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The Best Career Advice You’ll Ever Get

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Listen up – this is going to be the best career advice you’ll ever get.

Are you an expert?

If not – You damn well should be.

Deep domain expertise is essential to really thrive in your working environment – especially in our modern society.

Why?

The world is speeding up faster and faster; We have an unseen rate of technological improvements, a demographic explosion, declining fossil fuels, an economic shift to Asia and so-on.

Basically; the world is getting more and more competitive by the day and you don’t want to be left behind, right?

You want to be prepared for what’s coming.

Here’s how:

Camels & Bananas

Ever since the paleolithic era we’ve been fighting over scarce resources. Whether this was food, shelter or trendy sabretooth skirts.

Times have changed – but the essence remains the same; it’s resources we’re after.

Money mainly.

In the old days, we used to have a trading system where hunters would trade their catch with fishers for example. This is an equal exchange of value of differently skilled people.

The same concept still applies today. Money simply has made trading your entire life easier (This way you don’t have to barter anymore about how many camels your banana’s are worth.)

Simplicity!

  • You pay money in the supermarket so you don’t have to grow your own crops
  • You pay money to the dentist so you don’t have to learn how to pull your own teeth
  • You pay money to the plumber so you don’t have to manually declog your own sink.

This system allows us to tap into the expertise of others. The more difficult the task, the more money they get.

Being able to do what others cannot is what makes you valuable.

Anyone can sell shoes, anyone can run behind a dumpster truck, anyone can sell fast-food. But not everyone knows how to build a house, lay electrical wiring or perform an open-heart-surgery. The more difficult and in-demand your skills are – the higher your pay-grade will rise.

If you want more income – You have to deserve it first.

How?

By building up difficult skills that are high in demand based on your strengths.

For illustrative purposes I’ve made this fancy info-graphic;

Untitled Report (1)

This means that the barrier of entry for competitors will be high (less competition) and you work in a field where your skills are highly valued.

Additionally, building on strength gives you an “edge” on others.

Sounds sweet right? 

So what are strengths?

Strengths are the things we naturally excel at – the things that come “naturally” to us.

Build. On. Them.

“One should waste as little effort as possible on improving areas of low competence. It takes far more energy to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first rate performance to excellence” – Peter Drucker

So how do you start?

How Do I Find My Strengths?

You find strength through self-analysis

The best way I’ve found to do this is by keeping a journal of my life in which I’m able to spot different trends. Over time you’ll be able to hone down on what you’re really good at.

“Know thyself” – Socrates

Here are three ways to discover your strengths:

1. Self-Assessment

Here are some questions you should ask yourself when looking for your personal strengths:

  • In what did I grow up around? Competence can arise from early practice, what types of activities were you involved in as a child?
  • What do strangers compliment me on? You/your direct surroundings often notice your natural strengths faster than you do. Just ask around.
  • What did I want to become as a child? What were the underlying trends?
  • What have I been doing the last 10 years? Competence comes from doing a certain thing for a long period of time.
  • What can I effortlessly talk about without losing drive?An interesting topic is most likely something you’re highly skilled at or highly interested in.
  • What are the things I effortlessly excel at? What activities come easy for you?
  • In what areas do I learn quickly? Some skills are perfectly suited to our temperament and therefore we’re able to pick these up much faster than others.
  • Who do I envy/admire? Jealousy is a nasty but beautiful emotion as it shows us what we truly want. The same goes for admiration.

 

2. Reading

Furthermore, a great book that will help you find more strengths is Managing Oneself by Peter F. Drucker.

Read the summary and define for yourself:

  • Am I a reader or a listener?
  • How do I learn best? 
  • Do I work well with others or do I perform better alone?
  • Do I produce results as decision maker or as an adviser?
  • Do I perform well under stress or do I need a structured environment?

Alright – what’s next?

 

3. Personality Tests

A great way to explore further is by doing some personality tests (although they are often too general – it’s quite likely that they’ll give you some more career-indicators)

Here are the ones I recommend:

  • MBTI-test
  • DISC-assessment
  • Enneagram

Learn more about each type by simply Googling the results you’ve gotten.

Put all of these answers in a separate word-sheet and try to determine for yourself the answer to this question;

How can I combine my skills (based on strength) and my interests to solve a need for other people?

Now go do exactly that.

jack-dorsey-entrepreneur-picture-quote-for-success

Going Deeper

In our current information society it might be not enough to be simply highly skilled in only one particular field. The combination of different, highly valued skills is also often what elevates your pay-grade.

Here’s some other tips to prepare for the future:

  • Learn how to learn. Optimize your learning process.
  • Life-long learning. Never stop growing – aspire to become a polymath (a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas.)
  • Keep track of global trends. Where is the world going and how can I prepare for this? Especially the technological boom is very prominent – stay ahead of the robots!
  • Work for yourself. Everyone will need to become an entrepreneur in the future

 

Essence

The world is an inherently competitive place. You’ll need an edge to become indispensable & the only way to become indispensable is to excel at things others cannot do.

What about passion?

Competence at a skill will lead to enjoying the activity more – enjoying it more means you’ll be doing it more which in turn makes you more competent.

It’s an endless loop.

Eventually you’ll start to love it and it’ll become your “passion”. So don’t go searching for something until it “feels just right” but create it by building on strengths. Don’t waste time and energy on an endless passion-chase.

Note: Strengths are solely performance indicators (not unchangeable truths). So don’t obsess about them. You can still “be whoever you want to be”, but you won’t perform optimally if you build your life on weakness. It can be stretched – just not indefinitely.

