Anyone can seem cool. Wear the right clothes, drive the right cars, take the right vacations, carefully craft social media updates ... Seeming cool is easy.

Actually being cool is anything but.

I'm not cool. (I'm as average as they come.) But I do know some cool people.

Here are some of the things that make them cool.

1. They've done awesome things I don't know about.

Why don't I know about the awesome things they've done? Because they just do them. And if I ever do find out, I'll find out in person. From a casual conversation. Or even accidentally. But not through social media.

Why? Cool people see the experience as the end result -- not sharing that experience with as many people as possible.

2. They don't think work/life balance. They just think life.

Drawing a line in the sand to create an artificial work/life boundary never works.

Why? You are your business. Your business is your life, just like your life is your business -- which is also true for family, friends, and interests -- so there is no separation, because all those things make you who you are.

Cool people find ways to include family instead of ways to exclude work. They find ways to include interests, hobbies, passions, and personal values in their professional lives.

Because if you can't, you're not living. You're just working.

3. They don't take pictures of famous people.

Seeing a famous person, even at a distance, is oddly fun. Can't explain it; it just is.

But taking a picture of -- or with -- that person doesn't confer any coolness on you. Nor does sharing it with your friends. 

Besides: Life is not the zoo. So don't treat other people like it is.

4. They relentlessly seek new experiences.

Novelty seeking -- getting bored easily and throwing yourself into new pursuits or activities -- is often linked to gambling, drug abuse, attention deficit disorder, and leaping out of perfectly good airplanes without a parachute.

But, as Dr. Robert Cloninger says, "Novelty seeking is one of the traits that keeps you healthy and happy and fosters personality growth as you age ... if you combine adventurousness and curiosity with persistence and a sense that it's not all about you, then you get the creativity that benefits society as a whole."

According to Dr. Cloninger, "To succeed, you want to be able to regulate your impulses while also having the imagination to see what the future would be like if you tried something new."

Sounds like every cool person I know.

Embrace your inner novelty seeker. You'll be healthier, you'll have more friends, you'll be generally more satisfied with life ... and you'll be a little cooler, too.

5. They do nice things, just because they can.

Richard Branson gave me half of his sandwich. Jimmie Johnson stayed late so I could interview him. Mark Cuban stopped to chat with an intern. Joe Gibbs gave every member of a production crew a signed copy of his book after we filmed an interview. Kirk Hammett hung around to meet Inc. staffers, and then gave me tickets to Metallica's surprise Webster Hall show.

Most of us are nice, especially when we're expected to be. Cool people are nice even when no one would expect them to be. Not because they have to.

Just because they can.

6. They constantly try to prove something -- to themselves. 

Many people have a burning desire to prove other people wrong. There's nothing wrong with that; it's a great motivator. (Hi, Michael Jordan.)

The coolest people are also motivated by something deeper and more personal. Their drive, commitment, and dedication springs from a desire to prove something to the most important person of all.


7. They find happiness in the success of other people.

Every great entrepreneur answers the question, "Can you make the choice that your happiness will come from the success of others?" with a resounding "Yes!"

So does every cool person I know.

They enjoy personal achievements, but they really enjoy seeing other people succeed.

8. They see money not just as a reward but also as a responsibility.

The coolest wealthy people I know see money as a way to grow their business, to reward and develop employees, to give back to the community ... not just as a way to make their own lives better but to improve the lives of other people, too.

And they do so without calling attention to themselves -- because the true reward is always in the act, not the recognition.

9. They're entrepreneurs -- whether in fact or in spirit.

Success is difficult to achieve no matter what the pursuit. That's why we all fail sometimes. And when we do, it's easy to decide events were outside our control. It's easy to feel depressed and wonder, "Why don't I ever get the opportunities other people get?" or "Why aren't my friends more supportive?" or "Why can't I catch a break?"

In short, it's easy to think: "Why me?"

People with an entrepreneurial mindset ask a different question: "Why not me?"

The coolest people I know don't assume successful people possess special talents or gifts. They see successful people and think: "That's awesome -- and if she can do that, why not me?"

Good question: Why not you?

And, most important ...

10. They don't think they're cool.

Social media makes it easy to do your own public relations. You can blow your own horn, bask in the glow of your insights and accomplishments ... With a little time and effort, you can seem larger than life.

Cool people don't. They know their success is based on hard work, persistence, and execution, but they also recognize that key mentors, great employees, and a huge dose of luck also play a part in their success.

That's why they're humble. That's why they ask questions. That's why they seek advice. That's why they recognize and praise others.

They don't focus on highlighting how far they've come -- because they're too busy thinking about how far they still want to go.

Published on: Nov 8, 2018
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