When did we lose our way?

I have so many candidates who cling to giant brand name companies. They are so fearful of the smaller company or even a start-up. Why? Does the risk in a smaller company outweigh the massive upside? I bet Facebook's earliest employees would answer a resounding "no". So what I want to know is at what point in human society did we turn a corner so severe, so safety seeking, so fearful, that we sell out at the first sign of disaster? What happened to the men who sailed from Europe thinking they may sail over the edge of the earth? Talk about risk. What happened to men, barely a hundred years ago, who climbed the skeleton of the Empire State Building, without safety equipment, to build one of the world's tallest structures at the time? At what point did we lose the saying nothing ventured, nothing gained.

We take absolutely nothing with us when we die. Nothing. The short time between our birth and death is an adventure, nothing more. It's a time to make our mark. We spend decades learning the basics, then honing our craft, only to spend a few short moments in the sun. Human beings who do not boldly seek their dreams, in my opinion, fail to be fully human. They cheat themselves. They allow the world's design for their lives to replace their dreams. They trade the adventure of a couple men huddled together during adversity, seeking the mountain top, for the soulless safety and often inescapable systems designed to build other men's dreams.

My advice to young people is simply this: take risk, albeit calculated, but still...take a risk! Scare yourself. Get your blood pumping. Design your dream. Write it on paper. Say it aloud. Broadcast it on social media. If people don't laugh at your dreams, they aren't big enough. Live a life you are proud of and do not listen to anyone else's plans for your life. My largest and most vocal opponents at twenty five years of age are the exact same people in the front seat of my cheering section at thirty three when I sold my first company. I wrote their names on little sheets of paper and taped them up in my office so I had to see them everyday. I let their doubt fuel my dreams.

Everyone's definition of success is different. My definition is simply this: success is obtaining, or fully pursuing, one's dreams with everything you have. Not holding back. Leaving it all on the field. If you're lucky enough you can spend those days building a company with people you truly enjoy where the lines of personal and business seem to fade away, a true partnership.

Now that I have told you what I think success is, let me you tell what it is not. Success is not money in the bank. Side note: If you become good at your craft, the money always follows. It's not a company brand on your resume. It's not "safety" or "security". Success is when you strip away the peanut gallery and the social media influencers and what your mom and your dad and your girlfriend or boyfriend think is good for you. You scrap everything and you say I want to do "this" and you actually do it, or at the very least attempt to.

Let me conclude by saying this: most Fortune 500 companies are started by men in their forties and fifties. That means from twenty three to forty three years of age you need to learn. Learn everything you can. Get a mentor. Stay late at the office. Burn the midnight oil. Network. Talk big. Dream big. Take chances. Don't sell out. You don't have to sell out. When you're young you don't have kids to support or a mortgage. Live lean and find your true north. Chase your dream. Live the life you've always dreamed of or die trying to get it. You might not end up in Forbes, but in the last moments of your life, when you're alone and reflecting on the decisions you have made, you will softly smile and think to yourself, I did it. I did exactly what I wanted to do. What a good ride. I wouldn't have done it any other way.

Written by Ken Brown

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