“Successful careers are not planned. They develop when people are prepared for opportunities because they know their strengths, their method of work, and their values. – Peter F. Drucker

So tell me;

What are your strengths?

I hope this advice is timely for you. There’s so much wasted time & energy (and frustration) in fields where we just don’t have a natural advantage in. And the world is simply too much of a competitive place not to use this.

  • Why can’t I perform like colleague x?
  • Why do I need to put in all this effort when colleague y is slacking to get the same results?

 

Thanks for taking the time to read my post! I hope you liked it. If you think someone you know might benefit from this post be sure to share it around. If you’re having anymore thoughts or questions about this topic, feel free to share them with me in the comment section below!

 

I’m Simon! Fitness-fanatic and self-development addict. I’m on a quest for happiness and fulfillment in my life to become everything I’ve set out to be, and so are you! I write about Creating Yourself on BasicGrowth.com

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Dayo

    May 22, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    I suspect that you are not really excited about medicine and that it might not be what you are destined to do. If it was, you’d have no problem sticking to your schedule. Visualise, how you would feel if you became a doctor. Imagine yourself in the hospital, and then keep this image. I would also suggest praying too ask this has helped many with their drive and vision.

  2. saugat

    Apr 24, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    Awesome article

  3. Saugat

    Apr 24, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    I find it really awesome to read such an article in addicted to success …But my problem is I set goals to achieve on my study and follow up the routine but eventually it doesn’t work for more than 4-5 days …and I try another and the process goes on and on …really I want to study medicine but I can’t make my routine to stick in day to day activities…can you suggest me on this topic simon!!

    • Simon Somlai

      Jul 14, 2015 at 8:38 pm

      Hey Saugat,

      That’s simply the process of building up willpower. Each time we push passed our own laziness/fatigue it increases so next time we’ll be able to go 5-6 days. Next time we can go even further and can go 6-7 days. It’s a delicate balance between pushing yourself hard enough and accepting yourself for never being able to reach perfection.

      I suggest using smalls steps to build up one solid habit at a time and letting those compound on each other. I use a thirty day challenge calendar where I routinely try to implement new habits. I think you should give that a try!

      Take care,

  4. Ram

    Apr 17, 2015 at 6:32 am

    Thanks for your article Simon.

    It just made me to think why I am pursuing my job in which I am very weak!!! I need to find my strength. With the steps you provided above , I couldnt able to find my strength . I keep on thinking what I did best for the past 10 years . I DID NOTHING BEST.

    Now I am 27 . Is it possible still I can make to a new career where I am good with strength and skills?

    • Simon Somlai

      Apr 20, 2015 at 10:13 pm

      Hey Ram,

      The best time to change is now. Find skills that are more suited to your strengths and practice those in your spare-time and see if you can’t combine those in an entrepreneurial ventures.

      I’d recommend to read “managing oneself by Peter F Drucker and re-consider the other questions as well.
      > Ask around to people who know you well
      > What do you excel at effortlessly?
      > Take the personality tests to find more indicators

      Hope that helps somewhat, take care!

  5. Puranjay

    Apr 14, 2015 at 10:09 am

    Top post Simon.

    You hit the nail on the head – you can’t be a generalist anymore. If you want a top career, you need to have at least one highly desired skill, and you need to be really, really good at it.

    If you are a digital marketer, you need to know how to grow traffic. If you are a UX designer, you need to know how to design websites that get top of the line conversions and engagement. A programmer would need to constantly improve his/her skillset with latest industry trends.

    The fun part is that mastery is its own reward. There is no greater source of joy in the world than knowing you are one of the best at someting!

    • Simon Somlai

      Apr 14, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      Hey Puranjay,

      Thanks man, glad you liked the article!

      Most definitely – Expertise in different areas (being a polymath) combined with a desire to keep learning is what will get us ahead in the future.

      “The fun part is that mastery is its own reward. There is no greater source of joy in the world than knowing you are one of the best at something!”

      Agreed – as long as we pursue a direction suited to our strengths. I don’t believe everyone can excel at anything.

      For making more money; Pick a difficult, high in-demand skill suited to your strengths and reach expertise in that asap.

      Take care,

  6. satpal

    Apr 14, 2015 at 5:35 am

    Well explained . I am pretty it the best career advice i ever got.

    • Simon Somlai

      Apr 20, 2015 at 10:08 pm

      Thanks Satpal, I hope it comes in time for you!

      Take care,

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Success Advice

Success is for the Self-Taught

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Truman Capote, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Jobs, Nikola Tesla. Those are four names you never thought you’d see in a sentence together. As it happens, these four individuals have more in common than their success, ingenuity, and fame. They were all autodidacts. In other words, they were self-taught learners.

The talents and innovations that skyrocketed them to fame were the products of their own teachings. Make no mistake, this doesn’t mean a formal education is a waste of time. However, it goes to show that success is crafted solely by commitment and focus. While college and traineeships can prepare us for the groundwork of what we pursue, it’s ultimately up to us as individuals to teach ourselves how to refine our knowledge for success.

It’s the self-taught principles that allow us to distinguish our own work from that of others. With the help of the internet, self-taught success is more possible than ever. And there are plenty of ways to reach our inner autodidact.

Elon Musk had science degrees from top Ivy League universities, but he still credits most of his knowledge to the textbooks he allegedly “committed to memory.” Reading is just one way to teach yourself everything you need to know. Aspiring inventors can surely learn a lot by sacrificing some of their leisure time to sit down with a textbook.

