Hustle Harder, Hustle Smarter - 0 Dedication
This book is dedicated to the memory of my mother, Sabrina Jackson, and my nana, Beulah Jackson. They might have departed in their physical forms, but their love, support, and guidance continue to inspire me every day.
1. Finding Fearlessness
2. Heart of a Hustler
3. Constructing Your Crew
4. Knowing Your Value
5. Evolve or Die
6. Power of Perception
7. If We Can’t Be Friends
8. Learning from Your Ls
9. The Entitlement Trap
About the Author
About the Publisher
For years people have been encouraging me to pen a self-help book. Even waved a couple of big checks in my face.
I always passed.
Not that I didn’t come close a few times. I even got as far as coauthoring one (The 50th Law) with the great Robert Greene, but I still never felt totally comfortable writing one on my own.
I just didn’t like the idea of presenting myself as an expert on life.
That might sound strange coming from the one who has never been shy about telling you how much money he has, how many records he sold, or the TV shows he’s produced.
Yes, I’ve been comfortable sharing my successes publicly, but privately I’m sensitive to the fact that those accomplishments haven’t made my life all the way right. There are many things I’ve fucked up: money, relationships, opportunities, friendships . . . you name it.
I’ve absolutely failed as many times as I’ve succeeded.
Which, ultimately, is the very reason I finally decided to write a book.
There aren’t many people who have experienced success on the level I have. Within that elite group, even fewer had to pull themselves up from the bottom like I had to.
It’s a story I’ve told many times before but is worth repeating here: my mother had me when she was just fifteen. As a single mother, she was forced to turn to selling drugs to support me. For several years she prospered on the streets, but as they do with almost everyone, those streets eventually caught up with her. She was killed when I was eight years old, and I was forced to move in with my grandparents, who were already raising nine children of their own. By the time I was twelve, I was selling drugs on the same streets that had claimed my mother.
It was the kind of circumstances that knock most people down and keep them there. But I never stopped pushing. I got into hip-hop, made a little noise, and then got shot nine times over a neighborhood beef. That would have been the end of the road for most people, but I was just getting started. I recovered, kept working on my music, and ended up releasing one of the bestselling debut albums in history. By the time I hit thirty, I’d sold tens of millions of albums, produced and starred in my own biopic, and become one of the first hip-hop artists to create a mainstream brand.
I figured I’d left the struggle behind me once and for all, but I was wrong. Over the next few years, my manager/mentor Chris Lighty died under tragic circumstances, I became a target for lawsuits, and most of the money in the record industry literally streamed out the door as MP3s replaced CDs.
In my unprecedented success, people couldn’t get enough of me. Even when things became complicated, I grew in popularity, but for the wrong reasons. The forces that built me up were now taking pleasure in my potential destruction. It was never a true rock bottom—very few rock bottoms are lined with Gucci wallpaper and have Lamborghinis in the garage—but my life felt like it was headed in the wrong direction.
So what did I do?
I rethought my approach and shed people and excess baggage like a snake sheds skin. I hustled harder and smarter. And, in dedicating myself to building a relationship with my youngest son, Sire, I would like to think I also became a better person.
Within a few years, I made a series of moves that led to some of the greatest successes of my career. I created and executive-produced a hit show for Starz, Power. Soon I was dominating shows in the ratings the way I used to dominate other rappers on the charts. But Power was just the start of my master plan. This past October, my company, G-Unit Film and Television, Inc., signed a four-year deal with Starz/Lionsgate that is said to be the biggest deal in premium cable history. And that’s just one of the many projects I have in the pipeline.
The most accomplished and lucky ones achieve success once; I’ve managed to make it to the top twice. In many ways, I’m prouder of my second trip to the summit than my first.
A lot of people wrote me off. Said that I was done. Even, to borrow a phrase from one of my albums, self-destructed. I saw all of the headlines. Heard all of the talk. Caught all of the celebrations of my failures.
Which has only made my success in the television field even sweeter. It’s also what finally spurred me to write this book. I need people to understand that there is no such thing as “making it.” That no matter how much money you stack, fame you achieve, or success you taste, there are going to be more struggles in your future. More drama to deal with. More obstacles placed in your path.
The goal is not just to be successful. It’s about learning how to sustain that success, too.
A skill I had to learn the hard way. And one I’m going to teach you in this book.
