While completing my undergrad studies, I needed to keep a 3.0 GPA in order for my parents to continue to financially support my education. The problem was that I was a lot more interested in hanging out with friends, sleeping, and causing trouble, than I was in attending class or studying. I guess you could say there wasn’t enough time in the day to support my social habits, and allow me to get the necessary GPA to continue to go to school—something had to give.
Just a few weeks into my first semester, I approached my first test in my World Civilizations class. I had missed a few classes, and didn’t have all the notes, so I offered to split the study guide with someone who we’ll call “Dustin”, a friend in the class who had attended the classes I had missed. Later that day I ran into another friend from the class, who we’ll call “Heidi”. As we began to talk about the upcoming test, she asked if I wanted to split the study guide up. Immediately, the light bulb went off in my head. Of course I wanted to split the study guide with her. I had her take the questions that I was supposed to give to Dustin.
The next day, Dustin emailed me the answers to the first 10 questions, and Heidi emailed me the answers to the last 10 questions. I passed Dustin’s answers along to Heidi, and passed Heidi’s answers along to Dustin. In the process, I ended up with a completed study guide and both Heidi and Dustin got exactly what they wanted, and thanked me for it.
I couldn’t tell you what I ended up getting on that test, or the class, but I can tell you that I became known as “The Study Guide Guy” for the next four years. Students would actually approach me and ask what questions they had to do in order to get the other answers to the study guide. I would organize the answers for the participants, and in return, I had answers to every study guide question throughout my college life, without ever actually answering one myself.
I still consider this was one of my first entrepreneurial successes, and while I didn’t make a dime off of it, I learned one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned. It was then that I realized that I could get anything I wanted in life if I helped enough other people get what they want. While I benefitted greatly from my work, so did a lot of other students, and it wouldn’t have ever worked without that dynamic. I’ve found this principal to be true in just about every facet of life—from business negotiations, to customer service calls, to figuring out what my fiancé and I are eating from dinner. So next time you find yourself wanting something, first try to figure out how you can help the people around you get what they want, and watch the magic happen.
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