Is there anything you would do differently if you could start over?
The number one thing I would do differently is be more careful about who I trust. Because I’m such a warm, open and positive person who wears his heart on his sleeve, I can be a little too trusting. I like to believe that the world is full of good and honest people who help each other achieve their dreams, but I learned the hard way that it’s not uncommon to come across the opposite type of people. The best lessons come from life experience, and I guess I had to experience first-hand just how unsavory some people’s intentions are.
In the last few years, I have been badly burned by people in business who ripped me off or screwed me over. Even some of the mentors I looked up to stabbed me in the back. This was especially discouraging, as mentors are supposed to be trustworthy teachers who want to see you succeed as a result of their teachings. The cold truth I learned is that some mentors don’t want you to step into the spotlight because they’re intimidated that you might outshine them. If you end up being mentored by someone who wants you to stay behind them in the business world, you may find out how far your mentor will go to keep you out of the spotlight.
When I was younger, I often heard the classic proverb: Love many, trust few, and always paddle your own canoe. I should have listened. Rely on yourself and avoid putting your livelihood in someone else’s hands.
If you could travel back in time to before you started, what 3 tips would you give yourself, and why?
1. Don’t wait for help achieving your dreams. Don’t wait for someone to help you become successful. Take action and achieve your dreams by yourself. Don’t expect the dream opportunity to fall into your lap, and don’t expect success to be handed to you on a silver platter. Understand that the only person who is going to help you succeed is you. Commit to yourself. It requires strength to achieve everything you want by yourself, but you can find that strength inside of yourself. Find the determination, courage and self-confidence that’s inside of you. You’ll find it when you start believing in yourself. Success starts with self-belief, not outside help.
2. Start early. If I could travel back in time, I would have started working hard to achieve my dreams much earlier in life. I wouldn’t have waited until my 30s to start my own business. I would have taken college more seriously. I would have done a lot more research in my 20s, read more books, and gone to more seminars. I would have better prepared myself for the business world, instead of learning what the business world is really like quite late, in my 30s.
3. Choose mentors and business partners wisely. The right mentor could make you, but the wrong mentor could break you. Believe me, there are mentors out there who don’t actually want to see you succeed - especially if it looks like you might be more skilled than they are - and they’ll try to pull the rug out from under you. It’s not just your mentors who you should choose wisely, though. You need to be selective about who you do business with, who you hang out with, and who you surround yourself with. Don’t make classic mistakes such as only viewing a partnership based on dollar signs. You might make good money, but is the partnership a mentally healthy one? If not, it could cost you a lot more than you’ll make from it.