For writers and artists, the best study is to just read. Read anything. Inspiration can be derived from poetry, works of fiction, etc. These also help you develop your writing skills, which is an important asset for any aspiring entrepreneur.

“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.” – Isaac Asimov

With the help of online Master Classes, Youtube videos, and apps – where online courses developed by some of the top U.S. educational institutions can be accessed remotely – self-taught success is more attainable than ever.

What’s more, we learn through practice. We can publish our own eBooks through Amazon without the publishing house bureaucracy. We can advertise our product, brand, or service through social media savvy without astronomical advertising costs. And as we practice, we learn. We gain feedback from our followers, learn from our mistakes, and do it better the second time around.

Even when you’re teaching yourself, others are always helping. However, you get to decide which lessons are most constructive, and you get to apply them to the real world in real-time.

The Science of Self-Taught

People have a tendency to romanticize the concept of self-taught success. It’s not a solution for laziness, or an excuse for lack of motivation. In many cases, teaching yourself is more work than being taught. The level of accountability rises when you are both teacher and student. Furthermore, it requires more discipline. Without a structured schedule or a guaranteed reward at the end of your efforts, your only hope is your dedication.

Beyond this, however, the only thing stopping most people from teaching themselves is insecurity. Fear of failure and inadequacy halts self-taught learners in their tracks. Especially because with self-teaching, inevitably, comes occasional failure. Unfortunately, the self-taught often feel they have nobody to blame the failure on but themselves – no teachers, mentors, or trainers as scapegoats.

According to Psychology Today, there is nothing that makes certain people better self-taught learners than others. The only difference is motivation, and willingness to overcome that lingering insecurity. Even the concept of “learning styles” is erroneous, says Psychology Today. While each individual is different, ability to learn is not based on preference, but expertise.

Beginners learn better from examples, while experts learn better by solving problems. This builds yet another case for autodidacts, who are more likely to learn by experience – the most effective method.

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but a lifelong attempt to acquire it.” – Albert Einstein

The Rewards of Being Self-Taught

The fruits of your labor taste sweeter when you’ve taught yourself how to grow them. As such, success is more enjoyable when your self-education has contributed to it. All successful individuals have something in common: they’ve taken the initiative to teach themselves new things, or to supplement their formal education with self-teaching, as well.

Therefore, not all groundbreaking inventors, artists, and philosophers are solely self-taught. However, they’ve still accompanied their college training with their own individual quest for knowledge.

There is a simple reason why autodidacts thrive the most: because they’re always learning. The one mistake people who solely rely on formal education and training make is the mistake of stopping their learning process altogether once it’s over. Not only does this prevent you from being up-to-date on the latest concepts and advancements in your field, but it obstructs your brain’s thirst for mental stimulation.

By constantly learning and teaching ourselves new things, no matter how small or large they might be, we could change the course of our overall health and well-being. Research even shows that mental stimulation (consisting of practicing memorization, learning new things, and improving our skill in existing hobbies) is key to slowing down the development of, and possibly even reversing, Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Motivational speaker and entrepreneur Jim Rohn was noted for saying, “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” This does not mean you should abandon the pursuit of formal education, as it often serves as the foundation for self-education. But, it does mean we should maintain, cater to, and quench our thirst for knowledge as much as we possibly can.

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Success Advice

6 Expert Tips for Building Relationships With Those You Idolize

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Many of us dream of one day meeting a celebrity. Be it a movie star or a pro football player, we have a tendency to idolize these individuals, even looking to them for guidance as we make life decisions. In business, we can also find people we idolize. Individuals who have achieved great success with their own company or even revolutionized an industry.

From these people, we can learn key skills, gain valuable insights or even form partnerships to take our own business ventures to the next level. Yes, it is possible to form real relationships with your business idols or industry influencers. But like any other relationship, it requires work.

Here’s 6 ways you can start forming the relationships that will make a lasting difference for your entrepreneurial goals:

1. Do Your Research

Facebook stalking may be creepy for normal relationships, but doing some online research is perfectly okay for business leaders and influencers. After all, most influencers are extremely active online, either through social media, their own website or guest blogging. This basic research gives you a chance to better understand your business idol.

What do they like or dislike? What are their opinions on current trends? What do they talk like? These simple bits of information will help you better know how to approach them and determine if a relationship could prove beneficial.

“The richest people in the world look for and build networks. Everyone else looks for work.” – Robert Kiyosaki

2. Comment Carefully

Your initial research also serves as your first chance for engagement with your business idol. By liking social media posts or leaving thoughtful comments on blog articles, you can make a positive first impression.

Of course, leaving quality comments is sometimes easier said than done. As Kevin Duncan of SmartBlogger explains, thoughtfully contributing to the discussion with personal experiences or meaningful questions are a great way to get the conversation started.

“When you share a personal insight, bloggers can more easily relate to you. You’re no longer just an unfamiliar name making a comment that could have been left by anyone …the more personal your insight, the more unique it will be. And the more unique your insight, the more memorable your comment will be and the more you’ll stand out.”

3. Group Participation

Business leaders and influencers won’t only be found on blogs. Many are also active participants in online industry groups. Whether on Facebook or LinkedIn, these groups allow industry professionals to discuss current trends, ask for advice, or share new opportunities.

If you wish to make a positive impression, you should seek out, join and actively participate in these online groups. Avoid the temptation to promote yourself or your business. Instead, engage in conversations much like you would with a quality blog comment. By sharing your unique experiences and insights, you’ll build a stronger reputation among your peers.

