Cindy Romaine, SLA President, has an AWESOME conversation with Neil Pasricha.
I’ve followed Neil’s blog 1000 Awesome Things for some time and feel that his perspective is especially valuable in a time of change and transition, so I was thrilled when Neil agreed to be interviewed for the FutureReady365 blog.
Neil Pasricha is the author of The Book of Awesome: Snow Days, Bakery Air, Finding Money in Your Pocket and Other Simple, Brilliant Things. A self-described “average guy” with a typical 9-to-5 job in the suburbs, Neil Pasricha started his blog 1000 Awesome Things, as a small reminder — in a world of rising sea levels, global conflict, and a troubled economy — of the free, easy little joys that make life sweet.
He didn’t anticipate that his site would gain a readership of millions of people, win two Webby Awards (“the Internet’s highest honor” according to The New York Times), be named one of PC Magazine’s Top 100 Sites On the Internet, or become a place where people from around the world would come to celebrate the simple pleasures of daily life. His first book The Book of Awesome became a #1 International Bestseller for #38 weeks, and The Book of (Even More) Awesome comes out today, April 28, 2011.
I asked Neil a few questions about change and transition. Here are his remarks:
- Neil, what strikes me about your blog 1000 Awesome Things is how unassuming and yet powerful your insights are. There’s something universal and appealing about snowy days, bakery air, and roller-coaster rides. And yet you’ve experienced some unpleasant things in life, too. How do you keep a positive attitude?
Ha ha, well I don’t always! To be honest, I’ve never thought of myself as an optimist or someone who wears a clown-faced grin all day. And I don’t know if keeping a positive attitude 100% of the time is even possible…or desirable.
The truth is we all have dark days, dark months, and even dark years. I started writing The Book of Awesome after my wife told me she didn’t love me anymore… and after my best friend took his own life. It was the darkest year of my life.
When it comes to dark times I say … let them be dark.
You just have to remember there are awesome things at the end.
It’s all about enjoying simple pleasures like stepping on dry crunchy leaves on the sidewalk, flipping to the cold side of the pillow, or the smell of a bakery…waiting for you at the end.
- In your Ted Talk on The Three A’s of Awesome, you say, “We are all going to get lumps and we’re all going to get bumps. None of us can predict the future. But we do know one thing about it — it ain’t going to go according to plan.” Library and information centers are changing very dramatically and corporate libraries have been closed or downsized around the world. What attitude do you recommend to make us ready for the future?
Well, life is short.
We all live for a blink of an eye on a tiny spinning rock…and we could go at any time.
So when it comes to attitude I say embrace this temporary nature of life and embrace the fragility and instability of everything…embrace it by filling as many minutes as possible with simple pleasures.
Because sure, when we’re on our last legs we’ll look back and remember the high highs of first dances at weddings and the low lows of losing loved ones and funerals. But dotting those major moments will be all the tiny seconds we spend appreciating the smell of an old book, the look on a kid’s face after they close their first paperback, or the inner satisfaction that comes from finishing up a new display in your front window.
Awesome things add up to hours and days and months and years.
- As library and information professionals, we’re actively working with social media services in an effort to connect with our clients and customers. Your blog has gone viral with millions of hits a day. Is there a secret sauce for such impressive growth?
When I was 15 my friend Chad and I started a website called “When I Was A Kid” as an online collection of funny things people believed when they were little. Over the three weeks the site lasted we only got one submission…and it was from my sister. She thought fish lived in waterbeds.
I think over the years I’ve had fun experimenting with tiny websites in school projects, with friends, and just while tinkering around online. And they all probably got a grand total of a few hundred hits, most of which were my mom and dad and me hitting the “Refresh” button over and over.
Now http://www.1000awesomethings.com has had over 30 million visitors, won multiple awards, and has two books—The Book of Awesome and The Book of (Even More) Awesome—coming out of it.
So what’s my secret?
I say try a lot and fail a lot. If you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying, if you aren’t trying, you aren’t failing. But when you’re doing both you’re always learning and getting better…
- In your Ted Talk on “The Three A’s of Awesome,” you talk about awareness and using new eyes to see the world. When it’s “permanent whitewater everywhere,” how might awareness help?
- Thanks in part to the Internet, library and information centers are changing dramatically right now. Information professionals are learning they have to be consistently awesome with their clients in this fast-changing landscape. What advice do you have to help us become awesome?
Well, I think you already are! You guys are some of my favoritest people ever. I’ve honestly spent a good chunk of my life in libraries. My mom took me every Saturday morning and we’d drive home with a stack of books sliding all around the back seat. I’d crack into them at night and finger peel my way through The Hardy Boys, Encyclopedia Brown, and my sister’s Babysitter’s Club books when she wasn’t looking.
I absolutely love books. They’re a record of everything! They’re the way we communicate with our past and the way we send messages into the future.
You are already very awesome so there’s really no need to try…just stop and appreciate the awesome things around you already. Enjoy coming back to your own bed after a long trip, smile when you let go of the gas pump and land perfectly on a round number, and get into the moment when the cashier opens a new lane at the grocery store…and you get to be first in line!
Thank you so much for the chat and thank you sincerely for the very gracious words of support for The Book of (Even More) Awesome. I hope you enjoy it. Sending lots of love from snowy Canada and have a very awesome day,
Well, I don’t have kids of my own but I always love hanging out with three year olds. I love the way they see the world because they’re seeing the world for the first time.
Whether they’re staring slack-jawed at their first baseball game, on their hands and knees looking at ladybugs, or spending an entire afternoon picking dandelions in the backyard for the Sunday dinner centerpiece.
And…we all used to be three years old! That three year old boy is still inside you, that three year old girl is still a part of you. They just grew into someone who doesn’t spend as much time looking at ladybugs anymore.
But that’s where awareness of the tiny things in The Book of (Even More) Awesome is meant to come in. After all, there was the first time you experienced déjà vu, the first time a baby fell asleep on you, and the first time you snuck candy into a movie theater.
Being aware of these tiny little pleasures helps remind us how awesome life is.