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Life Lessons From Game Of Thrones



game of thrones lessons

Some shows are great entertainment but don’t apply in the real world. GOT isn’t one of those. Game of Thrones has many life lessons throughout the show that are extremely practical.

This hit series has become so popular that universities are now offering Game of Thrones courses for their students. That’s right, you can actually get college credits for comparing the book and the show, and discussing anthropology, sexuality, politics, and more.

The list of universities who offer these special courses includes the University of Virginia, Northern Illinois University, University of California-Berkeley, University of Tulsa, University of British Columbia, Rice University, State University of New York at Cortland, Drexel University, and Roanoke College. I’m sure more colleges will offer similar classes going forward.

So if you’re a big enough Thrones fan, maybe it’s worth it to transfer? I’m kidding, but crazier things have happened.

Don’t worry if your university is slow to the trend, because you can still learn timeless lessons from this show.

How Game Of Thrones Applies To You

game of thrones success

Pic from my Instagram account: @brianjrobben

Game of Thrones is more than a hit show. The show spends $10 million or more to produce every episode. It’s actor, Peter Dinklage, won a Golden Globe Award for his performance. The series has won 184 awards and received 305 nominations since 2011. And it’s a famous book series called A Song of Ice and Fire.

But that’s not the reason for this blog post. After all, Take Your Success isn’t one of those Game of Thrones hype pages. (Maybe it should be to get more views?)

My point is that Game of Thrones highlights applicable life lessons for young adults in each season and episode. You might miss these lessons in between all the action and drama, but they’re present.   

I admit this post is framed in a less serious context than normal. But it is what you make of it. Sometimes writing about success in a different context can lead to clarity for someone, or you, that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

So keep an open mind, and keep reading. (FYI: There are many spoilers below.)

7 Game Of Thrones Life Lessons

1. Know who to trust

Trust the wrong person in GOT and your head might be on a stick. Trust the right person and you can develop a powerful political alliance that serves the interests of both parties.

Unfortunately for the Starks, Rob Stark trusted that Walder Frey would keep the sacred pact of peace while eating together during a wedding. Instead, Fey had all the Starks executed in a gory mess during the Red Wedding.

On the other hand, Tyrion wisely trusted Lord Varys to help him escape the city by hiding in a box crate on a ship. Thus avoiding his execution and saving his life because of this trust.

Those are two examples of how trust can cost or save your life.

Application: While your life isn’t on the line if you don’t know who to trust like it is in Thrones, there can be severe consequences for telling classified information to the wrong person. Broken friendships, relationships, and employment opportunities have all occurred thanks to people breaking the line of trust.

So don’t share a secret to your roommate if they’re going to go behind your back and tell the person what you shared to them. Or don’t tell your coworker dirt about your boss if they have a big mouth. Consider who you’re talking to and trust your instincts before you share dangerous information. You never know when it will come back to haunt you if the listener has a loose tongue.

2. Your family and friends are all you got

The goal to protect or advance the family name is at the core of many Thrones fights. The family name for the Lannisters, Starks, and Targaryens holds the utmost importance to individuals who bear the name. So much so that they’re willing to die, and have died, for it.

Because of this mindset, family often comes before integrity and other noble pursuits. All morality goes to the wayside when a family member is threatened or endangered.

We definitely see this family first mentality in Cersei. Although she’s an evil monster, her intentions are pure because they come out of love for her family and children. It’s strange to think that at the core of such despair for other humans is Cersei’s love.

Application: You never know how much you need your support system until you’re faced with a struggle and have nowhere else to turn. And your loved ones are a blessing because they will always be there in times of need.

So appreciate these people. Give your parents a call during the school year to say you love them and speak their love language. Or FaceTime your siblings to see how they’re doing and tell them you much you miss them.

And if you go to a college different from your high school friends, don’t forget about them. Reach out to these old friends when you come across something that reminds you of them. Small communications like this will take little time, but have a big payoff.

3. The world is hard

What’s clear from Game of Thrones is that the world isn’t full of sunshine and happy people.

Jon Snow’s own men betrayed him and stabbed a dagger in his heart. Bran is crippled for life and can’t walk. Cersei has had two of her children die, one right in front of her eyes. Ned Stark, Catelyn Stark, and Rob Stark were all brutally executed in public. Theon Grayjoy lost his man part and his humanity for a long stretch. Stannis Baratheon had his own daughter burned at the stake before dying in battle himself.

I could go on and on, but you get the point. It’s a cruel world in the Seven Kingdoms and beyond. No character goes untouched to hardship.

