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31 Lessons I Learned in 31 Years

twenty-years copy

I am a big believer that we are all built for greatness and that we are all authors and storytellers. Some of us write fantasies, while others more serious non fiction, and some even focus on family books instead. We ultimately decide what type of book we want our life to be, and what story we want to live and leave behind for others to read. In my 31 years of age, I have learned a few things that might help you write a better story for yourself.

  1. Being afraid is ordinary, overcoming it is extraordinary: We are all born with fears, and therefore having fears makes us no different from one another, it is our ability to move past them that defines who we become.
  2. Awareness is key to success: While there are many rules to being successful, one of which that has helped me more than any other was simply my ability to be aware of my surroundings. Having your eyes wide open to reality is key to being able to recognize opportunities and threats.
  3. Think before you speak: Too many times do we respond emotionally without thinking of the consequences of our words. While our words are not as strong as our actions, they certainly hold weight in determining other people’ actions towards us.
  4. Build a strong foundation: Looking for a quick buck is great, but not sustainable. As much as building a strong foundation is difficult and takes time, it only has to be done once. Ensure you are attacking life while being aware of your own capacity and control over your discipline, will help you immensely in your quest for greatness.
  5. Life is not fair, but it is balanced: Life throws us curve balls, and even at times more than one at a time. It may seem unfair and difficult but it is up to us to realize that there is balance, even if it may not seem to be on a leveled playing field. Think of how much you push forward as you way to help you win more than you lose.
  6. Start with helping yourself first: Family is great, and good friends are hard to find. Surrounding yourself with amazing people is key but none will help you as much as you can help yourself. Always start by asking yourself what can I do, before reaching out for help.
  7. Business is about making money: While many confuse their business for a means to helping others, it is not. If you are running a business, you are running it to create value for others so they pay you a fee for your service.
  8. Entrepreneurship is about advancing society: Understand that if you undertake entrepreneurship, you are not simply looking to turn a profit. The real value is facilitating a change that advances others or facilitates the way we do or understand a process. It is not about self-employment.
  9. Some bridges are worth burning: Burning bridges may seem terrible but in some cases it forces you to move forward. When you leave your comfort zone, it sometimes makes sense to do so in order to not be able to fall back on a back up plan. You should only have one plan, #winning.
  10. Appearances are deceiving: Don’t make assumptions based on appearances. While business always seems like a better proposition with those who look the part, they are often not the ones to get the job done. Some of the best business partners I have found in life have been individuals who shared a common belief, rather than a common wallet or bank.
  11. Buy a Lambo, not a Ferrari: After 2 Gallardos, 1 Murcielago, 1 Maserati and 1 Ferrari, I have come to the conclusion that you simply don’t buy a Ferrari if you love to use your car. Despite the lower quality interior, the Lamborghini has always been a better value proposition. Just saying…
  12. Have a plan when networking: It is about who you know, but its also about how and what they know of you. People often waste time networking for the sake of networking instead of leveraging their network and being transparent in their intentions. Network with purpose or don’t waste time.
  13. Analytics over EGO: Too often we make decision in business thinking we simply know and ignore the tools we have to help us understand if we are on the right track. While we understand why we act a certain way, do we really understand how others perceive our business or strategy. Rely more on analytics, less on EGO.
  14. You are limitless, believe me: There is nothing I wanted that I didn’t achieve in life, and I attribute this to my belief in myself. If you believe you can, then you are certainly right. Just remember that everything we do, no matter how small or large, starts with our belief in the reason why are doing it.
  15. The clothes you have on don’t make you who you are, how you wear them does: Don’t waste all your money and time trying to belong to fashion peer groups but instead focus on the design of your brand as a person. You are not defined by the brands you wear but rather how well they wear you.
  16. Investing in people always pays great dividends: Invest in a business, and you will get a return on your investment, invest in people and you will get a lifetime of returns far exceeding your investment.
