Today I am 50. There is just no way around it. It feels like a big deal. OK. It's not really a grand achievement. Everyone who is 50 or older has accomplished the same thing with relatively little effort. But still, reaching 50 is a milestone worthy of reflection. More so, it's an age of pattern recognition. By now I've seen enough in life to actually recognize when certain things will work and more importantly when they won't.

My perspective comes from a varied history. So far, I spent my 50 years creating art, building companies, and writing books and columns. Add to that, having great friends, a loving marriage to an amazing woman, and raising a son that now, as an adult, makes me proud. I could be perfectly content if it all ends today.

Of course, the advantage of continuing is that I get to carry forward a lot life lessons into hopefully the next 50 years. Here are some of the best.

Leadership

1. All the potential in the world makes no difference if there is no desire.

2. You can never be too open minded or too grateful.

3. You can't force people to follow you. You can only inspire them.

4. It's far more fun and rewarding to inspire new leaders than to be the best leader in the group.

5. You can't hold people accountable. It's really up to them.

6. No one will dedicate themselves to your vision until it's their vision as well.

Networking

1. Attractive people will always draw the crowd. Make yourself as attractive as possible. Or at least hang out with them if they will let you.

2. All the clients, mentors, investors and employees you could ever want are on LinkedIn. But you have to find them and help them see the value in knowing you.

3. People hearing your story don't really care unless it is relevant to their story.

4. The best networking is really a practiced craft of creating mutual value from disparate parts.

5. Your network is a palate from which you can creatively construct valuable art for other people. Work at being an incredible artist.

Learning

1. The more I learn, the more I understand I have to learn.

2. There is nothing wrong with ignorance. Everyone has it at some level. Stupidity causes problems. It happens when you ignore good information already acquired.

3. Even the smartest people have gaps in their education. They just fill them with other smart people.

4. Getting an A in college is much more satisfying at the age of 50 than it ever was at 18.

5. Learning is a worthy pursuit that requires no other reward other than the knowledge gained.

Entrepreneurship

1. All the passion and hard work in the world won't work if your business model sucks.

2. Entrepreneurs don't consider building companies "work". "Work" is only doing the things you have to do so you can do the things you love to do, like building companies.

3. The media likes to write about anomalies. Model your company on what works most of the time instead and just do it better.

4. You can never have too much cash or too many paying customers.

5. Hire the smartest people you can afford and keep your ego in your wallet where it belongs.

6. No matter how nice, supportive or inclusive you are, you are still the crazy person who started this whole thing.

7. Wanna-preneurs are optimists. Successful entrepreneurs are pragmatists.

8. Of course business plans change, but at least now you have a point of reference for deviation.

9. If you can't measure it, it's just wishful thinking.

10. Failure is not really a badge of courage, recovery however is an honored accomplishment.

Sales and Marketing

1. It's not about you. Make it about the customer and show some empathy.

2. Any good marketing program takes a couple of years, not 90 days. Otherwise your competitor will just follow in your footsteps.

3. You can't really "sell" people as a viable business model. Better to provide them something they want or need and just enlighten them on how you fulfill that requirement.

4. Every action in your company is a sales and marketing exercise.

5. Any marketing exercise without intention and measurement has the same effective odds as betting on a 40 -1 long shot at the racetrack.

6. Without research and metrics you are just selling yourself on your own lies.

7. I hate selling. That's why I am a marketer. I prefer to creatively and efficiently attract customers predisposed to buy, at a premium price.

Friends

1. Just be yourself. The real friends love you for you.

2. One real friend is worth more than 1000 acquaintances.

3. Real friends always tell you the truth especially when you don't want to hear it.

4. The closest friendships are recognized in the comfort of silence.

5. Time spent together is not a key factor in determining a true friend.

Family

1. No one deserves to be miserable. Fix your relationships or end them.

2. Mutual respect is the basis for any healthy relationship. Treasure and nurture it.

3. Your family may or may not be blood relatives. Only spend time with people who celebrate you.

4. Having a child requires you to accept the role of being a parent. Friendship, however desirable, is not a requirement for you or your kids.

5. Great relationships require work, which makes them worth the effort.

6. The only unconditional love comes from your dog. Everyone else needs something in return.

Personal Growth

1. You can't help anyone else effectively if you are not strong and healthy.

2. It is better to focus on a few things you do really well rather than to do many things in which you are mediocre.

3. The most amazing things in life come with time, effort and focus. Everything else is just an everyday occurrence.

4. Personal Core Values work as filters to keep you from mediocrity.

5. Most personal boundaries are rationalizations used to justify lack of action.

6. Every day is a gift, use it to pursue and share the awesome experience, the convergence of need, entertainment and the unexpected.

Published on: Dec 22, 2014
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