Application: Navigating the real world to grab the job that leads to a satisfying career is also hard. There’s competition everywhere when applying for internships and full-time positions. Meaning it’s challenging enough to get a good job, and even harder to get your dream job—especially at age 22.

Just like in Thrones, it requires ambition and patience to reach your goals through the difficulty. And you can use some resources along the way.

Order The Golden Resume to creatively market yourself and tell powerful stories in your job interviews. Or learn how to use Twitter to find a job for an outside the box approach. Although the world is hard, all the obstacles can be overcome.

4. Experience breeds strength

You wouldn’t wish Arya Stark’s childhood on your worst enemy. This girl saw her beloved father beheaded. Then learned her mom and brother were murdered. The Lannisters ripped her entire family apart. Talk about a rough life!

But she didn’t give up when she had every reason to do so. No, she committed to avenging her father, mastered her sword skills, and is the toughest cookie on the show in my opinion. She killed a guy and didn’t think twice about it.

In the current season, she has been beaten, blind, and stabbed but she continues to fight on in strength.

Application: Complaining gets you nothing in life. So get rid of the bad attitude the second it comes over you. Instead, be positive about the lessons gained from your struggles to keep moving forward.

For example, it’s a shame you failed an exam, but you can’t go back in time to change that. You can only learn from it and become a better, more prepared student going forward. So if this happens to you, read about these exam mistakes and study a week in advance.

Or if you’ve applied to 15 jobs and were denied by all of them, the best move is not to sit on your bed and cry. It’s to review what you’re doing wrong to come at it with a new approach. Research a company and make a customized resume. Practice good interview answers. At the time struggles suck, but over time you’ll realize they helped you improve as an individual.

5. Knowledge is power

Varys has a network of spies, including children, who inform him of the secrets and vital information in the kingdom. This is the reason he’s always seen as a valuable asset.

Cersei remains powerful through blackmail and threatening information on her enemies.

Littlefinger survives and is a game changer based on his intel that comes ever so in handy in tight situations.

And although Tyrion is a dwarf, his knowledge gives him far more influence than physically stronger characters.

These characters haven’t died like other notable ones, and it’s because they play one step ahead with their knowledge.

Application: Because knowledge is power when it comes to your college and career success, it’s crucial that you constantly seek it in your field.

Go to office hours to get extra, outside-of-class information on the material. Intern at an organization that’s going to push your understanding further. Start a major project or do research on your own. If you continue to have the learner’s mentality, there’s no limit on your potential.

It’s because of this reality that I’m always reading books. You never know what you’ll learn from a non-fiction or fiction book, so start reading. Read the best books for college students, search the bestseller list on Amazon, and grab books at a local bookstore. Since knowledge is power, read often and you’ll be well prepared for whatever life throws at you.

6. You can’t do everything on your own

About every episode of Game of Thrones highlights the concept that people rely on other people to succeed.

For example, Dany desires the counsel of Daario, Tyrion, Grey Worm, and Missandei to run Meereen. And now the mother of dragons needs the help of others to get a thousand ships to set sail and conquer more territory.

It’s also the exact reason why in last episode (“The Broken Man”) Jon Snow and Sansa Stark were going through The North asking for different house’s support to take back Winterfell  by defeating Ramsay Bolton’s army. They need help to reclaim their castle, and they can’t reach their goals by themselves.

Application: It’d be nice if you could do everything on your own in your group project, internship hunt, or career, but you can’t. That’s why a huge skill to develop is emotional intelligence.

When you’re able to understand and cooperate effectively with other people, you’re immediately seen as an all-star and you’ll deliver everywhere you go. Interviewers will sense your charm. People will feel compelled to help you out, to pull all their strings to see you succeed. These things will be the norm when you truly connect with others.

Emotional intelligence is underrated, but those who master, like Bill Clinton, do big things.

7. Take action

Petry Baelish and Daenerys Targaryen are always taking action to advance their goal of reaching the Iron Throne. No strategy and no action means no progress for them, which isn’t their lifestyle.

Jon Snow always takes action to lead by example in battle or politics. In doing he inspires almost everyone around him to do more and become better. Even Samwell Tarly starts to believe in himself because of Jon Snow’s actions. Snow is arguably the most lovable Thrones character based on his integrity to take action for what’s right, no matter if it’s popular.

And the reason King Tommen sucks is because he doesn’t do anything.

Application: Don’t wait for everything to align perfectly so you can fall into your destination. Go out and do what you love.

If you’re unhappy at work, find work that you enjoy. Spend time traveling to learn about this beautiful world. Enjoy the pleasure of being loved and loving other people.

