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CHAPTER 6

HUSTLE

IN THIS CHAPTER I TALK ABOUT THE VALUE OF KEEPING YOUR MOUTH SHUT, MY FORMULA FOR GOOD HEALTH, AND HOW TO MAKE TIME WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE ANY LEFT.

Here’s a question that no one has yet asked me: What is the one tangible thing people can do to change the direction of their lives?

Hustle.

Anyone who follows sports, and especially drafts, knows that a less gifted competitor can outplay even the most naturally talented athlete if that competitor has more hustle. Similarly, it’s hustle, not talent, that is the differentiator between entrepreneurs who succeed and those who don’t. I have never seen anyone increase his or her natural talent, but I have seen people transform themselves by increasing their hustle. Of course, if you’re born with a healthy dose of it woven into your DNA, you’ve got a terrific advantage. But the great thing about hustle is that if you’re not born with it, you can get it. It’s the most tangible, most easy-to-get entrepreneurial quality because you’re in complete control of it. If you’re not self-aware, you’re somewhat dependent on other people being honest enough that you become cognizant of your strengths and weaknesses. I’m not even sure it’s possible to teach yourself to be more intuitive. But if you want to turn up the hustle, you just have to spend more time doing whatever it is that takes you where you want to go. You just have to be willing to do more than the competition. And you have to do it every single day. It’s like career calisthenics, something people can directly apply to their work lives and see results. It doesn’t guarantee you will succeed—plenty of hardworking people don’t—but it will guarantee that you won’t ever torture yourself with thoughts of “Should’ve, would’ve, could’ve.” Because you’ll know without a doubt that you put your heart and soul and sweat all in.

I’m self-aware enough to know I have a lot of talent, but it’s my work ethic—my hustle—that has been a substantial backbone to my success. I will outwork anyone. How about you? You can be a phenomenal content creator, but if you lack passion or a willingness to sweat there is someone else out there who is going to make more opportunities for herself and more money than you. Don’t let that happen. Put down Clash of Clans. Binge-watch Game of Thrones or Walking Dead next year. And get to work.

imageHow do you define hustle?

It’s maximizing the energy you put into what you are passionate about.

It’s squeezing every last bit of juice out of your day.

It’s putting all your effort into achieving the goal at hand.

It’s making every minute count. Every. Single. Minute.

I wish I could have hustled like I do now in the early days of my career. When I was twenty-six, no one, not me, not society, certainly not the wine world, was into email yet. I left around 7:30 or 8:30 P.M. and the store closed at 9 P.M. I had time to play Monopoly on GameCube. I lived in an apartment with a girlfriend and my best friend lived above me. I didn’t go out to meetings. I lived in New Jersey and didn’t have that New York City hustle down yet.

Since then I’ve made up for lost time. It’s become clear to me that it’s much better to be a businessperson than an athlete because as a businessperson you have plenty of time to hit your prime. My hustle today is at an all-time high because it can be. Some people complain about living in a world that makes it possible to work at such intense levels, but every entrepreneur worth his or her salt is grateful as hell for the possibilities tech and the Internet offer us to keep hustling when everyone else is chilling. For some, their willingness to hustle more than the other guy or gal is their greatest competitive advantage.

A lot of new entrepreneurs tell me they’re hustling, and then they’ll ask me if I liked the last episode of Ballers. They’re trying to get a business off the ground and they’ve got time to watch TV? It’s like wanting to lose weight and sneaking away to scarf down a Big Mac. It’s just not going to work. I’m twenty years into my career with two businesses under my belt and the only time I take to watch TV is when the Jets are on. There is so much hustle in my day I don’t even have a second to spare to “hang out” and catch up with the people around me when I’m at work. It may not be ideal for most, but I love it because it allows me to get the things done that I seek to accomplish.

You want to increase engagement around your content? Raise revenue? Gain brand awareness? Become an influencer? Sell more? Then try the following:

Pounce on every opportunity.

