Hustle – Book Interview

Heidi Cohen Interviews Neil Patel

New book: HUSTLE: The Power to Charge Your Life with Money, Meaning, and Momentum

Hustle front coverQ: What’s your best piece of advice for readers looking to improve their marketing?

If you are trying to improve your marketing you have to continually test. From SEO to content marketing to paid ads, there is no one solution to grow a business. But through testing you can figure out what strategies work best and focus on them.

Think of marketing like throwing spaghetti on the wall. You have to see what sticks. But without testing the waters, you won’t know what you should be focusing on and what you shouldn’t be.

Q: What was the inspiration for HUSTLE?

I give talks all over the world and interact in-person with thousands of people each year and online with hundreds of thousands. Wherever I go, and in the United States in particular, my coauthors and I have encountered hundreds of truly creative people, entrepreneurs, marketers, artists, professionals who just feel stuck, trapped in unsatisfying careers, not making enough money, not developing a sense of meaning, and not really gaining any momentum or moving ahead and doing what they want to do. We call this feeling of being stuck “the cycle of suck” and anyone who works for a living knows what we’re talking about. It’s a frustration, a sense of “meh” that feels defeating.

Hustle is our way of tapping into the zeitgeist about living the dream on your own terms; it’s a mindset and a set of behaviors that require being unconventional, getting comfortable with small risks, and orienting toward a more innovative way of looking at your reality. When you do this, you redefine success on your own terms, by bringing out your best self.

The book came out of a sense of dissatisfaction with the status quo, and a desire to help teach people a better way of moving forward and owning their dream in their lifetime. One of the worst things a person can do is settle for an unfulfilled or wasted life, where they never discover their talents nor surface opportunity that can change their life. My coauthors and I didn’t settle, our readers shouldn’t either – there’s no reason to stay blind or conform.

Q: What is the key concept behind your book?

The key concept is the very word, hustle. We came up with it by doing a lot of listening to others – it’s a word we hear everywhere but it’s not exactly clear what it means today. It comes from the old Dutch word hutselen which means “to shake violently.” So to some extent, we think of hustle as a way “to shake up your life in the best of ways” to set yourself free and move forward in the way you want.

The way we define hustle is:

A decisive movement toward a goal, however indirect, by which the motion itself manufactures luck, surfaces hidden opportunities, and charges our lives with more money, meaning, and momentum.

We came up with this definition because, frankly, the word is overused and mostly misunderstood to mean simply “get shit done.” It’s more than that – it’s an expression of a desire for more freedom and more self-direction.

This book deals with the notions of success and dream ownership – it’s a strongly American ideal that one can have a dream. But we go beyond that, we believe you have to actively own your dream by doing things. There’s a proactive energy to the book. You can’t simply dream of success and getting more money or more opportunity or find more meaning without actually trying a lot of things in your lifetime to find what you love and the people in your life that will help you get ahead.

Q: What do you want readers to take away from your book

Success usually means more than just one thing. It means removing the self-imposed friction (“I can’t possibly do X or be Y”) and the limitations we’ve been taught: we “should be X” or “we should do Y” because our parents, our guidance counselors, our bosses, and authority figures have forced upon us. That’s the path of learned blindness, not living the life you want to, just accepting that others know what’s best for you rather than finding your own way.

In life, you have to self-cultivate, find your gifts, explore, experiment, and create to gain upside optionality and develop talents that you might not even know you have. That’s exciting, isn’t it? It means we are constantly growing, changing and creating who we are – our identity – and we can find success in innumerable ways to get ahead and leverage our gifts. There are always better options and possibilities. It just requires getting away from the herd mentality and seeing what we call the “unseen opportunity” that surround us everyday.

Q: How do you describe yourself professionally?

I’m just an average joe. I am a marketer, entrepreneur, blogger… I just enjoy helping other people. Whether it is growing their business or just learning more about marketing, I love helping others.

Q: What are 1-3 books that inspired your work/career?

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie – how to relate to others in business and life.
  • The Dip by Seth Godin – the power of perseverance and how to overcome tough challenges in business.
  • Blink by Malcolm Gladwell – how our subconscious minds and decision-making work. It’s fascinating.

Q: What is the biggest challenge that you’ve had to overcome?

One of them was going a million dollars in debt by the time I was 21! It happened due to a bad business deal and investing in people I didn’t know well enough. It was inexperience on my part, and I was very lucky to recover quickly by hustling opportunity in other ways – speaking, consulting, etc.

Q: What’s something unusual or fun that most people don’t know about you?

I like simplicity and give up something every year. A few years ago it was coffee. Last year it was eating red meat.

Q: Is there a piece of content or a marketing campaign that you’re particularly proud of?

Any of my advanced guides on Quick Sprout. They all have done so well.

Q: Is there anything else that we haven’t covered that you’d like to share?

Yes, I encourage all of your readers to go out, buy a copy of HUSTLE. Support us by writing a review, let us know what you think of the work, share it with others. Create your own book club! Do you agree with our arguments – about the “cycle of suck”, the perils of perfection, the lie of 10,000 hours, how talent discovery works in reality, how we manufacture luck, and how to create your own opportunities and liberate yourself with our POP framework… there’s a lot of stimulating work that went into writing it. We hope you like it.

neil-patelContact information

Thanks, Neil.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
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