Book Notes: Hustle Harder Hustle Smarter

Updated: May 12, 2020

50 recently released a new book called Hustle Harder, Hustle Smarter. He has always been someone I was intrigued by. I don't usually like huge mean personalities like that, but he's different. He's more calculated and smart. He's a hood genius. What makes a person like 50?


Well, when I heard that he had released a new book about what made him the hustler that he is, I HAD TO READ IT. I've never thought of myself as a hustler, but since I've started selling my artwork, I've learned new things about myself that I've never known. I am a hustler. I just didn't fit the definition or examples that were in my head at the time. I feel that the info is this book is priceless. 50 sharing the wisdom he's gained over the years about hustling to be successful. Yes please! 50 being candid about mistakes he's made over the years, just so I don't have to make those same mistakes? Yes please! I'm taking notes...


Chapter 1: Finding Fearlessness

  • He goes into detail about what makes him fearless. He explains that he does feel fear, but he doesn't let it control him. He attacks it head on. He got that mentality from taking punches as a boxer. and later getting shot.

  • He described the fear he had for the guys that shot him, right after he survived. What made him push past that fear. I'd go into detail, but I'm writing from memory and I don't want to mess up his words. Read the book for more detail.

Chapter 2: Heart of a Hustler


Chapter 3: Constructing your Crew

  • An astute judge of character. The greatest skill for an entrepreneur. Strong character, with the ability to stay calm under pressure.

  • He has a deep fear of trusting people. He fears being betrayed.

  • Once you find someone with loyalty and work ethic, put them on your team.

  • He added new people to his circle. Kept a good balance between the day 1s and the new people.

  • Bringing the hood with you: He bought Mike Tyson's old crib so that he could bring the hood with him. He did it for validation. He spent way too much money on maintenance 70k. He eventually cut many of those same friends out.

  • Crabs in the Barrel: After you find success, you feel obligated to maintain your roots. Especially black people. Every other race gets money, they move to the suburbs w/o guilt. Black people feel that guilt heavily, but we shouldn't. This same guilt had 50 buying Tyson's old crib. He used Jam Master Jay and Nipsey Hussle as examples of people who found success ans stayed in the hood. The crab in the barrel mentality killed them.

  • Demand discipline: No fighting within the team. 50 had a rule that he learned from Nas. He told his homies that there would be no fighting with each other. If they needed to blow off some steam, do it on one of those haters that we encounter along the way. He'd always have your back. But the second someone fights someone else on the team, they were going home the next day.

  • Handle internal problems first: The Tekashi69 example. A nice kid that got involved with some real street dudes, that started to see him as food. He went to 50 for advice. He told 69 that his issues were internal. 69 had people around him that didn't have his best interest at heart.

  • JayZ took over Def Jam to construct a new team. Swapped those Philly artists for Kanye and Rihanna. When things didn't work out, he was savvy enough to move on to the next plan.

  • 50's pep talks. If someone isn't in the right head space put them there. Different people need different energies. One size does not fit all when dealing with people.

  • Learning to trust again: Chris Lighty's death devastated 50. He was 50's closest business associate. They deeply understood each other. 50 didn't realize how much he trusted Chris until after he died. It was very hard to fill that void. He admits that he's been too guarded to find another manager like Chris.

Chapter 4: Knowing Your Value

  • Know your worth then add tax.

  • Evaluate all the ways an opportunity can help you. Don't just consider the money

  • The right deal is out there, the wait on it. 50's first deal was with Jam Master Jay's label. He learned what he needed to, then paid his way out of the deal. Then he signed with Columbia. He recorded his album, then got shot. After that, Columbia dropped him. Things started looking shaky. He still wasn't trying to sign any old deal. He passed on a deal with Universal. He passed on a deal with Capital. Don't try to prove yourself to someone who doesn't see your value. He signed with Interscope because that gave him access to Dr.Dre. YOU CANNOT COMPROMISE WHEN YOUR VISION IS ON THE LINE. When you settle, you demonstrate a lack of confidence. If just one person is interested, then your idea has value. Remember that when you are struggling to find you confidence in waiting on the right deal. Don't let your ego get in your way, by focusing on what the next man got, or the money . Focus on the larger opportunity. Focus on the long term potential, not the payday.