Create great content and get it out there.

Work toward gaining exposure.

Keep an eye open to new environments and conversations.

Increase the value you can offer others.

Biz dev.

Wake up before everybody else and work into the night.

Hustle until there’s not a single drop of juice left.

imageIs hustle something that can be taught?

I don’t know if it can be taught so much as it can be inspired.

Everyone has individual work ethics that affect their job performance, and ultimately, their success in life. This isn’t to say that unsuccessful people don’t have strong work ethics; any number of things in life can happen to make someone’s life turn out the way it does. But while we all start out with a baseline work ethic, how much we choose to push ourselves is fundamentally affected by whom we’re working for.

If you work for yourself, it should be really easy to give yourself that high-grade hustle since you’re pumped to be running your own show and doing what you love. If you work for someone else, your attitude and effort are likely going to depend on how inspired you are by your leader. That’s why I try so hard to instill a strong sense of trust and safety (as well as very high standards) in our company culture, so that the people that work for me feel inspired to go all-in and deliver. No one wants to let a good leader down. And in a strong merit-based workplace, they’ll also strive to take advantage of the opportunity to grow and rise through the ranks.

Look at your level of hustle and evaluate it. Ask yourself, Am I working as hard as I could? Am I doing great work? If you work for yourself and the answer is no, think long and hard about the business you have started or the consulting work you’re doing. Is it a good fit? Are you playing to your strengths? Would you be more motivated and feel more confident if you worked with a partner? If you’re working for someone else, and you feel like you’re not living up to your potential, please consider finding a new place to work. If you want to succeed, you’ve got to surround yourself with the right kind of people. Go where you are motivated to take risks. Be with people who allow you to make your best work. Your DNA matters, but make sure your circumstances are allowing you to win.

imageWhat’s your number one piece of advice for marketing a lean, local, city-based social start-up? It’s still undeveloped.

I hated this question. The only reason I answered it was that the query came from someone who tweeted he wouldn’t eat unless I did. Obviously getting some feedback meant a lot to this person. My scornful response probably wasn’t what he was going for, though. I mean, really? The product wasn’t even developed yet and he was worrying about marketing? The thing is, I know he’s not the only one. So let me just say this: STOP it. You cannot properly market something if you don’t even know whether it’s any good. You’ve got to develop it, feel it, taste it, put it out in the wild, and reverse-engineer it so you know it’s serviceable and valuable to consumers.

Now, once you have a product, there could be tons of things you could do to promote a local business—Facebook ads, tweets, geolocation, mobile ads, Google AdWords—the options are tremendous. And who knows, you might not need to pull out all the stops. After all, great products don’t need that much marketing. Marketing, however, won’t fix a crap product or app or service.

imageWhat is your advice for small business owners with limited budgets? Local listings, SEO, writing content, social media?

I loved this question as much as I hated the last one. And here’s the answer: Work more. Whatever it is you’re doing, add a few more hours of hustle. It’s the greatest way to shore up the gap between you and a bigger competitor. I promise you Goliath will never work as hard as you.

This is an issue I had to grapple with myself when I started working in my father’s business, Wine Library. I didn’t have the base that I have now, of course. No one gave a crap about us. So I went out and pounded the pavement, walking into any business that might be relevant to my community and passing out flyers and coupons one by one to gain more exposure. And then we made sure to have such amazing customer service when people walked in the door that they couldn’t wait to return.

What could a start-up do today to get that kind of exposure? The answer is going to be different depending on your business. If you’re e-commerce, Facebook ads for sure—it has one of the best ROI going right now. Google AdWords is a strong contender and banner retargeting would work well for you, too. If you’re trying to drive retail into a store, start spending time on Yelp and Foursquare’s Swarm, and yes, local TV and radio. Maybe it would be worth your while to go to the barber and ask if you can put a flyer in the window. Make cold calls. Network. Bizdev. Barter with local businesses. Attend Chamber of Commerce events. Get creative! Fight, attack, talk, ask friends for help . . . This is your life!

imageWhat would you do if you were starting over and trying to get the name GaryVee out there today?

