Suz is a mindset coach for music industry professionals looking to gain clarity on their goals & find a better work/life balance.





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Music-Preneur Mindset Podcast EP 91 The Hustle Suz Paulinski

#91 | The Hustle & Why It Needs to Be Redefined

You betta hustle!

Suz kicks off Season 4 with a deeper look into what it means to #redefinethehustle and why the traditional definition of ‘hustle’ is burned out.

I encourage you to dig deep and examine what needs changing in your own systems and structure. It’s not your fans, it’s not the quarantine, it’s not the competition that’s keeping you from reaching your goals.

You’re listening to Episode 91 of the Music-Preneur Mindset Podcast.

Hello! You’re listening to Episode 91: The Hustle & Why It Needs to be Redefined.

I’m your host, Suz, a mindset + productivity coach helping music professionals get clear on their goals, priorities, and next steps all while decreasing overwhelm and avoiding burnout. You may also know me as the co-creator of The Rock/Star Life Planner.

In fact, this episode is being sponsored by the 2021 Rock/Star Life Planner, now available in physical and digital formats. We only have a handful of physical copies left, but you can now purchase the PDF version of the book and print it out as you go or create your own personalized planner by printing and binding the pages the way you like best.

Both versions of the Planner come with access to an exclusive library of downloadable templates, including checklists, spreadsheets and guides to help you grow your business, as well as a private community of fellow planners and video tutorials on goal setting and time blocking. Be sure to grab your copy at ttp:// We also have a brand new line of accessories that you can check out in The Shop.

If you’re a returning listener, thanks for your patience as we took a hiatus after 3 seasons to rework a few things. If this is your first time listening, welcome and be sure to check out our previous 90 episodes available wherever you stream your podcasts.

For those returning listeners, you may recall in Episode 22 I discussed what it means to Redefine the Hustle. That was back in Season 1, released in 2018, and I felt it was high time we revisit this topic and dig a little deeper.
Since that episode I have closed down my Facebook group – The Rock/Star Collective – and opened up a private community on Instagram – @redefinethehustle. It’s a community for anyone and everyone who has any copy of The Rock/Star Life Planner and is serious about changing the way they operate their business on a daily basis (we’ve been publishing them since 2016, so if you’ve got yours be sure to request access by DMing us on Instagram!).

We host 3 weekly Instagram Lives in the group – Mondays are for guiding you through planning your week, Thursdays are for bite-sized lessons around productivity, time management, and mindset, and Fridays are to end the week strong with a productivity power hour where we hold you accountable on a project. We also share wins and tips others post on their pages with our hashtag.

It’s been so gratifying, even after saying goodbye to almost 3k members in the Collective, to build a community of people who want to engage and find more structure in their day. It’s slowly growing as more Planner owners are finding out about it and I’ve been having a blast building it from the ground up.

Shutting down a group with over 2500 members that wasn’t too engaged and felt like a chore to maintain on a platform I hated and creating a new one with currently around 100 members with greater intention and passion is, to me, the definition of Redefining the Hustle.

In fact, I checked Instagram and this passion of mine has been growing since 2015 when I first started The Rock/Star Advocate and was the first to use the hashtag #redefinethehustle in a post about a blog I was writing with the same title.

Hustle isn’t about a daily grind where you sleep when you’re dead. It’s not about hitting up as many contacts as you can over DM to get your music out. And it sure as shit ain’t about suffering for your art at the expense of your health and sanity.

It’s about quality over quantity. It’s about trying something new even if there’s no proof/promise it will work. It’s getting creative so that the things I spend my time doing excite me, not drain me.

In addition to the new community, the redefined community, I also went back to working on my book (a project that’s been lingering since 2018). My goal is to finish it this year, with a publication date TBD. I do know that the main title will be Hitting Pause and it includes a large section dedicated to all things Redefining the Hustle.

In order to hold myself accountable to finishing it, I thought I’d turn the introduction to the chapter into this podcast episode.

I hope you like it and be sure to leave your thoughts and feedback in the comment section of the show notes page – – where you’ll also find a free download to my From Flustered to Focused checklist. So here we go, here’s the first look at a piece of Hitting Pause: Redefining the ‘Hustle’

This needs to stop. This ‘Hustle’ mentality is a toxic lifestyle that breeds unhealthy habits, exacerbates mental illness and keeps people from being able to sustain what they set out to do. It also makes musicians thirsty and desperate because it’s taught them that they should be so grateful for even the smallest crumb.

