Not in my wildest dreams could I have ever imagined that a young man, in a hoodie, talking hoodlum to his buddies through his wrist phone at a local coffee shop, could ever turn me into a hustler for his business.

But—it happened, and here’s how…

With 17% battery, he squeezed in right beside me at the tall table facing the lake at a local coffee shop, and plugged in his computer. His hoody covered most of his head, though his headphones, resting on his cheekbones, poked out, and left me wondering what project he was working on.

Watching him bring his wrist up to his mouth, I listened as he rattled off a few sentences before refocusing on his computer. “Nah bro, not now…” he said in a deep tone with a bit of inner city youth.

Curious, I asked, “What project are you working on?”

“I’m starting a tee shirt business,” he said, “I’m going to be taking people’s vacation pics and printing them on a shirt.”

“Very cool. Do you have a website I can check out?”

“No, I just came up with the idea this morning… Wouldn’t you want a shirt with a favorite picture from your recent vacation on it?” He asked.

“That’s not really my thing, but I’m sure plenty of people would want that.”

“Really, you wouldn’t want this?” he asked, as he pointed to the screen and showed me a recent picture he took of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

“I’m getting that printed on a shirt for my mom,” he continued.

“That’s cool!”

“What do you do?” he asked.

“I work with executives…”

“—I’m an executive,” he cut me off, “Maybe I can use your help.”

You can imagine the story my mind created about this perfectly nice young man, wearing a hoodie, talking hoodlum to his buddies through his smart watch, and making a tee shirt for his mom in a coffee shop.

“You have a team of people helping you with your new tee shirt business?” I asked.

“Nah, that’s a new thing. Carry Out Menu is my main focus right now.”

Turns out, Carry Out Menu is a business that delivers a vast array of restaurant foods to local businesses, and he just happened to drop off an order to a financial services business that I’ve worked with.

I was both inspired and embarrassed at the same time.

He was an executive, and as it turned out, he had a great deal more to teach me than I could have ever imagined. Fortunately, he couldn’t hear my initial thoughts, and I had a chance to learn from this incredibly authentic, humble executive.

Deeply curious, I leaned in as he talked about his competitors, their target market, and how a couple of them had recently been purchased for millions. In the same chill demeanor he spoke about his new tee shirt business, he told me about the six other guys hustling right alongside him at Carry Out Menu.

Beyond an executive, I wondered if he was also a reader.

“Certain books, yes,” he responded as he pulled up The Laws of Success by Napoleon Hill on his iPhone, where he does most of his reading.

“Well, I was going to give you a hard copy of my book, but maybe you’d prefer an e-copy for your phone?” I asked, and he accepted.

“How much is it?” he asked.

“It’s my pleasure to gift you with this copy,” I said.

Pulling out some cash, he asked, “Twenty? Twenty-five?”

“Not for an ecopy. You can get it cheaper on Amazon. But, please… let this be a gift from me,” I said, as I pushed his money back toward him.

“I’ll just stick the money in your backpack then,” he said, and proceeded to look for a convenient place to stuff it in.

“Why won’t you accept my gift?”

“Do you sell these books?” he asked.

“Yes, I do,” I said, suddenly awkwardly shy about that fact.

“I want to buy it, then.”

There was no reasoning with that logic. Not only was he right, but he was silently teaching me again. I stood there dumbfounded, speechless (can you imagine? That, my friends, is rare).

“Do you have a business card?” I asked, knowing my lessons with this wonderful young man were just beginning.

“Yes, they’re in my car.”

Along with three business cards, he handed me a dozen or so booklets, with several hundred restaurants that Carry Out Menu partners with in order to ensure local businesses have options when deciding where to order food for their next meeting.

Not only did he inspire me, he left me wanting to find a way to help his business succeed.

The very next day, I handed one of the booklets to John, a friend and the manager of a local business. “I met one of the executives at this company yesterday,” I said to John, “He is a hustler and awesome. Order from them for your next meeting.”

Who would have thought that a young man, in a hoodie, starting a new tee shirt company would wind up getting me to keep his booklets on my passenger seat, as I found the perfect business owners to help him grow his business? You can’t pay for that kind of marketing, nor can you manufacture it!

Whether you’re selling a product, a service, or a vision to your team, imagine the kind of raving fans (and hustlers) you can create by genuinely looking for ways to help them succeed first. Watch what happens as you shift your focus from getting others to do more for you, onto hustling to help them reach their goals, meet their heroes, and continue advancing their skills.

Here’s to Your Greatness,

Misti Burmeister

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