I would do exactly what I did back then—I’d keep my mouth shut.

Go ahead and google it. You won’t find a single piece of content from me that predates WLTV. For the first eight years of my career, 1998–2006, from the time I was twenty-two to the time I was thirty, I did nothing to build the Gary Vaynerchuk brand.

So what was I doing?

I was working. I was learning, practicing, questioning, researching, and experimenting. I was building the expertise and experience that would allow me to position myself as an authority, not just in the wine world but in the business world as well. Today I can say I built two $50 million businesses in five-year periods, and showed a talent for investing in companies early and making a lot of money. I can rattle off an educated answer to almost any question about wine or Internet business you can throw at me. You think I came by all that knowledge overnight? I got in the trenches and lived my business and did the work that allowed me to build the Gary Vaynerchuk brand. I created reasons for people to think I was worth paying attention to and even worth spending money on to hear me speak at events or read my books.

I’m stunned at how many people think you can just hop onto YouTube and build a personal brand without actually having anything to show for it. You have to know something in order to be a brand. You want to be sought after as an expert? What have you done to make people want to hear you speak? Have you accomplished anything? Have you proven yourself in any way?

No? Then shut up and get to work.

People have tried to argue with me that you don’t have to be a practitioner to have something valuable to contribute on a subject. For example, they’ll point to football coaches who never played pro ball as proof that you don’t have to be a great player to be a great coach. And to that I say: seriously? Have you studied these football coaches’ backgrounds? Ignoring the fact that coaching is an entirely different skill set from playing, no football coach comes out of nowhere at twenty-three and wins Super Bowls. They’ve been ball boys since they were seven. They’re the sons and daughters of coaches. They’ve lived and breathed their sport their whole lives.

Don’t ever think you can hack expertise and branding by relying on social media and modern tech. There is no substitute for honest hard work. You have to execute and accomplish something before earning the privilege of being a personal brand.

imageWhen you have a billion-dollar potential business plan without financial resources and inventory, where do you start with funding?

I don’t think you should. Not yet anyway. You know why?

Because ideas are sh@t without execution.

Do you know how many emails I receive from people swearing they have a billion-dollar idea? Everybody’s got ideas. Hell, I have unlimited ideas.

There are people out there who might finance a venture based on ideas alone. It’s happened. But in general, those ideas don’t go anywhere because that’s all they were—ideas. This is why so many businesses are starting to fail in the tech space, and I am sure by the time you are reading this book many more tech companies funded in 2010–14 will be done and finished. Passion is great and creativity is awesome, but practicality matters more than the current business world values. You’ve got to put the work in before approaching anyone for financial backing. That’s what all the entrepreneurs we look up to did. They didn’t pat themselves on the back just for having a great idea. They hustled and made it come to life first. They made sure their idea actually did what they believed it could.

imageDo you respond to posts, tweets, and messages yourself, or do you get your staff to do it?

The thing I might be most proud of is that every tweet I’ve ever sent out has come from my two fingers. I can’t write for sh@t so I collaborate with a professional writer on my books, and Steve and India usually massage my blog posts and articles, adding sprinkles and turning them into English based on answers from my show or interviews, or interviewing me for them. But all the base material you’ll ever read or hear is mine, and if I ever talk to you on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, it’s really me.

imageDo you work seven days a week?

Early on in my relationship with my wife (I think it was the second date), I told her that if time went on and I still didn’t have my New York Jets, I was going to be working harder and be a lot busier than I already was. Lucky for me, she married me anyway. But believe me, I never take her understanding and acceptance for granted. Today I’m typically and happily consumed with work Monday through Friday, and my calendar is fully booked from 6 A.M. to 11 P.M. But once I’m home on Friday night, that’s it. I turn everything off for the weekend and devote my time to my wife and kids.

