Who Influences the Influencer?

My accent is very uncharacteristic neutral. American, yes, but different from where I’m from.

I grew up in the south, where the southern drawl is so thick you need a machete to cut your way through it. My parents have it. Their parents definitely had some twang going on. But for me, not so much. My best guess why I don’t is TV and film. Growing up with 90s cartoons, and a world slowly coming online gives you a broader perspective of what people sound like across the world.

I was also constantly mimicking voices, so unconsciously I noticed that how people speak is a skill and aesthetics that can be changed.

Lately, I’ve been fascinated by the idea of “influence”. Not influencers, per se, but how we pick up values, personality traits, interests, and lifestyles from people we surround ourselves with.

Do you really like punk rock? Or do you like it because a cool friend from middle school liked it? Does it matter?

Do you really dislike country music or are you just rebelling against your parents?

Does it matter where our influences come from?

It’s a big question to ask, with lots of nuances.

My answer right now is—

Mostly. Absolutely. Probably. Definitely.

I have an old friend who’s never like reading. Ever since I’ve known him, I’ve never heard him talk about a book he’s liked. In school, he would read a book from cover to cover—meaning the front cover and the back cover and nothing in between. I get it, he’s a people guy. He’d rather have a conversation or watch a show then read. And school reading assignments obviously left a bad taste in his mouth. But I love reading! Half of what I know is from books. I can’t imagine who I would be if I wasn’t voraciously passionate about books.

Small things can influence us in a big way. Little decisions that set us on a certain path. It doesn’t take much to push us down a path that leads us to places we don’t want to be. And on the other hand, a random whim or chance encounters can lead to open doors and wonderful opportunities. Friend of a kind of situation. Stumbling into someone at a coffee shop or bar that leads to your life calling. Or—just leads to your next oat milk latte.

There’s certainly a heavy sprinkle of chance when it comes to influencing.

However, that doesn’t me we are helpless to its power.

Instead of thinking of ourselves like a leaf on the wind, aimlessly spinning around, following wherever the wind takes us, think of it like you’re an origami paper airplane. You can cut, follow, and weave through the wind. You can change yourself, and therefore have a hand in where you’re going.

Not the best analogy, but you get the idea.

It comes down to willingness.

Be open to change and possibility. Try things before you judge them or write them off. Curate your influences. Surround yourself with a higher quality of influences. And examine and question why you do what you do.

Are you making a decision out of curiosity or good admirations, or are you doing it everyone around you is?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1145

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3 Books for Turning Points

Do Over by Jon Acuff

Now, more than ever is a time of continuous change. The idea that you climb the ladder and work at the same come for 30+ years has quickly faded. Whether you are just starting out on your career or looking for a new direction, Do Over is a good book to check out. It Pairs nicely with Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You and DHH and Jason Fried’s Rework.

The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna

I love this book. Filled with wonderful art, quote, and ideas, woven together with Elle’s personal story, this book won’t disappoint. If you find yourself between something you should do (but don’t really want to) and something you want to do (but feel like you can’t) this is a must-read.

Mastering Fear by Brandon Webb

At every turning point in life, fear is usually skulking around too. Brandon Webb, former SEAL paints a clear and practical approach to using fear to create a rich life, instead of letting fear use you. Once you’ve blazed through this one, check out his other book, Total Focus too.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1100

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There’s a Book for That

“A home without books is a body without soul.”

Marcus Tullius Cicero

Self-help books get a bad rap. I get it, there’s certainly a spectrum of quality, and there are likely more self-help stinkers than self-help life changers.

In my experience, the bad self-help books I’ve read are mediocre usually because they are too generic, unreal, and/or un-relatable.

‘That’s why iconic brand statements like “Just do it” work so well. There’s no fluff, no filler. The message is whatever it is that’s scaring you, go do it. Stop complaining. Stop worrying. Go do it. Do it before it’s too late.

“Follow your passion is great advice.” Except for the fact that it’s stale. “Follow your passion is old news.” We all know we should find the things we love to do and do make them happen. But how? Specifically?

I get my self-help kicks by reading books from people who have truly lived what they are teaching. Biographies. Memoirs. Practical, Hands-on Books. Timeless Books with timeless lessons on how to live meaningfully.

