Hustle Conquers Snow……And Most Obstacles

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Winters in the Northeast are brutal, and 2015 was no exception.

HUGE amounts of snow can create havoc on a manufacturing operation as trucks (inbound/outbound), employees and customers all are faced with extra challenges for carrying out their day.

Hustle overcomes the the snow. 

Heart does as well.

A profile in Hustle:

I love this picture.  It’s my great Director of Operations at LM Foods.

“2 Feet of Snow?  No Problem.  Just light me up a cigarette.  Fire up the snow blower.”

blue collar jeon

There’s something “James Dean” about a cig dangling from the mouth and battling the snow!  Smoking is bad I know, but I love this image.

Old School Hustle has some core pillars:

  • Results matter more than title, position or status

  • Getting Dirt Under the Nails doesn’t discriminate by your status either.

Maybe most important?  Obstacles like traffic and snow are child’s play.  Annoying maybe, but not an excuse to getting things done.  Because if you don’t, someone else will.  

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Business Mandate: Turn Air into Money.

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I get a EUPHORIC thrill out of turning air into money.  

It also creates some strange looks when I tell a story or two.

When you own property in business, every square inch is a potential asset.  Even if you don’t own your land and building, utilization of space and the costs that are tied up in space should be scrutinized.


  • It’s invisible.  Odorless.
  • And it can cost you money.  That is money that can be re-invested in growth.

Want some examples?

  • Shipping.  Everyone in CPG knows that the cost of shipping a truck rarely changes if you can get 39k lbs on it vs. 42k lbs.  But if that shaves a couple pennies off your shipping rate that can be the difference between making 20% and 23% margins.  That matters.

How about garbage costs.  What do you see when you look at this image?

Garbage dumpster


A mess of course!  And litter, which is awful.

But what you also see is that the garbage is thrown in there, not compacted.  I bet if it were organized and crunched, you can free up 1/3 of the airspace.  That means fewer pickups.  Less Cost.  You know what else is there?


Both of those should be recycled.  And sold on the open market.  That’s a revenue stream for someone, why not you?

Recycling further reduces the amount of true garbage, further reducing your cost.

I bet businesses across the country could cut there garbage expenses by 50% if they just attack it with recycling and compacting, and of course knowing what drives their cost to begin with.

So lets say you spend $400 per month without these methods.  What can you do with $2,400 in savings?  Do you need to invest some money on a compactor?  Seems like there could be a payback there.  There are countless examples in business very similar to the garbage example.

Freeing up money by turning Air into money is the low hanging fruit in a business.  It requires minimal risk.  But it does require a dose of Hustle to go after it.

When businesses turn air into money they begin to fuel the engine of growth:  INVESTMENT.

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Dreams & Hustle

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It is flattering when people say “they thought of you” when they see anything with my favorite word in it!  I LOVE this image a friend shared with me:

The Dream is Free, but the Hustle is sold seperately

Image Credit:

Seems like common sense right?  Not really.

In the Dream/Hustle camp there are really 2 types of people:  Those that “Get it” and those that don’t:

Those that Don’t Get it:

  • Have an opinion on EVERYTHING, but won’t change nothing in the mirror to make their world a better place.

  • Have a great new idea everyday but won’t put the blood/sweat and tears in to take action on it……making it someone else’s job to do the hard work.

  • Talk about how things SHOULD be more than investing in themselves to “be the change they want to see.”

  • Don’t have a dream period!  But they are excellent at pointing out what is wrong or broken with no solutions or initiative to fix the very things they are complaining about!

If more than a few people come to mind on the above scenarios, The Dream & HUSTLE image isn’t common sense, is it?  They tend to deplete energy vs add to it.

Those that UNDERSTAND Dream & Hustle mentality:

  • The countless number of immigrants that saw something special in the USA, and were willing to risk everything to make a better life for themselves…..

  • The single mom/dad raising their children, earning a paycheck and somehow figuring it all out as they go to be dead tired.

  • Our greatest heroes:  Our nation’s veterans.  And Military families.

  • Our teachers, many of whom dip into their own pocket, organize fundraisers and find a way to connect with different challenges, and for reasons far beyond financial….

  • The kid working their way through college to try and make it all work, taking on multiple part time jobs and network for their future.

  • Community volunteers – People who donate their time to causes, all in the hopes of making a difference.

What’s the point?

Dreams are made possible by HUSTLE.

Surround yourself with people that get it.  They will ADD energy to your quest, not deplete it.  Energy fuels Hustle.  

