Becoming the 1%: Graham Stephan’s Advice on How To Get Ahead of Everyone Else

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Graham Stephan is a popular YouTube millionaire who dispenses financial advice to more than 4 million followers. In a recent 13-minute video, Stephan offered specific suggestions as to how to get ahead of 99% of people in life.

The thoughts he offers are based on his own personal experiences and may or may not apply to everyone. However, these tips have worked for Stephan, and he shares them in an effort to help those who may be looking for direction.

Here’s the advice that Stephan says helped him personally over the last 15 years. 

Also see how much you need to earn to be rich in every state.

Be a Contrarian

The first bit of advice that Stephan offers is that if you want to stand out you’ll have to be a contrarian. While you may very well make it through life by going with the crowd, if you want to get ahead of 99% of people, you’ll have to make contrarian choices.

Stephan refers to this as “Tall Poppy Syndrome,” an age-old story that he says originated in 400 B.C. The analogy is that anything that stands out from the crowd tends to get cut down to size, like tall poppies in the field. Thus, human nature is conditioned toward conforming rather than standing out.

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But innovators who take risks are the ones who change the world and reap the greatest gains. According to Stephan, companies like Apple and Google fit this mold of going against the grain and innovating world-changing solutions.

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If You’re Going Against the Grain, Be Right

Of course, going against the grain isn’t enough to guarantee success. If you want to succeed as a contrarian, you’ll have to be right. This can take both courage and brilliance.

Apple, for example, was mocked when it tried to combine the iPod with a phone, but the iPhone became a global runaway hit that still drives earnings at the company. If Apple had missed its shot, it’s unlikely that it would be the market leader that it is now — in fact, it might have failed entirely. But by going against the grain and being right, Apple is now the most valuable company in the world.

Be Obsessive

Stephan believes that being obsessive is critical to getting ahead of everyone else. By putting in the effort that most other people won’t, you’ll stand out from the crowd. Stephan also believes that without a burning drive to be good at what you’re doing, you’ll naturally burn out or give up, opening up space for the next person who truly is obsessive.

Play to Your Strengths

One of Graham Stephan’s key beliefs is that every person has something that they’re naturally good at. For some people, being athletic is their thing. For others, it might be a particular skill or talent.

Stephan believes that by finding and doing something you’re naturally good at, you’re more likely to stick to it, be obsessive and become exceptional. These are key traits to set yourself apart from the crowd and get ahead. 

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Take the Shot

If an opportunity comes up, Stephan urges you to “take the shot.” Great opportunities in life are few and far between, and if you hesitate or are afraid to make your move, they likely will pass you by. Those who succeed in life and get ahead of everyone else are those who are able to identify opportunities and are willing to act on them immediately.

Turn Negatives Into Positives

There will always be setbacks and negative outcomes on your path to financial success. Stephan believes that anything that comes your way is an opportunity to learn, to improve and to be better.

If you make a sour investment, for example, you can learn from your mistakes and avoid them in the future. If you make a business deal with someone and find out they are unscrupulous, you will be better prepared to avoid that situation in the future.

Rather than being negative about things that happen to you, Stephan suggests that you always find something positive in your experiences to better yourself for the future.

Be Consistent

Success is never guaranteed, and it rarely happens overnight. Stephan stresses that if you want long-term results you’ve got to be consistent with your effort. An example Stephan uses is going to the gym. As he notes, it’s unrealistic to expect to go to the gym for three weeks and come out with a rock-solid body. That type of success takes months, if not years, of diligent, consistent work.

The same is true in your financial life. Making a few changes to your budget, savings patterns or investments isn’t likely to change your life in a few short weeks. But by sticking to a winning plan over the long run — something that many find hard to do — you’re likely to stand out from the pack. 

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