How to Overachieve and Put Yourself in a Position to Be Lucky
Because I’ve been fortunate, I want to do in this article when you are at university when you are in further education, how do you get ready and prepare yourself to be put in a position to be lucky?
I mean, it’s all very well talking about the skills, and I will talk about those that employers look for. The more modern skills we’re looking for, how to make yourself more employable, but even broader than that, I’ve been very lucky.
I don’t just want to say to you, hey, if you sit in these exams, you can get a job in private equity, which is my background, in hedge funds, which is my background, asset management, finance, or law. How do you put yourself in a position to overachieve?
Putting Yourself In A Position To Over Achieve
I trained as a barrister originally. That’s fine, but we all want to overachieve; we want to work X and get 10X results. I’m in business now; I certainly want 10X results.
That’s got to be the way; the return on investment cannot be one for one ever. It has to be 10X. So how do we put ourselves in a position to be as lucky? And some of those pictures, well, I consider them my good fortune. You may not; you may think, well, not really bothered. That doesn’t matter. It’s really what we tell ourselves which will really matter in our lives.
And I say lucky because that’s not exactly the home I grew up in, but it was like that up in Armley in Leeds. So the luck didn’t come from a silver spoon. It didn’t come from some very highly networked family.
It did not come from connections. It did not come from a family that had been in law or finance for generations, none of those things. So if we take as read that we can overachieve, I’m going to use that term for what I’ve done. And you may say, no, no, Alpesh; you are being, what do they call it on TikTok? Something humble, falsely humble. No, no, no. It has been, I’ve always tried to overachieve.
As I said, I want to put in the effort, and I want to get ten times the results. And I certainly don’t want the opposite, which is to underachieve. So how might we go about that? And I say this just to give you a little bit of background; I’ll talk about my government work in a second. When I was at university, I never thought that I would be representing my country. I’d never intended to, but those opportunities came about.
So we want to know, well, wait a minute, how do we get in a position where there are more doors open to us to choose from? And if we’ve got more choices, we’ve got more opportunities to succeed.
We’ve got more opportunities to overachieve or make our lives more productive and fulfilling because we’ve got more doors, obviously. And for me, as I say, when you see the pictures there that had opened up the things which are important to me. They might not be important to you, but what was important to me was working with my government, working abroad because I wanted to do that. So I got to see different facets.
So I cover what’s known as a deal maker for the UK government, and that’s what it believes it or not.
What that role entails is I look for outstanding technologies from around the world backed by exceptional entrepreneurs, intending to land their global headquarters in the United Kingdom, doing the deals to land their headquarters in the UK. And these are scale-ups; these are not the big giant companies, but the scale-up companies. And we want the ones who are solving some of the biggest problems in the world. And I guess again; it might sound, I don’t do humility. I don’t do fake humility, so this is not me saying yeah; it is lots of hard work.
That is what it is, where it says what I do in the bottom right-hand corner. It does feel like that. You see the Instagram version in the other boxes and what’s in my own imagination, but yeah, of course, there’s lots of hard work, and don’t be fooled. And you all know-how in the social media age that the image you might see is very different from what goes on; however, it’s fulfilling. And so, how do we make sure we get those doors opened?
What are the skills that we need? Especially at this young age, which you all are. You certainly don’t want to be trying to get it right. Ten years from now, 20 years from now, okay? So those are the things I’ll cover.
One other thing that I’m going to mention, and I want you to keep in mind with all of this, is that in your later years, not in your twenties, but in your thirties and forties, you’ll be concerned more about purpose and fulfillment in life. Although it said millennials and generation, I forget which gen we’re all in now, gen Z and millennials are. I say us; I’m clearly not in either of those. They’re more concerned about purpose. And I would say think about that sooner.
It used to be the case that you just became an accountant, became a lawyer, or a doctor. You just did the job, paid the bills, put food on the table, had your holiday a year, and that was it, okay? People aren’t satisfied with that. So plan for purpose sooner, and I’ll show you that now. I happen to be chairman of this organization, which helps widows and orphans.
