3 things I did early in life that I would not do today.

A great friend and mentor of mine by the name of Ken Byrd told me years ago, before he passed away.

He said, “Brian, some people have one year of experience 20 times, while others have 20 years of experience.”

Back then he was talking specifically about career advice and how to grow within an organization. It made sense then and it definitely makes sense now.

I can remember looking around and seeing people in the business that have been around for years doing the same things a person with one year of experience would be doing. They never accumulated wisdom. They just kept making the same mistakes over and over and not growing and developing.

I don’t want to be an arm chair quarterback as they all call it. Or pretend I am some really smart guy today, because god knows I did a lot of stupid things a long the way. I now have the benefit of hindsight and what good is hindsight unless you share it with others.

The whole reason I write this blog is to help educate, inform, and maybe even persuade people who read this blog from making the same mistakes I made a long the way.

I am also smart enough and aware enough to know that Brian Willett at 20 may not have been as open minded to the wisdom someone would try to impart on Brian Willett today. However, I do know that Brian Willett at 20 was a seeker, but just didn’t have the right people around him. We definitely didn’t have all of the technology we have today to connect with like minded people.

Now that I gave you some basis (or as I call it) the preamble to my thoughts. Here we go.

1. I would not have paid for a Bachelors degree in Business. I have an MBA, a Masters in Business. But I didn’t have to pay for the additional twelve classes to get that MBA. My employer did. And my employer actually paid some towards my bachelors degree as well.

Here is the reason I wouldn’t pay for it. By the way. Is it helpful? Sure. Absolutely. I know for a fact without it, I most likely couldn’t have held some of the positions I held in my career. I wouldn’t pay for it, because I would start my own business. If I was really interested in learning business.

All the classes I took over the years in my business degrees, the accounting, the finances, economics, the general electives, etc. None of them could have prepared me better than actually starting a business.

I have started at least four businesses now. My first one was a real estate investing company. That is still operating today. My second one was a secret shopping company that was profitable from day one, my partner and I closed it after seven years. My third one was a training company which is no longer operating and my fourth was a consulting company.

Running all of these businesses taught me more about marketing, accounting, profit margin, costs of good sold, taxes, outsourcing, financial statements, etc. than I learned in any business class.

I would start my own business today instead of paying for a business degree. If I still felt like I needed an actual degree. Meaning I want to go work within a company. Then I would find a way for someone else to pay for me to get that degree or have my own company pay for my education.

2. I thought too long term. I wasn’t planning on doing this, but I learned so much from this man and I as I am thinking about what I am writing here I immediately think of the aforementioned Ken Byrd again and some wisdom he imparted on me all of those years ago.

He said the guy with the suit case gets more respect than the guy that has been here. And what he was talking about at that time, was how a new person that comes in to a company a lot of times garners more respect than the person who has been there for a long time.

Whether it is right or wrong, it doesn’t matter. It is true for a couple of reasons.

First, the fact that the company brought someone in from the outside already tells you they don’t believe they have someone on the inside that is capable of providing whatever it is they want.

Secondly, and unfortunately, if you are a person that has been with a company for a long time, they most likely have watched you evolve and grow. Which isn’t a bad thing, however once perceptions of someone are established it takes a long time for those to change. So within a company you will be looked at many times as the same person you were five or ten years ago. I am not saying it is right. I am just saying it is true.

Back to my point though. I thought too long term. I would be thinking in two year cycles at most. Every two years, you need to be evaluating and reevaluating to see if this position or station in life is getting you closer to where you want to go. If it is. Keep doing it. If not, change things.

3. Care too much about what others think. Maybe this is a product of youth. Maybe it is a product of our culture. Maybe it was just who I was.

Now, I think in some ways, I was different in many ways back then. For example: I didn’t take the traditional way through college for one. I didn’t follow the crowd in my early twenties and late twenties doing whatever one else was doing.

However, from a corporate standpoint I still at the end of the day would conform to the group in many ways. In most cases, I probably agreed with the direction everyone else agreed with. I do know I cared too much about my image and how I was looked at.

Again, only the benefits of hindsight can bring me to these revelations. I hope that if I had a strong mentor way back then I could have come to where I am today faster and with less headaches.

I am not mad or disappointed about where I am or how long it took for me to get here, etc. I am blessed and thankful for being here. My hope is that I can share a little bit of wisdom with whoever decides to read this.

To your success and your future.

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