Life and Startups Lessons from 2014

I’m sitting here blasting Kendrik Lamar blogging like it’s 2009 reflecting as 2014 draws to a close. I’m reflecting on 2014 and what it meant for me. It was my first year stepping into entrepreneurship — not easy at all. It was a year of growth, battling against my demons, and breaking through, in more ways than one.

These are a mix of both startup business lessons and life lessons I hope you can take with you

1. Parental Breakthrough: This was the first year my parents understood and accepted(not sure they had a choice) in my path. Being raised by immigrants, much of the challenges I faced was not pursuing a conventional career or path and then having to justify that. This is nearly impossible considering the world I grew up in was massively different than the world they grew up in. I wrote a proven solution to ending this multigenerational conflict and how to get them to accept you. It will take some time and effort but the book, “The Ultimate Guide to Dealing with Difficult Immigrant Parents: How To End Conflict with Difficuly Immigrant Parents Forever” is guaranteed to give you a foolproof formula you can refer to again and again to help you deal with your own personal situation.

2. Business launched: I launched a digital marketing and design agency earlier in the year, which taught me about how to find clients, how to charge what I was worth, how to properly market, and how to build a personal brand amongst many things. The love of my life has always been education and publishing but I realized earlier on in the year that magazine business was a tough business to be in — you need cash flow to survive and a tremendous amount of hustle. But hustle doesn’t happen without clarity — I had no long-term vision for Disrupt Magazine until now — with the launch of my upcoming company with my co-founder, Think Disrupt, a new media publishing and education company serving the create maladjustment of the non-conforming minority is launching on January 1st 2015.

My biggest business lesson: Focus on helping people where they need it. I never got into a conversation on business to turn the person into a client but to build a long-term relationship with them and see how my work could help them. If it couldn’t, I didn’t sell it to them. I just found someone who could. This is the fool-proof method of how to run a business. Never focus on the money. Focus on the individual and how you can help them reach their goals.

2. Understanding money: This year, I learned how to actually make money, what it means based on your mindset — you can choose to adopt a poor mindset or a mindset of abundance — and how you understand money effects the way you operate business and life. I really believe that most of what you get in life is because of what you think about and how you think about it.

3. Business is about showing up and following through. Seriously. Just try and go at it everyday and work on something until you complete it.

BIG lesson: It’s okay at any point in your life to say: “This is not working for me” and stop engaging with places, people and ideas that no longer serve you or you no longer care about.

4. Don’t compromise — This year I learned to just do what I felt was right and make a solid decision about it. If you want to be something, just be it, now. If you want to move, just do it. If you want to start something, honest to God, do yourself a favour and just do it. Remember — this is who you are. You don’t need anyone’s permission to do it. You are fully responsible for you and when you die, you have to answer for yourself. No one else can live your life for you.

5. Don’t care what anyone thinks — At some point, you need to really just stop giving a shit. Honestly, I cared for too long. Why? Because the people around me were not like me. I felt like I had to justify myself. ‘Oh, your an entrepreneur? Really?’ I still get people not really understanding or believing in what I actually do. No one really understand. But you know what, like I care. I’m so over it.

6. People will fail you. Here’s the thing: this is the real world. In school, you are used to being trained to have a structured life where things are going to be done the way they, the system, told you. In real life, very few people do what they say they are going to do. Unless you employ them, it’s hard to get anything done.

I found the secret to getting over this problem: Be kind but not nice. Being kind is central to being a good business person, but you can not be nice. Being nice gets nothing get done.

7. Decide: As soon as you decided on a course of action, you will immediately see elements in your life shift to support your decision. IMMEDIATELY. As soon as you want something and decide you will do something about it, it’s as if things in your life start popping up to start supporting it. Seriously, and you know what, God knows when you are frontin’ — you can’t be insincere or half-into it. It has to be a real, deep desire to change a portion of your life.

8. Learn to charge what you are worth — This is something difficult for people to do. I learned that if you have something worth knowing, there was a cost to acquire that knowledge — time, money, resources — and you should be compensated for that knowledge. Furthermore, just imagine how much time and money you save someone and how they will recoup that money long-term. When you begin charging, what generally happens is that people negotiate and give you a counter offer. This is what happened to me at the beginning and something I never anticipated. Unless you are experienced, your first instinct is to accept what is offered to you. But as you keep going, you will start to realized how beneficial your ideas, work and energy can be to helping other people accomplish their goals. It will pay off in the long term in dividends for them, if that you have to offer is truly valueable and you will stop giving yourself the short end of the stick.

9. You can’t do anything alone. You need to build your dream team. There is a myth and legend around the solo entrepreneur acheiving great things. It’s not that you can’t but that you waste valuable time doing something others can do better. The key to being able to accomplish a lot in life is to identify your strength and work on them. Outsource your weaknesses.

10. Your dreams are valid. The hardest thing when starting is believing in yourself. I will venture to guess this is what most people struggle with. It’s not simply about self-doubt but external recognition that what you do is real. When you start a business, it’s simply a company on a piece of paper. It’s hard to prove it’s real — you almost feel like you have to fake owning a business or fake believing you are an entreprneurs. I’m here to tell you two things: first, your dreams are valid. Whatever it is that you want to do and who you want to be is totally real and acceptable because your hearts wants it. It’s a desire to create and grow yourself into your best self. Any desire to improve one’self and contribute to others is worth while. But the other aspect is, fake it until you make it. You have to act like what you have already exists.

11. To be effective, plan your year in advance. Would you ever go into battle without a battle plan? No. So why with life? It may seem a bit of a stretch to some people, but you need to have a plan as to where you wish to be or else you will never be there. It takes 1–2 years, I find, to undo social conditioning that wants you to abdicate control of your time to others. As soon as you start to feel more comfortable learning how to manage your time, the easier it will be to start mapping visions for where you want to be months ahead.

12. Business teaches you how to solve problems. As Dame dash says, if you don’t have problems, you don’t have a business. It can sometimes feel like you are putting out millions of fires a day, in fact, it may seem like that this is all you do. But what I’ve found is that I’ve been able to incredibly enhance my ability to solve problems at lightening speed. You end up having to. It’s almost as if you simply operate according to Murphy’s law: anything that can go wrong, will do wrong. So prepare.

13. You are the sum of those around you. Look at how much you make in a year. Then calculate the average income of the 5 people you spend the most time with. It may seem crazy but most likely that amount is close to your annual income. Even more than that, I’ve realized this year that the people you hang with is exactly who you are! It sounds painful but it’s true. The food you eat is who you are. The character of those around you is the character you have. It may seem painfully simple but to become who you want to be, you have to be around those who are living how you like or are representative of the person you wish to be. This is something that will be a huge focus for 2015 inshaa allah.

Going into January 2015, it will be a year of massive growth, of product launches, of extensive travel and meeting awesome people.

My phrases word for 2015: focus, no fear and absolute discipline!

What have you learned this year?

What do you hope 2015 will look for you?

Comment below and let me know!

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Originally published at on December 24, 2014.

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