Write Now!

The email had one word in the subject line: “Mentor”. Once invoked, my priorities are adjusted, schedule rearranged, and attention redirected.  That word is my personal “Bat Signal”.  Let me tell you a bit about the former (non-traditional) student of mine who flipped the switch.

He sends me emails, sometimes at 3 am in morning, with kick-ass links to interesting events, people, and ideas.

He introduced me to Seth Godin (thank you!).

Books show up on my front porch with titles like “The 48 Laws of Power” (incredible) and “Mastery” (still working through it but incredible) – each with a short note of encouragement inscribed inside of the cover.

He is the master of quips. One of my favorites: “There is nothing wrong with biting off more than you can chew, unless you stop chewing.

He has this amazing ability to weave together killer details and fascinating facts into a web of intriguing explanatory power.

He is someone who should be sharing his viewpoint and perspective with the world. He knows it.

Yet, this past Monday morning, he was in my office staring at the floor with his hands clasped together hanging between his knees unsure of whether or not to throw his ideas and his idiosyncrasies out into the world.

Brian, you had two tours in Iraq, I thought to myself.  Two tours in Iraq. I could not believe that I was going to ask this man in front of me this question. I was not sure I was allowed to ask this question.I hesitated. Then I asked.

Me: “What are you scared of?”

Brian: “I don’t know.”

Me: “What are you waiting for?”

Brian: “I don’t know.”

Me: “You should start right now. I mean it…right now…God, I loved Van Halen.”

Brian: “W” “R” “I” “T” “E”…now

Me: “Yes. Let’s write a post together.”

So, here we are. Brian is going to answer the question “What am I scared of?” (see below). I am working on answering the question “What are you waiting for?” Not for Brian, but for myself. Here is Brian:

Write Now.

Van Halen’s Right Now always struck me as a cheesy song.  I’ve always heard the titular line as a chronological command. After a conversation yesterday morning, I’m hearing it as a verb driven imperative. Write now. Don’t wait until tomorrow. It means everything.

What am I afraid of? I’m afraid that the ideas which are clear, perfect and distinct in my head will look like crazy rants on paper. I’m afraid that once I start putting words down, I’m not going to be able to stop. Once the wall comes down, the torrent of words will flow freely, without censure. It’s a scary thought. Not because I think I have some rare genius, but because I’m afraid that the things I see as simple decisions and logical conclusions, you’ll read as the rants of a sociopath. I’m afraid that you’ll read these words and see that a mind at work that thinks in a way that scares you.

I know that I see the world differently than most people. I’ve been doing my best to reach a unique perspective.  I’ve seen how strings of ones and zeroes can change fortunes in the world. I know how important data can be. Working with networks teaches you interesting things about connections, trust and hubs.

Some hubs connect to each other, and make up the crux of the network. But some hubs connect to nodes that aren’t always tied in to the larger network. These are the black sheep, or disassortative hubs, and they connect different nodes while actively avoiding central hubs.

I can’t promise you more of what you already have access to. I can only deliver things from the margins, the fringe, backwaters. I’m trying to build a smarter network by bringing the black sheep to the forefront.

I promise to deliver.

I promise to highlight new trends where politics, economics, technology and current events mix. 

I promise to leverage my network to bring new thoughts and ideas together.

I promise to write these things down, to get the crazy thoughts in my head out into the world at large.

I’ll even edit, but first I’ve got to write. Now.

We all have fears.

What scares you?


If you enjoyed this blog, you may enjoy my Halftime Speeches monthly email.

Thanks. – shawn