30 Inspiring stories for Students

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Published Date:01-07-2017
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30 inspiring stories from those who “Do the Work” Inspired by the book from Steven Pressfield and The Domino ProjectNO IDLING INTRODUCTION This manifesto is for all of you who want to do work that matters and are seeking a powerful tool for your Ship It arsenal. Steven Pressfield takes Resistance head on in his latest book Do the Work. This manifesto is helping readers take massive action and get their great work out into the world. As a thank you and tribute to Steven, members of The Domino Project Street Team came together to write, de- sign, and distribute No Idling in under two weeks. We hustled, reached out to the most brilliant do-ers we know, and did the work needed to ship an amazing ebook. Each of the contributors responded to our call for a very tight turnaround. After all, this is a book about doing the work. These authors over delivered. The result is the life-changing ebook in front of you. The action-takers in this book put a human face to the trite sounding clichés. Their stories of overcoming Resis- tance provide a path from “Just do it” to mentally gearing up and forming habits to help you get things done. They don’t mince words. “Expect Resistance,” they say. “It’s there. Waiting for you. Be smart. Prepare for it.” It’s our greatest hope that this ebook will inspire you to take on and overcome the biggest challenge of your life - you know which one. You will be better for taking it on. Along the way, you will grow your discipline and steel your character. The only way to fail is to stop. When you’re tempted, come back to Do The Work and No Idling to bolster your resolve. Remember that you took on your great work for a reason. Own it. We’re now calling on you to step up and work with us. Let’s turn the idea of overcoming Resistance into a move- ment of action. Dig into this book. Put its wisdom into action. Generously share it. Do the work. 1ANDREW WARNER Sometime in my early 20s I was standing outside a networking event at the Puck Building in New York and wrestling with my insecurities. “Just go across the street and meet people,” I thought to myself. “Ev- eryone in there is running an internet company like you. You have a lot in common with them. It’ll be easy to start conversations. Do it” But, the other side of me thought, “you don’t know anyone in there. And they all know each other. You’ll end up standing around quietly while everyone else is having fun.” Eventually, someone might even say, “That’s Andrew? The guy who runs Bradford & Reed? I didn’t realize he was such a dork. Ha. His company almost had me fooled. I thought it was impressive. Turns out it’s another nothing operation, run by a nothing guy.” My insecurities won that day. I didn’t go in. Can you imagine how much of a failure I felt that day as I went home? I started a company because I wanted to build something huge; mean- while I couldn’t do a little thing like go to a party. Any five-year-old can go to a party, but I couldn’t. Years later that day still stung. Badly. My friends don’t know it, but one of the reasons I moved to LA was to give myself room to learn to break out of experiences like that. I wanted to live in a new city where I could practice meeting people every day, and not stop until I got comfortable being myself. The first thing I did was commit to a schedule of going out 6 nights a week, no matter what. And when I went out, my personal rule was that I had to talk to at least 5 strangers. I screwed up a lot at first. I remember one time walking to a group of people at a party and saying, “How do you know Deb?” One of them said, “We’re friends of her roommate, Steve.” And he then went back to talking to the group. He didn’t include me in the conversa- tion and I didn’t know what to do next, so I just stood there awkwardly 2as they all talked to each other. “I started a company because I I felt like a fool. But I committed to talking to more people that night and to going out the next night and the next night and the next. wanted to build something huge, Eventually I learned a few tactics that helped me get by. Like, don’t inter- rupt a group of people who are deep in conversation just to make small meanwhile I couldn’t do a little talk. But there was something bigger that changed more subtly: I just learned thing like go to a party. to be more comfortable. Doing it every day, even on days I didn’t feel like it, helped me become a natural at meeting people. A couple of years after I moved to LA, I even hosted my own networking event. The night before the party, I became almost as nervous as I was Any five-year-old can go to a on the day I stood weakly outside the Puck Building. But when I got to the event, I eased up. All my practice made me feel more comfortable. party, but I couldn’t. Years later I was in a room full of people and I could talk to every one of them. It felt great. that day