The reason I mentioned that is this. And again, it’s not to say, oh, look, here’s me virtually signaling. It’s because I knew from my twenties when I used to speak to fellow lawyers when I was practicing initially as a barrister, the ones who were a few years ahead had become so jaded by their profession. They thought this was all I ever wanted to do. And then they got the fast car, the mortgage, the house, and all the things they thought they wanted, movies, handbags, or whatever else it was, and it wasn’t enough. And it wasn’t one person; it was virtually all of them. None of it was worth the late hours, the long hours. The ones that I found where it was worth it, whatever they were doing, was when they felt they had a purpose. And that purpose didn’t have to come from their work. Ideally, it should, but it might come from other things.
So I knew from my early twenties when I was at university I better have something beyond just finance and thank God because finance is the most useless profession in the world. When it’s not destroying the world, it’s just shuffling paper anyway. So I knew I wanted to have other things. I’d say I don’t know what your things all, but do, apply your mind to some of it. So on this journey, what are the skills soft and hard you’ll want? How do you get yourself in a position to be lucky, and doors open up for you and overachieve? Let me give you a bit of context. For me, and it’s really important to know yourself and what ticks for you rather than trying to be somebody else. For me, I didn’t want to do a paper route. Okay? But I didn’t have any money, and neither did my family. So I had to find some other way.
How I Got Into Investing
So for me, I got into investing. I borrowed £100 from an aunt, and I invested in stocks during the privatization. Now you can’t mimic that; you got to find what’s going to work for you, what makes you really passionate. And you know the Japanese, I’m sure you all know, and I can’t remember the phrase, but they have a term where you can mix what you enjoy and what earns money and has a bigger purpose in life. If you can get to the center of that Venn diagram of those three circles and get where they intersect, that’s it; you’re made for life. And I was lucky because I found that it doesn’t take a flash of lightning; it will take time to work that out. And a lot of introspection and a lot of knowing yourself, but find out those areas which work.
And you won’t necessarily get it in your twenties. It’ll take time, but at least if your brain constantly thinks about it. For me, I knew certain things were incredibly important. I have a business coach, and I was talking to him this morning, and the same things are still important to me. Not necessarily for you, for me, control. I don’t want somebody else telling me what to do. I hate it. I’m pretty rubbish. As an employee, I would be rubbish. I wanted to be self-employed. I wanted freedom. Okay? I wanted the freedom to do what I wanted when I wanted. And so your life and this talk take you in those directions. You go towards things that are more like that and avoid making decisions that take you away from the most important things to you. So you need to know yourself and work out what is very important to you. That’s how I got into writing books.
Again, it started at a very early age planning for that, thinking about that, because I knew that was self-employment. That was freedom. I’ve written 18; they’re over my shoulder. And some became international bestsellers, even though I was told at school I had a problem with my English and then at university. They were probably right, but I improved upon it. So there is that the old story you’ve heard about determination and if a problem’s pointed out to you, look at a way of solving it. And I’ll come to those skills you’ll need, those softer skills for overachievement in a second, as I said, but knowing that I wanted that self-employment, I wanted that freedom, that’s what led me to be a barrister.
Now for you, it’ll be something else. If you don’t follow those things, there will be a gap between what your mind, conscience, soul, dare I say it, want and what you do. You might say, Alpesh, that sounds like an entitled, spoiled privileged person. I’ve already told you I had no silver spoon; I didn’t have any of those things. So it wasn’t just that I woke up one morning and said, yes, I think I’ll lead a life of leisure and just do what I want, wake up when I want. No, I went towards professions that fit and suited my personality, skills, qualities that I knew I had, and the things that I would enjoy, always thinking about those concentric circles. What would I enjoy? What would pay? And what might lead to a bigger purpose? And it was a million little steps along the way which took me there.
I kept up that interest in finance, even though I qualified as a barrister, which then opened up the opportunity to write books on investing, which opened up the doors. We’ll come to opening up doors again, as I said in a second, but opened up the doors to TV programs, newspaper columns. But I’ll give you the specifics because generally, talking about somebody’s CV, people always wonder how they did that? How do you replicate that? Not in how did you do it? Because I can’t replicate that, can’t get a time machine and copy you, how might I do it in a more generic term for whatever I want to do, whatever it might be? You might want to be a Formula 1 racer for all I know or get in that professionally.