How Neil Pasricha killed a wolf with his bare hands

This is a long post, so please feel free to skip it.

“2008, 2009 were heavy years for me….”
That is not me talking. That is Neil Pasricha talking during his recent TED Talk.
Here is a big chunk of the transcript of that presentation:

“I was going through a lot of personal problems at the time. My marriage wasn’t going well, and we just were growing further and further apart. One day my wife came home from work and summoned the courage, through a lot of tears, to have a very honest conversation. And she said, “I don’t love you anymore.” And it was one of the most painful things I’d ever heard and certainly the most heartbreaking thing I’d ever heard, until only a month later, when I heard something even more heartbreaking.

My friend Chris, who I just showed you a picture of,had been battling mental illness for some time. And for those of you whose lives have been touched by mental illness, you know how challenging it can be.I spoke to him on the phone at 10:30 pm on a Sunday night. We talked about the TV show we watched that evening. And Monday morning, I found out that he disappeared. Very sadly, he took his own life. And it was a really heavy time.”

Not that long ago, life was not easy for Neil Pasricha.
What if that was the only story that he ever told?

“And as these dark clouds were circling me, and I was finding it really, really difficult to think of anything good, I said to myself that I really needed a way to focus on the positive somehow. So I came home from work one night, and I logged onto the computer, and I started up a tiny website called I was trying to remind myself of the simple, universal, little pleasures that we all love, but we just don’t talk about enough –things like waiters and waitresses who bring you free refills without asking, being the first table to get called up to the dinner buffet at a wedding, wearing warm underwear from just out of the dryer, or when cashiers open up a new check-out lane at the grocery store and you get to be first in line — even if you were last at the other line, swoop right in there.

And slowly over time, I started putting myself in a better mood. I mean, 50,000 blogs are started a day. And so my blog was just one of those 50,000.And nobody read it except for my mom. Although I should say that my traffic did skyrocket and go up by 100 percent when she forwarded it to my dad. And then I got excited when it started getting tens of hits… It started getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And then I got a phone call, and the voice at the other end of the line said, “You’ve just won the best blog in the world award.” I was like, that sounds totally fake. Which African country do you want me to wire all my money to? But it turns out, I jumped on a plane, and I ended up walking a red carpet between Sarah Silverman and Jimmy Fallon and Martha Stewart. And I went onstage to accept a Webby award for Best Blog. And the surprise and just the amazement of that was only overshadowed by my return to Toronto, when, in my inbox, 10 literary agents were waiting for me to talk about putting this into a book. Flash-forward to the next year and “The Book of Awesome” has now been number one on the best-seller list for 20 straight weeks.”
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Remarkable. That’s what I first thought when I finished reading The Book of Awesome (I highly recommend it), by Neil Pasricha, as he is a master storyteller with a gift for discussing life’s small pleasures in marvellously authentic & amusing ways. After I finished reading it, I had the pleasure of exchanging a few words with Neil and he graciously agreed to conduct a quick interview for Since I practice what I advise (e.g. I believe that differentiation should be a strategy driver for your business), I did not want to follow some “traditional” formula for this interview. Instead, I decided to organize the whole experience around just one open-ended question.

Jenan: Neil, what’s the most important priority to you with this project?

Neil: To stop, recognize, and write down one simple and free awesome thing every day.
         That’s it, really!

Jenan: Good luck Neil!