The things every high-achiever should know
In: Achieving Goals8 Aug 2010
Earlier this summer, I had the privilege of meeting a highly successful entrepreneur who owns half a dozen bars in NYC. I was with a small group of interns from my internship program and we all got the opportunity to ask him questions about his story and how he became successful. I learned a lot during those three hours, so I’ve decided to share his advice with you. I’ve found that many of these lessons carry over to other areas of life too, so his advice is valuable even if you aren’t an entrepreneur. For the sake of anonymity, I’ll refer to this entrepreneur as Jake.
1) When he was younger, Jake realized how lame high school parties were shortly after attending his first few. In other words, he recognized an opportunity in the marketplace. He, along with many other students, created demand for higher quality, better run parties. One simple, but powerful thought struck his mind and stuck with him for many years to come: “I know I can do this better.” This was the beginning of decades of hard work to learn the ins and outs of the industry. He identified the opportunity, had the confidence to believe he could take advantage of this opportunity, and didn’t hesitate to begin learning what he needed to do to make it happen.
2) By age 15, Jake was already creating quasi-nightclubs in NYC, which put into practice what he was learning. Experimenting, trying, failing, and trying again was his motto. He learned by DOING, rather than hesitating because he “hasn’t learned enough yet.” This accelerated his progress up the learning curve many-fold.
3) He experienced crushing failures early in his experiments for better parties. When he went off to college, he failed miserably because he didn’t have the connections and knowledge of the local nightlife. Instead of quitting, he adapted to his new environment, which made him even more well-rounded in the industry. The person who tries and fails doesn’t lose. It’s the person who gives up or never tries at all that truly loses.
4) He spent excruciating amounts of time “working the industry.” In order to acquire knowledge about the restaurant and bar industry, he worked in as many different roles as possible in order to learn the ins and outs of the industry (including being a waiter and working in a purchasing department every summer). He realized that he must be a true expert in the field before he could go into business for himself. Smart entrepreneurs don’t dive headfirst into a venture without properly understanding of the industry.
5) Even though his first few bars were doing very well, Jake held off on expanding because of the real estate bubble at the time (prior to the economic crisis). He waited for a full decade because he felt there were no good bargains on real estate in NYC. After real estate prices went down, he opened up four new locations. In other words, he knew when to strike when the iron was hot. Knowing when to jump on opportunities can sometimes make all the difference.
6) Jake has always believed that one of the most powerful factors in determining success as an entrepreneur is understanding when to say no. Entrepreneurs have so much on their plate that getting involved in any deal or venture that detracts from your core business can put your business in jeopardy. By focusing on your core business, you are in a better position to put your time and effort into what makes your business better than your competitors. In other words, spreading yourself too thin is a disastrous idea.
7) For anyone looking to go into business for themselves, Jake recommends getting a job in a related field as soon as you can. This will keep you on your feet while you research the industry, and will assist in your learning process because of the similarities between your future business and this chosen field. For example, since I’m always hoping to expand Living For Improvement, I’ve chosen to focus my career on digital marketing. It’s something I’m passionate about and it will help me better run my blog at the same time.
So there you have it. It’s worth noting that a few of these lessons apply to more than just entrepreneurship. Taking action, choosing a career based on your passion and/or what you’re most interested in, and properly capitalizing on opportunities are concepts that apply to just about everyone. I’ve taken these lessons to heart and my hope is that you will do the same.
I'm Jon Guerrera, a life hacker at heart, and the man behind the scenes here at Living For Improvement. This blog documents all of my successes, failures, experiments and lessons learned as I hack my way to happiness, fulfillment and success.
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Unlimited Drive is the result of four years of diligent research on what drives people to achieve great things. I always wondered how the most successful people in the world could reach such high levels of success and accomplishment. Well, I found the answer and wrote an ebook so I could pass it on to you (for free).
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