To start off this new season, I’m bringing you a great, multi passionate person that caught my attention a few months back. His book and his blog Crazy Enough To Try are a great read if you want to ask yourself the right questions to move forward in your life, led by passion.
That’s such a hard question to answer without a page long explanation. The short version of it is that I’m a writer, advisor, consultant, engineer, and a life-long learner. My hope is to combine all of those aspects into one neat package that I can bring to help others, but that’s a work in progress.
I love this idea of a neat package, but I guess it’s a work in progress for all of us, don’t you?
Indeed. Creating a neat package of all of your interests and passions isn’t easy, as there isn’t a one size fits all approach. Also, it’s hard to figure out what belongs in that package and what should just stay as something you do on the side.
What do you answer when people ask you ‘What do you do?’
Usually when people ask me that, they’re looking for a job description, so that’s what I give them. I usually list the strategy consulting firm I work for, maybe some of the work that we do, some of the clients we’ve worked with, and some of the skills I’ve developed doing it.
However, I think that’s a pretty simple question, and hopefully is followed up by a series of questions about the work I do, and more importantly “why” I do what I do. The “why” is the really important part, and that’s where you get into the fun stuff.
Not everybody wants to get that deep into the question though, and I respect that, so I usually just leave it at the description, unless they’re curious.
So I’m curious, why do you do what you do?
That is the question, isn’t it? I do what I do because I have a grand vision of creating a company in the near future that develops amazing consumer technologies. I can share more about it later, but it’s a dream I’ve had for a few years, and almost everything I do is geared towards making that happen. In some cases it’s about developing the skills necessary to lead an organization. In other cases, it’s about finding the right connections to make it possible.
I think what you’re saying is really important. It takes time and a lot of work to make any dream come true. I think we tend to forget any finished project we like and see in the real world was once an idea in someone’s head and more often than not started as a small project somewhere in a garage or someone’s bedroom before becoming this big thing we enjoy.
This is very true. One of my favorite quotes is from the actor Will Smith about his experience building a wall as a young person that he’s applied to his career.
“You don’t set out to build a wall. You don’t say ‘I’m going to build the biggest, baddest, greatest wall that’s ever been built.’ You don’t start there. You say, ‘I’m going to lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid. You do that every single day. And soon you have a wall.”
You have to start out small and just do each step as well as you can, and consistently do that. It’s how you write, it’s how you build, it’s how you create.
You’ve written a book called Crazy Enough To Try: Conversations in my search to live a passionate life. How did that happen? Are you planning to write another one?
Crazy Enough To Try started out as an experiment in learning what other people thought of the word “passion” and how they applied it to their lives. I was in a bit of a rut and felt that I needed to find a way to incorporate my passions into my life, but was having trouble defining what exactly I was passionate about. So I decided to ask around and interview some of my friends who I considered to be extremely passionate people.
One of the answers that came out of it for me, was that I love sharing information. So it seemed like a natural fit to combine what I was skilled in (writing) with what I was passionate about (sharing knowledge). That project came together as the book.
I just finished a second edition of the book with an expanded set of interviews, including people in all walks of life and all different points of their personal journeys. I think about writing other books all the time, so who knows, I might end up writing another one.
When you think about other books to write, are these fiction or non fiction?
I like to write non-fiction because it’s something that I’ve either lived or someone I’ve spoken to has lived. In that sense, it brings a bit of credibility. Also, it’s easier. I have a lot of respect for writers of fiction, as they need to not only craft a story, but also create a world that is consistent and believable.
Have you always known you wanted to write or was it only your quest for your passions that led you to it?
I actually had no idea that I’d enjoy writing up until I started doing it. I had written a few blog posts here and there, and jokingly wrote a chapter or two of a book in the past, but I had never taken on a project the size of Crazy Enough To Try. Really, it was in looking at how I felt best equipped to share a message that writing seemed like a perfect fit. People had mentioned that I wrote well in the past, and I wasn’t ready to start a video or audio podcast, so I just started writing and it went from there.
Which one came first? The book or the blog?
The book came first, but by the time I was finishing up the publishing process, I knew I wanted to keep the conversations going so they both launched around the same time.
What other interests are you currently pursuing?
Besides Crazy Enough To Try, I write for a number of other sites, like asmithblog.com and MirandasHearth.com. In addition to that, I launched a website called The New Tutor, in which I’ve compiled all of the knowledge I gained from tutoring over the years and wrote a guide to help people who want to overcome their reservations of becoming a private tutor.
