Timeless Advice I Wish I’d Followed Earlier in My Career

1. Learn to smile at trouble

Michael Thompson
7 min readDec 10, 2020

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“Knowing what you know now, if you could go back to when you were about to graduate from college and give yourself advice, what would you say?”

I was asked this question a few weeks ago while giving a Zoom talk to university students in the US. After I was done, one of the students suggested I expanded my short speech into a long-form article.

In addition to choosing hobbies that strengthened my brain cells instead of ones that killed them, below are the pieces of advice I touched upon along with a few extras I’ve been thinking about.

1. Learn to smile at trouble

One of my closest childhood friends has built and sold multiple 8-digit businesses. A few years ago when I asked him for his best piece of career advice he gave a hat tip to a woman he worked under when he started his career —

“I need 3 things from you while we‘re going through this troubling time. I need you to be punctual. I need you to be present. And I need you to be positive.”

Getting angry when things go wrong is the easy choice. However, the people who make an impact in the world while gaining the trust of their peers, work hard to focus on the things they can control. And they start by learning how to properly manage their emotions.

Train yourself to become a forward-thinker when life pushes you back. Make sure the people on your team are okay instead of adding to the hysterics. Brainstorm ways to identify the positive aspects of each negative situation in order to take just one step forward.

Then, if you’re still pissed, grab a friend, go outside, and unleash hell for a few minutes before getting back to work.

Sebastian Nadal, father of tennis champion Rafa Nadal got it right — “A tennis match has never been won by complaining.”

2. Make friends with people who play on the edges of your sandbox

When I began writing I reached out to one writer a week who was typing words that…

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Michael Thompson

Co-creator of two cool kids with an equally cool woman • Word strategist • Storytelling coach • Free "story" guide: https://bit.ly/3h1KZeT