Category Archives: Hustle


How to hack customer service with 2 words.

Last week, our internet went down. Because I work from home, I couldn’t do what you do in offices, which is stand up and yell, “Is it out for everyone or just me?”

I called the cable provider and had the following conversation:

Cable guy: Whom am I speaking to?
Me: This is Jonathan Acuff. (I have to use my fancy full name on the phone.)
Cable guy: The name on the account is “Jennifer.” Can I call you Jennifer?
Me: What? No. You can’t call me Jennifer.

I didn’t care that he asked me that. English wasn’t his first language and he was instructed to follow a script. He was trying his best.

He just worked for a company that doesn’t care about customer service. Unfortunately, a lot of companies are leaning that way. They care more about getting new customers than keeping old customers.

So how do you hack customer service to make sure you have a good experience?

Easy, you use two specific words.

One afternoon, after getting the run around, Blues Traveler reference, Jenny got frustrated with a company. They called her back to fix the issue. In frustration, Jenny said, “How do I get to talk to a real person who can actually fix my problem? I don’t like dealing with so many automated systems.”

That’s when this customer service rep told Jenny a secret. It’s so simple you might not think it will work, but here it is:

If you want to hack customer service, tell them, “I’m cancelling.”

The rep told Jenny that those are trigger words. They set off an alarm for the person on the phone and ensure that your problem will be escalated. Suddenly, they’ll call you back and find discounts and offers they didn’t initially have for you.

The funny thing is, if they continue to give you terrible service, you’re going to cancel anyway, so why not be upfront about it?

If you love the service, don’t threaten to cancel. That’s dumb and it’s lying. But, when you’re ready to leave but would stay with a discount, pull out those two magical words.

Want better service? Just say, “I’m cancelling.”

P.S. You only have a few days left to order my latest New York Times Bestseller Do Over as a gift. Buy one today for a friend or yourself!


The 5 stages of hating your diet.

My weight tends to fluctuate by about 20 pounds.

That’s not an issue though because I’m a 6’8” linebacker in the NFL and you can barely tell. (Most of the extra weight goes to my biceps.)

Oh wait, that’s not right. I’m an average-height writer of non-fiction books.

What usually happens is that during the winter, I find a few extra pounds around the house. I eat richer foods, focus on cheese consumption and emerge from the cold weather looking like I’m wearing a sweater when I’m really not.

When you gain weight and decide to lose it, you experience the 5 stages of hating your diet.

1. Denial
I don’t need to lose weight. These pants have just shrunk. That’s all. That mirror has a weird shape, like, it has a “fat bend.” The batteries on the scale must be dying. It’s a posture thing. I need to stand straighter. A lot of it is muscle weight, probably. What does that word even mean, “diet?” Instead of focusing on my health, I’m going to just learn to accept myself. I am beautiful no matter what you say! Hear me roar. Like a firework or whatever.

2. Anger
This is so stupid! I promised myself last time that I would not gain those pounds again! Remember? I did the Carlton dance from the Fresh Prince when I hit my target weight? I was so happy! And now those stupid pounds are back. It’s not my fault! It’s the world we live in. There are a lot more products with funnels and centers now. I can’t help it that I am growing up in the golden age of ice cream having a solid center of caramel. That’s so unfair!

3. Bargaining
What if I run more? What about burpees? I see fit people always doing those on Instagram. How about that? I will work out like a maniac but still not change my diet at all. What do you say? You let me keep queso and I’ll start running all the time. I’ll commute to work via foot. I’ll get a fitbit and bit so hard! How about that? Or, I’ll eat really well but never exercise. I’ll even have kale, which tastes like wet sadness. Do we have a deal? No whammy!

4. Depression
My body hates me. How come fat never goes anywhere cool on your body? I’m just going to buy more sweaters. Bigger sweaters. I’m going to find out who sold all those pajamas that look like jeans in the Sky Mall catalog and wear those. Those things get me. Pajama pants are my friend. I am the Charlie Brown of diets. Good grief!

5. Acceptance
Fine! I’ll do it. I’ll get back on the bike and back on my healthy eating plan. I won’t keep pop tarts in the house because me and pop tarts are like Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. Undeniable. And I won’t put off starting. I’ll start today. As in right now. I’m in.

I didn’t exaggerate once during this post.

If any of that sounds familiar and you’re about to make a New Year’s Resolution to get in shape, join me and a few hundred people on a new adventure.

I’ve taken thousands of people through the 30 Days of Hustle. It’s a 30-day video course that teaches you how to make better goals and get better results.

