From Engineer, to Entrepreneur to Blogger – 7 Lessons Learned from a Life Full of Changes

Some weeks ago I emailed Mike Cernovich from Danger&Play with today’s article. I wrote it as a potential guest post for his blog in order to introduce myself to his audience. It is a short version of my story so far and 7 lessons I learned throughout my journey. Mike liked it but he told me that there is a basic issue with it:

 

“There is no struggle. Seems like you had a nice life and started a blog. That’s not a compelling story that will draw people in.”

 

I totally get it. People love drama. Drama is the underlying element of our life stories. We feed from drama. When the author dramatizes his narrative we are hooked because we can relate his drama to our own internal struggles.

 

But I am not really sure that this is a healthy mindset.

 

Is drama really that beneficial for our growth?

 

Does dramatizing and sometimes even victimizing ourselves actually help us optimize our lives and improve our life quality?

 

And most importantly, is drama actually real or is it just a byproduct of our drama-obsessed society?

 

With those questions in mind, I decided not to change my story and instead share it here with you and let you judge for yourselves whether you can resonate with it or not.

 

In the following paragraphs, you will find an interesting analysis of my life choices, the way I see them. These choices have led me where I am today and have helped me espouse the principles that I evangelize via this blog.

 

My story includes some unpleasant moments, but it’s not really packed with drama like Mike suggested.

 

I wanted to see whether a more healthy/down to earth approach to one’s personal journey could evoke the same feelings and inspiration like a dramatized one does.

 

And because I have met many of you in real life, I am pretty sure it will.

 

 

I was born almost 29 years ago in a chaotic but also vibrant city called Athens.

 

Like most people, I don’t really remember much of my early childhood.

 

Whenever I ask my mother about the first years of my life, she usually gives me vague answers like “You were a sweet kid but also very difficult to tame.”

 

I guess Athens’ eclectic combination of chaos and vibrancy affected my personality. 1

 

While growing up, I used this personality of mine to “penetrate” the world.

 

First there was school. Greece, despite its miserable economic situation, is notorious for its educational system. You need to study extremely hard to even have a chance to get accepted into a decent study program.

 

I knew that I didn’t have much of a choice so that’s what I did. I studied hard.

 

My high school years weren’t that enjoyable. I can’t really say that I enjoyed my friends, or girls, or free time. I was actually looking forward to finish school so that I can start a new life.

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The university in Greece

 

Eventually, studying paid off and I managed to get accepted to the electrical engineering department of one of the best polytechnic universities in the country.

 

I chose electrical engineering because I loved computers and I was good at math and physics. That, however, didn’t really mean much. Having a talent in some subjects doesn’t necessarily suggest that you will enjoy the whole curriculum.

 

That’s when I first realized that the choices we make in life are usually clueless. We might think that we have an idea of where we are heading but we are usually victims to the also clueless suggestions of our surroundings.

 

Despite my lack of enthusiasm, I didn’t really know if I had another choice. I didn’t know that dropping out of college was an option. Back then online businesses weren’t so popular, so if you didn’t want to end up working shitty jobs here and there you had to study something.

 

Upon finishing my studies I weighed my options. I could look for a job as an electrical engineer or I could pursue a master’s degree. I really didn’t want to end up working for the IT department of some multinational corporation, so I thought it was wise to expand my knowledge in a more useful subject like business.

 

I applied to many schools, mainly in the US and the UK. US was a dream for me. I always wanted to relocate there hoping that I could find my Mecca in one of USs major cities like NY or LA.

 

Unfortunately I got rejected hard. I applied to around 10 graduate schools and I got rejected to all of them.

 

I didn’t want to give up though. Rejection hurts but it also helps you cultivate resilience. I forgot about the US and focused on a more attainable goal like the UK.

 

For some reason, UK Universities respect the Greek educational system a lot and I was lucky enough to get accepted to a pretty good Business School in London.

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The university in London (That was a hell of an upgrade)

 

Moving to London was a very smart move. Actually moving to a big metropolitan city is the best thing a man can do.

 

You open yourself up to new environments, cultures and mindsets and the opportunities are endless.

 

Business is a very interesting topic and unlike electrical engineering it teaches you some important skills that can prove valuable later in life.

 

It was also during my business studies that I discovered this weird term called entrepreneurship.

 

When I was young nobody really explained me how rich people make money. I thought that most of them were either corrupted or thieves or were killing others in order to accumulate their wealth. I had no idea how a business works and that anybody is capable of creating one.

 

I immediately got the entrepreneurship bug, most probably because of my ENTJ personality type, and I decided that this is what I am supposed to do.

 

The journey, however, didn’t start ideally. Diving into a new area without experience is the worst thing one can do. But I did it. My first partner was a friend of mine who had an idea about a technology startup. I was so excited about it that I invested almost all the money I had left from my savings.

 

The friend was also a first-time founder with no experience and thought that it was wise to bring 4 more friends in the founding team. Not 1, not 2, 4! Do the math and this makes 6 Founders!

