If you ain’t read How to Hustle and Win: A Survival Guide for the Ghetto, start there! It’s the most comprehensive text I can suggest, teaching how to think and move in today’s twisted society. The following excerpts speak to the topics I’ll cover in more depth in A Sucker Born Every Minute.
Whether you know it or not, you’re playing the game. The “game” is not “a” game, as in the dope game, the real estate game, the corporate game, or the music game. “The” game is the summation of all those different enterprises. Together, they are known as “life” or “the real world.” All of these seemingly different enterprises are bound by very similar principles, as well as similar odds for success. How can you tell if you’re playing the game? You are. It’s just that simple.
Whether you’re hustling to keep your job, keep the bills paid, please your spouse, or sell a bird…or a CD…you’re hustling. To “hustle” simply means to work strategically towards success when the odds are against you. In a white man’s world, most of us are hustling. Although unfortunately, some of us are too brainwashed to know it. And in this game, you would think that having enough hustle would ensure that you win. But so many of us can hustle…Why aren’t more of us winning?
How can you tell if you’re winning the game? Okay…do you:
- Know what your life will be like five years from now?
- Have the resources to provide for yourself and your family without constant worries?
- Have a means of income doing something you “want” to do?
- Have peace at home, peace at work, and inner peace?
- Have the sense of calm that results from understanding the world you live in, and why things are the way they are?
- Have the ability to make sure that your grandchildren won’t have to suffer and struggle?
- Know – with certainty – that your rights, privileges, and luxuries cannot be taken from you?
- Enjoy freedom from injustice, oppression, profiling, and discrimination?
I KNOW almost no one made it past the first few criteria, but here’s one for all of you content, wealthy fools who believe money is the key to every door: If you’re such a winner, where’s your power to change conditions for others? Now that you’re so much better off, why isn’t the world a better place? Are you even WORKING on that goal?
Ah…and that’s the point. The ones who THINK they’re winning are usually the biggest losers of all. Things only get better because of people who realize they need to do things differently. And chances are good that you’re one of those people.
But I totally understand the self-absorbed losers who don’t know they’re losing. After all, this society has scammed you from day one, so it’s no surprise that you believe in the illusion. Let me unveil the myth for you:
Modern society, especially America, with its “American Dream,” is set up like any scam. The majority of the participants are meant to lose, while a few are ALLOWED to win (by the perpetrators of the scam) so that the losers will continue to have hope. The losers, no matter how much they’re losing, continue to keep the faith that one day, they too can win big. It’s like a pyramid scheme, complete with a million-dollar dream, where a bunch of losers at the bottom believe foolishly that they can make their way to the top by putting more folks below them at the bottom.
Is it really possible for everyone to “win” and “make it”? Could everyone be rich? How? Who would be the poor people that make others above them rich? Who would do all the work? It’s impossible. That’s like every team winning the Superbowl. It’s simply not how the game works.
No, the game is a gamble, like the lottery. You know the odds are a million (or more) to one, but you keep playing, inspired by the trailer park couple who were on the news last night for winning the $47 million jackpot. But, for you, by the time you win $600, you’ve spent at least $1200 on tickets. Ask anyone who’s “won” on the lottery recently whether they’ve won more than they’ve put in. If they’re honest, you’ll see how the game works.
An even better analogy is the casino. The next time you get to visit a casino, you can save a lot of money just by walking around a while and “doing the knowledge” (being observant). Take a seat by the slot machines and you’ll see a dozen people blow through ten to twenty dollars in no time. Of course, the machines don’t display how much money you’re wasting. They covert your cash to a number of credits and only display that. You don’t even have to pull the arm anymore. With the digital machines, you just press a button. Boop, boop, boop, and in 3 minutes, you’ve blown eighty dollars. That’s not an exaggeration. That’s more like an average. And that’s just the dollar slots. Let’s not even talk about the card tables! But it’s no different from our predicament in America.
Most of us lose, but they let a few win to inspire the rest of us losers with a false sense of hope. We think we’re winning, but you know the old saying: “The house always wins.”
