Antonio Neves told the story of how working hard and smart has helped him overcome long odds and create his own luck.
“Who could use some luck?” he asked attendees. “Would you bet on you, accomplishing what you say is most important in your life?”
A self-described professional question asker and opportunity identifier, Neves founded THINQACTION to help coach young entrepreneurs and professionals. He shared the story of his modest upbringing and how his willingness to be scrappy and survive against the odds led him to create not only the success that he has today but also enjoy the diverse journey that got him there.
Neves shared three steps to creating your own luck:
1. Getting uncomfortable
Neves has continually placed himself in uncomfortable situations throughout life, and he entertained the crowd with stories of the varied experiences that have brought him to where he is. He moved to New York City with just $600 in his pocket, amassed a long list of diverse jobs such as a cheese salesman, factory worker and focus group manipulator, participated in the Walt Disney World college program and studied abroad in Spain. Each experience provided personal growth and pushed him to continue taking the next step.
“The feeling in your stomach that you are doing something right,” Neves said, is what getting uncomfortable is all about. He challenged the audience: “What can you do right now to get uncomfortable?”
2. A walk-on mentality
A former walk-on to the track team at Western Michigan University, Neves shared how entrepreneurs can think like he did and benefit from a walk-on mentality:
- Say Yes – “What happens when you say yes is build a trust in yourself,” Neves said. Volunteer to go above and beyond and be the person picked first when the next opportunity arrives.
- Invest in You – Take the time to build relationships. Take the time to invest in yourself.
- Finish Something – When Neves was a television production assistant, he dreamed of becoming a writer. He wrote scripts on the side without being asked, and when the day finally arrived, he had already put in the work and was able to present his writing. Two weeks later, he was a staff writer. “Choose anything, but choose something,” Neves said. When your opportunity presents itself, will you be ready?
The challenge to a walk-on mentality, Neves explained, is that the work required isn’t sexy. The most important thing is recommitting. “You have to recommit every single day,” he said.
3. Who makes you better?
Neves challenged attendees to consider the five people they spend the most time with outside of work. “Do they make you better?” he asked. “Or do they make you complacent?”
Neves encouraged people to identify their “Thieves of Ambition” and “Allies of Glory.” Hanging out with the All-Americans while on his college track team led him to develop into an all-conference athlete. Neves said to consider whether your friends are stealing your ambitions and supporting your mediocrity, or are partnered up with you and helping you become the best version of yourself.
“Don’t be afraid to work with the best,” Neves said. “They’re going to push you and hold you accountable.”
Be pissed off
Neves closed his talk with one final challenge for the audience: “What I’m asking you guys to do is to be pissed off,” he said. “No one cares more about your goals than you do. If you’re not pissed off for greatness, it means you’re OK being mediocre.
“I challenge all of you to create your own luck.”
Thinc Iowa is a premiere event produced by Silicon Prairie News. For live video of Thinc Iowa 2012, tune in at spne.ws/live from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Oct. 10 and 11. For more on Thinc Iowa, check out the conference on Twitter and Facebook.