I have had the honor of interviewing some of the most successful people on earth—from celebrities and world-class athletes to gifted academics in the world of economics and personal finance. When the article I wrote about 40 life lessons went viral, and an agent suggested that I turn it into a book, I interviewed some of the most successful people on earth about the 40 life lessons I developed and harnessed these lessons in the form of a book on overcoming life-altering setbacks.
In my new book Holistic Wealth: 32 Life Lessons To Help You Find Purpose Prosperity and Happiness, I interviewed over 100 trailblazers, influencers and celebrities who are world-renowned experts in these life lessons, such as Tia-Clair Toomey, Olympian and three time CrossFit champion, widely regarded as the “fittest woman on the planet”; Dr. Gail Saltz, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the Weill Cornell Medical College and sister of Nobel Prize–winning astrophysicist Adam Riess; Apryl Jones from the reality TV show Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood; Osric Chau, Canadian actor and martial artist, best known for his role as Kevin Tran in the CW series Supernatural and as Vogel in the BBC America series Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency; Dr. Robert R. Johnson, CFA, CAIA, professor of finance at Creighton University and coauthor of Strategic Value Investing, a book that has been on Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting reading list for the past four years—among many others.
I also personally reached out to bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell to get his permission to use a few of his insights. I wanted to compile the absolute best advice in a book that could change lives and present a framework for overcoming setbacks to achieve success, prosperity and happiness.
These stories have not only inspired me in terms of overcoming setbacks but also in my mission to spread the word about cultivating a holistic wealth mindset. Here are 5 lessons from some of the most successful people on earth.
1. Your Adversity Is Your Strength
When Tia-Claire Toomey competed for the gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, her beloved cousin Jade Dixson had passed away only two weeks prior. Despite the grief and sudden tragedy—her cousin died in a tragic car accident—Toomey decided to focus on the task at hand. Her cousin was one of her best supporters and had planned to be in the stands to cheer her on. She knew she had to do her best to honor her cousin.
According to CNN, “she continued to train as she always does, with focus, determination and drive, deciding not to stray from the original plan of not seeing family until competition was completed.” After the competition ended, Toomey attended the funeral with the rest of the family. While this might have been the hardest thing to do for many of us, she decided to focus on the task at hand and not get distracted. Instead, her adversity became her strength and that gold medal was dedicated to her cousin, Jade. Toomey fulfilled her purpose by being laser-focussed on the task at hand.
When I interviewed Toomey for my book, she emphasized always improving on every aspect of your game. According to her, “what keeps me inspired is the desire to constantly improve in every aspect of my fitness. From running faster, running longer, lifting heavier, increasing my gymnastics ability and many more facets.”
2. Your Network Is Your Net Worth
In 1999, New York Times bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell penned an article in The New Yorker entitled, “Six Degrees of Lois Weisberg.” In it, he recounts the story of Lois Weisberg, Chicago’s commissioner of cultural affairs. He described how Weisberg “is connected, by a very short chain, to nearly everyone,” and as a result, “she had a kind of undefined social power to make the world work by spreading ideas and information.”
As I explained in my book Holistic Wealth, sociologist Mark Granovetter examined the importance of “weak ties” (or heterogenous ties). He found that most people obtained their jobs through acquaintances, not close friends—in effect through heterogenous ties. Granovetter emphasized the importance of knowing people who know many people, because then you’re just one “chain length” away from a good opportunity. The most successful people on earth have mastered the art of relationships.
3. Go Bold or Go Home
Canadian Actor, Osric Chau, known for his role as Kevin Tran in the CW series Supernatural and as Vogel in the BBC America series Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, had dreamed about playing the next big Asian superhero. He never wavered in his dream to see that come to life on the big screen.
As Chau stated in my book Holistic Wealth: “I wanted to put an Asian superhero out into the limelight but every time, my team would get cold feet because they were afraid of getting shut down.” Chau never gave up on his dream and played the role of Ryan Choi, AKA the Atom—a character he was a big fan of as a child—the Arrowverse crossover Crisis on Infinite Earths. It was seven years (nearly a decade) between the time Chau developed a pitch deck for the role of Ryan Choi to when he actually landed the part. During that time, he never wavered in his dream or focus.
4. Take the Long-View of Success
This lesson is well documented and illustrated in the field of economics and personal finance. If you happen to coauthor a personal finance book that ends up on Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway reading list for four consecutive years, consider yourself successful. Dr. Robert R. Johnson, CFA, CAIA, professor of finance at Creighton University and coauthor of Strategic Value Investing, is one such person. In any field of endeavor, success is a marathon not a sprint. As Johnson states in my book Holistic Wealth:
Building wealth is a marathon, not a sprint. A long-term perspective is the single most important quality necessary for success in investing… Benjamin Graham, the father of value investing and mentor to Warren Buffett, explained the concept of value investing by saying, “In the short run, the market is like a voting machine, tallying up which firms are popular and unpopular. But in the long run, the market is like a weighing machine, assessing the substance of the company.” Sentiment drives the market in the short run, while fundamentals drive the market in the long run.
The lesson there is clear—long-term fundamentals over short-term sentiment, long-term pain over short-term gain. During the course of a long-term investment, depending on your risk tolerance, you will encounter volatility. How you react to this volatility will determine your success or failure. If you change your portfolio allocation or alter your focus when facing volatility, you will not obtain the returns you desire over the long term.
5. Trust Your Gut
From Oprah Winfrey and Arianna Huffington to Marie Forleo and Deepak Chopra (all mentioned in my book Holistic Wealth), some of the most successful people on earth rely on their intuition. I interviewed Dr. Gail Saltz, associate professor of psychiatry at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital / Weill Cornell Medicine and the author of The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius.
In my book Holistic Wealth, Saltz explained, “Intuition is based on unconscious information amassed over your lifetime through experiences, memories, empathy, emotional reactions of the past. It happens quickly, often before conscious and more rationally based cognitive thinking has gone on. Therefore, one’s intuition is often very spot on in terms of making good decisions for ourselves in all aspects of life, but unfortunately, often enough people are unaware of or squash their intuition and make choices based solely on conscious rational, data-driven thinking. Being aware of your intuition and allowing yourself to consider it in making choices, in reacting to situations, and in being creative can result in better outcomes that feel truer and are more satisfying in the long run.”
This article contains excerpts from ‘Holistic Wealth: 32 Life Lessons To Help You Find Purpose, Prosperity and Happiness’ by Keisha Blair. No part of this article may be reproduced or copied. Copyright @KeishaBlair.