In his memoir Lucky Me, Rich Paul shares a motto—a philosophy, an approach, a stance, etc.—that I really like, “Out the trunk.” Rich is a jersey connoisseur; in the early 2000s, he had spent thousands of dollars buying rare jerseys at Distant Replays. He eventually met owner Andy Hyman and offered to invest in Distant Replays, flying down to Atlanta to do a meeting. Andy declined his offer to invest, countering by suggesting that Rich work at the store on weekends in exchange for buying jerseys at 40% off. Rich accepted the counter, bought lots of jerseys, and went back to Cleveland and made a lot of money on them. Here’s how Rich describes the experience (emphasis added):
I never would have had access to the jerseys if I hadn’t been willing to put my ego aside and commit to being a role player with Andy, unpacking boxes and working the sales floor. Andy telling me he wouldn’t make me a partner in his business was like my grandmother saying she wouldn’t give me a key to her house. It was a humbling challenge, and I was fine with it. “Out the trunk” is a mentality that still fuels me to this day, and it comes from more than just selling jerseys. It’s about chasing down every little opportunity, putting in extra effort, and doing whatever it takes to improve your position. Phil Knight started out the trunk with Nike, carrying boxes of sneakers and racks of clothes around. “Out the trunk” forces you to interact with people, to develop communication skills, to understand the value of time. All my hustles brought me into direct contact with people—I call that kind of personal touch in business hand-to-hand combat. There’s something special in hand-to-hand combat that teaches you a whole set of skills you can’t quantify on a test. I learned much more coming up out the trunk than if I’d been born with a billionaire grandfather.
It reminds me of Jay-Z and a very scrappy, independent, Roc-a-Fella Records selling copies of Reasonable Doubt out of the trunk of Jay’s Lexus, or Jeezy and his street team of 50 people handing out 20,000 copies of Tha Streetz Iz Watchin’ at Atlanta’s Birthday Bash. Eminem had a little booth at an Usher show in 1997.
When you adopt this motto, you take agency back in your own hands. You’re no longer reliant on partners to accept you or give you permission; you can always walk your own path.