still stung. Badly.” I thought about that recently when I started doing video interviews with my heroes on Mixergy, my web site. The first time Seth Godin came on, I said to myself, “You’re not a reporter. You’re an entrepreneur. You didn’t know the right questions to ask. The guy wrote about a dozen books. You didn’t read them all. You’re not prepared. You’re going to embarrass yourself and all of his fans will know you’re a dumb entrepreneur who got lucky in business.” It’s true. I was pretty bad when I started. Very bad, actually. But I commit- ted to doing the work every day. Many people wondered why I insisted on posting a new interview every day, since it’s more than most of my audience can keep up with. It’s because I learned that showing up every day and putting in the work can turn my life around. Haven’t you seen that in your life too? 3It took seeing the man live to appreciate the fact that he had completely CHARLIE GILKEY changed his life, all by shipping one musical thing a week for a year. 2009 was a catalytic year for me. I attended my first SxSW, and, while the A few months after that, I learned about Michele Woodward’s use of the whole thing was inspiring, it was seeing Jonathan Coulton perform live concept “expanding your comfort zone.” Rather than getting out of your that really changed me. I had known about his Thing A Week project for comfort zone, you should expand the things that you’re comfortable a few years, but never really thought much about his creative courage. doing. The more you work on expanding your comfort zone, the more things you can do without constantly battling fear and Resistance on their own terms. I put the two experiences together and made a point to do one thing a week that expanded my comfort zone. I knew I wouldn’t be able to commit to doing one type of thing per week - being a polymath can be a curse that way - but I knew that I could challenge myself to do one thing that pushed some creative or personal edge per week. What I found fascinating about the process was that a lot of my things had nothing to do with shipping something. Sure, creating something that challenged me counted, but there were other activities that counted just as much. Initiating a conversation with someone I admired. Pitching an idea to someone who wasn’t already part of my friend set. Saying No to an otherwise great opportunity that wasn’t right for me or my business. Co-creating a retreat for entrepreneurs that zigs when everyone else is zagging. Doing my own Thing A Week adventure reinforced what I had already learned from being an Army veteran: fear and Resistance only keep you from doing things if you let them. Great work doesn’t get done in the absence of fear and Resistance, but, rather, it gets done by accepting the fear and Resistance and doing it anyway. Once you understand that, you can see that fear and Resistance are often the signpost to guide you to what you should do. Just in case you’re wondering, fear and Resistance never really go away. You just become a bit desensitized to the fear and Resistance goes more guerrilla. But the same process works, whether you’re gripped by fear and Resistance or whether they’re lurking in the shadows: do something every week that expands your comfort zone. What’s your Thing this week? It’s waiting on you to do it. 4STEVE GORDON Jr. I am what’s known in recent years as a “creative.” It’s a bit of a nebulous term encompassing designers and artists because the world—profes- sional or otherwise—doesn’t really know where to put us. Are we viable business and marketing professionals, or people who are only good for grown-up versions of coloring book activities? But that’s no far stretch for me to understand. I’ve been that guy my whole life. I’m the little boy who loved school and learning all the while being ostracized by those who saw intelligence as a negative. I’m a kid from the bad neighborhood who got shipped off to the wealthy prep school for a chance at a better life, only to find that that life didn’t necessarily want me there. I’m the world- class jock who dared to be smart, or conversely the smart kid who had the audacity to love and see the importance of excelling in athletics. Yeah, that’s still me; Steve Gordon Jr. I grew up in a lower-middle-class household, in the “bad” neighborhood in town, chock full of all of the stereotypical trappings and pitfalls, so I’m not even going to reference that. Everyone has their walls to scale, hills to climb and hurdles to leap. We’ve all faced struggles that would seem to be the end of us, times in life when we literally fall on bended knee, cer- tain that we have no more to give. The facing of hard times and overcom- ing is relative. But I’ve had it taught to me that the strength, the dignity, the integrity and the success of it all is in the attempt. You don’t have to be better than everyone else. Truth is you may not be. But the “trying” is noble. It’s not really important to lay out how I’ve struggled because I’m not so sure that helps anyone