Books are my go-to for when I’m in need of solving a problem or learning a new subject. In my Podcast Interview with Derek Sivers, Derek mentions (I’m paraphrasing) that whenever he wants to learn a subject, he finds 3 great books about it. 3 Books and you are well on your way.

Every problem or experience can be paired with a book. When in doubt, find a book about it. Don’t get me wrong, a book won’t change you (only you can do that), but it can open your eyes to change. Willingness to change is the first step. And act on it is the next.

So when you—

Quick note:

If you can’t find the book you need, then that’s a good sign you need to write it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1044

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Learning Through Experience

Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.

Bruce Lee

Books are a powerful learning tool. A book can buy you an author’s lifetime of knowledge and experience at the price of ten-is bucks. In terms of return on investment, a good book can 10x what you put in.

That being said, books aren’t everything. They can give us a taste of experience, but reading a book about dancing, for example, versus getting off the coach and learning to dance yourself is completely different. Books can teach us the steps, but they can’t teach us to move. (That line feels dad-joke cheesy, but I’m going with it.)

For one thing, it’s easy to read a book about something, but never actually try it. By the time we’re finished with one book, we’re already on to the next without properly digesting it and testing things out for ourselves.

You never know until you experience it yourself. Second-hand knowledge is great and can get you far, but it doesn’t replace experience.

But experience alone doesn’t cut it either. We can’t experience everything. We aren’t omnipresent and-or omnipotent. Books, videos, and other media allow us to put ourselves in other people’s shoes (today and across the history of humanity) and experience a world through a different lens. Bruce Lee is no longer alive today, but there’s an ocean of insights in his writing and work I can study and be influenced by.

It’s better to combine both experience and books as tools to improve your life, business, and place in the world. Why tie your hands and only lean on one?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1031

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Lost in Translation

“What is lost in the good or excellent translation is precisely the best.”

Friedrich Schlegel

There’s an incredible amount of knowledge and information out there nowadays. (And it’s only increasing.)

Everything we know, everything we could learn has been built up over time. But not everything is easily understandable. Even if we were stuck in a time-loop and had all the time in the Universe, some things take repetition, multiple perspectives, and deep thought to really grok something.

Think about classic books for example. The language in books are of their own time.

Pick up a book from Shakespeare and it’s immediately apparent it’s from another era.

Same thing with The Odyssey, or Great Gatsby, or Pride and Prejudice or Walden, etc. Each book captures a different way of speaking and thinking about the world. This reflects the author, for sure, but also the culture and times they lived in.

The same is true for most mediums. Art, Movies, Music, Technology… Ideas are a reflection of their time. Some ideas are universal and translate well throughout history. Some ideas are evergreen, easily taught, and understood. But most ideas are lost in translation as time expands.

That’s where we come in. We can, if we choose, carry the torch by uncovering lost ideas (or overlooked or obscure) and bring them to a new generation.

Some ideas get old. Old ideas get lost to new generations.

Ideas are recycled. They are never the same the second and proceeding times around. As time passes perspectives change.

Each new generation—each individual—can rediscover and become inspired by ideas that we translate. By simply understanding them ourselves, we can make them unique by putting them in our own words and combining them with other ideas we have.

Who knows how many fabulous ideas exist out there in the world that exist in stuffy old books or forgot insights waiting to be remembered.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #992

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Stimulating Books

“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.”

Francis Bacon

I read to learn new skills and experience new imaginative worlds, but I also am constantly seeking books that will expand my mind. I want to think deeply and broadly about things. I want to see and understand how disciplines (and the universe) connects.

Reading—fiction and nonfiction—is a fantastic way to expand your thinking and creativity.

“The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries.”

Rene Descartes

You’ve likely come across a book or two before that is waaaaay over your head. Perhaps it was written in a different era, such as Hamlet written by William Shakespeare, or a different land from your own, like Rumi’s poetry or stories of the Wild American West.

It’s a fine balance, but the best kind of mind-expanding books are once that are just a little over your head, while not being too hard to read to be off-putting. These are the kind of books that reward you on revisits. The first time I read Lord of The Rings or Pride and Prejudice, I could get through it, but I didn’t fully grok it. I enjoyed them, but I was just too inexperienced to fully appreciate them. It wasn’t until I read them later that something clicked and I began to fall in love with older books. Now I try to read at least one (usually more) older book in my reading stack.