Life is best lived by doing and not watching. You only get one chance to live so give it your all with no regrets.

What lesson from Game of Thrones applies best to your life? Who is your favorite character? Comment below with any Game of Thrones discussion and I’ll respond to every comment.



Life Tip: Never Take Anything Good For Granted



Have you ever had something really good in your life, until you took it for granted and lost it? What a horrible, miserable feeling, right? It’s the worst.

I know from experience.

My senior year of basketball still leaves a sour taste in my mouth thinking about it.

It’s strange though because it started out good, like really good.

After thousands of hours of insane dedication to practice my basketball craft and improve my shooting, dribbling, passing, defending, and rebounding, I reached a dream of mine: make the starting lineup for the St. Xavier Bombers varsity basketball team.

Not only that, my first game of the year couldn’t have been better considering I only played 14 minutes the entire game. The stat line below proves it.


And we won the game by 23 points. Everything is going smooth, until it wasn’t.

From the next game through the last game of the year it was all downhill.

Let me explain.

The Lost & Final Basketball Season

Let’s just say I was a different guy in high school. Now I’m all motivated and focused on building my businesses and leaving a legacy.

But the 18-year-old Brian was all about wreaking havoc and having a good time above all.

To express himself at school or during basketball team activities, he’d go as far as he could to toe the line of breaking the rules for pure laughs and excitement. Often he crossed the line.

Here are some of the reckless things I did during that basketball season:

  • After receiving a hard foul when driving to the basket, I stayed on the ground and racked off 5 push ups before shooting foul shots
  • On the bench during a pre-season game, I grabbed my phone and sent a tweet out to my Twitter followers explaining what I just did (tweeted during the game)
  • Ruined team pictures by putting a 3 goggles sign on my thigh, so the school had to retake them a week later
  • Stormed the refs locker room after a frustrating overtime loss when a bunch of questionable calls went against us
  • Put a teammate in a headlock during a shoot around hours before a game
  • And a lot more crazy stuff

That’s not close to all of the bad-boy moves.

I don’t know if you realize this, but it’s hard to play solid basketball and stay in the coaching staff’s good graces when you’re messing around whenever you can. It doesn’t work out well.


That’s why it’s to no shock looking back that I got suspended twice. The first time I had to sit out two quarters against our biggest rival. And then I was suspended a full week from the team later in the year.

Not to mention a bunch of other disciplinary issues and conflicts with coaches that I don’t have time nor want to discuss.

It all boils down to the fact that my antics sabotaged my final year of basketball.

After the season ended, the problem was I couldn’t go back in time to stay focused on basketball and give it my 100% again. That ship had sailed. The opportunity was gone.

So I had to, and now have to, live with regret when thinking back to that year and what could have been.

But regret about not appreciating the game of basketball isn’t the only thing I received from that experience. It’s the unforgettable lesson: never take anything good for granted.

Fortunately I learned this lesson at age 18, not 48.

Never Take It For Granted

Thanks to my failure that year, I developed a wiser perspective to appreciate the good things in my life.

So now I know never to take my work, my company, my clients, my health, my friends, my family, and life in general for granted. Regret is the worst feeling out there so I want to live in a way that eliminates it.

Where maybe if my senior year basketball season went smoother I’d never have learned the full extent of that lesson. Who knows? Maybe something far worse than a disappointing basketball season could have went down.

But because of the outcome I get to hold that experience in my back pocket going forward. I turned a scar into an advantage.

Although it’s always cool for me to flip negative experiences into positive ones, it’d be even better if I didn’t have to learn the hard way.

Truth is you don’t have to be a dummy like me.

I don’t know what your “it” is (I can guess it’s your family, friends, faith, career, pets, house, teachers, and country). I do know you need to never take it for granted if you want what’s best out of your life.

Also, don’t forget to appreciate the little things that come and go during the passing days.

It could be your peaceful commute to work where you’re alone with your thoughts. It could be the Monday morning cup of coffee you can afford without thinking about. Or it can be your place’s proximity to the beach that other people would kill to have.

Never taking life’s big and small gifts for granted is a big step to living the good life.

And there’s another reason to have this mindset: you don’t want to mess around with regret.

Regret Is Brutal, Eliminate It

Regret is the worst feeling out there in my opinion.

Sadness sucks but you can become happy again. Anger isn’t fun but you can eventually relax and get over it.

But regret, there’s no way to reverse it and recover. It sticks with you the rest of your life. That’s why it’s brutal.

