They’re Gonna Hate Me for This…. One Simple Trick to Bother Important People

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In my recent post, I talked about my advice addiction and tendency to bug people like Ryan Holiday.
In that post I make it seem shocking that Ryan would reply to me. But, I’m a fraud. It’s actually not difficult at all.
Before you read any further keep this in mind: ADVICE IS NOT THE ANSWER it won’t help you.
When you bother your idols for advice only a few things happen.
1. Once you start you can’t stop (it’s crack).
2. You’ll get information overload and decision fatigue.
3. You’ll piss off and annoy the people you admire.
In J.D. Salinger’s novel, The Catcher in the Rye. Holden Caulfield says this,
“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”
Holden is spot on. This never happens. J.D. Salinger was a known recluse in his own right. So, seriously leave your idols alone.
But if you insist, here’s how you can get in touch with almost anyone.
Just follow these two rules before you even think about flooding the inbox of every author you know.
Rule One: You’re already wasting their time. So if you must reach out to those more important than yourself have good questions.
Don’t ask anything that you could’ve found out using google for an hour. Don’t ask questions they’re not suited to answer. And, don’t ask them more than three questions in any given exchange.
Rule Two: This trick doesn’t work for everyone. Tim Ferriss has written at length about his hatred of Email. If Salinger was still alive he wouldn’t be refreshing his inbox to answer your questions. Pick your battles.
Now that you’ve got it narrowed down to a few candidates you’d like to pester, there’s one simple trick to get a response out of them.
Are you ready?
Sign up for their email lists. It’s dead simple.
When I emailed Ryan Holiday it was right after I saw a tweet about his email list. I signed up for it, he sent out the generic welcome message, and I’ve been bugging him ever since.
He’s not the only one either, which leads me to my next suggestion.
If you’re going to ask a busy person for their advice. If you must dig at them for pearls of wisdom. Do them a favor and act on their advice.
Recently I received my income taxes and couldn’t decide what to do with the sudden extra cash. I wanted to be smart about it so I immediately tracked down an expert. I saw that they had an email list, and pinged them for advice.
I emailed Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You to be Rich.
Me: “Hey, Ramit. I just got my income taxes in and I’m wondering- what’s the best thing to do with 1000 dollars?”
Ramit: “Read my book pls.”
I deserved that answer. I broke rule one. I messaged a money guru before ever reading his book.
I immediately purchased his book on iBooks for about ten bucks. After the first hundred or so pages I decided to pay off a big chunk of my student loans.
There. Now you know how to aggravate high profile celebrities in a matter of minutes. It’s more effective than twitter and as addictive as street drugs.
Sorry guys. I’m an addict.
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My name is Billy and I’m Addicted to Advice … and It Made Me Do Something Crazy.

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If AA is for anonymous alcoholics then I should start a new support group. AAA, Advice Addicts Anonymous. I’m not here to poke fun at addiction. I’m truly addicted to advice.
I subscribe to advice riddled podcasts and YouTube channels. I buy a new book that will “change my life”, every week- I’ve even been known to dish out advice from time to time.
The worst part is, I’m incapable of following any of it. Why? Because I’m an addict. I need my fix. If I listen to the sage wisdom of one person and follow through with it, where will I find the time to pester others for help?
I’ve got a handful of mentors, friends, and family that all put up with my constant, “Woe is me, I don’t know what to do” SOSs. I even bother busy people who don’t even know me for advice.
Recently I was wrestling with a personal dilemma; deciding if I should go back to college or pay off the debts of my first failed attempt. So I did something crazy.
I sent an email to Ryan Holiday.
Ryan Holiday is a best-selling author. He wrote The Obstacle is the Way, Ego is the Enemy, Trust Me I’m Lying, and a few other great books. He’s been on the Tim Ferriss Show, The School of Greatness Podcast, and London Real.
What was I thinking? Ryan Holiday wouldn’t reply to me… Except, he did.
First I asked him if I should go back to school for writing and he replied stoically, “Writing programs are generally a waste of time…” and he sent me a link to his article, So You Want to be a Writer? That’s Mistake #1. In which he outlines the idea that you should only write once you have something to say.
I didn’t even take the time to be grateful that he’d replied. Instead, I shot back (somewhat hurt) with another question.
I asked him how to live a life worth writing about.
“Go live an interesting life. Go do stuff.” That was his response, two short sentences that totally rocked my world.
“That’s not an answer!” I thought to myself. “He has to give me real advice!”
I was wrong on both counts. That was real advice, and he didn’t owe me anything. It just wasn’t the advice I wanted to hear. Living an interesting life sounds so impossible. I wanted a quick fix, some life hack, or some book to read that I could use to manipulate my way to success.
After I’d calmed down I thought about some of my own advice I’d dished out months prior on Instagram. “The best advice is never the quick fix, but instead the obvious, yet never easy dose of hard work.”

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I’m addicted to advice and I’m terrible at taking it. I couldn’t take Ryan’s advice, I couldn’t even take my own advice on the subject of advice. But I’m trying.
Since my brief conversation with Ryan, I have yet to put writing on hold. I have, however, been trying to “go do things”, by going on more adventures with friends, (we saw the world’s largest fork). I’m also trying to take advice more seriously by putting it into practice.