4. Face Time

Online discussions are a great place to start, but the best relationships typically require some face-to-face interaction. You make a much more lasting impression when you have an in-person conversation. Industry conventions or lectures are great places to connect with others in your field. When you show yourself as a living, breathing human being, rather than just a name behind the computer, it becomes so much easier to make a personal connection and form a real, lasting relationship — and that can pay big dividends for future pitches.

Setting up a face-to-face meeting can be tricky. After all, you don’t want to come off as creepy. However, if you’ve already established an online rapport, asking if an influencer would like to briefly meet in person at an event you’re both attending shouldn’t be a problem.

5. Add Value

All relationships have a bit of give and take — and this is especially true when forming relationships in the business world. If you’re only approaching a business idol because you hope to gain something (like an extra investor in your startup), you likely won’t have success. Instead, find ways that you can contribute value.

As leadership consultant Randy Hain explains, “‘What can I do to help you?’ is absolutely one of the best ways to get business relationships off to a great start. Invest in the other person first, with no expectation of return. Do not keep score. Simply make the investment and over time you will benefit from the seeds of generosity you have planted.”

“Networking is the No. 1 unwritten rule of success in business.” – Sallie Krawcheck

6. Focus On the Long-Term

The aforementioned tactics aren’t “one and done” tips. Instead, you’ll need to continually practice them to show your genuine interest and build the kinds of friendships that can pay lasting dividends for everyone involved.

Relationships aren’t a short-term investment — and this is especially true if you want help on your own road to success. Real relationships need time to grow. They need continual nurturing. With a patient, long-term approach, you’ll be less tempted to jump right into a sales pitch and more likely to focus on a genuine friendship that delivers a real payoff.

Becoming an entrepreneur may put you in the role of the underdog — but this doesn’t mean you have to go at it alone. As you form genuine relationships with influencers and other business professionals, you’ll gain access to new sources of knowledge.

You’ll find friends who are willing to help or mentors willing to share their time. You may even find a new business partner. Relationship-building is a lifelong endeavor, but it will always pay off in the end.

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Success Advice

Stop Denying Your Negative Thoughts and Start Embracing Them

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Over the years, many of the talking heads and pundits in the personal development and success science industry have talked about the immediate replacement of negative thoughts with positive thoughts. The logic behind that particular behavioral strategy seems to make sense on the surface. Think about it, when a negative thought rears its ugly head, we should immediately dive into the repository of positive thoughts that we have available to us so that we could immediately begin to dwell on it.

Even further, some gurus of the genre suggest removing any chance of having a negative thought by the constant repetition of affirmations. Again, tried-and-true motivational technology that is very workable and still useful. I would suggest, however, that you view the above behaviors as tactics more than strategies.

I will further suggest to you that you do not abhor your negative thoughts but rather embrace them, examine them, and place them under a spotlight. My reasoning behind this goes back over 100 years into psychology with stimulus/response, that is, the cause and effect of certain behaviors. Many individuals look at a negative thought as a causative driver. The negative thought exists as a cause, and our behavior toward that cause will determine the effect.

So, following this logic, if an individual has a negative thought which makes them feel sad, and that sadness causes them to binge drink, by removing the negative thought you’ll have removed the motivation for binge drinking. Doesn’t that sound kind of silly? The suggestion here is to turn off the negative thought so that it will turn off the consumption of alcohol.

Of course, this makes sense if we view the negative thought as a primal force in behavior. So, what if we started to think of the negative thought more as the result of something else? It means that the “something else” must change first. What if we took a different approach? What if we looked at a negative thought as an effect of some larger causal factor?

“You’re going to go through tough times – that’s life. But I say, ‘Nothing happens to you, it happens for you.’ See the positive in negative events.” – Joel Osteen

By reversing the cause-and-effect motion of negative thinking (saying that the negative thought is an effect), we now can ask a deeper, more penetrative question: Why are we thinking that negative thought? What is the underlying cause of that specific train of thinking? By reversing the cause-and-effect relationship of negative thinking, it allows the negative thinker to assume the role of diagnostician!

Below is a three-step process you can use to examine your negative thoughts, the role of it in your life, and how you can get rid of them:

1. Simply acknowledge the negative thought

Recognize the fact that there’s a negative thought in your mind instead of trying to go through a process of emotionally overlaying positive thoughts on top of it. Can you see how this exacerbates the issue? You have a negative thought, you immediately recognize that it must be changed, and you frantically scurry through the museum of your mind to find a positive thought to replace it.

In the meantime, while you are trying to find that positive thought, you’re feeling anxious, nervous, and guilty! When you finally find a positive thought to replace that negative thought, the normal process is to squash it. But you can’t! It’s like trying to get rid of weeds by covering them with rocks.

They will always find another way around the rock. It is the same with negative thoughts. Consequently, try acknowledging the negative thought.

2. Affirm the negative thought

It is a part of you. Instead of denying its existence, accept that it is there in front of you and that you are now willing to deal with it. If any of you reading this are dog lovers, you will know that the best way to get a dog next to you is by attempting to push it away from you. Every time you push the dog away it gets closer. This is the same with negative thinking because the harder you push the closer it gets.

“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.” – Michael Jordan

3. Acquit the thought

Give it permission to leave you. Thank it for its past importance in your life and allow it to be on its way! At this point feel free to replace the negative thought with a positive thought. What will begin to happen when you place the negative thought under the spotlight is that you will see how insignificantly small it actually is.

