On Xmas morning I just wanted to share some gratitude and lessons that this year brought to me and a huge thanks to those that shared the journey or even delivered a valuable lesson to me in the form of a hard pill to swallow.
Whatever happened to you in 2012 you have two optimal ways of seeing it.
When something good happens approach it with humility and gratitude.
When something bad happens approach it as a valuable lesson.
In 2012 I closed a company that had 6 years of sweat and blood behind it, and I opened a new company that had a lifetime of passion and vision behind it.
On the surface, 2012 seemed about getting the ducks lined up and working harder than ever on challenges that I had never experienced before. But upon reflection there was so much more…
Here are my top lessons from from the gratitude events of 2012 and the valuable lessons of 2012 from bitter pills.
1. Let go -
I found it very difficult to close the last business, but no matter how hard I pushed banks no longer wanted to higher graduates and I could not produce enough results for our customers anymore to feel we were doing a good job. I remember the last words from our investor Peter Hargreaves “If you are flogging a dead horse, stop it”. I always listen to Peter, his net worth is £1.3bn after he Hargreaves Lansdown IPO.
2. Feel the fear and do it anyway -
I cannot tell you the number of times I was petrified in 2012 and just did it anyway. I have come to embrace fear and in the words of the book just feel the fear and do it anyway. How? Have a mission that is bigger than yourself and your ego. If I carry on with the banking reform mission. I don’t care if I fail, as long as I keep pushing till death us do part. I learnt this from Jeremy Gilley of Peace One Day.
3. Nothing is as it seems -
Your world is a fantasy. You think people are better than you, you think they are worse than you – both are a lie. Everything that seemed too good to be true was too good to be true for me in 2012, and everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. At the same time, things that I did not expect to be much, were huge and after getting things wrong several times they went pretty right and much luck followed. Everything is a fantasy, so you might as well expect the best, but prepare for the worst. Trick your brain into thinking things are better than they seem, rather than worse than they seem, as they almost always are when you contrast your situation to those that would love to have your tiny problem.
4. Nobody is what you think they are -
I read lots of biographies and met many of my mentors in 2012. My favourite biography was Steve Jobs because you learn that geniuses are full of imperfections and suffer the same insecurity issues that we all do. One thing I have learnt – whenever you meet somebody you regard highly, they are never quite as heroic as you thought when you get to know them. Whenever you get to know somebody you hate or have little respect for, there is so much more to them than you thought. Nobody is as they seem so stop comparing yourself and give yourself a break.
5. Market Matters -
Business is really hard and it takes the same amount of effort to build a business that one day could be bought for a few million or a few billion. Don’t chase the markets just because there is lots of money, but make sure the market you do business in is big enough to meet your eventual goal.
6. Success requires harder work than you can imagine -
Deal with it. Success is fucking hard work. You got to want success badly. Those that you think were overnight successes, are not. Anybody that says it is easy is trying to sell you a magic course. There is no substitute for hard work. Sorry Tom Ferris – the 4 hour work week takes 80 hours a week to setup and maintain. Reach a point where hard work becomes effortless as the mission is big and rewarding.
7. Money is a mindset -
we raised larger sums of money in 2012 than previous businesses. I received less salary than ever by choice, yet built the foundation of a business that would have cost a VC backed business millions. How many zeros you add to your cash flows, product prices, income, investments etc. etc. is simply a number you are comfortable with. In 2012 I went the whole year with no salary at all. I recommend this experience to all – it is amazing what you learn about yourself and your relationship with money.
8. We are achieving what our minds think is possible -
2012 taught me this big time. My wife kicked me up the arse for not working on things big enough the year before. Mindset is everything. We got to learn how to use it. The process of achieving something crazy is persuading yourself to believe it. Anything that can be conceived and believed can be achieved in the words of Napoleon Hill.
9. A great business takes a decade to build minimum -
I hate the 5 year exit business plan. It is bolox and just about money. Build something solid and make sure you love it enough to go at it for a minimum of a decade. Peter Hargreaves took 20 years to go public and realise his full value. Don’t sell early and make sure your investors are on board for long term huge value. No matter how hard you push, a baby still takes 9 months and there is no shortcut. I believe a great valuable business takes ten years. You can sell in three to five, but maximum value will take longer.
10. Enjoy the process and enjoy your customers. -
if you hate your customers, then move on or change market. You gotta love then to produce great product. I am a completion driven person, I am never happier than when a task is completed, progress is made and the to-do list box is checked, but often I get frustrated when I have to start again or it is not good enough or I think that everything will be better if only x happens. Great products take many iterations. There is always an x and as soon as one task is complete, it brings a bigger challenge. I have come to learn that the process and the journey must be enjoyed, otherwise what is the point.
Be grateful for the good things and take the bad things as lessons and you can’t go wrong – the process will be one of growth and joy.
Happy Xmas and prosperous 2013.