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Special Edition: 66 things I know at 30 I wish I would’ve known earlier
My most important life hacks, learnings and insights over the past decade.
I’m turning 30 today.
Since 2013, I lived through 10 incredibly shaping years - through graduating from university, founding my first company, attempting to found another company, moving cities 3 times, representing Germany on an international stage (both in entrepreneurship and sports!), expanding another scale-up to 5 countries, and countless encounters with amazing friends and family.
I’m thankful for everything I have in life:
for the people in my life, from my family, my girlfriend to all my friends near and far;
for the great health I’m still in;
for the privilege to design a job for myself;
for the fact that the world still exists and we get to do all this cool shit.
And, of course, for the fact that I get to write things that other people read (and potentially even learn from).
In today’s special edition, I want to share some things I learned in the last 10 years. I hope they’re also useful to you.
Let’s dive in.
Actually, before we dive in - if you’d like to make me a small birthday present, consider subscribing to my newsletter. :)
The best dating advice is to work on yourself to become dateable. Work out, identify your traumas, build confidence in a few skills, get nice clothes and regular haircuts. Be a person you’d want to date.
Spending money on travel and other challenging experiences is always a good investment. Make memories that will pay dividends for the rest of your life.
Thoroughly audit your habits, both good and bad. Good habits make you, bad habits break you.
Have more "it wasn't smart, but it was awesome" moments. Those make the stories worth telling. (“Klug war’s nicht, aber geil”)
Embrace discomfort. Expanding your comfort zone will never be easier.
Take risks. What do you have to lose?
Journaling is a superpower. Embracing self-reflection will put you ahead of most people.
You probably won't marry your girlfriend from university. And that's OK.
Try a lot of stuff. Say yes to things (the part where you need to learn how to say no comes later in life). You might just find your new passion.
Nobody else really knows what they're doing, either. Trust the German idiom: “everybody else is also just cooking with water.”
You don't have to do anything. Sure, there might be consequences to not doing anything, but always remember that doing anything is optional.
In the same vein, everything you do is a choice. Every morning is a new chance to say yes or no to your job, your relationship, your friends, your hobbies, everything.
The easiest way to get something is to just ask. You’d be surprised how many people will say yes.
Consistency will eventually lead to success. Make it a habit to show up every single day.
Nothing good happens after 2am. Screwing over your next day isn’t worth it in 90% of the cases. Disregard this rule for the other 10%.
Do not engage in arguments with random people online. Chances are you won’t change their mind. Focus on building instead of destroying.
Hedge your identity. You have more than one life inside of you. When you tie your identity to just one thing (e.g. your startup), then you die if your startup dies. Don’t let that happen.
Take time to celebrate. After hitting a milestone, take a moment, a day, hell - a week - to celebrate. Even though it feels like “now, I just have to deliver”, celebrate. These opportunities don’t come along very often.
Dedicate at least one evening per week purely to yourself.
Always bring ice and/or beer to house parties (there’s never enough).
Do what you say you’re going to do. If you do this 70% of the time, you’re gonna be average. 80%, you’re gonna be good. 90% of the time, you’re gonna be great. People love doers.
It’s okay to have dinner at the restaurant alone. Sometimes, it’s marvelous.
“Rules are for the obedience of fools, and the guidance of wise men.” (h/t John LeFevre)
Get good with money: both in saving it and spending it (harder than it sounds).
Health & Fitness
If you're into sports, this is your time. You won't get any more athletic than in your twenties. (Exception: Endurance sports, Golf, etc). The end of my Lacrosse career is approaching faster than I’d like.
Learn proper running and weightlifting technique, ideally with a coach. This will save you a lot of pain down the line. Would’ve saved me months of being injured.
Health is the ultimate flex. Work on and nourish your body and mind every day.
Go to bed around the same time every day, wake up around the same time every day. You’ll go from being super sleepy all the time to actually feeling refreshed. Plus, you’ll have a predictable routine.
Eat more proteins. They are the lego bricks that build your body. 1.5g / kg bodyweight / day should be the minimum. More is better. (I weigh 90kg, so the minimum should be 135g on any given day.)
Spend 10 minutes every day taking care of your body: Yoga, meditation, stretching. Consistency > intensity.
