“What’s the one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?”
I asked the 86-year old man sat next to me on a recent long-haul flight.
I overheard him talking to his wife, and after realizing we share the same mother tongue, I was tempted even more to ask him that question.
He looked me in the eye, smiled, and went on for next hour or two.
And I gladly listened…
Wish for others what you want for yourself.
Be the one who picks his teammates; not the quiet one who gets picked! Speak up and voice your thoughts.
Marry wisely. It’s one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make.
Don’t let failures stop you from trying again (and again).
Journal. Write every day. And write anything you remember from the past.
One conversation or one interaction could change the course of your life for the better (or worse). Have faith.
“Be honest”, he repeated.
Read and listen to as much good content as you can—Do this often and great ideas will keep flowing to you.
The more you read the more you know. The more you listen the more you understand.
Don’t smoke. Avoid alcohol. Your future self will thank you for it.
Make the money first, then spend it. Don’t spend more than you can afford.
So much of what he said resonated with me. So much of it I knew, but had forgotten.
Derek Sivers has been an incredible (virtual) mentor of mine.
From reading Anything You Want before starting my first company to learning about Leadership from his Dancing Guy video, he’s been constantly giving me value —and he probably doesn’t even know it himself!
Here’s some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from him. I hope (and am sure) by the end of this article, you’ll agree with me on him being an incredible mentor as well.
On Starting up
Making a company is a great way to improve the world while improving yourself.
The best way to make a movement – if you really care – is to courageously follow and show others how to follow.
Just pay close attention to what excites you and what drains you.
Pay close attention to when you’re being the real you and when you’re trying to impress an invisible jury.
On Knowing Your Why and Values
Know your personal philosophy of what makes you happy and what’s worth doing.
Please don’t think you need a huge vision. Just stay focused on helping people today.
If you think your life’s purpose needs to hit you like a lightning bolt, you’ll overlook the little day-to-day things that fascinate you.
When someone’s doing something for the money, people can sense it, like a desperate lover. It’s a turnoff.
When someone’s doing something for love, being generous instead of stingy, trusting instead of fearful, it triggers this law: We want to give to those who give.
He calls this a Tao of Business.
If you think true love looks like Romeo and Juliet, you’ll overlook a great relationship that grows slowly.
On Saying No
If you’re not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, say “no.”
When you say “no” to most things, you leave room in your life to throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say “HELL YEAH!”
This reminds me of James Altucher’s line of thinking…
On Being Customer Centric
Never forget that absolutely everything you do is for your customers. Make every decision—even decisions about whether to expand the business, raise money, or promote someone—according to what’s best for your customers.
On Simple Living
I live simply. I don’t own a house, a car, or even a TV. The less I own, the happier I am. The lack of stuff gives me the priceless freedom to live anywhere anytime.
On Not Giving A Shit
It’s a big world. You can loudly leave out 99 percent of it.
No matter which goal you choose, there will be lots of people telling you you’re wrong.
You can’t please everyone, so proudly exclude people.
What have you learned from Derek (or others) that you found valuable? Make a list and let them know…
Millennials (or Generation Y) are the current 18 to 30 year olds and in less than 10 years, they will form the majority of the workforce. To be precise, 75% by 2025.
“Why should I care?”, you may ask.
Well, these guys are different. They have different values and traits, especially when it comes to their career. Or as Dan Pink puts it in Drive:
This generation is redefining success and is willing to accept a radically re-mixed set of rewards. They don’t rate money as the most important form of compensation. Instead, they choose a range of non-monetary factors from a great team, to the ability to give back to society through work. And if they can’t find that satisfying package of rewards in an existing organisation, they’ll create a venture of their own.
So because your future hires care less about salary and more about a “sense of purpose” in their work , forward-thinking employers are starting to adapt their hiring approach to communicate their “why” more clearly.
Here are a couple of steps your organisation can take to join in too:
Every company (regardless of the size or industry) has its own unique culture. Communicate that to your potential employees and let them be the one choosing to work for you.
Not in a texty job ad, but through photos and videos that Generation Y is constantly exposed to on the world wide web. Web pages with videos get 100% more views than those just with text.
Really think about “why should they choose to work for me over the company next door” and clearly communicate that to them.
Transparency pays off… at least when it comes to employment!
