It was a warm Fall night outside Caffe Dante, my favorite Gelato spot in New York’s Greenwich Village, when I met her.
The Italian waitresses don’t even ask for my order anymore. Shortly after I sit down they bring me my usual.
1 scoop of stracciatella and 1 scoop of tiramisu.
The thought of it alone makes my stomach smile.
I’ve had gelato all over the world, and to this day nothing compares to this little cafe.
I usually go solo. Walk through Washington Square Park, enjoy the energy of NYC, people watch, and get my two scoops of gelato.
This particular time I sat outside at a table next to an older Italian woman and her little French Bull dog. I’m a sucker for dogs (especially cute little Frenchies because they sound like an old man snoring when they’re awake).
I struck up a conversation with her because her dog kept licking my leg. We got into the Italian culture, travel, and how her husband is a famous artist who’se been commissioned to build sculptures all over the world. She talked about her grandchildren, and even invited me to see her husbands art gallery in SoHo.
It was a pleasant thirty minute conversation. One of “those moments” everyone talks about when you live in NYC.
She gave me her number and address to see her gallery, but somehow I lost both of those and forgot her name.
One thing I did remember was an answer she gave me to a very specific question I asked.
“I’m about to turn 30 years old, and if you could go back and talk to your 30 year old self what advice would you give?”
She said, without hesitation, “don’t worry so much”
She continued, “we try to create drama from nothing so often, but the things we think are major issues always pass, and we forget about them usually within a few months at most. Focus on loving more, and not worrying as much.”
Advice is always easier giving than receiving, but this is something that stuck with me, and it inspired me to share some lessons I’ve learned in my first 30 years of life.
1. Don’t worry so much
She was right, there’s been so much stress and drama I’ve allowed in the past that really doesn’t matter. There are ways to handle situations and instances in your life, but worrying about them never does much.
2. Be extremely grateful for what you have
I was a pain in the ass most of my childhood, always mad at the things I didn’t have. Things shifted drastically in my 20’s where I started putting an emphasis in gratitude. Focus on the good you do have, not the things you lack.
3. Strive to be a better version of yourself every day
Each day we have the opportunity to learn something new, apologize for our mistakes, and become better.
4. Drop your ego
It’s something I continue to work on because having an ego never did anything positive for me and it usually crushes people.
5. Eat clean
I used to eat whatever I wanted and it didn’t matter as much when I worked out 6 hours a day. I still love my gelato from time to time, but I’m all about eating as much organic foods, experimenting with cleanses, and drinking green juice as possible. Focus on what works for you, but educate yourself on what you put in your body.
6. Sweat daily
Movement is important especially when so many sit at a desk for 10+ hours a day. This causes serious aging, illness, and physical pain when you don’t move. CrossFit, playing team handball for the USA national team, and street basketball are my weekly activities. Do something you’ll have fun with and focus on moving every day.
7. Give back
I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of countless people. The support I’ve received from family, friends, teachers, coaches, mentors and so on are overwhelming. Find a way to help others and give back as it’s the best form of gratitude.
8. Frame your goals
I started writing my goals down and framing the goal as if it already was achieved in my early 20’s. I was amazed when I started reaching these goals by the date I had listed on them. It was a daily visualization exercise, and it almost always works. I believe the things you put your energy towards the most, will most likely come true over everything else. Frame your goals.
9. Don’t let others dictate your life
If you don’t want to live a normal life where you go to a job you hate just so you can enjoy your weekends and get two weeks to vacation every year… then don’t do it. It’s as simple as that. Read The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss or other inspirational blogs about creating a lifestyle around a business you want to live. No excuses, just do it already.
10. Follow your passion.
We only have one chance in this life. If you aren’t following what you love, then what are you doing? Why show up everyday to live a life someone else wants for you? Let them live theirs and you live yours.
11. Be enthusiastic about what you do
Vince Lombardi said, “If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you’ll be fired with enthusiasm”
12. Focus on relationships
You can accomplish anything with the right relationships both personally and professionally. People don’t care as much about what you know as they do on how much you care about them.
