On Hustling

Sometimes people ask what hustling is. This great poster by Joey Roth provides one answer:


The “hustler” image on the right is pretty much what I try to do every day: lots of work, lots of messaging. The messaging isn’t always directly related to the work at hand—sometimes I’m supporting other people with their own hustling. But on a good day, there’s plenty of work and and plenty of messaging.

Another way to look at it is:

Style without substance = flash. (Also, no one respects these people.)

Substance without style = unknown. (Everyone who knows these people respects them… but not many people know them.)

Style with substance = impact. (The goal.)

Remember when we talked about strategy and tactics? The interesting thing with hustling is that people can copy your tactics without understanding your broader strategy. Charlie Gilkey recently referred me to a similar quote from The Art of War: “Everyone knows my tactics, but no one knows my strategy.”

When you take the time to build something worthwhile instead of just taking up space, you engage with strategy and tactics every day. And you hustle.


Book Update: Thanks for all the comments, emails, Twitter messages, and courier pigeon deliveries for the 99 free books last week. It was a three-hour project to pick the winners, but Libby and the biased judges managed to overcome. If you got an email from us this weekend and sent your address via the Google form, your book will be on the way tomorrow.

Everyone else, the book will be available everywhere starting September 7th, and I really appreciate your support.

Subscribe now and you’ll get the best posts of all time.


  • King Sidharth says:

    Wohoo! Now I know how to make everyday count. Thanks for getting me started on this one 😛

  • Jenny says:

    Love this Chris!

  • Sam says:

    Hey Chris, do you have a day scheduled at Powell’s Books yet for your book tour?? 😀 I’ll be sure to bring my groupies. It’ll be louder than a Lady Gaga concert.

    Been reading your Domination Guide and the Small Biz Report. So much information…..

  • Chris says:

    Yes sir – @powells is the final stop of the U.S. portion, December 16th. Lady Gaga is already worried! Thanks man.

  • tara - scoutie girl says:

    I’ve really been working to up my game on both the style & substance. Next week – when my husband joins the team and I’m doing this all in a more structured way – my strategy is going to the next level too.

    Thanks for such a straightforward description!

  • chris says:

    Very nice Chris! I really have been thinking about this a lot lately. It all started playing ball with my friends.

    One player always hustled and was making everything happen. Thinking about it, he was the one with the least skill overall, but in the end because of his hustle he more than made up for the difference in skill level.

    Good luck with the book release!

  • Katie says:

    Great! Love the image.

  • JT Pedersen says:

    Been a while since I’ve commented. This is my day’s favorite article, happy to have tweeted it’s existence.

    For way too long, I was always the Martyr. Had the misplaced belief that, if I did my job with excellence, I’d be recognized for my work. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work that way. If you’re not also tooting your own horn, the world just passes you by. Some will love you, most won’t know enough to miss you when you’re gone.

    This is also one of the beauties of contemporary social media. It gives everyone who care to pick it up, a bull horn to serve their own purposes. Even today I’m probably too conservative in self-egrandizing activity, but I’m working at it.

  • Kellye Crane says:

    Terrific post here, Chris (I just bought the poster!). I think it’s worth noting that the “style without substance” people sometimes manage to win short-term respect from those who only look at surface-level qualities. It can be frustrating to those truly hustling to see this. However, it’s not a long term strategy and = flash… in the pan. 🙂

  • Megan Matthieson says:

    Style + Substance. In a nutshell. Love this.

  • Mike Ziarko Musing says:

    I love that. Style with substance = impact. Words to live by.

    I’m thrilled I’m one of the lucky 99 … goes to show that if you do something worthwhile the universe will reward you.

  • Rob Ward says:

    Great reminder to talk about your work, not just do it. I’m quite guilty of that.

  • Giovanna says:

    Good post Chris… Sometimes an image is everything…

  • Tony Teegarden says:

    Simply brilliant:

    The Art of War: “Everyone knows my tactics, but no one knows my strategy.”

    How many people are out there just doing stuff (facebook, twitter, 4Square) because they see other people “doing the tactic?” Then they turn around and wonder why it didn’t work?

    All of these things can be a part of a great strategy at play. This is something I’ve been coaching on in my consulting. Before you go throwing up a profile, let’s see where it fits within your overall business strategy and the needs of your customers.

    Brilliant visual post.

  • alisabarry says:

    Style & Substance. Artful strategy indeed! A great way do distinguish ourselves in a meaningful way. Thank you, Chris.

  • Joel says:

    Loved this when you put it out on twitter a while back…glad you did a post on it :). I love the equilibrium you have to have with it. It’s about doing both equally well.

  • jskipburns says:

    I’d say the flashy people tend to impress at first encounter or first impression. It does not take long, however, to see that they are not going to deliver. This infographic gets right to the point. Good stuff.

    Have fun on your book tour

    skip “go big” burns

  • Gareth Leonard says:

    Great article Chris! Shout out to Joey Roth.

  • Bruce says:

    I love your re-frame of the whole notion of hussling…You put a positive spin on a concept that has had a lot of negativity attached to over the decades. Thanks!

  • Wyman says:

    Thanks for the additional book Chris,

    I will read it at once and write a review for Amazon and any other requests you send with it.

    I have a post-um note on my computer monitor to guide me in my writing. Useful, relevant, interesting and emotional.

    Great post.

  • Mark Lampkin says:

    Interesting analogy. Good use of well known symbols to illustrate your theory. I heard a speaker a few years ago discuss the difference between making an impression versus making an impact. Quite like your example; impressions make noise and have momentary importance while impacts make a lasting difference. Good stuff.

  • Days and Adventures says:

    Love this post. Hustling’s what my life’s all about too! I’m going to start slotting this into my daily vocabulary.


  • Jon Case says:

    That diagram says it all. Thank you.

