The best advice I ever received (and the #1 skill in life)

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I sat down with a mentor in Ithaca NY when I was a junior in college. I had just started Storage Squad.

He had gotten wealthy off a sweaty startup. Foundation repair. And sold the company for 8 figures in 2007 before coming on as an entrepreneurship professor at Cornell is 2010. A great guy who is one of my friends to this day.

One of his first questions surprised me.

“Nick do you like sales and would you consider yourself a good salesman?”

No. I hate sales. It is uncomfortable and awkward. I prefer to operate and be a visionary. I like to create strategy and execute on that strategy.

He rolled his eyes.

“If you don’t like sales I think you should give up this startup thing and go get a job.”

“Life as an entrepreneur is sales. You are selling your employees on trusting you and following you. You are selling your partners on coming along for a ride with you and what you bring to the table. You are selling your investors on giving you money. Hell, you are selling your vendors on selling to you!”

I was shocked and shaken.

Here I pictured an entrepreneur in front of a whiteboard strategizing. Or out in the field working on a problem. Or thinking deeply about how to solve a problem.

Was he right? Was that all a false image of what its like to run a company.

I remember thinking about this exchange every single day for weeks afterwards. I couldn’t get it out of my head.

Over the next 6 months I put together one of the most important ways of the world in existence:

Every single person in this world is selfish and they are looking for ways to make their own lives better every single day.

Many of them, luckily, achieve that goal through helping others and we live in an abundant world where if you help others it is the best way to get more for yourself (whether that be with money or social capital).

Here is a news flash:

Every single person in this world is selfish.

Your wife is with you because you can make her life better. Your employee works for you because you pay the most and provide the most opportunity or most rewarding workspace. Your partners partner with you because they can make more money with you than they can alone.

Anyone who denies this very obvious fact about life ends up miserable, unhappy victims.

They think they are owed something. Strong relationships with people who help them out. Great jobs with bosses who just pay them great money out of the kindness of their heart.

The truth is that if you don’t bring anything to the table, you will get nothing out of this world because nobody will be able to benefit off of you.

The commonality here is that humans are selfish.

So if you want a great spouse become a person a great spouse wants, or who can give a spouse a good life and be a good partner.

If you want great employees to join your company you need to provide them strong leadership, a solid plan, good money and respect.

If you want somebody to invest in your business you need to prove to them that you can make them money.

Instead of looking around at the world and trying to figure out what it can do for you, look around and figure out HOW YOU can become a person that adds value at every turn. Then watch your life explode with opportunity.

My mentor in Ithaca back in 2011 was right and it changed my life.

The life of an entrepreneur is sales 24/7.

To build a company you need a lot of other human beings to trust you and WANT to do a transaction with you THAT BENEFITS THEM.

People could care less what you want or what benefits you. They NEED something from you and if you don’t provide it they could care less what you want.

Customers need your service. Employees need your wage. Partners need your skills. Vendors need to be sure you can pay and hold up your end of the bargain.

You are selling what you bring to the table and how you can benefit other people in every single interaction you engage in.

I realized right then that if I wanted to be wealthy and successful I had to get good at sales. I had to be able to convince people to do what I wanted them to do because there was something in it for them. I had to create win-win relationships. And I had to convince everyone around me that my way was the best way.

Luckily I woke up and took this seriously.

It changed my life.




Onward and upward,

Nick Huber


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I have financial interest in many companies mentioned in this newsletter.

Nick Huber

I own a real estate firm with over 1.9 million square feet of self storage and 45 employees. I also own 6 other companies with over 400 employees. I send deal breakdowns with P&Ls. Newsletter topic: Real Estate, Management, Entrepreneurship

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