Today, I want to step back from the whirlwind that is the markets and reflect on seven bits of wisdom I’ve picked up in my path through life.
These are bits of advice I’d give any young person starting out in business — and any “not so young” person who does the hard thing of showing up for work, for family and friends, and basically for life itself every day with a good attitude, willing to put in the work that leads to success.
Here goes …
Effort is the path to reward. I’ve gotten a lot out of my work by putting a lot into it. I’ve worked long hours and thought outside the box and been rewarded.
Sometimes I was rewarded with more work … but even that often came with the opportunity to do different things to expand my skill set and my mindset.
The people you work for are hungry for new, good ideas. Don’t let your ideas gather dust; push them forward.
The worst that can happen is your boss might say: “No thanks.” A great thing that could happen is your boss might say: “That’s a great idea! Now do it!”
The easiest choice is often not the best choice. It’s so easy — almost too easy — to go along with the crowd, especially in this business. And it’s so tempting to chase performance, when that’s often the wrong thing to do.
Study and work hard enough that you have your own ideas of what is right and what is wrong. And, for Pete’s sake, act on what you believe is right. Even if it blows up in your face, at least you’ll know you weren’t pushing a lie.
And if you turn out to be right … well, you’ve just proven that you really are a genius!
Reputations are often built by how we treat others. Sure, there is no substitute for excellent work. That said, since I cover the mining industry, I’ve met more than my share of smiling sociopaths. Bad behavior can cause unpleasant memories to linger for years. You can be sure that this can affect the companies and, in turn, their stocks.
We’re only on this mortal coil a short while, so make sure you behave the absolute best you can toward other people. Be honest, helpful and kind. Good attitudes and treatment will open many a door when you run into each other again (as you are likely to do — it’s a small world).
Many people prefer confidence to honesty. What really burns my buns is that the smiling sociopaths in mining are often very successful. I know analysts who are wrong over and over again — enriching themselves all the way — but because they speak with confidence, people believe them. Meanwhile, the smart guy mumbling about potentialities is ignored.
Does that mean you need only to concentrate on style rather than substance? No! But after you work hard to build your opinion on ANYTHING, make sure you can present it confidently. Presentation counts for SO much. It’s not fair, but it’s true, so make it work for you.
Luck has more to do with success than anyone wants to admit. I think I’m smart, but I know I’m lucky, and I’d rather be lucky than smart. You can be the smartest person in the world, but luck can run against you and make you look like a fool.
The good news is you can CHANGE your luck:
1. Be brave enough to admit when you’re wrong.
2. Don’t let small losses turn into big losses.
3. Don’t get married to a particular story or ideology; instead, have strong opinions, loosely held.
4. Remember that the biggest successes can come right after failure.
Never stop learning. You are never too old to learn something new. Anyone who stops learning is a fossil, just walking around to save funeral expenses.
I’m always searching out new ideas, educational opportunities and new, interesting people. You should, too.
Love what you do. If you don’t love what you’re doing and you can’t give it your best, get out. Life is too short. You’ll be old before you know it, so you might as well enjoy the ride.
And remember, it’s never too late to change something about your life. A little over a year ago, I was a fat guy worried that I was going to wake up dead in the morning. Now I run 5Ks and I’m in my best shape in 20 years. If you don’t like your life, change it!
The path to success and happiness stretches before all of us … and here’s hoping that YOU are finding the way forward.
All the best,