Five years ago I was inspired by a blogpost from Italian investor Stefano Bernardi. The title was “Reflections and learnings as I turn 30”. When I read it, I wondered what my beliefs were going to be when I was going to finish my 30th round around the sun.

I’m turning 30 today, so I’m ready to share my own reflections. I hope these will inspire someone like Stefano inspired me.

Self

  • Being a good human being is hard work.
  • Empathy is one of the most important skills to have. We’re all different, each one with its own culture, habits, ideas and traumas. Being able to understand others and empathise with them allows you to function well in society. Unfortunately, this skill is both extremely rare and under-appreciated.
  • “The hardest part of getting what you want is figuring out what it is”. Understanding yourself is harder than understanding others, and requires some conscious time investments. There are different strategies to do that: sports, meditation, therapy, journaling, traveling. All of these can work, but the most important thing is to always question yourself.
  • Knowing where to go is more important than moving fast. It doesn’t matter how fast you’re making progress if that’s in the wrong direction. Beware of your own biases. Question whether what you think it’s true is real or just the reflection of your past experiences.
  • Beware of decision paralysis. Sometimes you have to accept that you don’t know what’s the right decision to take. Just pick one, being still has its own cost.
  • Don’t lose track of your passions. I’ve been playing guitar since I was 12, and almost stopped after my bachelor because “I had more important things to do”. There’s nothing more important than what makes you feel alive.
  • Life and goals are not step functions, so don’t bet on some defining event that will give you the results/success/growth/happiness you’re looking for. “Overnight success takes 10 years”.
  • Be flexible. Things change, people change, you change. Don’t be afraid to change your mind.

Others

  • The people you have around shape your thinking, energy and time more than you imagine. Pick carefully.
  • Beware of people who claim to have everything figured out and try to push their ideas onto you. Most people don’t have the truth, they’re just louder about their own version of the world.
  • Be radically open minded, but draw a line. Welcoming other people’s ideas is important for growth, but you have to find where your boundaries are.
  • Hanlon’s razor: “never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity, incompetence, or carelessness”.
  • Relationships don’t just happen. Consciously invest time and energy to nurture relationships with the people you care about.
  • Re-evaluating relationships is important. People change faster than our mental images of them. It takes a conscious effort to update your ideas of the people in your life once it doesn’t match anymore who they are (and realising this is even harder).
  • We’re all improvising. Do you feel insecure about your own decisions and skills? Good news: most people do. Or maybe it’s bad news, it depends on how you look at it.

Work

  • The world is held together with duct tape. We often assume that the people who govern us or build the stuff we use know what they’re doing. More often than not, they don’t.
  • You may assume that successful people are exceptionally good at their job. Often they’re not, they just care about what they do, and they invest their energies into it while others wait for their paycheck.
  • Most smart and successful people work in silence. If someone tries to show how good/successful/happy they are, they’re probably faking it.
  • The people you know are as important as the stuff you know. Nurture your network.
  • There’s a ton of money and opportunities in the world. Once you realise this, you can stop worrying and think about how to earn your share by bringing value to people.
  • More money is better than less money. Whatever you do, if you’re good at it you can probably charge more. Again, quality work is rare.
  • Chasing money is dumb. When you’re young, you dream about being paid 100€. When you make 100, you dream about 1.000€, than 10.000€ and so on. I’m far from being rich, but I’ve seen that the endorphins hit of a big paycheck has an extremely short life span. Unless that changes once you reach f##k you money state, but I didn’t get there yet. Having lots of money is probably useless, but having no money is really shit. * Financial stress is awful, and lots of meaningful things in life (travel, passions, time with loved ones) require some money.
  • “Never give up” is bullshit. Time is limited, so hammering on something that is not working keeps you from trying out stuff that might.
  • Good ideas are extremely rare.
  • Highly skilled professionals are extremely rare too.
  • Highly skilled professionals with sound values and good ideas are unicorns. Don’t let these people go.
  • Life is too short to do work you don’t believe in