This blog has changed my life. I came to this realization while wandering the sunny streets of San Francisco’s Mission district with Ev, a fellow blogger & friend.
I can’t trace it back to one point in time, but I do know that when I first put finger to keyboard my world was thrust into a trajectory that would forever change my life.
Though school did very little for me over the years – except breed in me a contempt for the privileged – I did learn my two most cherished skills there: how to read and how to write. Arguably the most life-changing, yet hopelessly under-utilized skills any person can possess.
I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been devouring books, listening to someone read to me or enjoying an audiobook while I drove. When people ask me “what’s the one thing you’d tell an aspiring entrepreneur” I tell them to read.
I used to read behind smoky bars, flipping through the pages of business books with a highlighter in one hand and a cigarette in the other. My patrons would be sucking down stiff drinks, feeding bills into machines that didn’t care whether or not they were sinking their kids’ college tuition into their mechanical abyss, all the while I read – highlighted – read some more – made notes – and served shots…
I was always dreaming of the day my napkin-ideas would grow into something much larger than myself… something beyond the dingy bar I was working at while half-assing my way through college.
Then one day it happened, completely out of the blue. One day I scribbled an idea on a napkin – while at the bar – that would turn into my first real business. This idea happened because I had spent the last 5 years absorbing as much information as I could get my hands on about successful people, business, life, philosophy and how to become the kind of person you want to be – not the kind of person you’re expected to become.
Reading is the single smartest thing I have ever done, second only to giving myself lengthy chunks of times in which to digest what I’ve absorbed. Reading was what opened my eyes to a world I didn’t previously understand that I could achieve.
Read everything you can get your hands on, look for lessons written in between the lines, ask smart people what they’d suggest you read – read and then read some more. It is a life changing preoccupation.
After you consume anything for long enough you’ll start to become fascinated by how it’s created and what exactly goes into the process of making said item. After years of reading I began to become genuinely curious about how people filled books, newspapers and dissertations with letters, words and sentences – strung together in a way that made perfect sense.
I started to write, at first on scraps of paper, then in Word docs and finally online – on this blog. It has been a VERY bumpy and grammar-mistake-laden ride, but writing has allowed me to digest what I’ve learned from my books, from the world and from the smart people that I hunt down like some sort of cerebral big-game.
So write… write down things you think about, write down things you observe. Write fiction, write non-fiction. Write “shitty first drafts”, hopefully in a year or a month or whatever you’ll start writing better. I still haven’t reached that pinnacle of being a “great writer” and maybe I never will – but it’s worth the ride.
The term evolution (from its literal meaning of “unfolding” of something into its true or explicit form) carries a connotation of gradual improvement or directionality from a beginning to an end point. – Thanks Wikipedia… Read. Write. Learn. Grow. Evolve as a person.
A thank you and nod to my new site!
I wanted to say thank you to Andrew Powers, the ultra-creative founder of PageLines a drag-and-drop WordPress platform that this blog is currently running on. If you dig WordPress or building coding-free professional websites be sure to check out PageLines and see what’s in store for their upcoming launch at LeWeb (it’s pretty interesting stuff).