The one that stood out the most was from my parents:
“It’s better to have the worst house in the best neighborhood than the best house in the worst neighborhood.”
When I think back I realize this wasn’t just great advice for buying a house. It’s also great advice for life. What they were telling me, of course, was that I can always fix up my house, but I can’t control what happens to the neighborhood.
The same goes for everything in your life. You can always control yourself, but you can’t always control those around you or the situations you’ll find yourself in.
You should surround yourself by the best people and you should let them raise the value of your “house” (i.e., your career – and your life).
As I look at how I got here – Director at the age of 30 – I realize how apt this advice was. Throughout my life I’ve tried to surround myself with better people, smarter people, and more genuine people and they’ve consistently forced me to be the best person, smartest person, most genuine person I could.
The best example of this was only a few years ago when I was thrust into the role of SEO lead at a fortune 100 company (I knew nothing about SEO – literally, I don’t think I knew that S.E.O. stood for Search Engine Optimization – it was pure happenstance).
I leaned on those around me and the industry experts who could help “fix up my house.” And I’d like to think I’ve come pretty far – at least my current title says so!
Without a doubt it was my ability to learn and apply the teachings that allowed me to renovate my house, but it was all the people who have taught me something here and there, and been there for me that provided me the tools to do so.
The prologue to this is that even when you move out of that neighborhood that treated you so well, you can’t forget the neighbors, friends and family who helped as you upgraded your house.
Not only because of what they have done for you, but what they can continue to do. And with that, I thank the thousands of people who continue to make me a better, smarter, more genuine person.