It does us no good to just read the latest and greatest books. We need to dig deeper and find the sources too.

Books are like people—you are the sum of the books you surround yourself with the most. If all you read are the latest business bestsellers, then how much do you truly know about business and the values and principles that it takes to succeed in business? What’s its history look like? What makes it work? What does a great business look like? Who were the greatest business leaders of all time?

And speaking of people, Biographies are a great starting point to finding books that stimulate you.

Here are a few to get you going:

Leonardo da Vinci: Walter Isaacson

The Gene: An Intimate History: Siddhartha Mukherjee

Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix: Charles R. Cross

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #958

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Just One More Book…

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

Benjamin Franklin

I love reading. If you looked at my home office space right now, you’d know that’s an understatement. I’ve got books coming out of books. There are books on, underneath, adjacent and near my desk. I read both fiction and nonfiction (I find there’s value in both in different ways).


Did you sense the but coming?

But, reading isn’t everything. Books can make you smart and open your mind to ideas you never thought of. They can take you to imaginative worlds and spin thrilling tales where you can’t turn away. They can give you the knowledge (answers and questions) you seek and say your time and heartache by avoiding hard lessons learned by others. And they can become the mentors you need for $10 or so bucks when you can’t find the advice you are looking for. All from authors, entrepreneurs, artists, thinkers, warriors and more from all of human history and civilization. (Wisdom of the ages, as they say.)

But books won’t do the work for you.

Reading is sometimes insightful and sometimes a cheap distraction for something you know you need to do. “I need to start working on my business idea, but I don’t know enough yet. Maybe I’ll read another book first…”, or “One day I’ll be a great programmer, but for now I need to read *another* coding book…” No, you probably don’t. What you need to do is start *programming*. Insert your desired skill here.

Books are a great way to learn, but they don’t supplement action. 

“A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.”

Henry David Thoreau

I’m telling myself this more than anyone, by the way. Books aren’t the only thing that can distract us. Maybe your thing is TV instead. Or film. Or cleaning. Or (only) hanging with friends. Or spending all your time drinking. No shame here. No shade. 

The question we need to ask ourselves is are we doing this (watching tv, eating, etc) to enjoy it or are we doing it to distract ourselves and avoid doing what we really want (and sometimes need) to do.

When it seems like you can do anything BUT what you need or want to do, then you are likely avoiding it for some reason. 

Fear can do it sometimes. fear of messing up and looking like a boob. 

Laziness too. But laziness is a delay tactic to avoid change and avoid negative or undesired life outcomes. 

But neither fear or laziness will make it — or your life — any better.

Learning is great. Reading is one of my favorite things I do. But if all we do is learn and never apply, what’s the point in the first place?

But some times you just need to put the book down, bookmark your place to come back to later, and then get out there and do something.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #866

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Notes: Hindsight: & All the Things I Can’t See in Front of Me by Justin Timberlake

Hindsight: & All the Things I Can’t See in Front of Me by Justin Timberlake

tiny review: 🔥 🔥 🔥 🔥 🔥 (10/10)

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

I really enjoyed JT’s book, Hindsight. If you are a musician, someone wanting to be a musician, or pursuing a creative pursuit, definitely buy this book. Below are some of my favorite quotes from the book. The book has a fantastic style and full of great imagery, so if reading any of the notes below gets you jazzed, grab the book and read them there instead. (And, if you can swing it, the hardback is gorgeous.)

Note: bolded sentence, (thoughts in parentheses) and headers by me (Josh Waggoner).

“Ten years ago, I couldn’t have written this book. Ten years ago, everything was about forward movement. About taking risks. About trying new things. I didn’t look behind me. I didn’t care about what was behind me. I care only about what lay ahead.”

“What I understand now is that there isn’t just one thing that I am. There isn’t just one thing that I will become.”

“Every time I make an album, I always want it to sound at least slightly different from the last.”

“The mystery of loving is God’s sweetest secret.”

Jalal al-Din Rumi, from “Desire and the Importance of Failing”, thirteenth century

“Connections are all around us, and they are inside of us. They inspire and they illuminate. They show us who we are and who we want to be. That’s why we make art and that’s why we go see it. When we watch, when we listen, we’re not getting away from the world. We’re actually digging in.”

That feeling of being different really what makes us the same.

