May 9, 2014 by Anthony Curlo
DaVinciTek CEO Anthony Curlo says imagine you could go back in time and meet the younger you. What advice would you give and why?

When I recently asked myself this question, I said: “Anthony, you’ve accomplished a lot on a personal and professional level, but are certainly way more capable than what you think. You’ve shown the ability to grow into new roles and new identities, so don’t let setbacks get in the way of your ultimate goals. You’ll make it — remain persistent, and don’t give up. Don’t’ ever give up. While doing this, enjoy your family, treat your body as important as you do your business, laugh, give back, enjoy life and make others around you smile.

In retrospect, I was a young, naí¯ve, gifted athlete that upon my college graduation, I walked off the campus for the last time as a student and said, let’s go conquer the world. In fact, a quote that engrained in me to this day is;

Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all-time thing. You don’t win once in a while, you don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is habit. Unfortunately, so is losing. – Vince Lombardi

I invite you to try it. What would you advise yourself as a younger person? Don’t just think it or speak it; write it down.

Would you tell yourself to be more accountable to yourself and others, less impulsive, willing to take more risks, spend more time with family, leave a legacy, or to be more trusting of your intuition? Make a list of everything you would like to accomplish (business or personal), and then go after those goals with a vengeance. Don’t make the mistake of dreaming about something and not acting on it. Others around you likely have. Recognize that there’s no shortage of remarkable ideas, what’s missing is the will to execute them. To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart. But never neglect your family for your business.

Stop wishing that wonderful things will just happen on their own — go out and make them happen. Always do your best. In every circumstance, in every encounter, in every relationship, always do your best. And one more thing. Exercise more and lose some weight, and do it now.

So what does your future self — the person you will become years from now — advise you to do? Regardless of the job your parents did for you in your earlier years, this is about becoming your own parent now. That means you can guide yourself, teach yourself, hold yourself accountable and give yourself approval, acknowledgement, praise and encouragement.

And who knows? You might be better at it than your own parents were. And that would make you your own best parent.

Here are my (top 10) suggestions:

Never Stop Learning: Maximize your education and take note as to where you get it from. No one can take it from you. College, post graduate, ongoing coursework, certifications, projects, hobbies, etc. There are so many fascinating people, processes and organizations… and there’s always something new to learn. Keep in mind, you’ll miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. Always be curious and you’ll see dimensions you didn’t think existed. Challenge “taken for granted”. Exhaust all fears and expand your comfort zone. You’ll get it wrong at first anyway and don’t worry about what other people think. When you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly and get on with improving your other innovations. Short term unpopularity and comfortableness is worth it for longer-term respect and results. And, by extension, when you become an owner, executive, manager or leader of any sort, make sure you have processes and dashboards in place that enable you to see how your team, function or business is really running (not how people tell you it is running).

Observe Your Own Ethical Code: Leadership is doing what is right when no one is watching. Operate with a personal ethical code. Sadly, not everyone “walks the talk” and some people are so determined to progress, to get the deal or grow their business that they’ll act in an unethical manner. That’s life. It isn’t nice, but the only way to succeed is to observe it, challenge it, but in some cases accept that you can’t change it.

Trust your intuition: Business decisions are hard, this is true whether you’re running a company or working for a company. Make sure where possible you get the data you need to make an informed decision, but also accept that in some cases you might not be able to “know” every possible outcome before making a decision. Sometimes making a decision (any decision) is better than standing at a crossroads scratching your head. In fact, a successful entrepreneur, board member of a major corporation and friend told me “don’t procrastinate, make a decision … just make it the right one”. Listen to your instincts there usually spot on. If you see a bandwagon, it’s too late.

Give Back – Pay it forward. It’s contagious. Become infected and infect others. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Back charitable causes that are close to your home and heart. You’ll find a new inner peace and reap the benefits in a multitude of different ways. Purpose = Service. Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?

Work To Live – It’s the old adage, live to work vs. work to live. Don’t take the people around you for granted. Especially the ones who love you. Don’t ever be too busy for the people you love. And make sure they know that too.

Surround Yourself With People Smarter Than You – Know that there’s something to learn from everyone whether they’re older or younger than you. Create your eco-system of positive, upbeat, like-minded people. The glass ceiling is imaginary. Be open to opportunities. Never burn any bridges. Ask for referrals and recommendations. Always put forth your best effort. Focus on what’s important, not everything. Keep networking and never eat alone! Hire character. Train skill.

Change “Should Of” Too “Must Do’s” – If you don’t like something change it … If you can’t change it, change your attitude, and don’t complain. We generate fears while we sit. We overcome them by action. Fear is nature’s way of warning us to get busy. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer. Change is not a threat, it’s an opportunity. Survival is not the goal, transformative success is. Those who say it cannot be done, should not interrupt those doing it. The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. Remember, the greatest failure is to not try. Once you find something you love to do, be the best at doing it.

Mentor vs. Mentee – As an entrepreneur, one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned is the value of having a mentor. Entrepreneurs often think they can – and sometimes that they should do everything on their own. That’s simply not the case. Find a coach. See your greatest enemies as your greatest teachers. Recognize that there’s always someone that knows more than me. Work with people who inspire you, respect you, mentor you and make you want to be a better person. Have a thick skin and know a lot of the time it’s them not you! Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. To succeed… You need to find something to hold on to, something to motivate you, something to inspire you. Once you do, ensure that you in turn take the time to mentor others.

Think big – Think bigger. Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming. Success leaves clues, so talk with people whose successes make your eyes get big and give you inspiration. Don’t be afraid to fail – Frustrations are common. Not everybody may seem like an ally. Challenges can be overcome with the right focus and determination. Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there. I like thinking big. If you’re going to be thinking anything, think BIG!

Leave A legacy – Think about it, because you’re writing it every day. The only thing you take with you when you’re gone is what you leave behind. Take responsibility to create your legacy that will take the next generation to a level we could only imagine.

Remember that life is just a string of experiences. Cherish each one. And, as a maker, create experiences that empower, amuse, and delight the people whose lives you touch. Be kind, stay curious, hungry and have fun.

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