12 Life Lessons

April 15, 2011 · Print This Article

Tonight I gave the graduation speech at the Leadership Triangle College Edition graduation that nineteen amazing local college students from Duke, UNC, NC State, NCCU, Shaw, Meredith, St. Augustine’s, and Peace college have participated in. In preparation for the speech I wrote down “12 Life Lessons” I’ve learned in the last ten years. I only mentioned a handful of them during the actual speech, but here are the prep notes…

  1. Surround yourself with people you like and admire. You are who you surround yourself with. It pays to choose the people you surround yourself with carefully.
  2. Put positive thoughts into your head. The internal message that you tell yourself over and over becomes reality. Thoughts become things. Don’t be insecure. Be confident. YOU ARE AMAZING! You are all here because you are brilliant. Life is a wonderful opportunity. Believe in your power to do good.
  3. Laughter is the best medicine for stress. Laugh at yourself often. Find what is funny in whatever situation you’re in.
  4. Take time to think about and write down your goals and frame them!!! Set bigger goals than you think are actually possible to achieve and try to hit about 50% of them. If you’re hitting more than 50% of your goals, they’re not ambitious enough!
  5. Don’t worry about what other people think about you. Just be yourself.
  6. Travel the world at every opportunity you get. Take an interest in what’s going on in the world. Know about the tremendous opportunities in Asia, Africa, Central America, and South America.
  7. Build authentic relationships in which you give. Don’t build fake relationships.
  8. To find a job, stop sending resumes out blindly! Just find 5 people who you want to be in 20 years who have accomplished what you want to accomplish and build an authentic relationship with them at least a year before you need a “job”. Start by offering to take them to coffee or lunch and keep asking 1x per month until they say yes :-) .
  9. Don’t take a normal job. Only take a job working with great people doing something you really enjoy doing.
  10. Find something you’re passionate about that you love doing that you enter the “flow state” when you do it, then figure out how you can create value (and maybe make money) doing that!
  11. Save and invest money whenever you can and never ever go into debt for something you don’t need. Make your money work for you.
  12. Spend more hours reading than you do watching TV! Book recommendations: Think and Grow Rich, Rich Dad Poor Dad, and How to Win Friends and Influence People.

What do you think?? What key life lessons have you learned in the last ten years?


13 Responses to “12 Life Lessons”

  1. Devender on April 15th, 2011 11:59 pm

    wonderful words

  2. elaine morton on April 16th, 2011 8:57 am

    Great Article, you are to be commended! Your article shows PASSION for the meaning “ENTREPRENEURSHIP” and relates to the world one must do the basic homework before bragging on the monies!

  3. Paul House on April 16th, 2011 7:37 pm

    Thanks for the good words Ryan. This is the kind of thing we need to read everyday.

  4. Joe Haddad on April 17th, 2011 1:56 pm

    Great article. To answer your question: Write a Personal Mission Statement for your life. Look at it often, and make sure the “activities” or “jobs” you fill your life with are leading you closer to the person you want to be.

  5. Zeenat on April 22nd, 2011 10:07 am

    Your speech at graduation was very inspiring!! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

  6. Auren Hoffman on May 2nd, 2011 2:04 pm

    great post. I especially like #5 (”Don’t worry about what other people think about you. Just be yourself.”) — that’s a lesson that even the smartest person can heed.

  7. Michel Nienhuis on May 17th, 2011 6:48 pm


  8. Ladipo Lawani on June 17th, 2011 8:58 am

    Thanks for this. Very practical and succinct

  9. Arlene Marie Daniels on July 9th, 2011 3:16 am

    What an inspirational list. Each one of them looks effective. I especially like the one about listing your goals down. I do that myself. :) Let me add to the great tips here. For those who are feeling down or depressed, here’s a great book that i think might help. http://www.depressionatwork.com It’s called The Dark Clouds at Work by Dr. Darryl Cross.

  10. Sean Kavanaugh on July 24th, 2011 5:04 pm

    Ryan, since you asked, here’s my ten:

    1) If it doesn’t make a difference, forget it. If it will make a difference, make it a priority, and make a difference.
    2) Accept what you can’t change, and change what you can’t accept. But don’t accept much, you can change more than you think.
    3) Do something about it. This one is huge!!!
    4) The more we get in tune with reality the better, cuz reality always prevails!
    5) Too many strong people, don’t care. Too many caring people aren’t strong. Be strong AND care, both are a choice.
    6) Perfection never stands still – that one’s not mine, but I like it.
    7) Get hooked on maturing . . . in all areas of life. Maturing is a process, and a choice. WIth every individual issue in life, realize “it’s a maturity thing”.
    8) Be aware – the key to being aware is to not get “too caught up” . . . in anything
    9) Everyone has their “pursuit of happiness”. Find your ingredients. What do you really need vs what you want. Know the difference and prioritize.
    10) Count your blessings . . . always. And thank God every day!

    and I think I have a thousand more. God Bless.

  11. Hasan Jilani on September 15th, 2011 2:29 pm

    Great list! I particularly like # 4. I don’t think people are nearly as ambitious enough. They have so many self-limiting beliefs! There’s a great related quote by American author Les Brown: “Shoot for the moon and if you miss you will still be among the stars.”

  12. Entrepreneurs! 7 Awesome Blogs You Probably Haven’t Heard Of | The Greatest Networker in the World on March 18th, 2012 1:50 am

    [...] equity, employee time, and product back to thecommunity. His 12 Life Lessons is one of the best articles I’ve ever read.I was fortunate enough to meet Ryan when I attended (and presented an award [...]

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    [...] equity, employee time, and product back to the community. His 12 Life Lessons is one of the best articles I’ve ever read. I was fortunate enough to meet Ryan when I attended (and presented an award [...]

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