An Open Letter to My 24-Year-Old Self
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
In hindsight, some life lessons weren’t obvious at the time. Fortunately, you can glean wisdom from these 11 top entrepreneurs and members of The Oracles on your path to success.
1. Be ready to run a marathon.
I’d tell my 24-year-old self: “Look, you’ve chosen long-term marathon running. So, wear a marathon outfit, not a sprinter’s outfit. Be patient and accumulate experiences. You’re 20 percent into a 100-year life. You haven’t even started.”
Then I’d pat myself on the back and say: "You’re on the right path." —Gary Vaynerchuk, founder and CEO of VaynerMedia (700+ employees with over $100 million in annual revenue), NYT-bestselling author, and mentor on “Planet of the Apps”
2. Think global.
At 24, I was a successful entrepreneur running a driveway-sealing business. But I couldn't scale it. Once I got on TV and infomercials, I was able to expand globally.
My advice: “Get into mass media on a global basis asap!” These days, you can utilize Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, influencing millions of people across the globe with mass efficiency. —Kevin Harrington, inventor of the infomercial, pioneer of the “As Seen on TV” industry, and original Shark on “Shark Tank”
I lost the first five jobs I ever had and deserved it. At age 24, I was the black sheep of my family, involved in drugs and flat broke. I didn’t even like myself.
Talking to that kid now, I’d say: “Get committed to success. You can do anything you want, but first, you have to commit. Every true commitment involves time and money.” —Grant Cardone, top sales expert who has built a $500-million real estate empire, and NYT-bestselling author; follow Grant on Facebook or YouTube
4. Pay the price today.
I must steal a quote from my good friend, Grant Cardone: “Pay the price today so you can pay any price tomorrow.” Put the time and effort into things the first time. And stop wasting weekends on nonsense.
I’d also remind myself: “You’re gonna get your ass kicked in the real world. When it happens, remember: ‘It’s not how hard you get hit, it’s the ability to get back up.’” —Steve Griggs, founder and CEO of Steve Griggs Design; NYC’s premier landscape designer transforming backyards and rooftop gardens into private getaways
5. Know thyself.
At age 24, I tried so hard to do the right thing that I let the opinions of others drive my decisions. If you’re unclear about who you are, you’ll never excel. To get clarity, I would have asked myself: “What would you love to do if money were no option? What challenges would you enjoy tackling? What do you already love doing that you could get paid for? What would you love to dedicate your life to doing?”
This is summed up by the Greek aphorism: "Know thyself.” If you’re unclear about who you are and what you want, you may achieve monster goals but feel completely unfulfilled in life. —Michael Johnson, “The Mojo Master,” speaker and mindset coach for professional athletes and elite entrepreneurs; follow Michael on Facebook
6. Your past belongs on the shelf, not in your backpack.
There’s a difference between living in the past and learning from it. Don’t dwell on your setbacks or your successes—both are fleeting.
Keep looking for the next peak of your climb and “pack smart.” That means not carrying baggage, overthinking things, or beating yourself up over mistakes. Bring only what you need for the long haul. Your future potential is infinite and your best years are ahead. —Shaun Rawls, lifelong entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Rawls Consulting
7. Maintain seven standards.
One, self-discipline is the road to freedom; its benefits compound over time. Two, start your company now—the world steps aside for those who know where they’re going. Be daring; take the risk you might fail. Three, think bigger even if you already think big. Otherwise, you cut yourself way too short. Four, don’t take it personally—“It’s not about you.” Take “me” out of everything, and the quality of your life will improve dramatically. Five, be authentic. Quit trying to win people over. Focus on those who love you. Six, stay relaxed and solution-centered, no matter how bad it seems. Seven, let go of what you aren’t good at and trust people to do what they do best. —Peter Hernandez, president of brokerage (California) at Douglas Elliman; cofounder of Teles Properties
8. Enjoy the journey without regret.
I once thought money was the most reliable measure of success. Three decades later, I realize that focusing exclusively on wealth is an empty goal. As you hit one financial milestone, then another, you quickly realize there’s a never-ending string of stones.
Instead, I’d advise my younger self: “Focus on enjoying the journey. Find delight in the things you learn, the places you go, and the people you meet. Love the friends you make. Never neglect your family: find the balance between contentment and ambition. Finally, meticulously improve the man you’ll be remembered as. Wealth comes if you manage and respect money; true success means never regretting who you’ve become.” —John Hanna, author of "Way of the Wealthy" and CEO of Fairchild Group
9. Be patiently impatient.
A key success ingredient is the burning desire to make your vision a reality. Embrace that impatience. Let it drive your day-to-day activities with intention. Demand the most of yourself and those around you.
At the same time, there’s a dichotomy to this impatience: actualizing your dream takes time. Success is a journey, so enjoy and appreciate it. When you learn to be patient with your impatience, every downfall, failure, and victory becomes part of a greater lesson and destiny. —Danny Morel, author of “The Resilience Roadmap” and founder of M.PIRE university; connect with Danny on Facebook and Instagram
10. Stay open-minded.
Even if you think you know the answer, you can always benefit from hearing different perspectives. Other people’s experiences and opinions can often add a lot of value. Even if you don’t agree with their opinion, respectfully listen to what they have to say. With some hard work, open-mindedness, and respect, most things you want in life fall into place. —Ken Lebovic, president of North Shore Holdings; built a real estate empire acquiring thousands of properties in 20 years with no equity partners
11. Go for it.
At 24, I already had two kids. So, I would have told my 21-year-old self: “Go for it! Whatever crazy dreams you might have, pursue them. When you have few possessions and few expenses, explore the world, find your passions, and pursue them.”
At 36, I got handed a record contract and a tour schedule, which was my dream. But I couldn’t commit because life had too many complications. If I’d done it earlier, I might have been a pop star instead of CEO. —Craig Handley, co-founder and CEO of ListenTrust; read more about Handley: This boss hires and trains his employees to quit
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