In the face of billions of dollars of destruction, of the loss of life, of families distrupted, it’s easy to wonder what we were so hung up on just a few days ago. Many just went face to face with an epic natural disaster, and millions are still recovering. Writer’s block or a delayed shipment or an unreturned phone call seem sort of trivial now.
We’re good at creating drama, at avoiding emotional labor and most of all, at thinking small. Maybe we don’t need another meeting, a longer coffee break or another hour whittling away at our stuckness.
There’s never been a better opportunity to step up and make an impact, while we’ve got the chance. This generation, this decade, right now, there are more opportunities to connect and do art than ever before. Maybe even today.
It’s pretty easy to decide to roll with the punches, to look at the enormity of natural disaster and choose to hunker down and do less. It’s more important than ever, I think, to persist and make a dent in the universe instead.
We’ve all been offered access to so many tools, so many valuable connections, so many committed people. What an opportunity.
Good stuff, I’d vote to replace poker with trading pennsytocks, the learning curve is probably the same but the barriers to entry are so much lower. Get a $300 used laptop and a $30 a month internet connection and you can trade anywhere. If you use poker to build your nut you need to go to where the poker games are.
3. Read every single day for at least an hour. Books get lumped in with other reading like magazines and blogs, but they’re actually far more valuable. The amount of value an author compresses into a book is often astounding. There are books I’ve paid $10 for that have completely changed my life. If you read for 1-2 hours on average, you’ll read around a hundred books per year. I do this now and find it to be one of the most valuable uses of my time. Read at least 50% non-fiction, but fiction is good, too. In school you would probably read 12 books a year at most.
4. Write every single day. Write blog posts, work on a book, write how you’re feeling, or write short stories. I don’t think it really matters. Writing every day helps you develop and refine your thoughts, as well as learn to communicate with others. Almost any field you’ll go into will require communication, so you may as well get good at it. After you write, record a video yourself explaining what you wrote. This will help with public speaking and conversation. After the first year at the very latest, start publicly posting your work. This teaches you to ship and to integrate feedback.
5. Learn to program, even if you don’t want to be a programmer. Programming develops logic and efficiency, amongst other things. Even an intermediate understanding of programming will allow you to be a creator. Programming languages are the languages of the future, so even if you aren’t a programmer yourself, there’s a good chance you’ll be working with them. Speaking someone’s language is nice when you’re working with them, right?
6. Do something social. College is really excellent for making people social, and it’s the one aspect in which don’t expect my plan to exceed school. If you’re a guy, consider getting into pickup. If you’re a human, take group art classes, yoga, dance, or go to meetup groups. Social skills are some of the most important skills you can learn, and they can only truly be developed through social interaction. This interaction has to be in person, too… online chatting can be beneficial, but it’s not enough. Traveling will help you be social as well, especially if you stay in hostels.
7. Eat healthy. When you eat healthy, your brain functions better and you’re safeguarding its longevity. Developing yourself is at least as much about good habits as it is about learning skills. And like all habits, the earlier you start, the better. I’d say that the minimum to shoot for here is cutting out all sweeteners and refined grains. Besidses the obvious health benefits, eating healthy will help you build discipline, which is an absolutely essential life skill.
Most successful (and honest) real estate agents will tell you that their business is about the listings, and that sales ability comes second. All other things being equal, the agent with a better home to sell will make a better sale.
The same thing is true for baseball managers—if you have a better lineup you’re more likely to win the game. And of course that’s true for the sushi restaurant with fresher fish. And the tech company with better programmers, and the college with better professors…
If this is all so obvious, why do we spend all our time trying to find cheap average inputs and then make them special through our magnificent sales and management skills? Why do we industrialize the hiring process, spend very little time on scouting, and seek out the replicatable instead of the special exception? Our ego demands that we spend all day polishing the average instead of seeking out the exceptional.
Better to invest the time and money on special people and raw materials instead.
…is to avoid being one. At least among your most treasured peers.
Surround yourself with people in at least as much of a hurry, at least as inquisitive, at least as focused as you are. Surround yourself by people who encourage and experience productive failure, and who are driven to make a difference.
What’s contagious: standards, ethics, culture, expectations and most of all, the bar for achievement.
The crowd has more influence on us than we have on the crowd. It’s not an accident that breakthroughs in music, architecture, software, athletics, fashion and cuisine come in bunches, often geographic. If you need to move, move. At least change how and where you exchange your electrons and your ideas.
We all need leaders who challenge the tribe. We benefit even more when our leaders have peers who push them to be even better.