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Leaving it All on The Field: A Celebration Anthem

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Exhaustion is not a bad thing.  In fact, I would argue that leaving it all out on the field (or workplace) is what Hustle is all about.  

In Pitbull’s anthem:  “Life is short.  No guarantee of tomorrow.”

Would love to your favorite Anthem……drop a comment.

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A Call to Leaders: Learn From Our Moms on A Mission

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What’s the most powerful motivator for a business?

  • Financial Results?  Incentives that follow?
  • Ownership/Equity shared with key players?
  • Caring/Serving others?
  • Achieving a businesses “BHAG” (Big Hairy Audacious Goal to credit the great Jim Collins)?
  • Fulfilling the businesses “Mission”?

The fact is I’m not sure.  But one thing I’ve been flat out stunned by one of the most powerful forces on the planet.

A Mom on A Mission

This force is not gender specific, it’s the “Mission” that is the key point.  A higher cause, beyond what your trying to do TODAY.

I first started to believe this in 2013, and I wrote about “Moms on a Mission” and the passion & effort to bring Best Buddies to Memphis, TN by couple of go-getters in Memphis.

It hit me again this month, same community of intellectual disabilities, but this time government is brought into the fold.

Congress passed the ABLE Act (Achieving a better life experience) in early December.  But what hit me is the following.

  • It was a landslide vote:  404 For, 17 Against.  When does Congress EVER unanimously support a bill to that level?  
    • Senate passed 76-16 too.
  • It wasn’t overnight.  8 years of frustration trying to get this bill passed.  Not 8 months.  8 YEARS.

Note:  I was proud to be part of a lobbying trip to DC about 6 years ago where Down Syndrome local affiliates from across the country to meet with their representatives.  Humbling and energizing, all at the same time.  Our democracy flat out works, with all of its problems.

A shout-out to another Mom on a Mission, Jawanda Mast, one of  the strongest advocates I know.  Jawanda personifies what HUSTLE is all about, and her journey is captured beautifully on her blog.


How many businesses would endure 8 years of rejection, sunk costs and countless denials for all of that effort?  Not many.  Businesses always cut their losses beyond some point.

Moms on a Mission…..people with a cause flat out never give up.  They will work until their last waking hour to get something done when OTHERS are at stake, not themselves.

In the case of Best Buddies & The passage of the ABLE act, both causes happen to be communities that aim to provide a better life for those that can use a little help.

Change for any disadvantaged community does  not happen by accident, as there is no free market incentive system built into our society that enables a kid to be included in the classroom, the Friday night pizza party, or a chance at a job or saving for college.  This type of change requires people that are driven by more than the almighty $.

Enter Moms on Mission.

The very few businesses that tap into the spirit of these 2 examples would be flat out unstoppable.  Who wouldn’t invest in those kinds of businesses?    

Getting people to work beyond their SELF-interest may very well be the Leadership challenge of the century.

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The Most Dangerous Button in Business

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It’s not the panic button.

We’ve all done it.  The alarm clock rings.  You either get up, or you hit the SNOOZE button.

Snooze Button


The snooze button is deadly for one reason.  It delays action.

Action (doing SOMETHING) is what separates people who merely set goals from those that actually achieve them.  

Answering the bell is hard at times.  Your bed is cozy.  It is safe.  Why not take an extra 10 minutes?  It’s only 10 minutes for crying out loud!


There’s someone out there that isn’t hitting the Snooze Button.  Even worse?  They are getting up an hour or 2 earlier.  They Start Early.

They have a name: Competition.

Maybe your lucky, and your competitors are few and far between, or they are miles behind you.  But chances are they are out there.  And there is someone HUNGRY, trying to make an impact.  To get noticed.

The fact is, everyone needs their sleep!  If I don’t get at least 6 hours I feel it.  If I get more than 6 I feel better.  If I get more than 7, I’m flirting with lazy and inaction.

If I hit the snooze button I’m avoiding action, avoiding the Start.  Nobody ever got the ball rolling with their head on the pillow.

Kill the snooze button.  And while your at it, find a few other things in your life that prevent action from being taken.  


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A Wake-Up Call For College Students (Reeks of Opportunity!)

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Every now and then I’ll break my early routine and read the Wall Street Journal before heading into work.  Today I came across a massive head scratcher article:

“Numbers of Students Taking Internships Rises Only Slightly”

Small Gain Comes Even As Employers Increasingly Seek Real-World Experience

This is unbelievable.

How can a GENERATION live through the great recession and STILL not figure out a better way to tilt the odds of employment in their favor?  

