To me, if you have to ‘sacrifice’ your 20s, some of the most fun years of your life, to build a successful business — then it ain’t worth it. I’m here to show you how you can have the best of both worlds. How you can get there faster and better while you are enjoying your life to its fullest.
You might be thinking that I had some special advantage or a family business to catapult off of, but the truth is that… well that just isn’t the case.
I was raised by a single mother on welfare. After graduating college, I spent the entire summer playing Diablo III and making tacos because I had been rejected from everything else including medical school, Fulbright, Princeton in Asia and more.
I started my business while living on a couch and working at Q’s Billiard Bar in Westwood, Los Angeles as a bus boy making $7/hour. I’m far from being naturally super smart or anything.
Gary V spent 8 years of his prime in his 20s selling wine in a liquor store. That doesn’t mean you have to. If someone were to give you a Rubik’s Cube and tell you to solve it, wouldn’t it be easier to get a bit of direction and strategy from someone who had done it already than to try to figure it out from scratch?
Over the years I’ve learned a lot through trial and error.
I want to share with you how you can start off on the right track with a great plan to achieve and live the life that most dream of.
Here’s what you should do after graduating college:
1. Figure out what you are good at.
People pay you for your skills. When someone hires you for a job, they are paying you for a skill that they can’t do or don’t want to do. That’s why it is so important to know what your strengths are in order to make a living, to build a business, or to just be happy in general.
This will also help you start to find things you are passionate about, or potentially will be passionate about. Too many people say ‘do what you are passionate about’, but they forget to tell you that things you are passionate about sometimes must be found.
I just know there are certain things that I’m not good at, and being worse than everyone else isn’t fun. Having a good starting off point and being good at something builds your confidence and allows you to start becoming passionate about something.
You tend to become passionate about stuff that you are good at.
You might hear people say that you should take risks, fail, and then let that guide you. I can tell you right now, I don’t have to fail to figure out that I’m not good at drawing. I don’t need my self esteem to take a hit to realize that. Don’t get used to failing. I like winning, not failing.
Therefore, you must know what your strengths are. If your strengths are being outgoing and speaking to people, then you’re probably an extrovert and will excel at building connections, sales and networking. If you’re creative and already have an artistic background, then make a note of that because you’re going to be able to eventually turn these strengths into money.
2. Narrow down the list of what you’re good at.
How do you do this? Just ask yourself the question, if I spent a year or so really developing this skill set, are there still going to be a lot of people simply better than I am because they started earlier or have a stronger background?
For example, early on I knew I was good at computers. I played a lot of computer games and I was technically literate. I thought about learning how to be a developer.
Then I realized… even if I spent a year or two, every single day learning how to be a great developer, the end result would still be that there are tens of thousands of people in India who are just going to be better than I am because they have 10 years of experience on me. And due to cost of living, they’re willing to get paid a fraction of what I would like to. I’m fighting an uphill battle that I’m not going to win.
Then I realized, what if I pivot those skills? I started researching and found out about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) by talking to a friend’s dad. He explained the basics, and told me that I didn’t have to be a developer to do that. I just needed to have a basic understanding of how websites work. That was the beginnings of my journey in building a seven-figure business.
However, you should take this advice with a grain of salt. Some skill sets don’t take as long to master. For example, if you’re already a great artist, it probably wouldn’t take much to be able to transfer those skill sets into being a pretty good graphic designer.
3. Start learning even if it means working for free or for little money.
You’re going to need to start somewhere. Buy books or online courses on Udemy.com depending on what you’re interested in. Elon Musk first learned how to start a rocket ship company from reading books. Granted, he had a background in physics, which served as a good foundation as mentioned earlier. You can find most things for free. Experience is something that is harder to get.
Upwork.com is another great place to test your skills as a freelancer where you will be able to find people who are hiring your skill set, or selling the same skill set. Right now, it isn’t about making money, it’s about building your skill sets as fast as you can.
You only have 24 hours in a day. How much you get paid for one hour of time changes depending on how good you are at what you do. In the beginning, you might just make minimum wage to have opportunities to learn. Then, from there you can start to charge more based on the value you deliver.
In short, your hours in a day are finite. The amount you can charge or make per hour is infinite. Focus on the latter.
While you do this, live at home and find another job to save up a little bit of money. Be humble, you’re not better than any job. Don’t worry about paying back your student loans right now. Your time is more important. In just a few months, you should be able to save up a chunk of money and be able to grow your skill set enough to make some money online through Upwork.com or somewhere else.
A resistance band workout at over 4,000 meters in the Himalayas
Take the money you’ve saved, even a few thousand dollars is enough. Go travel alone. Go somewhere that makes you nervous, that brings you out of your comfort zone. If you haven’t traveled before, I recommend you go to Southeast Asia where you will learn so much and not break the bank while you’re doing it.
The reason travel is important is because you expose yourself to different perspectives. You meet people who give you new ideas that are different from what you know. You’ll see how other people are living their lives whether it be locals, or other travelers. You will be exposing yourself to new ideas, new insights, and skills.
Traveling alone also lets you step out of your comfort zone and gives you a lot of time to think and be on your own schedule. You’re not going to have friends pressuring you to party, to go out, to drink, or to do things that you might not want to do. You only have yourself and a world of new people to meet and share new experiences with.
Perhaps most importantly, you will realize something. You will realize that you have already won the fucking jackpot. You can go traveling and enter someone else’s world and then check out when you want to go back to your first world home.
You will realize that if you’re too scared to take a risk with your career, then you’re delusional. You’ll realize that the people that came before you (e.g your parents), worked their ass off just to create a life of opportunities for you. America is a land of immigrants. Prior to immigrating to the United States, my parents endured the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward, a famine that killed as many as 55 million people. They came here in order to give me an opportunity to live a better life.
During my travels, I’ve been told the same thing countless times by normal people in various countries:
“It is my life dream to go to America.”
Yet so often we are too scared to go and DO what we want to do when there is no better opportunity and insurance than now? You will realize that even if you absolutely fail, make no money, go broke, the WORST case scenario for most of us is that you just go live with your parents for a bit and save up some money to try again. Not to mention you just traveled the world, made a lot of friends, and exposed yourself to a new perspective on life.
So what’s holding you back?
5. Do 10% more.
This isn’t a rule that just applies to what you should do after you graduate college. It’s a rule of thumb of for every aspect of your life.
Whatever you do, once you feel like you’ve done enough, just go a little further and do 10% more. This extra 10% will set you apart from the other 90% of people.
The vast majority of people get through life trying to do the bare minimum. The people who decide to go above and beyond when they don’t need to are the ones that end up standing out from the crowd.
In your career, try to deliver just 10% more value than others. Spend 10% more time learning your craft.
In your fitness goals, when you’re getting fatigued, just try to do 10% more.
In your relationships, try to go out of your way an extra 10% to make someone happy.
You’ll start becoming someone who will stand out and be different than others.
Eventually this 10% will start to compound and that will be your new baseline.
The John Lennon Wall in Prague