Success. I will first start by debunking myths about the things that most people think that are necessary for success. This post is all about what you don’t need to achieve success.
I’ll list them one by one and give my explanation, so let’s start.
Talent. I almost hate this term. It’s so vaguely used. It’s not defined well or it isn’t defined at all. What is the talent? Is it some magic spark that some people are born with? In my experience, the term “talent” is mostly used when people are lazy to grasp why someone is better or good in certain skills. It is so abstract. Let me also add the genes as a success determinant. I didn’t want to write a whole separate section about genes, but certainly it deserves to be mentioned and included in this list of things that most people think you need for success, also known as the list of excuses. That’s why I don’t like these terms. Because they are mostly used as excuses and I hate excuses. I don’t know a successful person that likes lots of excuses. Do you? I recommend you to read a book or at least the summary of the book by Geoffrey Colvin called “Talent is overrated”. If we were to deconstruct all the areas and industries that I could be good at and if we were to make a list of all the “talents” that I have, then I would probably have tons of talent everywhere. I don’t think it’s right. It is insulting to mix one’s hard work, practice and love for craft for something so vaguely used as the term “talent”. If we are to define “talent” as the product of knowledge, experience and passion for a profession, then fine. This would imply that we could nurture or talents and even create more. So speaking of talent in this sense is much better since we have a control in our hands. Talent can be acquired. You are not born successful, you have to become successful.
Your life path isn’t determined by paths that your parents took. Whether they are rich or not or whether they have higher education or not. I never thought that my parents’ past lives and experiences would affect me in a bad way but only in a positive way. My parents only had high school diplomas, nothing more. I’m absolutely happy with my parents in this regard. If they were rich, they would have probably spoiled me. I don’t know and I will never know, but I’m just fine with that. But during my childhood, I would from time to time hear from friends how they have this or that cousin that was providing them with money and all kinds of stuff. I never had someone like that, yet I made it my life this young. I’m 24 at the time of writing this book, remember. We’ve seen many, many kids and young people be spoiled because their parents have provided it all for them. As long as we have the basic essentials, we should be happy and ready to rock.
But let’s focus on the finances for the moment. Chris Hogan has conducted very good research in the USA in which he surveyed and interviewed over ten thousand millionaires. There’s a lot to be learned from it and you will be surprised. But before we bust the usual millionaire myths, let’s first define what it means to be a “millionaire.” It means someone who has $1 million dollars in net assets; that is, the total of their assets, bank accounts and investments minus any debts totals $1 million or more. Chris’ research says that 79% of USA millionaires have inherited from $0 up to $100,000. The problem with inheriting something, especially money, is that you didn’t create. If you didn’t create it, you never had it. If you never had it, how are you going to manage all of that money? You probably won’t know and you will lose it. That’s a responsibility. We’ve all seen scenes from movies and real life when responsibility is prematurely given to a person and most of the time it all ends up with that person screwing up. Only a small percentage of people are capable of handling responsibility. Those are the 21-ish percent from Chris Hogan’s research.
This would probably be my favorite. I was never a fan of formal education. I kind of enjoyed the first half of my elementary school, the first four grades to be precise. I never had to study at home because I would learn everything just by listening to our teacher. I also rarely had to do any homework. I was the very best in our class. Everything was elemental thus very logical and even easier to grasp. But then in fifth grade we received so many new school subjects and a new professor for each subject. I liked it in the beginning and I was still the best in my class, but then it all started to seem redundant, unnecessary and stressful. I lost interest and started to hate school. I would only like the school when I had a crush on a girl and the time spent in school was the only time when I could see my crush. I also have to mention that I was frequently envied and bullied by other classmates. It was hurting them that I had better grades. But not just that, the big contribution to that was the fact that I never spent much time with my classmates outside of school time. I never had many common topics with my peers. I just never saw them mature enough. After the school time I would go back home straight and play on my computer or go to basketball practice. I don’t know what they were doing, but I had more serious things to do rather than run on streets playing war games or similar. I would either go to a basketball practice session, watch sports or documentaries on TV or play video games on my NES console (NES stands for Nintendo Entertainment System) or on my Desktop Computer later on. I’ve had an opportunity to be using a computer since I was 11 years old. If you ask me, that was the perfect timing. Old and mature enough not to abuse it, although I was only playing video games in the beginning, but that playtime led to curiosity and need to improve those video games. That’s how I developed the desire to develop video games, 3D applications and to do 3D modeling.