  • Sam says:

    Thanks so much for the article. It clears up a point that confuses a lot of people who work hard and think that all self promotion is a bad thing whether you’re working or not.

  • Joe Breunig says:

    Loved the chart; geometry was always one of my favorite mathematical disciplines! Thanks for a different perspective on hustling. Best wishes on your book tour.

  • Donna Chastain says:

    Thanks for sharing this poster. Here’s what I like about it:
    The charlatan space looks like you could build on it, but it doesn’t have a solid base, so it’s inherently unstable. The martyr space has a solid base…but who could build anything on that pointy top? The hustler–has both a solid base and you (or anyone else) can build on it. Nice piece of visual communication.

  • Rich Dixon says:

    Wow! I needed to hear this. I spend all my time creating content, then grumbling to myself about lack of response.

    Substance without style! Time to get back to working at the style part.


  • Casey Friday says:

    I’ll be honest, I love the flash. The flash is what draws me in, but the content is what keeps me coming back.

  • rob white says:

    Here’s a thought: Samuel Beckett said he wrote in French so he could “write without style.” It seems to me putting a priority on style has the ego running the show. A priority on substance is our natural creative nature flowing through us. I believe our own personal style will naturally reveal itself when the priority is expressing ourselves authentically.

    Thanks for the discussion

  • aileen says:

    So true! People ask me how I’m so successful in promoting my art and getting work. I ought to refer them to this!

  • Jordan says:

    I have never posted, but read your blog all the time. Thanks for all the great work you do. I am so glad you are making it out to all the provinces in Canada! Totally agree that it is so easy to get caught up in the tactics of what you are doing, rather than thinking about where you are headed (strategy). I think about this everyday as a teacher.

  • Britta Wein says:

    Really enjoyed this post Chris. Made me think of why I’m wanting to live life my unconventional way. These days work and talk are no equals but I want them to be. But today’s work environment does not allow that. Looking forward to working and living at my own terms and breaking out of my uncomfortable nutshell. Choosing the new over the routine. Can’t wait. And looking forward to doing what I love with style & substance! Great!

  • Jenya says:

    Great post! Loved the Mixergy interview as well. Keep up the good work.

  • Sherrod says:

    I’m feeling that. Where can I get the t-shirt?


    (checking email:) I can’t seem to find that Google form you sent for the free book. Could you send it again? ;^)

  • Kathy says:

    Yes! Simple + elegant + true. Thank you.

  • Marilia says:

    “strategy and tatics”. I´ll work more on these.

    Too bad I didn´t get the book…

  • Wyletter Whaley says:

    Great post Chris. The goal for most of us is to make an impact in our target area. Your post reminds us that we have to bring our “A” game in style and in substance.

  • James Fry says:

    This is great Chris, it comes at a time when I’m doing a lot of exactly that… HUSTLING! It’s good to put some definition behind the actions.

  • Erec Hillis says:

    What a great little explanation. Short and powerful. I guess brevity is characteristic of elegance, which is certainly stylish! I think I tend to fall on the substance side, need to work on correspondence and style.

  • Josh Bulloc says:

    I know too many martyrs that are envious of those with more of a marketing skill set. I think that is why there are so many naysayers.

  • Kai says:

    Well at least I laughed when I realized I was a martyr. Plus love the fact that I got the message in a total of five seconds. Let this little comment on your post be the beginning of my transition from martyr to hustler. 🙂

  • katie says:

    Funny everyone thinks they’re the martyr. I’ll own up to being the charlatan. When do you know you’re the martyr/hustler not the charlatan? In a technical job, you probably need to stick by your guns and follow through with your proposed solution (the style part was proffering the solution) and then view the results. If the results fit, then you had the substance. If it didn’t you probably had the style to mouth off only.

  • Gemma says:

    I still don’t know what hustling is.

  • Renee says:

    Have fun in thee relaxing activiy by diving
    in to the world off online for free games. In fact, sometimes
    he or she even think off downloading your entire album. The Tomo Hotel, located
    inside the center of Japantown in San Fransisco, California,
    provides you with two ‘gaming suites’.

  • Latisha says:

    With all these silly webetiss, such a great page keeps my internet hope alive.

  • says:

    Io vorrei un iphone 5 diverso dal 4 esteticamente!! Qualcosa di innovativo! basta mattoncini!!…. WIFI e antenne rete al top! 2 attoparlanti e una fotocamera da almeno 8mpx…Ci vorrei dentro un dual core da 1.2ghz(o 1.5) e ram da 1gb, una batteria che si possa cambiare facilmente e da almeno 1600mha… un BT sbloccato e Flash player nel browser, comandi vocali per scrivere sms o leggerli o chiamare direttamente i contatti della rubrica, un'uscita diretta per hdmi e poter usare iphone direttamente sulla tv.^_^ utopia?

  • cheap car insurance says:

    There’s no prospect of substantial cuts in emissions, and no way we can stop burning fossil fuels without crashing global civilisation. In any case, no government is going to last long by telling its people they have to live hungry in the cold and the dark while other countries burn coal and oil like there’s no tomorrow.

  • Nolan says:

    What are some of the things everyone does to “hustle” their business/project?

  • auto insurance says:

    Don’t really know if this is similar but we just recently had the World’s Nut Expo held in China. People in the business were not impressed. It was just a flood of sharks [Chinese] with no track record in the industry that smelled blood [money]. Agricultural commodity trading is truly about connections and relationships- from all the cultural guidelines you read, China should have understood this and excelled. Instead the expo’s failure in cementing new ties in China indicates more that with business, with China, it’s just about making money.

Your comments are welcome! Please be nice and use your real name.

If you have a website, include it in the website field (not in the text of the comment).

Want to see your photo in the comments? Visit to get one.