Free Coffee, Napoleon Hill, and Transparency: 3 Things You Can Do to Stay Grounded

September 24, 2013

11:00 am

Life isn’t always a walk in the park. As an entrepreneur, ambitious doer, or even semi-radical thinker, there come moments when you feel alone, out of the loop, uneasy, restless, or (fill in the negative psychological side effect of an entrepreneurial lifestyle). As a teenage entrepreneur myself with an increasing number of people watching my career trajectory, questioning my decisions, and rooting me to success (or in a few cases, hoping I fall flat on my face – but what’s a worthwhile effort without a few enemies because of it?), I try to do a few things regularly to keep me grounded in the midst of chaos. Here are three things you, too, can start doing today to stay humble and sane.

1. Buy strangers coffee

Every Monday, I make sure to stop for a cup of coffee at some point during the day. Upon ordering at the counter, I offer the cashier an extra $3 or $4 to pay for a random stranger’s cup of coffee for the day. Normally I’ll say, “This is to pay for the next person who walks into the store,” and either leave a business card with the cashier to give to the lucky cup recipient or go without a business card on some weeks just to make the encounter even more meaningful for the unsuspecting stranger.

I do this because it brings a tiny bit of happiness to someone’s day and helps them start their week on a high note. One time I did this and came back the next day to ask the Starbucks barista about the person’s reaction. Apparently, four people in a row did the same thing, causing a chain of happiness and free coffee all because of a simple, selfless act! The point is that random acts of kindness can truly keep things in perspective in regards to the people around you who face their own daily battles.

2. Listen to an audiobook in the car

Most days, instead of listening to the radio when I’m driving, I’ll play The Law of Success by Napoleon Hill, a book I have listened to at least three times through already. I find it extremely stimulating intellectually and interesting learning material.

By choosing to listen to an audiobook in the time I could be listening to the radio while driving, I am feeding my brain with the inspiration, motivation, and lessons it needs to culminate into my eventual success. While Napoleon Hill certainly does not have to be your book of choice (although it comes highly recommended), tuning in to an audiobook during otherwise routine, and potentially under-utilized, time might serve as a great way to reflect on things you are working on or thinking about.

 3. Be Transparent

Except for extremely intricate details that certain people should not know about or those that would damage relationships I have with various people, I am normally pretty transparent with my thought process and visions. I find that by sharing my goals and ideas with people, I receive support, constructive criticism, and trust from these “confidants.” Whereas in previous ages it may have been a sign of weakness to share your pitfalls and “asks” of people around you, I find an incredible sense of connection and respect that develops when I seek people’s counsel and opinions. It shows those around you that you are willing to do things in the right way, not necessarily in the way that inflates your own personal ego or agenda. In the end, transparency makes me a better leader, communicator, entrepreneur, friend, and person. Be open for a day and see what new awareness and levity comes to you.

Guest author Jared Kleinert is a 17-year-old tech entrepreneur who has been featured in Forbes, Fast Company, and TechCrunch. He is currently the coauthor of an eye-opening book called “2 Billion Under 20” featuring stories from some of the world’s smartest and most talented people at or under 20; customer advocate for the enterprise software startup 15Five; and founder/CEO of Synergist. Jared has been invited to attend and speak at various events around the country focused on young entrepreneurship, social good, and lean startup methodology. He’s always available at and @jaredkleinert, so feel free to say hi!

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