More Work, Sooner – The Secret to Success

There’s a concept that has served me well throughout my career that I’ve never been able to voice before until now.

It’s the concept that doing more work than the next person, as fast as you can, is one of the cheat codes to inevitable success.

It’s not for everyone, and if you don’t care about leaving an impact on the world, then feel free to stop reading here. Totally ok if you do.

But if you, like me, have never wanted to be average or just another pretty face in the crowd, keep reading.

Three Examples

Example 1: Cleaning Horse Stalls

It started from a young age. My first job was mucking horse stalls at a local horse farm near where I grew up in Virginia. I got paid $1 a stall (in the mid 90s) and figured out how to get 6 stalls an hour cleaned. Except for 1 that the owner called me back to redo, I did a great job and outworked everyone else. I made more and was given more responsibility faster. 

Example 2: Painter’s Assistant

In college, between my sophomore and junior years, I got a job with a local interior/exterior painting company that was owned by the brother of my parents’ next door neighbor. That got me the job, but I had to prove myself.

And I did. I was always on time, if not early, to the work site. I always worked until the end of the job, took shorter work and lunch breaks than I was given, and took great pride in the craft of my work. Even though I was just a painter’s assistant, the lead painters often let me do things that most assistants would never get to do, like learning how to use a sprayer or requesting me for certain big jobs because they knew I could handle it. I did such a great job that summer that the company was sad I wasn’t going to be in town the next summer, but when I got back at the end of the summer and they were in the middle of a big painting push of many college apartments in our town, they immediately hired me.

Example 3: Distilled

When I worked for digital agency Distilled in New York City, I was early in my career. I was also 27 and single, so I had a lot of time to put into my work. I worked my regular job, 9-7 or so most days, then would spend evenings either blogging or out with industry friends in New York. I jumped at any chance I had to blog on industry sites, I spoke at conferences, and published 2-3 times per week on my personal site (this site) for 2.5 years. I even had side hustles and freelance clients on the side of this too.

That work helped me build a big audience quickly, led directly to the job at Zillow, and ultimately led me into self employment and building two successful productized service companies in the space. 

None of that would’ve happened without simply putting in the hours. There were others who were much more established, experienced, and honestly smarter than me who I lapped because I simply put in the time.

I’m not the smartest or most skilled, though I don’t do bad for myself. But I’ll be damned if I’ll let someone outwork me if there’s something I want to do. I don’t let people tell me no or to wait my turn. 

Putting in double the time of the next person will essentially guarantee your success. It’s as much of a guarantee as we have in this life.

The Formula

The formula isn’t hard either:

  1. Find something to love, are good at, and that people will pay you for
  2. Put in as much time as you can to learn that thing and become great at it. Remember, we create time. We don’t find time.
  3. Do this for a few years and you’ll be a/the leader in your space.

Simple, not easy. But very possible.

Now, go work (or don’t, but don’t complain when you’re passed by others because they’re working harder than you are.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.