Today I’m forty-four years old, an age I once thought I’d never come close to reaching. Hell, just making it to twenty-one seemed like it might be too much to ask at one point. Yet here I am in my fourth decade, with a few grays peeking through my beard and the wrinkles starting to set in (still got a six-pack and strong hairline, though). But I’m comfortable where I’m at. It’s a more mature age, one that allows me to look at my life and accurately assess what’s made me who I am. And when I try to sum up my ability to keep finding ways to stay on top, I can see it comes down to two main characteristics:
I’ve got the heart of a hustler.
And I’m fearless.
My primary goal for this book is to help you develop those same characteristics. But before we get into how, I want to talk about those words: “fearless” and “hustler.” Coming from me, those words probably make you think of 50 Cent the Gangsta. The guy who openly bragged about selling drugs. Who got shot nine times and didn’t seem to mind. Who got into beefs with some of the most feared names both on the streets and in hip-hop and never once backed down.
Those exploits all belonged to 50 Cent, a persona I adopted in order to help deal with the chaos and insanity that I saw all around me growing up. But this book isn’t designed to turn you into the next 50 Cent.
Don’t get it twisted: 50 Cent was, and still is, a real part of who I am. But if that persona was all there was to me, I never would have been able to maintain the success I’ve achieved.
That’s why, in this book, I’m going to share the thinking of both 50 Cent and Curtis Jackson.
I didn’t start going by “50 Cent” till I was older, but ever since I was a kid, I’ve always felt like there were two sides to me. Two identities I had to be comfortable with. The side that allowed me to exist in my grandmother’s home, where cussing wasn’t tolerated and Sundays were for church, and the side that allowed me to survive on the streets. I needed both of those sides to get by.
There were times when I would actually wonder if there was something off about me. Did everyone else have that sense of duality inside of them? Or was I slightly off in the head?
Today, I can see that there was nothing off about it. Just the opposite. My ability to harness both personalities has been one of my greatest strengths. 50 Cent propelled me to the top. Curtis Jackson is the man who has been able to keep me there.
At this point I’ve been moving in corporate America longer than I was hustlin’. I was only making dirty money from the age of twelve to twenty-four. I’ve been earning legal, corporate cash from twenty-five to forty-four. That’s almost twice as long.
Not surprisingly, at this point, the streets and the business world often don’t seem that different to me. Neither play fair. Both are ultracompetitive. They’re both ruthless. And you can still dominate each one if you follow several basic principles:
Be fearless. Most people run from what they’re afraid of. I run toward it. That doesn’t mean I think I’m bulletproof (I’ve learned the hard way that I’m not) or that I’m unaware of danger. I experience fear as much as the next man.
But one of the greatest mistakes people can make is becoming comfortable with their fears. Whatever is worrying me, I meet it head-on and engage it until the situation is resolved. My refusal to become comfortable with fear gives me an advantage in almost every situation.
Cultivate the heart of a hustler. Hustlin’ might be associated with selling drugs, but it’s actually a character trait that’s shared by winners in every profession. Steve Jobs was as much of a hustler at Apple as I was when I was on the streets.
The key to building up that trait in your own personality is accepting that you’re never hustling toward a certain goal. Hustlin’ is a motor that’s got to be running inside of you each and every day. And its fuel is passion. If you can keep that motor running, it will take you everywhere you want to go in life.
Build a strong crew. You’re only going to be as strong as the weakest person in your crew. That’s why you have to be extremely conscious of who you have around you. Betrayal is never as far away as you’d like to believe.
That’s why it’s imperative to find a balance between establishing trust and discipline in the people you work with and giving them the freedom to be themselves. If you can establish that equilibrium, you will be in the position to get the very best out of your team.
Know your value. One of the cornerstones of my sustained success is that I don’t rush into deals. Even though I’ve become synonymous with “getting paid,” I never chase money. I evaluate every new venture based on its long-term potential, not on what the first check I get is going to look like.
The reason I do that is I have supreme confidence in my own value and ability. I’m secure that as long as I’m betting on myself, I’m always going to win.
Evolve or die. If I’d been unwilling—or unable—to evolve as an individual, I’d be dead or in jail right now. One of the keys to my success is that at every stage of my life, I’ve been willing to assess any new situation I find myself in, and make the necessary adjustments.
While I’ll always draw from the lessons I learned on the streets, I’ve never been limited to them. Instead, I’m always looking to absorb new information from as many sources as possible. I don’t care where you come from or what you look like—if you’ve created success, I want to learn from you.
