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Here's to the Fucking Clash

The Clash were a hugely important band for me. I listen to them constantly, even now, over 16 years after I first heard them. For me, they were a creative force that was unrivaled. They cared about making and playing music that they loved, with no regards for what was considered "Punk". 

If I had to choose one creative inspiration to carry with me for the rest of my life, it would be the fucking Clash. They understood what it meant to feel the need to make something bigger than them. They gave so much in their music, and they gave so much to the sounds that mattered to them. 

Jon Westenberg
NOBULL - My latest obsession...

I'm currently obsessing over these. Gorgeous trainers, made by a brand called NOBULL.

Generally, I wear converse and vans, but I'm getting more into supporting indie sneaker brands, as there's some fantastic stuff being made out there that you just won't find from the usual companies. NOBULL are a great example of that.

The styles are unique, minimalist and pretty awesome. I like the blend of modern and classic look, and they're fucking comfortable too. Thumbs up from me.

Later on today I'm catching up with the founder of Girl Geek Academy, which should be great - I'm looking forward to finding out whether there's any way I can support her mission. I'm listening to Radiohead today, and I'm drinking Voss water. Good day. 

Jon Westenberg
Back home again...

Past few weeks have been crazy, home and gone again kind of shit. It's great to be back in Sydney though, back where the burgers are greasy, the beers crafty and the people happy. I'm looking to catch up with a lot of people over the next few weeks that I've been trying to get around to. Lots to do, and not a lot of time to do it.

One of my big priorities is getting a new shoot together for my blog and another one for my streetwear project. Beyond that, I've been working with an Accelerator/Incubator in the USA, helping them to develop some new tech ideas and look at some different industries to get into.

For me, keeping busy is incredibly important. I know what I'm like when I lose focus, when I lose interest, and I know that making sure I always have projects to push forwards is the best thing for me. I'm excited about the next month, and I want to crush it as hard as I can.

Current mood - elated. Listening to a lot of 90's hip hop, early Ice Cube solo jams and some Nas. Wearing Pony hi top sneakers. Life is good. 

Jon Westenberg
Code in the park

Had the opportunity to be at Code in the Park on Saturday. A great event, spearheaded by Vivid and General Assembly, with sponsors including Yahoo7. I love these kinds of initiatives, really pushing and encouraging people to get involved with coding and technology. You know, we're living in a world that is being rebuilt by software, and we're in at the ground floor.

Code is a great equalizer - as long as we let people embrace it. 

I think it was beautiful to see a really balanced line up of speakers, with a lot of inspiring women on the panel and as presenters. That's a big step forward for tech, and I think it was so positive. Shout outs to Sarah Moran from Girl Geek Academy, who killed it. 


Jon Westenberg
Meditating on early mornings

I'm trying to remember to smile in the mornings right now. That's not so easy to do. It's a struggle for me to wake in a positive mood, and I'm normally not emotionally up to my day until around 9AM. Unfortunately, the world doesn't always wait for me to be ready - it comes crashing in anyway.

I've been meditating on the way I greet the day, and asking myself whether there's a better routine I could be in. I know that I need to get out of my head as soon as I can when I first wake up, so I'm looking for a way to do that.

I do wish that I was more of a morning person, and could spring out of the covers with ease, but that's not a part of who I am. In the end, I think the best that I can ever do is live in the present, and focus on every task and every passing moment. Take a breath in the shower and just let it out, and smile. 

Jon Westenberg
Treating my body right doesn't come easily

Lately, I've been feeling sick. I'm in the early stages of what I can already tell will be a long flu session, and I'm anticipating being bed ridden for a while. I've never coped well with that. I hate feeling like my body has betrayed me, but it does - from time to time.

When I feel like I've been knocked out for the count, I often have to stop and think. Think about whether my body has actually failed, or whether I've failed to properly care for it. I was in bed early last night, and I was congratulating myself on making such good choices, when I realized how rare it was for me to focus on getting enough sleep!

I don't know how I expect to be able to deal with my world, physically, when I never take care of myself. It's so short sighted, and I know I need to get better at it. So that's the theme for this week. This week, I'm going to try and disconnect, and spend some time with myself. This week, I'm going to try and lock up my tablets and laptops for a couple hours a day.

