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If you were starting your “career” what would you do differently?

We all start with preconceived notions about what's important, what isn't, what we want to achieve. At every step we learn and you always hear people say "I wish I knew that then..."
Coming from a place of learning and not regret, what do you wish you knew at 16 or 21 that you know now or what advice would you give yourself?

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Max Martinez
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Max Martinez Entrepreneur
Creator

To be honest, when I was 16, I still thought I was going to the NFL. When I was 18, I committed to Cornell to play, and believed my recruiting coach when he told me Econ. was the same as business. Took me two years and a switch to a Government major, but sometimes I wonder if I had actually researched the whole school part of the recruiting process, would I have maybe studied in the world-class hotel school or actually tried to get into the real business school (called AEM at Cornell)? Maybe it would have benefitted me to do the research and I could have studied more business-like classes to better prepare me for the entrepreneurial experience.

When I was 21, I started my first business, a pickup and delivery laundry service called MaxyClean. That's when things got real and I realized I wanted to be an entrepreneur. A few things I wish I knew from that experience are:

-Responsibility is on you to make things happen. Your managers and employees can't be blamed for mistakes made because you hired them.

-Details are crucial. From a confirmation email to the way their laundry was delivered to the shift scheduling process to minor expenses, small details are the most important part of getting your job done. People don't notice small details when they are done well, but they become glaring when they are screwed up.

-It's not about how many business cards you have, but instead how well you get to know the name on the card. I was a social-networking butterfly and knew lots of people, but at the end of the day, it was the people I knew best that helped me out. From spreading the word to raising money, the people I was closer with helped me more.

-If there were one more tip I could give myself when I was choosing a career, it would be to learn some kind of basic programming. It's the common advice these days, but in 2009 I didn't know I wanted to be an Internet entrepreneur. The thing is that almost every entrepreneur has to use the Internet in some sort of capacity; so most entrepreneurs end up becoming Internet entrepreneurs. Everyone relies on the Internet, even successful brick and mortar businesses, so learning how to create your own pages and fixing your own bugs could save you a lot of stress and money. You don't have to become a coding genius, but learn how to read it a little better and understand it.

Dileep Dharma
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Dileep Dharma Entrepreneur
Co-Founder at Web Innovation Labs Pvt. Ltd.
1. Think differently and solve real world problems.
2. Conceptualize and Validate any idea in less than $ 100.
3. Dream something like -https://medium.com/@stevenlevy/brave-new-phone-call-f4064a4e720f
Rob Gropper
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Rob Gropper Entrepreneur
Director at PetHero, SPC - Member at Eastside Incubator - Principal at Tuxedo Technologies Group
Cut your teeth on someone else's dime. the following suggestions relate mostly to the corporate world and those entrepreneurs who may be keeping one foot in the corporate world while waiting for the stars to align. by the way, the stars rarely align the way you plan so don't use that as an excuse. set timelines and move. The corporate world is still a very good training ground for entrepreneurs to cut their teeth and get paid for it. Not that heading straight for the entrepreneurial world straight out of school is a bad thing, but there are many things to learn along the road to entrepreneurial success and learning on someone else's dime can be a pretty good gig. 1. set time lines for your career - don't ever assume you are too young to be the div. mgr, VP, SVP, president, CEO.I used to set those people on a pedestal assuming they had some unattainable, magic combination of attributes that could only be attained after a certain age or tenure. Turns out that's just not the case. That being said, don't assume that because you are 20 something and have some skills that are in demand that you deserve those positions - you still need to earn your stripes. I stared my career out of college as a consultant, got 'discovered' by a client of a client who hired me to start a division. i was the youngest div. mgr. in the company and i struggled with the fact that my entire team was younger than me by quite a bit. I knew a lot of things about designing and building robots, but i didn't know how to run a meeting or play politics or handle myself in front of a customer. Be yourself and learn from the experienced minds around you. 2. lean sales. 3. Learn company politics - they suck, but you have to know the rules if you want to go to the playoffs. 4. learn sales. 5. just because someone has a title don't assume they know what they're doing. That doesn't mean you need to second guess every VP in the company, but keep your BS detecter sharply tuned. 6. Learn engineering and sales. 7. Learn every skill needed to run a company. make a list of the critical skills you will need to run and grow your own company and then seek out opportunities to learn those skills on the job - engineering, sales, marketing, finance, legal, business dev, product mgt., HR (hiring and firing and how to avoid employee lawsuits), etc. If you are an engineer then go talk to the sales mgr. and find a way to get involved in sales...and product mgt, and finance, etc. If you are in sales go find the engineering mgr and find a way to get involved in engineering and talk to legal and find out how to get involved with contracts, etc. Those subjects may not interest you now, but the day you start your company they will be staring you in the face and you cannot avoid them any longer - you will be glad you learned on someone else's dime. Accounting bores me to tears - i don't know how i ever stayed awake through accounting 101! But i had to learn what a P & L statement was real quick in the corporate world and i'm glad i did that when i had experts on hand to talk to. Same with budgeting, sales forecasting, hiring, firing, etc. I never wanted to be a lawyer, but as a VP for a large software company i had the opportunity to deal first-hand with the corporate attorney's and general counsel on important contracts and M&A deals. I can now paste together the salient parts of a sales contract, NDA, sales comp plan, etc. in my sleep and know enough to know that a real attorney needs to review it when i'm done. 8. learn how to manage attorneys. 9. If you work for a company that does acquisitions then figure out a way to get involved. I was working for a mid sized software company that was acquired by a large, publicly traded SW company that was quite acquisitive. i didn't plan it, but having now been through a number of M&A transactions from both sides of the table that process is no longer a mystery. my $0.00002 worth.
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