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5 Things High School Students Asked Me About Success

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 13/10/2015 Richard Lorenzen

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Last week I had the honor and privilege to be invited to speak to a number of classes at public high schools in Philadelphia about my success in business and how I did it at a young age. I spoke to a total of five classes between the Academy at Palumbo and the Philadelphia High School for Girls. One of the causes closest to me is advocating for youth entrepreneurship. I believe that it's never been a more important time for young people to become entrepreneurs, and that it's never been a more opportune time for young people to become entrepreneurs. Indeed there has never been more opportunity in America or in many other parts of the world and if I can inspire even one or two more people to believe in their potential and seize it, then I've done my job.
After each talk I gave, I would open the floor for Q&A and more often than not, there were lots of questions. Many of the questions I received are questions that are held not just by students, but by many aspiring and beginning entrepreneurs. So I am sharing a few of those questions here along with my opinions on their answers so that perhaps they will reach others who are looking for another set of insights.

Do others have to lose for me to be successful?

To me, this is something that comes from the old paradigm of business that says everything is a zero-sum game and for you to win, somebody else has to lose. I believe that this is no longer the case. Thanks to technology and the internet, the playing field in business has never been more level. Are things perfect? No. Is there still inequality? Yes. But nonetheless, the field has never been more level than it is right now and there has never been more opportunity for success available to more people than right now. And I believe it's only going to become more level as technology evolves. What this means is that in developed, free-market countries, there is enough access to enough resources for everybody to become successful in their own right. The internet makes the entire world your market and there is plenty of opportunity to go around for everybody.

Do you ever get frustrated?

I always say that as an entrepreneur, as long as you love what you do, it will rarely feel like work; however, even when you love your job, there will still be frustrating days. It's a fact of life that not every day is rosy and this is especially true in entrepreneurship, even when you are completely in love with what you do. In fact, being so in love with it often makes you even more vulnerable to frustration because you care so much about your craft and put so much of your heart and soul into it that on days when things aren't going in your direction (which happens often) you will experience frustration. Just know that frustration is a tension and tension is part of growing. Tension is needed to take you from Point A to Point B. So expect frustration to be a part of the equation from time to time and take heart in knowing that it's temporary and it's actually a driver of growth. Frustrated people grow; they aren't content to stay where they are.

Is your job stressful?

Yes and no. I believe there is good stress and bad stress. Bad stress comes from being trapped in a dead-end job that you loathe and you feel like you are slowly dying inside. If you find yourself in this situation, you need to find a way out fast. Good stress, similar to frustration, can still take it's toll on you if it gets out of control. But when managed, it pushes you to exceed your potential and step out of your comfort zone. It shows you what you're made of and what you stand for. Learning how to manage your stress so that it doesn't affect your health and using it to channel energy into achievement is key. Use stress and pressure to motivate and drive you towards your goals. But do not internalize it to the point where you are making every decision into a do or die situation.

What happens when someone says you can't do something?

The first thing you need to know is that a lot of people are going to say you can't. A lot of people are also going to say you can. No matter how great you are, you will always have a lot of naysayers; that's just part of life. You can't avoid critics and still do something great. I always use to think I could take on the critics and change them through outstanding performance in my business. In other words, I figured I could prove them wrong and then win them over. What I now have enough experience to know is that you can't change anybody. Perform to the highest possible levels in your business and life for yourself and for those you serve. But don't waste time and energy trying to change somebody else. Simply accept that this particular person (or people) are against you, don't take it personally (it never is) and move on to others who are supportive.

What's the most important trait for success?

I get this question almost every time I give a speech on anything. It's a loaded question because there are a lot of traits that often need to be adopted together in order to be successful. Traits such as discipline, constant learning, practice and perseverance. But if I were to choose any one quality and single it out as a predictor of sustained success over a long period of time, it would definitely be focus/persistence. Now I combine these two together because they need to be inseparable for it to work. Entrepreneurs are always guilty of shiny object syndrome. Everyday we are excited about a new business opportunity that is better than the last. We are constantly tempted to drop what we are pursuing to chase the newest shiny object that is sure to bring us success. This is why the failure rate for entrepreneurship is so high. Almost every successful entrepreneur I know didn't see true sustained success until they became so fed up that finally one day they resolved to stick to just one business idea no matter what, for as long as it took to be successful. It doesn't matter what type of business it is. Anything that you focus on intensely enough and pursue persistently enough for a long period of time, it will eventually be yours.

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