I Can Teach You How To Become Self Aware

A couple years ago I was invited to dinner by one of my good friends. Closer to dinner time I realized I had made a previous commitment that I had forgotten about. I had also forgot this was my third time ditching him. Days later he approached me and said ¨This is exactly what people hate about you.¨ 

I was crushed. I had no idea what I had done wrong. The part that stuck out to me was when he said the word ¨people.¨ Did everyone think this? Did everyone secretly hate me? Am I really like that?  

Even though I had apologized to my friend and he recanted the statement the words had still stuck with me. I wanted to better understand myself from other people's perspective. I was going to improve my life, everyone was going to love me, and I was going to repair so many relationships.

I was super frustrated. I couldn't figure it out.  Putting myself in other people's shoes just reassured my thoughts of how awesome I am. Is my ego getting in the way? 

Then it hit me.

How can you understand how people perceive you if you don't even understand yourself? Finding out why you do what you do is the key that unlocks self awareness in your brain. Here's how you do it. 

Make a list. Numbered 1 through 7. Starting at the very bottom ask yourself why you do what you do. Your first couple of answers may look something like this (Here were mine) 

5. Relationships

6. Money

7. Freedom

Typical and normal answers. Now, let's go to 3+4. Once again asking myself ¨Why do you do what you do.¨ (My answers again for reference) 

4. Traveling

3. Impact

Now is where you will see the amazing happen. 

Finally you are down to the last two. This is where you will typically see something phenomenal happen. People stop thinking with their head. In fact, they are not thinking at all. They are just saying what is in their heart. My final two answers were. 

2. I want to have an impact on people's lives because of the impact certain people have had on me.

1. I do what I do to prove everyone wrong who ever called me stupid because I couldn't stop talking or sit still. I do what I do to have freedom because I have always felt as if I was trapped in a box. 

These answers need to be authentic, and in most cases from a place of pain. Self awareness is the single most important trait someone needs to have. It gives you the ability to recognize and understand how you tick to reverse engineer what you know in order to make better choices and live the life you want to live.

This post was originally published on Linkedin Pulse

What You Don't Know About Snapchat

Advertising can tarnish your reputation with the younger generations. Yes, I said it. GenZ (America's youngest generation) perceives it as unauthentic. Advertising to them is just a massive roadblock to their valuable time. They value the trusting authentic relationship over your good content. After all, would you constantly listen to a friend who wasted your time and you couldn't trust?

What you don't know about Snapchat is how special and unique it is. 

Snapchat is the only platform that gives brands the tools to almost seamlessly connect with their consumers in an authentic way. Other platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and even LinkedIn push unwanted paid Ads onto your feed making the experience less enjoyable. Content is king, but CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING. Snapchat allows brands to convey their unique message and increase word of mouth through GEO-Filters giving users the chance to showcase where they are and what they are doing.  This is beyond non-intrusive from the user perspective, not only are they getting value, but it is integrated to be seamless and feel more organic. 

Not only is Snapchat unique and special, it´s smart. Snapchat videos and pictures can only be sent for up to 10 seconds. This plays to the millennial and GenZ attention span. If you don't know what it is, let me put it into perspective. 

GenZ has a worse attention span than a goldfish.

The good new is, it doesn't matter for snapchat. Length of snaps aside, the fact ¨advertising¨ is integrated into the user experience makes the platform so much more intriguing to utilize. Disclaimer- Yes GenZ has the attention span of a goldfish, but you cannot look at it like that. GenZ just has a super fast decision making mechanism, meaning they are able to decide what is worth there time in a matter of seconds. Once they make this decision they go all in which can potentially expand the attention span minutes if they deem worthy. 

Snapchat is the future of storytelling, even traditional media gets it. Traditional brands like the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and the Washington Post have all invested into the platform.

Snapchat is growing fast, and it will only get crazier. You need to constantly review your content, and take advantage of the unique and special opportunity you have to be on the forefront of storytelling.

This post was originally published on Linkedin Pulse.

5 Reasons Rap and Entrepreneurship Are Close Cousins

Right now in society two of the most relevant topics are rap music and entrepreneurship. We have parents across the country now “Hitting the whip” and following DJ Khaled on snapchat. Shark tank has now inspired young people all around the country to start viable businesses as early as elementary school. 

After hustling to meeting with the rap star/entrepreneur 50 cent for my close friend’s apparel company, a light bulb went off in my head. Rap and entrepreneurship have so many parallels.

