Week 4 — Hustlers: Tales of the Grind

Adriel Fong
3 min readOct 9, 2020
Funky Ben Askren getting hustled by Jorge Masvidal

Before I entered NTUitive’s Venture Building programme, I had never heard of the term “hustler” used in my life. Sure, I knew that term existed in entrepreneurship, but I just thought it meant you got to work hard, hustle.

Within 2–3 weeks of venturing into the programme (see what I did there), the term hustler was thrown around more times than I can even keep track.

Yesterday, as I had a very intriguing conversation with Dickson Lai (one of the members of the VB18 team), I asked him why he was wearing an NBA shirt that said China on it. He began express the admiration of the culture, the people and the “hustle” spirit that they embodied.

He then explained that the Chinese are a determined bunch of people. Whatever they lack in ability, they make it up with sheer hard work, it was something so firmly ingrained into their psyche. That’s also the reason why he was confident that China was a force to be reckoned with on the world stage. He substantiated his claims with his personal experience of a colleague that he used to work with during his overseas internship in China. This female Chinese colleague was the top student in her course in a very prestigious school in China (top school or 2nd best school in China).

He cited that not only did she have the brains, but she also had the inner gumption to work hard too.

The only question I had for him was why didn’t he marry her and bring her back to Singapore.😂

We then segued our conversation into talking about how Singaporeans pride themselves as “hustlers” but in actual fact could not live up to the standards of these OG Chinese hustlers.

In the midst of our conversation, Dickson made a very kind compliment in which he felt that I was a “hustler”, based on the vibes that he received from me. Obviously, I rejected the compliment simply because it wasn’t true and me being Singaporean-Chinese, we take compliments far worse than criticisms.

After a long and fruitful basketball session, it became really clear to me that we had vastly different definitions of the “hustler” concept. He looked at it more as the willingness to do absolutely anything to achieve an outcome. If that meant staying up late to get the job done, you do it with a smile on your face.

Although I do believe that grit is a commendable personality trait to adopt, at the same time, I caught myself asking, do I want to be a person that is just “full-on” all the time? With no social life, swearing an oath of celibacy to my work/business?

Frankly, the answer is no. I am unwilling to be a permanent slave to my craft, because ultimately when I pass on, and I meet my heavenly book-keeper and He commands me, “Account for all the time gifted to you on Earth.”

I don’t want to be caught having spent ALL my time doing things for my business and making tons of money just for myself, but would rather be using my business as a platform to create positive change.

What I would much prefer is to hone my craft to the point of mastery.

Mastery is the ability to execute effortlessly without the use of conscious resources — Myron Golden

Only then would you be able to spend 4 hours a week to make 4 times the amount of money as you did when you were slogging 80 hours a week and earning much less than you should be earning.

Many young adults out in the world aren’t willing to spend the time and effort required to become a master. And sometimes it is easier to spend your nights working on your day job rather than taking the time to read books that would make you a more efficient human being. As the late, Jim Rohn famously said,

Learn to work harder on yourself than you do on your job. If you work hard on your job you can make a living, but if you work hard on yourself you’ll make a fortune. — Jim Rohn

Hustler? Maybe not. I’d much rather be a master.