That’s my version of work-life balance. Will it always be? No. Lizzie and I are constantly talking about what’s working and what isn’t, and I’m aware that as the children get older there are going to be days when I have to run to the school at 5 P.M. to watch a recital or go to a baseball or football practice (you know which one I’d prefer). You have to adjust as life evolves.

I think a lot of people make the mistake of assuming that if you believe in hustle, you can’t ever take a step back. That’s too narrow a definition. Hustle means adjusting to business opportunities as they come and adjusting to life as it changes. If your north star is family, then there’s no shame in revolving your hustle around that. It’s about quality versus quantity, being fully engaged while you’re working, not necessarily working every day of the week. Instead of 365 days of complete insanity, you can have 265 days of really hard work with 100 days of rest and rejuvenation. Hustle is not just working obnoxiously hard—it’s also working obnoxiously smart.

And when I rest, boy, do I rest. I couldn’t care less about traveling the world when I’m on vacation—I just want to lie on a beach in peace. So now you know that if you bump into me on the street or at a function, by all means come by and say hi, but if you happen to catch me on the beach with my eyes closed, don’t bother me. I’m resting.

imageHow do you avoid procrastination so well?

I would be an obnoxious procrastinator if I weren’t so busy and I have no choice but to get as much done in every minute as I can. What some people might call procrastinating I call reprioritizing. I’m in constant audit mode adjusting to real life all the time. Something might be super-important one day only to get demoted the next when I open my inbox in the morning. Trying to keep track of what’s most important and when can drive my assistant crazy. He’ll have worked out a whole schedule for me based on what I told him was most important to me and by the end of one three-hour flight he’ll get an email from me adding another fifteen things that force him to completely dismantle it. Apparently he has figured out that if I tell him something is “tippy top” that’s the thing to put ahead of everything else.

You might think that means that I’m only half paying attention to everything, but you’d be wrong. I live in the moment, and my pants are on fire for whatever it is I’m paying attention to at that time. As long as you’re treating something every day as a tippy-top item and executing on it, you’re moving the needle.

imageAre you a morning person?

I am not. Believe it or not I make it a point to get six to seven hours of sleep per night, and I sleep like a brick. It takes a lot to wake me up. I mean a lot. I’m rising with a little more energy since I started working out and eating right, but there was a time when someone could have broken into my home, stabbed me in the leg with a knife, and stolen everything I own and I wouldn’t have noticed until the next morning.

The thing is, though, I’ve never really understood why it would be an advantage to be a morning person, or why morning is valued more than other parts of the day. If you do your best work first thing in the morning, great. But some people work best at 3 A.M., 5 P.M., or 10 P.M. There is no right time to hustle, as long as you are hustling.

You don’t want to exhaust yourself, or collapse, or make yourself crazy. Just work as hard as you can when you are working, and rest when it’s time. Because guess what? It’s not about how much you sleep. It’s what you do while you’re awake.

imageHow do you deal with burnout?

It doesn’t happen to me very often that I decide I want to check out and bury my head under the covers. I think the last time was when the state of Texas singled out Wine Library and restricted our shipping while allowing many other stores to ship. We lost about $4 million in revenue. I think the day I realized we’d lost that fight I went to sleep at 6 P.M.

If I’m feeling burned out or stressed by work, it means that I’m focusing too much on business instead of the big picture. So when I feel myself start to get that way, I just try to imagine how it would feel if my mom died (I know it’s dark but it’s the truth). That’s all it takes to put the whole world back into perspective and move on.

So in a nutshell, my solution to burnout is rest and recalibration.

imageWhat are your practical #HustleHacks when it comes to diet, sleep, and your daily routine? How do you maintain energy and brainpower while hustling nonstop?

