“The hustle” means different things to different people, and the connotations can be both positive and negative. To me it means having that great ability to always find a way. To not accept “no” for an answer, to get shit done under pressure, and to do so with a winning attitude.
In the marketing technology world “the hustle” is fast becoming a most revered trait, and with good reason.
Historically in media companies it was primarily the commercial team who were required to get out there and make it happen, find the money, hit the number; hustle. They were the ones who would shine in the good times and feel the blowtorch when results weren’t good enough.
Today, in the tech enabled world, this is only the start. The hustle is now won and lost as much in what happens within the business as it’s external in winning business.
Much of the performance pressure now sits within the operations team. The sales teams bring the clients in the door and don’t get me wrong, that ain’t easy. But for the revenue to grow and roll and campaigns to sing, strategies need to fire and platform levers needs to be tuned and tweaked all day, every day. Depending on the construct of an organisation that responsibility sits across; campaign managers, optimisation experts, data analysts and others who hold success and failure in their hands.
In this environment it’s hustlers that get results – and there’s a huge demand for hustler attributes across the marketing technology industry.
A big question I, and many others, are asking is: can you learn the hustle? Or is it an innate skill?
Fundamentally, I believe it’s more nature than nurture. Some people are instinctively more resourceful and adept at navigating systems and processes to crank out results, and quickly. Hustlers know their strengths and play to them. What they might lack in raw ability or technical expertise, they make up for with hard-core hustle. They know their role within the broader team and how to get the best out of those around them.
So, who are these hustlers and how to you know if somebody has got hustle? At RadiumOne, we’ve experimented with this and devised three questions to determine whether prospective hustlers are the real deal or not:
1. The last time you were under pressure, tell us how you dealt with that? The responses we’re looking for here are: fight, flight or freeze. A common theme amongst hustlers is they are fighters. Not in the aggressive sense, but in the sense they will fight hard for the win, naturally exploring options and solutions to problems with a steely resolve. Hustlers turn nervous energy into productive action.
2. When was the last time you failed and how did you deal with it? Hustler’s fail fast, learn quickly and keep moving. Importantly it doesn’t dent their confidence. They understand that each failure gets them closer to success. They also love feedback as fuel to constantly improve.
3. Have you got a gritty example being told “no”, but were able to turn it into a “yes”? Here we are looking for their thinking first - and then their approach? Hustlers are assertive, yet not aggressive or arrogant, they use all of their toolkit to get an outcome. They keep relationships intact and strike the fine balance of being persistent without being annoying.
Fortunately for managers it’s not mandatory to have a team full of hustlers. Great teams include a balance of complementary skills and traits, and hustlers are fundamentally team players - they can’t hustle on their own!
Having ‘the hustle’ in any team is preferred. In today’s marketing technology sector it’s critical.
Go well in 2016 and don’t forget to hustle hard!