70 Things Every 21 Year Old Should Know
What got you here, won’t get you there. Life is the ultimate video game: it keeps leveling up, and you have to level up with it.
Do something well enough that you make it look easy. Even if it takes 10,000 hours to get there, it’ll be worth it in the end.
Figure out what your values are and stick with them.
Kindness is a scarce and valuable resource, cherish it.
Be observant. From cover letters to conversations, the devil, as they say, is in the details.
Fear is the number one thing holding you back from what you want to do. Be brave enough to follow your heart. Not enough people will be.
Perspective comes when you’re not in the middle of the situation. The best view of the NYC skyline is in New Jersey, not 5th avenue.
Trust your gut. When your spidey sense is tingling, pay close attention. Somehow it knows better than you do when something is right or wrong.
You will never know how much space you take up in someone else’s world.
Wounding people binds them to you more deeply than kindness. Just look at the Joker and Harley Quinn.
With that said, try to leave people better than you found them. Leaving them worse off will have repercussions far beyond just you, touching everyone they interact with in the future.
Try not to use people as a means to an end. They can tell. So can you.
Most of the time, people are not trying to hurt you on purpose. Usually their actions are driven by self-interest, not malice.
Give people a second chance, if they deserve one.
Insecurity is a bitch; it bleeds into everything and can come out in unexpected ways. Be careful with your insecurities and especially careful with those of others.
The easiest way to be happy is to not be outcome-dependent.
The best relationships are like fine wine: they get better and better over time.
Whenever you can, pay it forward.
You have to have a reason for being. If your why is strong enough, thenyour how will fall into place. You will figure out a way.
If you’re wondering why it’s so important to do what you love, it’s because work takes up so much of your life. The vast majority of your most productive waking hours will be spent at work, so in order to love your life, you have to love what you do for a living.
The main difference between billionaires and normal people is that billionaires understand that the world is pliable, and most rules are not set in stone.
Don’t be too attached to the brand. The best time to join Facebook was when it was a startup in a college dorm room.
If you’re trying to signal that you’re a member of someone’s tribe, you have to present evidence that you’re a member of their tribe. If you’re interviewing for finance, wear a suit. If you’re interviewing for tech, don’t wear a suit. Apply this to any context whatsoever ad infinitum and you get the idea.
If you’re trying to connect with someone, you have to learn how to speak their language. If you’re in VC, terms like due diligence, ROI, P2P, B2B, bootstrapping, will be basic terminology. If you’re in music, terms like tempo, measure, pianissimo, DC al coda, will be basic terminology. Apply this to any context whatsoever ad infinitum and you get the idea.
Anything worth doing in life is risky.
Take the risk.
Whether you realize it or not, you send unconscious signals when you’re not paying attention. Pick up on the cues of others, and watch out for the cues you send yourself.
First impressions matter, but reputations are built over a lifetime.
You won’t know what someone is really made out of until you see how they react in a difficult situation.
What you did before will determine, to a large extent, what you will do next. If you previously worked in banking and want to pivot into tech, you will likely be hired for a finance-related role in a tech company. If you spent 10 years in the airplane industry and want to start a company, you will likely found an aviation-related start-up. Just saying.
Skill sets are hard to develop. Like anything else in life, they require quite a bit of work. If you want to become good at something, figure out the best time to start. Usually, that time is now.
But always make time to play.
Gratitude is everything. A first class postage stamp on a thank-you card is the cheapest possible way to improve anyone’s image of you.
The most successful people in life are salespeople and actors.
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. The ability to persuade people and craft a narrative and tell your story will get you further than any skill you could possibly develop in your life.
Follow up, always.
The best career move at every juncture is the one that moves you closer to your dreams, not anyone else’s.
Speaking of dreams, make sure you’re living your dream — not anyone else’s.
While it’s tempting to use others as a heuristic for yourself, there is no comparable heuristic for yourself. You are the only you that exists. Sometimes you will have to make your own decisions.
Your ability to think on your feet will be your saving grace. Develop off-the-cuff responses to questions, and learn how to react to situations as they are thrown at you. This will come in handy time and time again.
No matter what happens, you will be okay. Believe it or not, things usually have a tendency of working out.
Eat the delicious food. Smell the beautiful roses.
Give her flowers.
Limit your material belongings. The more stuff you own, the more your stuff will own you. If necessary, make sure you can fit your life in a suitcase.
Traveling makes your life seem longer. Each experience in a foreign place will feel more heightened, more interesting, and more spontaneous than it would be somewhere familiar.
The best memories bend space and time, because you will spent most of your waking hours reliving them.
This is true for your worst memories as well.
The first time you meet someone new, see if you can withhold judgement until you can get to know them better. People will often surprise you.
Life will throw you in a loop when you least expect it. Hang on tight!
The 80/20 rule is so real. It states that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes, and it applies to literally everything.
Keep in touch with people you think are interesting, even if they’re a million miles away. You never know when your paths might cross again.
Reach out to people whose writing you liked. Writers are always an interesting bunch.
If you admire someone and can guess their email address, drop them a note.
Contact as many people as you possibly can to schedule informational interviews and coffee chats, especially people who are doing things you want to or might want to do.
Weigh the opinions of people based on their experience and credibility. Only take advice from people you wouldn’t mind trading places with.
Always try to do the right thing, even if it’s not convenient, even if it’s not easy. Especially if it’s not easy.
Compromise where you can. Where you can’t, don’t. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye, and say No. You move.
Attitude is everything. Timing is everything else.
People who go through adversity in their lives tend to be much more interesting than people who don’t. They have a certain depth of character that others won’t have.
Success often happens at random, and failures can often be a lot more instructive. Sometimes you have to trip on your first piourette to get it right next time, when it’s really time to dance.
The deeper you go into any industry, the more your world shrinks. After you pass a certain threshold of competency in your field, you are two degrees of separation away from anyone you want to meet.
Once you start climbing ladders, your world shrinks to the next rung. Before you take that first step, make sure it was a ladder you wanted to climb.
From college admissions to office politics, most things in life are games. If you decide to play games, take the time to learn the rules first, even if you end up not following them.
Develop a 99.99% accurate bullshit detector. It’s one of the most useful technologies you could possibly invest in.
You will never have perfect information before you make a major decision. But talk to enough sources, and try to get as close as you can within reason.
Your contacts might get you a job, but true friends will go to the end of the earth for you. You’ll need both to go far in this world.
Self-confidence comes from the accumulation of successes. You’ll need confidence to do anything worthwhile in life, so start accumulating successes early, and start small.
Life is short, and death is the great equalizer. Do everything you want to do while you can. There’s no time for anything else.
Remember, the world is yours. Go forth and conquer.