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Do you have a story to tell?

If you care about it, it’s probably a story.

These are the stories we invent.

We live with these stories, we remind ourselves of them, we perfect them.

And, happily, if you don’t like the story you’re telling yourself, you can change it.

Don’t make excuses

Here’s one: “I’m too old to make a difference, take a leap, change the game…” (Sometimes, I hear this from people who are 25 years old).

This is a seductive story because it lets us off the hook. Obviously, the thinking goes, the deck is stacked against me, so no need to even imagine the failure that effort will bring. Better to just move along and lower my expectations.

Don’t have regrets

Hannes Schwandt has published some interesting research on this. Regret seems to peak at 50, and then, as people start rationalizing that they’re not expected to make much of a difference going forward, life satisfaction starts to increase. Of course, this is doubly backward… we can (and must) contribute as we get older, and freedom is nothing to fear.

Our fears burn so brightly that if we truly face them, we think we might be blinded.

Of course, we may think we’re looking at our fears, dead on, but it’s more likely we’re just seeing a distraction, a shadow of what’s actually holding us back.

Because once we’re truly clear about the fear, it fades. It might even disappear.

Be present, be aware, there are discoveries right in front of us.

Doctor, scientist and speaker Jonathan Sackner-Bernstein wakes us up with this powerful new TEDx talk:

Examples of Success Stories

If you want to do entrepreneurship right, here are six short stories you’ve probably never heard before, but companies you’ve most definitely heard of.

The Pierre Omidyar way. In 1995, a computer programmer started auctioning off stuff on his personal website. AuctionWeb, as it was then known, was really just a personal project, but, when the amount of web traffic made it necessary to upgrade to a business Internet account, Omidyar had to start charging people fees. He actually hired his first employee to handle all the payment checks. The site is now known as eBay.  

The John Ferolito and Don Vultaggio way. Back in the 70s, a couple of Brooklyn friends started a beer distributor out of the back of an old VW bus. Two decades later, after seeing how well Snapple was doing they decided to try their hand at soft drinks and launched Arizona Green Tea. Today, Arizona teas are #1 in America and distributed worldwide. The friends still own the company.   

The Matt Maloney and Mike Evans way. When a couple of Chicago software developers working on lookup searches for Apartments.com got sick of calling restaurants in search of takeout food for dinner, the light bulb went off: Why isn’t there a one-stop-shop for food delivery? That’s when the pair decided to start GrubHub, which went public last April and is now valued at more than $3 billion.   

The Joe Coulombe way. After operating a small chain of convenience stores in southern California, Joe Coulombe had an idea: that upwardly mobile college grads might want something better than 7-11. So he opened a tropical-themed market in Pasadena, stocked it with good wine and booze, hired good people, and paid them well. He added more locations near universities, then healthy foods, and that’s how Trader Joe’s got started.   

The Howard Schultz way. A trip to Milan gave a young marketer working for a Seattle coffee bean roaster an idea for upscale espresso cafes like they have all over Italy. His employer had no interest in owning coffee shops but agreed to finance Schultz’s endeavor. They even sold him their brand name, Starbucks.

The Konosuke Matsushita way. In Japan in 1917, a 23-year-old apprentice at the Osaka Electric Light Company with no formal education came up with an improved light socket. His boss wasn’t interested so young Matsushita started making samples in his basement. He later expanded with battery-powered bicycle lamps and other electronic products. Matsushita Electric, as it was known until 2008 when the company officially changed its name to Panasonic, is now worth $66 billion.

Boston Real Estate and the Bottom Line

As I always say, the world is full of infinite possibilities and countless opportunities, but your life and career are finite, meaning you have limited time to find what you’re searching for and make your mark on the world. This is your time. It’s limited so don’t waste it. Find something you like to do and just do it. That’s how real entrepreneurs always start. Tell me what’s your story?

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