This is a process I’ve been using for quite some time, and it works! Oh sure, I still use affirmations on a daily basis; as a matter fact I have them right here in front of me. I find that affirmations are a tremendous way to stay positive because it doesn’t allow any room for bad things to grow. But since the average person thinks 60,000 to 65,000 thoughts per day, let’s face it, a few negative thoughts have to squeak in there!

The best advice that I can give is to not freak out over a negative thought. Acknowledge it, affirm it, and acquit it! This is magic. Watch what happens!

How do you handle negative thoughts? Let us know your tips below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Success Advice

One Thing I Can Teach You About Life That Will Help You Forever.

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Image Credit: Unsplash

I used to be a very anxious person.

I was embarrassed by what I couldn’t do and every day was a struggle. From the moment I would wake up to the moment I’d go to bed, everything felt impossibly overwhelming. It’s a battle I’ve dealt with most of my life.

This daily struggle with mental illness taught me that the satisfaction didn’t lie in beating it; the satisfaction was in helping other people beat mental illness through my success in fighting it.


Recently, I was at work. It was a pretty standard day — nothing too exciting. I then had a catch up with one of the leaders I worked with.

She said something that got my attention: “One of our colleagues is battling a mental illness.”

I really wanted to help. My eyes lit up. There was no need to uncover my plan with anyone else. I knew that staying discrete was fundamental.

I approached the person in question and asked for a few minutes of their time.

I didn’t ask them to admit their mental illness struggle; I just shared my story.

I talked about the anxiety stopping me from having a normal life, eating the right foods, going on dates with girls, having the career I wanted and traveling the world.

I wasn’t sure if any of it was sinking in or even helping. I felt compelled to go on. One thing I knew was that he was paying attention. I could see it in his eyes.

I then went on to talk about how I beat mental illness. Strategies such as:

  • Creating fear lists
  • Seeking professional help
  • Working on myself
  • Books I read
  • Events I attended

Out of nowhere, he started opening up about his own struggle. I was shocked.
It wasn’t pretty. He had an extreme case of mental illness that I certainly couldn’t diagnose or give professional advice on.

All I could do was show him through my own story that there was hope

I offered him access to all the resources I had. I told him that he had my full support and I’d be happy to help in any way I could. He then said:

“What was your psychologist’s name?”

I told him I’d look it up and send it to him. I didn’t have the answer in front of me, but I was determined when I got home to find it.

At the end of the catch-up, he smiled. I don’t think he’d smiled like that in a very long time.

That smile gave me so much satisfaction. It made my own struggle with mental illness worth it. All those sleepless nights, times spent vomiting into the toilet and dark days where I didn’t want to go on made sense.


“It took more than seven years for me to understand that my own battle with mental illness actually had a benefit”

That benefit was the satisfaction in seeing someone beat their mental illness because I was able to defeat mine.

It’s probably the greatest satisfaction of my entire life.

That’s one thing I can teach you about life that will help you forever.

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Success Advice

Success is for the Self-Taught

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self education
Image Credit: Unsplash

Truman Capote, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Jobs, Nikola Tesla. Those are four names you never thought you’d see in a sentence together. As it happens, these four individuals have more in common than their success, ingenuity, and fame. They were all autodidacts. In other words, they were self-taught learners. (more…)

Ellie Batchiyska is a writer for Every USB, helping business and entrepreneurs with their branding through the use of custom flash drives.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Dayo

    May 22, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    I suspect that you are not really excited about medicine and that it might not be what you are destined to do. If it was, you’d have no problem sticking to your schedule. Visualise, how you would feel if you became a doctor. Imagine yourself in the hospital, and then keep this image. I would also suggest praying too ask this has helped many with their drive and vision.

  2. saugat

    Apr 24, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    Awesome article

  3. Saugat

    Apr 24, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    I find it really awesome to read such an article in addicted to success …But my problem is I set goals to achieve on my study and follow up the routine but eventually it doesn’t work for more than 4-5 days …and I try another and the process goes on and on …really I want to study medicine but I can’t make my routine to stick in day to day activities…can you suggest me on this topic simon!!

    • Simon Somlai

      Jul 14, 2015 at 8:38 pm

      Hey Saugat,

      That’s simply the process of building up willpower. Each time we push passed our own laziness/fatigue it increases so next time we’ll be able to go 5-6 days. Next time we can go even further and can go 6-7 days. It’s a delicate balance between pushing yourself hard enough and accepting yourself for never being able to reach perfection.

      I suggest using smalls steps to build up one solid habit at a time and letting those compound on each other. I use a thirty day challenge calendar where I routinely try to implement new habits. I think you should give that a try!

      Take care,

  4. Ram

    Apr 17, 2015 at 6:32 am

    Thanks for your article Simon.

    It just made me to think why I am pursuing my job in which I am very weak!!! I need to find my strength. With the steps you provided above , I couldnt able to find my strength . I keep on thinking what I did best for the past 10 years . I DID NOTHING BEST.

    Now I am 27 . Is it possible still I can make to a new career where I am good with strength and skills?

    • Simon Somlai

      Apr 20, 2015 at 10:13 pm

      Hey Ram,

      The best time to change is now. Find skills that are more suited to your strengths and practice those in your spare-time and see if you can’t combine those in an entrepreneurial ventures.