else. It only causes our human intellect to draw immediate comparisons. The important ideal is to highlight the mindset of one who will not limit themselves to a finite number of at- tempts at crossing the divide keeping them from their goals. So instead, I offer what I call my “transfer methods”; how I best get from point A to point B—”A” being where I find myself at the inception of new endeavors and “B” being the end-goal or point at which I establish a new “A.” Find Your Level There’s a saying that says “water seeks its own level,” which—in very short—speaks to balance and adaptation. If indeed we are all unique creatures, then we are meant for situations that will unfold to be unique for each of us, even given similar situational set ups. Be brave, be con- stant, be steady and find the best fit for “self.” From there, so many things will present themselves. Foresight & Flexibility Anticipation and flexibility of mind is the key for me. The ability to not only think fast, but adapt faster. The skill of shifting your thoughts and refocus- 5ing regularly is an amazing tool to have in the hip pocket. Be a Positive Opportunist People are always asking when it will be their chance, but in my estima- tion we let opportunities pass almost daily, out of lack of preparedness or not having the curiosity to check every door or the fortitude to take the leap. And say what you will about the term “opportunist” but the root of the word is “opportunity.” What is a person who looks for—better yet, yearns for the chance that will offer a window to success if not oppor- tunistic? The truth is there can—and must—be a positive spin on the idea of being prepared to be prepared. Ready yourself for the feeling of what it’s like to be ready to take every chance worth taking. Simply being prepared is only half of the work. You have to then be primed to act upon your preparedness. What good is setting your sights on a goal, only to pull back when opportunity presents itself? Guard Your Grill You have to be willing to fight for what your life is worth, tooth and nail. Swing until you’re in tears and you can’t lift your arms. When you feel that, you’ve tapped into your belief in yourself and what you truly want because there is nothing in the human condition quite like being so moved to fight for survival. “Earn Your Sleep” Lastly, a notion that I’ve developed over the course of my short life, and only recently given a name, is the idea of “Earning Your Sleep”. Placing a premium on your time, resting only when you have exhausted the possi- bilities for that day, not because a clock suggested you shut your eyes. 6MARK SILVER Don’t Look Left or Right Today, this is due, and I have a head cold. I spent the entire morning tak- ing one of my sons to the doctor with the croup. It’s early afternoon, I’m exhausted, I’m worn thin. Do I ship or do I rest? When the guidance isn’t clear, I don’t follow it. So I stop. I take refuge in my heart, accessing compassion and love for myself in this. What’s true here? Our culture has two forces aiding the devil of resistance. On one side is escapist fantasy, seducing us with all kinds of ways to numb out and avoid our true work. On the other side is the workaholic treadmill, push- ing us on to produce ever-more ever-faster. By judiciously using first one, then the other, the devil can tie us in knots, trap us in useless busy work, and exhaust us. Rather than slugging it out with Resistance, I take some minutes to rest into my heart, to take refuge in compassion and love. I can feel the anxi- ety ebb away. I can feel the truth of my situation arise. I can taste com- passion in my heart for how I’m feeling. In order to get the work done I don’t have a battle to fight. Yet, I do have a struggle. To the left is heedless unconsciousness, lost in the world of fantasy. To the right, busy work, overwork, exhaustion, illness, but with nothing to show for it. I struggle every day to choose the middle way and rest into the strength and love that carries me through the work that is to be done, and that sets aside the work that doesn’t need to be done, at least not now. Don’t look left or right. Choose love. Do the work. 7JIM BOUCHARD Think Like a Blackbelt When I do a speaking event I’m usually introduced with: “Martial arts transformed Jim’s self-perception from former drug abuser and failure to successful entrepreneur and Black Belt…” That’s true, but before I started on the business of transforming my self- perception, I had to stop tearing down the path that by rights should have put me in jail- or in my grave. Today people often ask me, “What was the turning point in your life?” Turning points are usually only obvious in retrospect. Looking back, I remember two important moments. The first was a cold winter morning in Maine. I had no money for heating fuel; though somehow had enough for dope. I got up for my morning piss only to find that I had to knock the ice out of my toilet before I could flush. When I turned from that business I was literally looking