I spent half a decade at one of the biggest corporate law firms in the world.
The kind where equity partners make a couple mill per year.
Here are 15 unconventional lessons I learned about life, money, and success:
Don't wait to be happy.
Your satisfaction won't be unlocked by people, status, money, or the magic of 'one day'. It's something you must intentionally carve out for yourself.
The people who say good things are 'just around the river bend' get washed up downstream.
Money isn't everything.
This sounds like common sense, but hear me out.
Money as a goal is often a red herring - it hides the thing you really want, which you think money will enable.
Ask 'why' five times. Find your real objective. Now find the most direct path.
You don't need a title to be successful.
Too many people get wrapped up in ego and status. It's a false economy. People default to competing when it's often not necessary.
You'll get further, faster, by making friends and learning fast. Make everyone want you on their team.
It's more important to be kind than intelligent.
Smart people make dumb moves when they don't put people first.
Understand what people want. Colleagues, clients, partners. Instead of trying to sound smart, communicate in their language and save them time.
You can't please everyone.
That's how I ended up in the office from 1pm on a Sunday afternoon until 3am on Tuesday morning.
Sometimes, you have to take one for the team. But often, you can pre-empt and renegotiate expectations to stay in control of your time and sanity.
If you want to accelerate your career, never get caught doing exactly what people expect you to do.
Don't let expectations of your role or status dictate the level of responsibility you can take on. Appraise risks wisely but look for asymmetric opportunities.
Make great mistakes
I'm not here to tell you every failure is good. Some failures are useless. Ask around and gather the best mistakes people have already made. Avoid those where possible.
Make failure cheap. Iterate fast. Build a playbook.
Be yourself - most of the time
Don't try to be someone else. Find power in your unique skillset and process.
Authenticity might not mean what you think it does. Show up as a professional. Bring to work the very best of what makes you, you. Leave your worst traits at home.
You don't have to play fair
People are going to assume that because you're in the office at the same time, you're progressing at the same rate.
Industriousness is your cheat code.
Wake up earlier. Upskill after hours. Never miss an opportunity to level up.
If you want something, go after it. Again and again and again.
In the corporate world, people are run by systems, and the default response is often no.
Wake them up. Make them pay attention. Don't take rejection personally.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
Discomfort is the price of progress.
If you're not feeling a little bit uncomfortable, you're probably not pushing yourself hard enough.
You're not as special as you think
You're not the only smart, talented, hard-working person out there. There are people who have been doing this longer than you, who know more than you, and who work harder than you.
The real differentiators are resilience and grit
There's no such thing as work-life balance
You can't have it all. You have to make choices.
There will always be trade-offs. The key is to make conscious decisions about what you're willing to re-prioritise, and what you're not. Make those decisions before you're forced to!
Don't take yourself too seriously
Life is too short to be switched on all the time.
Laugh at yourself. Learn to enjoy your own company. Be comfortable in your own skin. Don't become a robot.
Don't be an a**hole
This one should be obvious, but sadly it's not.
Being a baller and having an awesome career is no excuse to treat people like crap.
Be kind, be considerate, be helpful. Simple acts of humanity and decency will go further than you think.
That's a wrap!
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