Hustle Harder Hustle Smarter
For the first time, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson opens up about his amazing comeback—from tragic personal loss to thriving businessman and cable’s highest-paid executive—in this unique self-help guide, his first since his blockbuster New York Times bestseller The 50th Law.
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Hustle Harder Hustle Smarter
The Man Behind the Stage Name
Not knowing your father sucks. Learning how to sell drugs from your 15-year-old mother sucks. And of course, being shot nine times probably sucks too. Who could know more about the rules of success than the man who made it from those circumstances to the top of the music, film and TV industry: Curtis Jackson?
Better known as 50 Cent, he truly made it from less than rags to more than riches and claims every success comes down to two characteristics: finding fearlessness and having the heart of a hustler. Both are instilled in each of his personas. 50 Cent, whose hunger and ambition brought him to the top and Curtis Jackson, whose experience and wisdom allowed him to stay there.
Let’s take a look at the lessons from the unfair and ruthless street business you can adapt to survive and thrive in the no less unfair and ruthless corporate world.
Are you comfortable living in constant fear your entire life? Not a single person would answer this question in the affirmative - but most of them should. Everyone who is afraid of planes and does not fly, everyone who is afraid of heights and does not climb and everyone who is afraid of freaking elevators and takes the stairs. Every single one of them voluntarily decided to live their lives in fear.
And still, none of them can avoid facing far more serious dangers throughout their lives. Losing your job or seeing your business going bankrupt let’s say. Never applying for a job and not starting your own business because of that is no less restrictive than avoiding planes your entire life. So, what is the right way to deal with fears then?
The way that 50 has chosen: facing them. Even as a child, he actively approached his fears instead of letting them intimidate him. Whether he volunteered to fight older kids in the boxing gym or went jogging with a gun up his sleeve because people around his grandmother’s house were waiting to finish the job they started weeks earlier with nine shots at the rapper.
Just as a state of fearlessness can be achieved by riding an elevator for some and actually putting your life in danger for others, you too have fears you need to overcome by facing them - at whatever end of that spectrum.
Heart of a Hustler
Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle. When talking about hustling, 50 is not talking about selling drugs. Not always. Instead, he's talking about hard work, which to this day is the one trait that all successful people have in common. Whether you like it or not.
Smart work only leads to success when combined with hard work, and vice versa. Artists might outrap, outperform or even outsmart 50 Cent, but none of them will ever outwork Curtis Jackson.
If your lack of talent has served as an excuse so far, measure yourself against something there are no excuses for: your work performance. Take this opportunity to improve it by replacing your beer bench with a weight bench, your cell phone with a book, and your morning coffee with a protein shake.
Wait a second. Sports? Reading? Nutrition? Who’s gotten rich doing that stuff? Actually, a whole lot of people. People whose lifestyles allow them to have a more productive and focused workday. Do you think Elon Musk works a million times your hours just because he makes a million times the money? Or is there a chance that’s due to not only working hard but also using all available resources as efficiently as possible? A combination of hustling harder and hustling smarter maybe?
Constructing Your Crew
Whenever a quote is used so often that no one even knows who came up with it, that‘s a good sign there might be some truth in it. „You are the average of the people you surround yourself with“, is one of them.
Just in case you’ve not made it as an international superstar yet, you might consider making a couple good friends before you do so. Every step towards success makes it harder to distinguish your loyal followers from the growing group of those craving a slice of that pie for themselves. 50 Cent emphasizes to bring the hood with you and values good character traits over experience and competence every time.
The crew as 50 defines it is made up of more than just colleagues and business partners. It's equally made up of friends and family, with the latter posing the biggest trust issues for him. He's learned the hard way to always be aware of each crew member's motives. In the office, at the dinner table, and even down the aisle.
Never forget that every wolf you invite to your pack needs to be fed. Rapper 6ix9ine famously demonstrated how you end up once you’ve lost control over this pack. As soon as you don’t have any more food to offer, you are becoming the food. To maintain that control, it's important not to lose your authority by motivating the people who need it and showing the door to those who deserve it.
Knowing Your Value
Do you get paid what you're worth every month? In your opinion, probably not. But guess what, the people you have to pay to keep food on your table and a roof over your head couldn’t care less about that opinion. So, you better go out and fight for what you're worth instead of waiting for the next raise to fall into your lap.
Coming from a rapper, such statements sound like making as much money as possible in as short a time as possible. However, don’t forget that anything you do doesn’t only produce short-term results. Prior to his first label deal, 50 Cent passed up countless opportunities. Tempting opportunities that may have made him an average rapper if it wasn’t for his patience in demanding his true value.
One example of such long-term thinking would be to get paid in company shares instead of cash. The more money you have, the bigger your problem with inflation, taxes, and whatnot. The more stocks you have on the other hand, the more you rely on your own ability to increase their value over the years. Just as 50 didn’t make most of his fortune with music, but by marketing flavored water from a company he owned a part of.
