They also talk about following your passion. This expression is loaded with meaning. On the one hand you have Cal Newport suggesting that rather than passion fueling what we do, it should be skills. There is no career for a bacon expert, even if you are passionate about bacon. On the other hand you have Robert Greene suggesting to look at passion, but examine it deeply. Greene might ask why you’re passionate about bacon. Is it local foods? Eating well? Cooking for others? Both Newport and Greene would agree that you need to build expertise in whatever it is, something Guillebeau agrees with, at least implicitly. For instance, his Unconventional Guide to Get Rich Slowly is written by J.D. Roth.
When talking about quests Chris brings up Robyn Devine. Her quest is to make 10,000 hats. She’s written a book about finding meaning in her life by knitting hats. From her site, “She Makes Hats is one woman’s story of finding meaning, purpose, and passion by way of an old-fashioned yet rediscovered craft. With a push from a friend, Robyn Devine, a thirty-something wife and mother, moved past her apprehension and began expressing herself through texture, color, and design, turning knitting into her hobby, her meditation, and a functional product that helps people all around the world.”
Altucher and Guillebeau return to the conversation about Chris’s journey to every country and discuss how it would have “sucked” to stop ten short. Altucher says, “like if you went to 182 you would actually be like an extreme disappointment.” He’s right, on an olympic level. Every two years a study of Olympic athletes from the 1992 games in Barcelona Spain marches out along with the opening ceremony. In that study researchers recorded a video of the medal ceremony where the contestants were donned with gold, silver, or bronze medals. Then college students were asked to rate how happy each contestant looked. Bronze medal recipients were rated as looking nearly twice as happy as the silver medal winners. Psychologists hypothesize the difference in attitudes is that we compare our results to “what might have been.” For the silver medalist, what might have been was gold. For the bronze medalists, what might have been was off the podium. We can scoff at at these Olympians, but when people are offered a choice between making 60,000 at a company where the average salary is 70,000 or making 50,000 where the average salary is 40,000 they more often choose the second. We like to look good.
Altucher and Guillebeau then trade stories about how long things take. They agree there is no one who will “bestow this business on me” because it is not easy. Altucher says he worked for 18 months on his side business. The iPod took four years to catch on:
The Post It note took ten, and only thanks to a church going co-worker. Dilbert took years of drawing and the death of a regional salesman. (Which as I was writing this post found out that Scott Adams is the next guest!)
A bit later the pair bring up Jerry Seinfeld who Altucher says will still go out and perform stand-up to improve his craft. Seinfeld may be the next George Foreman. If you didn’t know, Foreman was a boxer turned grill’s salesman. Seinfeld was a comedian before productivity guru (or so his legacy seems to be). Altucher is a fan of his don’t break the chain approach but there’s also this video from The New York Times about taking years to write a joke about Pop-Tarts.
I’ve heard a similar story, though can’t remember the source, about Chris Rock. Rock will go to a club and just read jokes off a piece of paper. If something gets a laugh being delivered in a simple way he’ll note that and amp it up for a larger show. Joan Rivers used to pay people for their jokes, but said only one out of ten thousand was good enough for a big show.
In the fall of 2014 Chris is on a 40 city tour for his new book. After which he’ll probably return to the pacific northwest to plan the next World Domination Summit for July of 2015.
Currently in a Miami laundromat wearing a sweater and no pants. Book tour is so glamorous.