into my bathroom mirror; I did not like what I saw. A few months later I smoked a joint that was, without my knowledge, laced with “angel dust.” After a night of various creative attempts to de- stroy myself, I woke the next morning and decided enough was enough. That was the very moment I quit drugs. About 3 years later I was walking up the main drag in my city. I saw a gi- gantic vertical sign that read “K-A-R-A-T-E.” Later I would realize that this was the beginning of my real transformation. I learned that a happy and successful life is a product of discipline, focus, confidence, courage and perseverance. I began to learn that “perfection is not a destination; it’s a never-ending process.” I learned how to think like a Black Belt- and eventually I became one. Now I look forward to the possibility of transformation every day 8ARNE VAN OOSTEROM I Refuse I remember it well, as a child, 11 year old, entering a supermarket with my mother. She needs a coin for the shopping-cart and hands me a money bill. She expects me to go up to the lady behind the counter to ask for change. My mother looks at me. I look at the lady behind the counter. I freeze. I can’t do it. I’m simply too scared. I don’t leave my mother’s side. Why? Did I think she was going to yell at me? Laugh at me? Turn into a green slimy monster and bite my head off? No. Up to this day I can’t re- ally understand what it is that scared me back then. But I do know I have had many such moments. And I still do. Not a week goes by without having this fear. It’s a fear of performing, showing myself, in front of others. A fear to fail. A fear so bad I’d rather fail by not even trying to succeed. I gave up on a running match a few meters before the finish, pretend- ing to be too tired. I refused to be in family pictures. I refused to act in a school play, and made a fool of myself. I refused to go up to strangers at dinner parties when I bitterly wanted to be able to network. I refused to learn how to read music, and study, but wanted to be a musician. I refused to start schools and I refused to finish schools. I refused to be a writer using my dyslexia as a great excuse, my favorite tool to strengthen my reasoning for refusal. Sometimes I think that I refused to start or finish so many times that finally I could only refuse refusal itself. And then I let go. Lost the weight that was holding me down and lifted off. I’ve been a musician and had a comedy act. I present concepts and strategies to deadly serious looking board of directors. I give keynotes at international conferences, work and teach at schools around the world, write and give life to many networks. What changed? I simply started refusing to pretend I am not scared. I re- fuse pretending to know everything. I refuse to pretend I don’t need help. I refuse to pretend to be stronger than I am. And that changes everything. Being vulnerable made me strong. But I am still scared to death by everything I do. 9MICHAEL PORT Don’t Give Up Looking back on my life, there isn’t much I regret. I live by the saying, “The measure of a man is not how well he starts, but how well he fin- ishes.” But, there is one thing I regret not finishing my acting career. I threw up my hands and quit. I was so close. I was right on the cusp of big time success… and I quit. In 1997, I was a 20-something earning a living as an actor. That put me in the top 1% of the Screen Actors Guild. I put everything into my acting career. I attended one of the best graduate schools in the country. I had a great agent. I was guest starring roles on most of the TV shows you know. Nonetheless, I quit. I couldn’t take the rejection. I didn’t like waiting around or leaving my future in the hands of others. So, I gave up and quit. I remember the day I told my agent. I heard a thunk (quite literally) when her jaw hit the floor. She knew how close I was. I was right at the cusp of going from working actor to big time actor. But I didn’t finish what I started. I tell you this story – and, it’s not one I often tell – because I don’t want “You may feel stalled, waiting and you to look back on your life and have a shred of regret. I don’t want you to quit - whatever it is you’re doing - unless you have a more important dream. Then quit the worthless thing and pursue the worthwhile thing. just hoping for your big break to It takes far more fortitude to finish something than it does to start it. come. The economy is contracted. Now, it’s likely you are feeling pressure in the business you started. You may feel stalled, waiting and just hoping for your big break to come. The Lots of people are starting to feel economy is contracted. Lots of people are starting to feel tired. But, we cannot quit. We will not give up. tired. But, we cannot quit. Sure, you might say, it’s easier for me because I’ve been doing this for some time and have a “brand” name in my field. But I, too, am working harder than I ever have before to find new way to innovate, build the busi- We will not give up.” ness, extend my brand