"Wealth will increasingly be defined by our ability to go offline whenever we want." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Thoughts
September 8, 2011

Can You Hustle?

Last week I was having one of those really cool meetings that make this whole “creative” work thing worthwhile. Great location, with a cool person I respect, talking about a project I’d love to be part of. Then I was hit with the kind of question that can be (well, for me at least) really […]

Last week I was having one of those really cool meetings that make this whole “creative” work thing worthwhile. Great location, with a cool person I respect, talking about a project I’d love to be part of. Then I was hit with the kind of question that can be (well, for me at least) really hard to answer.

“Can you hustle?”

How to respond? Truth is I tend to sell myself short when it comes to selling, innovating and gettting things off the ground. Perhaps it’s because I’ve always tended to surround myself with high-potential or high-achieving people. Or, perhaps it’s a misplaced desire to be (or appear to be) humble. Whatever it is, my temptation is to say no, I can’t really hustle – at least, not like the hustlers I know.

Of course, that’s not quite right. Earlier this week I started re-writing the about me section of this blog and last night I updated it with this,

“These days I make music, create photos and write words. That’s my day job. I’m not doing this as a side to some other kind of career or because I’m “in-between things.” My whole life I’ve wanted to make art, shape sound, tell stories and explain things.

Since 2004 I’ve done just that and nothing else.

I went back to full time study to familiarise myself with digital technology, first in music, then later photography, started my own production company and embarked on the crazy journey that is digital entrepreneurship.

I have over 25 years of live and studio music experience and have played everywhere from caravan parks to opera houses. For as many years I’ve been repairing, modifying and building guitars and guitar effects. Moreover, I’ve worked on sound installations in studios, halls and churches and most recently, in an award winning upmarket cafe.

Although I have only been working as a photographer for a little over a year, I’ve photographed all sorts of people, from nomads in rural India to pole dancers in urban Hong Kong. I’ve had a public exhibit of my work, sold some fine art prints and had images featured on AOL and CNNgo and in Time Out and Campaign Asia-Pacific magazines.

In more than 18 years as a writer I’ve had articles, reviews and letters published in a variety of magazines and journals and currently I’m an occasional columnist for the South China Morning Post.”

There’s plenty of “hustle” in there and, as you can imagine, there’s also some hustle that I left out.

Part of that is what I did between school and deciding in 2004 to go full time with the “creative” thing. Out of school I was a full time musician and part time music teacher with some odd jobs on the side (working in a hotel, a music store and then a pizzeria).

Then to make ends meet and be “responsible” I landed a job in finance (motor vehicle finance to be precise) for which I was under-qualified and ill-suited. Still I managed to end up running a small department, worked on some new products and in the end turned down some good offers for jobs in that field.

I left to return to full time study, eventually working as a lecturer and researcher (in ethics, philosophy and religious studies) and along the way also holding down roles as a minister and chaplain. I ran a couple of research student groups and co-ordinated the long term strategic planning for my research centre. I also spoke often in those days, conferences, seminars and sermons as well as organising a lot of events, services and gatherings. Perhaps my favourite was the Sacred Images series at King’s College London, where we screened films like The Matrix in the 19th Century Gilbert Scott designed Chapel.

So is that evidence of an ability to hustle? I don’t know. What I do know is that nothing I’ve managed to do in life has ever come cheap or come easily.

Turning up isn’t half the battle, it’s the whole war.

Responses
Jeff Shattuck 11 years ago

“Turning up isn’t half the battle, it’s the whole war.”

Great post, great quote. I did not know you had walked from full-time work to be an independent and more creative soul. Good for you. I wanted to do the same thing after my brain injury, but I’m waffling now. I need to make money, or do I? Sigh… yes, I do.

    Fernando Gros 11 years ago

    Hey Jeff – it’s a hard road. I’m taking jobs to help pay for things, but doing my best to keep them inside “the mission.” All this is never easy.

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