Last night, I had the privilege of meeting legendary misfit A.J. Leon and watching him be interviewed by my friends Phil Gerbyshak and Berni Xiong as part of their Shut Up Show podcast. It was a remarkable evening, filled with really cool ideas.
For those of you who don’t know A.J., he was living the life that many people dream of: At a young age, he was making a 6-figure income in finance in Manhattan, got an outrageous annual bonus and was on the fast track to become a partner at his firm. For A.J., it was a trap, however. He never felt like he fit in, and that he was only there because he needed validation that he could amount to something.
In the midst of all of this apparent success, he became so miserable that he decided to pitch it all and try life as an entrepreneur. He and his wife Melissa became digital nomads, traveling the world and building an awesome tribe of followers through A.J.’s blog, The Pursuit of Everything.
A.J. was visiting Milwaukee to promote his book, The Life & Times of a Remarkable Misfit, which was just released in an artisanal print version. Here is some of the wisdom he shared in this fascinating interview, and in my conversation with him afterwards:
Joy is the only currency that really matters in life.
Oddly enough, our money “owns” us. The more you make, the harder it is to simply walk away.
We’re all part artists and part entrepreneurs today. Where you are on that spectrum has a lot to to with the decisions you make.
You have more choices than you think you do. You can define this game.
A.J.’s favorite creative question? “Why?” – He’s less concerned about the how than he is the why – the underlying purpose for whatever you’re doing. If you’ve got the “why” right, the how usually figures itself out.
Success is an iterative process. People see the end result and proclaim someone an overnight success. But inevitably, there have been years of things that didn’t work out, tweaking, experimenting and iterating until you arrive at something that’s successful. There’s a lot of trial and error and dedication involved. But many people act like they only have one chance to hit the ball out of the park or otherwise they have totally failed.
Be flamboyantly you! There has never been a human being who is exactly like you, with your DNA and your unique set of knowledge and experiences. Figure out what your personal “USP” (unique selling proposition) is, and get out there and tell the world your story!
A.J. is one of those people who walks his talk. The Life & Times of a Remarkable Misfit is an excellent read and I highly recommend it!