'He shows up'

A reader wants to know: What's your best advice now, to your younger self? Also, 7 other things worth a click.

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Yesterday’s email about burnout (or if you prefer, “burn-out”) resonated with a LOT of people. Thanks for all the replies.

I’d like to focus on one response in particular, however, and eventually ask for your help.

I’ll paraphrase a couple of details to keep this person anonymous. It starts out with some incredibly nice general feedback that I’m far too embarrassed to repeat (but you will note: not too embarrassed to tell you about).

Then, we get to the crux:

“Bill, I’m struggling. I’m 25. I have a few years of experience, all at one company.

It’s OK, but I’d like to find a career that will fit me better.

The problem is, I don’t know how to begin.

I’m eager to learn, to be an entrepreneur, and to create.

So, can you help? What do you suggest?

Put differently: ‘What advice would you give a younger version of yourself?’”

I think our 25-year-old reader was asking mostly about career advice. But, I’m inclined to broaden it, because I think everything is connected, anyway.

Last month, I mentioned Sara Blakely, the billionaire founder of Spanx, and what she said in answer to this exact question. I love her answer:

He shows up.”

Aww. It’s so human. Billionaires, they’re just like us!

(The “him,” I assume, is her husband, Jesse Itzler.)

I mean: So many people spend so much time chasing after a life partner.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that the chase itself can’t be a lot of fun. But still, wouldn’t it be kind of cool at 25, to hear from the 45-year-old edition of yourself: Don't worry, that part will work out.

Anyway, “What would you tell your younger self?” might be one of the most cliched celebrity interview questions. But, that’s actually a good thing for our purposes.

So, I did a quick search for some other examples (a few came from this video):

  • What Bill Gates would tell himself (Reddit): “I would try and make myself more self-aware without getting rid of the focus and desire to learn."

  • What Jeff Bezos would tell himself: “You can have a job, or you can have a career, or you can have a calling. And if you can somehow figure out how to have a calling, you have hit the jackpot, because that’s the big deal.”

  • What Mary Barra would tell herself: “While planning for your future is great, the fact is, things change. There are always new opportunities around the corner.”

  • What Nathan Blecharczyk would tell himself (cofounder of Airbnb): “The setbacks are always the learning opportunities.”

  • What Deborah Hopkin, CEO of City Ventures, would tell herself: “Listen to your instincts, and don't be in such a hurry.”

  • What Ev Williams, founder of Medium, would tell himself : “Trust yourself and pay attention to people. People matter. People's feelings matter.”

  • And finally, Mark Cuban: “Don't change a thing.” (Ugh. Of course.)

Here’s an idea. I did a little bit of audience analysis last weekend.

There are a lot of amazing people reading Understandably who have a lot of life experience, and who can look back at their 25-year-old selves and offer good advice.

So, let’s do it. Both as an exercise for ourselves, and for the benefit of our anonymous reader above, I’d love to know your best advice to your 25-year-old self.

(Or, if applicable, think of this as your best advice to your adult kids—whether they’d be grateful for it or ignore it!)

Now, I have some good news if you feel like this puts you on the spot. For technical reasons, we can’t actually turn on the comments and let people start advising right now.

We’ll have to do it in a separate comment thread, which I’ll run tomorrow morning.

But that’s the plan. (Yay! Friday comment threads are back!)

I actually know exactly what I’m going to say. If you’re up for it, I hope you’ll think it through, and chime in tomorrow, too.

7 other things worth a click

  1. Bernie Madoff says he’s dying and hopes to be let out of prison on compassionate release. (CNN)

  2. Thus endeth impeachment. Only one Republican, Sen. Mitt Romney, voted to convict President Trump. (Associated Press)

  3. Actor and icon Kirk Douglas passed away, at age 103. (Hollywood Reporter)

  4. LinkedIn is getting a new CEO. But not until June 1. (Me, on Inc.)

  5. Missed opportunity here: The Air Force refers to its enlisted personnel as “airmen,” but the new U.S. Space Force will not call its members “spacemen,” says a top general. (Military Times)

  6. “We feel really terrible,” says the CEO of the company that designed the app that completely screwed up the Iowa caucuses. (Bloomberg via LA Times)

  7. The Trump administration says it will no longer let New York residents enroll or reenroll in the Global Entry and Trusted Traveler programs, due to a state law that stops Homeland Security from accessing New York motor vehicle records. (Fox News)

Photo credit: Gillian Zoe Segal.

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