13 Things I Wished I Learned Ep 458



In this episode, the host of "The Game" podcast shares 13 valuable lessons learned post-college that he wishes he knew earlier, aimed at guiding listeners in their business and personal growth. He emphasizes the importance of humility, listening more than speaking, and the power of goodwill compounding faster than money. He also discusses the significance of focusing on a few worthy tasks and doing them well, the impact of sacrificing for success, and the cyclical nature of entrepreneurial growth. Additionally, he touches on the concept of ignorance tax and the benefit of paying for knowledge to accelerate success. Throughout the conversation, he reflects on personal anecdotes and mindset shifts that have shaped his journey to building acquisition.com into a billion-dollar portfolio.

Summary Notes

The Vast Difference Between Good and Great Work

  • The effort required to transition from good to something great is exponentially higher than most anticipate.
  • Selectivity in choosing worthwhile endeavors is crucial for significant accomplishments.
  • Great work demands a meticulous and dedicated approach.

"The ocean between good work and great work is vast. It's five times, ten times the work to go from something good to something great."

This quote emphasizes the magnitude of effort and dedication required to elevate work from good to great, suggesting that achieving greatness is not merely a step up but a vast leap in commitment and quality.

Business as a Game and Building a Billion Dollar Portfolio

  • The speaker views business as a competitive and strategic game.
  • The podcast aims to document and share lessons learned from building a successful business empire.
  • The goal is to help others grow their businesses and potentially collaborate on large-scale projects.

"The wealthiest people in the world see business as a game. This podcast, the game, is my attempt at documenting the lessons I've learned on my way to building acquisition.com into a billion dollar portfolio."

The quote reveals the speaker's mindset that business is a game to be played with strategy and skill, and the podcast serves as a medium to share insights from their journey in building a significant business portfolio.

Learning by Assuming You're Dumber

  • Adopting a humble approach to learning can lead to better decision-making.
  • The speaker struggled with the transition from the academic environment, which rewarded self-promotion, to the real world, where listening is more valuable.
  • Realizing the importance of listening over talking was a critical lesson for the speaker.

"You make better decisions and you learn more by assuming that you're dumber than everyone else."

This quote captures the essence of a learning mindset that values humility and open-mindedness over the need to prove one's intelligence, leading to more effective decision-making and personal growth.

The Power of Listening and Positioning

  • The speaker learned to listen more and talk less in order to learn from others.
  • Allowing others to speak can reveal their character and knowledge while positioning oneself as a listener.
  • The speaker realized the strategic advantage of being edified by others rather than self-promoting.

"If you talk less and listen more, which is why this is somewhat of a platitude, it's easy to understand and hard to do."

This quote highlights the common understanding that listening is important yet difficult to practice, especially for those accustomed to dominating conversations.

Earning Self-Respect Through Behavior Change

  • The speaker initially struggled with a poor reputation due to irresponsible behavior.
  • A pivotal conversation with their father led to the realization that self-improvement was necessary to change public perception.
  • The speaker's efforts to earn their own respect eventually led to a shift in how others viewed them.

"The hardest respect to earn is one's own."

This quote underscores the idea that self-respect is foundational and often the most challenging to achieve, but it is critical for personal transformation and external recognition.

Controlling Public Perception Through Language

  • The speaker learned that in business, providing simple language for others to describe your product or service is vital.
  • Clear communication allows others to easily convey the value of a business, which is essential for marketing and reputation.
  • The speaker adjusted their business's mission statement to be more relatable and understandable.

"If you want to control what people think, control what they say."

This quote encapsulates the strategy of influencing public perception by shaping the narrative through accessible and relatable language.

Valuing Quality Over Quantity in Reading

  • The speaker believes in the profound impact of deeply studying a few high-quality books over skimming many mediocre ones.
  • They suggest that older books often have more to offer because the authors' intentions were to share knowledge rather than to profit or promote.
  • The speaker is selective about the books they choose to invest time in reading thoroughly.

"You get more out of reading one book that's great, five times than out of reading five mediocre books."

This quote suggests that depth of understanding and repeated study of a great work can be more beneficial than a superficial reading of multiple lesser works, advocating for a focus on quality in learning materials.

