The Art of the Hustle

Jeena ChoYou might recall that I recently (apropos of nothing) declared 2014 The Year of the Hustle. I got a number of thoughtful responses to that piece, saying essentially, “Yeah, this is all well and good as an idea, but how exactly am I supposed to do any of this?”

Conveniently, our good friend Jeena Cho, co-founder of the JC Law Group, agreed to drop by with a special guest post on the art of the hustle. You know, what you actually need to do to make things happen!

Without further ado, here’s Jeena.

Are you having trouble repaying your student loan because you’re unemployed or underemployed? I speak to a lot of recent grads that are looking for jobs. One of the biggest problem I see? The lack of hustle.

Hustle is defined as “proceed or work rapidly or energetically.” If you’re browsing the help wanted section of Craigslist or sending out a mass mailer campaign to find a job, that’s not hustling.

Hustling should not be confused with desperation.

Think about a founder of a start-up. You have to be hungry and driven to get what you want. (Note from Alison: I recently heard this referred to as “polite persistence,” which seems perfectly on point.)

Unlike law school, in real life, there are no exams (thank goodness!) or standardized measures. You get to where you want to go by making connections. Lots and lots of connections.

Not sure how to start? Here are some tips:

8 Ways to Hustle Your Way to Career Success
  1. Get out of the house. I found my first job by meeting with as many lawyers as possible. I did some research on each attorney, sent a personalized email, introducing myself and asked for coffee. I didn’t need everyone to say “yes,” just a handful.
  2. Power of saying “hello.” Have you ever gone to a CLE or a networking event where you didn’t say hello to anyone? Networking isn’t something that most of us do well naturally. It’s hard to go up to strangers and introduce yourself. But chances are, many people feel this way too. So, the next time you’re at an event, make it a goal to say hello to at least one person. Go up to the speaker, introduce yourself and ask for a business card.
  3. Listen. Do you dread “small talk?” Stop talking and start listening. Instead of busily coming up with the next thing to say or ask, simply pay attention and listen. Give yourself the space and freedom to practice active listening. Chances are, the speaker will appreciate having a sympathetic ear and will help carry the conversation.
  4. Hustling takes work. It’s difficult for most people. So, give yourself credit for getting out the door and networking. Try shifting your goal from “I must find a job” to “If I make enough connections, I’ll find a job.”
  5. Follow up. I was at a networking event for law students where I gave out 35 business cards. Only one student followed up. The other attorneys at the event had similar experience. Make it a habit to follow up with the people you meet. Drop them a quick email. Invite them for coffee. Connect them on LinkedIn or Twitter. For extra brownie points, set up a Google Alerts with the person’s name and/or firm name. If you see there was an article by that person or some other mention, drop them an email and pass along the article.
  6. Ask! It’s logical that since you need a job, you’d ask for a job, right? The thing is, it’s highly unlikely that the person has the perfect job for you — at that moment. So, ask them for something they can give. Ask them to introduce you to other attorneys. Ask them for another coffee date a few months down the line.
  7. Offer help. As you meet people, listen for hints on things they need help on. Maybe it’s getting their blog up and running. Maybe it’s getting their electronic file management system set up. Maybe it’s managing their social media. If it’s something you can do or figure out, offer to help! You may just become indispensable and carve out a job for yourself.
  8. Every connection holds the key to your success. In the legal community, lawyers have about 2 degrees of separation. Chances are, you’re never two connections away from finding what you’re looking for. As you start to connect your way in the legal community, remember this.

Now, get out there and start hustling!

— – —
Thanks, Jeena! I agree wholeheartedly with all of these.

Jeena Cho is a San Francisco bankruptcy attorney with JC Law Group PC. She’s working on her second book, The Anxious Lawyer for the ABA. Jeena also teaches classes on Mindfulness and Meditation for Lawyers. You can email her at or follow her on Twitter @jeena_cho.

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