Getting ahead via head start by Victor Cheng

You will recall that we have discussed how to get a head start in life and in career a few times. Yesterday, I got an email from Victor Cheng, on the same topic of getting ahead. Here it is, enjoy!

In many aspects of life (especially in one’s career), it’s a competition. Everyone wants the great job. But, there are more people who want the great job than there are openings available.

Competition occurs. As children, we are taught that competitions are supposed to be fair. Everyone plays by the same rules. May the best or most talented competitor win. However, real life doesn’t work that way. Sure, everyone plays by the same laws and rules… but some people have a legitimate advantage and head start in their careers.

Imagine two identical twins with the exact same DNA, talents and skill sets. One went to Harvard. The other did not. Both apply for the same job. Guess what? It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the Harvard graduate is going to have an advantage in the job recruiting process, even though the identical twin sibling has the exact same underlying raw talent.

Is this fair? Maybe. Maybe not. Is it true?

Absolutely. There are many advantages that people have in life. An enormous advantage that you can have in your career is to have a mentor-someone who shares their biggest mistakes with you so that you can avoid the pain and suffering of having those experiences firsthand.

There are two kinds of mentors.

First, there’s the up-close-and-personal mentor-someone you know and see in person regularly, who takes you under their wing and teaches you something.

A mentor of Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) was Lawrence Summers. She met him while she attended Harvard. He would go on to be President of Harvard University and Secretary of the Treasury for the United States, working for President Bill Clinton.

Second, there’s the kind of mentor that I call a “mentor at a distance.” These are people you may have never met but whose work and body of knowledge has had a major influence on you.

I have thousands of books in my physical and digital library. I’ve spent $400,000 (K300 million) on professional development in my career (this is after attending Stanford) to buy books, hire coaches, attend conferences, participate in seminars, and learn from the best of the best in the world and in history.

This is mentorship at a distance.

This is also worth doing. (And, obviously, I put my own money where my mouth is on this issue.)

As you might be aware, I have my own mentorship program that’s a hybrid of these two types of mentorship.

On a one-on-one basis, I will typically mentor one or two people per decade. On a mentorship at a distance basis, my books and blog reach over one million people per year.

For my Inner Circle, I write a monthly insiders’ newsletter that is shipped to everyone in my mentorship programme.

Also, every other month, I hold office hours via video conference to advise members on some of their specific problems (especially the types of problems that many members face or will face in their lives or careers).

This, of course, isn’t the same as a one-on-one mentor, but it is significantly more contact than reading a blog or a book.

Through this program, I mentor a few hundred “strivers” (people who are determined to get ahead in life and are looking for every legitimate advantage to do so).

It’s a programme for people who aspire to have exceptional lives and careers.

Most people will not join this program (or anything like it). Most people will also have, by definition, average results in life and in career. It’s simple, common sense that if you want above average results, you must do the kinds of things most people will not do.

I only allow people to join my Inner Circle once or twice per year. I am opening up the group to new members in just a few days.


Victor Cheng


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