Everywhere you look there are stories of college grads graduating with massive debt loads and struggling to find work.  It is well documented and in the “no brainer” camp that an internship and the real world experience it provides will give grads a significant edge.

So why would less than 50% of college grads make a conscious decision NOT to go out and get this experience?

Can you think of any good reason why a college student would make a massive investment in an education and intentionally avoid an opportunity to apply their education in the real world?

Lack of Hustle is never a good formula.  No 6 figure degree will compensate for lack of Hustle.  


So where’s the opportunity and silver lining?

Half the population of students are making a deliberate choice NOT to give themselves a proven edge.  They are making a substantial investment and ignoring the number one difference maker.  Not 10%…..HALF!

What a great position to be in for students to compete in when HALF ignore a massive difference maker.

What Hustler wouldn’t love to compete in a market where 50% of them ignore ways to gain market share?  NOBODY

How about a shameless plug for my beloved alma matar!

Northeastern University is the best kept secret in higher education.  Where else is it part of the student DNA to graduate with 2 full year’s of work experience!


The world is going through economic change that occurs at the speed of light.  A generation of college students have not changed their behavior.  That reeks of opportunity.  But only for those that get after it.  Hustle is a choice.


“Internships Are Increasingly the Route to Winning a Job”

More Industries Pick From the Summer Talent, Raising the Stakes

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Career Warning Sign: A Hustle Tank on “E”

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HUSTLE is core to everything I think about, talk about, practice and study.  It’s a borderline obsession and why my blog is named “Hustle or BUST!”

3 reasons come to mind why it’s the cornerstone of my philosophy:

  1. It’s one of life’s massive difference makers.
    • People of “average” ability that outwork someone with tremendous NATURAL talents, will flat out level the playing field.
    • Give me a factor you are competing with, HUSTLE can play a massive role squaring up the so called “disadvantage.”
  2. It’s 100% controllable.   Like attitude, it is a choice.
  3. Massive Hustle is really not that common.
    • Hustle is not just “working hard” as many people can claim that.  It’s about working hard on things that make a real difference, that generate results.  Than MASSIVELY out-working people in those areas.
    • Many waste time on things that if they stopped, no difference would be felt.  Think 80/20.

In short, Hustle is within everyones reach, and as they embrace and craft it, life improves.

The reverse is also true.  People’s “Hustle Factor” is not a constant level.  It ebbs and flows, especially in the workplace.

If one’s HUSTLE comes into question in the workplace, they have entered a very real career DANGER ZONE.

Hustle is a vital organ of your career.  Think of it as your career HEART.

When the heart stops beating……blood and oxygen stop going to other vital organs.

The problem with the metaphor however is the TIME factor.  In real life, your heart can’t stop beating for long, or death is imminent.  In careers, when hearts slow (or stop completely), death can be quick, or it can be painfully slow.

Slow and painful deaths are never fun, especially when you can control it by recognizing warning signs and taking immediate and deliberate action.

Warning Signs- Hustle on

Warning Signs:  When Your Hustle Indicator is on “E.”

  • The clock seems to consistently move slower.  Each day…

  • When you leave more tired from the same effort

  • You fail the Optimism test I learned from my 7 year old waking up each day.

  • You spend significant time thinking:  Does my effort create tangible results?

  • When more energy goes into politics/drama vs. generating results, serving customers, or helping people over extended periods of time.

  • When you feel like your on auto-pilot, have “leveled off” on your development.  You’re not GROWING.

  • When people stop seeking you out to solve problems.  Especially one’s that used to in the past, and your not thrilled with those changes.  You don’t ask why, because you’re afraid of the answer.  

  • When there’s a body part that seems to be getting sore:  Your heels, because you are always on them, playing defense.

This list is not exhaustive.  And the key point?  The Blue are internal to how YOU Feel, the RED are external to OTHERs recognizing you are on E. RED warning signs are therefore more critical.  

People are human.  We all go through valleys where we can answer along the lines of “E” on the above warning signs.  Recognizing what’s a valley that you will pull out from vs. a permanent “E” with little chance of replenishing is key.

But make no mistake:  Having a Hustle Indicator on “E” can’t last very long.  Recognize your warning signs….

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An Employer’s Perspective: On-line No Pay MBA vs. Traditional MBA?

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I am fascinated by the market for higher education.   My views of the market are shaped through the eyes of 3 roles I currently play in life:

  1. As a father of 2 youngsters (7 & 10) having the challenge of figuring out how to fund what will likely be north of a half million dollars, wow!

