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by Cathy Vandewater | January 24, 2013


Sad news has been making the internet rounds this week: Aleksey Vayner, of Youtube, Gawker, and Ivygate fame apparently died last week at the age of 29.

Don't recognize the name? Vayner, who later changed his last name to Stone after months of harassment, is the auteur of a video resume grandly titled, "Impossible Is Nothing." It features an interview with Vayner, as well as dramatic scenes of the then 23-year-old power lifting, catching air on a ski slope, slamming serves on the tennis court, ballroom dancing with partner in a studio, and finally, karate chopping a stack of bricks into oblivion.

Sound impressive? Well, UBS, the lucky recipient of Vayner's video (alongside a resume, cover letter, length writing sample, and head shot) didn't think so. They sent the aspiring banker's materials to other banks, who then passed it to their contacts. Vayner almost immediately became a Wall Street laughing stock, took a leave of absence from his school, Yale, and was last heard from publicly when scandals about a self published book (allegedly plagiarized) and a less than legitimate charity hit headlines.

But if you can get past the sillier aspects of Vayner's self aggrandizing video, his advice isn't bad.

In his honor, here are a few words of wisdom from the man for which "impossible" was nothing:

1. "Success is mental transformation, it's not an external event"

This is a vague statement, but it could be interpreted as: success is not one event that happens to you. Rather, it's an attitude, work ethic, or way of thinking that continuously gets results, even through obstacles. You know those people that win the lottery or write a hit single and then go on to live miserable, poverty-stricken, friendless lives? The external event was there, but not the mental transformation.

2. "To be successful, you must first know exactly what you want to achieve"

Fame, fortune, and lifetime happiness aren't realistic goals, but without a specific achievement in mind, you might as well be defining success that way—then lapse into believing you've failed miserably if that doesn't happen. Know what—specifically—you're trying to achieve, and put it in the most concrete terms possible for yourself: a deadline, a numeric value, or a certain milestone. How otherwise can you know if you've been succesfful?

3. "You need to commit to the sacrifices that it will take"

We all know on some level that we can't have everything. But the reality of it—being hungry on a diet, for example, or staying up late applying to jobs after a 12 hour work day—can often throw us for a loop. Expect hardship and prepare for it. Stay committed anyway.

4. "You must believe beyond any reasonable doubt that you will achieve your goals"

It's hard enough trying to achieve something without questioning it all the time. Do yourself a favor: save your mental energy for worry about how you can do something, not if.  

5. "Your level of physical fitness reflects directly in your mental sharpness and the energy level that you have to take care of your tasks"

Vayner describes physical training (as a reel of him pressing almost 500 pounds rolls) as a form of mental training. Whatever Vayner's "personal experiences" regarding the connection between physical and mental fitness, it's hard to argue with his ideas that the mental aspect of doing hard, physical exercise teaches you to push through difficulty and learn to withstand it better. That kind of willpower comes in handy both on the job, and during a difficult job search.

6. "Always push your limits, always push your comfort zone"

See above. Often, we live our lives avoiding discomfort. But looking back, you'll probably realize that the difficult moments or challenging experiences are what pushed you ahead.

7. Successful people think in very specific patterns which then create opportunities for them that they can see; an average observer thinks that's luck"

Seeing opportunity in what others perceive as ordinary or common places is a talent worth developing. As Vayner notes, luck doesn’t just fall in your lap. You have to first identify your chances before you can seize them.

8. Success requires persistence, perseverance, attention to detail, and of course, patience."

You thought it was going to be easy?

9. "Ignore the losers"

File this one under "saving your mental energy." Don't waste time trying to appease naysayers." Don't worry about explaining. In fact, don't bother with chronically negative people at all.

10. "Live your life openly; if you're going to work, work; if you're going to train, train; if you're going to dance, dance, and do it passionately"

We're going to let this one speak for itself. RIP Aleksey.

--Cathy Vandewater,

Read More:
Confirmed: Aleksey Vayner, the Yale Grad With the Infamous Video Resume, Is Dead (Updated) (Gawker)
Is an M.B.A. Worth It?
New Year’s Resolutions: How to Make the Most of 2013