Why 20 Somethings Suck at Getting Jobs: The Hustler’s Guide to Drug Dealing and Changing the Course of History

by Alexander Heyne · 11 comments

“Most people believe they are ambitious, I think. But there is ambitious, and then there is 70-hour-a-week obsessive, driven, hungry ambitious. Can you make it if you are just kind of ambitious? Probably, in some cases. But most successful entrepreneurs I know paid some serious dues. They did not want to be successful, they needed to be successful.”

-From a recent NYTimes article Six Attributes of Successful Entrepreneurs

hus·tler/ˈhəslər/ An aggressively enterprising person; a go-getter.

I know a guy who works four jobs.  In fact, he’s pretty much always working whenever I talk to him — but he does it for a reason.

It’s not because he’s bored.

It’s not because he’s a workaholic.

And it’s not (entirely) because he has horrendous financial intelligence.

It’s because he wants a certain lifestyle — the high life — and he wants to live it no matter what.

He doesn’t care if he works as a janitor at McDonald’s or if he’s working at Goldman Sach’s — he does what it takes.

And doing what it takes is called hustle.

And hustle is notoriously absent in 20 somethings today, something I had no idea about until it was repeatedly mentioned to me at job interviews:

Young people today are notoriously unwilling to do the grunt work, to hustle, to bust their ass and work their way up. There’s this whole feeling of entitlement, the idea that just because I went to college and have my four year degree I don’t have to start from the bottom *Laughs*, you’re not like that are you?

Uhhh. No? I don’t think so? Maybe?

So I thought about it. And I realized that there are 3 qualities of overall-successful people (hustlers) that are notoriously absent in most of us 20 somethings.

3 Key Qualities of Hustlers

#1 Will do “whatever-it-takes-yes-that-includes-being-a-bitch” work

That means shedding your pride taking a night job at McDonald’s (Yes, even if you have a 4 year degree from Harvard) if that’s what it takes to get your startup going.

That means not going out with your friends more than once a month to save money.

That means quitting your job, middle finger to the world sticking it to the man…. only crawling back 6 months later to a desk job once your self employment venture fails. Yes, it’s painful. But hustler do it if that’s what it takes.

If it takes sending out a 100 emails to prospects a day for your biz to get momentum, then you do that.

#2 Hustlers are business savvy – they work smart first

Hustlers are “people who are forced to use their brains to make it in this world.” 

The truth from Urbandictionary:

“A hustler is the way one lives his life. Going out on the streets or wherever making money and working hard for it. A hustler is not lazy he’s consistently out earning money. He gets the money by using his smarts and outcunning everyone out there. A hustler has ambition and a more serious approach to life then that of a gangsta or a pimp. Hes more mature, and doesn’t neccessarily carry a gun. It can apply to any race, and its the way you uphold and carry yourself.

Eric: Yo 50 cent is a hustler 
Jermaine: Definitely, not a great rapper but look at the way he hustles those white suburbia kids out of their money 
Eric: Damn!”

A hustler constantly wonders if there is a better, different, quicker  path than has been taken previously.  A hustler is constantly thinking ” if everyone is doing it, there’s definitely a much better way .”

A hustler regularly does an 80/20 analysis to see what provides the best bang for his buck. A hustler is always looking to save time and be more efficient.

A hustler believes that “paying your dues” is an excuse used by the mentally lazy.

3# Hustlers are always busy “doing” and are not armchair experts or philosophers 

There exists a strange paradox today because of the extreme amount of information available:

People are armchair experts at everything.  And by armchair experts, I mean most of us don’t know squat. Yet we talk like we do.

Everyone’s a diet expert, everyone thinks “I could do that”, everyone thinks success happens overnight and it’s a cakewalk.. but no one has actually tried it.

Hustlers are always in the arena. They could care less about the speculation because they are busy getting shit done.

Instead of saying “I can do that” a hustler says “Well, I’ll let you know when I’ve tried it” and then spends the next 6 months learning in the trenches

Instead of saying “What you should be doing is xxxxx” a hustler keeps his mouth shut if he doesn’t have any experience, and if he does? ” Well, this worked for me, here’s how I did it”

Instead of joining in on the “I can’t wait till I make my first million” discussions at the dinner table, a hustler uses that as a reminder to go back to his office and get back to work.

