No Free Lunch

Entering the entrepreneurial world was intimidating. We thought everyone would be extremely intelligent, ambitious, and innovative. It was shocking to discover that many of the business professionals we encountered were unmotivated, lazy, and unoriginal. We quickly realized that those who were actually succeeding were those who were willing to work hard. Success lay in the hands of those who were unafraid to carve out their own niche.

It’s easy to overlook this cornerstone of success because it is simply “understood” by many, but we want to take a moment to emphasize it here: hard work.

When Chris was growing up, his father took him shopping for new clothes. They went to their local mall, where Chris was able to get a new pair of jeans and a few button-up shirts from Macy’s. When they left the department store, his father turned to him and pointed to the escalators leading to the mall’s second floor.
“All right,” he said. “Time to buy my stuff.”
“Where are we going?” asked Chris.
His father raised his eyebrows. “Nordstrom, of course.”
Chris stopped in his tracks. “Wait. Why do you get to buy your clothes from Nordstrom when I had to get mine from Macy’s?”
His father put a hand on Chris’s shoulder. “Son, when you’re paying for it, you can shop wherever you like.”

Chris thought about this and realized that it made complete sense. It actually reinforced what he had known since he was a boy: He would have to work for whatever he wanted. There was no free lunch.

This is the same mindset we employ in our business practice, and so should you. Ambition’s partner in crime is hard work. You can’t realize full potential of one without the other.
Perhaps this is the area in which our middle-class backgrounds worked in our favor. Neither of us grew up with the notion that success would be handed to us, or that we were entitled to opportunities or achievements. We were both taught that we would have to work for whatever we wanted to obtain.

This idea was also reinforced by what we saw around us. Our parents worked hard for what they earned, as had their parents. This was just a fact of life. In our perspective, hard work was the tried-and-true method for goal realization.

This remains true for us today; although we’ve sharpened our approach to success by giving hard work some much needed horsepower.


This article is an excerpt from the book “The Whiteboard: Go from Blank Canvas to a Productive, Leveraged, & Highly-Profitable Business” by Chris Haddon and Jason Balin. Please click here to see more.