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Here’s What Rich CEOs Say to Do In Your 20s

9 minute read

Turning 30 can be a turning point in a person’s life, and career. It’s the point where career goals start setting in and the hunger to land a spot in the corner office increases.

So we asked some CEOs what they would want their employees to have done before they turn the big 3-0. From saving-money to travelling the world, starting your own business and taking risks, here’s some advice from CEOs who have done it all before.

Aaron Smith, CEO and founder of KX Group

The first thing I would say is to travel the world. There is nothing more eye-opening than travelling the globe to broaden your thinking and excel your communication skills with other people and cultures. Worldly experience is priceless. It’s also about becoming more relatable to people which will only reflect positivity back in the real world. By 25 I had travelled to over 40 countries and had lived overseas for 5 years. It was amazing.

Be selfish, risk everything and live life on the edge. Before you are 30 you have no real responsibilities and possibly no mortgage/family that you need to support. Be daring and risk it all for huge success. You’re young, motivated and have plenty of time to regroup if you fail so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The older you get the more excuses you will find and the more you will regret not having a crack. I lost my life savings on my first business at 18 and succeeded on my second at 26. Fail forward.

Taichi Hoshino, CEO of Monetise

Build good habits. Whether it’s time management, work ethic, setting work/life boundaries, exercising, eating well or being disciplined with your personal finances, habits are your baseline. When unexpected moments interfere in your life, it is long established habits that are your saviour. Form them young and they’ll be with you for life.

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Jo Burston, founder and CEO of Inspiring Rare Birds

Learn how to manage up as well as down. Most people I meet in their 20s are busy fulfilling the notion of managing less skilled colleagues, when the real skill is managing up to more skilled and experienced people. The art of conversation and public speaking will take you everywhere in life.

Find your passion and then aim to be the best on the planet at what you do by having a ferocious hunger for learning. Both formally and through experience.

Find a mentor that has walked the pathway you wish to walk. Then be totally reliable, honest and respectful with your time with them. They learn from you too!

Save money every pay. Learn how to budget and get out of home and stand on your own independent feet. Nobody owes you anything. Lose the sense of entitlement. It’s not yours to take.

Start and run a business. No matter how small. If you can learn these skills early, you will learn how to fail with low risk or repercussion. Basic accounting and business skill will support and future endeavours.

Finally, travel and get out of your bubble and get uncomfortable. It will help with acceptance, tolerance, and patience, and show you how incredible our world really is.

Dean Ramler, CEO and co-founder of Milan Direct

Learn the art of going above and beyond and doing more than what you are currently expected to or paid to do. The typical employee does the old 5 o’clock shuffle because that is when the typical work day ends. Everyone has the right to do this. Yet there are a select few high achievers who understand the value of going above and beyond their current pay grade and always look to provide the most service to the company, often staying back as late as I do.

As a CEO you come to rely on the select few who really go above and beyond, it becomes a habit to call on these high achievers to assist in core tasks when everyone else has left for the day. It is no surprise that these same people end up becoming the senior managers of the company, and are the most compensated with promotions and pay rises.

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Philip Weinman, CEO of Locomote

Start your own business while you still live at home. It’s a good time to experiment with a business idea, while you don’t have any real expenses. Find a mentor or someone you that you trust to give you advice – outside of family – who has no financial agenda.

You will learn from your mistakes during this time, and if you decide that you want to move into a corporate environment, you’ll already know what works and what doesn’t. Along with business experience, you’ll learn to make and stand by your decisions – a trait that is highly regarded by Locomote.

Christian Mischler, COO, CMO and co-founder of Hotel Quickly

Travel the world! Explore new regions and cultures, it creates independence and gives you experience that will have lastingly positive effect on the rest of your life.

John Winning, CEO and founder of The Winning Group

Get as much experience as you can – it’s important to have a good mix of valuable life and work experience. Whether it’s a part time job and/or work experience at school, try to immerse yourself in different industries and roles within a business. I drove trucks, worked in a warehouse, did door-to-door and in-store sales.

Be sure to gain a further education that interests you. It doesn’t have to be university, even if it’s just reading books it’s great to have an interest in learning, and curiosity is an amazing motivator. I never attended university after school however the years that followed shaped how I approach my work and how my business operates. From practical work experience within the retail industry, to personal achievements such as competing in many sailing championships and eventually winning a world title, every experience has enriched my thinking and ability to tackle obstacles and grapple opportunities in business.

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Zach Johnson, CEO of atmail.com

Having worn a mohawk in a variety of colours, scuba dived, completed a tour of duty with the U.S. Army and lived in Germany, among many other crazy things, the one sage piece of advise Johnson has is: ‘Live as much as you can and embrace all experiences as they come—fully and completely.’

Charlie Wood, country manager for Dropbox

I’d recommend people should get a few years experience at an established multi-national during their early 20s. The experience people will gain at these companies will set them up nicely for future endeavours. Those who are entrepreneurial in nature, should follow their dreams and bring their ideas to life by starting something on their own or with a team. One of the most important things someone should do before they reach 30 is to travel, they will meet new people and will create new adventures! These experiences will broaden the mindset of any individual to help set them up for their 30s.

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Bevan Nel, MD of Helping

Be disciplined in your management of money, keep a budget…and stick to it!

Secondly, if you’re going to take a business risk, do it before you’re married with kids and mortgage. You’ll be more scared and less gutsy once you have a family and advancing and progression is important early on in your career. Lastly, it’s important to keep in touch with past business associates.

Keep business cards, make a spreadsheet, do whatever it is to keep your contact list ongoing and up to date. Networking is key and you never know when you might need to reach out to someone.

From a non business perspective…travel. travel. travel! That’s what I always tell anyone who is young. Travelling is great for developing confidence, meet business contacts and also a great way to refresh and restart your body and mind.

Kevin Lynch, Chief Marketing Officer at Open Colleges

#1: Learn from your team: As we progress through our careers in our 20s, we need to learn not just from those above us, but also from our broader team. This can ensure that you build a strong foundation by your 30s.

I learn most from my team, the people who surround me. These are the people who make the magic happen, they are far smarter than I am. Our people are what makes us. We aim to ensure that we continue to build on the terrific culture here and ensure it is a great place to work for our staff where people believe in the company’s mission of changing lives through education.

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Levi Aron, GM of Yumtable

Seize the moment, set personal goals early in the game, keep them in check and strive to achieve or surpass those goals. Always remember to reward yourself as you reach each milestone. It’s great for personal recognition. Work hard to push boundaries but don’t forget to smell the roses every now and then. Remember, no goals = no drive = mediocre life, and who rates that?

Nicholas Smedley, MD of Steller

As we are in the real estate game I think it is important that our employees understand the market. There is no better way than getting into the property market yourself.

My advice would be to start saving as early as you can – whether that is through shares or a varied investment portfolio. There is nothing better than compound interest. This gets you into the frame of mind of saving and buying your first property before 30 would be a great start.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider

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