At my last job, we used to have this LED sign that said "Get shit donel".
If there's one guy that would fit most that description, I'd say it's my former co-worker Victor, who I had originally met in NYC.
He was in his twenties and he is an executive, with over 30 people under him.
He was incredibly dedicated, he worked really hard and when he taught you something, he was crystal clear and left no room for misunderstandings.
You always saw him running everywhere in the office, and you better plan ahead if you want to set up a meeting because his days are fully booked to the minute.
Of course, it raised my eyebrow.
"Back in New York, I was always really good at school, inspired by my very busy and successful dad.
I always had shit to do, and that's where I got my work ethic from.
A typical day for me between 14 and 18 was: waking up at 4 AM, going to practice till 6, going to a different practice till 7.30, coming back home, making my sister breakfast, packing her lunch, taking her to school, going to school from 8 to 3, then going home, checking my sisters homework, making dinner, going back to practice, coming home, putting her to sleep, finishing my homework at midnight, then getting up at 4 AM to do it all over again.
At 21, I became the Founder and COO of an organic ice-cream shop.
I had studied Management, Finance & Marketing so my co-founders who did not go to school relied on me to create the revenue model, the business plan, organise events, deal with suppliers, vendors and distributors...
I had to do all of this myself while studying full-time, and when I did not know certain things that they don't teach you at school, like negotiating a distribution deal, I had no choice but to get on the phone and work it out.
Also in business, you gotta be quick. It's not school anymore, you don't have all the time in the world to Google around, or ask your classmates for help. if you're not fast, you're potentially losing thousands of dollars every day.
I was trying my best but I was young, inexperienced, and did not get any help, so we ended up losing all of our original investment.
I then started another business in the food industry with three of my best friends.
Same situation, they relied on me for every single thing, but that time, I knew exactly what I was doing and had make clear and reliable financial projections.
Thing is, after a year, we still weren't making any money and my co-founders lost patience and refused to stick to the original plan, which was to wait another couple months and see the results come to life.
They did not understand the numbers, they did not get the point of investing in marketing and operations, and because my previous business had failed, they were scared to see the same thing happen before their eyes and their savings go up in smoke. On top of that, they were coming from a low-income neighborhood and this was basically their only chance to have a better future, so they decided to fire me. My own best friends.
I did not want to go through that hell and mediate with lawyers. I had to pay back my salary and worse, completely disassociate with the company.
My name was erased from every single piece of paperwork, my face was scratched off the pictures, etc, when I'm the one who made every single business decision. From the color of the sofa to the items on the menu, that are by the way still unchanged today.
Years later, after following my business plan and projections to the letter, the business turned to be a success and my old friends and partners admitted their fault. We reconciled and they sent me a check with the money I had to pay back. I really needed it at the time, but I ripped it apart.
They still call me every once in a while for business advice, and we hang out..."
Surprised, I teased him about his calm and mature reaction.
"I am not mad. i have a lot of emotions, but I am not easily mad.
Growing up, my mum used to teach me to breath and calm down before making judgments or decisions in the heat of the moment. I learnt to put my ego aside, move on and not carry bitterness around.
My friends got my back two hundred times, but when there was 6-figures of money involved, they turned their back at me, that's completely understandable. I forgave them, even though I always want them to remember what they did.
In the book The Art of War, Lao Tzu says that if you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.
Thinking about the past is a waste of time and energy. I like to figure out what I've learned from tough moments but I don't need to know why. I just care that I'm doing the right thing."
Interesting. I ask what he means by "the right thing".
"The biggest learnings that I've made sure to implement since then, were that:
1. I have to separate business and friendship. When I talk business I care about the money.
2. I cannot do everything by myself. I need a team, and a team that's involved.
3. Transparency is key: you show your team how you do things, they understand it and you can move on. i always make sure to communicate.
4. It is about the journey, I have learned so much, grown so much, and despite rough times, my life had evolved so much since then, and turned into a blessing. So I am thankful for everything.
5. When something really bad (major) happens to me, say I get dumped by a girlfriend or fired from a job for example, I use the first 24, next 24, next 24 rule:
During the first 24 hours, after my raw emotions come out, I reflect on my mistakes, my learnings, what I have to do to move on, my biggest takeaways, and then I don't think about it again for the next 24 days, then I do the same thing 24 months later!"
A week later, something major happened against my will and I had to put that saying into practice.