Journey to a Best-Seller: 15 Things I learned in 2015

It took me 51 weeks to hit the best-seller list .

With a week left in 2015, I reached a 19-year goal: write a book, and get it on the best-sellers list.

After months of help, dozens of rewrites, and hundreds of meetings, what emerged is one of my proudest accomplishments: What Wakes You Up?

After its release, I sat down to reflect on the things I’ve learned, not only from this process, but also from my entire journey this year.

15 Things I’ve Learned In 2015

1.Put family first — and it’s a good thing that friends can count as family. Find the people that matter to you, and keep that circle close; always opt for a handful of real friends and valuable relationships. Take care of those people. Be a good person. Be a good friend.

“Entrepreneurship is the ability to design the lives we want, and when doing so, it’s vital to ensure that time with our families and loved ones is prioritized. Those close to us should never be an afterthought. Ever.” — Dylan Gambardella, Co-Founder, Next Gen Summit

2. Be more grateful for what you do have, and find more ways to say thanks. Ambition doesn’t have to come from a negative place in your heart. Stop viewing everyone else as competition. We’re all so lucky.

“It takes strength of character to feel genuine joy and excitement for other people’s success. Mentally strong people have this ability.” — Cheryl Snapp Conner, Founder, SnappConner PR, Contributor,

3. Understand the power of asking; ask for what you want. Figure out what you want, identify the person who can give it to you, and make the ask. This is often the easiest path to success that so many miss because they’re afraid of getting rejected. Take chances.

“What if? What if? What if? That’s all I kept asking myself until I realized I had nothing to lose!” — Tayo Rockson, Founder, UYD Media

4. Surround yourself with people who are doing what you want to be doing, and learn how they achieved what you want to achieve. Reverse-engineer the process with your own special twist. Be around people who want you to succeed.

“Everything that I have accomplished and learned up to this date would not have been possible without my parents, friends and mentors. That’s it.” — Raphael Paulin-Daigle, Marketing and Optimization Consultant

5. Set goals for your days, weeks, months, quarters, and years. Don’t start your day reacting; start your day with a mission. Develop an unwavering commitment to those goals. But at the same time, stay flexible in your commitment to embrace new opportunities; say YES to those chances.

“Pay attention! Every day is an opportunity to change a life.” — Frank Shankwitz, Founder, Make-A-Wish Foundation

6. Know your WHY. Each day, put a majority of your efforts on that why. If you don’t know it, spend time trying to find it. Find a purpose that brings you to life — a purpose that encapsulates all of the hard work that you do. It makes everything worth it.

“I think the fact that I knew that perhaps my technology could make a difference in people’s lives in the future really helped me keep motivated.” — Ann Makosinski, ‘Flashlight Girl,’ Inventor

7. Know yourself. Know what you’re best at, and know what you can’t stand. Know what you love, and know what you hate. Then, apply it; integrating self-awareness is an invaluable component in business and in life.

“My intuition is the best advice; trusting myself saves me money on therapy and junk food.” — Ocean Pleasant, Singer, Songwriter, Founder, REAL Magazine

8. Never let anyone say no to you. Ever. If you want it badly enough, science says you can achieve it. It might take a whole lot of hustle, but that’s what will separate you from everyone else.

“And most of all, keep the hunger alive. Get out there and go #BEASTMODE.” — John Meyer, Founder, Fresco News

9. Invest in yourself. No matter if you’re starting out or finishing up, keep growing, keep learning, keep expanding.

“The one investment you are always in control of is the one you make in yourself. It makes you more valuable to those around you, and often proves to be the difference between success and failure.” — Mina Salib, Founder, Usspire

10. Stay in your own lane. You’re not on the same path as anyone else, so don’t compare yourself like you are. There is no right path. Ignore the noise. Do you. Just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t mean it’s right.

“We are each our own incredible, individual universe of ideas, motivation, and energy — and to prescribe to a single method of success would be disingenuous indeed.” — Brian Smith, Founder, UGG

11. Commit. Then, figure it out. The largest problems and goals are only achieved after you commit. Hold yourself accountable, and to a standard that pushes you.

“There are no boundaries in this life, it is our right and our duty to challenge, defy, confront, alter, and transform the world.” — Gustavo Diaz, Executive Director, Young Entrepreneurs of Puerto Rico

12. Get help from people who’ve been there before. Mentors are like cheat codes, or taking a test open-book. Let everyone help you, and always look for feedback. Get input on where you are and what you’re doing. But take it all with a grain of salt. Mentors aren’t in your shoes — and you are the final decision maker for your own path. It’s okay to disagree with the advice you’re given.

“Solicit a ton of advice, and then actively ignore most of it.” — Jolijt Tamanaha, Chief Marketing Officer, Fresh Prints

13. Don’t rush. There will always be someone younger, stronger, wealthier, more successful, and ready to rub it in your face. The good thing is it isn’t a race. That doesn’t mean wait though; when you have a dream, you have the responsibility to chase it.

“We need more people who don’t accept the road ahead of them and choose instead to build their better path — benefiting themselves, and benefiting all those around them.” — Eli Wachs, Founder, High School HeroesX

14. Find happiness in life. Those 3:00 AM conversations over pizza won’t crush your soul, but a mind-numbing job you hate will. There will be people you want to be around, conversations you never want to end, and adventures you want to take. Fill your life with those things and those moments.

“Continue experimenting with how you design your life so you can incorporate as much fun, flexibility, freshness, and intrigue into your time on this planet as possible.” — Jared Kleinert, Co-Founder, 2 Billion Under 20

15. Find what wakes you up. If you’re getting out of bed unexcited about your day, you’re doing it wrong — along with 81% of Americans who are also doing it wrong. Figure out what lights you up, what brings you to life, what gets you fired up, what gets you out of bed in the morning. Do that every single day of your life. Don’t let society, a teacher, a parent, a colleague, a guidance counselor or a friend dictate how you live your life. Live the life you’re destined to live.

“Live life. Find a passion. Be happy. Everything else will follow.” — Stacey Ferreira, Founder, Forrge

2015 was a game-changer for me — and I’m committed to making 2016 ten times larger; you better be, too.

As always, wishing you health, happiness and prosperity as we enter this next chapter.

Get ready, because you know I am.

If you agree with me, or want to add your own additions to my list, leave them in the comments section below.
If you want to take this further, email me — — so we can find time to connect.

Written by Justin Lafazan. Featured in Forbes, USA Today, The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, Inc. Magazine and more, Justin is an experienced entrepreneur, consultant, speaker and bestselling author. He’s the Founder of Millennial Marketing Strategy and Next Gen Ventures. Learn more (and get in touch!) at