From Fast Company: Life lessons from eight successful entrepreneurs

Bing Gordon

Bing Gordon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A photo of Jimmy Wales used in the 2008 Wikime...

A photo of Jimmy Wales used in the 2008 Wikimedia Fundraiser Campaign. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Tim Westergren at the 2010 Time 100 Gala.

English: Tim Westergren at the 2010 Time 100 Gala. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently talked with a friend who had married and divorced before she was 30.

We talked about the twin dangers of youth: you know so little because you haven’t yet accumulated life experience, and yet you think you know everything. We laughed about the irony that even as you learn life lessons, aging can make you more conscious of all you don’t know instead of more confident you have it all figured out.

I love hearing people share what they’ve learned along the way. First-hand experience can teach you some things but still leave open the possibility for gaining more as you go.

For example, I ran a series of guest posts back in 2011 called Things I Have Learned, in which each contributor shared one life lesson for each year they’d lived. That’s one of my favorite features in the five years I’ve had this blog.

Fast Company recently ran a feature headlined: 8 Successful Entrepreneurs Give Their Younger Selves Lessons They Wish They’d Known Then

Among the highlights from Grace Nasri’s piece:

Tim Westergren: Avoid the risk of not trying and the regret of wishing you had.

“Be sure to ‘notice’ ideas when you have them. Stop. Take the time to consider them seriously. And if your gut tells you they’re compelling, be fearless in their pursuit,” Westergren said. “For most people, the idea of chasing a personal passion or being entrepreneurial is simply something they don’t think of themselves doing. We’re so programmed to walk well-trodden paths. But, we live life only once. So, rather than avoiding the risk of trying, avoid the risk of not trying. Nothing is more haunting than thinking, ‘I wish I had…’.”

~ Tim Westergren, the founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Pandora

Jimmy Wales: Spend wisely early in life so you can achieve the financial independence to follow your dreams.

“I think one of the things that most 21-year-old people should do is to recognize now that you can make life choices which control your expenses, and that controlling your expenses is one of the most crucial steps toward the kind of financial independence that you need in order to follow your dreams in the future. Whether it is a change of job, or an entrepreneurial dream, the less you NEED to spend each month, the easier it is to follow those dreams. There are several rules of thumb that can help with this, but one of my favorites is to never go into debt to finance any kind of luxurious consumption. Only go into debt if necessary for some kind of investment, like student loans, for example.”

~ Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia

Bing Gordon: Work as hard as you can, and then work harder.

“After decades of hiring college grads, I’ve learned that the people who get the most opportunities also start fast. They overachieve from the very beginning. They ask the best questions and always seem to have good ideas. As one Hollywood producer once said, ‘Work as hard as you can and then work harder.’ But the number one piece of advice I would share is to recruit a mentor. Find someone you admire who is at least one generation older, and has no direct authority over you. Lack of context and perspective can cost you months and years–with a bad career choice, an unwise relocation, short-term negotiating posture, and, generally speaking, sophomoric thinking. ‘”

~ Bing Gordon, a General Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers

Paul Bennett: Take the time to listen.

“Listen more,” Bennett advised. “For most of my twenties I assumed that the world was more interested in me than I was in it, so I spent most of my time talking, usually in a quite uninformed way, about whatever I thought, rushing to be clever, thinking about what I was going to say to someone rather than listening to what they were saying to me. Slowing oneself down, engaging rather than endlessly debating and really taking the time to hear and learn is the greatest luxury of becoming older.”

~ Paul Bennett, the Chief Creative Officer at IDEO

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Categories: career, lifestyle

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2 replies

  1. What I want to know is why are they all white males? Where are the successful females and minority entrepreneurs?

    • I think unfortunately that’s a common problem both in tech coverage and in the tech community itself — it’s a pretty white male dominated space.
      But yes, it would be great to hear from some women and minorities, too. Any entrepreneurs have life lessons to share?

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