As the founder of a company, one of the first things I ask potential hires is, “What other projects are you working on? Do you have any side hustles?”

Why I ask that question is because I was always that kid.

My grades didn’t accurately reflect my potential. My test scores told you I struggled in math — but didn’t tell you I could play entire Beethoven Sonatas with my eyes closed, or that I was one of the highest ranked World of Warcraft players in North America as a teenager. The way the world judged intelligence didn’t position me in a very bright light. So I had to find other ways to prove that I was someone worth hiring.

I sold “World of Warcraft 1v1 tutoring lessons” from my basement as a teenager. I started a music production company in my college dorm room. I wrote a fitness eBook series right out of college and sold copies in 30+ countries around the world. And because I constantly had these side hustles of my own, I learned at a very young age that “knowing what to do” and being able to do it were two completely different things.

By the time I found myself in the working world, I was astonished by how few people had the ability to figure out what they should do on their own. It seemed like unless people were told exactly what their task was — ”Here’s your homework assignment, Jimmy…” — they would freeze up. They had no idea how to imagine their own end goal and then make strides toward achieving it.

They needed someone there, tugging them along.

I believe it’s because they had never had any side hustles of their own.

As an entrepreneur, your entire life becomes a hustle-sans-side.

The entrepreneurs that burn out, or never see massive massive success, get caught up chasing too many things at once (too many side hustles). The really good entrepreneurs, on the other hand, stick to one hustle. They build one company, that does one thing extremely well, and they devote 99% of their time to building that one thing to skyscraper heights. And then, and only then, do they deviate to the next thing. 10–20 years later, they’ve built an entire city — and from the outside, it looks like they did it all at once. But they didn’t. They built it slowly but surely, piece by piece, deliberately and patiently.

That said, entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. And not all entrepreneurs succeed.

But that doesn’t mean you “failed,” or that your efforts were all for nothing.

Trying, in itself, teaches you something school can’t — and that’s responsibility. People can say whatever they want about how school teaches you responsibility by making sure you turn in your homework on time, or that you show up to class. But nothing, nothing teaches you the meaning of real responsibility as someone handing you their money and saying, “Alright, I trust that you’ll deliver on what you promised.”

The moment you experience that, you inherently have a skill set under your belt that the vast majority of the working world does not possess. Your mentality is different. Your appreciation for a customer or a client is different. Your compassion toward that relationship is different. Everything is different, because you’ve experienced it in first person — it was on you, and only you. Opposed to most employees who experience these things through a larger company, where at the end of the day, any consequences fall on the entity as a whole. Not them.

This is why anyone with a side hustle is 10x more valuable to a company.

Because if you’re a hustler, that means you’re a problem solver.

You’re a responsible, independent thinker.

You’re disciplined. Trustworthy. You’ve scraped your knees a few times.

And you’re hungry to learn — that’s the best trait of all.

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