18 months ago, I canceled a book deal with a major publisher because I realized I had sold out to be chosen. Today I choose me.
Eighteen months ago, I canceled a book contract with a major publisher because I realized that I had sold out for an advance and the desire to be chosen. Under their auspices, I would have ended up writing a sanitized version of the book I was meant to write. So, I returned the money, felt like an asshole and wondered whether I would ever get the chance again.
Sink or Swim.
Today, I am choosing myself. This is a truly independent book project. No publisher, no Amazon Distribution. I am designing, printing, publishing and distributing the book on my own. I'm doing this because I want you and the other misfits out there in the world to realize that we can stand in defiance to convention. You are a writer if you write. And if you want to publish a book, you don't have to wait for some well-fed demagogue to think you're special enough. (For my fellow writers: If you pick up a copy of the book, you'll get free access to a private webinar where I will disclose and discuss the writing, editing, designing, printing, distribution and marketing of the book. See Rewards ->)
My name is AJ. I used to be an unremarkably average financial executive in Manhattan. I made six figures, had an outrageous bonus and a corner office. But there was this little problem. I despised my job. I was passionless about my work. And of course, I hated myself for trading the hours of my life away for more money at every turn.
On December 31, 2007, I left my six figure, crazy bonus, Manhattan corner office job. Not for a raise. Not in a vertical move to another company. Not to get a change of scene. But to stop, once and for all, living some other dude’s life. That day I realized two things. There was more to life than working a job you hate, and more importantly, there was more to me than could ever be expressed in a place with so many rules. If you read this paragraph and have no idea what I’m talking about, you should probably not bother going further, but for the rest of you, this book is an ode to the misfits.
This Book is an Ode to the Misfits
This is my first published work and it is a collection of personal essays about living with intention, doing work that truly matters and changing the world.
And I wrote it just for you.
I wrote these essays over the last two years, after leaving a lucrative finance career in Manhattan in order to travel the world and work on projects that actually matter. I wrote them at different times and for different reasons. They are different thoughts for different moments, but I wrote them with you in mind. You see, I believe that you, like me, were not meant to live a life of convention and conformity. I believe that you were put here, at this very moment, to change the world in a fashion that only you can. These essays were written while on my own path to doing just that. And I hope beyond hope that they will in some small way help you to find yours.
Each essay was originally written by hand in vastly different places around the globe, from coffee shops in New York to rural villages in Africa, and are based on wisdom I had gleaned while on my own journey to live with intention, do work that matters and change the world.
From the moment I left my former life with only a few hundred dollars in my savings account, I have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles to over 50 countries on this beautiful planet, I’ve spent the vast majority of my time launching projects that truly matter, I’ve remained successfully self employed, launched a magazine, a web app, a blog people seem to dig and I’ve worked in 9 African countries launching humanitarian projects that have raised millions of dollars to help communities in South Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Malawi.
This book is a compilation of the verities that brought me through those experiences.
Who is this book for?
As I was reviewing many of these essays, I realized that I was really just writing letters to a younger version of myself. The guy trapped living the life he was supposed to live, while ignoring the life he was destined to live. If you feel like I did, like you simply don’t fit in the nice and neat life plans that the world has set out for you, The Life and Times of a Remarkable Misfit might just be for you.
This book is for those who have been told to stay quiet, whom the world has been trying to lull into complacency and conformity and compliance and who need to know that there are others out there just like them.
This book is for those that refuse to sit at the end of their days, mourning the glory of a life that could have been.
This book is for the Misfits.
What will you learn?
- The Opportunity Cost of Not Taking Yourself Seriously
- A list of 10 Essential Don’ts
- Why a dude named Murphy has been trying to kill you all your life
- The Anatomy of Average People
- How Arrogance, the Sistine Chapel, Art & Steve Jobs are Interrelated
- 16 Ways to Make Money & Lose Self-Respect
- The Convergence between Fear, Courage and Insanity
- Why guys in expensive suits knock down sand castles
- What decapitating Medusa has to do with changing the world
- Why making mistakes is so damn important
- The difference between, consuming, curating and creating
- Why confidence is not nearly as important as courage
- How swagger is one of the great unsung characteristics of those that make magic happen.
Quotes From the Book.
"Your life is always just one brief moment of audacity away from remarkable."
"Define your moments or they will define you."
"The gods favor the bold."
"If there is not at least a possibility that your pursuit, whatever it might be, may end in cataclysmic failure, then even your success in that endeavor will be tempered."
"Greatness is only the positive reflection of the defeat that is probable in the pursuit of it."
"The absence of Fear is not Courage, it's insanity."
"Confidence is not nearly as important as courage. And feeling like you can pull it off is not nearly as important as acting like you can."
"In the end, life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s own courage."
"Greatness is only ever a possible outcome when the prospect of utter, unmitigated defeat is also on the table."
"Every true artist is also a great thief."
"Don't follow well-lit paths, grab a machete and hack down your own."
Who is AJ Leon?
I used to be an unremarkably average finance exec, until the day I decided to stop, once and for all, living some other dude's life. Today, I am a writer, artist, designer, entrepreneur and humanitarian. And I am currently on the 187th Day of a journey to travel around the world in 1,080 days.
I've slept under bus benches and in five star resorts. I've worked on Wall Street and in muddy villages in Ethiopia. And I believe that there is a distinct possibility that you were not meant to be average, but that you meant to change everything.
Do I have the chops? Judge for yourself.
Just in case we haven't met yet, here is a small sample of my work so you can get a better understanding of what I write about.
Yes, I have some badass rewards.
I've tried to pack in as much value into the rewards as humanly possible. I've had to severely limit some levels because of the sheer cost of producing them. But I hope you like them, and I hope you'll take me up on the ones where we get to hang out together.
The future of books belongs to readers who care & writers with courage.
I believe that confidence is not nearly as important as courage. The reality is that this could flop in my face, and I could stand here in a month wondering whether I should have ever canceled that book deal. But in spite of that tremendous fear, I am moving forward because as Ovid says "the gods favor the bold" and I have hope that my fellow misfits might just come out of the woodwork and stand behind me on this one.
Even if you decide not to back this, you can still help a fellow misfit.
The only way ideas spread is if those who are moved by them share them, one at a time. If you decide not to back this book, but would still like to see it made, please consider sharing this project with someone you know who needs it, and please consider sharing it on Facebook and the twitters too. It would mean the whole wide world to me. Also, please leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The challenges with this project will be coordinating video calls with but that is why this reward is limited.
Personal delivery could also be tricky but again I am significantly limiting this reward. At the moment I am travelling around the United States in my veggie-oil fueled bus so the places I identified for personal delivery are on my current itinerary. Including a few places in Europe where I will be speaking at conferences.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.