This week, I'm going to try and get the sleep my body needs, the nutrients and fuel my body needs, and the space I need to appreciate my life and my time a little more. 

Jon Westenberg
Reading Thrive is making me think

I posted about Thrive on Instagram today.  It's such an incredible book, and the messages in it are both powerful and universal. At its core, it's about living a better life, with the priorities that are going to let you truly thrive as a person. Modern life is war, it really is. We're fighting against everything, all the time, and it's not easy. I think most people believe their lives are an unending path from A to B with nothing but shit in between.

That's not the way it has to be. Life can be more, and it can be better, and it should be better. You should e doing the things that are going to let you live fully and live the way you desire. Nothing else can make you satisfied. 

Jon Westenberg
Hi, my name is Jon

Writing on Medium is a tough game. It's hard to build and grow an audience, even for someone like me. Recently, I've been looking at ways to grow my Medium publication, the Voidist. But I've also been trying to experiment with finding a new way to present my own work. I love writing for publications like Life Learning, and I'm still intending to do that. But I also want to give some of my articles - and the articles written by people I respect - a new home. And that's on Hi, My Name Is Jon. 

I hope you'll keep reading my work as it explores other avenues and begins to expand into new areas. There are so many channels and content areas that I want to get into, and I'm pretty excited about having the opportunity to do that!

You can follow that publication here:

Jon Westenberg
Finding a way to build entrepreneurs

I'm incredibly excited to be kicking off a new partnership with Mitchell Harper, founder of BigCommerce and a bunch of other companies. Mitchell has a wealth of knowledge gained from building million dollar businesses that succeed. He knows what he's talking about, and he knows what he's doing. 

We'll be launching a number of videos together talking about entrepreneurship and startup growth, as well as partnering to deliver a course, the Startup Blueprint. It's a slam dunk, and it can teach you the right way to found, grow, scale and run a company. Mitchell and I have a combined 30 years of experience as entrepreneurs and creatives, and we're putting everything we've got into educating the next generation of business people. 

The first video will be online soon, and I hope you watch it. Entrepreneurship must be chosen, but it must also be learned. This is the first step on my road to teaching it. 

Jon Westenberg
Sitting down with Hubspot

I'm excited to be sitting down with the team from Hubspot tomorrow, 12 PM AEDT to talk about how I build audiences. 

Hubspot are a fantastic company that I feel blessed to have had a great relationship with. The team are driven, positive, vibing people who have a lot to give and are passionate about their work. I'm looking forward to doing this video, broadcasting on Facebook Live.

I guess the question, of how to build an audience, is one of the most important for any startup, creative or artist. We've all experienced the crushing feeling of defeat that can only come with building a piece of work that we believe in and having it disappear into the void, unmarked by anyone.

I hope you can make it to check out the live stream, and I honestly believe I'll be able to share some great knowledge with you!

Jon Westenberg
My best productivity advice is not going to inspire you.

You have to get fucking mean.

I wish I was a productivity hacker. That’d be awesome. I wish I had a thousand systems, and processes, and tiny little hacks in place that would allow me to get 48 hours’ work done in 24. Sometimes, I think if I just tried, if I read the right blogs or purchased the right eBooks, I’d be able to make it.

My past history isn’t too encouraging on that. I’ve done Pomodoro time management, and it worked for about 3 days before my brain decided tosabotage the fuck out of me and built up a resistance to the technique. I didbullet journaling for a while, which was awesome…

…but I’d been using a notebook that was the same size, shape and color as my passport and I happened to put it on the bookshelf next to my passport (don’t ask me how) and wound up carrying my passport around for 3 days instead. That broke the pattern, and I was done.

I’ve done course after course, and worked through plan after plan. But it’s the same as my morning routine:

This Is What I Do Before 8 AM.
Don’t try and life-hack your way to post human status.medium.com

I am incapable of hacking my way to post-human status. The best I can ever manage from my life is to turn it into a relatively productive, wild dash to the finish line, fighting a losing fucking round against my to-do list. I can be cruel, and ruthless and harsh with myself and my task list, and that’s what works.

And if you were honest with yourself, you’d probably say the same thing.

