Earlier this summer, members of IMI’s content team rolled away from their desks, gathered their day bags, and headed to Oakland for Hustle Con. Following an enlightening and empowering trip to San Francisco for Con Con, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to visit the hip and historic Paramount Theater in downtown Oakland, for a day of inspiration, fueled by some of the best creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs alive today.
The two conferences, much like their Bay Area hosts, couldn’t be more different. Con Con was all about content. By description, Hustle Con is a single-day startup conference bringing together some of the world’s most successful non-technical founders. In short, most of these bright women and men don’t code.
What they do do, is hustle, play it dangerously, and work on Sundays. And drink lots of beer in between.
Joined by a few thousand strangers from over 30 countries, we sat wide-eyed and open-eared as 13 doers and leaders told 12 founding stories. Each speaker had 20 minutes to spill the beans on finding success and building their dreams. We heard practical tactics about how to kick off and grow a startup. We got a behind-the-scenes look at the power of success, and the need for failure. And the faceplants that led to victory dances. We heard from Tucker Max, the originator of an entire genre of literature (strong word) labeled “Fratire” and founder of a book publishing startup. We met the founder of Away, a DTC luggage startup, and fell in love with Greatist’s Derek Flanzraich all over again.
And we learned three things that we immediately began applying to life and work. Here they are, in no particular order:
WeWork, You Work, We Can All Work … Together
We first heard from Miguel McKelvey, Co-Founder and CCO of WeWork, the coworking giant. He expressed the value of difference among colleagues. McKelvey declared that, compared to his good friend and outspoken partner Adam Neumann, he’s the low-energy half of the duo. But their differences in behavior, approach to work and ambition didn’t stop them from finding value in their opposing views and power in their collective vision. Their mission began with a passion for life and for creating inspiring spaces that brought people together and encouraged collaboration and world-changing business ideas.
Between employees with vastly different styles and personalities, there’s always a middle ground. Their passion for creating positive change was more powerful than any petty differences. He recalled their first meeting over coffee when Miguel debated about whether he could even work with Adam. But his doubts were cast aside when he saw the vision they shared.
Pay Attention to Every Lightbulb Moment
Throughout our days, we encounter opportunities to make things better, more efficient. When the universe speaks and we are listening, we can see the light and recognize that maybe–just maybe–we can create something that will make a few lives better. Or millions.
Payal Kadakia, MIT grad and founder of ClassPass, turned an UGH! moment into an a-HA! moment when she struggled to find a ballet class to attend in New York City. She saw an opportunity to simplify the booking process and quickly began working towards the creation of a platform that matched subscribers with studios, in the most hassle- and friction-free way possible. Today, the company is valued at over $400m and has been a key driver in the modern-day wellness revolution. Over 30 million classes have been booked via ClassPass.
Hustle. One day you won’t be able to do this.
In the words of the late writer and thinker Henry Miller, “Every moment is golden for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.” And in the words of YouTube personality/filmmaker/vlogger/social media startup founder Casey Neistat, “Free time is the enemy of progress.” For Casey, every moment is a golden one. He works every day of the week and personifies the all-hustle-no-luck mentality. Neistat has changed the media landscape by launching a daily vlog with over 6 million subscribers and a billion+ video views. Just recently, he sold his startup for over 20 million. So, what’s his secret?
Casey’s story was, by and large, the most inspirational story of the day. Neistat told the tale of how he came to be a filmmaker, a zig-zaggedly painful journey from teen welfare father to internet sensation. He began raising his child out of a trailer and working as a dishwasher. At 20, he moved to New York City, where he lived in a glorified closet and met an artist named Tom Sachs, who tasked him with gathering and assembling crates.
Upon finding Neistat’s phone on his desk and seeing a video, Tom said “I only want you doing this from now on.” He began shooting and editing movies around the clock–an endeavor that led him to Brazil to film Tom’s art show, and eventually, an HBO show and an indie film.
After experiencing a taste of success, Casey realized something. “My biggest failure was celebrating success … with each new success should come a bigger and more ambitious goal. It took failure to appreciate that.”
When asked about his son and his drive to sleep 4 hours a night and work most of every day, his response was flat. And simple: “Be willing to hustle. So, few people are willing to hustle. That just means you have to climb over fewer people on your way to the top.”
He ended on a light note, declaring that “sleep and the wind are my arch nemeses.” Natural and hair disasters aside, we aren’t so sure what is so wrong with the wind. But we’ll take his word for it.
Points taken. And applied.
Check out his YouTube video, A Love Story. Your day will be better for it.
Joseph Dalton is a Sr. Content Marketing Strategist with IMI.