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A Letter to My Younger Self over a cup of Joe
“Looking backwards will help you to connect the dots, but remember there are no short cuts in life to any place worth going”.
Graduation was the beginning of a learning journey. One that had setbacks and bumps but a lot of fun and some pretty big achievements as well. Every now and then I look backwards to reflect on the good and the bad of my ride. Here is what I’ve learned, hopefully it will inspire you to make a change.
A letter to my young self.
24 Year Old Myself.
This is your golden age.
Your parents have probably told you about a million times that decisions you make at this age will show the first signs of success in the upcoming years. Listen to them!
Take the time to invest in yourself. You are building the foundation for your future success.
You are young, full of energy, your head is packed with dreams and you think this is YOU. Let me correct you, this is you in your 20s. You will be a different person 10 years from now. This is the time where life looks like an opportunity to take, an adventure. I am a dreamer, I have always been but I can guarantee that the faith and adrenaline you have in your 20s will transform into a more conscious set of emotions with time.
In your 30s you will take opportunities conscious of their pros and cons. You know that accepting a job abroad will do some good to your career but will take away time from your family. Back in your 20s every opportunity looked exciting. Your kid’s eyes allowed you to dream more than you’ll ever do again.
You have the power but you lack knowledge.
Step out of your comfort zone. Journal daily, work on your habits and start making meaningful connections. Join groups and events to get exposed to crowds to start building self-confidence. Connect with everyone. Travel.
Become a citizen of the world.
Travel to learn that there are infinite possibilities for you out there. Travel to humble up but also to build confidence in yourself. Travel to learn that differences are good and people from different cultures can teach you a lot.
Travel to learn to say NO.
Please tell me.
How many times you sat in interviews without knowing how much you were going to get paid?
How many times they told you “if you demonstrate a good attitude and strong capabilities” we will consider hiring you, but it didn’t happen or happened for a ridiculous pay check?
Be bold. You’ve been educated to “work hard”, thinking that if you do so someone will notice you and you’ll climb the ladder. That’s not always true.
Apply the 20/80 rule. You can work little, be smart about it and get what you want. Learn what works and do more of it. Ignore the rest.
Make self-development a priority. Step out of the comfort zone. Challenge yourself, find out what scares you and sign up for a course that will expose you to your biggest fears.
Market yourself. Learn from the Americans, the best in class in marketing their achievements. Work on your executive presence and ability to communicate concisely. Pick of a field of your interest, send a message to CXOs on LinkedIn asking for mentorship, you will be surprised how many successful leaders are willing to coach you.
I can see you in your days after graduation wondering “What do I do now? What do I like? Where should I apply?”
There is no right or wrong but like any strategy you need to have a vision for yourself and some underlying principles to refer to.
This has been my approach to it and the principles behind it.
I had clear in mind that I didn’t want to spend my life doing something I didn’t like but it was not clear to me what I liked either. Let’s be frank, when you graduate you know nothing about what each and every job really consist in.
What does a Marketing Director do? Is Marketing in a Luxury Retail Organization similar to Marketing in a Large Retail Organization? Is finance same if I work in a manufacturing organization or in a bank? Is selling a product similar to selling services?
Let me guide you to choose the work that makes you the happiest.
What did you do for fun when you were a kid?
“At that age, you know enough of the world to have opinions about things, but you’re not old enough yet to be overly influenced by the crowd or by what other people are doing or what you think you ‘should’ be doing”. Says Gretchen Rubin in The happiness project.
I’m doing now what most excited me when I was a kid. As a kid I needed freedom to express myself, to boost my creative thinking. I couldn’t sit or focus for a long time but I had a great ability to think in frameworks. I could influence people. I dreamt of an adventurous life that could set me free from the myths and models pushed on us by the society.
Let me tell you what I do for a living. I travel a lot, I lived in 5 countries. I advise Banks and Government agencies on how to leverage technology to reshape their business model and remain competitive. I influence C-Levels decisions. What do I like about my job? The freedom. It allows me to work and live anywhere. I manage myself, my time. I have complete ownership of my business and I am responsible for it. It’s meritocratic, the more effort you put in the more rewarded you are. There is no cap to your earning and your progression is up to you and your drive.
Now, I want to share some of the underlying principles that guided my career from graduation ‘till today.
“The only way to do great work is to love what you do”. Steve Jobs. This has always been my driving principle. I didn’t stop ‘till I had found a job that excited me. My biggest advise is if you are at the coffee machine surrounded by colleagues that talk about work and you wonder how boring is that and why they talk about work during breaks, pack your bag and LEAVE. If you are not in the right job. This was one of my first epiphanies.
“A pencil and a dream can take you anywhere”. Joyce A. Myers. My parents have encouraged me to travel since a young age. I spent most of my summers abroad. I learnt new languages. I made friends and I learned that there are no countries nor boundaries. We are all very different and similar at the same time. It’s fascinating to immerge into new cultures and traditions. It’s fascinating to feel home anywhere you go. My biggest lesson learned is that the principle of right and wrong doesn’t apply to everything. We have been raised knowing that is impolite to eat with hands, but there are many cultures that consider this the best way of creating a connection with the food you’re eating. Or for example, words that in Italian are masculine in other languages are feminine. What is right? What is wrong? And how much can you expand your mind to accept diversity?
“Sometimes to win the war you’ve got to lose a battle”. Life is made of bumps and turns and it doesn’t always go as you plan. Expect surprises. At time you’ll have setbacks and you’ll be disappointed but let me tell you one thing I’ve learned in the process of growing up, after every storm there is a rainbow. Some of the best things that happened to me where in the back of a “NO” that I had received. “Every No gets you closer to a Yes”. Learn from the mistakes you make.