Now let’s assume you want to follow his example and ask for two percent of a company’s shares for a long-term cooperation. Further assuming that offer is rejected, what percentage would you demand from an equivalent business partner in the future? Only one percent because you don’t want to risk another rejection? Of course not.
Learn to adjust your goals for rational reasons, but never ever give them up for emotional reasons. As long as you know your value, nothing can stop you from making the exact same demands even a hundred unsuccessful negotiations down the road.
Evolve or Die
No matter how sure you are about your value today, it doesn’t have to be the same a decade from now. Your family may have built the best horse-drawn carriages generation after generation, but today you’d be better off developing even the worst electric car the world has seen. That’s what the market demands, and the good old market is always right. No matter how much we value our own opinion.
Just as rappers adapt to the latest style of music, it's in every company's best interest to adapt to the latest technologies. Blockbuster could be today’s Netflix and Blackberry could be today’s Apple.
Speaking of Apple: While most musicians suffered from declining record sales after the turn of the millennium, Dr. Dre and his partner Jimmy Iovine kept an open mind and observed people listening to their music over smartphones rather than those profitable CDs everyone got so used to. And just like that, Beats by Dr. Dre was born. A headphone brand that Apple later paid a whopping three billion dollars for. Evolve or die.
Power of Perception
A small fire can either burn you or help you cook something delicious to eat. The fire is the same, what differs is your perception. Be careful not to be perceived as the uncontrollable fire everyone’s afraid of, but rather as the sort of fire that others need to survive.
People will always treat you like you treat yourself. Even a clean car and some ironed clothes can open doors you can’t even imagine – all without spending a dime. If you can’t afford a new pair of shoes for your next meeting, you can at least afford the time to clean your old ones.
Most don’t like to admit it, some may not even be aware of it, but there’s not a single person who isn’t influenced by your appearance in one way or another – for better or worse.
So far that’s all kind of superficial and maybe obvious, but believe it or not, 50 Cent knows more about the power of perception than just fancy clothes and cars. Slightly touching another person’s forearm, speaking softly in groups, or not showing any nonverbal reaction in conversations are some of the tricks described in the book that helped Curtis Jackson close million-dollar deals and build his personal brand.
If We Can‘t Be Friends
People who love you are great. People who hate you not so much. But even worse are those who don’t even care about you. Enemies can at least get you some publicity by talking about you or motivate you by pursuing a similar goal.
If the founder of Lamborghini had never competed with Enzo Ferrari, we’d most likely be left with another tractor manufacturer today, instead of two of the most famous car brands on planet earth.
Not unlike those two automakers and countless other entrepreneurs, 50 Cent has always seized the opportunities that come with a strong competition. Back in 2007 he was ready to launch his third album and entered a voluntary competition with an equally famous rapper who released his album in the same week: Kanye West.
Most fans were disappointed when 50 ended up selling fewer records within that decisive first week. But looking at the massive media attention and motivation that resulted from this competition, how many of them wondered what the figures would have looked like without that contest? As so often in competition, one side went home a winner – and the other side an even bigger winner.
Learning from Your Ls
Ready for another unfair comparison? Who do you think has made more serious mistakes in life, you, or Bill Gates? Even if you goofed up everything you tried so far, you’d still only occupy the second place in this race. Unfortunately, that has less to do with your infallibility than the number and weight of your decisions.
50 Cent cites Soichiro Honda rather than Bill Gates as an example, but the message remains the same: Those who make more mistakes have more potential to learn from them. Potential that is all too often smothered in negative emotions.
Here’s the problem: Learning is only the second step. A step that requires admitting your mistake and being aware of it in the first place. Blaming external circumstances for your failure is the best possible path toward the next defeat.
While such an admission is already hard to swallow for human nature, we can make it even more difficult by surrounding ourselves with yes-men. Whether your friends and colleagues agree with you because they can’t bring themselves to tell you the truth, because they’re afraid of your reaction, or simply because they don’t know any better themselves, they should never make up the bulk of your crew.
Once you’ve encouraged them to criticize you whenever appropriate, you must stick to that rule before anything else. Raising your voice to someone who’s critical of you is your personal ticket to the next mistake – the next opportunity to learn and grow.
The Entitlement Trap
If anyone has no idea what it feels like to grow up in a secure environment, it’s 50 Cent. If anyone has experience with the exact opposite, it’s his son Marquise. We could ask ourselves why one risked his life for a pair of sneakers, while the other is still dissatisfied with the hundredth pair – but the reason doesn’t really matter.
The important point to understand is that both mentalities exist and that you can choose between them. Either having demands on the world or having demands on yourself and fighting for your goals. The truth is that the universe owes you as much as you owe the universe: nothing.
Just like someone who’s drowning, entitled people will drag you down with them as soon as you get too close. Go your way to the top together with those who deserve it and leave those behind who expect you to carry them all the way up.
There’s a reason that lottery winners are far less happy than those who’ve walked the walk themselves. True fulfillment won’t stay with you until you have earned it for yourself. Maybe it’s time to be grateful for the privilege of not being too privileged and to start hustling!
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© Daymond 2021