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What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?

February 10, 2015, 3:53 PM UTC
1937: A man puts a comforting arm round the shoulders of another as he proffers him advice. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
Photograph by Fox Photos/Getty Images

Answer by Auren Hoffman, LiveRamp CEO. Started & sold 5 companies (and many more that failed)

Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. We are moving into a winner-take-all world and to win, you need to differentiate.

Most people (including my ten-year-ago self) improved by focusing on their faults. People who focus on their faults can eventually improve them to a point where they are no longer obstacles, but doing so will not propel them to success. A better strategy is to focus on one or two of the things at which you excel and hone those skills or talents to the point of excellence. Working on your faults might help you make a living, but honing your talents may help you change the world.

The impulse to focus on your weaknesses is a vestigial remain of an outmoded era in our evolution. I’m writing this in January (2015) so it is a good time to review your New Year’s Resolutions. My resolutions from 2005 were mostly about working on my flaws. And like many determined people, I did make improvement. But that improvement came at the expense of what could-have-been if I had worked on going from good-to-great on my strengths.

Suppose you are really good at developing computer algorithms and really bad at showing up on time. It might take an X amount of effort to become really great at computer algorithms and let’s say it takes X/4 effort to become average at showing up on time. Both are improvements that increase your value, but being great at computer algorithms will pay exponential dividends (even though it is harder to achieve). And even better for you, since you are already good at computer algorithms, it means you probably enjoy it and so that time improving will be really fun too.

This question originally appeared on Quora: What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?