26 Lessons learned from speaking to 50 peak performers

Over four years ago, Ronen Menipaz and I decided to start a podcast. We did it because we felt that around us, in the press, and on social media, success is portrayed in a distorted way. Entrepreneurs are seen ringing stock exchange bells, tremendous investment rounds are celebrated, boundaries are being shattered, and the overall impression, is that for those select few, put on a societal pedestal, it’s easy.

We wanted to portray a more realistic view. To lift the curtain and conduct conversations with the people behind the success. To bridge the gap between those perceived as regular and irregular. To discuss the less glamorous parts of the journey, the hurdles, challenges the crises. To show the thousand faces of the hero as a paraphrase to Joseph Campbell’s mythological structure of the journey of the archetypal hero.

We wanted to help the listeners (and ourselves) identify their personal superpowers, by realizing that behind the largest most intimidating achievements are flesh and blood human beings, who have learned to be the best versions of themselves. 

Real Life Superpowers was born.At first, we leveraged our personal connections to find people to interview. Next, I’d fly to conferences and approach the keynote speakers as they’re stepping off the stage, before they had a chance to remove the mic from their shirt collar, still energized by their talk.

I’d stand in front of them, present myself and tell them about the Israeli podcast. I was always surprised by the number of “yes”s I heard. Some of the biggest names in the entrepreneurial world agreed without hesitation. Speakers with millions of followers, lecturers in Ivy League, founders of the largest companies in Silicon Valley. 

Nowadays the podcast is ranked in the top 10 percent of global podcast, and most interviews are pitched to us (which is surreal). 

50 episodes into the experience, I’m pausing to share some insights, that I think can provide a boost of motivation to people amidst their own journey (regardless of the stage).

