22 Things I Learned at 22

An annual series inspired by Hamza Khan. This is the first edition of many more to come.

1. Allow Yourself To Become Great

No one is born on top of the mountain. That’s a fact. They all had to climb to get there. Allowing yourself to become great means giving yourself permission to look like an idiot, put out cringe content, and fail. Greatness is a process. Every at bat you have is practice. Every missed swing brings you closer to a home run.

2. Too Scared To Start

You really wanna do that thing. But you’re too scared to start. Fuck it. Just go and start doing. Accept that you’ll mess up and do it anyway. How are you gonna become LeBron if you ain’t stepping up to the line?

3. More Coffee Isn’t the Answer

Don’t get caught in the #hustle hype– quality sleep will give you super powers. There’s not a single stimulant out there that can replace a good night’s rest. If you don’t take care of yourself today, you’re going to have to pay for it tomorrow.

4. Play the long game.

The goal of the game is to stay in the game. You can’t stay in the game too long if you’re skipping sleep and stuffing yourself full of Popeye’s. Sometimes you need 5 years to get that 1 year where every things pops off. You won’t get that year if you can’t stick around that long.

5. You Won’t Regret Going All In on Yourself

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s fearless leader, runs most of his decisions through what he calls a “Regret Minimization Framework.” This framework is based on one question: if you don’t go out and do X, will you regret it when you’re 80? If the answer is yes, go do that thing.

6. Imposter Syndrome Only Gets Worse

Kanye wasn’t wrong when he said “the people highest up got the lowest self-esteem.” The more I accomplish, the more eyes are on me. That’s more eyes possibly waiting to catch me slip up and tear me apart. That’s when you gotta be on some Jay Z supreme confidence shit, though.

7. Age is Just a Number

We opened DxM Creative when I was either 18 or 19. There have been many times throughout these past few years where I asked myself why anyone would want to listen to me, a kid. I can’t tell you how many times this past year I destroyed that idea. People don’t care how young you are if you can execute. When you do a stellar job AND THEN people find out you’re young af…that’s the icing on the cake. They respect you more.

8. This Path Is Lonely

There have been countless times this past year where I felt like no one understood the challenges I was facing. Because of this, I would isolate myself. Climbing to new heights is emotionally taxing.

9. You’re Not for Everyone

You won’t win if you try to please someone else. Gary Vee’s always saying that creativity is subjective. So is your personality. Don’t dampen who you are just because one person doesn’t vibe with you.

10. Don’t Pander to Clients

No one hires a plumber and then tells them how to do their job. The client has hired you to fill in blanks for them. If they don’t respect your expertise, fire them.

11. Raise Your Price

Competing on price is a race to the bottom. When you cut your fees just to win a client, you’re sending the wrong message. Desperation is not a sustainable business model.

12. Build Repeatable Processes

As your business grows, there will be more valuable items that demand your attention. You won’t be able to be hands-on with everything. Build processes that enable you to successfully delegate to your team.

13. Show Up and Follow Up

Being in the right place at the right time will do a lot for you. Continuing the conversation will do even more. Consistently showing up and following up will make you hard to ignore.

14. Qualify Slow

This applies to business and personal relationships. Don’t spill all your secrets to everyone the minute they meet you. Investing the time upfront to get to know your prospect/acquaintance will save you time/money/pain over the long run.

15. Your Customers Don’t Care About Your Ego

Don’t spend five more hours refining your copy because it’s not good enough for you. If it’s not doing anything for your customers it doesn’t matter. Only invest your time in things that will enable you to deliver more value to your customers.

16. Don’t Ask for More Hours

Ask for more from your hours. Trying to cram in more hours of work is a sure-fire way to burnout. Work smarter. Look for how you can optimize your time to maximize your output.

17. Budget for Procrastination

Build your schedule around your well-being. We all think we’re going to work for 14 hours straight, but that’s not realistic. Taking breaks is healthy and very necessary. You need breaks to keep working.

18. Personal Rituals are Integral to Your Success

If I don’t hit the gym in the morning or miss too many prayers, I feel
off-balance. My personal rituals help keep my head in check. They remind me of the bigger picture. Whatever your thing is, stick to it.

19. Graduate from People

This is something I picked up from Daniel Lewis. Graduating from people means you respect people’s views of you, but your self-worth isn’t predicated on their validation. Have the courage to be yourself. Authenticity is a long-term strategy.

20. Effort is All You Have Control Over

Results are out of your hands. Sure, you can definitely influence it. But there is no way you can guarantee how many clients you will sign. The only thing you can control is what you put in.

21. What Got You Here Isn’t Enough to Take You to the Next Level

When you reach your goals it’s easy to think that you’ve just gotta keep doing what you’ve been doing to get to that next level. That’s not true. Achieving higher levels of success require you to think and move differently.

22. Representation is Important

I’m lucky enough to have mentors around me that look like me. Hearing about the tribulations more accomplished South Asian-Muslim entrepreneurs had to overcome is invaluable. Seeing someone who looks like you win gives you the confidence and support you need to succeed.

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Currently building @DxMCreative and sharing lessons along the way at astawa.ca

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Astawa Alam

Astawa Alam

Currently building @DxMCreative and sharing lessons along the way at astawa.ca

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