull the upset. But the moment when I knew, when I was absolutely sure it could happen, came with 2:17 left. FGCU’s Dajuan Graf stepped to the free throw line. His team was up 8.

And his free throw hit every part of the rim. It hit the backboard. It hung up there forever. It had no business going in.

But it did.

To pull of a huge upset, you need to be good AND you need to be lucky. You need the bounces to go your way when it matters most. You need a lot of things to align.

That matters in basketball, and it matters in your work. It is not enough to be good. Getting the breaks matters, too.

Lucky + good is a pretty excellent combinations. On some nights, even for a 15 seed going up against a 2, it might just be enough.

Another Thing I Learned Watching Missouri Play Basketball.

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” — John Wooden

 
So that photo at top is of me. That’s me from, I believe, my sophomore year at the University of Missouri. Yes, that is my yellow pinstriped jacket. (Also, yes, that is very bad sophomore year beard.)

I went to Missouri, and I love my alma mater. The sight of our colors makes me happy. Tigers, in general, now make me really happy.

And I love rooting for my Missouri Tigers. There aren’t a lot of Missouri fans outside of the state of Missouri. But we are a passionate few.

This year, Missouri has a strange basketball team. They have a really good point guard, and several really good shooters, and two really good big guys. They rebound extremely well, and they have lots of experience. They should be an exceptional basketball team.

Except that they are not. In this last two months, Missouri has lost six basketball games that were decided in the final 30 seconds. Missouri has lots of talent, but it just can’t seem to win close games.

As a Missouri fan, this crushes me. I WANT them to win. I absolutely love it when we win.

And this year’s team is SO dangerously close to being a really good team. But they are not. Great teams win games — they win blowouts, and they win close, and they win when it does not seem possible that winning could ever happen — and this Missouri team does not do that.

When I look back on this season, I feel a sense of disappointment. This team is that friend that everyone has, that friend who has lots of talent — who has ideas, and ambition, and decent skills — but who can’t figure out how to put it all together.

This team is disappointing for another reason: They cannot figure out how to put it all together IN THE MOMENT in which it matters.

Doing the work well matters, but doing it well in the time you have matters even more. There is a moment for your work, and when it passes, it passes.

So it goes for my Tigers. There will be other seasons, sure. But for this team, for this moment, time is almost out. The work is almost over. The season will be over with one more loss.

This time won’t come around ever again. You put it together now, you get better, or you find yourself watching others get their moment instead. How it goes.

Finding The Difference.

“When everyone has good players, teaching will be a telling difference.” — John Wooden

 
Assume, for a second, that everyone in your world is smart. That everyone in your world is talented.

So, here’s the question: What’s the difference between you and them?

For legendary UCLA coach John Wooden, it was teaching.

For you, it might be hustle.

Or teamwork.

Or focus.

And if you can’t answer this question — What sets me apart? — then here’s the bad news:

You’re playing on everyone else’s level.

And that’s okay. But if you want to do great work, you’ve got to figure out how to elevate your game.

Now’s your chance.