Your only solution is to do your best job to eliminate it at all times by both being super grateful for what’s good in your life and staying focused to keep it going well.

If you are unappreciative and lose focus, there’s sometimes no going back from there. Your fate is often sealed once the moment ends.

I want my life to be filled with as little regret as possible. That’s part of the ingredients for a great life, in my humble opinion.

Don’t you agree? Please join me in this effort to never take anything good for granted.

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Personal Development

Brian, Promise You’ll Never Stop Writing



Hey guys, to celebrate video number 40 on my YouTube channel I put together a different kind of video.

Here I share a personal story and value I hold dear to my heart. It’s all about my relationship with writing and how it’s went from zero to hero in my life.

I hope you enjoy the video and feel inspired!

If you’re interested, here’s the transcript:

Let’s first take it back to high school. You sucked at writing. Just like all of your other classes, you hated it and let your teachers know by your classroom antics or naps, and doing the bare-minimum on papers.

Writing never interested you because it was a part of the school system you went to war against.

Brian this is a note to your future self.

Things changed your freshman year of college. You wanted to be a big time lawyer, and writing soon became your major since top lawyers know how to read and write well. So you needed to write, and write well, to get a top GPA and reach your dreams. And you did.

But things changed again. You said see ya to law school, hello entrepreneur land and started the blog That meant constant writing, and hours of it to publish 2-3 posts a week for the past few years. And then you became an author from your writing, already accomplishing a major achievement on your bucket list through this method of communication.

Now writing is your daily routine as much as breathing and eating is. Writing is your public and personal journal, the world sees it but you know the heart of what’s behind the words and the words unsaid. Writing is magical to you.

Although you’re a business owner, author, and coach, at the end of the day, remember your journey all started from a blog, from writing. You’re a writer, writing your story as you go, figuring it out piece by piece, and telling the world, striving to create your legacy one word at a time.

So note to future self, never stop writing. You wouldn’t be the same without it. And all great stories have a storyteller. You happen to be your own storyteller, just how you like it.

What’s your story?

What do you want to tell your future self to commit to?

What’s magical to you?

I hope by hearing part of my story you find clarity in your story. Because we’re all in this thing called life together, so let’s make the most of it.

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The Art Of Negotiation: Care Less




The art of negotiation is truly an art. Either you’re skilled enough to win, or you’ll stumble to the finish line as a loser. Those are the only two possible outcomes.

Depending on the deal, the difference in winning and losing could mean securing your dream job or entering unemployment, getting a deal or getting ripped off $10 grand, and building a million dollar business or going bankrupt.

But like many things in life—how to write a winning resume, who to marry, how to make money, how to invest—no one teaches negotiation.

Our parents: only if we’re lucky. The school system: fails at this. The government: nope.

If government and corporations had it their way, we’d never learn to negotiate so we would have to take the short stick without complaining. That’s just wrong.

Since you’re reading this article, you’re on the right path though. Because the first step is to want to know how to negotiate better.

The second step is to learn how…

“He Who Cares Less, Wins”

Emotions can often be helpful.

For example, you should feel love toward the person you’re about to marry before you go through with it. Duh!

Or you should feel sad when your parents are getting old and sick. That sadness can help you appreciate them better and prioritize quality time going forward.

But in the negotiation arena, emotions will kill you before you know it. It’ll be like a sniper with his finger on the trigger and a red dot on your chest—it’s already too late for you.

Why do emotions kill negotiation ability? It’s mainly because feelings cloud judgement.

Your brain focuses on how it’s feeling instead of reason, logic, and answering does the math work for you to go forward. Insecurities also come into play, which can make you do the opposite of what you intended.

Clouded judgement leads to rash decisions and often buyer’s remorse.

It also costs you real dollars.

This study found anxious negotiators were more likely to take deals 12% less financially attractive than their counterparts. If it’s a 12% loss off a $500,000 mortgage, we’re talking about $60,000. That’s a big deal!

But consider someone’s approach who couldn’t care less about winning the deal: They’re relaxed. They speak clearly and listen carefully. And they’re focused on the specific details of what they’re getting and giving.

Not to mention they hold the leverage because they don’t need the deal. If it helps them they’ll take it, but by no means are they getting on their hands and knees to beg for it like a dog.

It’s not hard to figure out that someone who is relaxed and focused performs better than someone who is scatterbrained and under pressure.

This explains precisely why caring less helps you win.

Plus, when you care less, you can’t lose. You either win the deal on your terms or you leave it on the table as a draw.

Caring less is precisely how you ensure you never make a bad deal that takes the shirt off your back. Those deals are the unrecoverable ones that will leave you unable to sleep at night.