Computer was my source of knowledge. Now, what about the internet. I didn’t have the Internet connection until late 2008. I was about 13 and a half years old at that time. I was a big fan of Formula 1 racing series since the age of 6 and, in 2009 at the start of my 8th grade, I wanted to try and make my own 3D design of a Formula 1 car. I asked my technical education teacher which 3D software should I use and she recommended Google SketchUp to me. I’ve installed the Google SketchUp 3D software and used the Internet to find technical regulations in .PDF format in order to read them and try to design my own Formula 1 chassis. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good image to show. Anyway, I showed the model to my teacher and held a short presentation in front of my class. That’s how I discovered my new hobby of 3D modeling, which would not become my profession until 6 or so years later. Going back to the story, later on, as I was still playing video games, I wanted to make modifications to them. Modifications or “mods” as they are called for short. The specific game that I’m talking about modding is “S.T.A.L.K.E.R.”, probably my all-time favorite video game. In order to do that, I needed to search for documents, instructions and manuals. By the way, the majority of the learning resources were on Russian language which I didn’t know back then, even though I was studying it in high school. It was much easier regarding the general 3D modeling because the majority of tutorials were in English.
Since 2009 I’ve been constantly learning on the Internet and computer.
Speaking of computers, I also want to share another story.
I remember, it was the summer of 2010. The year when I graduated from elementary school and was due to enroll in high school.
I was searching YouTube for some computer hardware videos and then came across Linus Tech Tips channel. Yes, I was Linus’s fan since 2010. I watched tens if not even hundreds of hours of his videos where he would show how to assemble a computer, reviews and tests between different products and many, many more. I soon started putting my freshly obtained knowledge into practice. I would disassemble my computer when the time would come to clean it. Once the cleaning was done, I would reassemble the computer. Once I had an incident when I didn’t properly detach CPU (Central Processing Unit) heatsink from the CPU itself. When I pulled, both came out fused together. Then I tried to put it back together and I managed to bend one of the CPU socket pins. I tried to straighten it, but I think I broke it completely in the end. Luckily, the CPU was still working and everything was fine.
During the years I would experience many problems, both hardware and software, but I would tackle the problems myself. Along the way, I’ve spent so much time doing these things, so that’s a minus, but I’ve saved so much money and acquired a huge amount of practical technical knowledge. Nowadays this is one of my biggest unfair advantages and I will cover them all later in this book. When my high school started in fall of 2010, I was already prepared with a good amount of practical knowledge about computers. However, as it is a standard practice, “you gotta follow the procedures” and our professor needed to teach us according to books that were outdated for years. Windows 7 operating system was the new standard in the world, but the computers in our high school’s computers laboratories had Windows XP installed. Maybe a few of them actually had Windows 7 installed, but I never got to experience that.
How are you supposed to learn something on an outdated machine with outdated textbooks? Add to that the fact that computers are the cornerstone of all technologies today and the speed of technological advancement is ever increasing. You could argue that the problem was, and still is, my poor country Serbia, but I would disagree. If you are really passionate about something, the chances are high that you will prevail sooner or later, just like I did. I’m not bluntly telling you “don’t give up” because, sometimes, it is worth giving up. Go back to my case with basketball. Looking back, I would never choose basketball as a profession over computers.
It’s ironic how in 2015 I told my mother once: “You know, mom, I like computers and I’m good with them, but I will never have a seating career.” How ironic and funny, and it also shows how life is unpredictable. But going back to the topic of formal education, I need to mention that I initially wanted to name this section as “you don’t need high formal education”, but then I decided to drop that “high” prefix. You barely need formal education at all. When I lost my interest in school in the 6th grade, I wanted to pass exams and skip the final two years of my elementary school and go straight to high school. I didn’t do that because I couldn’t, but nevertheless, I still didn’t like the school. I don’t remember the particular reason why I couldn’t skip the final years of elementary school, whether there was a law against that or something else, but I ended up finishing elementary school just like other kids, in a standard way.
However, it was a different situation with high school. At the start of third year, I wanted to be even more dedicated to basketball. My family and I decided that I need to move to Belgrade to continue playing basketball. I was advised not to change school, but to rather stay enrolled in grammar school in Vršac. As I was physically absent and unable to attend classes regularly, I switched from standard to part-time education. That’s how my wish for skipping school was finally fulfilled. I do have a high school diploma, but in practice I was more like a high school dropout. And nowadays we are listening more and more about college dropouts who later on became successful.
How about high school dropout?
Speaking of colleges, I have never considered enrolling into one. I knew where I could gather the required knowledge if I needed. Note that I had basketball as my primary profession for two full years after graduating from high school. My peers thought that I was crazy because I didn’t go to college. I wasn’t even thinking about it. I was only looking for opportunities to debate how colleges are bad and ineffective. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few industries and professions that still require a college degree. Doctors, architects, lawyers. Basically, those professions where an untrained and unqualified person can directly cause something really bad. Unqualified doctors can cause death of patients. Bad architects and civil engineers can build bad or weak constructions which can cause buildings or bridges to collapse. You see the point of my idea. However, if I create a bad 3D model or video game with many bugs, nothing devastating would happen.
