The Art of the Hustle: Josh Allen and The Shark Tank

January 24, 2023

by Stephen T. Messenger

Even after his playoff loss on Sunday, Josh Allen remains one of the hottest quarterbacks in the NFL. The Buffalo Bills won the AFC East, advanced to the Conference Championship last Sunday, and Allen was the Number Two quarterback in Fantasy Football this year. From the outside, this young leader looks like he’s always had it going for him.

But he hasn’t. In fact, coming out of High School, Allen had zero Division I NCAA offers of any type. His dream of going to Fresno State evaporated, and Allen had no prospects upon graduation. However, instead of giving up on his dream, Allen displayed the key leadership quality of persistence. He never quit and is now reaping the rewards.

The Shark Tank

One of my guilty pleasures is Shark Tank. I don’t watch much TV, but when I’m travelling for work, I’ll flip it on in the background. This show takes entrepreneurs who have been scrapping together a company and offers them the opportunity to journey with successful investors.

The ones with good products who typically get offers are those who are sacrificing everything to make their business work. Sharks call it hustling. Many entrepreneurs have invested all their money, sold their houses, quit their jobs, and are all in. Moreover, they’re making sales pitches to anyone who will listen.

And the Sharks love that! You see, Sharks aren’t investing in a product so much as investing in a person—one who is persistent and will never quit. Josh Allen is that person.

Do What It Takes

Allen enrolled at Reedley, a junior college near Fresno. He didn’t start the first four games but came off the bench in the fifth one to run for four touchdowns. He started the next six and impressively accumulated over 2,000 yards, 26 throwing touchdowns, 660 rushing yards, and 10 touchdowns on the ground.

Yet no large programs were interested. Allen next sent over 1,000 emails to NCAA football coaches hustling for someone to look at his video with this note:

“Hello coach, my name is Josh Allen and I am a quarterback at Reedley JC out of California. I stand at 6’5” 210 lbs and am a full qualifier, and feel like I would be a great fit in your offensive scheme! Please take a look at my hudl.  Please get back to me at any convenience! Thank you.”

Only a few coaches responded, and two smaller Division I Programs offered him a scholarship: Eastern Michigan and Wyoming. The later offered him an opportunity only after they lost their first choice late in the recruiting process, and Eastern Michigan withdrew theirs when he visited Wyoming. Allen was devastated. But, true to the hustle, he took the offer on the table and set out to made it work.

He was the No. 2 quarterback on the roster and started on the bench. But in the opening game, the primary quarterback suffered a knee injury, and Allen started Game Two against Eastern Michigan. After an impressive eight-play, 84-yard touchdown drive in the first series, Allen aggressively took on a defender during the second drive and broke his own collarbone in seven spots. Eight screws and a plate later, Allen was back to zero.

But he hustled again in rehab, gaining muscle and speed during the offseason. Fully healed, he impressed everyone. Twenty-five starts later, over 5,000 yards and 44 touchdowns, Allen became the seventh overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Don’t Give Up

I see too many people give up. They quit when it gets hard. They see a setback and panic. They forget about their goals and endgame. The reason there are delays and setbacks is because what you’re doing is probably hard.

Leaders are persistent. They understand the challenges that are between them and their goals. But they also know, like Allen and hundreds of Shark Tank entrepreneurs, that it takes relentless pursuit of goals, acceptance of unplanned delays, and an unwavering eye on the prize to be successful.

Next Year, Josh Allen will continue to hustle and make another playoff run. His loss on Sunday was just one more temporary setback on his journey to the Super Bowl.

Never stop hustling!  

Subscribing to The Maximum Standard is a no cost, ad-free way to grow in your leadership journey. By subscribing above, you’ll receive a weekly email every Tuesday morning with a new leadership concept like the one above. We are here to develop leaders—join us!

Looking to publish? Click here for more information!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: