The unsolicited advice in form of spoken monologue, read as a manifesto, from Eric Stevens at Shift 2015 to young, brilliantly talented, designers. The title — Always be hustling — is flat out stolen from Craighton Berman’s Always Be Hustling “Entrepreneurial Product Development” — which you should check out.

The last night of Shift 2015, at the last campfire, I stood up on a beer cooler to read this out loud — very loud — to 120 young designers who are about to step out of their world abruptly into ours…

I am wearing this shirt from Best Made Co — because I am about to say a bunch of stuff that can be really negative. It would be a disservice to be left unsaid, so be optimistic.

I’ll start soft…

Dream then do. Talk is cheap. I hate talking, that is why this is written down.

The real world doesn’t care about your grades or awards, they only care that you benefit them. Until that changes, set your expectations accordingly.

It’s going to get worse…

I graduated from Auburn University’s school of Industrial Design. I did very well in design school, I never made below a B+. My first job was working for Apple. Here is how it happened.

After I graduated, I busted my ass and made a film using Apple’s software to show my capabilities with their tools. I interviewed twice and was picked out of 200 applicants for the position. My first day of work — I carpooled with my wife. She dropped me off between a Victoria’s Secret and a Pottery Barn at the mall, handed me my lunch and said “Good luck!”.

Let me clarify, I worked at an Apple Retail Store in a mall selling iPods.

How do you recover when your expectations do not match reality?

You learn everything you can on the 9–5. You hustle.

My career by job title:

High School Student

College Student

Trainer at Apple

Associate Furniture Maker



Student again



In the last 3 years — Designer was actually in the title.

The underlying method for Design is problem solving. If you can do this you can have any job that requires problem solving. This — is every job.

Every. Job. Ever.

Getting that job is problem solving.

It’s never too late to get an internship, it pays more than you think. It is a preview of where you could have gotten stuck if they offered you the job. If it’s a good fit, it’s never too late to ask for that job.


Know what value you provide to the business and sell it. A good business needs 3x your salary to justify your employment. Know what that business does and sell how you are going to make it better.


You will need 3x your salary to justify your employment.

Want an MBA?

Read the Hustlers MBA first. I will paraphrase it for you in nine steps:

Learn poker. You will learn how to negotiate. If you learn the game, you can make enough to sustain you.

Travel. You will understand other cultures and other people.

Read. Every day for one hour. You can consume a writer’s legacy for $10. At that rate — that is 100 legacies per year.

Write every day. It will help you develop and refine your thoughts to communicate to others. Video yourself reading it, that is called public speaking. Publish it. That is called shipping.

Learn to program. It will develop logic and efficiency. It will help you communicate to developers. It will allow you to build in the digital space. This is where everything you design will live… Everything you design.

Be social. This is the most important skill you can learn. This can only be developed by doing. Go outside, meet people and understand them.

Eat healthy. Your body and brain is better for it. It builds discipline. It will make you sexy and all your dreams will come true.

Follow curiosity. Spend money on side projects, classes, equipment and conferences. It does not have to be design related.

Start a business. Read some business books before you start it… and try to make money. You will learn what it takes to run one and how to be of value to someone running one.


Try things but be ready for failure. Expect it. If you are not failing, you are not learning. Start on small things and work yourself up to big things.


Assume is spelled A-S-S, it makes an ass of you. If I am on your team or in your general vicinity... it makes an ass of you and me.

If you watch TV you aren’t thinking so you can’t be hustling, people who hustle think. Don’t fool yourself.

Keep trying — don’t let the world tell you that you can’t. The world always wants something out of you. It wants you to not change, remain status quo and all of your money.

Find people who challenge you and place yourself near them. Find a community of designers who do not sit around and talk but do and try things. If that is not possible find people who do and try things. They are better than people who complain more than they design.

Live your life. Don’t live out what others will think is cool. They are not paying attention to you. This is your life. Do what you love, chase your dreams now, or you will regret it.

Make a 15 year resume

If your dreams are big then plan big. Write down the closest steps to get there. Make a 15 year resume. That is a piece of paper explaining your decisions and experience that you are going to live up to. Revisit it every year.

Have mentors. Mentors are people who drink coffee with you. People who drink beer with you are just your friends who are putting up with your shit.

The people who you look up to are closer and more willing to speak with you than you think.

Designers are sharks — always be hustling.

The course of true love never did run smooth — Chasing dreams outside the 9-to-5… Designer for @GEdesign, Building @AsmblyCo

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store