Forbes recently released its 30 Under 30 List for 2016. The annual selection recognizes young individuals (below the age of 30, of course) who are making significant marks across various industries. This is a prestigious recognition, as Forbes sifted through over 15,000 applications to select 600 unique entrepreneurs, creatives, business leaders, and stars, who are transforming their respective fields. This year’s 30 Under 30 spans 20 categories including art, finance, consumer tech, sports, entertainment, media, and education.
I’m always interested to see who makes it onto 30 Under 30 because I love learning about young individuals who are blazing their own trails. It’s inspiring to learn about their goals and what they’re trying to accomplish in their careers. As someone who highly admires entrepreneurs, I ironically haven’t been the most confident in pursuing my own endeavors. Not until I turned 30 this past April (I guess I’ll never make it on the list now) did that desire start burning. I’ve worked in rigid and traditional corporate environments all throughout my career, and just this past year is when I’ve developed the need to eventually break free and focus on something that’s more meaningful to me. The days where the younger generation has to sit round and wait for its turn are over, as the most innovative ideas are coming from those who are just barely legal to drink or rent car. If you have the smarts, skills, and ambitions, go for it and don’t let others hold you back. Those who doubt are just scared of your potential to impact this world.
Success means different things for different people. It could be making a ton of money, developing a product that changes the way we live, or creating a song that makes someone’s day that much better. At the end of the day, it all requires hard work. As the cliché says, “success doesn’t happen overnight”. To position yourself for success, you need to practice positive habits (and occasionally check DJ Khaled’s Snapchat). Forbes spoke with its 30 Under 30 to identify some habits of those who are successful:
1. Embrace the unexpected
“Everyone has different methods and habits that to lead to their success, especially entrepreneurs. For me, the most important quality is being flexible. There have been times where I’ve had to fly to a different continent on a moment’s notice, extend a business trip for weeks at a time, or drop everything to solve a time sensitive issue. It’s being able to address these unexpected turns that has allowed me to become the entrepreneur I am today. One of the best habits for entrepreneurial success is embracing the unexpected and being flexible in times of uncertainty.”
– Lisa Besserman, founder, Startup Buenos Aries
2. Step outside your industry
“As young ambitious people, we can get stuck in our little industry bubbles, reading and taking in all the info we can find so that we can have “facts” and sound we know what we’re doing. I have seen that living outside your industry allows you to develop radically new insights and potentially revolutionary perspectives. You’ll be so fresh, people in your industry will be like, ‘What?!’ So go ahead, binge watch Netflix, have ton of friends and activities outside your industry, do deep research into some random topic. Live outside your industry, or better, live beyond it.”
– Toro Orero, managing partner, DraperDarkFlow
3. Enjoy the ride
“I’ve been reminded far too often this year that entrepreneurship is a journey, and not a destination. As entrepreneurs we can get so caught up in our end games that we forget to appreciate the small victories along the way. The long days of work, that turned into even longer nights. That first deal you brokered (that didn’t make you an instant millionaire as planned). Even the failures, because at the end of the day it was all a part of this amazing journey. We’re on the best roller coaster rides of our lives. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.”
– Brandon Norman, partner, Everybody Eats Company
4) Make time for mentors
“To be successful, you must have a good mentor: one that will disagree with you, who will challenge you, and who will have the courage to tell you when you are wrong. Through the value of mentorship, your ability and tact as a leader is refined, and your ideas are sharpened by those who have gone before you and have learned valuable lessons. Mentors are critical. No matter how busy you become, make time for your mentor and time to mentor others. Mentorship could be the most important investment you make.”
– Tori Utley, founder, Tinua
5. Don’t ask for permission
“Don’t react to the world. Let the world react to you.” We will often be “the only” in a room – whether it’s the only woman, foreigner, person of color or person under 30. When I was “the only,” I found myself asking for permission so that I wouldn’t “overstep” boundaries or not being my authentic-self so that I could make people feel more “comfortable.” I quickly learned that in order to lead I couldn’t give anyone that much power over me. If I wanted to truly lead I had to become comfortable with allowing the world to react to me versus me reacting to the world.”
– Kerhyl Gantt, brand manager, Nike
6) Pause. It’s good for the soul
“Too often, we get caught up in the moment of daily responsibilities. No matter your trade, the demands of digital working environments and constant availability can take their toll. A lack of “unplugging” from these demands can diminish productivity. That’s why my daily routine requires a pause. Standing still for a few moments each day helps me think clearly and refocus on my goals. Whether it’s listening to a favorite song, sitting in silence, or taking a leisure walk, I’ve come to realize that hitting the daily pause button helps reenergize me for what’s next.”
– Ana Sanchez, analyst, global marketing and business development, Hitachi Data Systems
7) Spend time with friends
“A piece of advice that helps me succeed is keeping one evening a week to spend with my friends. It is hard to do when you are a founder who is always running around trying to keep your priorities on track. But that’s the point. Friends and family should be a priority and not an afterthought. By scheduling in time on my calendar to build and maintain those relationships I am able to keep myself sane and also take a step back and remember what is really important in life.
I love my company and it is a huge part of my life but it does not constitute who I am as a person. My friends keep me grounded and often challenge my assumptions, which usually leads me to better ideas and hypotheses that I can test during the week. They are an invaluable part of my life and I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without their support.”
– Mitali Rakhit, founder, Globelist
The road to success is long and arduous test, and those who are committed will eventually get there. At the end of the day, its listening to yourself and not being afraid to do what you think feels right.
Congrats to the 2016 30 Under 30