What Does the Word ‘Hustle’ Mean to You? 6 Entrepreneurs at HustleCon Share Their Definition

“Hustle” has become somewhat of a buzz word lately. It used to just be something you did in gym class, but these days it has taken on a whole new meaning.

When someone is described as a “hustler” what exactly does that mean? It’s become a word that’s synonymous with entrepreneur or freelancer. Someone who is always working on their “side hustle”.

At CreativeLive, we are big fans of encouraging people to start side hustles or passion projects. It seems we’re not the only company that’s advocating for this new form of employment.

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend Hustle Con, an event where the world’s most successful non-technical founders tell their origin stories, teach the practical tactics they used to start and grow their startup, and share behind the scenes insights on their wins and losses.

I went into this event with high hopes and I was not disappointed. What really stood out to me was how each speaker came from a very different background and style of business. The narrative that connected them all was the pursuit of their “hustle”.

As each person took the stage, those in attendance were given a different interpretation and vantage point of what hustle meant to them.

Casey Neistat (arguably the biggest name on the schedule) showed tons of energy despite flying in from France just hours before taking the stage. Casey walked us through his life story and the most memorable moments of hustle on his long journey to success. His vulnerability and inspiration made it the most memorable presentation of the day.

A different style was on display when Mayfield partners Tim Chang and Rishi Garg took the stage. These men have been some of the most successful investors in Silicon Valley over the last decade. They spoke about everyone’s capacity for personal growth, and the recurring traits they see in successful CEOs and hustlers. The chemistry between the two men was very impressive.

Jen Rubio of Away Travel, talked about how her company has created a lifestyle brand around a commodity product (a suitcase). To make her presentation even more memorable was its unique style. In a hybrid interview/lecture, Rubio was asked questions by a moderator while she clicked through slides that added visuals to her answers. Rubio’s advice for entrepreneurs was to create marketing moments wherever possible.

Even a seemingly mundane thing like a new color choice of a product can be a marketing moment to connect with loyal fans. Rubio also highlighted the importance of allowing customers to interact with your products in-person. This is something that gets lost on many digital hustlers who sell their products online. There is really no substitute for letting your potential customer touch and interact with your product in person.

Tom Bilyeu from Quest Nutrition may have been the most animated speaker of the day. His talk focused on the importance of skill acquisition and the hustle of educating yourself. He emphasized that you need to constantly be building up your supply of marketable skills in order to be relevant. This is something that most CreativeLive students would be in agreement with.

Bilyeu’s dramatic pauses and genuine excitement for the topic helped him stand apart from the average speaker. His talk was also refreshingly devoid of jargon or praise for his own business. These are really all key components to a successful presentation.

Finally, the always controversial Tucker Max wrapped up the day’s speaking schedule. Max has built a reputation around his crass personality and shrewd business moves. But this talk was all about how you need to hustle when hiring for your company. He poked fun at the antiquated verbiage used in the typical job description. Even the most hip, creative companies are guilty of writing boring job descriptions.

Tucker’s company, Book in a Box, takes pride in their hiring process and they’re looking to help other companies get better at building a company culture and hiring people that fit seamlessly within it. Tucker’s speaking style is dynamic, and he doesn’t hold anything back. He showcases a brash style of hustle that can really work for some people.

All in all it was a fantastic lineup of speakers. Once the final presentation concluded, Oakland’s Paramount theatre turned into a hotbed of networking and swapping hustle stories.

By the end of the day, all of us in attendance had been treated to a wide range of different types of hustle. A variety of speaking styles and presentation types made for an amazing time.

For those of you curious to learn more, keep your eyes on the Hustle Con YouTube channel as they roll out clips from this year’s event.



Chris Jennings