and be of service to you. I want to help you do the same. 10You’ve heard that frightening statistic out there that more than 80% of small businesses fail within the first 5 years. It’s true. However, the com- mon perception is that these businesses fail because the marketplace is so competitive and success is like a blip over the horizon. But, I see it differently. I think 80% of business owners fail in the first 5 years because they haven’t made a non-reversible, do-whatever-it-takes, no-holds-barred, beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt, absolutely-no-going-back, stick-to-it-like- super-glue commitment to finishing what they start to make their busi- ness work. Think bigger about what you want to start and finish in the world. Carry on. Get more clients. Make all the money you desire and deserve. I know you can do it. But, you’ve got to make a non-reversible commitment to yourself, your family and your business, right now. 11word for me in many ways), I faced the greatest test of my endurance yet, a 3,063-mile run from San Francisco to New York City. At 57 years old, I would attempt to break the world record, set in 1980 by a man half my age. I’d been thinking about it for more than a decade, the ultimate ultra. Why did I even think I could do it? Part was pure desire, and part was experience. The ultrarunning had provided a strong base for me to pur- sue other endurance sports, like adventure racing (a less luxurious ver- sion of what folks did on “Survivor”), which I took up in my 40s, and mountaineering. In my early fifties, I climbed Mount Everest, summitting on my first attempt. If anything, my athletic pursuits show that the only limits are in the mind, and excuses like “I’m too old” and “it’s too hard” don’t have to stop you from attempting what other people may think is improbable, impractical, or even impossible. So of course I’d dismissed the idea that I was too old to make an attempt on this transcontinental record. My experience would be a mental advantage. Though this would be the hardest thing I’d ever done amounting to more than two marathons, back to back, every day for at least a month and a half I felt sure I could do it. At least I knew that I wanted to try. MARSHALL ULRICH And now I had a true partner. In 2003, I’d married a woman who’d Closing the Distance cracked through that old, hard shell and taught me to love again. Heather promised to be by my side as I chased after this dream. In my early thirties, when my eldest daughter was a year old, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. And though Jean underwent a double- Ultimately, her presence is what helped me summon the will to run on mastectomy and chemotherapy, she died less than a year later. when I was emptied out, to put one foot in front of the other even though I was suffering from multiple injuries and unprecedented fatigue. She’d This was the blow that sent me running faster and longer than ever, cup my face in her hands and tell me everything was going to be all right. pushing me beyond the marathon into ultra distances. The contests be- She never lost faith in me, even when I’d lost faith in myself. came more and more grueling: 50-milers, then 100-milers, then 24-hour races and eventually multiday contests. I ran to deal with my grief and I realize now that the reason I was able to complete this ordeal in 2008 survivor’s guilt, to punish and prove myself, to search for ... something. I has less to do with my tolerance for pain than with my eventual accep- didn’t know what. tance of myself as vulnerable and needing help from others. It resulted from being willing to close the distance, to reach outside of myself and As it turned out, I had a natural talent for these extreme distances, and receive love again, not just from my wife but from family and friends who I set records on some of the toughest courses. When other people tailed came out to support me. Perhaps that “searching” is finally over. The off, I could hold steady. Seems I was physically built for the sport and answer was right under foot: all I had to do was follow my heart. emotionally primed to take the pain. Many years and two failed marriages later (“distance” became a watch- 12PAUL DURBAN When I first agreed to create a motion graphic video based on Seth Godin’s live Road Trip presentation in Chicago, my first thought was, “I’m not sure if this is possible. 