The reason I can hustle the way I do is that I love it. I love taking my pouting selfies and traveling at 6 A.M. to a random airport. The day I answered this question on the show I woke up at 5:15 to play basketball after getting back into town at midnight because I love it. If I’d been waking up to meet Muscle Mike, my trainer, to work out I’d have probably been grumpier. Passion is an unmatched fuel. Add being happy to that and you have a wonderful formula for good health.

imageYou’ve said you watch us fans of the show and can tell if people are hustling. How? Engagement, frequency, or gut?

Mark my words, if you tell me you’re hustling, I will go to your Instagram or Twitter account and take a look at your work. I will click the posts and hit the profile where it says “view all with replies,” and I’ll study the engagement rates. I love it when I see one engagement after another with just some retweets. Then I’ll hit the URL on the account. I’ll figure out what the business is and then analyze the profiles and the pictures. I usually see too many people in the right-hook business, but boy does it make me smile when I see people jabbing the sh@t out of things. Then I’ll worry. Are they doing the right mix? Are there too few right hooks? Are they being responsive enough? I can spend ten minutes on this, which in my world is insanity. I’ve got unanswered emails because I’m spending time on your Twitter accounts. But I believe in karma, and I believe that the reason I can give you the answers you need is that I know you better than you think I do.

imageWe spend so much time pouring our creativity into projects for our clients that when it’s time to shift gears and focus on our own brand, we’re exhausted. How do you keep the fire burning for both?

You need to work harder and faster.

Working harder is easy. Drop the hour you’re watching Scandal and voila, you’ve got more time to hustle. Working faster, however, is a little trickier. It takes practice. Train yourself to do a little bit more in each hour than you normally would. Maybe you save checking your emails until lunch. Maybe you turn off your phone. Maybe you work odd hours. Every day add something more and get it all done. The first few days you may not finish what you started out to do, but keep challenging yourself and you’ll get there. It’s like training for a marathon. It takes time, but once you’ve been at this for a while you’ll see that you can accomplish much more in one day than you ever thought you could.

Don’t kid yourself. Most people say they’re working a full eight hours a day, but very few really are. When someone tells me they’ve got no more time to give, I’ll go through their Twitter and check them out. Usually I’ll find fifteen minutes here and there where they watched a YouTube video, or took a quiz about God knows what. And you’re probably thinking, So what? We’re not machines. Aren’t we allowed to goof off for just a few minutes? Sure. But then don’t complain that you’re not getting everything done.

I do not have one spare second during the workday. My team fights for minutes on my calendar. Even seconds. It’s basically an inside joke at this point.

I used to think I was the biggest workaholic who ever lived. When I was twenty-two to about thirty, I really thought I was all in. But I wasn’t, because I had enough time to bullsh@t about baseball with friends. I actually had free time. It wasn’t until I started working more hours and dramatically faster that my career really started to explode. It’s the context of those first eight years of my career that gives me the audacity you see in this chapter. I just know the difference between what hard work looked like then, and what running a business and investing in and closely monitoring 150-plus companies looks like now. You have the time if you are good at making it.

So that’s the answer to keeping that fire burning when you’re balancing your own stuff with your clients’. Work hard and work fast. Be the machine.

imageI’d love to hear more on how to hustle faster!

Take short meetings. Stop focusing on dumb sh@t. Don’t be afraid to break things. Don’t be romantic. Don’t take the time to breathe. Don’t aim for perfect.

And whatever you do, keep moving. Reread this a few times . . .

imageDo you ever get sick, and if so, how do you still hustle through it?

The old me got sick sometimes, but since I married LizzieVee eleven years ago I think I’ve only been ill once. She deserves a big shout-out for getting me to wash my hands. Honestly, I think for some people like me it’s a question of mind over matter. I mean, I take more than one hundred flights per year. You’d think a bug would eventually get me. But it hasn’t, and I think a large part of the reason why is that the brain is a powerful organ, and I am so focused and so determined not to get sick, that I just don’t. It helps, too, that I’ve started exercising and eating right, but that’s such a recent event I really do think I outwilled many colds.

