“As soon as sensory input (what you see/hear/feel/taste) comes into your brain, it’s interpreted. You assign a meaning to it. This is really important because this happens so fast you aren’t even aware of it. The interesting thing is that as soon as a meaning is assigned, you have an emotion. You create a feeling about it.” — Legendary Silicon Valley CEO and Master Human Engineer Tom Hoobyar
A happy future boils down to one profound skill — and in this article, I’ll prove it to you by telling the story of how I figured it out for myself after five years of entrepreneurship and how it inspired my next iteration of Aram 3.0 — from picking my idea to my daily activities — I’ll explain it all.
When I started my first company in 2013, I had just left a fast growing start up after six years. It did very well and I left to begin my business over confident and excited — with all the naiveté that comes with being a first time entrepreneur. When I realized how risky starting a company is, how hard it is to reach the market and how long everything takes, I did what you’d expect and what I don’t wish for anyone to experience, listening and identifying with every thought and resulting emotion my survival brain and ego conjured up as truth. During my first company, I did this.
“Everyone will think I’m a loser.”
“My parents won’t be proud of me.”
“I made a massive mistake leaving $300k a year.”
“If I fail it’s the end of the world.”
My back was against the wall, a scared mouse pushed into a corner every morning I woke up and every evening I went to sleep, oozing in fight or flight mode all the time — it showed and I certainly felt it. Stress levels through the roof.
I made so many mistakes from why I started the business to what the business was and that’s not including the fundamentals of business itself, but the lessons learned there were:
You start a business for the right reasons (loving the craft for it’s own sake)
Shiny things and achievements don’t bring happiness and fulfillment. All they bring is wanting more shiny things and more achievement.
After shutting that company down, I did a lot of soul searching and was hit hard with an existential crisis.
What do I want to do?
This is the forced and hard blessing of entrepreneurship, it’s a long and hard journey so you dig deep to find what you’re meant to do.
At this point, I looked at what I happened to be best at which at the time was productivity and lifestyle hacking. I built a few apps including the 7 Minute Morning Routine and Sprint For Gmail.
The biggest lesson that lead to a profound question you should ask is:
No matter what you do with your work/company, whether it’s succeeding or failing, you’re always going to stop and ask: “why am I doing this and why does it matter (to me)?”
In start up entrepreneurship, no matter how well you’re doing, you’re pushing a rock up the hill because of the risk and day to day obstacles. So you really dig deep and ask “even if this is successful, do I care?”.
My second company was better. I moved to Silicon Valley to connect with a co-founder and managed the whole thing much better. I applied the painful lessons learned from company one, and had a better go of it.
I connected with two co-founders, raised 7 figures in funding and built an enterprise product that got sold to Fortune 500 companies, leading pharmaceutical companies and world renown start ups.
The next round of challenges were a tiny bit more sophisticated, yet were still there. A fear of leading 7 very smart people, a complex, dealing with investors and politics.
That’s when I realized what matters. That’s when I realized it’s how well you’re able to make the small things taste. The ultimate skill — the joy you’re able to derive from just existing.
It’s the state of your mind that makes you happy, with fire.
Then you look forward to the journey.
You look forward to the pain because it’s re framed as a game.
You don’t need all the achievement and accolades because you know what matters and how to be fulfilled.
Creating A Happy Future
After 11 years of start ups I’m now calmly confident my business is going to explode and make waves, because I’ve finally achieved mastery over myself and my life — and I promise, it boils down to this skill.
I define mastery in this context as never having emotions that steer your feelings and decisions the wrong way, being fully content and satisfied with your existence, experiencing and learning to manufacture happiness every day by choice and loving your work so much that you don’t even need to try being the best in the world at what you do, you become the best just because you love your work so much.
Creating the happy and prosperous future you want boils down to this — interpreting your sensory inputs (what and how you perceive things and the filter you put them through) and assigning meaning to them in a way that creates positive emotions.
It’s this automatic habit that has the power to create positive feelings all day vs. negative ones (and yes, coming from a guy who’s default response was negative and ugly, this works) and choosing to see the world and every single event in it as a positive one that’s steering me toward where I’m supposed to go.
My perception transformed the “good” or “bad” result into simply “feedback” — that was neither.
My perception transformed the “good” or “bad” outcome into “guides” — simply outcomes that showed where to go next.
Everything that happens is supposed to happen because I look for the lesson in everything.
As Dr. Wayne Dyer has said, “if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
It’s acknowledging that when the key employee leaves you, it’s up to you to manifest the benefit of bringing in new talent and replacing talent that doesn’t want to be there or doesn’t have room to grow anymore with you.
It’s acknowledging when the relationship ends that it’s a great time to evolve into your next version and be open to newer, more evolved people who are attracted to the newer, more evolved you.
It’s acknowledging that when a loved one dies, we’re here to evolve and to do so sometimes requires the dying of old, so the new can flourish.
You do this over and over, and you fall into the most beautiful flow and realize everything happens just as it’s supposed to.
Living In A Peak State Of Awe With This Habit
Now I know it’s all an illusion and that it’s up to us to create the peak state of perceiving everything around us with joy and awe.
Now I know it’s up to me to manifest the things I want to happen.
And they have — I write every day which is my favorite activity, and consult on the exact topic I write about — coaching high stakes decision makers in finance to perform at their peak.
My business is officially self funding itself and paying for a lifestyle in NYC. The trick is to be content about where you are and becoming your best for it’s own sake. I’d be happy if I stayed where I’m at yet just this morning, I made a training that I know is going to blow the socks off the people I’m selling it to.
That’s how I paradoxically know the business is going to be very attractive and is going to explode. I can already see it as leading executives refer me after one coaching session, and friends calling out of the blue asking for my help.
Interpret events in a way that empowers and teaches.
Look for the positive in even the most painful things as a habit.
Do that for a while and soon it becomes a game of growth.
A game where the harder it becomes, the more riveting it is.
And this is when you’re unstoppable.
I left my last company to start this new one with only three months of runway in the bank. As in, I decided to give up the salary I needed to pay for bills living in New York city with only three months time to get clients and pay my monthly expenses.
The reason I was able to do it is that I had faith to know that whatever the outcome, I’d see the beauty in it. Even if it meant ‘failure’ — though I’ve removed that word from my programming.
This is what gave me the courage to do it. And it was because for the last few years, I’ve habitually practiced shaping my perception and discovered that I can create the future I want and I’ve done it now.
You can as well.