“If [more] information was the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.”
-Derek Sivers (From Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss)

It’s safe to say the same thing about advice. If advice was the answer we’d only have to ask for it once.

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You Are Who You Google

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Jim Rohn was an American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker. Maybe you don’t recognize his name, but you might recognize his quote, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”.

This is a quote that I often see tossed around by life hackers and in articles about self improvement. I can see the validity in this claim. However, I think this quote can be updated for the modern age. “You are the average of the five people you google most often.” Of course co-workers and friend groups do rub off on one another, but how many of us mentally check out at our jobs and at social events waiting to be back home on our computers soaking up every bit of data the internet has to offer on a handful of people we have never met but that have shaped our lives so significantly? Following is the philanthropist, entrepreneur, film maker, rapper, and comedians that have shaped myself and my search history over the years.

The Philanthropist
John Green author of The Fault in Our Stars, one half of the youtube series Vlogbrothers, and an inspiring philanthropist who raises millions of dollars each year with the help of the youtube community and his brother Hank. He has also teamed up with Bill Gates to bring clean water to Ethiopia. I don’t often read fiction but I always look forward to John’s book releases and have seen every one of his youtube videos. Over the years John has taught me two important lessons: One featured near the end of this video , “What you do isn’t going to be nearly as interesting or important as who you do it with.” The other lesson is featured at the end of many of his videos and that is- Don’t Forget To Be Awesome, or DFTBA for short.

The Entrepreneur
I don’t remember how I managed to come across Tim Ferriss but I do know that every time he puts out a new podcast or blog post I pay close attention because I know that whatever content he produces is full of insight. Tim has taught me many things like the 80/20 principle and the importance of morning routines but the most important thing he has taught me is how to learn. In his podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show he interviews world-class-everyone. From technologists to athletes, actors, comedians, CEO’s, and more Tim sets down with some of the best people in their respective careers, piques their brains and teases out the very best most useful advice and practices they have to offer and shares them with his listeners forever cementing the idea that being world class is more achievable than one might think.

The Film Maker
I first came across Casey Neistat when he was featured on a channel called Youtube Nation. The purpose of this channel before it got discontinued was to shed light on the best unknown channels youtube had to offer. 2,369,846 subscribers later I think they were on to something with him. Casey’s videos are so simple but clearly the result of handwork so much so that he makes anyone feel like they could make viral videos. The truth is anyone can and theres only two things anyone needs to know according to Casey Neistat. Number one-gear doesn’t mean anything. Casey has pointed out time and time again that anyone with a smartphone, a little bit of creativity, a great idea and hard work can make viral videos like clockwork. Number two-be willing to take risks. One of Casey’s most famous videos is a commercial he did for Nike titled Make It Count. Casey and Nike had an idea of what the video was going to be and Nike gave Casey a huge budget to work with. However, last minute Casey decides to scrap that idea and use the entire budget to travel around the world with a friend until the money ran out. Nike loved it and Casey made millions of fans.

The Rapper
Rap is not my favorite genre of music but it has brought me one of my favorite artists. George Watsky first came to me in the form of his video Pale Kid Raps Fast. After seeing this video I just thougt “Well thats neat” but later when I found out that he was a serious rapper and not just a one hit wonder I listened to his album Cardboard Castles and I kept listening to it and I still find it relentlessly entertaining and relatable. Two songs on this album in particular stick out to me, “Strong as an Oak” and “Moral of the Story”. With lyrics like “Because beer is cheap and because love is free,” “Strong as an Oak” just reminds me that even though I’m a broke college kid life isn’t all that bad and there is plenty to be thankful for. Moral of the Story however, is my productivity jam. In this song Watsky raps about working until your arms fall off and he really relays the message that if you’re not in your work for you you’re not really in it at all.

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The Comedian
Demetri Martin is a genius. I knew he was a genius when I first flipped the channel to Comedy Central and saw him flipping through his giant notepad with jokes so obvious and so simple that they just make you put your palm to your head and be bewildered that you never considered the hilarity of whatever simple thing he has just pointed out. My favorite show of his however is called If I. It is in this act that I learn two really important things. Firstly, that inspiration is in everything. For starters the entire show is based around the four simple definitions of “If” and within the show he makes poetry using only the words on a bottle of Rolling Bock beer, turns anagrams into poignant ah-ha moments and points out the ridiculousness of his many useless talents. Demetri’s special If I tells a narrative about how he had planed his whole life to be a lawyer until tragically, when he almost reaches his life’s ambition he realizes that he hates it. He drops out of law school and has to discover himself all over again. He teaches the audience that self discovery is a journey, not a plan.

Over and over again I find myself re-reading, re-watching, and re-listening to these people and each time I find something so intrinsically valuable in their work and in their words. I can only hope to become at least a fraction of the average of these awe inspiring individuals.

 

 

 

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Haven’t read my first post? Eight Life Lessons: Fight Club (film)