Intent Behind Writing

  • Authors who write to impart knowledge to the next generation tend to produce better books.
  • The primary goal of these authors is to teach rather than persuade.

Because they want to convey knowledge to the next generation, those tend to be better books, in my experience, because the intent is to actually teach, not to persuade.

This quote emphasizes the distinction between books written to educate versus those written to convince, suggesting that the former are generally of higher quality.

Learning and Teaching from Books

  • Rereading valuable books multiple times is essential to truly understand and remember their content.
  • The ability to teach the concepts from a book indicates a deep understanding of its material.
  • Creating personal frameworks from a book's content helps in remembering and applying the knowledge.

And so I will read a book two times, three times, four times, five times, until I can teach the book when I feel like it is worth learning.

This quote reflects the speaker's belief in repetition as a method for mastering the material in a book.

Behavior Change as a Measure of Learning

  • If reading a book does not result in behavior change, the time spent reading it is considered wasted.
  • Consolidating and deeply understanding a few good books is more beneficial than reading many without retention.

If your behavior doesn't change as a result of reading a book, then it means you've learned nothing, which means it was a waste of time.

This quote suggests that the true value of reading lies in its impact on one's actions and habits.

The Value of Singular Focus

  • Champions often lack distractions that others have, allowing them to focus more intently.
  • The willingness to say no and prioritize is a common trait among successful individuals.

What most champions have is singular focus, and they are willing to say no to everything else.

The quote highlights the importance of focus and the ability to decline certain opportunities to achieve success.

Goodwill Compounds Faster Than Money

  • Goodwill, defined as positive sentiment and influence, can grow exponentially through human connections.
  • Focusing on building goodwill can be more advantageous than immediate monetary gain.

Goodwill compounds faster than money. And the reason for that is if you actually think about what goodwill is, it's that you have positive sentiment and you have a degree of influence over a person's behavior.

This quote explains how goodwill can increase rapidly due to its relational nature and can later be converted into financial success.

Mortality and the Weight of Others' Opinions

  • Awareness of one's mortality should diminish the importance of others' opinions, especially if they lack context or a vested interest in one's success.
  • Personal beliefs and reality should guide decisions rather than external judgments.

You're going to die. And two weeks after you die, most people will have forgotten about you.

This quote serves as a reminder of the fleeting nature of life and why others' opinions should not overly influence one's life choices.

Extraordinary Accomplishments from Ordinary Actions

  • Consistency in performing ordinary tasks over a long period leads to extraordinary results.
  • The commitment to an action, rather than the action itself, is what distinguishes extraordinary individuals.

Extraordinary accomplishments come from doing ordinary things for extraordinary periods of time.

The quote encapsulates the concept that persistence and dedication in seemingly mundane activities can lead to significant achievements.

The Importance of Doing Things Well

  • Prioritizing tasks and dedicating sufficient time to do them well is crucial.
  • Assessing whether an activity is worth doing at all is the first step before committing to doing it well.

If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well.

This quote underlines the speaker's philosophy that quality and thoughtful consideration should be applied to all endeavors.

Prioritization and Energy Management

  • The importance of prioritizing tasks that align with one's goals and financial objectives.
  • Recognition of the finite nature of energy levels and the decline of energy as one ages.
  • The speaker emphasizes doing fewer, more impactful activities as a strategy for success.
  • The idea that if something is worth doing, it should be done well, with the example of taking a year to write a book to ensure its long-term value.

"And so for me, I spent so much of my energy... I make way more money than younger me did, and it's because I do fewer things and I do different things than I did then."

The quote highlights the speaker's personal experience with energy allocation and how doing fewer, more focused tasks has led to greater financial success.

"Because if it's worth doing, it's worth doing well."

This quote encapsulates the philosophy that tasks deemed valuable should be executed with a high level of quality and attention to detail.

The Art of Negotiation

  • The speaker discusses the realization that almost everything in life is negotiable.
  • There is an emphasis on the importance of understanding the other party's needs and desires in a negotiation.
  • Negotiation is not a zero-sum game but rather an opportunity for both parties to benefit.
  • The speaker advises against sacrificing one's values during negotiations and stresses finding a balance between immediate and long-term needs for both parties involved.

"And so there were so many things when I was coming up... I always just took things at face value."

The speaker reflects on their past approach to negotiation, which was more passive and accepting of initial offers without question.