 

We could easily take the price for the most self-sabotaging startup of the year.

 

As you can imagine our initiative didn’t really work out. 6 people wanting to impose their ideas on each other isn’t really that effective. Groups were formed, conspiracies were made and in the end the endeavor collapsed.

 

That’s when I realized that making money is actually a really hard thing. I felt betrayed and alone. I was broke, without anything left and with no concrete plan for the future.

 

Despite my failure, I didn’t really want to give up. I knew that entrepreneurship is my thing and I didn’t want to end up doing a job that I wouldn’t really enjoy. I thought that I could use some time to become more aware of the startup ecosystem and cultivate a business mindset.

 

After digging around, I discovered that the best way to do so was to start your own blog. A blog is the perfect one-man startup. It teaches you marketing, writing, branding, selling, investing and hiring. Almost everything.

 

I had some money left in my account and decided to use them for the next year to start my blog.

 

I moved to Vienna, Austria where I was living in a small flat share while trying to keep my monthly expenses to a minimum. Not really the life I would imagine at 27 but I decided to give it a shot.

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Snowy Vienna

 

So, here I am today, a year and a half into my new initiative. Things are looking good and I have managed to monetize my blog and for the moment make enough money to support myself and improve my life quality. I am not anywhere near where I want to be yet but with the right mindset I can definitely reach the level I want in some years from now.

 

The thing is that in this journey I learned many lessons; lessons that I wouldn’t have learned if I had decided to choose only one path. All those changes made me who I am and helped me experience things I couldn’t even dream of.

 

These lessons, I want to share with you today, with the hope that they will inspire you in your own journey:

 

1 – What you study is not necessarily what you will end up doing

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At some point, I was also a very skillful mixologist, but that’s a story for another time

 

I studied electrical engineering.

 

Steve Jobs was a college dropout.

 

Scott Adams (he is the creator of Dilbert and his blog is my latest obsession) studied law and economics.

 

Many successful people didn’t really stick to a singular theme in order to cultivate a success mindset.

 

However, everybody needs to start somewhere until he really understands his life’s purpose.

 

What you should focus on is whether your study can employ you with some of the necessary skills required to survive easier in today’s highly competitive environment.

 

I didn’t really use electrical engineering as an education source to deepen my knowledge in computers and programming. Instead, I used it as a tool to cultivate analytical and critical thinking. It also helped me understand the importance of a well-structured study system in order to achieve my goals.

 

Takeaway: Whatever you study, even if you don’t see yourself working in this field, make sure to take advantage of it in any way possible.

 

2 – Be a life optimizer

 

I borrowed this expression from Mike Syding who was featured in our blog some months ago. In our interview, Mike told me:

 

“Andrian, I think that because I am kind of open to new challenges and possibilities, the best way to describe myself would be as a life optimizer.”

 

This is probably the essence of an enjoyable and fulfilling life.

 

The reason we struggle, the reason we feel depressed, the reason we fail to succeed are all results of our lack of optimization in our lives.

 

Instead of nurturing the right mindsets that can help us enjoy a lasting feeling of abundance, we are constantly in the search for quick fixes and temporary pleasures.

 

This is far from what optimization looks like.

 

Optimization is habits. Optimization is processes. Optimization is feedback. Optimization is mindset. Optimization is experimenting.

 

Optimization is failing over and over until you eventually find the right ingredients to create a life worth living for.

 

When I started working on my blog I was overwhelmed. I started writing in a language that wasn’t native to me and I had no idea how to find my first readers. The amount of work was unbearable. Instead of losing hope I created a well-structured plan that could help me overcome those obstacles.

 

My main goal was to focus on the three most important activities that could help me improve my blogging skills. That was, reading, writing and marketing. I decided to divide my time equally to those three areas and after some months the blog took off.

 

Takeaway: Stop wasting time doing things that don’t convert. Focus on processes that allow you to actualize your full potential and create a well-structured plan around them.

 

3 – Focus on holistic thinking

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Some of the books in my digital library that help me think holistically

 

The power of holistic thinking is unquestionable.

 

Before I started my blog I was thinking of writing mainly about seduction. Over time, as I started increasing my value as a man, I realized that I could write about how to get girls, but this is useless. Instead I could write about how to increase your value as a man and show that by doing that, girls will automatically come to you.

 

Most people fail to grasp a concept concretely because they are not capable of understanding all the parameters that affect it.

 

When you see people struggle with girls it is not because they are incompetent. It is because they have a shitty mindset. They don’t invest in themselves at all and expect that girls will like them just because they used some pickup lines.

 

The same for instance applies to blogging. You don’t become a great blogger just by writing. You become a great blogger by having a business mindset and understanding all the parameters that affect a business.

 

If you want to become successful, you need to cultivate a holistic thinking mentality. Make sure to be in the know and try to expand your knowledge in many fields.

 

Learn about marketing, business, investing, finance, quantum physics, AI.

 

Takeaway: You don’t need to dive deep into each subject you are interested in, but try and gain knowledge in topics that can help you become a well-rounded individual who can understand how the world works and evolves.

