In today’s episode of The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about persistence and how it can benefit your life. They introduce us to a persistence technique called HUCA, which is simple, free and can work wonders for you if you follow it.

“You can’t beat the person who never gives up”. Persistence in work and life is one of the most important characteristics to have because persistence can open doors when it appears that there are no more doors to open. Persistence is the ability to continue trying to achieve something even when faced with resistance from other people or circumstances.

The art, of not taking no for an answer is the key to breaking through to a world of possibilities. Not just to get what you want but also to train your mind to find the way to creatively solve challenges, when it appears to everyone else that there is no hope.

Tune into this week’s episode of The Startup Chat to learn about what is possible when you apply and activate persistence techniques into your life. As well as Steli and Hiten’s top tips for how to get started.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:30 What is HUCA?

01:45 The power of HUCA.

03:00 Where using HUCA can actively help you.

04:17 How does HUCA apply to opportunities.

04:42 The limitations of making assumptions.

05:45 HUCA case study.

07:03 The power of moving forward against challenges.

08:01 How to apply persistence in all parts of your life.

09:50 Ideas for where you can use HUCA in your life.

10:31 Self reflection to improve your persistence and application of HUCA in your life.

3 Key Points:

  • Kids use HUCA really well.
  • Just because 1 person at a company says no or tells you it can not be done, doesn’t mean you can not approach someone else.
  • Ask yourself, where I could be more persistent?.


Steli Efti: Hey everybody. This is Steli Efti.



Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shah.



Steli Efti: And in today’s episode of The Startup Chat, I wanted to talk about an acronym I just learned recently, which is HUCA. H-U-C-A. And it stands for “hang up, call again.” And I feel like there’s a lot of lessons that could be learned for founders and startups in that little philosophy approach. And it’s funny because I learned it from my co-founder, Thomas, who is the most engineering mind I know. We call him AI, just to give you a sense about his character. We’re still working on upgrading his human chip. But just like a brilliant developer. He’s not a sales guy, he’s not like a super, outgoing, hustling type of person. But he is a travel hacker. He travels a ton. He knows more about the travel industry and flight companies than most people that work in that industry. He can tell you all the little tricks, how to get all these flight upgrades, everything for free, how to use points. It’s insane. He’s really a genius when it comes to that. And so I had a problem recently with trying to rebook a flight and I had to call the airline hotline, whatever, and try to figure out if somebody could help me change some details on my flight. And I was slacking with him and chatting with him “Hey, how do I approach this?” Because I know he’s so good at it. And he was like “Well, what did the agent say?” I’m like “The agent told me it can’t be done.” He’s like “Well, just HUCA.” I’m like “What does that mean?” He’s like “Just hang up, call again.” He told me he typically does this three to four times before he gets an agent who can get done what he wants them to get done for them. And that blew my mind and I talked to him about this afterwards but the basic concept of saying when you talk to somebody at a company and they tell you that they cannot help you or they cannot give you a solution, it doesn’t mean there’s no solution and nobody can help you. It just means you’re talking to the wrong person, so just hang up and call again the same hotline. You get rerouted to another agent and you just try again. And he’s like “Sometimes it’s with the first one, but at the worst it took me four to five times and the fifth time I got an agent that did the thing I wanted them to do.” Whereas everybody else was telling him that it can’t be done. And I don’t know, that hang up call again metaphor to me feels like one that could be applied in many different areas, but I wanted to share this. I don’t know if you knew about this, if you had heard this, if I’m the only one that has never heard about this acronym before. But I thought it might make for a fun episode to chat a little bit about it.



Hiten Shah: Yeah, I’ve heard it before. This is especially important when you’re talking to a call center. And you have many different levels and different styles of people that might be on the other line. I think the interesting aspects of this are when you start applying it to your life in general. And I think you’ll see kids do this. So what kids do is they’ll ask one parent something. If that parent says no, they’ll go to the other parent as if they never asked the first parent they asked, right? And so I think they knew the HUCA technique really, really well. And that’s probably a good example of in life, what you can do.



