Most of us remember the first time we met the most important people in our lives. The first date with our significant other. The first time we heard our mentors speak.
I don’t even remember the first time I met AJ Leon.
I remember hearing about AJ (and his wife Melissa) from some mutual friends. I remember hearing how they traveled the world doing amazing projects helping people and organizations. “You have to meet them”, was the common refrain.
I remember being so impressed with what I heard that even before I met them, I included them in my talk on being a Linchpin at LessConf in 2010. (49:12 mark)
Sometime after that, I met AJ in real life but I couldn’t tell you when or where.
The reason I don’t remember the first time I met AJ is because in a strange way, I’ve known him forever. AJ embodies how see my ideal self — a rare and amazing combination of creativity, generosity and empathy wrapped around a core of drive, determination and shipping.
The most important of all those traits? Shipping.
AJ knows that all the empathy in the world doesn’t mean jack without shipping.
The idea of Twitter Kids, teaching kids in Tanzania who have never even used a computer how to use Twitter to connect with people all over the world doesn’t matter if you don’t actually make it happen.
The idea of using digital storytelling to make a difference for a group of people doesn’t matter if the story never gets told.
The idea of launching humanitarian projects to raise millions of dollars to help 9 African countries doesn’t matter if you don’t get past the whiteboard.
AJ ships. Over and over and over. As often and as consistently as anyone I know.
Who are your heroes?
There are a lot of people I’ve idolized and hoped to emulate throughout the years. Steve Jobs. Seth Godin. Aaron Rodgers. Jerry Weintraub. Jack Dorsey. Dwayne Wade.
It’s important to have friends, mentors and heroes.
But after meeting AJ, I realized that I want to be him when I grow up. The way he treats people. The way he gives and gives and gives. The way he ships.
So what is AJ shipping now?
Only 3 huge projects and an online contest. Plus a bunch of client work.
It’s completely free. A collection of essays from the last four years since AJ confidently walked away from a very lucrative but soul-sucking corporate job in Manhattan.
This PDF is a generous gift from AJ to you. I’d be surprised if it doesn’t change your life.
The Road Trip
Four days ago, AJ and Melissa embarked on a journey around the world. 1,080 days. Mostly by RV, sometimes by by car, bus, train, bicycle, foot, ferry and boat. You can read all about it here and follow along by signing up for AJ’s newsletter or following him on Twitter or Instagram.
The Pursuit of Everything website
AJ just launched his new website, PursuitOfEverything.com. It’s the best place to learn more about AJ and follow him on his journey.
The Pursuit of Everything Contest – If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? And why?
AJ is giving away a round-trip ticket anywhere in the world, just for a comment on this blog post.
It ends tonight (8/22 at 11:59pm ET).
Go. Now. Enter. It’s easy.
Just leave a comment explaining where you want to go and why.
(I may or may not be one of the secret Jedi judges, but even if I was, it’s too late to bribe me now. Just leave a comment.)
A final thanks.
Thank you AJ. Thanks for living your life in a way that inspires so many of us.
Thanks for showing us that shipping isn’t just possible, it’s critical.
Thanks for living a remarkable life.
Most of all, thanks for being my friend.
Love you, brother.