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Random Thoughts (Blog)

The best advice I can give...

Posted on September 20, 2012 at 12:40 AM

If you could go back and speak to your younger self, you would probably tell young self some things like, “Don’t really stress over that high school calculus grade; despite what the teacher says, you really *won’t* ever use this stuff in real life,” or, “Only bad things are going to come from drinking that 12th Miller Genuine Draft!” or "You'll never regret the drink your didn't have the next morning" or “I don’t care if it looks like the company is irrelevant and will go out of business, you buy all the Apple stock you can in the 80s and, BY GOD! you hold onto it! Trust me on this one.”


But there is some practical, real-world advice that I’d pass on to young John. Advice that I think would help anyone to do better.


The first piece of advice – and the bit that I think has helped me the most in life and probably taken the longest to come to really embrace – is this: Realize that all they can say is, “No.”


Whatever the question – “Will you go out with me?” “Can I have this job/interview/meeting?” “Can I spend the night on an aircraft carrier?” – the worst that anyone can say is, “No.”*


(* This does assume a question asked within the normal bounds of reason, of course. Some questions could get you punched in the face, fired or arrested, so, you know, discretion is the better part of valor here.)


And if they do say no, what will happen? Nothing. You’ll end up in exactly the same place you were before you asked. In fact, better than that. You’ll at least have the satisfaction of knowing. I call this “The Becky Frodsham Effect.


But if they say, “Yes,” you’ve just opened an entirely new world of possibilities for yourself.


So, really, not only do you have nothing to lose, you have everything to gain.


This takes a pretty fearless attitude and it took me a while to realize this, but once I did, it has opened more doors and opportunities for me than probably anything else. In the real world – professional, social, personal, whatever – if you don’t ask for it, you’re probably not gonna get it.


The second best bit of advice I can give would be: Always do the right thing. Whatever it is, choosing to do “the right thing” will ultimately benefit you and get you ahead in the long run. I look at all of the other companies in the custom installation field that sprouted up like mushrooms – hideous, poisonous, infected mushrooms – overnight when the economy was booming. They didn’t have any skill or ethics and just banged out jobs as quickly as possible, grabbing the money and moving on to the next one. They left terrible work in their wake, and, ultimately, went out of business. These kinds of here today/gone tomorrow tactics are common in business by people that look to grab the quick buck at any cost. Doing “the right thing” might take longer, cost more and make you less money in the short term, but in the long term, it will reap huge dividends in good will and satisfied customers.


The third bit of advice is: Be loyal. To your friends, to your family, to your beliefs...be loyal. Stick to those things that you hold true and defend them. And similarly, surround yourself with people that are loyal to you. 


The fourt best advice I can give is: Always spend less than you make. In our consume everything society, it’s so easy to get caught up in grabbing the instant satisfaction and delaying the (inevitable) pain of having to pay for it later. But if you do, you’re ultimately going to bring so much unneeded stress into your world. And I promise that (insert iPad, computer, car, outfit, trip, boat, whatever) will bring you little comfort while you’re lying awake at night wondering which bill not to pay that month. The hard and simple truth is, you either need to make more or spend less. I have my dad to thank for adopting this in my life. (Here are some more money tips for running a business.)


The final bit of advice is: Don’t be afraid to take a risk. I’ve met quite a few very successful people in my career. And one of the common traits to many of them – the self-made ones at least – is that at some point, they all took a big risk. Whether that is taking a new job, moving to a new place, or starting some adventure, the most successful people learned that they needed the guts to trust themselves and their instincts and to gamble on their own futures. Put yourself out there; risk being successful.

Categories: September 2012

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