  • Fun Fact: Water is always the top selling item at events. 50 did the vitamin water deal because it fit his lifestyle. He liked the water so much. He asked for equity in the company instead of just an endorsement deal. He presented himself as a loyal consumer, and a person that would work his ass off to make the business opportunity successful. It eased the water company's reservation. 50 went hard promoting the water and the market share began to rise so much so that Coke bought the company for 4.1 billion. "I took quarter water, sold it in bottles for 2 bucks, then Coke A Cola came and bought it for billions. What the fuck?" ASK FOR EQUITY. Hire a lawyer, even if you're broke. Borrow the money if you have to. Get educated

  • Equity: Get educated. Ask difficult questions early. Salary and stock options. Did the company put out an IPO and issue stock yet? Is the stock vested? Vested means you have to stay with the company for a period of time before you can cash out. Never get fixated on a number. You want the person you're negotiating with to think you're stuck, then move if you have to.

  • Negotiations are never personal. They never start where you ant them to be. Don't react emotionally, even if you pretend to feel a certain way. He took well below his worth to make the first season of Power. He bet on himself. After the show blew up, he had the leverage to ask for his true value. Sometimes you have to sacrifice to do that.

  • Just do shit: Don't wait for permission or a gatekeeper. Go directly to the people with your idea. Connect with people on the most basic level. He sold Effin by hosting as many events as possible. He did "meet & greets" at liquor stores for the vodka. They were so successful because he went to markets were 50 never gets seen, like Milwaukee. Then he created an online movement by using #EffinVodka. People wanted to be posted on 50's IG so they used the hashtag. The most important thing is to make something from scratch. You must deliver. By create things out of your ideas. Make sure your product is sooo good that people can't deny it. Travel bloggers just started traveling and taking pictures. Next thing you know, opportunities came. Free rooms, flights, money to promote a location.

  • The greatest expense is TIME: Place a premium value on your time. Em knows what matters to him. He turned down lots of money to not miss his daughter grow up. Money is the goal, but you have to train your brain to value experience. Real information on my field is worth more than money. Don't take no for an answer. Be persistent. If you get a no on the phone, go knock on the door. Have something to offer. Study the organization, find out where they need help and where you can add value. They WILL find a spot for you. Then establish your worth

  • Get it on paper: Never let your value rest on someones word. Handshake agreements aren't worth shit. Get the terms and expectations on paper early. Protect yourself.

Chapter 5: Evolve or Die

  • Never settle into the status quo. You'll get left behind. The most successful people don't get satisfied and complacent once you achieve something.

  • Know when to shift. 50 knew that hip hop loved things that are damaged. When America started reacted lethargically to his music, he knew it was time to shift. He accepted his reality and evolved. The public can never be wrong. If they don't respond to your work, listen and change.

  • I WILL NEVER SETTLE. I WILL ALWAYS LOOK FOR THE NEXT CHALLENGE. ALWAYS. It's the process that I love, not destination.

  • (Niches Bring Riches) 50 made Power for his audience and his audience only. That's who I need to create for. Black women like me. He made Power sexually risque because it needed that spark to be interesting.

  • Refusing to evolve: One of 50's biggest disappointments is the unreached potential of Loyd Banks and Tony Yayo. Banks wanted thing to come to him as opposed to going out to get it for himself. 50 recommended that he film a video of his lifestyle and put it on Youtube, or get on IG. Banks thought it was corny bc Biggie and Pac didn't do it. Banks only respected one era, and thought everything was trash. Age isn't about what year you were born. People who are set in their ways are OLD. If you are open to new experiences, willing to try new things, and curious about new topics then you're YOUNG. I will always have a youthful spirit and I will never cut myself off from new experiences.

  • Yayo's problem was different than Banks. He was wild. He never elevated his mindset.

  • The writing is never on the actually on the wall. Have your finger on the pulse of the culture. Read the energy around you.

  • Expand your circle. Robert Greene is one of 50's new friends. Their is a wealth of info in history. Robert taught 50 why history is important. 50 taught Robert the experience of what he was studying. Deepak Chopra taught 50 about meditation. It's a tool to slow your mind down when you feel stressed. Get control over your thoughts again. He never thought he would have friends like this. They've fundamentally changed his perspective. Seek out well rounded people. People you wouldn't normally associate with. You need people in your life that make you do things you wouldn't normally do, eat what you normally eat. Invite you to places you wouldn't normally go. They aren't more cultured, they're just different. Just like you're intimidated, they might be too. Look for rooms where everyone is more knowledgeable than me. Your time is never wasted when you're seeking information. I LOVE TALKING TO ANYONE WITH NEW INFO!!!

  • Study people everywhere! Smart people give away so much info. It's ok to admit that you don't know things. Know-it-alls don't grow.


Chapter 6: Power of Perception

  • The world will see you how you see you.

