Anna Akbari Deconstructs the Business of Life

Anna Akbari, CAS alum and former NYU professor discusses her book, “Startup Your Life: Hustle and Hack Your Way to Happiness” at the NYU Bookstore on Feb. 22.

Anna Akbari, an NYU alum and former professor in the Department of Media, Culture and Communication and the Department of Art and Art Professions, has found a formula that helps us overcome the life’s obstacles — impossible as that may seem — in her new book “Startup Your Life: Hustle and Hack Your Way to Happiness.” On Wednesday, Feb. 22, at a reading at the NYU Bookstore, Akbari discussed her novel and success in business and life. Her work is a tool kit, describing the ins and outs of startups, business, health and happiness. As a sociologist, entrepreneur, innovation consultant and writer, she is constantly practicing five guidelines to live a successful, happy life.

Akbari highlighted the art of hustling as the first step to being successful.

“It’s about rethinking the way we operate,” Akbari said. “It’s the strategy you deploy. I bootstrapped my life. Bootstrapping breeds a survival mentality. Scrappiness, not pedigree, prevails in the long run.”

It is this scrappiness, Akbari tells us, that keeps us hungry. As her book explains, everyone has different habits and ways of thinking. By channeling their natural abilities, people are able to build a strategies that are right for them. According to Akbari, she is happiest when she has at least a small level of anxiety to keep her hungry for progress.


Akbari’s second guideline is forming partnerships, which she defines as mutual feedback loops of value over a long period of time. She believes partnerships are the most important contributors to both health and happiness. Whether they are romantic, friendly or work-based relationships, partnerships support us during our times of trial and add joy to our daily lives. They teach us and ultimately help us succeed in ways we wouldn’t be capable of if we were alone.

The third guideline of Akbari’s strategy is failure. She explained that failure carries a negative connotation when in reality, it is one of the most important components of success.

“It’s your failures, not your triumphs, that have taught and shaped you the most,” Akbari said. “Failure and success are not opposites. They are complements.”

Akbari explained that together, failure and success show us how to reflect and grow. It’s how we respond to our failures that determines how we develop as individuals.

The fourth guideline was “pivot.” Simply put, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. During times of failure, people learn to pivot — to change direction, spark new ideas and emerge from defeat.

“The reality of our lives is it’s more of a season cliff-hanger than a Hollywood movie ending,” Akbari said.

Akbari treats every day like a new puzzle to solve — this is what keeps her motivated to strive toward her goals.

“The pivots that matter most in our lives start and end in our minds,” Akbari said.

She explained that we have to create our own path. Sometimes, plans fall through. Life is made of constant change and constant compromise. The trick is to remain positive along the way.

The final guideline is the simplest — play. In Central Park, Akbari found what she liked to call an adult play-pit, otherwise known as a rollerblading group. Her rollerblading and karaoke parties became her play.

Play helps you identify the activities that make you happy. And after all, happiness is often the key to success. The choices we make on the road to our goals define how we shape our lives. Start hustling, so that you can startup your happiness now.

Email Khrysgiana Pineda at [email protected] 



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