But when you watch others winning, it seems easy. Teenagers watching dope dealers and cubicle workers watching corporate hustlers see the possibility of “doin it big.” They don’t get to see the other side of the game, because people don’t like to talk about how much they’ve lost. People will usually only tell you about their wins. So we perpetuate the myth. And the idea that you can possibly win entices you into foolish moves that set you back worse than before you started.
I realized that if we could learn by observing the failures of others we wouldn’t gamble our lives away. We could avoid bullsh*t gambles like the lottery as well as more serious gambles where you’re risking your life or freedom.
So I wrote a book that explores both the successes and the failures that we usually don’t hear about. This book talked about the myths and illusions that surround us. The book provided practical guidelines for success based in real life. And since my target audience was hustling anyway, the book was written to show you How to Hustle and Win.
Carlos and Rey had sent word through some associates that some big-time drug dealers were going to be in Kansas City, Missouri, and were looking for a buyer. But they weren’t interested in meeting with any small time hand-to-hand nickel and dimers. They had big weight, and were trying to unload it fast, but only if the price was right.
Before long, word came back. They had a buyer. Carlos and Rey drove out to Kansas City and set up shop in a motel room on the outskirts of the city. Carlos with his coarse hair slicked back in a ponytail, and the both of them wearing linen suits, they looked like foreigners. When the Kansas City boys showed up, they were four deep, and the two in back were almost certainly carrying big heat.
Rey, speaking with a Cuban accent, played the role of representative, and translated for the weight man, Carlos, who spoke only Spanish. Still, Carlos’s gruff demeanor was hard to miss, and it appeared that at any moment he would cancel the deal. The Kansas City boys were big-time pushers, but there was a drought on cocaine that had seriously slowed down their operations as of late. The drought worked out in Carlos and Rey’s favor, on the other hand. They were able to demand a ridiculously high price for the three kilos of powder they’d said they’d brought from Colombia by way of Cuba. Rey explained that the prices were high because of the costs of transporting during a time of increased surveillance, and several of the fishing boats they employed in shipping across the waters had been intercepted, resulting in significant losses.
The boys weren’t convinced.
Carlos appeared furious. He began yelling at Ray in Spanish, and Ray unsuccessfully attempted to calm him down.
Finally the head of the Kansas City unit intervened.
“All right, all right. Tell him to cool out. Let us sample this sh*t first, and then we’ll decide. If it’s some high grade Colombian sh*t, we’ll f*ck with you.”
Rey laid one of the bricks on top of a towel on the motel dresser and pulled out a small knife. One of their guys cut a small hole into the brick, and scooped out some of the powder with the tip of the knife. He tasted it.
The deal was sealed. The Kansas City boys handed over a small duffle bag containing 60,000 dollars and they left promptly to get to work.
Unfortunately, there wouldn’t be much work for them to do.
Turns out, they’d been stuck with three bricks full of newspaper. There was an ounce of coke stuffed in the corner of one.
$60,000 for f*cking newspaper! Carlos and Rey were laughing their asses off on the drive home.
The lesson? Like the runner who isn’t listening when the starter pistol is fired, those who don’t pay attention in life are the first to lose. I was told that “knowledge” means to “look, listen, observe, and respect.” I was also taught that knowledge was the foundation of everything in existence. It seemed simple: What can you do if you don’t know sh*t? If you want to do something, and do it well, you need to “do the knowledge.”
So, how observant are you?
“It is impossible for a man to be cheated by anyone but himself.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
Were there any clues that tipped you off about what was really going down? Look again. Did you notice that I spelled Rey’s name differently in one place? Well, that’s a dead giveaway there’s something not entirely true here. Of course, his name wasn’t really Rey, or Ray, and of course Carlos wasn’t a Carlos. They weren’t even Cuban. Just two Black dudes who knew enough Spanish to fake it. Half the time, “Carlos” was just saying random Spanish words really fast. The Kansas City boys had no idea.
They also let “Rey” decide where to stick that knife. If they had “done the knowledge” for themselves, they would’ve checked a little more thoroughly. But people usually don’t do that. They don’t count their change to see if they’ve been cheated. They don’t read a contract to see what they’re agreeing to. They don’t even find out the side effects of prescription drugs before they take them. Hell, people take ecstasy and don’t even know that it’s usually got heroin, speed, and crack in it! So, before you cheat yourself out of something serious, start with knowledge.