14 things I wish someone told me when I was in college

I’ve written this open letter for first-time marketers who happen to be in college and recent graduates. These are ideas that I wish I knew early on when I got started, because in retrospect they would’ve make the journey less painful.
These are a bunch of ideas that would help every first-time marketer to level up and make the difference.

Ideas need time to be baked.

Don’t judge things within your first glance. “Argue like you’re right, listen like you’re wrong”. I don’t know who said that but it changed my life. The key here is listen. Truly listen. And that means processing that information and deliberately think about it. Otherwise you’ll end up reacting, not responding. Big difference.
It’s not casualty that this is the first point. Be open to the points I’m sharing with you, let them be cooked and read this list again in a few days. You’ll see things you wouldn’t see otherwise.

It’s up to you to follow the standards.

While you’re in college you’ll follow an established standard, but it’s up to you to choose to follow it. That means you can speed things up and follow your own rhythm. Do you have to wait until third to take a third level class? It’s up to you. You don’t have to wait.

Half the battle is within yourself.

That’s one of the hardest part you’ll have to overcome. And it’s difficult as hell. Your family, friends, and you included will try to stop you. Shit will happen. And whoever that tells you that is not that bad, it’s because she haven’t been there. Learn how to control your emotions and you’ll leapfrog most people.

Focus on what’s important, not just urgent.

Make the difficult decisions first. Deciding where you want to get and organizing your schedule around it, will take the urgent stuff out of the way. Focus on one thing and deliver it. Avoid social media, your phone, email… Go offline and master your focus, that’s how you actually get things done, not running through the urgent stuff.

The one failing more… wins.

Try different things and see what happens. Launch more projects. Learn how to control the inner voice (aka Resistance—term coined by Steven Pressfield) that tries to stop you. If you control it, you’ll move forward. The key here is…”if I fail more than you do, I win.”

Focus on your strengths.

Acknowledge what you’re really good at, and then relentlessly work your way up. That doesn’t mean ignoring your weaknesses. It means knowing which weakness is getting on the way and fix it until it allows you to move forward. Ignore completely (or outsource) the ones that don’t require your personal touch.

Make big promises… And deliver them.

That’s the path to success. But hey! If you know there’s no way you can keep that promise don’t do it. Otherwise, that’ll become your brand. And what’s a brand anyway? A brand is the promise you make and the expectations people have. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. Always keep your promises. And if you can, over-deliver.

Question everything.

Question your professors. Question authors and experts. Questions the ideas in this post… Question if the company you’re going to work for actually care about you. Question everything.
Doubt about everything.

There’s no plan.

Forget about the idea of getting an internship in a company and work there for years (ups, sorry).
What you have in mind right now will change in the future. You will change. Your priorities will change. The market will change. But principles last, so your first interactions with the market are really important. And your principles happen to be a compass. You can’t make a plan, but you can develop a compass that shows your true north and adapt your strategies when new information comes in.

Read. A lot.

And keep reading after college. Those who don’t read won’t be able to cope you. So, find time to read. Make time to read. And don’t speed read. If you have to optimize something is the time you spend without reading, so you can read more hours. The purpose of reading is not “how many books you can read”, but what value you extract from them. This is game changing.

Become better at writing.

It’s not about using more and complex words. It’s about getting to the core of the idea with less words as possible. When you write there’s a transaction: the reader (right now, you!) donates you a precious resource… her time. So offer something worth reading. How do you do that? Writing. A lot. That’s why I’m enamored with the idea of blogging every single day. It pushes you to deliver an idea a day. After a few hundred posts you won’t be the same person…
Writing clears your thinking and it will take you further than people who don’t write. Start a blog even if no one reads it. Preferably under your name. And make predictions in public.

Travel more.

It’s one of the most insightful ways to feed your creativity and understand people. Traveling is a great way to introduce yourself into another culture and see things how they see them.
If you don’t escape from your own environment—your comfort zone, you’ll never know what’s out there and how it might help you in the future.
Live abroad for at least a year. Seek cultural contrasts (Asia is a great place to start).

Do you want a casual life?

Is it worth hanging out with some people you don’t really enjoy? Or doing something that don’t give you great value? Reading and working is not everything, of course. But if I have to choose between reading a book and hanging out with people I don’t enjoy being with, I’d choose the first one.
Use that approach for everything, and you’ll life become better. Better friends, better relationships. As Derek Sivers says: “casual people end up having casual lives.” Don’t be casual.

You are more powerful than you think.

For real. You have a keyboard that is connected to millions of people. You don’t need permission. You can get started for free. The only requisite is if you’ve got something interesting to say. And you know what? People at the top will tell you: you know… you’re not as good as you think you are. Ignore them. They’re too busy defending the status quo and when someone shows up challenging it, they get afraid. Ignore them. Ignore people that don’t want to hear from you and find your early adopters.
The right time is now.
Do the work.
We need you.

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Do you like what you read? Feel free to contact me at hello@borjamoya.com Say hi and tell me who you are, what are you working on, and what’s the impact you want to see in the world. I’d love to hear from you.