I decided a while back that I wouldn’t become one of these people. I didn’t want to be a wunderkind. I wasn’t going to play off the cute little stories about prodigies and the blessed.

When I first started, I got to ride that wave a bit, I was the lucky kid that worked for Tucker Max. Then I got in over my head and it became a little harder to reduce it all to a couple of sentences. I lost shiny simpleness of a narrative.

The Executive’s big thing is being underestimated. As a rule, he almost never takes credit – the least of which includes not letting me use his real name. The idea is that ultimately it gives you the freedom to actually get things done. Tucker too – you’ve never seen Rudius Media mentioned in the press. They’ve been able to bifurcate themselves from their ego, to submit their emotions to strategy.

When someone doesn’t reckon you with the seriousness that you’d like, the impulse is to correct them. You want to remind them of what they’ve forgotten – your ego screams for you to indulge it. I think though, that when you really step back and think about it, you more often realize that you’ve just been handed an advantage. If you can not take it personally, if you can take the deep breath and hold your bearings, you buy yourself an incredible pocket of freedom.

It’s about taking some knocks in pursuit of a larger goal – in many cases, for a chance to develop. You can dull the jabs by anticipating them. For a young person I can tell you what you’ll see: Dismissals. The “why the fuck is he here?” looks. There’s the paranoia and secrecy. Little fuck yous that imply you don’t deserve to be there.

It sucks. Taking this path isn’t fun, young or old. You have to turn down press. You pass up open shots. You defer. You get yelled at. You pretend that you’re confused. You work for other people. You say that you don’t care.

I have so much I’d like to throw in people’s faces. I get to come on my own site and take shit about stuff that could be very easily cleared up. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I can’t really say “what it is that I do.” It’s almost certainly limited the growth of this site. But I don’t and I won’t. And now it doesn’t bother me as much.

When you really think about it, there’s the taint of shamelessness that comes with holding yourself on high anyway. Do you want to be Robert Scoble or do you want to get things done? What the fuck do you care if someone toys with the illusion that you’re expendable? It’s been the hardest lesson I have had to learn. It goes against everything you feel inside. You have to quell deeply visceral impulses. I don’t think it’s so much something you master as it is an ongoing process of keeping your ego in check – making sure that you dictate it rather than the alternative.

If can get into that rhythm you burst into a strategic place that almost everyone else is excluded from. Their ego checks them at the door. Maybe it’s more fun on the outside, I don’t know. From everything I’ve seen though, if you want to stay lean and accomplished and motive you only have one option.

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.