generous success

The very successful people I meet are more generous with compliments.

Be like those people.

mantis shrimp

Which animal do you think has the best eyes? Intuitively, I guess I’d say eagle. The animal with the best eyesight in fact, is called the mantis shrimp. Humbly assuming that there is a chance you may have never heard about this animal.

It’s all about acknowledgment. Success is what people notice of what you did, how they acknowledge your work, and how they reward you for it.

Even though actions speak louder than words, you, and your business, could be the very best in a particular domain. However, without claiming that title, without manifesting your status, another inferior party might be considered as the actual best.

Be a mantis shrimp and an eagle simultaneously.

do right

Ultimately, success is defined by the extent to which you did right by the people who trusted in you.

success requires no explanation

“Success requires no explanation; failures must be doctored with alibis.” That’s what Napoleon Hill said. In my mind, that translates to explaining how success came to be, in hindsight, is easy. However, a multitude of factors undeniably played a role in achieving success—timing and location, among many others. Failure, on the other hand, is equally easy to explain. Post-rationalizing everything that went wrong, coming up with an explanation and excuse at the same time.

One is, however, more honest than the other. At least, if you take away the blaming aspect from explaining the failure. For instance, the product failed because the customers were too stupid to understand how to use the product. Considering that the market is always right, externalizing the blame doesn’t provide a fertile environment where learning opportunities are plentiful. In short, the product maker was too stupid and arrogant to make a product customers wouldn’t be able to understand.

Why is explaining success sometimes dishonest? Because the need for rationalization is smaller. Both from an internal and external point of view.

When people fail, we try to look for answers within to make peace or amends. Other times, the outside world demands explanations.
When people succeed, the need for answers is reduced.

Success to me is understanding failure, without blaming anything or anyone, on the one hand, combined with understanding, rationally, why success manifested itself on the other hand.

suffer on purpose

Owning property is “fun” until something breaks, and there is no landlord to call. Sometimes we suffer because of something we forgot we asked for in the past.

Many entrepreneurs suffer tremendously. Always on, never not working. Long days and short nights. Heavy-weighing pressure with people depending on the entrepreneur. The list goes on.

Obviously, (almost) nobody asks for extra distress. Entrepreneurs choose to suffer on purpose temporarily to create a better outcome down the road.

impress yourself

Trying to impress someone has very little to do with you. It has almost everything to do with the actual person you’re trying to impress. Maybe the person is easy to impress, or quite the opposite? Perhaps they’re having a bad day? Chasing values that you have no control over at all is generally not the best idea.

Like Ernest Hemingway once said: “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”

If you must impress someone, impress yourself.


An athlete breaking the world record for a hundred meters sprint is obviously an exceptional human being, capable of extraordinary performance. Athletes don’t get to the point where they break a world record by playing solo slim.

What about the parents that brought them to every training? The trainers pushing the athlete when they thought they couldn’t go on anymore. The physicians, the fans, a whole entourage, all assisting the athlete. When the athlete wins, the entire team wins.

I often hear: Rome wasn’t built in a day… Well, it sure wasn’t built by one person alone either.

The way to win in life is to look for synergies and keep looking for new ones as you go along.

i need you to want me to win

We’re products of our environment, and we take after people we spend time with. Knowing this, depending on what we’d like to achieve, we could change our environments. We could even hang out with different people. Birds of a feather flock together after all.

One of the best pieces of entrepreneurial advice I ever got is this; smart people will save your business. Uncomplicated, straightforward, and most entrepreneurs will realize this by default. However, when you’re in the trenches, it’s easy to forget to reach out to friends and mentors or even networking altogether.

In “Don’t Push Me50 Cent raps; I need you to care for me, and I need you to want me to win. I need to know where I’m heading ’cause I know where I’ve been”.

Actively look for those people who are cheering you on relentlessly. Not the ones who, after the facts, say, I was with them from day one, and I always knew they’d make it. No. People who actively lift you up.

People who don’t wholeheartedly want you to win have arguably little to contribute to your life.

fake it till you break it

Insincere behavior can’t be hidden. Sooner or later, it will surface. Some people suffering from imposter syndrome aren’t suffering from imposter syndrome. They’re imposters. Not an attempt at delegitimizing imposter syndrome because it’s a real and debilitating limitation for some people.

Fake it till you make it sounds cool. Perhaps one of the reasons it’s an overly popular cliché. Again, ingenuine behavior bubbles are easy to burst. That’s why pretending to be someone who already made it is terrible advice.

Faking (power) poses and non-verbal communication is something else. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy, PhD explains in her “Your body language may shape who you are” TED talk; there are ways for us to trick our minds into boosting our confidence. This idea is often summarized as fake it till you make it, but the risk of misinterpretation is substantial.

I prefer people around me behaving sincerely. However, at the very beginning of launching a new product or service, there is some room for faking.

Aiming for a billion users certainly shows ambition but won’t happen overnight. That’s why there is absolutely no use in replicating Facebook’s infrastructure to serve one billion customers. Still, the image of your company should exude that very same ambition even though it can only, temporarily, serve ten customers.

Fake it till you break it.

There is no need to over-engineer the infrastructure and (production) processes from the start. Keep your company as lean as possible up until the point it is about to break. However, a clear vision and some preparations should be in place to jump to the next level at the very moment it’s required.

how to step by step

How-to guides get under my skin. Follow these seven easy steps, and you, too, will be successful. Especially tip number five surprised me.

The writers of the tv-show Grey’s Anatomy once had one of their characters say this. The problem with all the how-to, step-by-step books is they don’t take into account the exceptions to the rules. They never leave room for the outliers, the geniuses, the miracles.

Following step by step in the footsteps of a flourishing company, one that made it in your field, isn’t likely going to make yours successful.

Don’t optimize for success. Optimize for not failing.