Week 13: How to connect on interests – Ryan Holiday

I lost my aunt a year ago. Since my whole family is small (there are only 14 of us) we saw each other weekly and had dinner together often. My aunt was a second mom.

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In the months following, I distracted myself at school with classes and extracurriculars so I didn’t have to think about her death. But as the semester ended, there were no classes or club meetings to turn to.

In the month I spent at home, I never got over that I wouldn’t have another chance to enjoy a bowl of pho with my aunt, play cards with her, or ask for her favorite recipes.

Last summer, my friend Casper recommended that I read Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle is the Way. Casper has never recommended me a book I didn’t enjoy or recommend to others. I ordered The Obstacle is the Way that same day and read it as soon as it came in the mail.

The Obstacle is the Way applies the philosophy of stoicism (a school of thought on how we can become better human beings and live more fulfilled lives) to modern living. The main message is to view the obstacles in our lives as opportunities to grow instead of threats that make us feel defeated. Ryan draws from historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln who saw his early political defeats as learning opportunities and prepare him for when he was president and cultural figures such as a before-famous George Clooney who would walk into auditions with the mindset that his judges wanted him to succeed.

After I read Ryan’s book, I started reading works by other stoics such as Letters from a Stoic (a selection of letters written from the stoic Seneca on enjoying the pleasures of a short life and enduring with dignity the burdens of misfortune) and Mediation (Marcus Aurelius’s personal thoughts on how to live with dignity and handle personal tragedies). The more I read, the more I began adopting the thinkings of the ancient stoics; I even picked up mediating in the morning as a habit.

Now when I start thinking about my aunt. I think about the times I did get to spend with her instead the times I won’t. I think about the bowls of pho we did have, the Saturday nights we did play poker, and the recipes I still use today. I still tear up when I think about her, in fact even as I am writing this, but the tears now come with thoughts of happiness.

Connecting with Ryan

Credit: DMXDublin

Credit: DMXDublin

Reading Ryan’s book helped me through a hard time in my life and in the process I found myself connected to his writing and intellectual knowledge. I signed up for his monthly newsletters.

I think it would be enriching to be able to sit down with him one day (more ambitious, regularly) and discuss our favorite books, thoughts, and goals.

Reaching out to Ryan

I am reaching out to Ryan to recommend a book he would like since he loves reading and in the process, I hope we’ll start an exchange of knowledge sharing, but more emphasis on the former.

I receive Ryan’s list of book recommendations through his monthly newsletter. This month, one of his recommended books was Letters to His Son, which I have right now. I used it as a reason to connect with Ryan.

I went back through Ryan’s recommended book list on his website and looked for books that weren’t mentioned that I enjoyed reading. I figure he wouldn’t mind a good recommendation himself. He really loves history (the Civil War in particular) and philosophy (stoicism).

I recently finished reading the Irony of American History  - philosopher Reinhold Niebuhr’s views on how to the U.S. government should be led using many examples from history. I sent Ryan a quick email this week with my recommendation – Ryan uses his personal email to send out his monthly recommendations so that is now I got his email.

RH email

 How to Connect with Someone with Common Interests

If you want to connect with someone who you know shares a common interest with you (a hobby, passion, or association), figure out a way how you can enhance the way they enjoy the common interest you share.

  • Make a recommendation on how they enjoy the hobby more
  • Offer to join them (if this would add value to their enjoyment and experience)
  • Refer them to someone who also enjoys the hobby who they would be interested in meeting.

Next Tuesday:

This week, I will be reaching out to John Cena, 15-time WWE World Champion and Make-a-Wish Foundation’s record holder for most wishes granted (over 450).

My name is Davis. In September 2014, I decided to spend a year reaching out to role models I’ve never met. Here’s why

Want to join me and reach out to your role models? You can get details for the 7-Day CWA Challenge below.

Week 12: How to Personalize an Email – Michael Ellsberg

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My name is Davis. In September 2014, I decided to spend a year reaching out to role models I’ve never met. Here’s why.  This week, I reached out to author Michael Ellsberg. Who is Michael Ellsberg I came across Michael’s work a year ago at Barnes and Nobles. Michael’s book wasn’t strategically placed, but the title caught my […]

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Week 11: The Keynote Speaker – Andrew Klaber

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My name is Davis. In September 2014, I decided to spend a year reaching out to role models I’ve never met. Here’s why.  “I’ve had more than 10 times as many failures in my life as I have had successes. The good news is that no one talks about my failures.” – Andrew Klaber. Who is […]

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Week 10: Connecting with a past coworker – Mike Erwin

Credit Jeffrey Smith | AnnArbor.com

My name is Davis. In September 2014, I decided to spend a year reaching out to role models I’ve never met. Here’s why.  Why I chose Mike Erwin this week Mike Erwin is the coworker I wish I could have connected with when I interned at Quiet Revolution this summer. One thing that made working at […]

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Week 9: An odd request – Scott Berkun

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My name is Davis. In September 2014, I decided to spend a year reaching out to role models I’ve never met. Here’s why.  Update From Previous Weeks: Last month, I reached out to Mark Earls and asked if he would sign a copy of his book. After a month of getting mail through customs, guess what […]

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Week 8: Asking Advice from a Role Model – Jesse Bonanno

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My name is Davis. In September 2014, I decided to spend a year reaching out to role models I’ve never met. Here’s why.  I love listening to Pandora. I get to hear my favorite songs and every now and then, Pandora will play a song it thinks I will like based on my past preferences. A month ago, […]

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Week 7: Finding a difficult email – Brené Brown

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My name is Davis. In September 2014, I decided to spend a year reaching out to role models I’ve never met. Here’s why.  This week was quite challenging. My goal was to reach out to Brené Brown, best known for her work with vulnerability and shame. She delivered this TED talk on embracing the power of […]

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Week 6: Using LinkedIn Creatively – Sean Covey

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My name is Davis. In September 2014, I decided to spend a year reaching out to role models I’ve never met. Here’s why.  Last week, my connection goal was Sean Covey (@sean_covey): writer, motivational speaker, and Vice-President of Products at FranklinCovey. Why Sean? When I was 12, I was given 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by  my friend […]

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Week 5: Dining with a Local Celebrity – Parker Liautaud

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My name is Davis. In September 2014, I decided to spend a year reaching out to role models I’ve never met. Here’s why.  I first learned about Parker Liautaud from reading about his journey becoming the fastest person to reach the South Pole. I was amazed by the type of quest Parker chose to embark on. While I was […]

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Week 4: How to Meet the Conference Organizer – Sherry Ott

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My name is Davis. In September 2014, I decided to spend a year reaching out to role models I’ve never met. Here’s why.  This week, my goal was to connect with Sherry Ott and help her accomplish a goal. Who is Sherry Ott? Facing burnout, Sherry Ott (@ottsworld) decided to quit her corporate IT job to travel the […]

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