So here’s my one piece of productivity advice. I’ve said it to a lot of people, and most of them probably thought I was unhelpful. One guy called me anasshole after he emailed me for advice and felt my response was quote-unquote pointless. I didn’t particularly give a shit. I stand by the advice.

It’s advice that works when there’s stuff that must happen, when there are tasks that your business relies on in order to keep functioning, when you are accountable and your ass is on the line.

Get mean. Get mean with yourself, get mean with your loved ones, get mean with your tasks.

No matter what fancy methodology you’ve found, being productive will always come down to managing three areas of your life.

The first is yourself.

Because you’re kind of an asshole, and you don’t do the shit that must be done, and you forget important tasks, and sometimes you watch Spongebob Squarepants marathons while drinking 40 year old scotch and falling asleep on the couch. Or maybe that’s specifically me.

When you can’t pull yourself into line, your productivity will be fucked. You have to be able to force yourself to do some mean shit, in order to make yourself keep in line. Let me give you an example. If I had a bunch of tasks that had to get done, and I didn’t do them. I played Tomb Raider.

So, I got mean. I shoved my only controller into a box and mailed it to myself. It took 4 days to show up again. In that time, I couldn’t play Tomb Raider, and it sucked, and it made me get stuff done.

Give yourself some consequences and stick to them. Treat yourself like an employee and recognize that if you’re employees acted the way you do from time to time, you’d fire their asses. Get mean.

The second is your loved ones.

I had 2 people contact me about this today. They’re going through some tough stuff right now because the people they love aren’t supporting them when they’re desperately trying to work on their dreams.

It sucks when it happens, because you rely on those support networks to push you through and help you do what must be done. And sometimes, they don’t respect your time or your energy or the goals you’re shooting for.

At its best, this looks like your best friend getting pissed at you for not being able to make her dinner party. At its worst, it’s your relatives refusing to speak to you because you had to fly out for a meeting instead of attending your second cousin’s birthday party.

I know there’s some advice floating around about cutting out negative influences, and people who don’t add value to your life, but that’s not alwaysrealistic. There are some people we can cauterize and abandon (I’ve done it more than once), but there are others who are a part of us and we can’t just walk away from ‘em.

So what do you do? Tell them you have to make a call between your business and them right now, and they still matter, and you love them, but You’ve Got A Thing. And here’s where it gets easy, and gets mean. You’re giving them a choice to accept you and what you’re working on, and prove that they careenough about you to stick around, or reject you and put their needs over yours, in which case you’re well shot of them.

I know that doesn’t sound fun, and it’s not. You can’t have it all, and some people will never understand that. And you have to get mean.

The third is your tasks.

Not everything is going to get done. I know, this week you were going to get back to the gym, and call all your clients, and start work on your side project, and learn to bake cookies, and take a guitar lesson, and meditate, and I’ll bet 80% of that crap didn’t happen. It will never happen.

We task overload all the time, we do it because writing big task lists releases a feeling of awesome productivity. And then we make it to halfway through the week and realize we don’t have a snowball in hell’s chance of blasting that list.

So do we highlight one or two key things and focus on them? Most of the time, no. We throw the list out with total abandon, hate ourselves briefly and get back to whatever we wanted to do.

You have to get mean with your tasks. Only do the ones, only plan to do the ones that really matter. I know it’d be nice to bake some cookies and do some yoga, but those are non-essentials.

Working on your side project is essential.

I know, you love cookies and yoga, and you love them being a part of your life…but if you’re on a deadline and you’re running out of time and something has to give, then tough. Get mean, get ruthless, and stop trying to plan a thousand tasks when you need to do just 4 or 5.

I’m not saying you have to give up those other items, I’m just saying thatshoving them all on a big list won’t make you productive, you have to exercise a lot of strict restraint and just make yourself do what really has to be done. If you find time at the end of it all to do the other stuff, that’s great. But if you don’t, that’s life. And as my great Grandmother used to say, “Life sucks, and then you die.”

I think being productive is this weird idea we’ve all consumed, that real entrepreneurs and writers and creatives have to be living these insane lives with no time wasted and nothing falling through the cracks. It’s just not true.To my mind, being productive just means getting-the-shit-done-that-must-be-done. GSD-MBD.

