Just a few short weeks ago, I connected with Neil Pasricha, author of the soon-to-be-released The Book of Awesome. And, I was lucky enough to get an advance copy to peruse.
Interestingly, my first e-mail exchange with Neil actually happened the day after I was chatting with a co-worker about a company that actually hired a “Director of Awesome.” (Neil, can we add that to the book?)
The Book of Awesome is like no other. Its magical insights are not revolutionary – which is why I love it. It focuses on the every day and special moments that we might not regularly think about / take for granted and/or secretly love. Each page reminds us that these are what make up the awesomeness of life. It’s a book you can read straight through or pick up every day and open to a page – and almost each time, I’ll guarantee you’ll find something to which you can relate.
While I could list out my favorites – and will in the comments below – I thought it would be interesting to talk to the brains behind the awesomeness. Neil graciously agreed to do an interview about The Book of Awesome and I’m thrilled to share it with you here.
Laura: So…The Book of Awesome. How did you come up with the title? The idea?
Neil: Well, I started 1000awesomethings.com on a chilly spring night in 2008 and never thought much would amount of it. But honestly, it was just dark days outside – ice caps melting, wars raging, forests burning, hurricanes swirling – and I wanted to remind myself of the simple things like bubble wrap, snow days, and the cold side of the pillow.
Laura: There are so many fab ones in there (I love the Scrabble one). What’s your favorite? I know you must have one!
Okay — my five babies of the moment are:
1. When cashiers open up new lanes at the grocery store
2. A long hug when you really need it
3. Getting called up to the dinner buffet first at a wedding
4. The smell of gasoline
5. The last day of school
I’ve had preachers write to tell me they recite these awesome things in their sermons and I’ve had teachers tell me they read them to their third grade class every morning. I’ve had heavier things — suicidal teens, cancer patients — tell me that focusing on things like hitting a string of green lights in a row and the smell of bakeries has reminded them of all the small, simple things we’re lucky to live with every day. And then I’ve got people saying “Hey man, thanks for the smile!”
It’s been absolutely incredibly and I’m pretty much always overwhelmed!
Laura: You have a fantastic acknowledgments section – really love how you called out all of the people who directly and indirectly influenced you. What’s the best advice you received from some of your mentors and inspirations?
The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating — in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life. - Anne Morriss (from a Starbucks coffee cup)
It’s not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or when the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worth cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat. -Theodore Roosevelt
Those two thoughts always keep me grounded and convince me that it’s better to push forward and push on anytime you hit a wall. After all — through all the fears and tears, chills and spills, we’re all basically the same, with the same insecurities, trying to do our best and live our days as full as we can.
Laura: In that same way, what’s your advice to aspiring writers – of any genre?
Number 1 - Follow your heart. I mean, in the beginning I just wanted to write about the thrill of finding money in your coat pocket or stabbing a spoon in a fresh jar of peanut butter. I never expected to start an awesome movement with 10 million people around the world visiting the site and talking about The Book of Awesome. I never expected to have a guy write a song about the site!
And now there’s this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_HkH8huuzA
Number 2 - Never stop. You’ll get better even if no one’s reading. You’ll learn about yourself. You’ll figure things out. It’s just…. don’t stop. Don’t quit. Keep going, keep pushing, keep powering. You can do it. You can do it. We all want you to do it and you can.
Neil – I’m psyched, we’re psyched! Thanks for chatting with us.
Share something in your life – whether it’s an every day thing or a major event – that you would qualify as “awesome?” I’m sure you can come up with one – feel free to add it in the comments below!