70 minutes? That’s longer than many of the animated movies I rent for my children And they have a TEAM of anima- tors” The Resistance was in full force and I searched the Internet to prove it wrong. Surely, there must examples of lengthy motion graphic videos. I can’t be the only one ever charged with such a weighty task. And of course, the stories of such projects will be shared on myriad blogs. As the days of research passed, I came to realize that the project was one-of-a-kind. Did this make me crazy to accept such a challenge? Perhaps. Had others tried and failed before me? Probably. The average length of a motion graphics project I create for clients is one to two min- utes. Tackling this presentation would be the equivalent of 50 of them. If only I had some evidence that such a long and complicated project The phrase, “Keep your friends could be accomplished by one person. But the Internet was quiet. My only company was The Resistance. And in a strange way, I wanted it around so I wouldn’t feel alone. close and your enemies closer” The Resistance showed me how animating a live recording with all its natural pauses and inevitable audio glitches would be maddening. It was ringing in my ears. That’s it explained that no sane person would have the patience to create such a long video much less watch it. The resistance provided all the necessary roadblocks that are common to anyone trying to accomplish something Instead of me being a student unique. of The Resistance, I’ll befriend As I approached minute 15 of the video, I was stumped. My tank was empty. I was all out of ideas and I still had 55 minutes to go. The Resis- tance won. I couldn’t believe that I was stupid enough to think this could it and become its teacher. I’ll be done. Sometimes, you just have to admit defeat and learn from the experience. show The Resistance where it But then I had an epiphany the next morning as I was just waking up. The phrase, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” was ringing has been mistaken. in my ears. That’s it Instead of me being a student of The Resistance, I’ll befriend it and become its teacher. I’ll show The Resistance where it has been mistaken. I showed The Resistance that editing the pauses and cleaning the irregu- 13larities of the audio would destroy the dynamic of the live presentation. I taught it that we all see things differently and that there was no wrong ap- proach to the animation. The Resistance wanted me to add multiple bells and whistles so that the project would never be finished. But I explained that doing that would compete with the message. When animating, it’s not uncommon to spend an entire day on mere sec- onds of content. So it’s quite easy to begin questioning your process and your sanity. Especially when the effect doesn’t quite work out as planned and hours, if not days, of work are lost. But I showed The Resistance that the road was winding; sometimes you have to retrace your route, but if you stay on course, you’ll eventually get there. As the days went by, I noticed that The Resistance was listening more than talking. There was a 20-minute period of the video that came so naturally to me, I sincerely do not remember animating it. It seemed the more I did, the easier it got. Four months later, the video was finally complete. The smartest decision I made was to not engage The Resistance in a long, daily battle. Instead, I became the “expert” whose experience and creativity could not be chal- lenged. If I can create a 70-minute motion graphic video, can you even imagine The Resistance putting up a fight with a mere one-minute version? Me neither. 14WENDY TOWNLEY Inspiration Rarely Arrives: Write Now Really? Has it already been a year? I glance toward my 2011 calendar and refocus my eyes to confirm. A tidy package of 365 days and nights have passed since my first book, Nerdy It began with the hours, days, Thirty, was published and made public to the world. weeks, and months of anticipa- Where did the time go? How did it all happen? What is perhaps most worthy of examination is not the year since the tion; the reality of having a book book became reality, but the year before the year. The pregnancy – if you will – of Nerdy Thirty. with my own name on the front It began with the hours, days, weeks, and months of anticipation; the reality of having a book with my own name on the front cover. For a while cover. For a while I simmered and I simmered and sizzled in the mirage of merely the end product, sans the work. I found myself daydreaming about cover art and typeface, about sizzled in the mirage of merely the status updates and tweets, about media interviews and speaking gigs; even, dare I say, the fancy orange dress I would wear to my very first book signing. end product, sans the work. Seriously, it was that bad. Silly me. And as silly as it may sound, what needed the most examination, effort, and determination was the work before the big party, before the celebra- tion I had so rightfully earned. The hours of writing and editing. The painstaking process of pouring over every passage to ensure it was as perfect as possible. The work that, let’s be honest, is a very lonely and solitary effort. Writing is sometimes viewed as a mysterious yet glamorous trade. Much like artists, it is believed writers lie about, awaiting inspiration. And then Poof, inspiration arrives, and masterpieces follow. Inspiration and motivation, I quickly discovered in those early months of the writing and editing process, rarely arrive by surprise. Writing is work. It’s a calling and a craft, but it’s also a job. Writers must be disciplined 15enough to set their