Let’s check out how caring less comes to play out in day-to-day scenarios.

Real Life Negotiations

Negotiation happens everywhere, all the time.

You probably just miss it or don’t label them as deal-making.

To open your eyes and get a grip on how this goes down, read these four examples about how negotiating the right way changes the entire landscape.

1. Grad school admissions: Whether a grad school accepts you and how much money they give you comes down to 100% negotiation.

The university is negotiating to get the best students in their class (and fill the seats to make money). You’re negotiating to get into the school and make the best choice for yourself.

If you’re a top candidate with acceptances to all the elite schools, the game is on to negotiate the best offer package. You’ll want to negotiate for a fat scholarship, maybe a stipend, and see if you can get anything else (like a teaching assistant job) to entice you to come.

If you have average grades and admissions test scores, you’re playing a game of negotiating to get into better schools with no scholarship or less reputable ones with scholarship money. Use the acceptances into the better schools as leverage to get more money.

2. Buying a car: This is the classic negotiation scenario used from personal finance bloggers to authors. (Maybe because just about everyone buys a car and has room to negotiate.)

If you’re like most people, you’ll arrive at the lot and make a beeline to the car you want. Then tell the salesman, “I’ve always wanted this car. It’s perfect. How much is it?”

Their signals are telling them you’re an easy sale and to negotiate little. You cost yourself potentially thousands of dollars.

But say you come back another day after reading this article and bring a more tactical approach. Instead of making a straight shot to one car, you tell the salesman, “I don’t have any particular car in mind. I’m not sure I really need a car to be honest. Just had some free time and wanted to look around.”

You ask about a few car prices then “randomly” stumble on the one you actually want to ask the price, without being too excited (care less).

This is how the playing field gets tilted. The salesman is now the desperate one trying to both find you the right car and sell it to you.

And when you negotiate, you have to make an offer and be prepared to walk away with nothing (that’s a draw not a loss). There are plenty of stories where someone walks and the dealer calls them back the next day to drop the price to get the deal done.

This scenario works when buying a house, motorcycle, boat, and all other related-purchases.

3. Job offer and salary package: I feel strongly about this one. You have to negotiate your salary if you like yourself!

There’s free money on the other side if you do this well. That’s why I dedicated an entire section of my money book to salary negotiation, and have written about this multiple times on TYS. (See here and here.)

Let’s break it down (assuming you’ve been offered the job): The company is negotiating to get you on their team at a fair (or cheap) price, and you’re negotiating to get the job at a higher price.

Communicating you have other employment options and while you’d love to work here you know you may have to decline the deal, can often make the employer want you more. Odds are they fork over the extra money and hope you pan off as a long-term investment.

But if you don’t know how to negotiate and say, “I accept this,” the second after they tell you the salary offer, there’s no extra money for you. The reason you have less money is all your fault.

4. Business projects: Business comes down to negotiation across the board. If you’re an employee, freelancer, or small business owner, you need to know how to persuade the other side to get the deal and price you want.

Bad business negotiation means being in a place of desperation where you take contracts even if it’s 10%, 25%, or 50% your normal rate. The desperation will come through in your communication and be the reason you get taken advantage of in broad daylight.

A smart employee should recognize your company’s price is your price, and not care if you lose the deal because the person on the other side only values cheap labor, and not high quality work.

A freelancer should know the value in their work, price it accordingly, and have a take it or leave it mentality with clients. There’s always more work to be won instead of compromising your skill for cheap labor.

A business owner should double their rates to bring in more revenue (assuming they have a solid product, sales, and marketing), while not caring if they lose their smaller clients. That’s the quickest way to bring in more money, and it sure beats getting nickel and dimed on project rates.

Final Words

Everything is negotiable.

Knowing that, it’s your job to care less by having more options on the other side in case you don’t get what you want.

How do you get more options? The single best way is to work hard and provide value so you become financially well off.

Poor people are often in desperate, emergency-like situations where they can’t afford to shop around for a smart transaction. Where the rich have more time and opportunities to ensure they win the negotiation.

With wealth also comes the freedom to need less and become beholden to no one. This self-reliance empowers you at the negotiation table to only make deals if the numbers make sense to you.

You’re in a position of power when you’re finances are taken care of regardless what happens in these daily negotiations.

As you keep living, keep your eye out for negotiations big and small. Seeing them go down will give you mental reps and prepare you for your day-to-day negotiations.

Caring less about what you want, ironically gives you a better chance of getting it.

Related: Everything Is Negotiable

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