As I reflect on the year, I look back at some of the many lessons I’ve learned and some of the failures I’ve encountered. It wasn’t all sugarplums and lollipops…
My startup dreamr has taken the backseat on my list of priorities. I’ve allowed an old sports injury to haunt me without getting it taken care of. I didn’t call my mom as much as I should have (Hi Mom). And similar to 2012, I lost touch with a handful of friends and contacts…That all said, in January 2013, I hung up my cleats in the world of the 9 to 5. I was terrified and I wasn’t quite sure what the future held but I had a plan sketched on the back of napkin.
In only six months, I was able to double what I was making as an employee. My income exceeded my projections; I travelled more than ever and look back at 2013 as a year that treated me well. I was able to work with some awesome clients, help create some awesome projects and drive meaningful results.
As I look back at the past year, I look at some of the philosophies that have guided me throughout the year. A lot of these ideas I’ve talked about before or might sound familiar from either a book or Hip Hop lyric… While I didn’t have all of these written down in 2013, I’m writing them now so I can look back at them over the next few months as I continue to create value and deliver results for my clients. Here are the mottos that made 2013 great and will make 2014 greater:
You Have To Struggle In Order To Level Up.
One thing I learned is that it’s impossible to be an expert at everything. I’ve learned the importance of working through those amateur hours to become good at something but also knowing when you need to ask for support.
I think a key part of learning is the struggle. In fact, I think the struggle and the growth that happens to us as we go through it, is what we need in order to make progress in our careers and lives (Tweet This).
A lot of people go into 2014 thinking about the next three months instead of thinking about the next three years. I’m going to surprise a few of you with this statement but it’s a reality check that’s definitely needed.
You don’t become successful overnight.
Sure, if you work hard you can get there faster than the average person but it’s not going to happen overnight. You need to be willing to put in the hours. You need to be willing to take a risk and go all in on something you believe in. For me, social media and digital marketing was a field I focused on when I realized that the majority of people in advertising had no idea what it was. I came to this conclusion in my first year out of university and that’s where I put my focus.
I spent two years straight reading every blog post ever written by folks like Brian Solis, Chris Brogan, Gary Vaynerchuk, Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki. I studied their LinkedIn profiles to better understand their path and studied the way they interacted with people online. From there, I spent time following a handful of marketers in the city to better gauge the competition… From there, I followed marketers in Canada… And then the world.
Since then, I’ve continued to use the internet as one of my greatest mentors. I’ve studied household names like Richard Pryor and Jim Carrey to become a better presenter and names who you wouldn’t even know of to better understand psychology and human behavior. It’s taken years to get where I am and will take even more to get where I want to be.
Work Hard. Play Harder.
In 2013, I was able to watch two NFL games, go skydiving, take part in a marathon, visit Punta Cana and do a handful of travelling in the country. I also had many game nights, weddings to attend, play a sixth season of competitive dodge ball, attend a handful of bachelor parties, golf trips, and BBQ weekends with friends, colleagues and family. Why work hard if you can’t play harder?
I’ve written about this before. Life is about experience. It’s the combination of these experiences that we have with one another that lasts forever. It’s the stories that get shared around a fire pit or at a bar that allow us to connect with one another and build unbreakable and unforgettable bonds. It’s our relationships that make us who we are as people. Relationships in business, school, life, and play all combine to act as an extension of you and your story.
As much as I love my work and the idea of the hustle, I also love being with people I care about. I love the laughter. I love the stories. I love the memories.
If you’re only focused on business and making money, having fun might seem like a waste of time. For me, it’s my release and it’s the reason I work hard. I work hard so I can have fun and enjoy the days and months I’m privileged to see. Not to mention, as Neil Patel pointed out when discussing the ROI of Partying, these experiences are always a great way to expand your network.
Leap And Build Wings On The Way Down.
Chuck Palahniuk once said, “The only way to find true happiness in life is to risk being completely cut open.” Nothing could be closer to the truth.
One thing I love about running my own business is that I have complete freedom to experiment with my own growth. I get to experiment with new challenges, new goals and new tasks on a regular basis.
Over the last few months, I’ve been going all in on the development of a handful of presentations for Slideshare. I dabbled in Slideshare back in 2012 but never really put a clear focus on using it to generate leads for my eBook or share my story. I hired a great designer and editor to build these decks with me and the results have been mindblowing. Combined the presentations have generated more than 100,000 views and have resulted triple the number of subscribers to my mailing list. If you haven’t seen them, check out my Slideshare account for more info.
I’ve found that challenging myself to do new things makes me feel most excited and driven to succeed. I’ve made it a habit to challenge myself on a monthly basis to do something new or tackle something I’ve been putting off. Over time, I’ve found that I crave that rush to do or learn something new. I’m currently working on two books and a product launch that I’m super stoked to share with you all in the coming weeks. It’s forcing me to learn about new things and requires a lot of discipline, especially about what time I wake up.
Create Your Own Rules.
Unfortunately, only a tiny percentage of the people in this world will actually experience their life by their own rules. So many of us will be stuck thinking about the rules we were told by teachers, parents or our own biases, and thus miss out on the wonderful world that we’re living in. Recognize that you or another person created the rules you have in your head. Don’t allow your life to be constrained by the rules being put on you by society.
If you don’t create your own rules, before you know it you’ll be lying on your deathbed asking, “Why didn’t I do this” or “Why didn’t I do that”. Take time to identify risks that are worth taking. Take time to have fun. Take time to realize that you’re the only person who can hold you back from living the life of your dreams. It’s time to take control of your life and do what makes you happy.
But creating your own rules isn’t just about life. It’s also about business. It’s about your approach to marketing, your approach to networking and your approach to management. When the folks at Buffer released their entire workforces salaries, some people thought they were crazy. It’s something that is considered “aboo” in business but their team has made a conscious effort to be transparent about their business and have included their salaries as a part of it. The result was a flurry of press, thank you’s and a stronger relationship with their customers.
Some rules are meant to be broken. And some rules have yet to be created. I mean, look no further than Beyonce and the secret release of her self-titled, “visual album” featuring 14 new tracks and 17 music videos. She released this new album without any prior notice or announcements using iTunes and Instagram. Further demonstrating the power of creating your own rules, at the time of this post, she just finished racking up a third week at No. 1 on Billboard—the longest run at No. 1 for any album since last April…
Believe In Your Flyness… Conquer Your Shyness.
Everyone always thinks I’m this social butterfly not realizing that my nickname was shy-Ross in high school. Sure, I’ve given presentations across North America and have no issues standing in front of a crowd. But it’s been an intentional effort to get comfortable with this whole being social thing.
I pushed myself into situations that made me uncomfortable to get comfortable presenting. I forced myself to go to networking events to get comfortable talking to strangers. That’s called conquering your shyness. And in 2014, I challenge you to look at how you can conquer your shyness as well.
Don’t be shy to tell someone your dreams. Don’t be shy to chase your dreams. Believe in yourself and recognize that the only thing holding you back from living the life of your dreams is the person you see when you look in the mirror. It’s you creating your own roadblocks and obstacles. It’s only you stopping yourself from publishing a new blog post, it’s you stopping yourself from getting back in the gym and it’s you stopping yourself from calling her after the first date.
What’s your motto for 2015? What goals have you set for yourself? I’d love to hear about them…