  • 50 never worries about being cancelled. When he says something crazy, he's "the rapper". When he does something good, he was "the mogul".

  • Influencing how people perceive you isn't fake.

  • Projecting the right appearance. Attract what you want by projecting success. Cars, bags, watches, shoes. Every time you leave the house or post something, you are being judged. Make sure your appearance is communicating what you want it to. When you clean up, people notice.

  • How to control the conversation: 1. Touch the forearm of the person you're talking to. It's good for creating a good report. Breaking the touch barrier. One simple touch can on the forearm can change the persons mood. Effortless. You have to be close enough to touch them already. Don't be awkward trying to reach. Never flirty or suggestive. 2. Speak softly. Whenever you're in a group speak as softly as possible and people lean in to hear what you're saying. 3. When someone looks to you for affirmation, don't give it to them. Look at them stone faced.

  • Fake it till you make it. Bill Gates and Paul Allen exaggerated their accomplishments when they were trying to get on, then they lived up to their ability once they got in the door.

  • Act like you don't need it. Let's say I'm interviewing for my dream job. Don't ever give the impression that you need the job or that you're dying for it. Neediness is a turn off to everyone. Everyone wants to do you a favor when you don't need it.

  • Always have a few people you keep it real with.

  • Let people be honest about themselves. 50 learned that he had to empower people to be who they are. He used JaRule as a bad example for living their truth. He grew up as Jahova's witness and in a good part of Queens. When he got with Irv they tried to force him to be a gangster but it wasn't sustainable.

Chapter 7: If We Can't Be Friends

  • 50 discussed his dislike for Oprah. He thought she didn't like him. His strategy was if they can't be friends, then they should be enemies. His rationale is that people only talk about things they love or hate. The better your opponent is, the better you become.

  • I am an artist so I need to measure myself next to the best. Be in competition with them. If I compare myself to mediocre talent. I'll artificially inflate me ego.

  • He created an uproar with his song How to Rob. He got noticed immediately. People always respond to a competitor.

  • He's never emotional when beefing with people. It's about advancing his business.

  • Him and Kanye planned the fake beef when they released on the same day. 50 planned it because he was in a state of confusion about his career, so he needed a competition.

  • He made an example out of Tierra Marie for lying on him. It was to send a message to the public not to try him bc you will lose. He also sent a message to people who owed him money by outing a few of them online. It worked. He outed some, and the one's he kept quiet about, called him to pay him back.

  • Keep a book: Watch your competition closely. Make not of their good and bad moves. Who do they like to work with. How do they navigate their relationship. What constructive things do they do that has them in their position. Take note of their pros and cons. Write it all down. You have the most opportune way to strike when you need to.

Chapter 8: Learning from your Ls

  • Success represents 1% of your work, the other 99% are failures and mistakes to bring that idea to fruition.

  • Failure is a tool to help you do better next time. Honda called failure a thrill that shows him what he can do better next time.

  • Admit that you're wrong. Don't be a leader that belittles, or yells. People won't be able to constructively criticize you. You won't grow.

Chapter 9: The Entitlement Trap

  • Identify drowning people. They will drown you too. Keep some distance when trying to help.

  • If someone keeps missing the shot you pass to them, call for a sub. Get their ass out of the game. You're trying to win.

  • The world owes you NOTHING. It's all on you. Nobody has to help you. Him and his BM saw the world very differently. She lacked ambition. She didn't want to work at all "Aint nobody workin if they don't have to" was the moment he decided they would never work as a team. He became petty, and she became resentful, which turned into hate. She then passed that resentment to their son. 50 felt like he gave his son too much without making him earn it. He developed a sense of entitlement.

  • Even 50 feels uneasy when he has to say no to someone close.

  • Embracing responsibility. Freedom involves having responsibility.

  • Successful people are surround by people who always withdraw from them and ask them for shit. They are shocked and respond well to people who makes deposits. You can do that by being on time, being upbeat and positive, be creative.

  • Giving back. 50 is committed to giving back in a real way because he'd rather be known for that, than making hit songs and shows. Conscious capitalism is making money and also giving back. Lot's of rich people feel like "I worked for it so they have to too" He feels like it's important to make charity cool too. That's his greatest accomplishment.


This book is so well organized. I love how he uses stories to illustrate is principles. Based on how I learn, it's a really good way to drive home the point.


It's relatable to a young black woman like me, that grew up on hip hop. I grew up watching 50's career. The events he mentions, I remember being talked about in the media. The people he mentions in the book are names that I recognize so it makes the book even better.

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