What advice would you give a 20 year old?

#entrepreneur #contractors #contracting #business #leadership

I have the privilege and honor of being a guest and a speaker at the American Leadership Academy (ALA) in Cabo San Lucas this week. I am a guest of my friend Greg Wittstock (see AquaScape), and Jerry Nelson (he discovered water in what we now know as Scottsdale, AZ…oh, yea, he also founded TicketMaster and about 40 other companies).

The mission of the ALA reads: “The American Leadership Academy provides a unique and intimate venue through which successful leaders share their experiences and inspire the values, skills, habits and discipline needed to lead America.”

A few times each year, college men from around the country come down for a week and are exposed to sun, fun and ton of wisdom from some pretty cool businessmen and leaders from around the country.

Today, I sat on a panel and fielded questions from the room full of emerging leaders.

The final question of the day was,

“With only one minute to answer, what advice would you give a 20 year old man with his whole life ahead of him?”

I thought it was funny that I was being asked that question because I still feel like I’m 20! Except for the bunion, the frequent hip pain and the 2 trips to pee in the middle of the night….

Here’s what I said….and for the record, I believe it applies at any age!

  • Build a good name.

You get one shot to develop your personal brand and reputation. Good times will come and go. Jobs will come and go. Having a good name will allow you to always make a comeback when needed.

Having a good name will also give you more opportunities in life.  Good, successful people who make a difference in the world will always want to know other people with a ‘good name.’

  • Add value to all relationships.

Everyone is important because we are all part of the human race. Despite our differences, we all have something of value to bring to the world. A good leader will treat everyone from the cab driver to the CEO with dignity and respect.

This also includes being a ‘giver’ of your time, information, money, etc…freely give to help others and you will rarely be in need yourself.

  • Abandon mediocrity.

Don’t settle for an average life defined by others. If you want something, then go attack it and get it. Bring your best instead of your scraps. The world is full of ‘half-assers,’ so don’t be one of them.

Set personal and organizational expectations high and don’t be afraid to rub people the wrong way…just do right regardless of what the critics think.

There were some great lessons today for our young leaders. What would you have told them if you were asked, “What advice would you give a 20 year old?”