own writing schedules, to sit down in front of their computers and write at the same time every single day, WHETHER THEY FEEL LIKE IT OR NOT. I can count on my left hand the times, during my ten-plus years as a writer, when I have experienced a bolt of inspiration and simply had to find my computer and begin pouring out my thoughts. It just doesn’t hap- pen all that often … if ever, for some writers. Writers must cocoon themselves in the most private (or public) way pos- sible. They must identify the ideal environment for progress, wherever it may be. (To write and produce solid copy, I need the gentle chaos of neighborhood coffeehouses. The noise and occasional distractions help to move my words forward. The distractions at my home are too numer- ous to mention, too detrimental to my work.) Some writers may find glory and satisfaction when discussing a project whose completion has not arrived. Others enjoy keeping their lips zipped until the eleventh hour. I count myself in the company of the latter, want- ing to disguise the details until the day of publication is much closer. I suppose it’s because I fear the questions of feedback may move me off track. Or perhaps it’s because I want to keep my words and ideas under my own personal lock and key. Because in a very short time, the work is no longer yours. In a sense, once it is published, it belongs to everyone. 16me up, but then backed down, fearful of a lawsuit we’d probably win, but that would cost us immense time and money. After a fire marshal from the state showed up and tried to shut down the paper for not hav- ing enough employees trained in CPR, or enough fire extinguishers, the message came through loud and clear – play along or play hardball. I was given an ultimatum – retract my story and allegations, or be fired. I refused to retract the story and instead organized a protest – drawing the support and attendance of a state representative and a crowd of 200 people from a population of 3,000. The crowd assembled in front of the newspaper with signs, chanting and protesting the environmentalist’s attack on the paper and supporting me, and my story. The protest gar- nered media attention across the state. Less than a week later I was fired. Two other employees quit in a show of solidarity. Someone suggested I start my own newspaper and pursue my writing and the investigation. With no job, no income and nothing but a home computer, I let people know I was interested in starting another newspaper if there was support for it. Within the week citizens organized a yard sale and donated the pro- BECKY BLANTON ceeds, 250, to me. It paid my first month’s rent at an office directly across the street from my old paper. With Main Street only being two Resistance comes from inside and outside of us. Either way, tactics for blocks long, it was hard not to be within spitting distance of my old job. fighting it are much the same. I moved out of my apartment and into the office where I had a small sink and toilet. I showered at a campground 20 minutes away and traded ad As a reporter for a small weekly in the high desert of Klickitat County, space for meals at the diner next door. Washington in 2000, I was assistant editor, reporter and photographer for The Goldendale Sentinel. As soon as I started covering local politics, For the next four months I worked 100 hours a week putting out a weekly including attempts by a small environmental group that was suing for newspaper – The Klickitat County Monitor – one that provided both sides environmental damages, but diverting their legal settlements to personal of the highly contentious stories and events between ranchers, Native bank accounts instead of the care of the land as they promised, the Americans on the nearby reservation, the Columbia River Gorge Commis- threats and intimidation started. sion, and activists, but in a way that let readers make up their own minds about what was happening and what needed to happen. Where there Big businesses may consider greasing the palms of activists and pro- had once been empty auditoriums and no attendance at city and county testors as part of the cost of doing business; but farmers and ranchers meetings, the rooms were packed, often with standing room only. Citi- don’t. Out in the rural west the average family has lived in the county for zens were getting involved and it was changing the county. three or more generations, been raised on the 10 commandments, and does business with a handshake with people they trust. They expected But the intimidation and threats against me didn’t stop. I received bomb their local newspaper to report the facts and the truth and not to bow threats, was forced off of the road by a BLM (Bureau of Land Manage- down to threats or intimidation. And for a long time that’s what they got. ment) truck early one morning, and finally decided to get a Rottweiler to keep the angry citizens from coming over the counter to beat me up After reporting on the illegality of the group’s actions the environmental