      I’d recommend to read “managing oneself by Peter F Drucker and re-consider the other questions as well.
      > Ask around to people who know you well
      > What do you excel at effortlessly?
      > Take the personality tests to find more indicators

      Hope that helps somewhat, take care!

  5. Puranjay

    Apr 14, 2015 at 10:09 am

    Top post Simon.

    You hit the nail on the head – you can’t be a generalist anymore. If you want a top career, you need to have at least one highly desired skill, and you need to be really, really good at it.

    If you are a digital marketer, you need to know how to grow traffic. If you are a UX designer, you need to know how to design websites that get top of the line conversions and engagement. A programmer would need to constantly improve his/her skillset with latest industry trends.

    The fun part is that mastery is its own reward. There is no greater source of joy in the world than knowing you are one of the best at someting!

    • Simon Somlai

      Apr 14, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      Hey Puranjay,

      Thanks man, glad you liked the article!

      Most definitely – Expertise in different areas (being a polymath) combined with a desire to keep learning is what will get us ahead in the future.

      “The fun part is that mastery is its own reward. There is no greater source of joy in the world than knowing you are one of the best at something!”

      Agreed – as long as we pursue a direction suited to our strengths. I don’t believe everyone can excel at anything.

      For making more money; Pick a difficult, high in-demand skill suited to your strengths and reach expertise in that asap.

      Take care,

  6. satpal

    Apr 14, 2015 at 5:35 am

    Well explained . I am pretty it the best career advice i ever got.

    • Simon Somlai

      Apr 20, 2015 at 10:08 pm

      Thanks Satpal, I hope it comes in time for you!

      Take care,

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Success Advice

Success is for the Self-Taught

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Truman Capote, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Jobs, Nikola Tesla. Those are four names you never thought you’d see in a sentence together. As it happens, these four individuals have more in common than their success, ingenuity, and fame. They were all autodidacts. In other words, they were self-taught learners.

The talents and innovations that skyrocketed them to fame were the products of their own teachings. Make no mistake, this doesn’t mean a formal education is a waste of time. However, it goes to show that success is crafted solely by commitment and focus. While college and traineeships can prepare us for the groundwork of what we pursue, it’s ultimately up to us as individuals to teach ourselves how to refine our knowledge for success.

It’s the self-taught principles that allow us to distinguish our own work from that of others. With the help of the internet, self-taught success is more possible than ever. And there are plenty of ways to reach our inner autodidact.

Elon Musk had science degrees from top Ivy League universities, but he still credits most of his knowledge to the textbooks he allegedly “committed to memory.” Reading is just one way to teach yourself everything you need to know. Aspiring inventors can surely learn a lot by sacrificing some of their leisure time to sit down with a textbook.

For writers and artists, the best study is to just read. Read anything. Inspiration can be derived from poetry, works of fiction, etc. These also help you develop your writing skills, which is an important asset for any aspiring entrepreneur.

“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.” – Isaac Asimov

With the help of online Master Classes, Youtube videos, and apps – where online courses developed by some of the top U.S. educational institutions can be accessed remotely – self-taught success is more attainable than ever.

What’s more, we learn through practice. We can publish our own eBooks through Amazon without the publishing house bureaucracy. We can advertise our product, brand, or service through social media savvy without astronomical advertising costs. And as we practice, we learn. We gain feedback from our followers, learn from our mistakes, and do it better the second time around.

Even when you’re teaching yourself, others are always helping. However, you get to decide which lessons are most constructive, and you get to apply them to the real world in real-time.

The Science of Self-Taught

People have a tendency to romanticize the concept of self-taught success. It’s not a solution for laziness, or an excuse for lack of motivation. In many cases, teaching yourself is more work than being taught. The level of accountability rises when you are both teacher and student. Furthermore, it requires more discipline. Without a structured schedule or a guaranteed reward at the end of your efforts, your only hope is your dedication.

Beyond this, however, the only thing stopping most people from teaching themselves is insecurity. Fear of failure and inadequacy halts self-taught learners in their tracks. Especially because with self-teaching, inevitably, comes occasional failure. Unfortunately, the self-taught often feel they have nobody to blame the failure on but themselves – no teachers, mentors, or trainers as scapegoats.

According to Psychology Today, there is nothing that makes certain people better self-taught learners than others. The only difference is motivation, and willingness to overcome that lingering insecurity. Even the concept of “learning styles” is erroneous, says Psychology Today. While each individual is different, ability to learn is not based on preference, but expertise.

Beginners learn better from examples, while experts learn better by solving problems. This builds yet another case for autodidacts, who are more likely to learn by experience – the most effective method.

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but a lifelong attempt to acquire it.” – Albert Einstein

The Rewards of Being Self-Taught

The fruits of your labor taste sweeter when you’ve taught yourself how to grow them. As such, success is more enjoyable when your self-education has contributed to it. All successful individuals have something in common: they’ve taken the initiative to teach themselves new things, or to supplement their formal education with self-teaching, as well.

Therefore, not all groundbreaking inventors, artists, and philosophers are solely self-taught. However, they’ve still accompanied their college training with their own individual quest for knowledge.

There is a simple reason why autodidacts thrive the most: because they’re always learning. The one mistake people who solely rely on formal education and training make is the mistake of stopping their learning process altogether once it’s over. Not only does this prevent you from being up-to-date on the latest concepts and advancements in your field, but it obstructs your brain’s thirst for mental stimulation.

