When I was thirty, I’d already accomplished a few of my goals I’d set out to achieve professionally: YLC President, owner of 2 successful businesses, and member on numerous boards. But success can be blinding. I made mistakes. Most of which I’d tell my younger self not to make. But what are the old and wise good for if they can’t offer advice. So here is a list of things I wish I had learned before 30.

  1. Avoid Debt. If you’re singing “started from the bottom, now we here…” and paying credit card bills. You’re still on the bottom.
  2. When buying a first home, location is more important than closet space and a 2 car garage
  3. Flirting and networking are very different. But kind of similar.
  4. Always keep a 30k foot, “True Hollywood Story” view of your life and your progress.
  5. Unless you have kids (or parents) you are responsible for, don’t worry about salary or income; rack up experiences and skills
  6. Don’t over commit. People won’t know you’re overextended, only that you’re underperforming
  7. Seeking out recognition and affirmation doesn’t mean you’re not humble.  Making sure other people are aware of your good work is how you breakthrough in competitive workforce
  8.  Being able to walk to work or work from home is priceless
  9. Don’t spend more than $5k feeding other people at a wedding. Divorce rates make that a poor investment.
  10. Listen to your grad school advisor and finish your thesis before career and life get in the way
  11. I spent 4 years learning Chinese, 4 years learning Spanish, and 10 years forgetting both. Don’t unlearn things, especially languages!
  12. Caffeine is a hell of a drug…
  13. Fiber is the shit.
  14. “YOLO” is a regretful philosophy. How many successful people do you know that shout “YOLO” before making a decision?
  15. Monitoring mental and physical health is important to everyone, but especially young professional black men. Stress kills.
  16. I know how much money I made in my 20’s, but no clue what happened to it! Everyone should have a tool for creating a budget and tracking spending over time. It’s life changing.
  17. Managing my personal weaknesses is less stressful than trying to eliminate them
  18. Invest majority of your time and money in people and places; travel with friends and never eat alone
  19. Strategic patience is an acceptable response to “the fierce urgency of now” when it comes to politics
  20. $12.99 for a dozen roses at Rouses provide the best return on investment in the history of dating
  21. Love is a verb
  22. Never miss a Super Bowl because of an election you don’t think you’re winning
  23. Write everything, especially real moments of inspiration, on actual paper. Twitter is a great outlet to spew randomness, but not a solid tool for follow through.
  24. No matter how great the deal was and how much you love a new car, you’ll hate having a car note after 8 months.
  25. I had a very specific 5 year plan in 2004. Option and scenario planning work better in the real world
  26. I think I always regret the things I don’t say, more than the things I shouldn’t have said
  27. If family or friends need money and you can spare it, just give it to them, don’t loan it
  28. Shit happens. But if it’s repetitive and always happening to you, that’s a personal problem
  29. Spend time with family and listening to stories from old people, then shout “YOLO!”
  30. My life would be very different today if I purchased insurance for my business on June 20, 2005. Have faith that everything happens for a reason or have a plan to deal with the unreasonable.
  31. Your turn…