5 Radical Habits of the World’s Greatest People

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Five “outside the box” hacks for 2017.

To complement our 2017 New Year Resolutions from Vietnam’s top performers, we’ve compiled a short list of radical habits used by the world’s most renowned individuals. If you lacked momentum in 2016, consider this article a getaway car to something new. Work a few of these into your daily routine, and be mesmerized by the results.

Rehearse worse-case scenarios.

“Bran thought about it. ‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’ ‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.” ― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Many wish to take a year off and travel around the world. Some want to quit their jobs and become professional DJs. But when such ideas are visited, fear creeps in. Their businesses may falter. Their incomes could dry up. Their personal affairs could fall apart. Such thoughts kill dreams and spawn complacency. One solution proposed by Seneca, the father of Stoicism, is to set aside time to rehearse worst-case scenarios.

When done, many realize their fears were exaggerated. Taking a year off work might set your bank account back a little – but it is unlikely to reduce your standard of living. Even then, you can have a blast traveling through cities like Saigon for under $20 a day. As for your career, the years of experience you had before leaving will still be under your belt. When they resurface, you may discover new ways to generate value inspired by your travels.

Cities like Saigon offer incredible startup hubs, so you could even test new ideas as you travel. Old and new employers will be enticed by your unique experiences – they will  also be envious of your courage. Tell them about how you conquered the world’s largest cave, or flirted with Lady Buddha. Maybe you rode an ostrich across a rainforest.

Even if worse case scenarios materialize, getting back to where you were is usually not that difficult. Should you lose a present job, finding a new one may only take a few months. That cost is outweighed by a year of life-changing experiences. You could also deploy hedges beforehand – it is okay to go chasing waterfalls if you bring padding.

After realizing downsides are often exaggerated, revel in the upsides. You could discover new cultures and incredible people through travel. You could experiment with radical ideas that generate tremendous profit. Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao became Vietnam’s first female billionaire doing precisely that. She built VietJet Air from a small low-cost carrier into one of Vietnam’s largest airlines  by having her flight attendants wear bikinis.

Come up with ten new ideas everyday.

“All achievements, all earned riches, have their beginning in an idea.” – Napoleon Hill

Taken from hedge fund manager James Altucher. Your idea muscle is a superpower. The more ideas you come up with, the more likely you are to chance upon “out-of-the-box” solutions and billion dollar business proposals (check out three lessons from entrepreneur Kieu Hoang to learn more about building billion dollar businesses via blue ocean strategies).

For perfectionists, this may start out difficult because they get stuck on making every idea great. If you try to make everything fit perfectly, you may get you stuck on two or three ideas for hours – which is not ideal. If you encounter this hurdle, commit to coming up with twenty ideas instead of ten.

The drive for quantity over quality will jump-start your momentum, giving you both more ideas and the ability to filter later. For basic examples, think of ten ridiculous things you could invent, ten businesses where you could cut out the middleman, and ten ideas for the sharing economy. For inspiration, check out sharing economy startups Event Puff and Glampy.

If you are a writer, try ten books you could write. If you are a chef, try ten sauces you could make that anyone would enjoy. Follow in the footsteps of legendary Sriracha founder David Tran. For a great time, think of ten hobbies you have that could make you a YouTube star.

Following through with this habit will give you 3,650 ideas by the end of 2017. If you gear this process towards building a lucrative business, it is almost guaranteed at least one of your 3,650 ideas will crystallize into something profitable. If scheduling is an issue, wake up an hour earlier. Brainstorming while sipping coffee is a great way to energize your brain – your new ideas will be the sparkle in your step for the rest of the day. For those interested, Altucher also wrote a book on the subject, titled Become An Idea Machine: Because Ideas Are The Currency Of The 21st Century.

Skip newspapers. Seek real value instead.

“If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.”

Halloween can be amazing. But if you are like most people, you would be annoyed if it happened everyday. Newspapers on the other hand, want everyday to be Halloween. Behavioral economics dictates negative emotions to be more vivacious than positive ones. So writing about what makes readers anxious and angry gets more traffic – and hence is better for business.

Both James Altucher (mentioned above), as well as Nassim Nicholas Taleb – the author of The Black Swan – recommend skipping the news. What is truly important to your life will find its way to you. Save the extra hour for writing new ideas, reading great books, or exercising. Read publications that provide real value such as research reports and lifehacks at VietnamAdvisors!

Build your own Masters degrees.

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

If life is a hundred year dance, we should never stop learning new steps. Less we want to be bored. If you are looking to create your own MBA, emulate Tim Ferriss. Take the $100,000 you would have spent at Wharton and start your own angel investing fund instead. Invest in startups, build your Rolodex, and learn how to manage money. If you have a mind for capital markets, you could also try investing in a high-growth economy like Vietnam. Louie Nguyen, President of Soledad Investment Management, wrote a great Vietnam 2017 Market Forecast to get you started.

Another idea is to break off your $100,000 into $5,000 chunks and test different business ideas every month. If you are looking to do this in Vietnam, check out we provided 250 pages of “how to do business in Vietnam” to get your gears running.

You will reap far more value pitching to real clients than to bored classmates.  For a Master’s in Political Science, dedicate a day every week to volunteering for a political campaign. Write a thesis on a topic of your choice. For example, how different countries react to global events. How do global currencies move with American elections?  You could turn your thesis into an e-book later.

The possibilities stretch far beyond, all you need is a little creativity and the audacity to venture beyond. The costs for such programs are infinitesimal, whereas their benefits are uncapped.

Remove all focus from self.

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” – Margaret Mead

Tony Robbins and Richard Branson are both strong proponents of this. When your focus is on yourself, your insecurities and fears creep in. When your focus is on others, those fears tend to fade and you do whatever you can to help your people succeed. For example, many times when people talk about raising their children well, they are really just worried about their own performance as parents. Everything is still about them.

Try working an entire day without any focus on yourself. If your business is an emerging market, think about the millions who could potentially benefit from the solution you are offering. Examine known situations where assistance is needed, like the recent floods in Saigon. If you are in the investment business, work for the hundreds whose retirements could be made incredible by your work. Dominic Scriven, the founder of Dragon Capital, dreams of making Vietnam a startup nation.

Whatever your business, give your company a heart of gold. For inspiration, look at startups like Efaisto – who give clothing makers thirty times what they get from traditional retailers. Start removing your own net worth from the equation. While this may initially seem counter-intuitive for success, your indifference towards your own ego will remove many of the fears that previously inhibited you. As a result, you may be more rewarded while also discovering fulfillment.

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