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.
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FULL DIGITAL PACK WITH AUDIOBOOK: (PDF + audiobook + ePub + mobi). The free PDF version of The Life & Times of a Remarkable Misfit has been downloaded over 100,000 times but lots of people have asked for additional digital formats (epub and mobi.) This level includes PDF + epub + mobi formats PLUS additional Essays AND a high quality recording of the audiobook which I will record in the bus I am using to travel around the world. Pretty good for the first level, huh?Estimated delivery:
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PLUS LIMITED EDITION and PRIVATE WEBINAR. You'll receive everything above, PLUS a Limited Edition handcrafted print copy of The Life & Times of a Remarkable Misfit + Free access to a PRIVATE Webinar where I will discuss the making, designing, printing, marketing and distribution of this truly independent book project. I'd rather you go for the no brainer option, and get all the goodies, but this one is for misfits on a budget.Estimated delivery:Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
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PLUS MISFIT POCKETBOOK. You'll receive everything above, PLUS a custom designed Misfit pocket sketchbook. All revolutions begin in someone's sketchbook. My purpose of publishing this book isn't for you to read my ideas, but for you to act on them and change the world. In addition to receiving a handcrafted copy of the book, I will personally design, print and send you a limited edition Misfit Pocketbook based on the art within the book itself so you can begin to jot down your very own revolution.Estimated delivery:Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
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THE NO BRAINER OPTION. In addition to receiving EVERYTHING listed above, I will personally design and send you THREE different 12x18 Kickstarter-only PRINTS based on the artwork in the book (images to left & scroll down), including a limited edition print of the quote "Define your moments or they will define you." I am personally handcrafting these prints which will forever be limited ONLY to the generous backers that made this truly independent book project a possibility.Estimated delivery:Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
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PERSONAL VIDEO CALL WITH YOU. In addition to receiving EVERYTHING listed above, I will schedule a personal GoToMeeting video call with you to say thank you, and to brainstorm with you about any project that you may be working on right now. I've spent the last 5 years adventuring around the world, and launching business, creative and humanitarian projects and I want to help you do the same. This is my attempt to truly express what The Life & Times of a Remarkable Misfit is really about.Estimated delivery:Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
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PERSONAL DELIVERY: Yes, you read that correctly. In addition to EVERYTHING in the first four rewards, I will literally drive to your house and drop off your book. Ever have an author make you that offer? ;) I will also spend at least one hour hanging with you, and brainstorming with you about your next project. I have never, nor will ever offer personal or business coaching as a service. This is a Kickstarter-only reward, and I hope that you will take me up on it. I want to meet as many of the generous souls that believed in me as possible. Of all the rewards, this will be by far the hardest (and most expensive) to deliver, but the one I look forward to the most. +++NOTE: You must be within 30 miles of the following cities: New York, Boston, Providence, Philadelphia, Richmond, Miami, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, Panama City, New Orleans, Nashville, Austin, Dallas, Denver, Fort Collins, Omaha, Tulsa, Kansas City, Des Moines, Fargo, Milwaukee, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Portland, Ashland, Vancouver, Seattle, London, Stratford upon Avon, Dublin, Cork, Paris and Sydney. If you are in a city that is not on this list and want to know if we can include you please feel free to submit a question. +++You will also receive a print version of the book, free copies of the digital version, the audiobook, free access to the private webinar, the Misfit Pocketbook AND 3 personally designed Kickstarter-only Prints based on the artwork in the book to hang in your office.Estimated delivery:
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10 OF A KIND. For your Office, CoWorking Space, Classroom or Colleagues: I will provide you with 10 personally signed print copies of the book, 10 handcrafted Misfit Pocketbooks, 10 Limited Edition 12x18 Prints based on the artwork in the book, 10 digital copies of the book and 10 audiobook files to give away as gifts to those special misfits in your life that you know were meant to change the world. I will also schedule a one on one GoToMeeting video call with you to personally thank you, and chat with you about your next project.Estimated delivery:Add $20 USD to ship outside the US
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2 NIGHTS IN MY APARTMENT IN NYC. Yeah, it just went there. In addition to receiving a copy of the digital and print version of the book, the Misfit Pocketbook and 3 Limited Edition Prints, I will let you stay in my badass apartment in the Lower East Side while I'm traveling the world. My apartment has original hand-drawn murals based on the artwork in the book (see pics to the left), and it is the perfect place to plan your very own revolution. I'll even design a map of the East Village & LES for you, with all my favorite spots to plan, write and conspire. +++NOTE: Must book at least two months in advance, and use the reward by October 2013.Estimated delivery:
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2 DAYS WITH AJ + 5 PACK. In addition to receiving 5 books, 5 Misfit Pocketbooks and 5 Limited Edition Prints, I will personally visit your office and spend two days working with you on your new project or product launch or fundraising campaign. You will have my undivided attention, and five year's worth of launching business, creative and humanitarian projects at your disposal. At my company Misfit Inc, we typically charge between 5k and 7k per day for similar workshops, so this is a hell of a deal. +++NOTE: Your office or underground bunker must be in the United States or within 25 miles of Vancouver, London, Paris, Dublin or Sydney.Estimated delivery:
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I WILL PERSONALLY DESIGN YOUR WEBSITE: You like all the shnazzy Misfit design I'm rocking on this project? Well, in addition to receiving a digital and print copy of the book, the Misfit Pocketbook and 3 Limited Edition Prints, my team at Misfit Incorporated and I will personally handcraft the design and development of the marketing website for your next project. At Misfit, the entry budget for a new marketing website is $30/40k, so for the love of everything that is pure and holy, please do not choose this reward. +++NOTE: This reward includes design of up to a 5 page marketing website, coded into a WordPress backend.Estimated delivery:
- (30 days)