My profession can’t cause death. That’s the case for many professions. The world is over past due the time of educational reforms badly needed. Somehow the standard ways of education are still very present. I could list out many reasons for that. One of them is that it sounds like an easier thus safer and better path. Wrong. I’m saying this again – life is unpredictable and there is hardly anything like a safe path. It’s just an illusion most of the time.
To live in a rich country
If you live in a country that has a decent internet connection and you don’t live in an absolute totalitarian or communist country, you are good to go. To put it also in this way, the mere fact that you are reading this book written in English is the proof that your country is not bad enough to prevent you from being rich and successful as a person. I was born in Serbia and I’ve been living here my whole life. I have actually left the country just one time in my whole life and it was just for a few hours. I was 23 and a half years old. Isn’t that ironic? I haven’t seen the world outside my country, literally. Yet, I’m still enjoying my life and prospering along the way. You can be anywhere with the Internet. You can even travel with the Internet and computers by going to VR (Virtual Reality) trips and excursions. Heck, with VR you can even go to space. In the present time, you can really make it in your own country. Don’t be one of too many people from developing countries chasing success and happiness in other first world countries. You don’t have to because, thanks to the Internet and globalization, it’s already here. You want education – obtain it from the Internet. You want to work with the best clients – again, the Internet is the answer. Want to connect with people to share experiences and knowledge? Again, use the Internet. Yes, there are exceptions, but use the powers of the Internet as much as you can. Be creative.
Now that we have established the frames that you don’t have to live in a rich country in order to be successful, you might want to consider relocating to countries which have even lower living standards. Wondering why? You can live even cheaper and thus increase your profits. It depends on many factors though, but it’s a thing to be kept in consideration. The point is that we have one less reason for you to be successful.
If you had high level connections you would probably lack the incentive to read this book at all. You need to make it clear to yourself why would you need people and of what type, profession, etc. Do you need investors? Don’t be so naive to think that you can ask someone for money just like that. The more money they have, the smarter they spend it. That’s how they’ve earned it in first place. If you have high quality products and or services, you will be able to attract high quality potential partners and investors. But speaking specifically of investors, I think you should keep the cards for yourself. If you really believe in what you are doing, you would want to keep as much of that pie for yourself. If you really need an investor, you don’t want to give up more than 40% share at highest.
Look at this from an investor’s perspective. Imagine that someone approaches you with a pitch and she or she asks you for investment. If he or she really believes in the success of the pitched idea, why would they offer so much share percentages? Somehow it became a very popular idea nowadays to make a startup company, work on it for a few years and sell it. If you have a vision and that vision is working, why would you abandon it and sell it? I wouldn’t. Of course, there are always exceptions, but those desires to get very rich very quickly are malicious and most of them lead to bad outcomes. In order to get money from someone, you need to give something in return.
That’s why it is still very important what you know rather than who you know. Not only that it’s still important, but I think it’s becoming even more important by each day. It used to be the opposite before because people didn’t have all these means of connecting like we do have today. You can also use the concept of social hub. I came across this concept when I was reading the book titled “The Mathematics of Love: Patterns, Proofs, and the Search for the Ultimate Equation” by Hannah Fry. You can use the social hub concept to easily find the people you need for whatever. Ask one or few people that you know, to tell you who is the most popular in their circle for the specific thing that you are looking for. They will be able to point you to the person who is called “social hub”. Then you will be able to tell them what you have. Remember that in order to receive something you need to give something first. After you tell them what you have, then you can tell them what type of person you are looking for and the chances are they would probably be happy to help. Being a social hub is a profession and even career for some people. My conclusion and advice for you would be to work on improving your skill sets and your knowledge capital. Don’t worry about being able to find the right people. There are plenty of them. If you don’t find them, they will find you. “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know” is a thing of the past. The new rule is:
“It’s more important what you know rather than who you know.” – Valsogard
To sell your soul
This section deals with the questions of ethics and moral of financial success. It’s fairly common to think of rich and successful people as nothing else but greedy individuals or groups who have sold their souls to the devil, cthulhu, sect, secret group, etc. I did not sell myself to anyone and probably would not have to do it ever in my life. My life philosophy is about freedom and so is this book. In this book I’m also dedicating the whole chapter and few additional sections to personal development. I strongly believe that you have to be a good person if you want to be successful. I didn’t discover that by a religion or others telling me that. I’ve been just observing and thinking so this conclusion comes from my own experience. However, yes, there are evil and successful people, but those are the minority and exceptions. In my opinion that’s short lived. I say opinion because I don’t have data to prove, nor do I have to prove it. This is my way of becoming successful and I won’t advocate for anything that I think is immoral or unethical. There is enough evil in this World so I don’t have to contribute, neither do or should you.