I also work on a few things here and there, which I share on my site, RyanBonaparte.com.
Are any of them earning you money? Would you want them to?
At the moment, The New Tutor isn’t as profitable as I’d like it to be, but as with any business, it can take a little while to get off the ground. Also, I haven’t dedicated as much time towards it as I should have. My other ventures are more about learning about the world around me, while helping others at the same time. Would I love for these to be earning money? Sure. But right now that’s not the main goal.
How did you choose among your many interests which one you wanted to pursue and which one to let go?
That’s an extremely difficult decision that I battle with everyday, honestly. I have dozens of interests, and so I’m constantly telling myself that I need to focus more. One of my friends gave me a bit of advice recently that stuck with me through this process of whittling away at ideas to find what I want to be doing. He suggested I look at my ideas through the lens of what skills I currently have, and what I want to achieve. It’s a simple way of breaking things down, but it really helped me to hone in on what I should take as next steps out of all of the different interests I have. Basically, if it’s not going to be moving me closer to my eventual goal, it doesn’t make the cut.
I love this advice. If it isn’t too personal, what is your eventual goal?
My eventual goal is to create a company that builds consumer technology products by combining existing technology in new ways. The way I see it, there are plenty of people working on exciting research, which is great, but there are plenty of existing technologies that can be improved by combining them. Improving automobiles, handhelds, home automation, audio and video entertainment, and plenty other areas are on my list.
Think of the new movement towards the “Internet of Things”, where your lights, or your alarm system, or your air conditioning units are connected and share information with you. While some of those applications are novelties, some are actually quite useful. And at this point it doesn’t take a whole new research and development team to come up with ways to integrate them. The wireless technology exists. The lighting technology exists. The alarm technology exists. It’s just seeing the way they can be applied together that makes for new and useful products. That’s what I want to build, a company that focuses on building amazing, but more importantly useful, products.
And how did your dream of creating a company developing amazing consumer technologies come to you? Did writing the book and the blog help you in figuring that out?
Writing did help. It helped me to think about what was important to me, and how to put that into words. The other way it helped was by connecting me with people who were all thinking about their goals. Surrounding yourself with people who are dreaming as big or bigger than you gives you the chance to spread your creative wings and assess what really drives you. So I started to look around at what I thought would be my mark on the world, and that’s what I came up with. Previously I had ideas about it that came to me but it wasn’t until I sat down and took the time to put it all together that it started to make sense.
And have you ever told yourself you had to choose one thing and stick to it?
One thing? No. I have always believed that someone could do more than one thing at a time, be more than one thing at a time. When I was kid and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always had a list ready for them. “Scientist, Chemist, Astronaut, Dirt Bike Racer, Chef, and a Computer Programmer.”
I still stand by the idea that you don’t have to do just one thing. Some of my greatest influencers have been people like Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk, entrepreneurs who have recreated themselves and their images numerous times throughout their lives.
Are there many people around you that have embraced their multiple interests in their lives?
A lot of people around me focus roughly 70-80% of their time working on their jobs and related areas. However I do have a few, maybe a half a dozen or so, who have no problem embracing their different interests and incorporating them into their lives. These are the people I look up to and try to emulate and learn from. I think it’s critically important to have people like this around you, because it’s through their examples that you can learn and become more comfortable with the idea of not defining yourself as just one thing.
One last question, what would your advice be for my readers, curious people who would like to embrace their curiosity to lead a remarkable life?
My advice would be to keep trying new things and seeing what sticks. The world is absolutely huge, and these days it’s easier than ever to connect with people you may never meet but share a common interest. The more you learn, the more you begin to see where you can fit into the grand scheme of things. It’s not enough to just try a few things and then pick what is just “ok”. That’s fine for a time, but remember the goal isn’t to just be ok, it’s to be remarkable. You don’t need to create the next multi-billion dollar company or cure cancer to be remarkable. You just need to change the world for the better in a particular way that speaks to your strengths and passions.
Thank you so much Ryan for answering my questions. I wish you the best on your many projects.
If you want to learn more about Ryan’s projects, check out:
The 2nd edition of the book Crazy Enough To Try: Conversations in my search to live a passionate life is now available in all great eBook shops and in paperback on Amazon.