How to be a success (adapted from Neil Gaiman’s speech)

Neil Gaiman recently addressed the 2012 graduating class at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, the US. (I wish Neil had spoken at my graduation.)

Neil himself never attended college, yet he is one of the most successful and well-loved authors today, having written adult books, children’s books, comics, a screenplay, etc.

Watch the speech below and be inspired. Although it’s aimed at graduates, everyone can learn from the advice, even network marketers.

Tips for success (adapted from Neil Gaiman)

Top tips for success from Neil Gaiman’s speech

(If you’re worried about oversimplification, watch the video.)

1) Impossible is good.

When you don’t know what’s possible and what’s impossible, it’s easier to explore and push boundaries. In many cases, if someone tells you something is impossible, it could mean they haven’t fully tested the limits of what’s possible. In a field like network marketing, where opportunities are unlimited, why limit yourself?

2) Just do it.

If you have an idea of what you want to do, just do it. Sometimes thinking too much can hold you back from doing something good. Usually the fear that comes with anticipation is an unnecessary worry.

3) Visualise your goals.

Imagine where you want to be as a distant mountain. As long as you keep walking toward the mountain, you’ll be OK. When in doubt, stop and ask if what you’re doing is taking you closer, or further away from the mountain.

4) Failure is your friend.

Accept failure and learn from it. You will not succeed in everything you do, but you can certainly learn from every attempt.

5) Make mistakes.

What do mistakes mean? That you’re trying. It means you’re out there doing something, which is better than nothing. The world is your school, life is your teacher, and mistakes are life’s lessons.

6) Enjoy the ride.

It’s okay to not worry all the time. Let go and enjoy the journey you’re on, because it will probably take you to some amazing places.

Gaiman says this is the best advice he’s ever received, and it comes from Stephen King. So now that it comes from two superstar writers, how can you not listen? 🙂

7) Work hard, work smart.

It’s nice to be lucky, but that’s not something you can rely on obviously. What you can try is to increase your chances. The harder you work and the smarter you work, the luckier you will get.

8) Fake it till you make it.

If you can’t do something, pretend you can, then behave like someone who can. For example, are you terrified of giving presentations? Of course the best thing you can do is learn proper ways to overcome stage fright. But you can also pretend you’re the best presenter in the world, and no one has to know you’re shaking inside.

9) Be persistent and consistent.

Whether things are going well or going badly, keep working away. If you’re a networker, keep prospecting, keep making presentations. Instead of making good art, as Gaiman talks about in the video, you can make new connections.


UPDATE: Added point #9, which I realised was relevant to everyone and not just art graduates or freelancers.


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