All my life I've been listening. Now, it's time to speak

• 8 minutes to read

When people turn 50, 30, any other meaningful number, or recover from a long illness, sober up or reach some sort of milestone in their lives, they usually write about what have they learnt throughout the process and/or what are they grateful for.

I am not very keen on these lists, but lately I’ve read a couple of articles that have had an impact on me.

The first one is Days Are Long, Decades Are Short, by Sam Altman (YCombinator). I have a tremendous respect for Sam, even though I have never met him in real life, other than watching him talk a couple of times in Silicon Valley. However, out of all the blogs out there, his is significantly honest and nonchalant, unlike most entrepreneurs’ blogs. It’s incredible how down-to-earth he is despite his status.

The second one is I’ve Been Alive for 10000 Days, by Albert Qian. Unlike Sam, I do know Albert. We met two years ago at Hinge’s launch party in San Francisco and have kept contact ever since. Albert has built his way up to create Albert’s List from scratch, a private Facebook group for job seekers that garners now over 11k people. Albert is making connections happen all around the Bay Area and helping people non-stop. He’s, above all, a really great guy.

I recommend you to read these articles, so save them for later.

My learnings

I’m just pouring my heart out here. As I said previously, I am not a fan of such lists, because I do not identify myself very often with the optimistic all-is-bight-and-shiny approach they take 99% of the times.

As Albert put it: if you spend 10k hours doing something, you master it. Therefore, having lived over 10k hours means you have mastered yourself.

I felt like I found myself when I turned 27. Somewhere along the creation of MarsBased and the realisation of WHAT THE FUCK HAD I BEEN DOING UNTIL THEN? After two years, I think not much has changed, and I feel pretty confident when I say I have shaped who I am and who I want to be in life.

Therefore, I compiled a list for people like me, who do not fit into these generic lists, and that might appreciate that I tell those truths that are hard to swallow. I hope I won’t be too blunt.

Let’s go:

  1. Unless scientifically proven, you only live once. Make the most out of it.

  2. Read a lot. Your brain is a sponge and there’s no limit to all you can learn, so do it. Being an ignorant is a choice nowadays, given the access to all sorts of information that libraries and Internet grant us.

  3. Contrary to popular belief, everybody needs something that numbs your brain every once in a while. Do it sparingly and with moderation. For me, watching football works a lot.

  4. Don’t consume force-fed content. Choose on-demand instead. You pay for it, you’ve got the power over it. Don’t think you don’t pay for it because it’s free. You’re just not paying with money. If the product is free, you are the product.

  5. Defy absolutely everything. Do not accept anything as true just because you read it on the Internet or because a famous person said it. Everybody makes mistakes. Again: being an ignorant is a choice.

  6. Make different stuff everyday. Challenge yourself. Push your limits higher. Are you left-handed? Train your right hand. Are you afraid of heights? Go rock-climbing. New experiences strengthen your brain connections and make time pass more slowly, so you’ll enjoy life longer.

  7. Travel. Do it for business, for love, to get away from your city’s noise & pollution, for a one-night stand, to set foot on each continent, to take selfies with the world’s greatest natural wonders, for a concert, to attend a friend’s wedding, or just to learn new languages and cultures. Traveling is investing in yourself.

  8. Listen to people. Then defy them and follow your gut. Don’t follow blindly but also don’t ignore advice. You make the choice.

  9. Discuss and argue sparingly. Tell someone to fuck right off every now and then to let it all out, but make sure you will never meet that person again. Never burn bridges with people close to you (family, friends, workmates, bosses). It might be wrong to be rude, but it feels so good.

  10. Don’t do yoga, mindfulness, tai-chi, or follow other people’s life advice that does not resonate with you. All these “psychology of happiness”, “find your inner peace” and “be positive” programs/posts/events/coaches are just not for me. Accept it, we are not all cut from the same cloth, so they might not apply to you either.

  11. Being nice costs nothing, but being insincere can be costly. Be upfront without being rude. Be thankful for good services, complain about bad services. Normal services? Smile and pass. Don’t choose them again.

  12. Don’t look compulsively for a mentor or a guidance in life. I learn more when I teach people than when I listen from them. Chances are, there are more people like me out there.

  13. Don’t do things because they are right. Do them for a purpose. Don’t exercise because it’s good. Set goals: do it to lose 10kg and run half-marathons. Do not quit smoking because it’s bad. Do it because you want to be fit when your grandchildren are born.

  14. Life’s not all about planning: take breaks when your body requires it. Your boss will understand, and so will your girlfriend. If not, they are not the right people for you.

  15. Treasure your memories. When all hell breaks loose or when you lose everything, memories will not go away.

  16. Likewise, and as stupid as it sounds, store everything in the cloud. Then replicate it. It’s not funny to lose all your digital stuff. It’s part of your memories, and hence of your brain.

  17. Screw moderation: there are many good things in life that can be enjoyed without moderation: drinking water, stargazing, listening to music and chatting to friends — just to name a few of them.

  18. If you are in pain and you can’t find a suitable time to go to the doctor, ditch that job. If you can’t afford to go to the doctor, ditch that job (or if the health system is private in your country, you might want to move elsewhere).

  19. You might have read about this somewhere else, but you are the average of the five people you spend most time with. Go find these people.

  20. It’s perfectly OK to be 30 and not have a clue of what to do in life. So is being 40 and not having children. It’s also OK to have dropped out of school for a good reason. People who know better than you what’s good for you are probably unsatisfied with their lives as well. Moreover, when the epiphany comes, you will know it.

  21. Use your skills to your advantage. Don’t be too humble: it might hinder your career.

  22. Be assertive. Always strive to grow through self-affirmation, never negating the others.

  23. If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Think this through every time you complain about something.

  24. If somebody comes to offer advice or mentoring because he/she’s a mentor, he/she’s probably not. If you’re something, you do not go around saying it.

  25. Years ago, being on the Internet was a real advantage over the competition. Nowadays, going offline makes a difference. Everybody’s online and you can’t tell one from the other. Eye-to-eye meetings win deals.

  26. Help people for the sake of helping. This is like investing: you’ll waste your time and money in most cases, but the one that pays off, comes back tenfold.

  27. Ask stuff right away. Do not waste other people’s time. Also, don’t be late: it’s one of the rudest things you can do and it just shows how many fucks you give about other people’s feelings. Exactly: none.

  28. Be yourself. Life’s too short to be someone else. So ignore all advice from this post and create your own list if that serves you. Tell me to fuck off in the comments section if it helps you.

  29. Remember #1 and live by it accordingly.

Share your list or points with me on the comments below!

This post was originally published on Medium on 2015-12-09: All my life I've been listening. Now, it's time to speak.

Àlex Rodríguez Bacardit

Àlex Rodríguez Bacardit

CEO and Founder at MarsBased and Director at Startup Grind Barcelona. I run a team of 20 people, where I spearhead the sales and strategy areas. My background in consulting and development (ex-Deloitte, ex-VASS) and my international profile help me with the technical and the business perspective. I love loud guitars, cats, travelling and tacos.