13. Be open to trying new things
I’ve been an extremely picky eater my entire life, but the more I try if life, the more I learn and become a better version of myself.
14. Feel your fears and do them anyways
My friend and sports psychologist Dr. Jeff Spencer told me this once and it stuck with me. Elite athletes feel fear just like everyone else, but they channel that fear to fuel their spirit and passion for competition.
15. Your childhood matters, but don’t let it control your adulthood.
Don’t let the things that happened to you as a kid control the rest of your life. Shit happens to all of us. Use it to your advantage, learn from it, and focus on gratitude and giving.
16. Be nice to your siblings and love your family.
I used to fight a lot with one of my sisters. It was stupid. My family has given me so much for a majority of my life and I wouldn’t be here without them.
17. Invest in yourself
Grant Cardone once told me to spend all of my money on investing in myself. Learn why this is important and why it’s a major focus for me now in this interview.
18. Attract great coaches
I’d be an angry, messed up kid still if I didn’t have amazing coaches and mentors. They knew how to get the most out of me and teach me about letting go of ego, working with a team, sacrifice, and so much more. The world is a better place because of great coaches. Find one for every aspect of your life and ask them to push you to get better every day.
19. Build a supportive team around you
I have a personal advisory board that I reach out to frequently. These are people I admire, trust, and believe in. I ask them to call me out on my shit and give me feedback when I need it. No one achieves greatness alone, find the support you need.
20. Follow your dreams no matter what
It doesn’t matter what age you are or how little experience you have with something. It’s never too late to follow your dreams. It will be the most fulfilling feeling once you do and you’ll never regret going after them.
21. Forgive yourself and others
Man, have I made A LOT of mistakes and done some stupid things throughout my life. It’s OK. Don’t worry so much. Forgive yourself, and forgive others for making mistakes. Focus on learning from it and not doing them again.
22. Don’t let failure hold you back
“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed”. -Michael Jordan
23. Stay true to your word
Don’t say you’ll do something unless you follow through. Learn to say “no” more often if you have too much on your plate and aren’t able to follow through on everything.
24. Pay off your debts
Some debt is good for building credit, minimizing risk, and so on, but there are some debts that weigh most people down from truly following their passion and living an amazing life. Pay off the debts that weigh you down as it’s an amazing feeling once you do. Read this book by Ramit for help on this.
25. Learn outside the classroom
There isn’t much I remember from textbooks in school. The best part about school for me was learning people skills and building relationships. Everything I know about business, marketing, and making a living has come from mentors and learning outside of the classroom. Find the right teacher and take action.
26. Surround yourself with people smarter than you
The only way to grow is to play against harder competition in sports, or hang out with smarter people than you. I’m always the dumbest person in the room, and I intend to keep it that way.
27. Be happy with nothing
It’s not a fun feeling when you have no place to live, and can’t afford your own food. I don’t recommend doing it on purpose as an experiment. But having lived that way before makes me very happy living my life when everything can fit in a few suitcases. I like luxurious things and experiences as much as the next person, but some of the happiest people in the world are minimalists.
28. Learn from your relationships
People come and go, and so do intimate relationships. Learn from the good and bad ones and stay true to yourself through each relationship. Don’t allow them to make you into someone you don’t want to be.
29. Do something great
You’ve got an opportunity to leave a legacy with your life. What do you want to leave? Each day is an opportunity to do something great.
There you have it.
You’re probably wondering what my 30th lesson is, right?
Well, since I always try to be the dumbest person in the room, I’ve learned to ask the right questions. The right questions ignite innovation, solve problems, create marriages and powerful partnerships, and help us live a better life.
Since I learn from everyone, especially my readers, I’d love to hear your answer to my question. It doesn’t matter how old are you, what’s one thing you’d tell your younger version of yourself? You better believe I’ll be getting some gelato on my 30th, but your answer in the comments section below would be the cherry on top.
Last year, with your support, we built a school for kids in need in Guatemala through the Pencils of Promise organization. This year I’m looking to raise enough money to build another school. I’d love your support, so please head over here to make a donation. Thanks for constantly being my teacher, I appreciate you!