We have a friend in Chicago who uses a self-styled word to define the quick moves a person uses to accomplish the task at hand. He calls it “hustlative.” It stuck with us as a great descriptor for this critical attribute. It can be the difference between success and failure, especially in a start up. It can save the bottom line with the proverbial “stitch in time.”

We used to interview people to try to get a feel for where they stood on the “hustlativity” scale. Beyond their skill set, personality, or even intelligence, their ability to move quickly on a project with a sense of urgency was critical to our grossly under-capitalized and growing business.

We had to hustle, and everybody we hired had to as well. When we got a write-up in a trade journal, or won a gold medal in a wine competition, we had a print version of the announcement up on the shelf in the stores the very next day! If our salesperson got a last minute appointment with Mr. Big at 10 o’clock the next morning, our accounting people had a report in his hands before day’s end.

When we had a deadline, everyone would pitch in. Our team was aware the major advantage that our company had over the big, sluggish corporations was – we had hustle. We were lighter, faster, and able to adjust quickly to take advantage of sudden changes in the market place.

When we heard of a distributor who lost a big brand in our price point, we went to them the same day with a proposal to put our product in everywhere the brand they lost had been. Hustle meant money to us, and we built a national award-winning brand in spite of the size of our staff, the size of our competitors, and the size of our budget. Hustlative counts.

Here are three ways we used to try to determine how hustlative our job applicants were:

1. Get Water. During the interview we would ask them to go out and get us some waters. We would watch how they got up, opened the door, left the room, how long they were gone, and how they moved on their return. Were they deliberate, determined and focused, or were they unstable, slow and just shuffling along?

2. Grab a File. Later, we would ask them to get a report on the other side of the room. We could see how they executed a simple physical task, and how long it took them.

3. Take a Walk. After the interview, we would invite them to take a walk with us around a nearby lake. We would take mental notes of their cadence, posture, and balance. We walked rather quickly, and observed if they could keep up.

Their body language shouted volumes. Our experience told us that their approach to the job, with all its challenges and deadlines, would not be much different than how they used their body to perform simple physical tasks.

Looking for, finding and capitalizing on opportunities that suddenly present themselves, and approaching them with a sense of urgency, all took a great deal of hustle. We were successful because we worked as a team, and each of us was hustlative!

Who We Are

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at www.consumerbrandbuilders.com.

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact sales@thebarefootspirit.com.