"Because the thing is, if you really think about it, I negotiated everything in that second example, including my values..."

This quote conveys the speaker's realization that in their pursuit of negotiation, they had inadvertently compromised their values, which was contrary to their desired way of conducting business.


  • The speaker challenges the negative perception of humility, offering a different perspective on the trait.
  • The definition of humility is explored, with a focus on increasing regard for others rather than thinking less of oneself.
  • The speaker shares personal experiences, indicating that giving to others and serving the group can lead to increased status and respect.
  • Humility is positioned as a means to achieve status through service and respect, rather than through demands or posturing.

"And so this is especially true for guys... But in a group, especially an all male group, if you want to gain status, the way you do it is by sacrificing more for the group than everyone else does."

The speaker shares insights into group dynamics, suggesting that contributing to the group's well-being can lead to increased status within the group.

"Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking more about other people and increasing your regard for their needs."

This quote provides the speaker's adopted definition of humility, which emphasizes the importance of valuing others and their needs.

Emotional Well-being and Expectations

  • The speaker reflects on their younger self, characterized by anger and a darker outlook, driven by perceived judgments and unrealistic expectations.
  • A shift in perspective is described, focusing on understanding that people's actions are often motivated by a desire to feel better, rather than personal affronts.
  • The speaker shares a saying that contrasts the many desires of a happy person with the singular wish of a sad person to no longer feel sad.
  • The speaker acknowledges the tendency for individuals to seek immediate relief from sadness through substances, highlighting the importance of addressing the root causes of emotional distress.

"The happy man has a thousand wishes the sad man has one."

This proverbial statement contrasts the broad aspirations of a content individual with the focused desire of an unhappy person to simply overcome their sadness.

"And so when I think about things that I used to think people were wronging me... I use a different frame now, which is they just wanted to feel better."

The speaker shares a personal revelation that reinterpreting others' actions as self-motivated attempts to feel better has led to greater peace and reduced anger.

Acceptance and Focus on Action

  • The speaker discusses the importance of quieting self-judgment to focus on action.
  • They mention the use of a personal mantra to overcome feelings of inadequacy.
  • Acceptance of the current state led to progress and a sense of pride.
  • The shift in perspective was spiritually empowering and enabled progress.

"But in choosing not to admit the deficiency between my current state and the future state of what I desired to be, I was able to accept where I was."

This quote highlights the speaker's decision to accept their current situation rather than focusing on the gap between their present and desired states, which led to personal acceptance and progress.

Entrepreneurial Cycle and Learning from Failure

  • The speaker views the entrepreneurial journey as cyclical, not linear.
  • They emphasize learning from both business growth and business challenges.
  • The goal is to minimize the complacency phase and maintain a cycle of learning and success.
  • Failure is seen as an opportunity for learning, which is a positive step toward success.

"Failure leads to learning. Learning leads to success. Success leads to complacency. Complacency leads to failure."

This quote outlines a cycle that the speaker believes is inherent in entrepreneurship, highlighting the importance of learning from failure to achieve success and avoid complacency.

The Value of Clear Perception in Entrepreneurship

  • The speaker believes that shedding false truths is essential for entrepreneurial success.
  • Having a clear perception of reality is compared to seeing a target without a blindfold.
  • They introduce the concepts of "ignorance tax" and "ignorance debt" as the cost of not understanding reality.

"If you see these business people who are super far ahead, and all of a sudden, it's like they can lose it and then they can get it all back again. And things seem so seamless for them. It's because they have a more accurate view of reality than you do."

This quote suggests that successful entrepreneurs can recover from losses and thrive because they have a more accurate understanding of reality, which allows them to navigate challenges more effectively.

Investing in Knowledge and Personal Growth

  • The speaker values paying for knowledge and experiences that reveal "obvious truths."
  • They reflect on their past reluctance to spend money on personal development.
  • Learning from those who are more successful is seen as a way to accelerate personal growth.
  • The speaker advocates for investing in oneself to speed up the learning process and bring the future closer.

"I will pay any amount of money to speed that process up to see the world more clearly in a way that is true."

This quote emphasizes the speaker's willingness to invest in gaining a clearer and truer understanding of the world, seeing it as a valuable investment in their future success.

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