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How to be Successful in 2021

How to be Successful in 2021: the truth most likely won’t set you free but cage you in. It is difficult to maintain your way and remain unchained.

Latina as example for how to be successful in 2021
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How to be successful in 2021 is a very complex issue yet I want to touch upon 2 main aspects for people who have to compete on the free market. Who are you and what opportunities do you have?

First of all, you have to define what success realistically means to you. Try to set the bar to high, yet attainable, levels…for example: 

“I want to do what I love professionally and make a living. The goal is not to live in luxury but to have life necessities (home, food & drinks, health insurance, etc.) secured in a sustainable fashion (for years to come)”.

Don’t live in LaLa-Land and expect to be the next Michael Jordan or Bill Gates and fall into a deep depression when you find out that your real life has nothing to do with the phantasy expectations you set for yourself.

The next question is how you want to approach your definition of success in a realistic way – do you want to be an employer or employee?

In order to make that decision you need to decide what kind of person you are (a lion – leader or a sheep – follower) and what’s the environment you can be in.

So first things first, are you a lion or a sheep?

How to be Successful in 2021: What It Takes to Be The Boss

Black woman as example for how to be successful in 2021
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You are strong minded, work goal-oriented, are not afraid to do tasks you haven’t done before and generally apply yourself and do things to the best of your abilities. You know the difference between a career and a job…which is, in short:

When you have a career then the day doesn’t have enough hours for you to do all the things you need to do and a job is 9 to 5, the day cannot end soon enough.

If your goal is to become your own boss then go all out and learn as much as possible, for example:

  • start working early and experience all different (entry-level) positions so you develop a better understanding of all aspects of your business
  • have a mentor: learn and get advise from one of the greats in your field because they know what it takes
  • learn about online marketing (e.g. producing content, writing for the web, video editing, posting strategies, etc.) – what other way are people to get to know about you or your products & services?
  • do practical internships with a purpose (not making coffee or xeroxing)
  • have a Master’s Degree in your field or equivalent knowledge base
  • network with like-mined individuals worth your time
  • have the relentless commitment to do multiple aspects of business all by yourself well and the desire to continuously improve for a prolonged level of time (years) without moments of triumph.
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This approach is very painful, hard, time consuming, costly and only very few will succeed over time with a sustainable career (10+ years).

For most industries only individuals in the top 15 precent make it – the top 5% live like kings yet most people, when they start out in their careers, believe they make it to the 5%.

Don’t believe me? How many businesses in your town are not run by a chain or franchise?

Professional sports is a mirror image of the real business world. For example, all NCAA Division 1 athletes (US Colleges) think they already are stars, they arrived. 

The reality is maybe 5% will make it to the professional level athlete career that allows them to reach our definition of success. 

Black woman as example for how to be successful in 2021
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Take a look at the number of athletes entering the NBA draft each year (205 in 2020)…then take a look at how many are selected (60) and stay a professional athlete in the NBA for 10+ years (let’s say 12 on average)…and don’t throw it all away 5 years after their active career?

12 athletes out of 205 = 6% (5.85)

Another 10% will be able to make a living on a lower level within their sport.

10% of 205 = 20.5 = let’s say 21 athletes

That means a total of 33 athletes out of 205 have “success” according to our definition = 16%

Now transition this scenario into the real world of business start ups! According to Stryber:

“According to our data, 29% of the European startups founded in 2013 are “stone dead”. 38% can be classified as Zombies and 22% are Somewhat Alive. As per our definition, this amounts to an overall failure rate of 89% in our data set.

On the success side, only 6% of startups founded in 2013 have made it to an exit. Another 5% are still in a Scale-up phase. These numbers add up to a success rate of 11%.”

There you have it…what happens to the remaining 85% or 89%? They become employees.

How to be Successful in 2021: What It Takes To Be A Successful Employee

Black woman as example for how to be successful in 2021
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In short: be a sheep – the opposite of a boss lion! You are barely qualified to do the job and hence will never become a threat.

You cannot make a decision on your own, you need to be told what to do if a computer cannot do the decision-making for you already.

This can be very confusing, especially when the failed lion has to become a sheep now in order to make it according to our definition of success.

In the real world out there it works according to the Mafia-principles: “the most LOYAL person gets the job”, not the one who’s best qualified for the job…now loyal is a very positive word.

Another way of saying the same thing, but in a rather negative way, is “the most controllable person gets the job”.

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Now, who is most controllable and why? Read on carefully, here come your qualifications:

