The Art of Hustle Part I-Cleaning Up In Brooklyn
Photo Credit- Bob Jagendorf
The flight from London Heathrow to JFK landed around 7:30 on a Thursday night. My only real plan was to depart 3 days later from the same airport and I hadn’t made any hotel reservations; this night was going to be interesting.
I wandered around for about an hour through a few different terminals before I was told the only restaurants were in the Terminal I had arrived in. Admittedly I was a bit fuzzy headed as I had slept at the airport in London the night before. Not to mention my flirting with a gorgeous blonde on the flight in before losing touch in the crowd at the baggage claim, my head was clearly somewhere else.
I lugged my burden of belongings through the masses and found an obnoxiously expensive bar with WiFi where I ordered a Diet Coke, much to the distaste of the bartender. Saddling up I grabbed my Laptop and began to browse the internet in search of a place to lay my head for the night. Of course, my ADD prevailed and within moments I was on Facebook, catching up on the more important topics of the day like who was tired, who was angry and who was probably high. I checked my wall and had a new message from fellow travel and life enthusiast Gary Misner. “Yo Man! Are you here? Your phone is off!?”
Gary was the only person I knew in New York and I’d messaged him a few days earlier asking if he knew of any cheap places to stay and if he could head out and grab a beer while I was in town. I ravaged my bags and found my phone which hadn’t been turned on in 2 months. I rang Gary telling him that I’d made it into town. He mentioned he knew a guy at the Hilton and might be able to find me a cheap room. Just a few minutes later I heard the not so familiar sound of my phone ringing, it was Gary. “Hey man, I got a place for you to stay, write down this address.” He said. “I am just getting done with work and I can meet you there in a half hour.” I took the address and thanked him. “Oh and its 25 to 30 dollars for the cab ride, don’t let those assholes rip you off, see you soon man.”
After getting lost in an area I would prefer not to drive through even at a high rate of speed, we eventually found our way to the corner where I’d meet Gary in person for the first time. Gary was a New Yorker through and through and would turn out to be one of the more interesting guys I’ve met. After all, I’d first run across him on the internet a few years earlier after he was featured as a success story on the massively popular blog of author Tim Ferriss. I had got in touch with Gary back then commending him on his success and asking if I could spread his message to the readers on my blog.
Back then I was only getting a few dozen hits per day and much to my surprise Gary responded right back eager for me to write about his adventures to my small audience. We stayed in touch afterwards and chatted often discussing everything from entrepreneurship and travel and our love for the beautiful women of Scottsdale, a city we both enjoyed thoroughly in our own adventures. It was clear we shared some common interests and now my reaching out a few years back had landed me a free place to crash for a few days.
Of course with the process of sleeping in airports and being in transit for fifty plus hours, I wasn’t feeling too spry upon arriving at Gary’s sister’s place where I would be staying for the night. Fully aware that I looked and smelled horrible, I did my best to put forth a good first impression. “Bro you probably want to shower and change, feel free, I know you’ve been traveling all day” Gary offered. As someone who had traveled extensively himself, he knew this feeling well and I happily accepted his offer. We traded stories from the road before calling it a night around 2am, after all Gary had a business to run just a few hours later.
The following morning I would awake jet lagged around 10am as Gary walked in the door having already put in four hours. His new business was still in its infancy and was currently just a one man show. I threw on some clean clothes and asked if I could come along to see his new muse in action. I would spend the next 3 days learning the ins and outs of Comeclean.it and receive a crash course in the art of hustle.
A little Guerilla Marketing outside the competing Laundromats nearby in Brooklyn
“Hey Gary” An old man seated in front of the Laundromat yelled as we approached. The old man spoke in Italian with him for a moment before we went inside to pick up the laundry drop offs for the next few hours. As we crossed the street to load up his Hyundai Wagon with the laundry bags, Gary was again summoned by another man seated on the steps across near the car.
This would be a reoccurring theme throughout the next few days. Whether it be the convenience store clerk, a neighbor four blocks down or a bouncer at the nightclub, Gary knew them all. He had engrained himself deeply in the community and seemingly everywhere we went he would see a familiar face, taking time to talk with each of them no matter how busy the day’s schedule.
“Dude, you want me to drop you off anywhere? You shouldn’t spend your whole time in New York riding around Brooklyn dropping off laundry. Don’t you wanna go to Manhattan or something?” He asked. I declined the offer. The fact of the matter was that I was thoroughly enjoying my time in Brooklyn, seeing it through the eyes of a local business man, getting a taste for the true pulse of the borough.
I offered my assistance in helping bring up the heavy laundry bags as we pulled up to a client with a few heavy bags condominium. "Ahh alright, if you don't mind bro" Gary accepted reluctantly. What I noticed was that everyone we ran into was genuinely happy to see us. The front desk reception at the high end condominiums chatted with us for ten minutes on our first drop off. “I brought that guy lunch like 4 times in the past few months before I had any customers in that building. Now I have a few.” Gary explained with a sly smile.
At a later stop we chatted with two very cute and flirtatious ladies before heading up to take in the view from their rooftop terrace. Even later we climbed up 6 flights of stairs before meeting one of his first time clients. “Hey Gary, thank you so much, you have to try this red velvet doughnut we saved for you!” The young brunette offered "Its Tina Fey's favorite doughnut shop". Everywhere we went, it was clear that the high level of customer service and attention to detail that this business was run with was well appreciated.
It was around this time where I began to realize that business wasn’t always about the best idea, filling the largest need or inventing some miracle product. It was about people and creating real relationships with them that made them feel like more than just a customer.
The next night we drank and carried on while chatting about our adventures, business ideas and wandering through the streets of Brooklyn. After meeting some ladies for drinks, we ended up at a random apartment with new friends. It was my last night in town and I was still trying to process everything I’d seen here. “You know, I just wanna be like the Dos Equis guy really, that’s all I really want man.” Gary said laughing. I echoed his sentiment, realizing that what Gary wanted was not unlike what I wanted for my own life.
To be interesting, well educated and admired while standing alone, answering to no one. Making your own rules and living life deliberately: these are things you won’t learn in school and won’t ever find in the corporate world. These are things that you can only enjoy if you hustle harder than the rest. To live an extraordinary life, you must do extraordinary things. In Brooklyn I learned that the first lesson of Hustle 101 is that to be the Dos Equis guy, you must learn to attract people to you. You must pull them in with not just kindness and confidence, but realness.
If people like you they will give you their business, bottom line. As an entrepreneur you are in the business of customer service above all else. If you do one hell of a job, they will tell their friends and on goes the story.
Gary is absolutely killing it with Comeclean.it, offering free laundry pickup and delivery in Brooklyn. He welcomed me to his city and inadvertently gave a crash course into his business, which opened my eyes to a whole new definition of what customer service should be.
Some people want to see monuments and landmarks, I’d rather cruise Brooklyn in a station wagon to see the underbelly of this funky borough. Gary is poised to do some big things in the coming years, as I also hope to myself. With any luck maybe we can battle that old grey bearded bastard for the title of the most interesting man in the world. For now though, we are putting our travels and ambitions aside, hitting the streets and grinding it out day by day. To make it big, you gotta earn it.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for the next part of The Art of Hustle where I’ll fill you in on what I’ve been up too since returning to the US and the new business venture I am undertaking. Also peak into Gary’s world at GaryMisner.com and if in Brooklyn, be sure to visit his site at Comeclean.it for your laundry and dry-cleaning needs.