What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20
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What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20

Author: Tina Seelig

Published: 2009 (190 pages)

Started reading: 26.July.2016

Finished reading: 29.July.2016


Brief description

To be unbound by social conventions is a recurrent theme in all of the books I’ve read on entrepreneurship. It’s most of the reason, in my opinion, why individuals with Aspergers-like qualities do so well in Silicon Valley.

It is also the core message of What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20: A Crash Course on Making Your Place in the World. Author and Stanford professor Tina Seelig, who has a Ph.D. in neuroscience, puts it in her own words: “Give yourself permission.”

Refusing to be confined by convention doesn’t mean walking to the shops naked or shaking with your left hand. It means being able to ignore the social norms and narratives beyond laws and ethics (which should be followed) that channel people down popular paths when the unbeaten track makes more sense.Which is much easier said than done.

Despite covering topics like how to negotiate, the importance of failing, being resourceful and thinking laterally, the common thread across each chapter is the ability to be unconventional.

As its title suggests, this is not the most advanced book for older people. But it’s a short read, and you’ll have trouble disagreeing with any of its lessons.


Actionable insights

> Write a ‘failure resume’. The precise opposite of the document you would use to apply for a job, a failure resume is a list of your personal, professional and academic missteps. It helps you to own and learn from your setbacks, but also shows you that failure is a natural part of ultimate success. Check out this ‘CV of failures’ by Princeton Professor Johannes Haushofer.

> In a team brainstorming session, if an individual contributes a great idea, ensure that you elicit contributions from multiple members of the group to build on the original thought. This means the team feels ownership of any outcome and are much more likely to implement it and believe in it.

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