  2. As the writer of a leadership/business blog: Hustle Or Bust:  Where Old School Meets New School.

  3. As CEO of LM Foods.  A company that aspires to be one of the great little manufacturing plants in the USA.

In January of 2013 I wrote my longest post ever (1,500+ words) on Hustle or Bust:

4 Reasons the College President Sleeps Well at Night….While Their Industry Awaits Disruption

If you don’t want to read 1,500 words, here’s the summary:  The higher education market is showing all the signs of being in the middle stages of disruption.  There’s plenty of reasons why they will avoid the fundamental shift to a new, more efficient model like the record industry, book industry all experienced (and didn’t end well for many in the “don’t change” mode).

To say that I’m fascinated by the movement towards MOOC’s (“Free on-line courses”), and in particular the structured approach profiled on No Pay MBA is an understatement.  That’s from the perspective of a Father, and the perspective of a student of business.

But I play another role in life.  It consumes 65+ hours a week.  It consumes 90% of my mental “think time.”  It’s that of company owner, CEO.  And from that vantage point, the audience of No Pay MBA may be interested in my thoughts related to the following:

Can a MOOC education translate to employment opportunities the way a conventional degree can?[Continue Reading…]

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Your First 90 Days & The Only School That Matters

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The first 90 days on a new job are probably the most critical for ANYONE.  It’s a time when you are confronted with so many new things….

  • New Colleagues:  Establishing sound relationships, remembering names, knowing who the key opinion leaders are

  • The Culture:  One of the critical components.  Here’s a primer.

  • The business model of the company:  How they generate money and improve over time

  • External stakeholders of the business:  Customers, suppliers, investors

And of course, your JOB.  What you were hired to do.

It brings me to the critical question:

Who’s the #1 person in charge of training a new employee?

  • The direct manager?
  • The “training” manager?
  • The peers of the new employee?
  • All of the above?
  • None of the above?

If I answer as the leader of a company, I probably lean towards “All of the above.”

If I’m giving practical advice to 99% of the world?  NONE OF THE ABOVE.

The person in charge of successfully on-boarding a new employee, is the NEW EMPLOYEE.  The person in the mirror is the one in charge.  The one with the most at stake.  The one that has the most to learn, and if they don’t learn it, they will not survive.

The stakes are even higher, if that person…

  • Has > 5 years of experience.  Companies hire for experience for a simple reason:  Most are not good at training, and they are paying for the accelerated ramp up experience SHOULD provide, but often does not.  The more experience, the > the expectations.  
  • Is working for a person (direct manager) that may fall into one of my favorite institutions:  The Old School.

Everyone has a different definition of what it means to be Old School, but most agree on the general characteristics.  Fact is, put a new employee reporting to an Old School manager, and that new employee better get used to the person in the mirror being in charge.  Why?

The Old School Leader tends to gain their satisfaction from:

  • Results, not pedigrees.

  • Sincere effort.  Blood.  Sweat.  Tears.  Paying your dues.  Action > Talk.

  • In short, the Old School Leaders almost always has Dirt Under Their Nails.  They wear it as a badge of honor.   They believe in leaving it all on the field.  Hustle mandatory, not optional.

Want to find a surefire way to UN-successfully fail on your first 90 days?  Come off acting like a robot, a stuffed shirt, a business wonk, a theorist.  Don’t get your hands dirty.  Don’t show the effort beyond normal working hours.

Imagine this:  A new employee enters the following scenario (extremely common by the way)

  • The company is not “sexy,” but it’s manufacturing, one of the pillars of our great economy.  Margins are measured by pennies on the $.
  • The key people all have 10+ years of great experience building that company.  They are successful BECAUSE of these very people.
  • They are all generally “Old School.”

What’s the recipe for failure?

  • Work normal business hours.  Remember, we are dealing with Old School.

  • Don’t ask questions.

  • Don’t offer to help people swamped.

  • Don’t get your hands dirty in the ugliest, un-sexiest assignments.

  • Most important:  Don’t build trust.  Break commitments.  Don’t “Do what you say you will do.”

Common sense?  You bet.  Broken often?  ABSOLUTELY.

If you were to analyze why most new hires do not make it, I bet the root cause is simple:  There’s a tendency for the new employee to not count on the most important person to get it done:  The person in the mirror.

Most of the time, where and IF a person went to college doesn’t matter.  But everyone has gone to school.  If you are starting a job and those people are from the Old School, strap yourself in.  Be humble.  And be prepared to garner respect the old fashion way:  Earning it.  


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