There are a handful of people on this planet who I think are just pure gold. They are people who have me hanging on every word. And over time I’ve realized that there’s a formula to those people. There’s a specific type of person that I love. Whether it’s an actor, a musician, an athlete or an entrepreneur, they always share the same qualities. First, they have to be themselves. They have to be a personality. I don’t like plastic. I like people who emanate honesty. Second, they have to be passionate. I like people who would rather go down swinging than just sit there on the fence.
Take for example my all time favorite football player; Brett Favre. Most people know that Brett Favre held the record for the most touchdown passes in an NFL career (until very recently). But a lot of people don’t necessarily know that he also (by a large margin) threw the most interceptions in NFL history. His career essentially ended on an interception. And if he couldn’t win it all, that’s the way I wanted to see him go out. Going for it. No matter what. Thirdly, (and this one drives my wife crazy), I like people that are just a little bit arrogant. I’m not talking over the top. Just people that recognize that they’re good at something and recognize that that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Enter, Ross Simmonds, @TheCoolestCool.
I went to a session hosted by Ross and Verb Interactive UX Director, Jamie Gerrard, @JamieGerrard. Here’s what I knew about Jamie before attending the session…..he was hosting a session with Ross. That was enough. Ross is someone whom I’ve grown to love and respect over the past couple of years. He’s a hustler (not in the bad sense of the word) but rather he is consistently plugging away to get better at every single thing that he does. He’s not someone who is ok with being ok and he places high expectations on the people he surrounds himself with. He understands that there are obstacles in life without being ok with them getting in the way. His email, which I subscribe to, is honest and open. He lets you know every single way that he’s ever screwed things up so that he can help you get better at what you do. He’s open to sharing his wealth of knowledge on any topic with anyone. In a world of “what’s in it for me” people, Ross is a refreshing change of pace. My respect for Ross and what Ross does assured me that I would be equally impressed with Jamie. My intuition was not wrong.

The session was on your career bucket list. It’s not a complicated idea. What do you want to do in your professional life? Great. But answering that question doesn’t do anything if you don’t know the rest of the steps and this is what the session was focused on. Not just “what’s on your list” but “how are you going to achieve it”. Their message was clear and concise. It’s easy to follow. Three steps. That’s it. Rethink learning. Get inspired. Invest in yourself. Ok. So we’re all good now? Well, sort of. Now you have to do it. That’s always Ross’s message and it seemed to be Jamie’s as well. There’s a lot of talk out there. Here are the steps you need to take to get better. You either take the steps, or you don’t. That’s on you. I’m not going to go into crazy detail about the specifics of the session because they were gracious enough to put everything right here. Because that’s how they roll.

So what did I get out of this session? Aside from just getting to listen to amazing people talk about how they moved forward in their own professional lives, I was able to come up with an amazing self realization. Throughout the presentation Ross and Jamie asked questions and a pattern emerged as everyone who answered a question was given a prize. At one point they asked “what inspires you?” and I, mostly unrelated to wanting a prize, said “my kids.” The thing I most liked about what happened next was that despite the collective “awwwww” in the room, Jamie wanted more.
Much like Ross, Jamie also refused to lower his expectations. He wanted to push me to go deeper, not just for myself but also for the rest of the audience, so that they could get more out of it. And it was at this point that I realized exactly what it was about my kids that inspired me. I have a 3 year old boy and an 8 month old girl. When I think about what I need most in the world, what I want most, it’s for my children, when they are older, to be able to look at me with pride and adoration and say “this is what my dad does.” About 6 months ago, just when my son was starting to really talk (he was a late bloomer in that regard), on a particularly rough day when he had done everything in his power to break me, he walked up to me, wrapped his arms around my legs, looked up at me and said, “Daddy, you’re a good man.” Inspired. Yeah. You could say that. 

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