Go for a 10min walk in the morning. Life is better after.
Charge your phone outside your bedroom. You’ll get out of bed faster with more energy.
Sunlight before screenlight. Get some sunlight in your eyes before looking at any screens.
99% of problems disappear after a hard workout and a good night’s sleep.
Nobody gives a shit if you took 6,7 or 8 semesters to finish your degree. Most - especially you - will give a shit about the experiences you make in university. Not doing a semester abroad because you need to graduate in time is bullshit.
Aim to read at least one non-fiction book a month. It allows you to borrow someone else's mind.
It's okay to not have your whole career charted out. At any point in life.
Find out what you’re good at and what gives you energy. Spend more time doing these things, both privately and professionally. (see also: Ikigai)
In a world where most communication happens asynchronously, writing is a superpower. Practice it daily.
There are four leverages to make money: capital, labor, code and media. Early in life, you likely don’t have access to capital or labor (which also requires capital), so learn how to build digital products or produce content. (Naval)
Always have some sort of side hustle. You’ll never know what it might turn into. Could be writing, selling stuff on Amazon, freelancing, whatever you’re good at.
It’s okay to ask for help. In fact, if you don’t, you’ll get stuck really soon.
The biggest leverage for an athlete is his coach. But coaches exist in other disciplines, too. Get a coach for whatever makes you money. (I have one for management & leadership, one for strength & conditioning, and several Lacrosse coaches).
Job offers are meant to be negotiated. Nobody gives out their final offer as first offer. Use this. And read this book.
Time Management, Productivity & Decision Making
Put the most important things first in your calendar. This includes people. Everything else comes after.
Figure out which colors suit you. Then, get a set of well-fitting clothes that you can mix and match. Google Capsule Wardrobe. I wear a black or white basic t-shirt 90% of days.
Eliminate as many decisions as you can so you can focus on the truly important ones. What should you eat? Ask ChatGPT. What should you wear? Use your Capsule Wardrobe. What should you do tonight? Plan it out in advance. When should you train? Ask your coach and plan your workouts.
Apply heuristics to make decisions easier. See something where you think “damn this is good” on the menu? Order it. No need to scroll through the other 271 dishes at the Chinese restaurant. Same goes for things like picking General Practitioners (just go to the one closest to your home). Most of the time, options are very close to each other in terms of quality, and as an outsider, it’s impossible to judge them anyway. Don’t sweat the decision.
Put a price tag on your time. Ask: if my time is worth X € per hour, would I be doing this?
Minimize time spent consuming social media. Most phones have functionality that allows you to set a timer for daily usage time, and/or block them out for certain time slots. Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn, TikTok can be huge time eaters. Understand that these softwares have been designed to be addictive. Like, cocaine.
Focus is also a superpower. Learn how to focus deeply. This will allow you 8 hours worth of work in 2.
Everybody has something that they’re good at. Identify yours, and delegate everything else - to someone who’s really good at it.
If it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t exist.
Build a great morning routine that works for you. Keep iterating. Your mornings make or break your days.
Coexisting with Others
Stop talking about yourself. You won't learn anything new by talking about yourself.
A professional cleaner eliminates 80% of arguments in a shared apartment.
Good things happen when you host parties and connect strangers to each other.
Your network is your net worth. It sounds cliché precisely because it is true. Invest in it.
Meeting people in person is 100X better than meeting them digitally. Make the effort to go see them, both in business and in private. Even if it’s expensive.
Smile at strangers. You might just make someone’s day.
Having a bad day? Do something kind. My go-to is to grab a disposable cup, make an Americano, and give it to a person in need on the street.
Always assume ignorance, not malice.
Always assume people are doing their best to get a job done. Until proven otherwise.
Ask more questions. Everybody enjoys talking about themselves, and everybody has a story to tell.
Don’t worry too much about others’ perception of you. Chances are, they’re as busy worrying about themselves as you are. (see: how much time do you spend looking at yourself vs at others in video calls?)
Most importantly, don’t be an asshole.
Thanks for reading all that.
What would be on your list that’s not on here?
Which point resonated the most with you?
Appreciate you and your readership. Onto the next decade!