Hustle/Grind

J cole (Rapper) stood outside Roc-The-Mic studios weekly in the pouring rain with a mixtape in hand while wearing a shirt that read ¨Produce for Jay Z or die trying.¨

Do whatever it takes. Busting down the door into the rap game isn’t a feat commonly accomplished, you have a lot of competition with other like minded individuals with the same focus as you, to make it to the big leagues. When Jay Z dismissed J cole as he got out of his car he could have easily stopped trying, but he took that failure as a learning experience. He realized that no just meant a not yet. A year later Jay Z was the one who ended up signing that same kid he dismissed outside of the studio. When you put in the work things have a funny way of working out in your favor.

Daymond John (Founder of FUBU) hustled his way into meeting LL Cool J and convincing him to pose for a photograph wearing FUBU so he could then leverage it to sell product. He ended up wearing the new product Daymond had made for him onto a GAP commercial that the brand had spent tens of millions of dollars airing across the country. So instead of a GAP commercial, it ended up being free advertising for FUBU. Which helped sky rocket FUBU to an industry leader.

The worst thing someone can say is no, if you do not ask you do not get. Find ways to bring value to the person you're targeting and make it happen.

Starting up something from nothing isn’t an easy endeavor. The creativity, perspective, and relentlessness are all characteristics you need to inhibit while hustling to make it.

Creativity

Without creativity there would be no innovation. Many regard creativity as the single most important trait a person can have. The most creative people find ways around obstacles, they see them not just as roadblocks as opportunities. Creativity is a way of living life that embraces originality and makes unique connections between seemingly disparate ideas. Nobody inhibits these characteristics better than entrepreneurs and rappers.

For example, Richard Branson is the king of outlandish and creative marketing stunts. His most recent being the re-creation of the parade in ferris bueller’s day off. This included sing alongs to ¨Twist and Shout¨ and ¨Danke Schoen¨ off to promote the first new Virgin Hotel.

Lil dicky quit his job at an advertising agency to pursue his dream of becoming a rapper. Lil dicky raised $113,000 through a kickstarter campaign to launch his career. He is known for his crazy and funny yet relatable creative music videos and his unique style of rap.

The root of the word creativity means ¨to grow¨ so if we take away the importance of creativity in our everyday lives we can grow exponentially both in our personal and professional lives.

Education

Gary Vaynerchuk (Founder of Vaynermedia) realized his entrepreneurial strengths early in life, and then went all in on them. Eminem realized his love for english and talent for rapping early in life as well. Both faced serious ongoing struggles in school.

This is the circumstance for many rappers and entrepreneurs alike.

I have found many entrepreneurs and rappers realized their strengths and invested in themself from a very young age. Whether it is selling things in class or coming up with ideas. Entrepreneurship is regarded by many as a DNA trait rather than a career choice. Same goes with rapping. After speaking and learning from many rappers in preparation for this article I found many successful rappers had traits that one would pair with being a good artist. Traits such as an interest or having talent in regards to design, entertainment, english, writing, or even drawing.

Many would say they are un-educated. But let me ask you this, would you say Eminem is not educated in rapping? Would you say Gary Vaynerchuk doesn't know social media? No you wouldn't, because they are highly educated on their careers and passions.

Instead of looking at them as test scores we take a more in depth holistic approach at children and adults like this. Rappers and Entrepreneurs are some of the most intelligent creative people on the planet.

Stereotypes

¨That person is an overnight success¨

This statement is easily one of the biggest fallacies related to both entrepreneurship and rappers. Before someone can be viewed as an overnight success in either of these professions there is a ton of hard work put in .

Oprah Winfrey was born into poverty into rural mississippi to a teenage mother. After encountering several obstacles at age 19 she accepted a job in radio and started co-anchoring while still in high school. When her show went national at age 32 Oprah had become a millionaire.

Lil Wayne was raised in a tough Hollygrove neighborhood, after selling drugs and accidentally shooting himself with his mother's gun wayne realized things needed to be changed. Wayne had been creating music since a very young age before joining the Cash Money record label. After putting in the work Lil Wayne is now regarded as one of the best rappers alive and has won Four grammies with seventeen nominations.

I usually hear someone say ¨How lucky¨ when someone brings up the successes of entrepreneurs and rapper alike. Most admit a certain amount of luck plays a role into becoming successful in these fields. However, all will say you create your own opportunities through hard work.