  17. Success isn’t determined by how much money you make: Success is defined by your ability to live the life you want, rather than the one society said you need to live. Focus on pushing yourself to accomplish and you will find fulfillment.
  18. Learn to say NO: Too many times we over promise and under deliver. I’ve learned that sometimes saying NO helps create more credibility as people love transparency in business, especially if the alternative is ignoring them.
  19. Money Matters: We live in a society driven and bound by money. Learn to make it early on so you can focus on more important things, and consider the fact that you might not want to discard it and claim that you have bigger plans if indeed you have never actually learned to make it.
  20. Rejection should be expected: From relationships to business, we are all vulnerable to rejection and no one likes it, the main idea is to move past it as fast as possible. Look at rejection as experience, rather than failure and make sure to never allow rejection to keep you from pushing forward your beliefs.
  21. Invest in yourself: Everyone wants to help others, but believe me when I say that you can’t help others until you help yourself. Even more important is how much you can help them if you are in the right place yourself first. Preach what you’ve done, not what you think they should do.
  22. Live as you want others to remember: The phrase YOLO has lost its meaning to most of today’s Gen Y but in real essence, YOLO should have “So make it count” after it. Make sure that with every action you take, you can proudly say that if it was your last, it would be the way others would tell of your story.
  23. Going to Monaco isn’t cheap: I learned this the hard way after losing $18,000 in 3 days. Monaco isn’t cheap, and even though I could have probably spent less, it simply isn’t worth seeing if you have to worry about what to eat, or where to sleep. Don’t go to million dollar locations on a budget.
  24. We are all authors: If our life is like a giant book, we may not know how long our book will actually be. Just make sure each page you are writing as you are living is better than the previous, so others can read your story and be inspired to write a better book for themselves.
  25. Don’t settle for a good life: The greatest enemy to a great life is a good life. Who isn’t comfortable with an $80K car, ½ million dollar house and a great job (even if self employed). Remember that comfort zones are the reason most procrastinate rather than push with velocity. Being cornered against a wall can do wonders for you. Put yourself at stake and break thru your limits.
  26. The rat race isn’t limited to your 9-5: The rat race is very real, but it is not about working for others or for yourself, the rat race is about simply doing the routines we have come used to without purpose or direction but rather out of habit. Just because you are running on a bigger wheel than others doesn’t mean you are immune to be running in circle.
  27. Disconnect your emotions from business: Emotional business decisions never do anyone any good. Always filter a logical approach before making major business decisions. Allow time to be the filter between emotion and logic. The more you wait, the more you think.
  28. Learn to sacrifice short term pleasure for long term fun: Nothing great was achieved overnight, and no most people didn’t get their dream car before putting in their hard work. Be prepared to make short term sacrifices like relationships, fun, shopping and many more in order to demolish your long term goals.
  29. Your strength is defined through your failures, not your successes: We are all very happy when we succeed or win in the game of life, but our attitude changes when things go bad or in an unexpected direction. Keep in mind that our character and true essence is tested when things go bad. Each time you find yourself losing, ask yourself if your attitude and actions are aligned to turn the situation around.
  30. Other people’s perception matters: Who cares what others think? Well, that’s bullshit. What others think matters, and while it may not dictate why you do or don’t do something, understanding why others feel as they do and what they feel matters very much. It enables you to understand perspective and feedback.
  31. Never Give Up: My mom fought 11 years to get a US visa, I watched her fail 3 times in business, I failed over 6 times before I succeeded at the same exact thing I was doing. Belief is key to momentum but failure only occurs when you give up, not when you fall down.

Well there you have it, 31 lessons I learned along the way to my 31 years of age. There is a feeling that I want everyone to experience, it is the feeling that you are living the life you believe you are worth living, rather than the life others have told you should be living. Start focusing on making your actions count each and every day and fill the pages of your books with stories that other will tell years after you are gone.

We are all story tellers.