Keep in mind that moral is subjective, so what is moral for me isn’t necessarily moral for you or someone else. Moral is something that I sincerely believe that I understand pretty well for my age. I wasn’t thinking too much about moral until I was about 23 and a half years old. I always thought of myself as a good person, by default. Not a saint, not an angel, not perfect, but overall a fine person. I always wanted to be a good person and always acted like that. However, after many long discussions with my friend nicknamed Magpie, I discovered that my perspective of moral was very shallow.
I was thinking that moral is the list of basic questions of ethics: Don’t kill, don’t steal, and that ethically elemental stuff. But around the start of 2018 I would discover that there is way more depth to this.
Looking back in my life and rerolling the tape so to say, I discovered that there were occasions when I would do some things that were bad, not for others, but for me. You might be wondering about which dark crime story am I going to talk about now, but no, that’s shallow and I don’t have any crime stories. If you are expecting to read those kinds of stories in this book, you’re gonna have a bad time. As I said already, I always carried myself as a good person, but I would from time to time try to be an extra good person, and I realized that this was not good and also immoral. One example would be being extra concerned and caring for others. I was spending so much time and energy trying to instill some of my good habits and virtues into my friends and even acquaintances. I would share life lessons, productivity tips and all kinds of knowledge. There would be a very rare occasion when someone would actually listen, respect and be thankful. The worst part of all that is that rarely would anybody put any of that in practice, thus rendering my effort meaningless. The only meaning and worth of that experience of mine was to realize that I was being immoral and doing harm to myself while not moving others.
Deep inside me I also discovered that I was afraid. I asked myself the question: If I really believe in ideas and knowledge that I’m sharing, then why I wouldn’t do that myself. Just to clarify, there were few occasions in the beginning of my career when friends would ask me how they can earn some money. Then I would passionately start by telling them hey man, you have this here, you have that here, you can learn from here and there, then you are going to experience this… I would lay out the most important frames and the whole blueprint for basic financial success, but they wouldn’t execute. I was very mad about that. One friend didn’t even have the internet, but later on I would hear that he bought an expensive smartphone that made him only dumber. Another friend, I was sharing my ideas and concepts with him. I was telling him how he can start freelancing, only to receive the following question: “Hey man, could you borrow me 200 or 300 euros. You know, New Year’s Eve is coming, my girlfriend’s birthday is coming…”. I was appalled. I was literally giving him advices worth thousands of dollars, and yet, he was asking me for money that he would spend for blatantly stupid and unnecessary things. Not to mention that I would probably have to beg for that money back. Of course, I didn’t give him the money.
These experiences made me think about it really long.
I have started to understand human nature. The nature of 99% of people in this World. I realized that so many people are not thinking and actually just going by the rails of primal instincts and thinking in short term living philosophy. I wish I could legitimately call that thinking or philosophy. And that’s how I started thinking much deeper about what it means to be moral. For me, moral is to do the right thing at a given moment. If I had just given the money to everyone who asked me for a loan, I would have gone bankrupt. Also, they would probably spend that money on stupid and completely unnecessary things, just like they’ve been spending their whole lives. They’ve been spending money of their parents and cousins while not giving back anything and, most importantly, not investing in themselves.
The moral of this story about morality is that I had realized that I would better spend resources and thus creating more, not just for me, but also for people around me. I have also realized that people don’t value the things that come easy to them for no apparent reason. I had it many times when I would be sharing my knowledge with some friends or colleagues, only for them to end up buying some course that had the same knowledge that I have already given to them for free. Every single thing from this book was actually said and shared by me many times to many people. If I was to transfer the knowledge and experience from this book to you, chances are you probably wouldn’t value this and wouldn’t put too many things in practice. I guess one of the solutions for that was to create this ebook and charge money for it.
There are people who are capable of realizing the value in things even if they come free. This is especially the case with non physical or non material things. Very rare kind of people, but it’s good for them. It takes brain capacity to decide what is worth the attention, so kudos to them. I’m myself trying to be like one of them. Humble.
Another very abstract excuse and term. The mere fact that you are born in the era when computers and the Internet are everyday mainstream things can be considered luck. If you are reading this book, which is written in English, you are probably living in a country that is economically and culturally decent at least. And you probably also have an internet connection, since this is an ebook. The things and events that are described as luck are those things that can’t be described by science. I’m a science person. I’m always trying to explain and deconstruct things and events and explain them with logic. Even if you consider yourself lucky, don’t rely on it. You can’t control it and you can’t predict it. If bad luck strikes, stand up, brush up and continue. If good luck happens, appreciate it and continue.