I had finished up an event at a whisky pop-up in Shoreditch as part of London Design Week and hailed a taxi and hopping in. The driver was a lovely (and talkative) chap named Mark, who was author of Black Cab Wisdom, a collection of quotes that his passengers had given him while in transit. He was thinking of working on a second book and asked if I had anything to share.
So I gave my own personal bit of wisdom:
"Don't let anyone tell you your ideas are stupid.... They may be stupid, but they are yours."
This has served me pretty well through life. I'm not saying all my ideas have been great - in actuality, most of them have been downright ridiculous - but they were always mine. And that energy and excitement I feel about putting something into action, something I am passionate about, no matter how idiotic it is, usually serves me well.
I was the kid who knew what he wanted to do with his life. While my friends in school and university were trying to figure it out, I had it down - I was going to be a journalist, and a newspaper journalist at that, knowing full well the industry was dying. I was editor of my high school paper, editor of the features section and a weekly magazine insert in University. I was going to do it for the rest of my life. As we all know though, best-laid plans don't always come to fruition, and this time, my enthusiasm was misplaced, and I left that world behind.
Suddenly I had some time to kill and my nights were once again my own. I took the opportunity to focus on something I was passionate about. I decided I was going to fulfil a lifelong goal - watch the 100 best films of all time, in a year. So I did, creating a project called Watch This. We started showing them in my house, then friend's homes and then throughout the city. What began with me and a few friends suddenly grew to 500 person screenings of the original King Kong, and 300 people coming to the theatre where Raiders of the Lost Ark premiered to see it again there.
We were growing, organically, no advertising, just people telling other people. Social media was, and still is, one of the most effective communication tools available to grow a project by word-of-mouth. Little did I know the enthusiasm I had for this project was going to land me the dream job. I was spotted by Yelp via Twitter as I organised screenings. They were impressed by my ability to grow a community from a small group of friends, and by my ability to spread enthusiasm in online conversations. So I applied, and was made the first community manager of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Within days I was talking to local people about what they liked to do for fun in their spare time, and organising amazing events based around them. With my new found community, we tried new restaurants, explored the city, had a blast.
Time went by quickly, and enthusiasm spread. After two years of shaking up the Cincinnati crowd and getting them excited about their town, I was asked if I wanted to cut my teeth on London and help build a community there. Absolutely. I got the job, packed up my necessary things (and my dog) and came to live in The Big Smoke.
I've been here for a year and a half, and although it's a different crowd entirely, I have done some amazing things: I climbed the inside of Big Ben, I did a backstage tour of Wicked and met the cast, and held a Halloween party London's oldest bone museum. I've also been involved in burger nights, steak dinners, and cocktail master classes with popcorn that tastes like gin and tonic. Every day I get to try new things, meet different people, and explore London. Yes, this is a real job, my job, the dream job.
I'm 27 and have started feeling like I know what I'm doing with life (some days). But whatever I've gotten the chance to do, it's because I've been passionate about it. If you're doing something you hate, stop doing it, or find a way to stop hating it. I'm not going to tell you to do one thing new every day, but if you can, do one thing you love every day. Even if it's stupid. Especially if it's stupid. I promise, your whole world will change.