Make it happen.
It's official. No one's going to hand you anything. You have to take it.
👋Hello to 916 of my favorite people on the planet. Three things I want to share with you this week:
The latest episode of the Intentional Wisdom podcast
Some thoughts on making things happen in your life
The best content I’ve consumed in the last two weeks
Let’s get to it.
Intentional Wisdom - Ep.5 - Jon Finkel - The Sport of Creating Yourself
If you like sports—and especially if you happened to be in high school in the 90s—you might just love this conversation. Jon Finkel is an award-winning writer who has authored multiple books about (and alongside) famous athletes like Mean Joe Greene, Charlie Ward and Nate Robinson. Growing up in the Boston suburbs, Jon started out with zero connections in the world of Hollywood or journalism. But he scrapped his way into a job working for Jimmy Kimmel and ultimately into writing for Men's Health, GQ and The New York Times on his way to earning himself multiple book deals. In this conversation, he tells me how he did it. We talk about:
Chasing down your dream and blazing a career path that is true to yourself
Combatting imposter syndrome
The art of asking great questions
Why energy + preparation is a killer combination for success
Staying motivated in your career and your fitness
Being willing to change your mind
And a lot of less serious stuff like…
How Jon’s quest to dunk a basketball got him his first writing job
The politics of writing local newspaper police blotters
And how Jon thinks I can bench press more than I actually can
This was a FUN conversation. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. As usual, you can find it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. And go follow Jon on Twitter @Jon_Finkel. He’s a funny and talented guy. You won’t even notice you’re being inspired.
Making things happen
One of my favorite parts of the conversation I had with Jon was his insistence that success comes down to just making things happen. Here's what he said:
I like the idea of speaking things into existence and putting some pressure on yourself... If you talk about something as if it's something you're DOING, not something you MIGHT do, you will do it... The people who never write a book say "I'd love to write a book. I might write a book one day." People who write books, say "I'm writing a book and it's going to be done by June 1st."
Jon tells the story of pitching his first book to NBA star, Nate Robinson. Despite having a successful writing career to that point working for several magazines and news outlets, Jon hadn't ever written a book. As such, no one saw him as an author and perhaps not surprisingly, no one was offering him book deals. But he had a vision, was able to sell Nate (and his agent) on the idea, and ultimately brought Robinson’s inspiring story to life in Heart Over Height. Fast-forward to today, as you can see from the tweet below, Jon has turned his vision of being a successful author into reality. In other words, he just made it happen.
As someone who creates content for a living, I can tell you that in some ways this idea of "making things happen" is easier for writers or podcasters or video makers. It's easier because it's black and white. You either created something or you didn't. You have a blank page or you don't. You have zero or you have one. It's very obvious if you've succeeded or failed to "make things happen."
For those in other professions, the difference may be less clear. And when that’s the case, there is a real risk of trending toward incrementalism—of being satisfied with just making marginal improvements on the status quo. And that is the opposite of being bold. Of taking big swings. Of taking RISK.
The trouble with incrementalism is that it can easily become our modus operandi. Without even noticing, it can seep into our daily routines. And that’s dangerous because days turn into months; months turn into years; and years... well, they turn into lives.
I write about identity quite a bit in this newsletter. Just two weeks ago, I wrote about the steps we can take to upgrade our own internal software—or in other words, to update our identities.
The problem that many of us face is that we get so caught up in the day-to-day that we forget to ask if we're doing the right things in the first place. Or if we're even on the right path to becoming who it is we want to become.
I worry about this. I worry about one day waking up and realizing that I wasn't brave enough. That I didn't take the risks I could have taken. That I let everyone else's views and perceptions of who I “should be” overpower my own.
I worry about that for myself and I worry about that for my friends and my family. How sad to think that an absolutely amazing life could have been lived, but wasn't. It was constrained, limited, held back... because of what? Fear?
That just doesn't make any sense. We can do better.
Look, this thing we call life is going to be over in a snap. It really is.
I’m grateful that Jon reminded me that the time for bold action is now. The time to stop caring about the boxes others want to put us in is now. The time figure it out—who we want to be, and exactly what actions we’re going to take to prove it daily—is now.
There is no other time. There is only now. Let’s go make it happen.
Oh man, I’ve been too busy MAKING podcasts to consume too many of them recently, but here are two I loved and you might, too.
🎙️Frank Slootman with Patrick O’Shaughnessy on Invest Like the Best — Slootman is the CEO of technology company, Snowflake. He’s also a bit of a management savant. He’s now taken over three different struggling technology companies and completely turned them around. His methods are not rocket science, but my God, does he make a strong case for things like setting clear priorities and getting the right talent. If you are in management or run any kind of a business, I highly recommend this one. He also recently published a book on his management philosophies, Amp It Up, which I haven’t read yet but it’s on my shortlist.
🎙️Tim Urban & Lex Friedman — I stand by my previous statements that Tim Urban, author of the Wait But Why blog, is one of the best BIG picture thinkers of our lifetime. If you are interested in life’s really big questions: whether aliens exist, the future of human civilization and even the meaning of life itself, this one is for you.
Last but not least…. two things I’m looking for:
#1 — Ideas for podcast guests on these topics:
The health benefits and social implications of quitting alcohol (Who’s with me on dry March??? No one? That’s okay. I still love ya.)
Digital addiction - or why I can’t stop staring at Twitter. Help.
Or any other great ideas you have.
#2 — A sponsor for the Intentional Wisdom newsletter and podcast. (Caveat: I’ll only have a sponsor whose product I love and use myself… so that might make it tough!). Any ideas, let me know!
That’s IT! See you in two weeks. — Greg
Photo credit: Clemens van Vay @Unsplash.com