Go to college. Get a “safe” job with a 401(k). Work hard. We’ve all received similar advice — but is following it truly the key to success? These self-made millionaires and Advisors in The Oracles, including Bethenny Frankel and Gary Vanyerchuk, say if you want to fulfill your dreams, ignore these nine pieces of well-meaning advice.
1. “Perfect Your Business Plan.”
If someone tells you that you need a perfect business plan to get started, it’s not true. When you wait for the perfect plan, you often end up procrastinating and getting stuck instead. Besides, perfect doesn’t exist, and most of the things you write down won’t happen anyway. So just get in the car, get on the road, and start mapping your route while you drive.
You don’t have to know everything about business either. I’m strategic and business-minded, but I’m not very knowledgeable about important areas like financial planning, banking, and tax structures. You just have to be honest with yourself about what you don’t know and surround yourself with experts. Then you’ll learn by doing it. —Bethenny Frankel, founder of Skinnygirl, cast member of “The Real Housewives of New York City,” New York Times bestselling author, and Shark on “Shark Tank”; follow Bethenny on Twitter and Instagram
2. “Fake it till you make it.”
Advice is only good in context and from those closest to you who truly have your best interest in mind. That means almost all advice is bad, but “fake it till you make it” is particularly awful. It worked when nobody was watching and you were faking it by learning on the job. The problem now is that people are faking it in public. They try to position themselves as “entrepreneurs” or “thought leaders” when they haven’t sold anything or done the work.
Too many people are projecting a personality and a personal brand on social media with nothing to back it up. You’re saying you’re there before you are. That doesn’t mean you can’t get there. But don’t brand yourself as the entrepreneur who’s “made it.” Brand yourself as someone who is on the journey to becoming successful. There’s a big difference. —Gary Vaynerchuk, founder and CEO of VaynerX; five-time New York Times bestselling author of “Crushing It!”
3. “Get a ‘safe’ job.”
When I was growing up, my parents stressed the importance of getting a “safe,” reliable job. So when I finished high school, I went to college to become a teacher. I quickly realized that wasn’t the direction I wanted to go; but I trusted my parents’ life experience, so it took me six years to break out and start my own business.
Times have changed. Few jobs are truly safe, thanks to artificial intelligence and digital development. At the same time, there are countless career options; so you don’t have to choose one you don’t like. A few years ago, it was ridiculous to think you could make money playing computer games. Now teenagers are winning millions in gaming tournaments. “Job safety” today comes from digital skills and the ability to create brand awareness and influence online. —Torben Platzer, founder and CEO of personal branding agency TPA Media GmbH, founder of business education program SELFMADE, and host of the German podcast “SELFMADE”; connect with Torben on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube
4. “Follow your passion.”
We don’t instantly find our passions; we develop them. They emerge and morph over time. It’s unreasonable to expect anyone to know their passion straight out of college. You might know what you like to do, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a viable career. Our passions are often destined to become great hobbies — not careers.
Besides, most people aren’t good at what they do at first. As a result, they give up, move on, and limit their beliefs about being good enough. You can’t get to what you’re great at without jumping over lots of hurdles. Just like passion doesn’t come without exploration, success doesn’t come without failure. That’s why it isn’t about how many times you fall down, but the number of times you get up. —Gail Corder Fischer, executive vice chairman of Fischer & Company, a leading global corporate real estate firm that provides consulting, brokerage, and technology solutions
5. “Be realistic.”
If people tell you to focus on one thing because you can’t pursue three ideas at once, they’re wrong. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Try multiple things at once, then cut the losing projects and double-down on the winners.
In business, you have to break all the rules. That’s what disruptive companies like Uber, Amazon, and Facebook did. I’m obviously not suggesting you do anything illegal. But if you want to stand out and make an impact, you have to think outside of common conventions and the status quo by stretching what’s acceptable. The founders of billion-dollar companies like UPS, SpaceX, and Apple all had a “reality distortion field.” You must believe in a grand vision with every fiber of your being and paint the picture for others. It’s the only way to make the impossible possible. —Mike Peters, entrepreneur, philanthropist, XPRIZE Foundation board member, and founder of the Yomali group of companies, which has generated more than $1 billion in sales online; read more about Peters: Mike Peters’ Rollercoaster Journey from Young Millionaire to Flat Broke to Running a $1 Billion-Plus Business
6. “A penny saved is a penny earned.”
Telling people it’s as useful to save money as it is to earn more is the worst business and life advice I have ever heard. Building an empire requires making an investment, not saving your money. In order to scale a business, you must have the confidence and vision to invest many pennies, which requires belief in yourself and your business.
Whenever I am facing setbacks trying to achieve the next level of success in my business, I always remind myself that I don’t want to be ordinary — I want to build something extraordinary. And to do that, I need to take risks, including with money. —Keri Shull, founder of the Keri Shull Team, which has sold over $2 billion in properties; co-founder of real estate coaching business HyperFast Agent; named one of America’s Best Real Estate Agents by REAL Trends; connect with Keri on Facebook
7. “You can’t trust anyone to be as committed as you are.”
Many people will tell you that “Good people are hard to find” or “You can’t expect employees to care like you do,” but that’s not true. There are many remarkable people looking for opportunities to succeed — you just have to understand what inspires them and align their passions with your business objectives. Demonstrate exactly how they can attain their own goals by positively impacting the business.
Businesses don’t drive people — people drive businesses. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to uncover your employees’ aspirations, give them the encouragement and tools they need, and celebrate successes with them. That’s how you create a trustworthy, quality team that will help you drive your business to the next level. —Brandon Dawson, serial entrepreneur and co-founder and CEO of Cardone Ventures; founder and CEO of Audigy; host of “The B Dawson Show” podcast; connect with Brandon on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn
8. “You’ll succeed if you work hard.”
This is the worst advice to give someone, especially when they’re trying and underperforming, because it can lead them down a path of working hard without success, which is just a waste of time. Instead, you should work smart, evaluate your results, optimize the way you work, and repeat. If you don’t see improvement, move on to something else. Time is our most valuable asset, so you shouldn’t waste it.
This applies to everything. For example, when we work with our clients, we try a lot of things at once because you don’t know what works best until you try. Next, we review performance, optimize, and try again. Then we focus on the top-performing techniques and drop the rest. Working hard is great as long as you focus your hard work where you get the best return. That’s how you succeed. —Rafael Romis, founder and CEO of award-winning digital agency Weberous and e-commerce strategist at Generate Culture; connect with Rafael on LinkedIn
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