Getting mean just means being strict and firm about it. It means settingboundaries, setting the right tasks, enforcing what you have to do and not letting yourself or anyone else walk all over your priorities. It’s not fun, and it’s not super inspiring, because hard work never really is.

I get mean because if I don’t, I know my life’s going to go nowhere. I’d rathergoof off, and eat crap, and play video games, but I get mean and set limits and stop myself before it gets out of control. I’d rather go hang out at a bar on a Monday night and do tequila shots, but I get mean and say no and occasionally lose a friend over it. I’d rather have a huge list of things to do and feel like a magical fairy dipping a wand at the tasks and ticking them off with happy little thoughts, but I get mean and get shit done.

So don’t get bogged down in productivity hacks. If some of them work for you, that’s great, and if they don’t, that’s great too. Don’t get caught up in it all. Don’t get cosmic.

Get mean.

Jon Westenberg
I want to quit. Right now.

I want to quit, because I’m tired. My head is fogged up, and my coffee — as good as it is — hasn’t cleared it. I want to quit because I woke up this morning before dawn and my limbs ached.

I want to quit because I can remember what it feels like to have more money than I needed, and to lose it, and to remember it like a kick in the gut today. I want to quit because the way back in is long, hard and unforgiving.

I want to quit because business is tough, it’s always tough. I’m staring into a mirror 12 hours a day and daring the reflection to make one wrong move, to make one wrong call, knowing that what I do fails or flies on me.

I want to quit because I want to sit in my lounge room, playing Doom and eating, listening to Marvin Gaye, doing whatever I can, anything I can to distract myself from the ticking clock and the pressure I’ve always felt to do more, work more, try harder.

I want to quit because I grew up poor, and I’m terrified that if I risk everything, I’ll die poor too.

I want to quit because I stand a good chance of failing, every time I take on a client, every time I build a product or start a business or crack open a new dream, and I’ve failed enough times that I don’t want to feel the ground drop out from under me again.

I want to quit because startups are hard, they’re unforgiving in their statistical chances of disaster, and I know deep down that I’m not a visionary leader or a tech genius, just a guy with big ideas and a decent serving of guts. And I’m not sure that’s enough.

I want to quit because I got an email from a reader calling me a self centered asshole because I wouldn’t help him build a company for free, and I got a DM from another one who thinks I’m a “vapid waste of space” — even though they don’t know me and my life.

I want to quit because I’d rather drink at 10 AM and smoke a pack of cigarettesa day — that’s my self destructive streak coming out.

I want to quit because making it seems harder than just settling into being average and not trying. If I didn’t try, I could switch off that part of my brain that wants to, and find a comfortable job and get tired and get done.

I want to quit because writing means baring a piece of my soul every day, and holding it out to the world and saying hey, what do you think of this? …and sometimes, asking whether it’s been worth it, trying to open myself to it, and feeling vulnerable.

I want to quit because I hate putting in effort, and I want to be lazy, and I don’t want to be productive, and I don’t want to get fit, and I don’t want to stay up late trying to push my dreams over the line.

I want to quit because I’d love to re-watch every season of Buffy, and that seems a lot better than blogging and designing and drawing up contracts.

I want to quit because a deal I’ve been working on for months just fell throughand now I have to close that gap in projected revenue in some other way.

I want to quit because JK Rowling is a better writer than me, with more credibility and authenticity and characters that people love and a series of books that shaped the childhood of millions. I want to quit because Gary Vaynerchuk is a better writer than me, with inspirational ideas, messages andgame changing concepts that have built thousands of entrepreneurs.

I want to quit because I’m not either of them, and I’m not Elon Musk, or Paul McCartney, or Ian McKaye, or Henry Rollins, or Douglas Coupland, or Richard Branson.

And no matter how much I read articles that list the 10 things they have in common, the 5 morning routine tips that made them successful, the 25quotes that inspired them, the 50 best decisions they ever made or the 20traits that helped them achieve their dreams, I’ll probably never reachtheir level.

I want to quit for most of the same reasons that you do. Because we’re all struggling to make it in a world that often doesn’t listen, waiting for the right hand, or the right moment to play the wrong one. We’re all worried we don’t match up to the ideals and heroes we’ve set ourselves,and there’s a thousand things we’d rather fucking be doing.