By constantly learning and teaching ourselves new things, no matter how small or large they might be, we could change the course of our overall health and well-being. Research even shows that mental stimulation (consisting of practicing memorization, learning new things, and improving our skill in existing hobbies) is key to slowing down the development of, and possibly even reversing, Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Motivational speaker and entrepreneur Jim Rohn was noted for saying, “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” This does not mean you should abandon the pursuit of formal education, as it often serves as the foundation for self-education. But, it does mean we should maintain, cater to, and quench our thirst for knowledge as much as we possibly can.

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Success Advice

6 Expert Tips for Building Relationships With Those You Idolize

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Many of us dream of one day meeting a celebrity. Be it a movie star or a pro football player, we have a tendency to idolize these individuals, even looking to them for guidance as we make life decisions. In business, we can also find people we idolize. Individuals who have achieved great success with their own company or even revolutionized an industry.

From these people, we can learn key skills, gain valuable insights or even form partnerships to take our own business ventures to the next level. Yes, it is possible to form real relationships with your business idols or industry influencers. But like any other relationship, it requires work.

Here’s 6 ways you can start forming the relationships that will make a lasting difference for your entrepreneurial goals:

1. Do Your Research

Facebook stalking may be creepy for normal relationships, but doing some online research is perfectly okay for business leaders and influencers. After all, most influencers are extremely active online, either through social media, their own website or guest blogging. This basic research gives you a chance to better understand your business idol.

What do they like or dislike? What are their opinions on current trends? What do they talk like? These simple bits of information will help you better know how to approach them and determine if a relationship could prove beneficial.

“The richest people in the world look for and build networks. Everyone else looks for work.” – Robert Kiyosaki

2. Comment Carefully

Your initial research also serves as your first chance for engagement with your business idol. By liking social media posts or leaving thoughtful comments on blog articles, you can make a positive first impression.

Of course, leaving quality comments is sometimes easier said than done. As Kevin Duncan of SmartBlogger explains, thoughtfully contributing to the discussion with personal experiences or meaningful questions are a great way to get the conversation started.

“When you share a personal insight, bloggers can more easily relate to you. You’re no longer just an unfamiliar name making a comment that could have been left by anyone …the more personal your insight, the more unique it will be. And the more unique your insight, the more memorable your comment will be and the more you’ll stand out.”

3. Group Participation

Business leaders and influencers won’t only be found on blogs. Many are also active participants in online industry groups. Whether on Facebook or LinkedIn, these groups allow industry professionals to discuss current trends, ask for advice, or share new opportunities.

If you wish to make a positive impression, you should seek out, join and actively participate in these online groups. Avoid the temptation to promote yourself or your business. Instead, engage in conversations much like you would with a quality blog comment. By sharing your unique experiences and insights, you’ll build a stronger reputation among your peers.

4. Face Time

Online discussions are a great place to start, but the best relationships typically require some face-to-face interaction. You make a much more lasting impression when you have an in-person conversation. Industry conventions or lectures are great places to connect with others in your field. When you show yourself as a living, breathing human being, rather than just a name behind the computer, it becomes so much easier to make a personal connection and form a real, lasting relationship — and that can pay big dividends for future pitches.

Setting up a face-to-face meeting can be tricky. After all, you don’t want to come off as creepy. However, if you’ve already established an online rapport, asking if an influencer would like to briefly meet in person at an event you’re both attending shouldn’t be a problem.

5. Add Value

All relationships have a bit of give and take — and this is especially true when forming relationships in the business world. If you’re only approaching a business idol because you hope to gain something (like an extra investor in your startup), you likely won’t have success. Instead, find ways that you can contribute value.

As leadership consultant Randy Hain explains, “‘What can I do to help you?’ is absolutely one of the best ways to get business relationships off to a great start. Invest in the other person first, with no expectation of return. Do not keep score. Simply make the investment and over time you will benefit from the seeds of generosity you have planted.”

“Networking is the No. 1 unwritten rule of success in business.” – Sallie Krawcheck

6. Focus On the Long-Term

The aforementioned tactics aren’t “one and done” tips. Instead, you’ll need to continually practice them to show your genuine interest and build the kinds of friendships that can pay lasting dividends for everyone involved.

Relationships aren’t a short-term investment — and this is especially true if you want help on your own road to success. Real relationships need time to grow. They need continual nurturing. With a patient, long-term approach, you’ll be less tempted to jump right into a sales pitch and more likely to focus on a genuine friendship that delivers a real payoff.

Becoming an entrepreneur may put you in the role of the underdog — but this doesn’t mean you have to go at it alone. As you form genuine relationships with influencers and other business professionals, you’ll gain access to new sources of knowledge.

You’ll find friends who are willing to help or mentors willing to share their time. You may even find a new business partner. Relationship-building is a lifelong endeavor, but it will always pay off in the end.

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Success Advice

Stop Denying Your Negative Thoughts and Start Embracing Them

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Over the years, many of the talking heads and pundits in the personal development and success science industry have talked about the immediate replacement of negative thoughts with positive thoughts. The logic behind that particular behavioral strategy seems to make sense on the surface. Think about it, when a negative thought rears its ugly head, we should immediately dive into the repository of positive thoughts that we have available to us so that we could immediately begin to dwell on it.

Even further, some gurus of the genre suggest removing any chance of having a negative thought by the constant repetition of affirmations. Again, tried-and-true motivational technology that is very workable and still useful. I would suggest, however, that you view the above behaviors as tactics more than strategies.

