One of my favorite things to do when I procrastinate is read posts like, “Best Routines of Highly Productive People,” “9 Things Successful People Won’t Do,” etc. etc. You get the idea. I’m always hoping for little nuggets of wisdom or insight so that I can be even more productive and successful. It’s my personal quest to keep moving forward and become a better version of myself every day. I feel that if I’m wasting precious time, at least I’m reading what I feel are productive articles that aren’t a waste of time!
So, I was re-reading a post written by James Altucher. If you don’t follow his blog, check it out. He is kooky and has some out-of-the-norm ideas, but he’s got some interesting insight. His post: “What are the Best Routines of Highly Productive People” gave a breakdown of what he does daily. Up at 5:30am, read 5-10% of 5 books, do some light exercise, have coffee, and then get ready to write. He’s launched and sold several companies and made (and lost) millions, he has a fairly successful podcast, has written quite a few books, and has a huge blog following. I would say he is productive and successful, and he has definitely done it his way, so more power to him.
The other day, I went to a Wharton breakfast. It was a small gathering of approximately 10 of us and we listened to Kyle, one of the founders and CEO of a multi-million dollar company. He’s a friend of mine, but I had never heard his career story. Essentially, upon graduation from Wharton, he got a corporate job and was completely miserable and was laid off 5 months later. He then went to another, even more miserable corporate job, and as he recounts it, “I would have fired myself.” To clarify, he wasn’t fired from this job but he was told by his management that he should start looking for something else.
He eventually met his business partner when he decided to take a step off the corporate path and was bartending! And even though Kyle’s business partner had originally provided all the funds to keep the business afloat, he made it clear to him: “I don’t report into you.”
Upon hearing this story, another CEO in the room piped in, and found it uncanny that he had a similar start. He too had butt heads with his upper management, and was laid off from his first corporate job.
Now, both of them run very successful companies. The second CEO now employs over 200 people.
So what do I take away from this? In some cases (I’m not saying for all cases), but in a lot of cases that I hear, there is a definite personality that makes one a successful entrepreneur. They are confident and brash, and frankly, don’t always try and make their current situation work out. In the example of both cases above, both guys did not bow down to corporate management in an effort to keep their jobs going. They were not people pleasers but stayed true to their personality and what makes them happy.
The wisdom I gain from this is sometimes you have to let it all go and stop playing the game if it doesn’t feel right to you. It demands some discipline and focus, and a very strong sense of self. And there’s something very admirable about that.