  1. There’s no such thing as overnight success – when we hear of glamorous success stories, we’re hearing the tip of the iceberg. I’ve yet to encounter a fairytale story of success that happened overnight. Every success story includes years of hard work, preparation, overcoming challenges, and many breakdowns. It’s just reality. And on top of it, struggles are necessary for growth.
  2. Optimism is key – things will get rough. That’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when. The true winners will navigate their way out of it with a “we got this” attitude. This isn’t to say it’s not stressful and there aren’t times when hope is lost. But they breathe deep, face the storm, and rise to the occasion(s).
  3. Nothing is impossible – I love this one. It comes up a lot in conversations. The understanding is that you can do anything, you just need to be able to ask the right questions. I love this quote by Matan Berkovitz (Forbes U30, TED speaker):“I know everything is possible deep inside. We can make pretty much anything happen given enough x and y. I believe reality is this bendable, tweak-able matrix-like lucid dream. And I think once you take it out of the comfort zone of ‘can I be a musician/astronaut/something that I want to be. Can I tweak reality to get what I want? What does reality NEED that I can perceive or believe that I can help with? It’s not about thinking about the things that are impossible. You should think ‘oh this is something that can potentially be done, that can help people, -maybe I’ll check out how to do it.”
  4. Entrepreneurs aren’t risk-takers – this can be surprising. We have this image of entrepreneurs as people who quit their day job and go all-in on a venture. The opposite is true. Entrepreneurs typically work on side projects and make sure they are making enough out of them before making them their core job. They calculate risks and try to test their assumptions and validate them. And they diversify,  diversify, diversify. You hardly see them doing just one thing and putting all their eggs in one basket.
  5. “Feedback is the breakfast of champions” – Brian Halligan of HubSpot told us this and I think it’s an important lesson. When we stop asking for feedback, we stop improving. We need to be self-critical but also always be actively getting feedback from clients, employees, anyone in our ecosystem that matters. And this doesn’t mean all feedback is true. But it’s a true skill to put your ego aside, truly listen, and choose what to adopt and what to dismiss.
  6. Persistence, not taking no for an answer -this came up from so many of our guests. Investors will tell you no, when selling your product you’ll hear more no than yes. Don’t take no for an answer. Know when to move onto a better fit but don’t let go of your overall vision because you’re facing rejection. Rejection is part of the game. You’ll hear more noes than yeses and it’ll hone you for the next pitch. You’ll become more accurate and also find people who are probably more relevant to your ecosystem.
  7. Always validate and have a backup plan – don’t fall in love with an idea. Make sure you’re validating. If you have an idea for a tech startup, start by providing the service manually for a group of people who you identify as the target audience and see if it makes sense to develop technology around it. Always think lean and make sure you’re not becoming too attached and losing your grip on reality. Sometimes an idea is too early, sometimes it’s just not good enough when faced with a market. Don’t give up too soon, but know when to give up.
  8. Sports brings a lot of good values and methodologies into your life – find time to exercise and ideally, pick up a sport that can help you practice discipline, frustration, and development of skills. It’s like a micro-lab for life.
  9. The power of vulnerability – we sometimes have this notion that a leader needs to be fearless and almost without feelings. That’s a myth. The best leaders and performers are vulnerable. They know when to be empathetic with their teams, they see them. And they know when to show they’re also vulnerable. It’s all about relationships and the genuine ones inherently include vulnerability.
  10. Transparency – it’s hard but it’s effective. Be transparent. Too many of us fear competition, fear what people will think of them. If we’re transparent, we are keeping it real. If we adopt a mindset of prosperity and truly realize there’s enough for all, we can share knowledge and add real value to our ecosystem.This also means being open with your people when the shit hits the fan. You fear they’ll jump ship but you’ll amazingly find that your people will step up if you’re open with them.
  11. Applying problem-solving principles to every situation – most problems can be solved when asking the right questions and addressing them correctly. When we face a problem we don’t know how to solve, we can step back and ask ourselves what questions will help us find the answers. Tony Robbins says “there is no such thing as problems – only questions that are not asked.”
  12. No man is an island – we can’t succeed on our own. We need to surround ourselves with people with whom we share values. We are the average of the 5 people around us. Make sure to surround yourself  with people that make you the best version of yourself.
  13. Group dynamics – the people in your team need to feel comfortable to speak up. Some are introverts, some just fear criticism – an environment that encourages an open non-judgmental discussion is crucial for team success.
  14. The power of networking – always work on growing your network. If you’re an introvert you can do it online – there’s no one way to network so don’t steer away from it altogether. And note that networking doesn’t just mean who you know. As Mari Smith told us it – means who knows YOU. When asked about you, who would vouch for you?
  15. Connecting the dots – if you’re passionate about something, go and learn it. Even if your entire surrounding tells you you’re wasting time. Some of the best combinations in the world are of skills that are intersected in the most serendipitous ways.
  16. Nobody wants to buy a business that wants to get out of the businessstarting a business with the only goal of selling it is a problem. The most productive and successful acquisitions have always begun as business partnerships.
  17. Prioritize being useful to successful – be great. Find a way to help and add value. Make sure you’re truly solving a problem.
  18. Get the people and investors you deserve – as Larry Kim told us – allow yourself to be crazy and dream. The right investors will join you for the ride. And you want the right investors with you. Don’t compromise and build your own jail.
  19. Self-care – don’t forget the importance of your well-being. Meditate, go for a walk. Sleep. Have people you love around you. It’s not a cliche. It’s life.
  20. Pivoting – there’s a quote by Mike Tyson: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” Life will punch you in the face. Pivoting is a natural part of doing. Embrace it. Chances are you’ll set off to do something and end up pivoting at one stage or another.
  21. The power of listening – many times in life, the answers will come if we just pause and listen. We tend to ask questions and not listen to the answer. We tend to listen but not to what’s not being said. Active listening is a skill and one we should all (or most of us) work on. Don’t listen to reply, don’t listen to find the holes in the argument, don’t listen for a pause so you can speak. Listen to understand. A great practice is to reflect back on what you heard.
  22. Standing on the shoulders of giants – no success story is the story of one person. Knowledge is evolving throughout humanity, and we are leaning on the experience of others to push forward. It’s humbling to truly understand that.
  23. Challenges NEVER end – you’ll overcome one and another will be around the corner. It’s true for entrepreneurship as much as it is for life in general. So, embrace the sweet sailing times and prepare for the stormy ones. Look at it as a quest, and when a challenge presents itself, remember you’ve already overcome challenges in the past, and this is yet another one to deal with.
  24. Be self-critical – you’re not good at everything. Ouch, right? But hey, nobody is. Find people who complete you for the things you’re not good at. That’s what comprises a dream team. More of the same doesn’t equal growth. On that note:
  25. Work on your weaknesses – just because you’re not good at something doesn’t mean you should completely ignore it. Be aware of what you can improve at and what is a sheer waste of time. This is not a zero-sum game and even if you have someone else on your team in charge of something, you can still have some level of involvement.
  26. Love what you do – that’s painful because so many of us end up doing things we’re good at but aren’t passionate about. As David Benjamin told us – ask yourself if you can do this for the rest of your life. When the answer is yes, you know you’re on the right track. And by the way, it’s ok if the answer changes down the road – always attune your inner compass.

I invite you to listen to the podcast and reach out to me for any thoughts/ feedback

Listen on our official website or via your favorite streaming platform:

Real Life Superpowers website
Apple Podcasts

About the Author
For over a decade Noa has been helping startups strategize, build authority online and grow. She is a curious marketer and entrepreneur, passionate about bringing innovative ideas to life. This passion gave her the opportunity to meet extraordinary people with extraordinary stories and she's become fascinated by what makes them tick. In her podcast “Real Life Superpowers” she tries to reverse engineer the journeys of peak performers and inspire people (and herself) to tap into their own superpowers. She has been recognized as a thought leader by the Daily Telegraph. Her book "The Smart Marketer's Guide to Google Adwords” was an Amazon no.1 bestseller. Her digital marketing agency Bold Digital Architects has acclaimed several industry awards.
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