Messages to Your Younger Self

Asking Successful People What Advice They Would Give to Earlier Versions of Themselves Lights Up Business Social Media


Letter to selfAnticipating this year’s graduation season, created “If I Were 22,” and asked 80 or so of its Influencers to share advice to their younger selves and by extension, to all young people. It turned into some of the stickiest, most engaging content thought leaders have ever posted. Directions that are so obvious in hindsight seem to be so difficult to see when looking forward—even to those who have “arrived” in terms of career success.

There were members of the “follow your bliss” path and those who stressed that being interested trumps being passionate. Sallie Krawcheck delivered a reality check to her younger self: “you’ll have to kiss a lot of frogs before finding the right job.” Other contributors stressed career exploration. And there must be something in that: 86% of the Influencer contributors are doing something they never imagined they would.

Some of the advice was counter intuitive: Suze Orman advised herself to not worry about making more money than necessary for a comfortable life. Naomi Simson, the founder of Redballoon, takes herself to task for being so serious and intense, “work won’t remember that weekend you did or didn’t spend there. Your friends and family will remember that weekend you bailed on them to please a boss,” she wrote. And, no surprise, Richard Branson urged his younger self to have a blast and travel. (He is one, even in hindsight, who followed his own advice.)

I agree it’s easy to give yourself that sort of hindsight advice after you’ve made the big time. Even so—and I’ve written about this a lot—a sustained hyper-focus on one thing can lead to tunnel vision. By not taking a breath and looking around on a regular basis, you are bound to miss a lot: from business opportunities to family gatherings. And success is measured in more ways than salary, status and position.

What advice would you write to the 22-year old you? Give it a try. And if you have a blog on LinkedIn, share it with the site by including the hashtag #IfIWere22 in the text.

Take Away: Hindsight is 20/20, but you could learn something for the future by thinking of what sort of advice would you give the 22-year old you.

2 Responses

  1. Tynecia Martin says:

    “Lean-in, explore opportunities and seek mentorship” #IfIWere22

  2. Nicole Lorey says:

    Know that some of your best friends will be the ones you will make at work. Enjoy it.

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