Attitude

Rappers and entrepreneurs posses some of the most crucial personality traits to become successful. Below are three of the most obvious characteristics I saw in both rappers and entrepreneurs.

¨The day you stop learning is the day you stop living.¨- Tetsuyama-san

One thing I see in all rappers and entrepreneurs is the thirst for knowledge both posses. Always learning, always adapting to the times. The most successful rappers and entrepreneurs realize that the day they stop learning is the day they fall behind. Always finding new innovative ways to get the edge is important to them. As Mark Cuban always says, ¨There is always going to be some kid in a garage working while your sleeping to kick your butt.¨

They also both have a undeterrable determination to become their own perspective versions of successful. Many of the obstacles one encounters in these professions seem to be daunting tasks to the average person. Good entrepreneurs and rappers need to have determination so they do not fall in the face of seemingly impossible obstacles to overcome. Rappers and entrepreneurs will encounter many of these seemingly impossible obstacles over their careers.

You can have tremendous amounts of success or failure, but if you want that to mean something you must have perspective. Whether you're evaluating an opportunity, trying to find inspiration, or pondering a recent massive success or failure this trait is crucial. Perspective breeds understanding when faced with a decision. Allowing yourself to take a step back and realizing what is inhibiting you to become successful, or the people that have helped you get there is a tremendous quality.

This post was originally published on Linkedin Pulse

5 Tips For Millennials Trying To Break The Age Barrier

There is a kernel of truth to every stereotype. Yes, millennials are tech-crazy, entitled and coddled. Some have even earned the nickname “Generation Me.” While there are many millennials who fit into these stereotypes, there are just as many bright ambitious young people pursuing their passions.

I sought out advice from five entrepreneurial millennials to find out what skills and habits ambitious young people need to put into practice in order to break down age barriers and, ultimately, change the world.

Act like the best

As the familiar adage goes: “What you think, you become.” But, maybe it’s time to update it to focus on the world’s youth. The idea that “I’m not old enough” or “I’m not smart enough” can stop young people from living up to their potential in the here and now. The sooner you start to act like you are the best at what you do, the sooner you will be recognized as a leader. Influencer Jared Kleinert says it well “Act as if there is no age barrier. Just do the ambitious stuff that actually matters and people will take notice.”

Work with people your own age

You become the people you surround yourself with. Getting involved in communities like the NextGen Summit, Young Entrepreneur Council, General Assembly, and Forbes Under 30 is crucial. President of a Cleveland-based video production company, Mike Clums’ advice is simple: “Don’t work with old people.” The best way to get past the age barrier? Work with people your own age. Team up, support other people in your age bracket, do favors and have fun. Why?  Because it’s all about investing in others and learning to be a leader for your generation.

Dress like an adult

Dress code does not matter, right? That’s what I thought until I spoke with marketing manager Katelyn DeVan. “It can be easy and alluring to say ‘no’ to the traditional ideals of business attire in the name of millennial passion,” she says. “A little bit of polish can go a long way as you encounter other professionals of varying ages. People will judge you no matter what, so you might as well manipulate those reactions to your favor. You don’t have to give up your edge or unique style, but consider the power of first impressions and wear a clean shirt.¨ After listening to her I was completely convinced. Her advice is self-awareness at its finest: reverse engineer what people think and use it to your advantage.

Hone your personal brand

At one point I did not think my personal brand was a big deal. I figured it only mattered if you were someone like Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift. I was so wrong. I was enlightened as to how important it is this summer by personal branding expert Roberto Blake. He explained how personal branding comes down to what your core values are and what you want to communicate. “Your personal brand exists, whether you believe in it or not. Your brand is your reputation, but also the way you make people feel and how they remember you. Your actions craft the narrative the people will share about you long after you leave the room.” Ever since I learned this from Blake I have been communicating my core values via my personal brand, like giving value, and being empathetic and authentic. Self-awareness is crucial. Take a step back. Figure out what value you can bring, and then introduce your personal brand to the world.

Believe in yourself

It was one of those days. I had just made a huge mistake with a big client. Afterwards I messaged one of my mentors, Mahbod Moghadam, founder of Everipedia about what had happened. He had gave me some great advice. “Connor: trust yourself. My cofounders are way younger than I am, and they are way smarter than I am, too. Failure stinks, but you learn from it. And that is how you grow.” Believing in yourself is a major key to success in anything you do. Trusting yourself to come out on top no matter how bad the situation is allows you to dive into anything that comes without fear of failure.

This post was originally published on Forbes.