If I Was… Eighteen

As a lot of you would know it was my birthday last week, and along with finding a few new grey hairs, I started to think back on the past 14 years “of being a man.” (especially now I’m raising one)

During this time of reflection, it dawned on me that it’s my godson’s 18th in a few months.

So in this edition of the ‘If I Was‘ series, I wanted to share the advice that would have been helpful to have had (lovingly) shoved down my throat.

CJ… this one’s for you, buddy.



1. Girls Are Not That Scary.
In fact, they are probably a lot more scared than you. 

2. Good Things Come to Those Who Wait…
Don’t be in such a hurry to achieve. Enjoy the journey. As the reward, when you get there, it only lasts a moment.
It’s the experiences, the friends, the parties, and laughs that will be with you for decades — don’t step around or over them on the way.

… BUT Great Things Come to Those Who Don’t.
If you wait, by the time you get there, someone else would have already arrived and taken it. This applies to opportunities, jobs, investments and especially girls. (Remember, they are not that scary.)
If you want something, go get it.

3. Do An Apprenticeship.
Seriously, you are not Mark Zuckerberg. As awesome as you are, there’s a fairly good chance you are not going to IPO a billion-dollar business before your 30th. So, act accordingly.
Find a mentor, work for free, gain experience, learn on their ‘time and dime,’ then go out on your own and BLOW UP!

4. You Don’t Need As Much As You Want.
Being on TV is good for the ego… but probably not for your bank balance. You want to harvest 1,000 true fans. Forget about “being everywhere,” and just focus on delivering awesomeness to just 1,000 people willing to give you a measly $1,000 per year each. If you want more after that, then scale.

5. You’ll Never Be Complete.
When I was in Year 7, I thought by the time I was 18 I’d have my shit together. Be confident, secure and just “know.”
When I was 18, I thought by the time I graduated I’d have my shit together. Be knowledgeable, confident, secure and just “know.”
When I was 21, I thought after travelling the world I’d have my shit together. Be worldly, knowledgeable, confident, secure and just “know.”
When I was 25, I thought after a few years working that I’d have my shit together. Be experienced, worldly, knowledgeable, confident, secure and just “know.”
When I was 30, I thought by the time I became a parent I’d have my shit together. Be complete, experienced, worldly, knowledgeable, confident, secure and just “know.”
Now I’m 32, I know I’m more complete, more experienced, more worldly, more knowledgeable, more confident, more secure… and I now know I’ll never be complete.

6. It’s About Progress, Not Perfection.
All you can ever aim for is being that little bit better than yesterday.
No one is perfect. No matter what the sales letter, publicist or Facebook profile implies.
All you can ask of yourself is to work hard for progress, each and everyday.

7. Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
If it’s important, invest twice the time in preparation (and research) — often more. Much more.

8. Put Down the Screen And…
- Visit the library (smell an old book).
– Visit the zoo.
– Do some charity work.
– Go camping.
– Hang with your father. (He was cool at your age.)
– Hang with your mother. (You won’t ever know how much she loves you until you become a parent.)
– Hang with your grandparents. (They have awesome stories to tell.)
– Handwrite something (a letter, an essay, a thank-you card.)

9. Thanks You’s Are Not Sucky.
The older you get, the more you will realise your network dictates your net worth. So say thanks, send cards, buy flowers, follow up, keep in touch and send thoughful recommendations. You’re not being a suck. You’re being the person they wish they were.

10. It’s Not About What You Know OR Who You Know.
It’s about who knows you… grow your contact list and be a good, helpful, fun person to know.

11. Give Up Your Seat.
You’re 18… act youthful.

12. Open Doors.
Chivalry is not dead. If you’re nice to them, girls are not that scary.

13. Make Your Blood Flow Each Day.
Be through sport, sex, or something that scares you.

14. Never Confuse a Library With a Portfolio.
You should always be growing your library, but never at the expense of creating your own personal portfolio.

15. Beware of the Dream Takers.
There are plenty of them out there. You’ve been warned.

16. Share.
- Your experiences.
– Your knowledge.
– Your wealth.
– Your dessert.

17. Be Accountable.
You are only as good as your last promise.

18. Make Others Accountable.
Hold those around you to a higher standard. They’ll reward you for it.

19.Manage Expectations.
Everything can be handled, if you take care of the expectations of your friends, family, bosses, clients, fans.
(and never ever break a date via text. Be a man pick up the phone.)

20. Learn To Spell.
Don’t be one of the Microsoft generation.

21. Learn To Write.
Nothing is as powerful as an engaging story.

22. Learn To Speak.
Your tonality can move a country.

23. Act As If…
You’re 32 and already know this.

… and always, always wear sunscreen.

[Leave A Comment: What's the piece of advice you wish you were given, and embraced when you were 18?]

  • JasonHunston

    Really like this post Pete. These are so many things I’m sure that we can rewind back to and fix. I personally never talked to girls at 18 as sad as it sounds. I will probably get my kids into an apprenticeship as you mentioned before.

    • http://www.PreneurMarketing.com/ Pete Williams

      I really do believe an apprenticeship in the “grander definition” is a much better place to grow than the typical university path these days.

  • Nelson

    I agree totally on this topic. I remember when I was younger and getting involved and no one could tell me anything different that I didn’t believe or understand. Now I wish I could have made those changes. Its kind of scary to see the direction that most kids are going in now with all the technology and less interaction that is happening.

    • http://www.PreneurMarketing.com/ Pete Williams

      Hey Nelson…

      We sound like our parents don’t we: “Back in our day, we played outside a lot more…”, “Back in our day, we actually spoke with people…”

  • LanaDLD

    Ooh, nice one on the thank yous. They are SO important. I was just talking to someone the other day who stopped donating money because he didn’t get the right kind of thank you cards.

    Great points, though honestly, as a girl, I can say that girls can be pretty scary:P

    • http://www.PreneurMarketing.com/ Pete Williams

      Thanks for the inside tip Melissa…

Pete Williams is an entrepreneur, author, and marketer from Melbourne, Australia.

Before being honored “Australia’s Richard Branson” in media publications all over the continent, Pete was just 21 years old when he sold Australia’s version of Yankee Stadium, The Melbourne Cricket Ground For Under $500! Don’t believe it? You will! Check out the story in the FAQ section (it really is our most asked question).

Since then, he’s done some cool stuff like write the international smash hit ‘How to Turn Your Million-Dollar Idea Into a Reality’ (+ the upcoming ‘It’s Not About the Product‘) and he’s created a bunch of companies including Infiniti Telecommunications, On Hold Advertising, Simply Headsets and Preneur Group.

Lots of other people think he’s pretty good too! He’s been announced as the Global Runner-Up in the JCI Creative Young Entrepreneur Awards for 2009, the Southern Region Finalist in the Ernst & Young 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year, and a member of SmartCompany’s Top 30 Under 30.

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