Steli Efti: Yeah, I love that. I didn’t make the connection to children until you brought it up, but it’s brilliant. Because you’re right, they’ll ask both. But if there are more people available, let’s say it’s a birthday party and they want to do something, they ask the mom. The mom says no. They ask the dad, the dad says no. Then they’ll go to the grandfather, to an uncle, to the neighbor. They’ll go to any adult until some adult says yes and then they’ll have their permission to go do the thing. So they don’t really care about that. I was really thinking about this very much from a perspective of business development, sales, press, PR. We’ve talked about this quite a bit, even on the podcast, my life philosophy of following up and following through and going again. But that’s mostly following up with the same person. Or trying again with the same kind of person. But what I realized that I haven’t talked a lot about is that sometimes when you deal with a company, approaching different people in that company to get what you want to get done is something that a lot of times people don’t think about and it’s not that complicated, but they’ll just ping one writer. Let’s take the press example. They’ll ping one writer at a big publication. That writer will ping them back and say “Sorry, not interested.” Actually, yeah, not interested. And they just think, oh, the publication rejected me. They are not interested. But they didn’t have an all hands on deck meeting with every single employee at that publication looking at your proposal and all together in unison rejecting it. It was just one person that said no. So you ping somebody else and they’ll say yes and I was wondering when I brought up the press example, I was like, as I was saying let’s take the PR example, I was thinking to myself, why am I choosing the PR example. And while I was speaking, I realized probably because I just did this. I’m a little bit hungover today, so I might be slower than on the average episode. But we just had this with Forbes where I pitched a story to one person over long periods of time, followed up, followed up and then eventually we started having a conversation and she rejected the story. And then we found somebody else and we approached the story with a little bit of a different angle because it was a different writer with a different focus, and that person just emailed me back this morning saying “Yes, I’d love to write about this,” and was totally interested. So that’s probably subconsciously why the PR thing popped up because it’s like just because one person at a company says no, or tells you that something can’t be done or something isn’t an interesting proposition for that organization doesn’t mean that you cannot re-approach the org and find somebody else. Hang up, call again. Try somebody else and see if that person is gonna be a better fit or maybe more open to your suggestion or proposal. And I don’t think most of us think that way. Most of us think when somebody rejects us from Company X, we have been rejected by that organization, by Company X in general and we just leave it alone.



Hiten Shah: Yeah, it’s really funny that I’m talking to you about this, mainly because I’ve learned persistence from you. So it’s like hey, just be persistent. So I think HUCA is another sort of form of that and it comes from that whole idea of if they won’t give you the answer you want, keep going and keep asking people until they give you the answer you want, or do the thing that you want them to do. And I think the same applies to many aspects of life. The PR one is really great because that’s such a common thing that happens with PR. That people are inundated with stories and not every single person is gonna be right to tell your story, basically. Because that’s what PR is. You’re telling someone else’s story if you’re writing or something like that. And so I love that example and I think it’s really powerful. I wish I did it more, to be honest.



Steli Efti: Man, I wish I did it more. I’m doing this quite a bit in my life, but part of it is probably in my DNA, but a lot of it was also just learnt and practiced. But in this example, this is such a … Maybe it was such a powerful example for me, so eye-opening, because this was in a context where I would have never done that. In the context of calling a hotline, for instance, and asking an agent for help, I would never think to hang up and call again and talk to another agent about the same problem. I had never done that before. And to me, it was always like if one service report agent told me “No, we can’t do this. The policy is XYZ, sorry.” I would just accept that, which is hard to believe. But often times, I’ll just be like oh, okay. And accept it. And when he told me that he would call three or four times until he gets an agent that can get the job done for him. I was like holy shit, here’s a whole area of my life where for the last 35 years, the last 30 years, I could have solved so many problems if I was just a bit more persistent and if I didn’t take a no for an answer in those kind of situations. And I was like I always took no for an answer, in that context. Different in sales, different in many other areas in my life, but that made me think, and I think this is maybe gonna be the call to action for this short episode for people who are listening, it made me think or ask myself the question “What other areas in my life are blind spots where I could be a bit more persistent or just have a better attitude about not accepting the first no or not accepting whatever is given to me as truth or reality or limitations? What are areas where I’m too easily accepting of limitations or realities or push-backs or no’s that I could apply the hang up, call again philosophy, the persistent philosophy, the re-approaching philosophy, to get more of what I want in life and to get more done?” And there were a bunch of things that popped up in my mind. So this is even for somebody like me who is known for the only thing I’m good at, which is persistence, I don’t have any other talent, so that’s the thing people know me for, even I … There’s probably so many areas in my life where I don’t do this. This was a big one where I was like “Holy shit. I would have never ever thought to do that.” And the person I was talking to was telling me no and then I called again. At the second call, I got somebody that solved the problem, got me the rebook, got everything done for me. And I was mind blown because shit, I would have never done this. I would have never called again and ask somebody the same question from the same kind of airline company. So it’s such a simple life philosophy, but I think that if you feel like you need to be more persistent and kind of re-approach, retry, then maybe today’s the day. Just ask yourself what’s one area, what’s one thing you’re trying to accomplish. And end the episode by taking an action of following up or re-approaching, re-pinging, hanging up, calling again, whatever that means in the metaphor for that thing. But if you feel like you’re doing really well, maybe you can ask yourself, like I did, what could be an area where I could be doing better? Or what could be a blind spot area where I could be more persistent or less accepting of the first no, the first rejection or obstacle. Yeah, HUCA. Hang up and call again. Blew my mind. I hope that some people listening today are gonna be inspired to take that little bit of an attitude into their startup, into their work and life and accomplish a lot more with it.



Hiten Shah: HUCA. Hang up and call again. Don’t forget to do that. It’s key everywhere, all the time. Alright. Till next time.



Steli Efti: Till next time. Bye guys.