But I don’t quit. I don’t quit every single day, when I wake up and I want to. I didn’t quit for 10 years, writing blog posts that nobody read, freaking out in panic attacks and deleting them before I would calm down and start all over again.

I didn’t quit when businesses failed, when I was broke, when I dropped out of law school, when I lost my record deal, when I was fired, when I was drunk and when I was sitting in a chair across from my therapist trying to explain what drove me to prove the world wrong.

I didn’t quit, and I won’t quit, because I’m in love with life. I’m in love with it, with breathing in and out, and eating dinerhamburgers when I’ve worked out all week and smelling the world when it rains. And I’m in love with the work I do, no matter how hard it gets and how good it might feel (briefly) to walk away, from time to time. I’m in love with helping people.

I’m in love with the companies I’m building, and the products I’m making,though that love rises and falls with my temper on days like today. I’m in lovewith my readers, when they email me out of the blue to say that they give a shit. I’m in love with my clients and customers, the ones who follow through, who put their faith in me.

Wanting to quit is okay. Wanting to walk away from your business is okay. It happens to everyone. Here in Australia, most of the founders you’ll talk to really look up to the Atlassian founders, Scott and Mike — but do you think they didn’t wake up some days and want to quit, want to walk away and change their names and disappear?

We all do. No matter how set on our paths and our lives we are, we all want to quit every now and then. Because we’re humans, and like I always say — humans are beautiful, but we suck at remembering it.

I’m emailed by a lot of would-be writers and entrepreneurs who are worried that the fact they don’t have total faith in themselves and aren’t completely certain about where their lives are going and the work they’re doing, and the fact that they’re scared and want to quit, means they’re on the wrong path.

That’s not the case. The right path is the one you want to be on. And yeah,you’ll want to quit, but you’ll be just like the rest of us if you go through that.Being an artist, being a creative, being an entrepreneur, it’s about fighting with yourself to keep playing the game when it all feels hopeless. It’s about making one more gamble, and every time, setting your sights on a win, instead of leaving the table.

And you say, “Just be here now
Forget about the past
Your mask is wearing thin”
Let me throw one more dice
I know that I can win
I’m waiting for my real life to begin
— Colin Hay
Jon Westenberg
How to ask for help

I get a lot of emails asking me for help. They’re from writers, entrepreneurs and creatives who are struggling with their careers, and they want guidance and advice. I love offering that to them, and when they come to me and say they need someone to show them a path, I don’t whip out Xero and start billing them.

I remember what it was like when I was at the start of my career, had no idea what I was doing and felt lost roughly 24/7. So I do whatever I can to help them out. The problem is, a lot of people don’t make that easy for me.

When I’m asked for help, and the request is really vague, I have no idea what to do. I’ll receive an email that says hey, I want to run my own business, what should I do? And there’s just so much scope, and so many possibilities, and so little information that I don’t know how to respond.

I’ve been thinking about the way people ask for help, and how clear it is that when they don’t know what they’re asking for, they won’t know if they’ve heard the right answer.

I think it’s incredibly important to think about how you ask for help, and the way you phrase it, and the questions you’re seeking a response to, long before you reach out to someone.

This is going to apply in almost any situation, it’s definitely not limited just to when you’re talking to me. Any time you want to ask for help, I think you should do it – but do it right.

Have up to 3 questions locked and loaded.

When I ask someone for help, I like to have my top 1-3 questions already good to go. The top things that I want to learn from whoever I’m reaching out to. I find any more than 3 is going to blindside someone and make them think twice about responding.

Additionally, nobody wants to get an email that says hey, can I ask you something…so they have to respond and say, sure…and wait for the question…and answer it…and get a bunch more.

I have up to 3 questions, I make sure the questions are detailed enough that I won’t need to clarify them when I get answers back, and I send through those questions in my first outreach.

Be detailed, and be brief.

Nobody wants to answer a vague, open ended question, or one with so many facets that they have to analyse it over and over again. When I reach out, I provide enough information in each question that anyone reading the email in a hurry can blast through their responses as quickly as possible.

I also keep the information in each question to just 3 bullet points. Let people scan and answer, don’t make them sort through a jumble of confusing sentences to get to a badly worded question at the end.

