Founder of Photojojo Needs Your Help

Note: this post is important, please read it all the way to the end

Photojojo is an amazing email newsletter on photography – I started getting it way back in 2006 (5 years ago) and half of what I know about personality in products is from their quirky, passionate and fun newsletter. I even applied to work there a few years ago.

I got to meet Amit in person in the interview and though we didn’t end up working togehter, I’m grateful to have met the warm, thoughtful person behind Photojo. Check out my application!

Beside Photojojo, Amit’s also a coworking hipster in that he was doing coworking before coworking was cool. As the co-founder of Jelly (back in 2006), he’s shown thousands of creative independent workers the pleasure and productivity that comes from working together and alongside each other. Jelly is in 100 cities and has inspired countless other coworking projects.

Amit Needs Our Help

I share this with you because not only is Amit a cool guy who we can all learn and be inspired by, but he’s also in some trouble. He recently was diagnosed with Leukemia, a blood cancer which kills 200k+ Americans a year. Fortunately there is something he can do – a bone marrow transfusion. Unfortunately, Amit is South Asian and South Asians are severly underrepresented in the Bone Marrow Registry (chances of finding a match is 1 in 20,000!).

I believe that Art of Ass-Kicking readers want to add value to the world. I imagine that many of you entrepreneurial types hope to become successful in order to become a philthropist. I’m sure you all want to give back and do good for the world.

Well this is your chance.

It’s not Business, It’s Personal

You may not realize it but donating blood, joining the bone marrow registry and signing up as an organ donor are an enormous way to give back to the world. As a personal aside – I blew out my knee a big way. I tore four ligaments in my knee, and have had multiple reconstructive surgeries. I was only able to return to competition and now am only able enjoy running 5ks in my skivvies because there were people generous enough to sign away their organs in an event of an untimely demise.

Additionally, I wrote my honors thesis on the ethical allocation of liver transplantation. And I’ll tell you, the most depressing thing is the fact that there are so many people who need organ transplants and so few people signed up to donate.

Steve’s Savior

As you all know by know, Steve Jobs, cofounder and CEO of Apple, Inc, died earlier this week from cancer. He was able to go as long as he did in part because he had a liver transplant from a generous soul who was able to offer it. This was a big deal for Steve on a personal level. I know many people are saddened by his death. Why not do something about it? Become an organ donor and sign up for a bone marrow transplant. No one ought to die before their time and you can take simple actions that might the world to someone like Steve, or Amit.

Step up to the Plate

So here’s the deal:

If you’re in NYC, come out to the party that they’re holding for Amit: WANTED: Brown Bones Benefit Party

No matter what:  go sign up to get swabbed. Join the Match Registry and also sign up to be an organ donor (California link). It’s free (there’s an optional place to make a donation) and is a little bit of a hassle to do – but honestly, it’s a small inconvenience compared to the chance that you might save someone’s life.

And go tell your friends to get swabbed as well. This matters.

Thank you.

The Difference Between Pain and Discomfort

A reader had written in to comment on my post on commanding your body despite the pain with his own story of his time in the military. I asked him to share his story with me — and with you. So here it is – a great piece by Gund from New Zealand.


When I left school, as a know-it-all 17 year old, it was compulsory to enlist for a year. I had a Sergeant Major who pretty much resembled Sgt. Hartman from Full Metal Jacket. He was a hard man whose mum never washed his mouth with soap as a kid. In retrospect, he was a misunderstood man and his oppressive regiment was not designed to break us down (although some kids did), but to make us exacting and predictable machines. He shared some wisdom with us over that year which pretty much shaped my thinking in terms of discipline.

Only for the first night did I think I would have trouble getting up at 5am for a full inspection in subzero temperatures. Only on the first day did I think there was no way I’d run a 2.4 before and after each meal of the day. If you are the kind of person who rolls over each morning and hits ‘snooze’ so you can throw away another 10 minutes of opportunity, this man had a practice grenade he would casually throw into your dorm to help you see the light.

In retrospect, although he didn’t say it, everybody was capable of everything with just the right motivation. If you failed, it was because you didn’t want it bad enough. And he was just the guy to make you want to succeed, no matter what. He didn’t wave a bigger paycheck, success or promotion in front of his platoon, such as the luxuries that are freely available to you now, his approach was the opposite – he would make you really want to not fail, at all costs. In his mind, there was no option but to continue, he lived on a battlefield and everybody was going to make it.

You are capable, he would imply, you just didn’t know it. Continue reading…

Leadership Lessons From Obama Addressing His Staff in 2008

“We’re going to have to be tougher, our game has to be tighter, I’m going to have to be a better candidate.”

I linked to this video a few years ago but it’s worth looking at again: Barack Speaks To HQ Staff & Volunteers

In this video, then-Senator Barack Obama is addressing his election staff & volunteer crew. He just won the Democratic Presidential Nomination and no longer battling other Democrats, he’s going to face down against John McCain and the GOP.

Regardless of your political affiliation or of your thoughts on the President’s performance in the past few years, its an objective fact that the Obama campaign was extremely well-executed. There were no major flaws, a lot of well run events, a lot of enthusiasm generated and a lot of grassroots efforts to actually get people to show up at the polls and vote.

Great campaigns typically have strong leaders and I think this video exemplifies how Obama lead. Look at how he focuses his attention on the staff’s efforts. How he appreciates the staff’s dedication, their commitment and paints the story of where they came from a few months ago, when they were down 30 points at the polls and he was fumbling at public events, to where they are now.

He shows his empathy for the volunteers – If you’re feeling burnt out, take some time off. I feel you. – but then brings them back to the task at hand – busting their asses and working essentially nonstop to win the overall election. He brings the focus to the wider world – a country with people who need help, help that (in their eyes) only the Obama team can bring. He reminds them of the legacy they have a chance to establish, that they can say they were a part of history.

He makes sure to touch on the various issues that he knows his staffers care about – the environment, Darfur (which I don’t think he did much about), education & the economy – which both shows his understanding of them and is a promise of what he will do if/when he gets elected.

I love when he says [my paraphrasing] – “You know, if we had lost in Iowa, it would have been ok. We would have a different Democratic nominee and would be putting our support behind them. But now that we are the nominated team, we have to win. We can’t lose.” It’s empathetic but tough.

A lot of great leadership lessons from this 13 min clip.