Because hustlers know that smart time in the trenches produces wealth, not isolated events.


So incase you are wondering why things aren’t working out for you, incase you’re lying to yourself and saying “I tried my best” (You didn’t) , and incase you’re ready to step up your game and really be successful, ask yourself:

Am I really a hustler? 



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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Shanna Mann April 18, 2012 at 7:15 pm

Oh thank god, someone has finally put together a definitive article. Most are either reactive “entitled little pricks these days!” or defensive, “Hey, man, that’s exploitive!”

It’s only exploitive if that’s what you SETTLE for. Start where you have to, but keep your eyes open for opportunity.


afheyne April 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Haha thanks Shanna, yeah I found it pretty interesting that this was apparently some widespread feeling in the job market and I had never heard of it.


Shanna Mann April 21, 2012 at 4:18 pm

No, it’s totally true. But don’t let them shit you– it’s all ages. A friend of mine — nearly forty– got a new delivery job. They were so impressed he showed up two days in a row!

I think the only difference was in the past, working hard was an expectation for success, if you weren’t born rich. Now there’s the idea, promoted by teh internets, that everyone should work at a Google-like company, or one great idea will guarantee you riches and fame.

Same streets-are-paved-with-gold crap, wearing a new disguise.

Erin April 18, 2012 at 9:34 pm

I really like #3. It might sound silly, but I’m only just realizing that reading about and researching something does not mean you actually “know” anything about it. Can we really know something if we’ve never tried it out for ourselves? You can’t get anywhere without doing. That’s where I’m focusing right now. Great article!


afheyne April 19, 2012 at 4:14 pm


Yeah I hear that. My background as a person is “read a shit ton and know everything from an intellectual standpoint but never from an experiential one.” But once I got into entrepreneurship and business I learned that a day of application is really worth more than a year of what most people do. It’s hard to overcome that initial inertia you know?


Romain April 22, 2012 at 5:22 pm

This article is spot on. I am 21 years old and not being a hustler is one of my main problems. I am like you. I also “read a shit ton and know everything from an intellectual standpoint but never from an experiential one.”
I’m planning to create a startup in the upcoming 8 months, but it involves so much action, doing, and hustling that I am actually really scared. Talk about stepping (far) out of your comfort zone…

The_boss May 14, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Have fun working at McDonald’s kiddies! 50-hour work week with no benefits: You’ll never be able to afford to have children on your own, and you may have to rely on having children to get a fat enough government check to live! Ha ha ha. It’s not the job market, it’s your sorry ass. HUSTLE OR DIE. THE CLOCK IS TICKING.


burr October 12, 2013 at 10:08 pm

The 20’s is the most ignorant time in a person’s life because most 20-somethings think they know everything. I’m here to tell you – you don’t. You don’t know. You don’t know what you’re talking about, you don’t know what having a career means, you don’t know how society works.

It sounds harsh, but believe me: in about 10-15 years you’ll look back on how you are now and cringe – as well as cringe every time you see someone in their 20’s walk by.


Alexander Heyne October 24, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Hi Burr,

You’re right, 20 somethings are often incredibly ignorant – and of course I’m no exception.

For some reason, I don’t think I’ll be looking back on how I am now and cringe. Not at all. In reality, rather than being yet another miserable 40 year old working a shitty job and living a boring life… I’ll be living a life I consciously chose. And why would I cringe when someone in my 20’s walks by?

– Alex


afheyne April 21, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Yeah, exactly. With this whole startup scene, with entrepreneurship being the norm now a days, and with all these damn instagram-like stories, there is no concept of hard work and it has all become about overnight success.


afheyne April 22, 2012 at 8:20 pm


Yep, by nature I’m not a hustler either. Got lots to learn! That’s awesome you’re planning on creating a startup — are you jumping ship and quitting your job or are you working on it in your free time? Where did you get the idea for what you’re doing? That’s pretty awesome news either way.


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