For example, I recently wanted some feedback on using Squarespace, so I got in touch with a blogger who I know swears by the platform. What I was really curious about, was whether it’s worth using. But that’s too vague, and it’s not going to get me much more than a response of yeah, obviously it is, because the blogger keeps using it.

So here’s what I asked?

  • I’m a writer and blogger on Medium
  • I’m building a personal brand
  • I’m building a lifestyle business.

Does Squarespace have enough flexibility to service those three needs?

Never reach out blindly.

I never reach out blindly, and I never think about who to talk to, before I think about what I want to know. That means that I’m not sitting here right now thinking Gee, I want to ask Richard Branson something…what should I ask?

I’m thinking fuck, I want to know how to turn a single company into an empire. I’ll bet Richard Branson would know some of the answers around that.

You’ll find that if you think about who you want to ask, instead of what you want to ask, you might end up having some cool conversations with some awesome people, but you’ll never learn what you need to know.

Do some research first.

One question I get asked a lot, is how do I build an audience? Well, I’ve written pretty extensively about that in a bunch of posts. Before you email a writer with a question, it’s going to save you a lot of time if you look into their work first and see if the answer is already there!

Also, you might not be emailing the right person. I’ve written before about how I don’t accept payments to endorse products, and I don’t write about any platform or tool that I don’t love and use myself on a regular basis. So I’m the wrong person to email asking me to do that stuff.

That being said, I’ll always respond politely when I get emails from people who haven’t done their research – and I’ll never just send a link to a blog post instead of replying with some advice – but it’d just save everyone time if you looked into it a little before reaching out!

Follow up politely.

I can’t get to my emails all the time. I tend to respond to everyone, even if it takes me a few weeks, but it’s not always going to be immediate. So sending me a question, waiting a few days and sending another email that says “I always suspected you’d be a douchebag who doesn’t even care about their readers” is pretty annoying.

Nobody wants to be a tool. You’ll find in general, bloggers and writers and people like me love having anyone read our posts. We’re just busy people, and it can take time for us to respond. Being a dick isn’t going to make us respond any sooner.

You have to give us space, wait a while, and if you don’t hear back, send a polite reminder and say you sent us an email and you’d love a response. I don’t have any problem with people chasing me up, as long as they’re polite about it!

The last thing I want to say is this. If you feel like you need help, if you feel like you need to ask someone for help, do not hesitate. I wish I’d done that more when I was starting out, instead of thinking I was such hot shit that I didn’t need feedback or guidance from anyone. I was so arrogant, and so prideful, and I made so many mistakes that could have been avoided if I’d asked, if I’d just put my hand up.

I’m happy to help anyone. I mean, I’m not going to lie in my death-bed and think shit, I’d be happier if I’d played more Doom on my Xbox instead of helping people. I want to live a fulfilling life, and having a hand in someone else’s work and happiness is a wonderful way to do that.

But when you do ask for help, whether it’s from me or a blogger you admire, or an entrepreneur who’s changed the world, or a school teacher who’s seen a fair bit of it, try and do it in a way that makes it easy for them to answer you.

You’re not alone in the world, and you’re not an island. People out there do give a shit — I’m one of ’em — but you’ve got to make it possible for us to help. We’re all struggling, and we all feel lost. You have no idea how many times a day I ask myself, Jon, what the fuck are you doing?

I seek help and advice from people constantly, because there’s so much I don’t know and so much I need guidance with. I know a few trails through a few rough patches, but there are pathfinders out there who’ve spent years learning better ways, and I love asking to see ‘em.

Jon Westenberg
Here’s my secret weapon: I read

There’s only one thing, one constant thing that I believe keeps me moving closer to my goals, and keeps me fixed on what I want to do. It’s got nothing to do with being close to the universe or attracting things to me with positive energy.

My secret weapon is that I read.

Running a business, being a writer, living a full life — these things depend on the knowledge that we can gain and use. What we call following our gut, is really us being subconsciously guided by every piece of information we’ve ever consumed, shaping our instincts and ideas and forming us.