I hate the word ‘hustle.’ It sounds cool, it rolls off the tongue nicely, it looks badass on a t-shirt, but it also brings up unhealthy mindsets and horrendous daily practices that I used to do when I first started in this industry.

Each time I felt like I was hitting a wall or needed to hit pause I’d be told, “Come on, ya gotta hustle. Sleep when you’re dead.” And when I’d go online and watch or read something from a successful music mogul or artist they’d always talk about the ‘hustle’ and the ‘grind’ with very little detail, however it always involved some extreme sacrifice or seemingly un-human commitment they had to their craft and how that’s all it took – hustle.

I remember going to see Russell Simmons speak in NYC as part of a series hosted by the Learning Annex and he told a story about Ja Rule getting his big break on radio by standing outside the offices of Hot97 every day, even in the rain, until someone gave him a chance and played his music. He ‘hustled.’

And I remember thinking, back in 2006, yea but if everyone did that it wouldn’t work, it just worked for him. And then I thought, well, right, because most people wouldn’t do it even if you told them to. His hustle of not giving up is what got him noticed. But that’s not what got him platinum record sales and #1 music videos on TRL. It got his foot in the door, but as John Meyer says ‘that’s when the real work begins.’

I feel that there’s so much disconnect between successful people who tell those starting out to ‘hustle’ and what those starting out actually absorb. What I mean is – does it take sacrifice?

Absolutely. Does it take the courage to take risks and bet it all on yourself? 1000%.

Does “hustle” mean you work 24/7 non-stop for your entire career? Does it mean you cut everyone in your life out and focus only on your goals until they happen? Does it mean you take any substance, spend any amount of money, and partner with any person who tells you you’re going to get what you want? Not if you want to be happy and enjoy your goals when you reach them. Not if you want an actual career and life.

Listen, if you want what Beyonce has, and you truly understand what she has – then go for it, I wish you the best. But, I have a strong feeling you don’t truly understand what she has sacrificed – and what she hasn’t – to get to where she is today and where is that exactly? I get it – she’s queen of the world, she blinks and the world takes notice, she works with the best of the best and if she never wanted to work another damn day in her life she wouldn’t have to with what she’s amassed.

But she’s also isolated from being able to really connect with people on her level – because how many others are on her level? How long did it take her to be able to write and perform what she wanted to write and perform? How often is every. single. piece. of. her. life dissected and judged?

Maybe you want that. And that’s great. Maybe it’s too late for you, maybe it’s not – wtf am I to judge? Plenty of stars were told they “didn’t have it” and went on to prove the haters wrong anyway.

What I AM asking you to do is not get so caught up in a shallow perspective of what “making it” looks like that you miss out on creating an incredible life and a career you love with sustainable success that has more impact than you think is possible.

You don’t need to be Beyonce or Prince or Madonna or even an IG influencer to have an impact. You don’t need to work 24/7/365 on your craft to be worthy of building a career in music.

I’m not asking you to settle – I’m asking you to call your own shots and not be pressured to give up everything for something that doesn’t even make you happy.

I study Britney Spears a lot and not even in a judgmental way. I am honestly curious if she wants any of what she’s created. She’s even said herself she rather not work again right now.

With everything that woman has had to sacrifice… sure, she’ll go down a legend in her time and has had unprecedented fame, but is that what she signed up for?

At 15 when she was offered a record deal, do you honestly think she thought about the life she wanted to have after being a pop princess? Did she think, “gee, I don’t know… I may get so famous and be told to work so much that I lose any semblance of myself and I’ll find it hard to trust those around me. I don’t want the pressure I’m under to contribute to exacerbating mental health issues like Borderline Personality Disorder. Because then I may unravel so much from the scrutiny that I’ll be forced to live under a conservatorship and I may lose partial or all custody of my children. Hmm maybe I should think about this.”

No. Of course not. Who would?

It’s too easy to get swept up in the fact that you’re finally getting your big break. You finally have a shot at fame, power, money, and access to practically anything you’ve ever wanted.

Plus, you’ll finally be respected as an artist!

Has Beyonce always been respected as an artist? Has Britney? Did Kurt get the respect he deserved? Did it save him? Did Chris Cornell or Chester Bennington?

Be clear on what it is you’re chasing. If it’s fame you want – there are easier ways to get it these days. If you’re truly a compelling person to watch – turn on the camera and give us your best. If you want to be respected as an artist – find people you respect to surround yourself with, respect your fans, put in the work, and you’ll be respected.

