I have dozens of embarrassing articles posted all over the internet. I have no idea how to remove them, edit them, or pretend they don’t exist… they all seem to come back and haunt me when I least expect.
I’ve written about personal ideas, I’ve shared predictions, and I’ve written a lot of things that are just plain wrong. Of course, at the time, I thought that what I was saying was worth sharing… hindsight tells me that I probably should have kept my mouth shut (or maybe not; more on that below).
We’re now living in a time where people’s past cannot be erased. Literally everything is documented and available for the world to view. Those who create more content and share more of their personal and professional lives are even more vulnerable.
In today’s world, anything that is posted on the internet lives forever. Even if you don’t personally post anything, there are thousands of databases that scrape information from public records, and then publish everything for the world to see. There is no way to hide.
It doesn’t matter if you move to a new country or change careers – there is information about you that anyone can find. One hundred years ago, someone could move from one city to another and start a new life without anyone knowing what their past looked like.
The obvious risk here is reputation. Our reputations are being built and broadcast to the world by every action we take – even the actions we regret or hoped to keep private.
Millennials and younger generations are keenly aware of how much of their lives are public information. That’s one of the reasons we often see people on social media attempting to create an image for themselves that is far from reality. If you can make yourself appear to be a certain way, then that’s the way the world may view you.
This has also caused an entire generation of people who are hyper-aware of how cautious they should be. Even though we celebrate extreme risk takers like Elon Musk, the reality is that most people are far too concerned that failure in their lives will ruin their reputation.
It’s much safer to not voice your opinion, to not share your crazy ideas, and to not put yourself out there. The risks of ruining your reputation seem to far outweigh the benefits of showing the world who you are.
I started out by telling you about all of the embarrassing content that I have created. There are articles, podcasts, pictures, videos, and everything that you can imagine. It’s all there, if you search.
And even though I’m mortified by some of the things I’ve said in the past, I can’t tell you how many opportunities I’ve had fall in my lap simply by putting myself out there.
I’ve met CEOs of major companies that have allowed me to invest in unbelievably exclusive deals. The Chinese government has flown me around the world to speak at their sponsored events. I’ve been featured in major newspapers and magazines in countries where I can’t even speak their language.
One of the many strange events I’ve been involved in… this one was in Macau, China.
Keep in mind that all of this has happened because I’ve been putting myself out there, talking about finance… and I don’t have an education in finance and I’ve never worked for a finance company.
We’re living in a time where anyone can talk about anything they want, and they can shout that message to the entire world. What someone says and how they say it will resonate with a certain number of people in the audience.
It’s just a matter of putting yourself out there. The benefits far outweigh the risks. So… go make mistakes, get embarrassed, and do things that others are too afraid to pursue. It’ll be worth it all in the end.