Like pants with buttons that aren’t under so much pressure they might pop off and kill a man.

The lowest prices end tonight at midnight.

Screw burpees and shame.

If you want to lose weight or write a book or declutter your house or do anything awesome, don’t miss your last chance to sign up and save! (2017 rates go into effect tomorrow.)

It’s time to get goaling!

That felt like too much at the end, but I couldn’t resist.


But, why not you?

A woman emailed me recently and asked if I could make her husband motivated.

They lived in Florida and he was stuck.

She wanted to know if going through the 30 Days of Hustle would fix that.

I, in perhaps not a great moment of salesmanship, told her it would not.

I think you’re supposed to beat your chest loud and proud when someone asks you about your product. You’re supposed to say it will fix everything. You’re supposed to extol its virtues and make grand, wide sweeping promises.

“30 great videos? A ridiculously amazing workbook? A community of support full of people from around the world? Not only will it motivate him, it will brighten his teeth and clean your gutters!”

But here’s the thing, after almost 16 years of marriage and almost 41 years of living, I no longer believe you can force someone to be motivated. A wife can’t make a husband get unstuck. A dad can’t force a son to right his ship. A boss can’t demand an employee change their life.

What can we do?

We can remind each other who we really are.

We can call each other back to the truth.

We can show each other the best of who we can be.

That’s what I try to do each day.

I might not be the best salesman, but I am a believer.

I believe in what you can do.

Maybe that’s foolish. Maybe I seem cheesy sometimes with all my positivity. Maybe I stand on too many rooftops and shout too loud somedays.

I’m OK with that.


Because I’ve seen the books you’ve written.

I know about the hundreds of pounds you’ve lost.

I know about the businesses you started.

I know about the houses you decluttered.

I’ve seen the marathons you’ve run.

I’ve watched almost 5,000 of you do extraordinary things and here’s the important part, I’ve watched you remember who you are.

We’re on the edge of a brand new year.

It’s fresh and sparkling and blank right now.

That whisper you hear? That tiny little itch? That bubbling “what if?”

It’s there. It’s you. It’s possible.

Don’t go it alone. Join me and a few hundred other people who are going to do some amazing things in 2017.

It’s time.

It’s time to remember who you are.

It’s time to be surprised at what you’re capable of.

Speaking of time, Wednesday is the final day to join the 30 Days of Hustle at 2016 prices. You’ve got less than 72 hours to get in at 2016 rates before we increase them to our new 2017 pricing for the coming January 2017 launch.

This is your year.

Sign up today.


How to say no when friends want you to work for free.

I wrote about this a while ago, but some things are best expressed in video.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re going to be asked to do work for free. Here’s how I think you should respond.

Friends wanting you to work for free isn’t the only challenge you’ll face as an entrepreneur.

That’s why, starting next month, I’m taking over 225 business owners and entrepreneurs through the 90 Days of Business Hustle Challenge. We’ll cover 3 months’ worth of ideas, all with the goal of helping you have more fun and make more money.

If you’re interested in taking your business to the next level along with me in 2017, today is the last day to join. Just click that big green button for more info and to register.


The Challenge kicks off in January, but doors close tonight! You in?

To register or for more info: The 90 Days of Business Hustle


The day Jenny quit my company. (Or how to build a business and not get divorced)

Jenny likes to say that she quit my business.

I, on the other hand, like to say that I fired her.

Let’s agree to disagree.

Regardless, two years into my business, my wife quit.


Because we were going to get a divorce eventually if she didn’t.

No one tells you how consuming and damaging a business can be to your marriage. The problem is that it starts to dominate every conversation you have. Instead of just telling Jenny about my day, I was at home, sharing that day with her. She became the person I bounced every idea off of. She became my brainstorm partner. She became my coworker. She became my business partner.

And somewhere in there, she stopped being just my wife.

This happens to other couples. I know a lot who say, “We swore we wouldn’t talk about business on our date, but ten minutes into dinner, and we were knee deep into strategy.”

The problem is really two fold:

1. I didn’t know how to draw boundaries between my marriage and my business.
2. I wasn’t seeking enough real community outside of my house.

Both are important topics that are critical to your ability to be an entrepreneur.

The problem is that most business books and experts don’t ever talk about marriage. Either the author is not married or the conversation is deemed too emotional. Even worse, some entrepreneurs tell you that you should hustle 24/7. Let me be real clear about that approach.