  • be an immigrants or be part of a “minority”
      • you may fear issues with authorities or don’t think they will take you seriously and hence you don’t stand up for yourself, aka, you don’t voice your opinion but smile and nod so you “don’t become difficult to work with”.
  • you have a “Degree”, Bachelor’s + 3 months internship is best, but you don’t really know anything nor can you really do anything substantial…of course you “studied” 48 hours prior to an exam on 4 gallons of coffee and / or some uppers like cocaine…then you walked out of the exam and couldn’t remember anything anymore, your head was spinning, but you had a B on the exam. You attended every party and after-party but don’t know what the library looks like from the inside. But you didn’t really apply yourself to the fullest, “cheating” is nothing strange to you and you bullshitted your way through college somehow as long as you have a piece of paper that says “A”.
      • because you know that you don’t know anything really you are an insecure person…you cannot have self-confidence and become a lion because you yourself didn’t accomplish anything to be proud of…you are a sheep who thinks it is a lion until you meet a lion and you become the controllable sheep, sorry, “loyal employee” that you are. You are so loyal that you do things for your boss lion that others wouldn’t do to get ahead and/or please him…like working overtime without extra pay or picking up the phone 24hrs/day and responding to some message or another.
  • Or you are a career changer / “Quereinsteiger”. You were a lion but are now dressed as a sheep. You are very well educated and accomplished in your field…but that career is over…you have been fired from that job and/or couldn’t find a decent job and are now more or less forced to do something else to earn money.
      •  because you know now what the real world looks like you are simply so grateful to finally have a job again and start feeling like a human being again that you would never rock the boat. The pressure, or leash, of making that money is so tight you will do anything to please and fly under the radar.

The more loyal / controllable you are, the better your chances are of climbing up the employee ladder because you have to be elevated into that status by someone else who is already there.

Just like during the NBA draft or when you constantly have to smile while talking to people to appear approachable like a sheep.

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In other words, someone from your “tribe”, a person that has similar points of view, is already in a power position and picks you and elevates you into a different level because you are expected to help him along his way without ever being threatening.

I know this may be difficult to understand but from a human resources perfective, 40% of a company’s workforce can be switched out and it doesn’t affect the bottom-line – PROFIT – at all! 

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What does that mean? It means you could fire 40 employees out of a company that has 100 employees total and rehire some other 40 employees and the company makes the same kind of money. 

They don’t mean anything, they are replaceable but who thinks of themselves as replaceable? Have you ever thought you were simply replaceable?

Chances are you are replaceable.

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Now out of the remaining 60 employees maybe 10 really make a difference in the bottom-line…let’s say to be kind 15 employees who truly matter.

This are the guys who matter and if you are lucky then they will elevate you into a meaningful position you can see yourself in for 10+ years. 

You are lucky if you can truly work for the lion and not a sheep that was put in a baby lions’ (manager) position.

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If you ever make it to that level, the lions make sure to get your support while they know you are never going to be a threat.

How could a sheep really threaten a lion?

America the Greatest or Know-It All Germany?

How to be Successful in 2021
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What environment supports your approach the best way? In other words, which country’s economic system is most conducive to your success, which also has to do with opportunities (e.g. can you live & work in other countries)?

How to be Successful in 2021 in Germany

For example, Germany’s economic system is setup more for the employee – laws are in employees’ favor, unions are somewhat strong.

Or if you work with an intern and that intern doesn’t do anything, basically not doing their job, you, the employer still needs to pay him/her. 

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Or let’s say your female employee gets pregnant then you, the employer, still pays her salary and must keep the position open for her when she returns after 12 months.

Do you get anything in return for your money during the 12 months? Of course not.

Like everything involving Germany bureaucracy nothing is easy, quick, simple or user-friendly.

Let’s say you want to open a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or GmbH as it is called in Germany…first thing you need is €25,000 starting capital. 

Black guy as example for how to be successful in 2021
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Or let’s say you have that lying around and now you want to register your LLC. In places like Berlin you can’t do that online…you have to go to a government office which is open to the public 10hrs/WEEK.

Ok, now you need new internet and phone lines installed…that only takes 10 – 14 weeks in Berlin.

Opening a business bank account takes only 6 – 8 weeks…I could go on endlessly…Germany is not the best environment if you want to be self-employed. 

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Also, Germans are never wrong, consider themselves to be the greatest yet don’t know what service is and have the internet capabilities of a third-world country.

How to be Successful in 2021 in the USA

In the US on the other hand, everything is more or less setup for you to run your own business.

You can open your LLC from your bed…all you need is a computer, internet, credit card, 5 minutes of your time and pay around $100, depending on the state you register your LLC in. 

How to be Successful in 2021
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Then you print out the information and go to your local bank to open a business account…takes about 1 hour and you are ready to go.

That doesn’t mean it’s all sunshine and people just waited for you to become self-employed and open a business…but the hurdles are easier to jump over.

On the other hand, as an employee in in the US you don’t have many rights. It’s hire & fire mentality…getting a job is already difficult but keeping the job is the most difficult part because you have to deliver on a regular basis. For example you have to reach your sales goals.

If you don’t reach your sales goals you get a write up…3 write ups and you are fired. Severance package? Maybe a handshake and good luck wishes!

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Just like in professional sports…if you don’t deliver you are out. Doesn’t matter that you won 2 national championships and the Champion’s League.

If you loose 5 league games in a row you are fired. Doesn’t matter if your name is Jupp Heynckes, Juergen Klopp or Louis van Gaal.

It’s almost like in the animal kingdom. Nobody gives you anything for free and (financial) safety is never a permanent state of affairs…if you haven’t seen “Death by Dawn” you don’t know how brutal the real world is. 


Written by Phil Halfmann

Photographer: Phil Halfmann⠀⠀

Creative Director: Sophia Lenore⠀⠀

Wardrobe Styling: Sophia Lenore

Lead Hair & Makeup: Sophia Lenore

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