Too often we’re swept up by an idea or fantasy or assumption that one thing can’t come without the other. I can’t have a “real career” unless I’m signed to a label. I can’t impact as many people as I want unless I’m super famous. I can’t make money from my music unless I’m under 30. I can’t perform my music for my fans unless I’m out on tour.
These are all excuses and distractions.

Sacrifice? Yes. Some sleepless nights when you’re hit with a ton of inspiration in the studio or you are preparing to launch your next project and you’re in the zone. Some saying no to friends and family to do fun activities when you know you have to get rest before a big show. Some spending money you don’t quite have yet so you can get the equipment or hire the coach or bring on more help in order to bring in more money.

But this hustle and grind towards ‘getting signed’ or ‘getting on the radio’ or ‘catching that big break’ is not only misguided, but it can also be dangerously unhealthy. Not to mention – it’s not sustainable!

Do you know how many “big breaks” someone has before they actually get what they want? I recall so many times I thought this one connection or this one opportunity was going to be the big ‘gamechanger’ for me until I realized success is built on top of wins and losses, both big and small. It’s not one thing.

You don’t build a career off of one shot. Can certain opportunities speed up the process for you? Sure. But if you’re not ready for the opportunity, if you rush it and expect the opportunity to do all the work than you’ve already wasted it.

An opportunity is simply a tool and if you don’t know how to make the tool work for you it doesn’t matter and it won’t magically take you where you want to go.

If someone put you in front of a crowd of 15,000 to perform and you had a great song but you had only ever played to 20 people and had never been taught how to harness the energy of a crowd that size and how to truly entertain them… would your song catch on and get more streams and downloads and could it be a cool experience? Sure. That’s definitely a possibility.

Would you be able to move those 15,000 people to the point where they fall in love with YOU and actually want to hear more songs from you? Likely they’d be waiting for you to finish so the person they had connected with could come on and perform for them

Stop waiting for the 15,000-person crowd and start mastering how to entertain the shit out of 20 people who can’t wait to see you again.

It’s time to ‘Redefine the Hustle’ and make your career work for YOU. Make the opportunities you’re given work for you. Focus on your craft and building skill sets that allow you to serve, connect, and earn trust from everyone who comes through your community.

The hustle doesn’t mean sacrifice yourself. Hustle is about sacrificing what isn’t a priority in order to stay focused on what is and get what you want. You are a priority. The relationships in your life are priorities. Decide firmly what else matters to you and be clear on what it is you want and WHY you want it.

Don’t live someone else’s dream because you think that’s how it has to be done and never chase after something if you don’t know why it matters to you.

Getting signed isn’t a goal – it’s a possible opportunity that may cross your path as you pursue your goal(s).

Don’t chase people, chase opportunities to be of service and chase yourself. Chase the better version of yourself, the more confident you, the wiser you, the more expressed version of you.

We’ve got to shift our mindset as a community around this word (see also: the grind). I don’t think it’s bad to use it, but rather than it carry with it the pressure to burn out to prove how much you want something, let it carry nothing but the confidence to chase your dreams and reach your goals without apology and the need to prove nothing to anyone but yourself.

Ah… I felt so good getting that off my chest.

So what did you think? I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts, even if you’d like to challenge something I’ve said, in the comment section of the show notes. Simply go to and let me know!

And, while you’re there, be sure to download my From Flustered to Focused checklist so you can clear your mind of the white noise and start getting clear on what matters most.

Thank you so much for listening and if you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe as I’ll be back every week with a brand new episode! And if you like what you’ve heard rate, follow, leave a review, or share from your platform of choice.

Until next time, Rock/Star. Keep planning, keep learning, and I hope to see you back here next week so we can get grounded to get rising! Take care.

Key Highlights

  • What you can expect from Season 4
  • Joining our private Redefine The Hustle community on Instagram
  • The title of my upcoming book!
  • Why the “hustle” is a hoax
  • The difference between “making it” and creating sustainable success
  • Fame ≠ respect
  • Success isn’t based on one shot
  • What sacrifices you should and shouldn’t make throughout your career
  • The new definition of “hustle” and how to make it work for you


  • Theme music brought to you by DC-based Indie/Pop band Sub-Radio
  • More podcast episodes can be found here
  • You can download a copy of the episode’s transcript here
  • Our Sponsor: The Rock/Star Life Planner. Grab your copy here.
  • Wanna work together?? Schedule your call here
  • Download my From Flustered to Focused Checklist:

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