There’s a name for people who hustle all the time, they’re called workaholics.

Entrepreneurs who tell you that you should work 16 hour days or sleep when you’re dead are dumb. At the bare minimum, their marriages suck. I don’t care who you are or what you believe, a great marriage takes a great investment of time. If you’re not giving it that, your marriage is terrible.

Sometimes, we’ll trick ourselves into thinking we’re doing all this for our kids. What a joke. I’ve never met a 15-year-old who said, “I didn’t see my parents for the first 15 years of my life but I have a nice computer so it’s a pretty good trade off.”

Jenny quit a year ago and things are a lot better. She’s still part of the big decisions my company makes, but she’s my wife again now. Our lives don’t revolve around work anymore. There are healthy ways to have both a thriving business and a thriving marriage.

I’m teaching a lesson about how to build a business without blowing up your marriage in my new 90 Days of Business Hustle course. The lowest price ends on Friday at midnight.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you need to check it out. Whether you’ve got an established company or just an idea of something you’d like to do, it will help you succeed. Even if you’re single, learning how to make sure your business doesn’t kill your relationships is important. Learn more here.

Growing a business is fun. Making money is fun. Building a business is fun.

But if you win the business and lose the marriage all the money in the world won’t matter.

Fight for both.

I’ll show you how.


If they came for me, there’d be nowhere to hide.


Every day was different, but the general feeling was the same.

Sheer panic and gigantic burritos.

The burritos were courtesy of a place called Willy’s. The trick to ordering a burrito is to ask for the meat and let the person finish placing it before you ask for double meat. If you ask for double meat up front, they give you two scoops that aren’t that big instead of two honest full sized scoops. If you wait though, you’ve set a simple but effective meat trap that will ensure you get a real deal portion.

The burrito was the least of my worries that year though.

It was 2008 and the economy had cratered. Every day at work brought rumors about layoffs.

I worked for a huge company but my team was only 6 people deep.

One day, we had a big meeting and someone was missing. I’ll call her Jill. She was the most tenured member of our team. We all thought she was sick until we got back to her desk and realized it had been cleaned out.

Jill was gone.

A few weeks later, the youngest member of my team was laid off. I remember her tears as she packed her desk next to me. She was a really smart writer and losing her job caught her off guard. I talked with my manager about it and she was concerned for the future of our team.

A few weeks later, my manager was laid off. They removed the entire level of managers, like deleting a line in an excel spreadsheet.

That’s the hardest thing about layoffs. They often don’t take your skill into account. If you’re a middle manager and they decide to eliminate that level, the layoff doesn’t care if you were good or bad. You’re gone.

Have you ever lost a job?

I have, three times.

The first time, I got fired and deserved it. I applaud that company for that decision.

The second time, the company closed and there was nothing I could do.

The third time was terrible and absolutely brutal, but …

You only need to lose your job a time or two before you start thinking about a side hustle.

We live in the side hustle economy. With the Internet, almost anyone can freelance. After losing my job a second time, I started to write on the side. It wasn’t much. I made $500 here and $300 there, but something weird happened. I wasn’t just making money, I was hiding fire extinguishers in my house just in case it caught on fire someday.

Let me be real honest with you right now.

You will lose your job.

Maybe it won’t be your fault.

Maybe you’ll crush it as an employee.

That’s great, I’m happy for you, but when another company buys yours and closes your office, your history as an employee won’t matter much. When an account executive loses your client, you’ll get a box of stuff and a pat on the back as they walk you out. When the economy dips and dollars dry up, the cost of your division will be found to be exorbitant.

I believe in the side hustle and you should, too.

It saved me the last time I lost my job.

It was hard. It was, but by that point I had a few more tools in my toolkit. When I lost my main hustle, there were side hustles waiting for me.

This January, I’m teaching a brand new course called The 90 Days of Business Hustle. The course is designed to help you turn a side hustle into a full time hustle and if you’re already killing it full time help you build a business juggernaut.

The businesses who have already signed up range from side hustlers making $0 right now all the way up to major companies making $14 million a year.

If you fit somewhere in that range, from $0-$14 million, you need to check this video course out. The lowest prices end this week. You should sign up today.

Not everyone reading this will join the 90 Days of Business Hustle. I am well aware of that, but I promise you, that everyone reading this will experience a job loss.

When yours comes, even if you haven’t taken my course, I hope you have a ferocious side hustle to keep the wolves at bay.

You’re going to need one and it’s going to save you. I promise.

Never doubt the power of a good side hustle.