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10 principles I live by and how I learned them

    1. Curiosity as a social hack

    I’m an introvert. I was never the center of attention, the class clown, or the charismatic guy who could mesmerize a crowd.

    But I loved learning and understanding other peoples' stories.

    I’ll never forget the time I had a conversation with a guy who was the CEO of a 7-8 figure business.

    “I really enjoyed this conversation.”

    All I did was ask questions about his journey about the work he did.

    It’s how I’ve become friends with people across all sides of the political spectrum, the whole range of the socioeconomic ladder, of all colors, shapes, sizes, sexuality, and interests.

    People love talking about themselves, and people generally like people who genuinely want to hear.

    "If you want to be interesting, be interested."

    2. Give first

    I heard this at a conference:

    Everyone suffers from, “WIIFM”

    “What’s in it for me?”

    It was like a flip switched.

    I realized I could become friends with anyone if I could consistently answer that question.

    So whenever I meet someone for the first time I’m using curiosity (see #1) because people like talking about themselves and I also ask, “So, how can I help you?”

    It’s like writing a very quick blank check. People usually don’t expect that you can meaningfully help them in any way, but they can appreciate the intention.

    The older I’ve gotten, the more I am able to surprise people with how much I can actually help.

    So what about me? WIIFM?

    I almost always learn something new about the world or what interests people have. People often reciprocate and offer to help me. Or they’re just far more open to help down the road if I do need their help.

    3. Play the long game, not the prestige game

    Learning and mastery are long games.

    Social fluency, financial fluency, business fluency are long games.

    Physical health, mental health, having good friends, maintaining integrity are long games.

    Having a nice car, nice clothes, a perfect social media presence, being associated with well-known people, having brand names… those typically aren’t substantive.  It’s like a glass cannon or house of straw, easily blown down or seen through.

    Playing and mastering the long game is like a bomb shelter, it can brave a lot of life’s up and downs.

    4. Create what you wish there was

    There are 3 things you can do when you’re frustrated by something that’s missing in the world.

    1. Complain and vent.
    2. Do nothing.
    3. Create the very thing you wish existed.

    It wasn’t much of a choice the first time I thought about this.

    This is why I mentor.

    This is why I build things.

    This is why I teach.

    5. You can only influence people as much as they have value for you

    I used to try to convince people who weren’t trying to listen.

    I used to, as a 20 year old, tell someone in their 60s how they were wrong.

    I used to assume everyone needed to know what I knew.

    I hit walls.

    I alienated people.

    I learned to spend my time with people who valued what I had to say.

    6. Create consent

    School taught me compliance.

    Work culture has been fraught with abuse.

    My Asian parents consistently ignored this.

    I make it a point, especially in positions of power, to explicify the ability for someone to opt out or disagree.

    This is partially because I wish I had it (see #4) and because I don’t want to create an environment where people are lulled into something that they didn't actually resonate with.

    7. Assume best intentions

    There’s a story about a dad on a subway with his two kids. They were both loud, rowdy, and rambunctious. Other passengers started giving the dad a glare.

    “Sorry, their mother just died.”

    You just never know what is happening for people and it’s often easier to be patient once you assume best intentions.

    Also, patience creates a lot less stress compared to getting annoyed or frustrated.

    8. Unattachment makes it easy to be happy

    Happiness = Expectations - Reality

    The easiest way to be happy is to be unattached to the outcome and have zero expectations.

    I set my hopes high, but I’m unattached to it.

    If I reach my hopes, I’m ecstatic.

    If I land below my hopes, I’m still happy.

    If I land far below my hopes, I’m still happy.

    9. Check my ego

    This doesn’t mean that I execute perfectly, it just means I’ve committed to the process of noticing when my ego rears its head and wants to get attention.

    When someone mentions something like, “I just learned about XYZ” and there’s a part of me that thinks, “OMG, I want people to think I’m cool/awesome, I should also mention that I also learned that *years* ago.”

    I just know when I’m speaking from a place of ego, and I actively check myself on it.

    There really isn’t any need for me to mention that I’ve learned something *years ago.*

    Also the conversation isn’t about me… it’s about the person who seems excited to share about something they learned.

    Ego often just wants attention and winning others’ approval.

    Ego hasn't done much for me other than show me how much I'm relying on others to feel better about myself and my place in the world.

    10. I can learn anything as long as I’m willing to put in the time

    Warren Buffett had to learn how to make $1 first.

    Tiger Woods had to learn how to walk first.

    Aretha Franklin had to learn the ABCs.

    A marathon is run by taking a first step.

    Mastery is simply the process of taking many many steps towards a dedicated direction.

    As long as I’m committed to keep taking steps, I will eventually develop mastery.

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