Shape perception. Everything you share with the world—your words, your energy, what you wear—tells a story. You must make sure your narrative always presents you as the person you want to be seen as, even if your reality tells a slightly different story.
One of the secrets to getting what you want in life is creating the perception that you don’t need a thing. That can be a difficult energy to project—especially when you’re struggling—but committing to that perception will make you more attractive professionally, personally, and even romantically.
Don’t be afraid to compete. Some people try to portray me as a troll, or a bully, but that’s not accurate. My first instinct is always to build positive and mutually beneficial relationships with people. But if someone isn’t interested in being friends with me, I’m more than comfortable being enemies with them.
The reason is I believe competition is healthy for all parties involved. Whether it’s taking on established rappers or hit TV shows, I’ve always experienced my greatest success when I’ve met my rivals head-on and without any hesitation.
Learn from your Ls. As many victories as I’ve racked up over the years, I’ve experienced many more losses. That doesn’t make me the exception among successful people—it makes me the rule. I don’t know an affluent rapper, mogul, executive, or entrepreneur whose losses don’t far outweigh their wins.
What separates those people from the pack is that instead of complaining about or hiding from their losses, they actively seek to learn from them.
Avoid the entitlement trap. Nothing was ever given to me in life. I’ve had to fight for everything I’ve earned. That’s why the concept of entitlement has never seeped into my mentality. But almost everywhere I look—from the streets to the boardrooms—I still see a lot of entitled people.
You’re never going to find lasting success until you take full responsibility for what happens in your life. No one owes you anything. Just as you don’t owe anyone else. Once you accept that fundamental truth and accept that you control your journey, so many doors that seemed closed are going to open up in front of you.
Growing up, reading was often seen as an assignment that must be endured, instead of a tool that can help improve your life.
Because of that mentality, no matter how many secrets I share in this book about happiness, business, and improving your life, there are a lot of folks in the hood who still won’t ever find them. They simply don’t sit down and read books. They might walk past a book like this a thousand times, until it’s covered in dust, before they even think of cracking it open.
It’s not entirely their fault, either. A lot of books aren’t written in a language that feels accessible to everyone. Personally, I didn’t get into reading until I found writers like Donald Goines and Iceberg Slim who wrote in a voice that felt familiar to me. Their style made me comfortable, and once I had that, it gave me the confidence to start exploring authors who didn’t come from the same background as me. Writers like Don Miguel Ruiz, Paulo Coelho, and one who has even become a close friend and collaborator, Robert Greene.
Even if you’re not from the streets (and given how diverse my audience has become, there’s a good chance you’re not), you’ve still made an important step just by picking this book up. These days a lot of folks have replaced reading with clicking. They’ll skim the surface of a topic—maybe watch a short video, maybe read a Wikipedia page—and feel like they’ve put in work.
Sorry, but a few clicks or scrolls just aren’t enough. I’ve found that you need to learn about multiple examples and read about multiple scenarios before certain principles start to sink in.
After you finish this book, you might only take a few of the principles with you. Even just one. That’s fine. That was the case when I read Robert’s 48 Laws of Power. Ask me today what that book was about and all I can really tell you is, “As the student, never outshine the master.”
There were forty-seven other laws in that book, but that’s the one that stayed lodged in my brain. And because it’s never left me, I’ve been able to apply it so many times over the years. I’ve literally made millions by remembering to follow that principle.
My hope is that you’ll leave this book with at least one fundamental principle lodged in your brain, too. Maybe it will be about fearlessness. Maybe it will be about controlling perspective. Or the importance of evolving.
Whichever principle it is that resonates with you, hold on to it. Carry it with you until it becomes a part of your life.
When you get to the top of the game, when you have all the money, then your perspective shifts, and you start to look at what really matters. How you help people.
I’m not someone who is comfortable resting on their laurels. If I’m around at seventy, I still want to be contributing and participating. It may require less of me, but I’ll still be a part of the culture. Helping push it forward. I might not be jumping around anymore, but I’ll still be there, trying to help.
I’ve helped people in ways that maybe you haven’t seen or heard about before. But this book is one of the most effective and far-reaching ways that I can do it.
For every reckless tweet or wild lyric from 50 Cent, trust that there’s a method to how Curtis Jackson is moving. A strategy behind each action that is battle-tested and proven to work.
This is my chance to share those strategies with you so you can move with purpose and confidence in your own life.
I’m excited that you’re joining me on this journey.
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