Hard Work Beats Talent.

Caught the new episode of Mad Men last night — one of my favorite shows. In the middle of all the soap opera antics of the story (I do love Roger and his comments though), I study the interactions of the characters at work. How they speak to one another, how they talk to their clients, and what they accomplish during their time at the agency.

What shines through, and many people probably miss, is how they are so successful. Let's look at two characters, Don & Peggy.

They have talent — they are the creative sparks in each of the agencies they represent. But it goes deeper.

They are 100% committed to their work:

  • They work late.
  • They take work home.
  • They interact with their colleagues during many off-hours.
  • They are willing to push themselves AND their teams.
  • They think and breathe their work.

Unfortunately, if you view the teams who work for them, they are presented as lazy, comical, and people who lack direction. They go home on-time and party (sometimes they do work late).

Both Don and Peggy are talented — but it's their commitment, drive, and hard work that delivers.

That's enough of Mad Men for now. Let's talk reality.

If you want to succeed — if you want to move up in your company — if you want your business to explode — you have to HUSTLE at work.

You need to work A LOT. Think about what you're working on ALL THE TIME. Obsess about it — LIVE it. You can't get that promotion by putting in a "9-to-5" attitude.

Here are some tips I have my clients try:

  • Arrive at your office early. I used to hit work at 6:30 AM and start working — I would clock 2-3 hours more work than other people trundling in at 9, Did it work? The Chairman noticed I was always the first car in the parking lot — ultimately I won the Chairman's Award. With my current business, I start at 5 AM. Because it's MY business (I wrote this blog post from 5-6 AM this morning).
  • Work while you are at work. Don't ditz around — no surfing, no wandering around — make your time at work count. Every minute.
  • Ask for more work from your boss. Usually do this after a good meeting with them where they've complimented you on your progress/work.
  • Stay late. Ask if you can help out on a project. You don't have to burn the midnight oil all the time, but put in 1-2 late nights a week — stay until 8.
  • Work on the weekends. I get up at 5-6 AM and work until 9 AM on Sat/Sun. That gives me an extra 3-8 more hours of work in the week without it affecting my home life.
  • Think outside the box. Get your head thinking where everyone else isn't. Go where the puck will be going. Mention new ideas during meetings — but be positive.
  • Do extra-credit work. I used to do this ALL THE TIME. I would keep my ears open and listen for opportunities or gaps where I could approach management with help they might need, a new idea how to do something, or a side-project which would make the company millions. It worked ALL the time.

If you try 2-3 of these tips, I promise you will begin to get more done, get greater exposure (with the people who matter), and start to see openings where you can succeed.

I know, I know. You have a spouse, kids, parents, friends, responsibilities, and a myriad of other obstacles. But at the end of the day, if you want to succeed at what you do, you have to hustle.

And that's the truth.

P.S. If you want to watch a great video on Hard Work Beats Talent, watch this.