One of the best motivational speeches I have heard came from one of the General Partners at National Services Group; a company that has successfully embarked on over 8 start-up ventures and either sold them or continued to run them currently. The name of this person is Spencer Pepe; a man so passionate about business, marketing, and personal branding that he doesn’t even use a microphone when he speaks (to avoid blowing out his audience’s eardrums).
In the summer of 2008, I had just started my first business venture, and wanted some direction and motivation in the running of my business. So, when I heard about Spencer’s talk, I made sure I was in attendance. The theme of the talk was being what Spencer called ‘a momentum player,’ and it was focused on budding entrepreneurs and their success. I believe, however, that his theme can apply to all people striving for success, not just entrepreneurs.
It was at this talk that I was inspired to always be aware of and to seize opportunities that come knocking on my door. Spencer explained that at a young age, and even when he was in college, he really had no idea what he wanted to do as a career or what he even wanted to achieve in his future. This is when he described himself as a momentum player; someone who goes with the flow (not status quo) of opportunities. Every job he has held and the company he now runs have all been a result of opportunities knocking, and Spencer answering. He earned these opportunities by developing relationships and displaying a work ethic that separated him from all others he would be seen working alongside.
I was reflecting on Spencer’s story the other day and began to think about my own story. I realized that many of the decisions throughout my life came to fruition not because of careful planning, but rather through opportunities that practically slapped me in the face. I searched deeper into my own thoughts and actions, and found the reasons why I had made my decisions the way I had. First of all, the primary reason decisions had been made were merely due to failed plans; when applying to colleges, I was only going to attend Oregon State University if I received a full ride scholarship. It turns out, I did receive the scholarship, but I wasn’t notified until after I had already filed paperwork for housing on California Polytechnic State University campus. My plan had failed, but not necessarily for the worse; I felt more at home in California then I ever had in Oregon. Second, making decisions based on momentum made life much more exciting: keeping things ‘fresh.’ You hear a lot of people say ‘going off into the great unknown,’ and it’s exciting to people; it is human nature to simultaneously fear and crave the unknown. After examining the inner workings of my brain, I started to understand why I used a certain catchphrase that I have coined, and hence used, so often. That catchphrase had made decision making much simpler: “I might as well.”
What does that mean? Well, start by asking yourself a question regarding any sort of decision you would need to make: “should I apply to (insert school name)?” “should I take the (insert job name)?” “should I ask (insert romantic interest name) to be my girlfriend/boyfriend?” Then, answer each question with “I might as well.” What is the result? You have just followed Spencer Pepe’s advice and become a momentum player! Where there is an opportunity, there is a path to success, or at the very least, a step along the way to another opportunity.
My advice surrounding this mystical catchphrase is this: if you have an opportunity, don’t squander it! You ‘might as well’ take it and in the end, the worst that will happen will be experience under your belt and the ability to say that you tried. Don’t ever pigeon-hole yourself; you want to be open-minded to anything that comes your way. If you are able to do this, you will discover what some call ‘the meaning of life,’ which really just means you will find out what you truly enjoy in life. And of course, you will be able to enjoy living your life that much more.
When faced with multiple opportunities (not a bad problem to have), my suggestion is that you go with your gut. What feels right? What sounds like the most fun? What fits best with what your current needs and wants are, not necessarily what your ‘plan’ is. Who knows, this could be the stepping stone to what your ultimate goal or plan actually is. There’s no harm in trying.
A word of caution: I am absolutely not suggesting that you use my phrase when deciding between using two illegal drugs. This is not a tool or an excuse to make bad decisions. This advice applies to responsible, sensible decision-making: career, school, finances, relationships, etc. It is up to you to determine your own moral standards and to follow them accordingly. In the future, I may give morality advice, if I find people are asking for it. In the meantime, just follow the advice of Dunder Mifflin, Scranton, Assistant to the Regional Manager, Dwight K Schrute: ask yourself “would an idiot do this?” If the answer is yes, then do the opposite of that thing.
Remember, be a momentum player and consequently become successful!