when the paper was too controversial for them. group I’d been writing about threatened to sue the newspaper and my editor if I didn’t recant my story and publicly apologize. I stood by my I was not only writing, doing layout and photography, but I was learning story. My facts were right and so was the story. My editor initially backed 17how to run a business, and how to produce, distribute and promote a on as editor for another couple of months. At six months the paper had newspaper. For four months I scrambled for funding, sold ads, attended enough support and the county’s endorsement and became the first rodeos, was chased by bulls, slept on a couch and bathed in a state park newspaper in the state of Washington to become a paper of legal record campground. But I persevered – driven by the desire to report the truth in 20 years – the first in 40 years to do so with less than 1 million in and to fight against fraud and deceit. The farmers and ranchers sup- funding. One woman, a home computer and a fire in the belly for justice ported me and more than once I had a rancher shuffle through the door, and truth is all it took. or stop by my table at the diner and press a 100 or 200 into my hand for an ad, or gas for the truck. My tips for fighting the Resistance? Within four months the subscription rate matched that of my two com- Know what your objective is and be intensely passionate about achieving petitors – the old paper and one in a nearby town. I was distributing the it. You can’t beat the resistance if you aren’t wholeheartedly committed to paper myself once a week in 32 retail locations in two states – Washing- a goal. ton and Oregon. Month four I came down with pneumonia and decided to sell the paper to protect my health. Local citizens bought it, kept me Don’t expect or depend upon others to support your passion. It’s great when they do, but mostly they won’t, or at least not in the way you’d always like. Accept what people have to offer, but rely on yourself. Make your own choices because you’re the one who is going to have to live with the consequences – not your coach, not your friends, not your family – YOU. Nike was right - Just do it. Most of the time it’s not going to be fun. It’s going to be hard to do it every day or even an hour of every day. Focus on one thing, one step, one objective at a time. Slow and steady wins the race. Take time to celebrate your milestones and accomplishments and remember there will be more to come if you stay focused and committed. 18For me, it was the latter. Why wasn’t I excited? What was the problem? I realized that I didn’t want to be perceived as a business “expert” or “ad- vice guru” or whatever the catch-word of the day is. Instead, I wanted to continue down the path of being a broadcaster and interviewer. It is my passion and worth fighting for. I started my show The Rise To The Top in 2008 with my Bar Mitzvah money. I realized after some introspection and many conversations, that it was time for a change in business. A resistance induced shift. And so, I fought the resistance like hell. And released this on my website: Watch Out Piers Morgan and Charlie Rose: The Rise To The Top Is Mov- ing Beyond Business Interviews So, exciting news today. I’ve been keeping this under wraps for a little bit as there has been a bunch of behind-the-scenes organization. I have this saying: You are either changing and evolving, or you aren’t re- ally living. To me, life is about reinvention. The Rise To The Top is moving beyond business interviews and will now be focusing on a wide variety of interviews with interesting folks in a vari- ety of industries ranging from entertainment to sports (and there is a heck of a lineup on its way). It was just that time and I couldn’t be more pumped to tell you about it. DAVID SITEMAN GARLAND After 2.5 years of doing purely business interviews with great people, I could feel it in my bones that it was time to evolve. Time for something It wasn’t exactly one of those light-bulb moments. It was a bit slower and new. more confusing than that. Does this mean I’ll never again interview entrepreneurs or talk business? My book, Smarter, Faster, Cheaper was selling well. I was getting booked Not at all. My goal is to bring you interesting interviews with awesome for speaking gigs. I was interviewing amazing entrepreneurs and business people and that is going to continue to happen in a HUGE way. experts on my Internet-based talk show. Business life should have been good, right? For example you might be seeing interviews from: But there was a problem....I just wasn’t excited about it. There was some -Best-selling non-business authors kind of resistance. The question became...what kind of resistance was it? -Comedians -Musicians Was it the type of resistance you just need to fight through? -Entertainers -Performers Resistance that meant it was time to give up? -Athletes -Artists in all types of fields Or perhaps resistance that causes change? 19

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