How To Create Opportunities In Life And Business (And Make The Most Of Them)

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by Shaa Wasmund I went and had lunch with Russell Simmons! It was an incredible experience – and then he chauffeured me down to this pl...

I went and had lunch with Russell Simmons!
It was an incredible experience – and then he chauffeured me down to this place called Cryo that he was raving about.
You get into a pod which is kept at -180˚C, for two minutes. It was scary because it’s like dry ice and it looked like a padded cell. And the whole time I was thinking ‘Why are you doing this?’
I took the opportunity to try Cryo because it gave me a unique connection to Russell Simmons.
So that leads me into what I want to talk to you about in this post, which is how to create opportunities for ourselves.
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I want to share with you why I think it’s so important to get out of your comfort zone and take those opportunities
When we are open to all kinds of experiences, and when we listen, amazing things can happen for us. I believe that most of the opportunities I’ve ever missed in my life were because I wasn’t paying attention, because I wasn’t listening and because I was too scared of taking that opportunity.
If we are really honest with ourselves there have been moments in all of our lives where, for whatever reason, we didn’t take opportunities.
Lots of you reading this go to events all the time. But how often do you really, really make a massive effort to make connections with people?
Whenever I go anywhere I make a massive concerted effort to listen to people and to make connections with people – but genuine connections. I’m not interested in who’s the most powerful person in the room, who’s the most successful, or who’s the richest.
What I’m interested in is who I can truly connect with over the long term, and that requires active listening.
We are going to miss 100% of the shots that we never take
It sounds like a cliché but it’s true. How often have you had an opportunity and you were too scared or you didn’t want to step out of your comfort zone and you missed it? How many things have we looked back on in life and thought ‘I wish I’d done that’?
You have to step out of your comfort zone. When you find yourself in any situation where you can put yourself forward, you have to do it. Otherwise you look back and regret what you didn’t do. In my first book Stop Talking, Start Doing I say that regret weighs far more than fear, but fear appears much scarier.
Because we’re afraid of what will happen, we decide not to do something. How many times have you decided not to go for a promotion or pitch for a new client because you thought you wouldn’t get it? That’s our biggest challenge in life. It’s to push fear out of the way and recognise that regret is always going to weigh far more than fear ever does.

We want to embrace fear
I’m so grateful for all the opportunities I have and I’m conscious that I’m living an incredible life filled with opportunities. But it didn’t happen overnight. This is the culmination of years and years of hard work from my part, putting myself forward and not being afraid to fail.
We could fail at anything. But we could also succeed at anything. So why don’t we succeed at making the most of opportunities. Why don’t we succeed at creating opportunities?
I would rather take more shots
There’s some fantastic research into the field of sports. The players who score the most shots in basketball are also the ones who take the most shots.
Making a genuine connection with my business hero
In the end I made a real, genuine connection with my business hero. But a lot of that came from the fact that I did a ton of research before I met him.
I didn’t just do the superficial research – I had 26 pages, then I picked out all the things I felt were most important to me, and where I felt I might be able to build a rapport with Russell. Then I went online and watched every single video where he talked about those topics.
I decided, in that moment, this was 90 minutes I had with him and I wanted to make the most of it. I brought up his ADHD, from my research, and I asked him to turn his phone off. I recognised that if I didn’t, I was never going to have his attention over that lunch. And he did put his phone down, and then I found every chance I could to actually connect with him.
I said to him ‘You know what, Russell, I bet you have to do these kinds of lunches all the time. So why don’t we talk about something different? What’s exciting you the most right now?’ Then he launched into this passionate five minute conversation around the new business he’s starting.
Instead of going off into a spiel about my bio, I just told him a little bit at a time, when it was relevant. When we were talking about filming I said, ‘Well, actually, I’m in the content industry.’ Then we talked about the work I do, and my books.
Then we started talking about meditation. He said ‘It’s been proven in sports and business to impact your ability to focus.’ And I thought ‘Okay, this is my opportunity to segue in and talk about how I used to be the only licensed female boxing manager, without seeming like I’m showing off’.
Then we started connecting across multiple levels. I waited and actively listened, and then about three quarters of the way through lunch I felt like we had an actual connection.
That’s why, at the end of the lunch, he said ‘I’m going to take you over to Cryo. I want you to message me tomorrow morning and tell me you’ve tried my app. Take my number – I really want to know what you think about what we’re doing.’
So, instead of being focused on getting attention, focus on giving attention to other people.
I promise you it pays you back tenfold… a hundredfold.

Actively listen to other people, put yourself out there, make the most of opportunities, and you can create opportunities from nothing. I promise you, you can. But you have to show up.

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