“You don’t have to be related to relate.”

“The older I get the more I understand that so many people live in circumstances they can’t control, or in places that just don’t feel right to them. That feeling of being different is really what makes us the same. We have our own struggles, yet we want the same things. We want human connection, a place to feel at home, and pizza.
Even if people seem guarded or bashful, more than anything, they want to relate.”

Continue reading “Notes: Hindsight: & All the Things I Can’t See in Front of Me by Justin Timberlake”

Looking for the perfect life in Barnes & Nobles

Gabriella and I did something fun tonight.

… No not that, get your mind out of the gutter.

We went rollerskating!

The Skate Place was my jam back in the middle school days.

Tricks. Pizza basically made out of cardboard. Trucking and Jamming.
Aka living the dream.

I bought a pair of skates for Gabriella for Christmas 🎄 so we went to go try them out.

The place hadn’t changed an ounce. The only thing that has changed was me. I had grown wiser yet also more anxious about my world. (Also taller, I’ve gained a few inches since middle school. I was definitely the tallest person there and I’m only 6 ft)

Before we went, we grabbed some dinner and hopped into Barnes and Nobles for a bit.

We always have fun in booklandia. (Well… aren’t you the life of the party Josh)

I wanted to find a book that will change my life, help me simplify and handle overwhelm better.

I asked Gabriella to help me find some and as we were looking she wisely said,

“If you’re looking for the perfect life in Barnes & Nobles, you’re in the wrong place”.

She’s right of course.

If you’re looking for the perfect life in Barnes & Nobles, you’re in the wrong place.

Books are windows into mastery and wisdom.

Books can give you the insights and answers you seek. But there comes a time where books aren’t going to work for you. To change your life you must do the work. You must make the hard decisions and take action towards the life you dream of. Same goes for talking, daydreaming, complaining, wishing — eventually you must decide whether you are just going to talk the talk for the rest of your life or also walk the walk.

The difference between those who have and those who don’t is consistent, persistent actions towards the life they want. Dreams don’t fall from a book, or plow into you as you go around the skating rink; Dreams happen through Bold actions.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Insights

“When you have a dream, you’ve got to grab it and never let go.” — Carol Burnett

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” Norman Vincent Peale

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” — Maya Angelou

My Favorite Books In 2017

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.” 
― George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

When I started my Renaissance Life Journey, I picked up a book.

Reading is a direct connection to wisdom and how to improve your life. I read to challenge my thinking and expand whats possible. Reading will pull you out of your worst setbacks, and raise you up to your highest potential.

(Alright alright, enough. This blog post ad is brought to you by, reading.)

My Favorite Books in 2017:

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

An examination of Winnie the Pooh from the perspective of Taoism.

Total Focus by Brandon Webb

Deep Work by Cal Newport

Total Focus and Deep Work’s insights are showing me how unfocused I’ve become and how much I need to learn the art of when to say no, and when to say yes. This is a work in progress.

Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson

Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

Two excellent biographies from the Master biographer himself. Required readings for anyone seeking to be a Renaissance Man / Woman and a Renaissance Life.

Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferriss

The definitive guide to life from high performers in a variety of fields. If you’re looking for advice, it’s probably in here. It will also give you 1000!! other books to add to your to-read list.

I­t­ All Matters by Paul Cummings

An action plan on how to create the life of your dreams. Paul’s life lessons stick with you and his action plans show you how to amplify what you do.

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

A little too ‘man’ focused, since that was his main audience at the time in 1937, but push past that and you’ll find a wealth of insights into the mind and how our thoughts and subconscious effects our reality.

The Art of Exceptional Living by Jim Rohn (Audible)

This one hit me at just the right time during one of my worst setbacks in life to date. I would get up early and walk him Jim to inspire and put earworms in my head on how I could climb up from my pain and setbacks. (earworms…. gross)

Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance

Elon’s ability to create ideas, execute ideas and mitigate risks is astounding. I will be re-reading this one.

Masks of Masculinity by Lewis Howes

Lewis reinforced me on how important vulnerability is and how easy it is to hide behind masks that seem to get you far in life, but in actuality hold you back. Here’s to taking off your masks. 

Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield

A Masterpiece of Spartan Theater.

What were your favorite reads this year?

Happy Reading!

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing, 

— Josh Waggoner