But let’s say I did get sick. Would I drag my sorry ass into the office, possibly infecting all my colleagues because I’m afraid of what will happen if I’m not there? Absolutely not. And I don’t want anyone else coming in when they’re sick, either. When the #vaynerplague hits us (search Twitter, it’s a real thing) I want people to stay home, take care of themselves, and get better. In some businesses there’s a real stigma around staying home when you’re sick, like it means you’re weak or unmotivated. (I have to admit early in my career I saw it that way, but I have evolved.) Coming in when you’re sick doesn’t show dedication, it’s selfish. And kind of gross. And not fun for your coworkers or for you.

That doesn’t mean I want my sick employees working from home if they feel like they’re dying, either. You get on a call with them and they can’t get their point across because they’re coughing up a lung. How is that helpful to anyone?

When you’re hustling, hustle with all you’ve got. When you’re sick, stop. Let it happen. Your body is trying to tell you something. Listen to it. The work isn’t going anywhere, and you can make up for lost time. Get better so that when you can come back to work, you come back with fire.

imageWhat’s the biggest “but” you hear from others that holds them back? What is your “but” and how do you get off of it?

Oh my God, the excuses. When you start a sentence with “I want to . . .” then end up with “but” midway through, you’re making an excuse. You can probably guess a few of the most common. You may have even used one or two in your life: “I didn’t have any money,” “I didn’t have a chance,” “I grew up in a poor neighborhood,” “I didn’t have a mentor.” People are loaded with “buts”; that’s why the majority of people live pretty ordinary lives. But is not a word to use when you talk about your aspirations. If you are serious about reaching your dreams, nothing will get in the way.

I’m not saying that obstacles to success don’t exist. You could be born under a dictatorship or other repressive regime. A female entrepreneur in the Middle East objectively does not have as much of a chance of succeeding as a woman in New York City. And any white male born in a semi-affluent environment is bound to have a leg up on minorities in poor communities. Adversity, discrimination, s@xism—it’s all real. And for many, certain prejudices, injustices, and strokes of plain bad luck are serious enough to deter them from pressing forward. But then there’s another group, a smaller group, who when faced with these challenges choose to reject them and forge ahead anyway. If anything, coming from less or from behind can be a huge advantage because you will never, ever assume anything will come to you easily. That breeds a lot of courage and perseverance. A lot of people born to privilege just don’t have the hustle because they never needed it.

Don’t ever let your circumstances determine your outcome. You are bigger and better than that. You can always control your own destiny. Use what you’ve got, find what you don’t, and make your dreams come true.

What’s my “but”? I want to buy the New York Jets, but I love the climb and think about my legacy so much I sometimes leave money on the table that I’ll probably need to accomplish that dream. You know one “but” you won’t hear from me, however? The one that shifts the blame for anything that goes wrong at VaynerMedia away from me. I’ll never make excuses. I love taking that blame, because once I do we can work toward coming up with solutions instead of talking endlessly about the problem. Stop saying “but” and you’ll be forced to move forward; there will be nothing standing in your way anymore.

imageIs it possible to hustle the way you do anywhere outside the United States?

I thought this question was ludicrous. Entrepreneurialism is glorified in this country and the environment supports it, but you’re out of your mind if you think the country where you’re born makes or breaks your ability to build a business and thrive. My parents were raised in the Soviet Union and steeped in communism from the day they were born, and it only increased their hustle and drive. Your success is not predicated on your zip code. You may have a harder road to travel than you would if you lived in the United States, but entrepreneurial success stories come out of every corner of the globe.

imageIsn’t working long hours an old-school mind-set? Why not focus on building wealth via passive income?

