The power of doing only one thing is often neglected.
Shaan Puri is a great example. He sold his side hustle to Twitch for $25 million. Then he went on to invest in startups like Lambda School that is replacing universities.
He wrote about one particular week recently. The outcome for the week was to go deep in the new field of Web3. “I learn by doing” is the reason he gave for canceling all meetings for a week.
The result is he came up with a powerful metaphor. His metaphor says there are only 4 roles you can play in any field.
1. Skeptic (on sidelines, judging everyone)
These are the people guaranteed to fail. Sinem Gunel says “haters mostly hate because they’d like to have what you have.” Haters are skeptics in disguise.
Because they haven’t done it, they don’t want anybody else to. They want to stay in the land of mediocrity. It’s super easy to be a critic. You just sit your lazy ass on the couch with a laptop or phone and fire off comments to anybody who’s doing better than you.
Skepticism is a form of procrastination.
Why fix YOU when you can be a skeptic for free? Plus it’s fun. The internet loves skeptics. The plague of skepticism content can even earn you a tidy living on platforms like Twitter. I’m harsh because I used to be that skeptic.
In the early 2000s people told me you could make money online by setting up eCommerce websites. I was too afraid. I blamed the need to ship goods that could get damaged and collect payments via ‘risky’ credit cards as my excuse for sitting on the sidelines.
After work I’d go on Youtube and leave terrible comments on videos that talked about “making money online.” I even collected a few loser friends in the process.
If you think selling yourself or anything else is a pyramid scheme or a ponzi scheme or network marketing, then you’re not ready for side hustles. That’s the harsh truth.
A side hustle requires an open mind as the entry criteria.
You can’t be afraid of sales either. Sales is marketing, marketing is persuading, and persuading is a basic human skill that you do whatever your role is in society. It’s all just labels. You have to convince people to care about your side hustle. There’s no way around it.
Heal yourself of whatever you failed at before that made you a skeptic. Then move through the next three roles.
2. Cheerleader (on sidelines, cheering other people doing things)
This is a cool place to be. You’re not ready to start a side hustle yet. No problemo. You’re just cheering for other people who are while you figure out what you want to do.
None of us come out of the womb with a side hustle idea in our blood. I procrastinated on my writing dream for a long time. I watched from afar. I read a lot of other writers. I tried to emulate them. I left them thank you comments. Cheering doers is a noble sport. It’s better than tearing people apart out of jealously or because of daddy/mommy problems.
Doers build the things we use. Start there.
Be inspired before becoming motivated to start your thing. The people you cheer for along the way will be happy to help as a thank you, too.
3. Participant (in the game, using stuff other people created)
I shouldn’t admit this but I’m here right now with Web3. I’m a cheerleader of the movement and in the game, although I haven’t created anything yet. The truth is I don’t know where to start.
Where’s a good place on Web3 to publish content? Who are the people to follow? What projects, besides the obvious ones, are good to go deep on? What Web3 game should I play?
So I will use stuff other people have created until I figure it out. Then one day I will pivot part of my side hustle towards Web3. Until then I simply participate in the ecosystem. You’re probably similar. I doubt too many of you have built dApps or published content on a Web 3 blog with a .eth domain name. Makes sense. Much of the space has only been around for a year.
Using stuff other people created is how you figure out what you want to build. Despite what critics think, there are no original ideas anymore. As creators we’re all borrowing from each other. Author Austin Kleon said it best: “Steal like an artist.” Hell yes my man. Steal ideas we will.
4. Player (in the game, creating things yourself)
The more you create, the more powerful you become. The more you consume, the more powerful others become.
— James Clear
Your side hustle succeeds when you become a creator and that’s how you unlock the power of Shaan Puri’s metaphor. In the area you want your side hustle to be, how much did you create versus consume today? That’s the big question.
A side hustle is born through creation. You have to conduct a bunch of experiments to figure out what path you will take. Your path will be different from mine or anybody else’s. It requires you to face rejection, something many skeptics stuck in a death spiral leading to nowhere don’t get.
You can get rejected once and become a skeptic who calls everything a scam, or you can get back up and try again.
Ayodeji Awosika says it perfectly: No can mean be more creative.
It doesn’t mean “this side hustle doesn’t work and you should give up like a sucker.” Rejection is redirection. If this doesn’t work, try again. It’s the mantra of an entire side hustle generation that is redefining what work is on the internet.
If you don’t create you will never know what’s possible.
What’s guaranteed is anything is possible when you choose a side hustle and commit to it for 5 years. The skeptics won’t tell you that. They won’t tell you they gave up after 3 months and decided to call everything a scam.
It boils down to this
Success in any field simply means creating more than you consume. If you create for long enough, you’ll eventually succeed through experiments and the inevitable iterations that follow.
Don’t give up. Create more. Change direction.