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Hustle, Not Talent

I believe in hustle.

Hustle to me is a state of mind. It is a combination of working hard and working quickly. You make mistakes quicker, you make adjustments quicker and you have success quicker. Not only that but once you find success, you sustain that success through continuing the cycle.

Hustle doesn’t take a college degree or pedigree. You don’t have to be privileged to hustle. In fact, those with lesser talent, education or advantage can put hustle to better use and see a greater increase in results.

Why do I believe in hustle?

We talk about talent all day in HR and recruiting. Who has the most talent? Why does “B” or “C” level talent drag organizations down? How can you get rock star talent?

Early in my career, I was not talented though. I don’t think I was any company’s ideal candidate for any job. So how did an average student from a state school eventually get to where I am today?


I worked 40+ hours a week during school in management roles. When I went from management into HR, I didn’t have the skills I needed so I networked, researched and read everything about HR. When I started my blog, I tried to learn everything I could about the technology, how to attract readers and what to write about. When HR kicked me to the curb, I tried my hand at something completely different. I sent speaker proposals out even though I had very little real experience and had success booking them. Now again, I am doing something different and seeing some of the fruits of labor coming out.

I get both excited and anxious about the unknown. I know what a HR generalist does on any given day but I don’t know what a Community Director is supposed to do. Am I missing things? Should I be spending more time reaching out? Should I be spending less time moderating online message boards? Yet as I’ve continued to live in this hustle world, I’ve quickly found out that I will learn it quickly (and relearn it, and relearn it again).

In the end, this singular focus on identifying and cultivating “A” talent has driven me insane but I haven’t been able to put my finger on it until now. If everyone had a singular focus on talent, I wouldn’t have got my first management position at 19, I wouldn’t have gotten a break into full time HR at 23 and I wouldn’t have what I do today. I can say with certainty that I wasn’t “A” talent for any of those positions.

Finding talented people is important. There is no doubt about that. But how do you factor in other pieces of the puzzle that will impact performance (like hustle or passion for the job)? Pieces of the puzzle that might be more important to your organization than just the talent level.

By Lance Haun

Strategy for The Starr Conspiracy. Former HR pro. Portland guy (Go Blazers!) and WSU alum (Go Cougs!). I get to write about what I want here.

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