Last week I spent a day with Warren Buffett at his annual meeting. The education was profound, and surprisingly serves to make us all better writers, bloggers and entrepreneurs.
1. Lose money and I will forgive you, but lose even a shred of reputation and I will be ruthless. This has been echoed across the business world for years and it applies to us all. Life is too short to cut corners to make an extra buck. Wealth can always be recreated but reputation takes a lifetime to build and often only a moment to destroy. As Warren says, “we will not trade reputation for money.” In the world of blogging, we are writing because we love it. It’s not for the money. This makes reputation more important than anything. Remember this when you are contemplating rushing to monetize your site by filling it with ads, links, etc.
2. The best defense in a tough economy is to add the most you can to society. Your money can be inflated away but your knowledge and talent cannot. No matter the external circumstances, you are always in control of your talent, learning and passion for life. There will always be opportunities for talent. This is the most empowering thing about web entrepreneurship and blogging. Develop those skills with the constant focus on helping others and you will never be without a job.
3. We get worried when people start to agree with us. The best fruit is found out on the limbs. The road less traveled makes all the difference. Make a rule to always stay on the side of the minority in your life’s path and you will be greatly rewarded. Not to mention it will be magnitudes more exciting. These are exactly the topics that people want to read about. Get a little edgy with your posts. Say something fresh. It will stick with your visitors and they’re likely to come back.
4. We celebrate wealth only when it’s been fairly won and wisely used. The goal is not to make money at all costs. It’s easy to forget that in a lot of industries and sub-cultures around the world where everyone is in constant competition. And this can especially be the case when so many of us spend hours upon hours writing and developing our web services for free. Do not rush it and do not get greedy. Help others and the fruit will be there. Wealth is worthless if you’ve destroyed all your relationships to attain it. Take the high road. It’s far less crowded. A bit sad but often true. Makes it pretty easy to stand out.
5. When you are exceptional you jump off the page. There really isn’t that much competition there. Be your own best competitive advantage. Then it doesn’t make a difference what others are doing. You are in control. In blogging, entrepreneurship and life, there are few people really willing to give it their all. Do this and your supporters will love you for it (they will also likely multiply).
6. Do what you’re passionate about. If you do this, there will be few people competing or running faster than you. The best way to be exceptional is with passion! As Tony Robbins says every day of his life, “Live with Passion!” And trust me, life is a lot more fun this way. I cannot think of a better motivator to get you to write for free and love it, than to jump out of bed dying to teach and help others.
7. I think I developed courage when I learned I could deal with hardship. You need to get your feet wet and get some failure under your belt. Courage does not grow on its own. Just like a muscle, it must be constantly worked out and developed. Life begins outside your comfort zone and that’s where courage is developed. Most people don’t succeed because they’re afraid to fail. Failure isn’t that bad anyway. It will make you tougher and more likely to win the next time around. If I had a dime for every time I heard someone tell me about an idea they wanted to pursue or how much they would like to give blogging a shot, without an ounce of action to follow…well, I might own a few more shares of Berkshire Hathaway stock. No one has succeeded without going through their own failures at some point. To try and to fail is much better than to never try. Why not get started early and get some of them out of the way! What’s the worst that could happen? As big wave surfer Laird Hamilton says “If you’re not falling then you’re not learning.”
8. There’s no better way to be happier than getting your expectations down. Most unhappiness comes from misaligned and unrealistic expectations of life. Expect the world of yourself, but expect nothing of the world. Then you cannot help but live your life pleasantly surprised. When I first started blogging a few years ago, I had these huge aspirations of how quickly I’d have a massive following. When it didn’t happen immediately, it got me down. Write and develop your business online with the expectation of it being a charity project to help others. Anything in addition will be icing on the cake.
9. If the only reason you find for doing something is because others are doing it then that’s not good enough. In fact, if everyone else is writing on a topic, maybe that’s the one best to avoid. Tim Ferriss is a master at evading the majority with his 4-Hour Work Week philosophy. Learn to be comfortable on your own path.
10. Decide early in life to make your money by selling things that you really believe are good for the customers. Make this a rule before you write another word to your readers or offer another product to your customers. Life is too short and your reputation too fragile to not have your audience first and foremost in your mind and in your heart. Rules like this make it very difficult to lose.
11. We’ve done a lot of stupid things but we’ve avoided a small subset of stupidity and that subset is important. It’s about avoiding the dumb things. Warren’s success does not come from doing so many things right. It comes from avoiding the things that are terribly wrong. Some say this is two sides of the same coin. It’s not. It requires a fundamental shift in psychology. The stories are endless of people who did a few things right and were massively successful, but then did something stupid that took them back to zero. Before Warren does anything, he and his partner “invert, always invert.” They list every way imaginable in which they could fail at a particular task and then take massive effort to avoid those failures. Do this for your blog or business and the success will come automatically. Always ask yourself, what would disappoint my readers or customers? Then don’t do it.
12. Go to bed a little wiser than when you woke up. This is the crux of the whole meeting. Life is about learning. If you are always learning you can never lose. Keep this as your only rule for the day and the world will be yours for the taking. There has been no better way for me to continue to add value to my readers and followers than this life maxim. Follow it and you will never run out of posts to write or people to serve.
The lessons from Warren are endless. We all stand to learn to be better people, writers and entrepreneurs from what he’s willing to share. He doesn’t charge any money or ask for anything in return. Except of course that we live a life with a burning desire to learn and do all we can to be valuable additions to society. Keep this as the foremost mission of your business or blog and your time spent will be well rewarded.
Read more action-provoking posts by Scott Dinsmore, a writer, and entrepreneur. You can read more by Scott at Reading For Your Success.
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