Because of the much publicized, runaway success of young billionaires like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskovitz, Bill Gates, and Kanye West, there is a perception that youth and enthusiasm, along with their boundless energy, provides the platform for success. Social network giant LinkedIn recently conducted a campaign asking their followers what advice they would give to themselves when they were twenty years old. The responses were, as one might expect, from the reflective to the ridiculous.

According to Jessica Stillman of Inc. Magazine, however, research shows that the average age of successful founders is closer to 47 than it is to 27. Regardless of actual ages, the LinkedIn study provided some absolutely golden nuggets of advice to anyone who is interested in growing personally or growing their business.

Here was the question that was asked and some of the fantastic answers, some by named individuals and others anonymously: “If you could give one piece of career advice to your 20-year old self, what would it be?”

  • Get tested for ADHD earlier
  • Beware “reply all”
  • Eat less pizza
  • Believe in yourself
  • Don’t procrastinate
  • Continue testing
  • Make mistakes and keep learning
  • Don’t be afraid to explore

As Stillman pointed out in her article, one common theme was top of mind. “Action beats deliberation,” she said. One of her interviewees stated, “Careers are long. There’s no need for a mad rush to find the ideal job. The first part (i.e., 10+ years) of your career is about testing multiple jobs and understanding what you like/dislike and are good and bad at.”

Max Korpinen, the co-founder of Hireproof added the following comments: “Don’t spend so much time planning and researching the perfect career path— you don’t know what ‘work’ is yet, anyway. Aggressively explore all options that seem interesting, learn, iterate, and you’ll arrive to the ‘perfect path’ much faster.”

Another contributor by the name of Dalili Bonomi echoed similar comments: “Simply start. Don’t wait to ‘know more’, don’t wait for the perfect job, don’t wait to know what you want to do before you even start.”

Author Stillman is prescient in her observations that all of these comments or observations “focus on action, experimentation, and course correction rather than pre-planning and rigid goals. The right way to make the most of your career…..isn’t to have a grand blueprint or follow a pre-arranged path. Instead, it’s just to get started, learn along the way, and keep moving forward. Action beats endless deliberation any day.”

Further, Maria Mararelli, the president of Formula Ink made the following observations about advice every twenty year old should know.

“1. Make your mark sooner. When you are young, it seems you have plenty of time on your hands. In reality, you do. So, make your mark sooner. Whether it’s writing content, working on a podcast, or building a community— make a mark.” In other words, be disciplined in what you do, when you do it, and how you do it. Capture your thoughts and use them in writing, blogging, or podcasting as just a few examples.

2. Don’t be afraid of your ideas. Don’t be afraid of being judged in this world. Just do your best and be authentic. I spent way too much time worrying about what other people think.

3. Prioritize your health. Your mind and body have a very tight relationship. Living an unhealthy lifestyle will end up affecting your performance. Prioritize your health and create good habits. Stay healthy. Stay fit. Get enough sleep.
It’s not until you lose your health that you may realize how important it is.

4. Change your mindset. Don’t just trade your time for money. There are many people out there that may think: ‘I’ll work this many hours each week, I’ll get this much money for it. I’ll continue doing that until I retire. Hopefully.’ Changing your mindset is the first step to defining the life you really want.

5. Build a following. We live in a day and age where having a following can really help your business. People who want to work with you may check your social media first. Find people with similar interests. Engage with them, send messages, ask questions. Connect with people. Build a network.”

Even though it is not possible to turn back time, you can gain in knowledge from the insights of others who have already ‘been there and done that’.

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