Reminiscing a four-year friendship with Sebastian Marshall
I’m rereading Ikigai which I bought four years ago, in 2013. At that time, it was a major decision to spend $9.77 to buy an ebook on Amazon.
I remember buying a Kindle so I could illegally download and read ebooks for free. I don’t do that anymore. One of the happiest days of my life is realizing I am now in a financial position to budget $200 / month on books. Sebastian played a huge role in that.
In 2013, I was in a really bad place financially. I remember highlighting in Ikigai —
Personally, I’ve found 90 out of 100 people you do right by kind of forget about it and are ungrateful. 9 out of 100 are gracious, friendly, and cool about it, and then that’s the end of it. But then that last 1 out of 100 people changes your life in an amazing way. I remember typing a Kindle note saying, “I am going to be that 1 person.”
Today, when I find an interesting book on Amazon, I just buy it. It wasn’t always that easy. It certainly wasn’t clear that it was a habit that will pay off. Until very recently, I was in debt, in part because of my book-buying habits. I wasn’t as haphazard about it. But my thinking was… Okay, a book is $10. If it takes 100 books and $1000 to get to one really good book that has an idea that will change the trajectory of my life forever and make me even just $1000 more, per month. Permanently.For the rest of my life? Then that is good enough for me. Ikigai was that book.
Four years later, I now have way more responsibility, pay, experience, skills, interesting and fulfilling work, etc. than everyone else I know in my peer group. I don’t say this to brag, it’s just a fact.
As I reread Ikigai today, I realize how much of who I am and what I’ve accomplished, I can trace back to Sebastian. Reading his blog. Working on projects with him, first online, then organizing and speaking on a two month tour across North America. Buying and devouring his book at 2am on August 20, 2013, the very book I am holding now.
For example —
- Greatness is something you do, not something you are. Rejecting the notion of a person who is a “genius” — you’re either doing genius-quality work or you aren’t.
- The concept of the castle being a bunch of rocks
- Making people look good to the people they really care about. Does a guy getting his kitchen remodeled care more about the kind of countertop used, or how his wife thinks about him?
- Being hyper practical and owning the success of a thing, rather than just “being right.” “They don’t get it!” No, you don’t get it. If you’re getting your ass kicked by a competitor that’s got a worse product than you, it’s not your customers that don’t get it — you don’t get it. If you’re trying to land a job, people are going to size you up based on somewhat arbitrary criteria. if you get passed over for a less qualified candidate, it’s not that the company didn’t get it. You didn’t get it. Cufflinks matter and the quality of the paper your proposal is on matters and if your shoes are shined matters and all of that matters, if you care about that particular job.
- Getting on with your life — doing universally useful things like learning skills, connecting with people, getting cash in the bank — even if you don’t know what you want to do with your life yet. People expect their passion to hit them in the head someday, then they’ll “get it”, and then they’re driven and motivated and ready to go. I don’t think so. I don’t think you can sit and think about what you might want to do, and then wake up inspired one day. This is what I see with people who are uninspired — they think they’re going to fix that problem by doing a careful search of what might inspire them. Then, once they find it, they’ll take lots of action. Nope. That’s backwards.
- Good marketing is mostly just having people want to spend time with you. The rest of it is offering people something worth many, many times more than what you’re charging. But mostly, it’s having people want to spend time in and around you, your company, wanting to be associated with what you’ve got.
- The Equal Odds Rule. If you want to make excellent stuff, you need to make a lot of stuff. If you want to make a lot of stuff, you’ll make a lot of crap. If you want to make excellent stuff, you need to make a lot of crap.
This is not theoretical, philosophical stuff.
The things I do in my job, today, flow as a result of this thinking. Doing work so that our service makes my customer’s life and work better, easier, not just to make my numbers. Writing email scripts in a way that makes each Expert we connect with feel special. Because at the other side of the screen, it’s not a mass of people reading. It’s one individual, who’s incredibly busy, and I’m really grateful he’s taking time out of his day to read my email. Putting out hundreds of bad ideas and being okay with the embarrassment of realizing how bad they are in hindsight, because I understand the Equal Odds Rule and putting out a lot of bad ideas is just part of the process to get to that one, really good idea that changes everything.
Even how I got to being Director at OnFrontiers, I can trace back to the lessons I learned reading Ikigai. Having the audacity to start and fail at multiple business. In the process, learning sales, marketing, copywriting, writing, listening, interviewing, connecting with strong, interesting, virtuous people. Creating the concierge travel booking service that led me to reaching out to Jeremi Joslin on Twitter, which led to an introduction to Kevin Dewalt. Kevin eventually hired me at SoHelpful, where Brian Caouette was a user. All this while Anne Kroijer was still founding OnFrontiers, which led to Brian eventually finding me in his email inbox when he was looking for intel on Manila for OnFrontiers. Isn’t that incredible.
Thanks to four years of friendship, Sebastian. And here’s to many more years of eating salt together.
This post first appeared on Medium.