There is always so much to do.
It’s hard to know what to focus on.
But success is ahead of you. It’s possible and available to you.
How do you get there ?
Eighteen years of kicking butt on Wall Street has taught us six big ideas that everyone from Ray Dalio to Sheryl Sandberg use to propel themselves to success.
Learn New Skills
Sheryl Sandberg has gone from working for Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, to working at Google to being the COO at Facebook.
Do you know how she did it ?
She kept learning, pivoting and adding to her talent stack.
What’s a talent stack ?
A talent stack is a variety of skills that work well together. Skills that make you much, much more valuable.
What skills matter ?
- Public Speaking & Conversation: nothing is more impressive than people who can speak well. Its an essential life skill and becoming even more important as technology evolves.
- Psychology: human’s aren’t rational creatures, we don’t use reason for our important decisions. Make sure you understand the common psychology tricks and human biases, I list a few good books here.
- Persuasion: We are all sales people. No matter what you do in life and whom you do it with, you will always be trying to convince people of your opinion on one subject or another.
- Business Writing: Is all about conveying the key points and expressing your point of view. No matter what you do for a living, you will need to be able express yourself succinctely on paper.
Have A System
We credit Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) for making this idea concrete in our head.
Goals are for LOSERS.
Winners use Systems.
Adams talks about:
Having a process that allows you to succeed even if you fail
What does that mean for you?
For example say you wanted to grow your network to help you get a job, than your system would be to make sure that each day you meet one new person.
This way even if you didn’t get a job right away, you would be left with a larger network, which in itself makes you more valuable.
Or if you wanted to impress your interviewer with your knowledge of finance, rather than cramming the WSJ or FT the night before, you would start reading ten pages of a finance or investing related book every day.
Regardless of whether you impressed the interviewer or not, you would end up being smarter.
Your goal might be to get rich, but your system would be to be a serial entrepreneur.
The point being that rather than focus on just a goal or task, build a system that ensures that you will acquire something of value even if you don’t immediately succeed at your goal.
Systems are critical because they build skills.
Skills are transferable and valuable.
You can read more about it directly from Scott Adams here.
Learn To Make Friends
When we were starting out, we thought it was just about outworking other people. If we just stayed at the desk long enough I would win. This was pretty silly.
Friends help you find short cuts.
Having friends is like having access to another person’s experiences, knowledge and network.
We believe having friends should be ranked as a super power
A good network of friends can transform you and allow you to accomplish things you could never do on your own.
In the end, life is about relationships.
Relationships bring us happiness and opportunities.
Start building strong ones.
Schedule and Simplify
Most of us walk around with more complexity than we need, reacting to stimuli that comes our way.
This might be trying to juggle Email, FB, Whats App, SnapChat, Text messages, phone calls. Interruptions.
Do you wonder when real work actually gets done ?
One trick, the best in the world use is A CALENDAR.
Each day they mark out in 30 min or 60 min increments what they are going to focus on for that time frame, and for that time they do nothing but that task.
It’s even better if you split your time into Maker vs Manager.
Something Cal Newport talks about in his great book — Deep Work.
This makes them super productive, since at the end of 60 mins they have made a lot of progress on that one thing.
The next time you have something on your to do list, if you really want to to get it done, then find a slot for it on your calendar.
Another way to think about this is the Pareto 80/20 principle.
For those of you that haven’t heard about this before, the principle goes like this, 20% of your clients are responsible for 80% of your income. 20% of the population holds 80% of the wealth.
Your goal in life should be to identify the 20% of effort that can allow you to accomplish 80% of your goals.
You can check out more about the Precious Thing In the World here.
Manage Your Energy
It’s easy to find a lot of things to do. There are always more things you could do, read, see, work on, people to talk to.
There usually won’t be enough time for you to manage everything you set out to do.
This is what Ray Dalio does:
The trick here is to not focus on your to do list, but focus on your energy levels and align your energy levels with the most important & hardest tasks.
Do the hardest tasks when you have the most energy and do the easiest tasks when you are tired.
We used to do this the wrong way.
Check emails (easy task) in the am, when we were fresh, and try to read a book or study at night when we were tired.
This doesn’t work.
Try using your energy to accomplish the hardest tasks when you have the most energy and see if you notice the big difference.
The other energy hacks are to exercise every day and sleep a little more.
Start small — go for a 30 minute walk daily and sleep 30 minute earlier.
Money doesn’t bring happiness.
Let us say that again. Money doesn’t bring happiness.
There are many unhappy billionaires.
It’s very easy to get on the hedonic treadmill and never get off.
We have been on it for many years. It’ll be easy as you progress in your career to want more, to not be satisfied with what you have. To want a bigger car, a bigger house, fancier holidays. This will not stop.
The human mind adapts to its new condition very quickly.
After a certain level, money has negative marginal utility.
An easier and smarter way to be happier is to practice daily gratitude
Be thankful for what you have, what you have achieved, and how much you already have.
If you want to take it to the next level, then practice negative visualization.
Every day practice being thankful for what you have in each area of your life: mental, physical, social, spiritual. Then imagine losing it.
This will make you much happier with what you have in your life and be more present in your life rather than trying to live in the future.
You adapt, evolve, compete or die — Paul Tudor Jones
There are a lot of books that taught us life’s short cuts, here are a few that are a must read:
Influence (Robert Cialdini) — If you deal with people, this is what you need to read
How to Fail at Almost Everything and still Win Big (Scott Adams) — Scott taught me how to think in systems and make everything I do efficient and effective
The Obstacle is the Way (Ryan Holiday) — big ideas on how to overcome life’s obstacles
The One Thing (Gary Keller) — The book that allowed me to accomplish 2x of what I was doing before