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What are the lessons people most often learn too late in life?

I’m going to share some lessons that I’ve learned the hard way.

  1. Self Awareness: Find out what it is in life that you don’t do well, and don’t do that thing.
  2. Influence & People: Be incredibly self aware of what you’re bad at, and surround yourself with people to balance you out.
  3. Substance: Marketing and brand don’t always correlate with substance. Much of the world operates on Marketing & Brand.
  4. People: The people you see around you right now, may not be around you in 5-10 years.
  5. Life Goals: Optimize your life for long term wealth, value, and impact. Source: Why you should care about software.
  6. The Critics: For every doryphore, pedantic critic, there are one hundred people who will be the fuel on your fire, assemble and align them with equivocal support.
  7. Human Behavior: Every Behavior can be defined by 4 basic traits: motivation, ability/capability, trigger event type, and trigger event frequency. Understanding human behavior is one of the most valuable things you can do.
  8. Issues with People: Difficult conversations are driven by misalignment. One should always over-strive to understand the data that drives the opposing side’s viewpoint. Arguments are rarely about truth, and more about understanding perspectives.
  9. Purpose: Know why you wake up every day, or search for it. It will change your life.
  10. Happiness: Positivity is a state of mind. Find the bottleneck and blockage problem and kill it. Use your friends as shields from negativity, they usually won’t mind, I promise.
  11. Responsiveness: Be responsive and quick to reply to your friends, coworkers, and loves when they reach out to you. This is the moment they need you most.
  12. Adapting to Cultures: Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory is something I wish I’d understood sooner in life. It explains the different ways to understand people of different cultures.
  13. Timing and Proximity: These are two of the most critical elements in a relationship with friends, family, and outsiders that will guide the strength of a relationship. Many of the people you meet now may be far away, do you choose to have a relationship with them that withstands the test of time and proximity? This can be a conscious or unconscious decisions that can have a significance impact on how much you care.
  14. Giving a Fuck: Often times in life, we will give way too many fucks about way too many things. We never know what or who is worth giving a fuck about until it’s too late, the proximity has passed, or the relevancy has decreased. Spending time thinking about the things and people we choose to give a fuck about caring about is a relevant thing to do. Dunbar’s number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships—relationships in which an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person. There is likely a similar eponymous law to describe how much one should care about things and events in life.
  15. Expectation is the Parent of Anger: Often times when people get angry it’s because they have an expectation of something or someone to perform in a certain way. By understanding the nature of our expectations, we can conquer our anger or quell it.
  16. Context of Fortune: Understanding the environmental reasons as to why you or someone else around you has achieved something will arm you to avoid jealousy.
  17. People only have to be right once: This lesson was a hard one to learn. Lending credence to someone’s entire persona because they were right once can be a perpetual flaw in the way we evaluate the people around us in a personal and professional setting. Be careful with how you attribute success to corresponding effort on a low sample size of events. Also, realize that you only have to be right once in a big way as people perceive so much about this.
  18. Avoid Negative People: Negative people can eat at your psyche in unexpected ways. Find yourself smiling around certain sets of people? Spend more time with them.
  19. Encouragement & Support: In life when someone is successful or has made an achievement, they may not receive encouragement or words of praise. The same is true if someone is struggling. I think or in my humble opinion, we should always strive to help those who are in need of support and to cheer on those who have had some success. There are times when we should be the fuel on someone’s fire and times when we should emotionally support those whom need it. Jealousy or lack of compassion can pervade either of the 2 appropriate reactions.
  20. Who You Decide to Work With: Look for energy, intelligence, and strong ethics. Warren Buffet warns that if you are missing the 3rd, the first 2 will come back to bite you.

About the author

Kumar Thangudu

Kumar Thangudu is a silicon valley marketer and former engineer. He lives and works in SF and likes to write about macro-issues. You can follow him @datarade or on quora or read his writings at