 

4 – Break out of homeostasis

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Breaking out of homeostasis

This is also a sentence I borrowed from another friend of mine, Ludwig Sunstrom. 2

 

For those unfamiliar with the term, homeostasis refers to the ability of a system whose variables are regulated so that the system remains stable and relatively constant.

 

What does this have to do with you? Everything.

 

When you stay in the same situation for a long time, you eventually get stuck in homeostasis. It is a mechanism for saving energy but at the same time the most self-destructive force for a person.

 

Most people are unaware of this fact and while they grow older, they eventually find it even harder to break out of this state.

 

This inevitably leads to lack of willpower, motivation and movement.

 

Especially in today’s comfort-oriented society, getting stuck in that state is more prevalent than ever.

 

Takeaway: The most effective way to escape this “suicidal” situation is to make sure you constantly activate your brain and body. Train, read, write, spend time in the nature, socialize and focus on activities that can boost serotonin and testosterone levels.

 

5 – You are not afraid of change but of the period of pain associated with change

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After I finished my MSc in business in London, I joined a consulting firm for 2 years. Then, I decided to quit in order to focus on my startup. Before I quit I was shit scared because I was afraid of change and the unknown.

 

When it comes to change, however, it is not the change itself that we are afraid of, but the period of pain associated with it.

 

Let me clarify something in that respect. Your brain is an incredibly powerful instrument. Sometimes it is your worst enemy but also sometimes it is your most powerful ally.

 

I agree that change sometimes is difficult but don’t underestimate your brain’s capacity to eventually adapt to the new reality.

 

You most definitely have been through a difficult breakup in your life. Can you try and think of how long it took you to get used to your new reality? It most probably took you about a month. That’s because a new habit is usually formed within 30 to 40 days and your brain requires that much time to rewire its state to a different one.

 

It’s not rocket science. It’s simple physiology that allowed humans to survive for millions of years.

 

Takeaway: Instead of resisting change, help yourself understand the physiology of change, become self-aware and enjoy its benefits.

 

6 – When you go through a hard time, reboot

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Rebooting..

 

In whatever life scenario you find yourself, there will definitely be times where you will feel confused, frustrated and stressed.

 

In these situations, the best idea is to reboot and start from the basics.

 

Some months ago, I was going through a tough situation and I realized that if I allow myself to be absorbed by it, I would stay behind.

 

Instead, I decided to harness the power of habit and focus on some basic healthy habits that I was neglecting but also knew they were absolutely essential for my well-being.

 

Habits like waking up early, sleeping well, taking cold showers, taking care of my style, being honest and assertive, journaling and meditating to name but a few.

 

I performed almost 30 of those habits in a form of challenges for 30 days and after that I was reborn.

 

My worries were gone, my mind adapted to a new reality and I was ready to face my life from a new, more refined perspective.

 

Takeaway: Whenever you face a tough time and your life feels like a rollercoaster, instead of allowing yourself to be absorbed by negativity, distract yourself by investing in healthy habits.

 

7 – Understand why you want to make money

 

Wall Street Playboys shared the following tweet some weeks ago:

 

 

This, to me, is one of the most powerful quotes I have ever read.

 

When I quit my job and started my startup, one of the reasons I did it was because I wanted to respect myself and not stay in a situation where others are in control of my life.

 

Of course I also did it for the money but money to me is not about power, or showing off, or hanging out in mansions and high-end clubs.

 

All that is nice but it is also temporary.

 

Money is about freedom and control.

 

It is about waking up on a Tuesday morning and deciding to go on a trip to Cannes with your girlfriend or your friends.

 

It is about not having a neurotic boss who, because his wife dumped him decided to be an asshole to you.

 

It is about realizing that you always wanted to open your own bar and now you can do it.

 

It is about being the master of yourself and your surroundings.

 

Takeaway: Whatever idea your have, or whatever new endeavor you embark on, always have in mind the reason you do it. Don’t do it just because you want to make money. Do it because you know what that money can bring to your life.

———

I hope that the lessons learned from my journey so far will inspire you to shape and refine your own journey.

 

In closing, I would like to let you know that this blog runs solely from the sales of our products and some sponsored posts.

 

We are doing well but if you want me to keep writing and inspiring you, it will really help if you purchase one of our products. 3

 

If you want to develop advanced social skills check out Speak like a leader.

 

If you want to cultivate self-discipline, master time management and crush procrastination, you will love “30 Challenges – 30 Days – Zero Excuses.”

 

They are both very thorough works and most people loved them.

 

Finally, if you liked my story and could resonate even 5% with it, let me know in the comments section below. Every writer wants to know what his readers think.

 

Till next time.


 

Adrian Iliopoulos

I am the founder and main contributor at "The Quintessential Mind" - A unique personal blog that offers a holistic approach to self-development. I am striving to create high-quality content by investing in a reality-based form of self-help, informed by a deep understanding of psychology, philosophy and my own personal experiences and social adventures.
Adrian Iliopoulos