Choosing our heroes

[blockquote]“One way to remember who you are is to remember who your heroes are." - Steve Jobs[/blockquote]Have you read that Steve Jobs book yet? The big one… that tomb by Walter Isaacson?I love that book. I’ve read it twice now.Once shortly after it came out, and the second time pretty much on accident. I opened it up to reference a passage and ended up getting sucked back into it. What a story.Anyways - one of the parts of the book that really jumped out at me when I first read it was the quote above, about remembering who our heroes are. As the story goes, when Steve came back to Apple in 1997, the company was in shambles.They were spread out amongst dozens of product lines, none of which were top in class, and were hemmoraging cash.Around this time, Steve worked with ad man Lee Clow to put together the iconic “Think Different” ad campaign.You know the one… with all those epic heroes - Einstein, Gandhi, Lennon, Dylan, etc. - flashing behind the poem:

[blockquote]“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they chance things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change th world are the ones who do."[/blockquote]What jumped out at me was what Jobs said about the meaning and audience of the campaign.As he told it, the campaign wasn’t only directed towards their customers, it was also directed at Apple’s own employees, who he felt had lost their way.

“We at Apple have forgotten who we were. One way to remember who you are is to remember who your heroes are. That was the genesis of that campaign."

That’s an interesting idea, right?The idea that we can pick our heroes... It struck me then, that while I had some heroes or people I’d always admired, I’d never really thought too critically about choosing them, and what, if any, impact that would have on my aspirations, goals, and identity. I related this whole idea of picking heroes with my sentiments around goals. As important as goals are, I feel a lot of people never really take the time to think critically about setting actual life goals for themselves, let alone write them down and pursue them with intention. So, just like I did with my goals, I fired up Evernote, and started keeping track of my list of heroes. Here’s my list as it is now:

  • Steve Jobs
  • Elon Musk
  • Mark Cuban
  • Mike Bloomberg
  • Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hanson
  • Paul Graham
  • Warren Buffet & Charlie Munger
  • RG3
  • Jeff Bezos
  • Jack Dorsey
  • Jon Stewart
  • Peter Thiel
  • Tony Hseih
  • Tim Ferris
  • Jon Ive
  • Bill Campbell
  • Pete Carroll
  • Bill Graham
  • Neil Degrasse Tyson
  • Travis Kalanick

Just like my goals, this note I keep changes over time, and is never set in stone.But for me, for now, clearly, most of the list comes from the world of business, tech, and startups. As the list reflects, that intersection is clearly what's most important to me in my life right now.But there’s some other stuff in there.Bill Graham was the legendary rock promoter who worked closely with the Grateful Dead and change the business of live music and conert promotion in the US.Neil Degrasse Tyson is the badass astrophysicist who’s enthusiasm and passion for the cosmos is infections. Some day I hope to be as eloquent and funny as ole NDT.Pete Carroll was the former coach of the USC Trojans then moved on to coach the Seattle Seahawks, and is apparently not only a winner but the nicest most geniune person of all time.RG3 is the quarterback for the Redskins. He snuck ontomy list in 2012 during his electrifying rookie season.In him I admired not only an athlete (as I've mentioned, I'm not a huge sports guy), but a really well spoken, respectable, and admirable leader. I got the feeling that he would succeed in any endeavor, sports or otherwise.Jon Stewart is Jon Stewart. He's the man. Such a consistent and hard worker. Clearly so professionaland fun at the same time. That's absolutely something I aspire to.That list, when you look at it - it’s revealing, isn’t it?These guys sort of speak to different parts of my identity and what I hold important.It’s proof positive, in some sense, that a way for me to realize who I am and realize my ambitions, is to look at who I admire most and remember who my heroes are.

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