When my friend** James Altucher writes an article, the emotional connection to the audience (or anchor as he puts it) tends to mention about how he was a failure, and how he put those days behind him.
I know he has much more valuable that he has to say, and he does indeed. But I get fixated by the background story. As I read his inspirations, fears, joyous moments and advise, I have the anchor in mind. And, in my heart.
So will you.
I don’t read Altucher’s books and blog for his wonderful command over language, his success stories, and his advice. I am sure I could have led a more happy, prosperous and enjoyable (if that is possible!) life if I did listen, but it just wasn’t to be.
I read Altucher because I find myself in him. I also find myself in the people around him – the ones he loves, hates and ignores.
So, will you.
Altucher paints gory details of his failures. I often found myself pinching myself to ensure that I am not in financial distress, caught myself guffawing on his escapades, biting my nails over what looked like embarrassments, and said to myself at least a thousand times that “I would never do that if I was there”.
And again, so will you.
It is not only the sob story that sells. But, it is the honesty, the courage to put it out for the audience, and then comes the cake, ice-cream.
You went in for a casual lunch, but the damn thing proved to be cocaine-ridden shit. The whole package is so enticing that you can’t stop it once you experience it. You just swim gladly within the grief and happiness.
It is only human.
It so happens that I want to establish the same connection with my audience. But, I am held back by my happiness and contented life.
“Boo”, you say. And, you are right.
I have wonderful family and friends, quite strong relationships, not bad with my health, have “somewhat ok” finances, and am generally happy. So, how the heck am I to interest anyone, let alone inspire them. If I don’t have a sad story, I can’t quite write about how I came out of it donning a cape.
I can’t be your hero.
So, for my own benefit here are the things that I should indeed be doing to take you on the roller-coaster ride :
I should speak more about how risk-averse I am.
I favour stability at each stage. Got good marks in high school? – choose an engineering degree. Got good in programming? – hop on to the nearest IT service provider who is equally clueless as you.
Celebrate my fears with whoever is willing to listen.
Be scared of the impending civilization fallout from automation / AI/robots, nuclear war, or the zombie apocalypse. Scare the heck out of people with the stories, hard-to-contradict facts (choose your audience right, I always say), and connect with people on the countdown to doomsday.
Just read today’s news if you run out of ideas.
Talk about how hard it is to put my lazy ass to work.
I try almost every productivity trick known to man, and our nearest neighbour – the chimp (or some may say pigs). I cannot find myself running at peak productivity – ever. I have managed to stay away from my core love of programming for months, did not blog for years, and found joy in skimming in calm waters.
Think about how much I have missed all the good parts in life already.
Build complex what-if scenarios that could have made my life much better.
Share stuff on missed opportunities since I could not hold on to the right mindset for long.
I can’t eat right for 5 days straight. I cannot stay away from Steam for 15 days straight. I have tried all, and have been conquered by all.
While I get the sob part of the story right, there is a big problem. I am yet to successfully navigate my way through those problems. I often wonder the point in such an adventure.
Instead, could I interest you in just some boring details of how I travel 45 km / 2.5 hours a day every day for the past 5 years in God-forsaken traffic? That should qualify as good a sob-story as any.
I have exhausted the post, and my audience at this point — so there is no point in writing any further. The actual story has to wait for another day.
** a secret kept from Mr Altucher himself. It is a largely unidirectional friendship.