Be Where They Are
Showing more is great, and in fact 86% of UK businesses have made efforts to improve their employer brand one way or another over the past year. Yet most of these initiatives are only showcased on their own career websites. That’s not where millennials spend time!
To attract the new generation of workforce, employers need to be where they are. That is, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and websites with genuinely useful and entertaining content tailored to millennials.
Feature those videos you produced to show what it’s truly like to work at your awesome company where qualified millennials spend time and you’ll see the magic happening: Not only will you end up with more visibility but you’ll also get candidates who already know what it’s like to work at your organisation.
Following these steps will put you in a much better position to receive more qualified applications and eventually better-fitting candidates for that dream team you’re building— both in terms of culture and skillset.
Why? because candidates have already done half the job to screen themselves for your organisational culture and if they apply, it means they really want to be a part of your “why”.
It’s a win-win
Audiobooks read by the authors themselves are truly amazing.
I even think they are underrated.
It’s like the author is sitting in front of you and telling you all he knows. In person.
I was listening to Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness on my way home the other night and and I couldn’t help but put it out to the world:
And I’ve been following James’ podcast, books, Twitter Chat, Quora answers and blog posts for over a year.
So it made sense to get a bit excited when I was having a 1-to-1 conversation with him, however virtual it was!
Here is what I meant by “lots” when I said to James, “I’ve learned lots from you.”:
1. Follow the Daily Practice
Focus on physical, mental, spiritual and emotional with the daily practice. And do it every day as the name suggests.
Acknowledge that it’s not your external life that needs to change (you have little control over that), but that external changes flow from the inside.
2. Get a mentor
From James’ Twitter Q&A:
3. Only do things you enjoy
“Only read the books you enjoy, that make you happy to be human. Only go to the events that actually make you laugh or fall in love. Only deal with the people who love you back, who are winners and want you to win too.”
4. Write down ideas
To strengthen your “idea muscle” and turn into an idea machine.
Once in a while, let the ideas mate and have babies too.
Check out Become An Idea Machine. James must’ve talked about this enough to make Claudia write a 400+ page book about it! It’s the next to be read in my Kindle library.
5. Complaining is draining
“Complaining sucks the air out of any new possibilities that may appear in the present moment. It leaves us drained. It’s reacting to the pain we’re already feeling in a negative way. When we stop the complaining we start seeing every new situation as an opportunity.”
6. Don’t worry about the outcome
Just do your best.
“Hugh Howey thought he would write novels that only his family would read. So he wrote ten of them. Then he wrote “Wool”, which he self-published and has sold millions of copies and Ridley Scott is making the movie.Clayton Anderson applied to be an astronaut for 15 years in a row and was rejected each time until the 16th.
Sometimes when I have conversations with these people they want to jump right to the successful parts but I stop them. I want to know the low points. The points where they had to start doing their best. What got them to that point.”
7. Don’t take things personally
You can’t hate the people who reject you. You can’t let them get the best of you. Nor can you bless the people who love you. Everyone is acting out of his or her own self-interest.
Write every day. And write shorter sentences. Sometimes a single word counts as a sentence.
9. Be grateful
Now, every day when I wake up I am grateful. I have to be. And I have to count the things that are abundant in my life. Literally count them. If I don’t they will begin to disappear. I’ve watched them disappear before. I don’t want it to happen again.
10. Say No
If you say yes when you don’t want to, you’ll quickly learn to hate everyone around you, including the person you see when you look in the mirror.
Read books, not newspapers. And read a lot of them.
Another Twitter Q&A:
12. Think twice before choosing university
“While at university, you become very invested in your particular topic of studies, and not what’s happening in the wider world. Universities really encourage students to be into university and they then get out, and are like, “wait, I don’t have anything to offer.” Yeah, you just ignored the wider world for a few years while you were focused on university. Huge financial opportunity and time opportunity costs.”
13. Show up
Woody Allen famously stated, 80 percent of success is “showing up.” Nothing more really needs to be added there except it might be changed to “Ninety-nine percent of success for the entrepreneur is showing up.”
“What do you have to show up for? You have to find the investors, you have to manage development, you have to find the first customers, You have to find the buyers. They don’t show up at your door. You show up at their door. Otherwise your business will just not work out.”