There are really only two ways to grow a company…

Through hustle, or through building systems

And while I mostly preach the “systems building” gospel in this email series, neither of those approaches is necessarily better than the other.

Hustlers certainly have a big role to play.
In many a business, it’s the main role.

Point in case: our growth agency came off the ground primarily based on our hustle, our connections and our network.

Nothing with systems.
Nothing sophisticated.
Nothing “automated”.

Just the hustle.

But here’s the thing…

You need to know the differences between each approach, in order to choose the right strategy for your business… or else you’ll run into all sorts of costly problems and frustrations.

So in this email, let’s explore the differences between hustle-based growth and systems-based growth, so you know when to choose one approach over the other.

Shall we jump in?
Let’s go…

The Hustle Path — Bulldogs
The “spirit animal” of the hustle path is the bulldog: a fighter who can lock his jaws, and simply won’t let go. At the end of the fight he will come crawling in, unrecognizable, covered in blood and delighted, with the enemy’s heart between his teeth.

You need those guys.

When you’re just getting started, there’s hardly a substitute for the brute power of hustle: building connections, building relationships, creating momentum to drive the sale.

Even though I wouldn’t necessarily think of myself as a bulldog—most introverts wouldn’t—I can activate that spirit in myself: all the early successes of our agency were basically based on hustle, more than anything else.

In summary: hustle delivers results quickly. But because there’s not a lot of strategy to it, hustle generally won’t really scale well.

The Systems Path — Nerds
Nerds come in when the bulldogs run out of steam: a marketing nerd approaches user growth like an engineering challenge: a problem that can be tackled with processes, systems and automations.

Contrary to bulldogs, nerds believe that marketing is primarily based on logic, and therefore can be studied, understood, synthesized and systematized.

In short:

Welcome to my world.

In order to achieve truly scalable, durable pathways to user growth, this is the persona you want to hire for. Growth is fundamentally about systems-building, rather than anything else.

And never forget:

No matter what you tell yourself, you can become both of those types if you need to… most introverts can learn to activate their inner bulldog, and anyone can learn the logic and systems that make systematic growth marketers so wildly successful.

Both of these skill sets are extremely in-demand.
And you can master either (or both) of them.

It’s totally learnable.
To pursue it or not, is totally a choice you make.

Your call.


Now. With all that prep-work done, we can finally get to the most important insight of this whole email.

The fundamental trade-off…

Hustle gets you fast results, that aren’t scalable
Systems-building get you slow, but compounded growth

Short-term vs. long-term, basically.

Would you rather go fast, or go far?

In many cases—especially in the early days—you need to go fast.
It’s the only choice, or you’ll be out of business.

So you choose hustle.

Wise move.

At this stage, look to hire a Bulldog
You don’t need someone who’s gonna be sophisticated and strategic about it. Get someone with energy, grit and power. A street fighter. Someone with jaw-locking power—who will do whatever it takes to get the business off the ground.

A bulldog.

But when you want stable, durable growth… hire a nerd
The bulldog isn’t really a long-term game—you’ll always be dependent on the bulldog to keep the show going. So that’s where systems come in: you need someone to approach your user acquisition and growth equation like an engineering challenge… and put it on autopilot.

Once that’s done, growth will become automatic & systematic.

That’s the nerd’s job.