I will further suggest to you that you do not abhor your negative thoughts but rather embrace them, examine them, and place them under a spotlight. My reasoning behind this goes back over 100 years into psychology with stimulus/response, that is, the cause and effect of certain behaviors. Many individuals look at a negative thought as a causative driver. The negative thought exists as a cause, and our behavior toward that cause will determine the effect.

So, following this logic, if an individual has a negative thought which makes them feel sad, and that sadness causes them to binge drink, by removing the negative thought you’ll have removed the motivation for binge drinking. Doesn’t that sound kind of silly? The suggestion here is to turn off the negative thought so that it will turn off the consumption of alcohol.

Of course, this makes sense if we view the negative thought as a primal force in behavior. So, what if we started to think of the negative thought more as the result of something else? It means that the “something else” must change first. What if we took a different approach? What if we looked at a negative thought as an effect of some larger causal factor?

“You’re going to go through tough times – that’s life. But I say, ‘Nothing happens to you, it happens for you.’ See the positive in negative events.” – Joel Osteen

By reversing the cause-and-effect motion of negative thinking (saying that the negative thought is an effect), we now can ask a deeper, more penetrative question: Why are we thinking that negative thought? What is the underlying cause of that specific train of thinking? By reversing the cause-and-effect relationship of negative thinking, it allows the negative thinker to assume the role of diagnostician!

Below is a three-step process you can use to examine your negative thoughts, the role of it in your life, and how you can get rid of them:

1. Simply acknowledge the negative thought

Recognize the fact that there’s a negative thought in your mind instead of trying to go through a process of emotionally overlaying positive thoughts on top of it. Can you see how this exacerbates the issue? You have a negative thought, you immediately recognize that it must be changed, and you frantically scurry through the museum of your mind to find a positive thought to replace it.

In the meantime, while you are trying to find that positive thought, you’re feeling anxious, nervous, and guilty! When you finally find a positive thought to replace that negative thought, the normal process is to squash it. But you can’t! It’s like trying to get rid of weeds by covering them with rocks.

They will always find another way around the rock. It is the same with negative thoughts. Consequently, try acknowledging the negative thought.

2. Affirm the negative thought

It is a part of you. Instead of denying its existence, accept that it is there in front of you and that you are now willing to deal with it. If any of you reading this are dog lovers, you will know that the best way to get a dog next to you is by attempting to push it away from you. Every time you push the dog away it gets closer. This is the same with negative thinking because the harder you push the closer it gets.

“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.” – Michael Jordan

3. Acquit the thought

Give it permission to leave you. Thank it for its past importance in your life and allow it to be on its way! At this point feel free to replace the negative thought with a positive thought. What will begin to happen when you place the negative thought under the spotlight is that you will see how insignificantly small it actually is.

This is a process I’ve been using for quite some time, and it works! Oh sure, I still use affirmations on a daily basis; as a matter fact I have them right here in front of me. I find that affirmations are a tremendous way to stay positive because it doesn’t allow any room for bad things to grow. But since the average person thinks 60,000 to 65,000 thoughts per day, let’s face it, a few negative thoughts have to squeak in there!

The best advice that I can give is to not freak out over a negative thought. Acknowledge it, affirm it, and acquit it! This is magic. Watch what happens!

How do you handle negative thoughts? Let us know your tips below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Success Advice

One Thing I Can Teach You About Life That Will Help You Forever.

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I used to be a very anxious person.

I was embarrassed by what I couldn’t do and every day was a struggle. From the moment I would wake up to the moment I’d go to bed, everything felt impossibly overwhelming. It’s a battle I’ve dealt with most of my life.

This daily struggle with mental illness taught me that the satisfaction didn’t lie in beating it; the satisfaction was in helping other people beat mental illness through my success in fighting it.


Recently, I was at work. It was a pretty standard day — nothing too exciting. I then had a catch up with one of the leaders I worked with.

She said something that got my attention: “One of our colleagues is battling a mental illness.”

I really wanted to help. My eyes lit up. There was no need to uncover my plan with anyone else. I knew that staying discrete was fundamental.

I approached the person in question and asked for a few minutes of their time.

I didn’t ask them to admit their mental illness struggle; I just shared my story.

I talked about the anxiety stopping me from having a normal life, eating the right foods, going on dates with girls, having the career I wanted and traveling the world.

I wasn’t sure if any of it was sinking in or even helping. I felt compelled to go on. One thing I knew was that he was paying attention. I could see it in his eyes.

I then went on to talk about how I beat mental illness. Strategies such as:

  • Creating fear lists
  • Seeking professional help
  • Working on myself
  • Books I read
  • Events I attended

Out of nowhere, he started opening up about his own struggle. I was shocked.
It wasn’t pretty. He had an extreme case of mental illness that I certainly couldn’t diagnose or give professional advice on.

All I could do was show him through my own story that there was hope

I offered him access to all the resources I had. I told him that he had my full support and I’d be happy to help in any way I could. He then said:

“What was your psychologist’s name?”

I told him I’d look it up and send it to him. I didn’t have the answer in front of me, but I was determined when I got home to find it.

At the end of the catch-up, he smiled. I don’t think he’d smiled like that in a very long time.

That smile gave me so much satisfaction. It made my own struggle with mental illness worth it. All those sleepless nights, times spent vomiting into the toilet and dark days where I didn’t want to go on made sense.


“It took more than seven years for me to understand that my own battle with mental illness actually had a benefit”

That benefit was the satisfaction in seeing someone beat their mental illness because I was able to defeat mine.

It’s probably the greatest satisfaction of my entire life.

That’s one thing I can teach you about life that will help you forever.

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