I read constantly, throughout every single day. I read obsessively, consuming new books and revisiting old at an alarming rate. I read because I want to see the world through new sets of eyes. My bookshelves strain under the weight of comics, graphic novels, the complete works of Shakespeare, the Harry Potter series, books about Steve Jobs and Wall Street and Walmart and business and histories of the Holocaust.

I read books on my iPhone when I’m on the treadmill at the gym, every morning. When I first started working out, every minute felt like an eternity, watching TV shows or listening to music or podcasts never helped me get through a session. But a book, that’s something else. I can lose myself in a book and suddenly find that 45 minutes have slipped away while I run and read.

I read books about business, and startups, and entrepreneurship — because there’s always something new to learn, something that could shift my point of view or expose me to a different way of thinking. And because when I want to quit, the paths and advice of those who’ve gone before me act as a guide.

But there’s more. I read books about dragons and wizards and ancient spells, and I read books where there are worlds full of fantastic creatures and heroes, and I read books where there are sacrifices and victories and where good people mourn their lovers.

I read books about musketeers, and lamp posts in the woods, and the dangerous business of going out your front door. I read books about boarding schools and battlefields and a bridge to Terabithia.

I read about economic theory, and struggle through it despite how fucking heavy it gets, and I read books about the birth of the internet and the dot com crash and the lives of the Marx brothers.

I read new books, to find new characters and ideas, and old books because there’s always a detail I missed or a theme that I’ve forgotten, no matter how many times I’ve gone over them.

I read, because there’s so much more to the world than my corner of it. If I never tried to find it, I’d be limiting myself.

Through my bookshelf, my Kindle and my browser, I can access the entire store of human knowledge, insight and imagination at any hour of the day, and I think sometimes I’d be mad not to take advantage of that.

I know that if I let go of that, if I stop reading and searching for new thoughts, or better old ones, my work is going to suffer. I think a good part of what informs my voice, and guides my decisions both as a writer and an entrepreneur is gained from reading a wide range of different things, all the time. It challenges my ideas and it makes me re-evaluate them constantly.

So here’s my advice. If you want to accomplish anything of value, challenge yourself to read. And I don’t mean just read my blog posts — if you have the choice between reading something by me and reading a good book like Life After God, by Douglas Coupland, go for the book.

If you don’t read, you won’t gain the information and the insight and the inspiration that you need to make the right calls, at the right time. You won’t learn to see beyond the shit that you have to deal with, every day.

I think people want to believe that there’s a secret, to what I do. When they ask me for advice, it’s as if they think I’ve hidden away a key, that can unlock writing and business and make everything happen the way I want it. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. I believe that my habit of reading is what’s made the difference in my life, and I think it’s incredibly important.

Make reading a good book a part of what you do. If you’re the busiest person on earth, just give yourself 15 minutes a day.

Bonus. Here’s 57 of my favorite books of all time, in no particular order.

  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • The Hard Thing about Hard Things
  • The $100 Startup
  • The Hobbit
  • Life After God
  • The Man in the Iron Mask
  • Beau Geste
  • The Lean Startup
  • MAUS
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being
  • Dragons of Autumn Twilight
  • The Prisoner of Azkaban
  • The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth
  • Flashboys
  • Losing the Signal
  • Where Wizards Stay Up Late
  • Masters of Doom
  • Totally Wired
  • The Little Princess
  • Throne of Glass
  • The Wind in the Willows
  • The Fellowship of the Ring
  • Without Their Permission
  • The Moon’s a Balloon
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • High Fidelity
  • Becoming Steve Jobs
  • My Boring-ass Life
  • Harpo Speaks
  • The Call of Cthulhu
  • A Republican Radical in Search of Hot Water
  • Bossypants
  • #Girlboss
  • Thrive
  • Be Here Now
  • The Color of Magic
  • JOLT
  • When Breath Becomes Air
  • The New New Thing
  • Man’s Search for Meaning
  • A Princess of Mars
  • The Everything Store
  • Creativity for Sale
  • Red Eye, Black Eye
  • Are You My Mother?
  • Traction
  • Autobiography of a Yogi
  • For One More Day
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Heart of Darkness
  • I Was Blind But Now I See
  • Dancing Barefoot
  • The Big Sleep
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  • Hatching Twitter
  • Seventeen Contradictions
Jon Westenberg