Why not do both? I do. I make a lot of money investing in early-stage start-ups that can sell for one hundred times their original valuation. I didn’t do anything, and yet some years I probably make more in passive income than hustle income. So, yes, you could focus on building wealth through passive income, but I assure you that it’s not nearly as easy as it seems. Of all the people who have tried to create systems and automate their cash, there has been a very, very small percentage who wound up taking early retirement and lounging on the beach while they collected money from the Internet. The few people who can actually live luxuriously off their passive income put in a boatload of hard work and time getting to the point where they could earn it.

I think there are almost zero people in the world who have earned substantial success without working hard at it. Of course, you might do just fine if your goal is to earn $60K. But those people lying on the beach smoking weed in Jamaica after earning millions of dollars in passive income by doing practically nothing? I don’t believe they exist. Show me one, and I’ll show you someone who’s making his or her money by selling you on the dream of that lifestyle.

imageWhat athlete, past or present, embodies hustle for you?

Wayne Chrebet, the absolute bottom-rung guy on the wide receiver depth chart when he joined the Jets as a walk-on during a practice in 1995. The only reason he got there is that his dad pulled together some VHS tapes and sent them to the head coach. The Jets sucked bad in those years so the coach was willing to take anyone. Not much was expected of Wayne—he’s a short white dude who until he joined the Jets had an unimpressive record—and yet his number was just retired last year. He showed huge tenacity, defying his critics and playing through massive concussions. I respect him enormously.

imageHow do I get a job working for you?

I’m always flattered by this question, but the answer is kind of blunt.

Do something first.

Show me your value. DRock did it when he cold-called me three times and convinced me to let him create the video that became “Clouds and Dirt.” Kevin Rose, the founder of Digg, wanted to invest in Square, and CEO Jack Dorsey wouldn’t let him, so Kevin made a video explaining the product and offering his insights around Square. After it had received around a hundred thousand views, Jack noticed, and suddenly realized that, what do you know, he could make a little room for Kevin’s investment. Now Square is worth billions. Kevin got in on it because he showed Jack what he could do.

What can you do?

imageHow do you balance speed/hustle with patience?

I bridge the two. Look, I know that I often say things that contradict each other, but that’s usually because both statements are true. Like these two: Speed and hustle are massively important. So is patience.

A lot of people pride themselves on being fast and impatient; I see them as the bad version of me. They do everything for their own gain. They’re takers. But I think impatient and fast leads to mistakes, causing people to rush outcomes and leave money on the table.

You can be both fast and patient and win. I’m massively patient for the long game, but I’m fast in the real-time world of execution. The two traits can produce some friction for sure, but that’s how pearls are formed.

imageHow can you claim “family first” but work nineteen hours a day? How can you be a good dad/hubby and rarely be home?

I get asked versions of this question a lot, and it stems from the way I choose to storytell my life. I play to the extremes. I’m 1,000 percent in while I’m at work, and I’m 1,000 percent in while I’m at home. I go to the kindergarten plays and the other school events that mean something to my children. I take seven weeks of vacation, which is probably five more weeks than most people. I don’t play golf or really have any hobbies that take me away from home on the weekends. Plenty of my friends bust my chops and say they spend more time with their family than I do, but when I’ve audited a few for sport I’ve been interested to find out how much of that time is spent playing video games, on the phone, or just doing their own thing. Just because you are physically at home doesn’t mean you are “home.” In other words, just as I make sure that every minute counts at work, I make sure that every minute counts at home. And as the kids grow older and they need me more, my schedule might change. I may someday have to commit to being home every night by 5:30. I’ll admit it might be hard for me, but I’ll get over it. There are plenty of other hours in the day when my children don’t need me when I can get sh@t done.

Some people make their kids a part of their ventures, blogging about their lives together or using their pictures and time together as fodder for content. That’s fine for them. I would never presume to tell someone else how to raise his or her family. My wife and I have decided that our kids are not part of my business life, which means I can’t talk much about my life at home. But I feel great about the time we spend together, and they seem pretty happy, too. The bottom line? Effort!

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