Work ethic isn’t just about the quantity of work you produce, but it’s also about the quality. When someone is being highly intentional, exerting energy to come up with the most effective marketing possible, they don’t need to produce five alternative mockups and waste everyone’s time. Work ethic is something my father gave me. The self-awareness to realize everything is a bit of a game, and if you don’t work harder than the next guy, then you might be out on the street. Sound harsh? Let me give you a little bit of back story to humanity.
Prehistoric persistence hunting and how it applies to work ethic
Before tools, there were people that just hunted by a method called persistence hunting, where you run down an animal until it stops to breathe. Four-legged animals can’t gallop and pant at the same time, so a two-legged human has the upper hand if they just stick with it. There are still remote areas where people still hunt this way, and you could say perhaps we’re better working smarter, not harder. But even with all of the tools in the world, persistence, and the intensity to just run a little faster and stronger, is key to success. In our industry, the persistence to more intensely to create a better design/tagline / project plan matters when we are, in fact, in competition with other people offering the same services as us.
You guys do fun stuff. Does that mean you’re lazy?
It’s important to have a “work hard, play hard” mentality in industries where creative people expect a certain amount of freedom and fun. In the end, we’re not just competing for our clients, we’re also competing to keep employees engaged by enjoying life and staying motivated to do excellent work.
Work ethic in digital marketing; work ethic with millennials in general
Millennials expect more. They expect more from your brand (for instance, they’ve grown up in a world where McDonald’s let people pay with a hug as part of a promotion) and they expect more communication from you (as they’ve been painfully, anxiously connected to everything since they got their smartphone sewed onto their hand seven years ago) and they expect more from work.
So we encourage play, and walks, and have community-oriented field trips and grill outs. If we encourage next-level work ethic simultaneously and accountability for goals with dates and times, we kick off the rust and separate ourselves from the way many corporate employees feel about their jobs. Uninspired and unenthusiastic.
“Rusty,” unenthusiastic employees create inefficiency and poorer client experiences
This is why we have fun. This is why we seek out clients that care about work-life balance and enjoyment at work. We create an environment where good times can roll, and people have clear goals and accountability because we want people to enjoy coming to work. We want employees to have motivation to create the best design, the most well-implemented SEO plan, and an inspired social media campaign.
Fun is an integral part of marketing
My friend Bill Svoboda of Coed Monkey, soft Custom Printed T-Shirts says, “You don’t have to market a good party,” and for many of the marketing campaigns we’re a part of, we want the good vibes and good attitudes to permeate into our marketing campaigns. For so many brands, if you can help associate your brand with good times and free and easy living, you have tapped into a brilliant strategy. As a marketing company, it is our duty…neigh…our obligation to have good times.
When it’s time to get down to business; the hustle mindset and shokunin
Hustling is an important aspect of the mindset of a highly effective marketer. Hustle is a synonym for work ethic in the way I’m using it here, and although this may be a bit more recent way of putting it, the hustle mindset has been around for a long time. The hustle mindset makes me think of an amazing documentary I watched on Netflix recently called “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.”
The passionate mindset of shokunin surpasses much of what passes for initiative and craftsmanship in modern America.
“The Japanese word shokunin is defined by both Japanese and Japanese-English dictionaries as ‘craftsman’ or ‘artisan,’ but such a literal description does not fully express the deeper meaning. The Japanese apprentice is taught that shokunin means not only having technical skills, but also implies an attitude and social consciousness. … The shokunin has a social obligation to work his/her best for the general welfare of the people. This obligation is both spiritual and material, in that no matter what it is, the shokunin’s responsibility is to fulfill the requirement.” – Tasio Orate
I do think there’s a large amount of the population of the younger generation in our culture that stresses social responsibility along with technical skills. The ideal, of course, is a blending of the two; both a powerful set of skills and a commitment to the cause of the community and society.
A recent drawing by MegDraws on Twitter also helps balance the idea of hustle by recognizing that hustle doesn’t mean “sleeplessness as a badge of honour,” or being a “deadline bully,” but its meaning lies more along the lines of doing things we’re passionate about and grabbing opportunities.
The hustle mindset squared: How I stay hungry by being grateful
Business and automation guru Tim Ferriss suggests gratitude training as an alternative to meditation, and my personal hero Gary Vaynerchuck says gratefulness is the key reason why he’s so outrageously productive. Just consult your personal experience for any evidence you might have in when you have been the most productive.
My guess is that the times when you were grateful for your opportunities you had more natural energy to tackle any issue that came along. When you were feeling super self-focused and in your head about ways people had seemingly done you wrong, did you feel like a monster of hustle? Maybe not. Everyone is different, but this kind of mood is deflating for many, including myself. I can run on resentment a little bit, but the longer game fuel is being grateful, relaxing a little bit, and keeping primary goals front and center—don’t focus on some slight either real or imagined.
I stay hungry by being grateful because it allows me to continually pursue helping other people who could benefit from my services and not feel like I’m just struggling along trying to make ends meet. The “abundance mentality” is part of the reason I work so hard. I feel I’ve gotten a lot in my life. I’ve had many privileges and opportunities, so of course I should be working hard. If you need a kick in the ass to keep your hustle mindset in high gear, try writing out 20 things you’re grateful for right now, then look for someone you can be useful to.