Just Show Up


I was fired. I asked for one more week to finish what I was working on but my boss said, “No. Clear out of here in the next hour.”

I don’t know why I was fired. Other people weren’t. But I think my boss didn’t like me.

So I got depressed. I was going to run out of money, all my friends were going back to graduate school (I had been thrown out the semester before), and at the end of that summer my girlfriend broke up with me.

The entire reason I stayed in Pittsburgh that summer was because of my girlfriend. I had a job offer at IBM but I had turned it down (it was to work on the chess computer “Deep Blue”).

I also felt rejected. Like nobody was going to care if I died.

I was trying to get a novel published but that was going nowhere. I got rejected by over 40 or 50 agents. And it wasn’t one of those things where I got a note that said, “Keep at it, kid. You got talent.” All I got were form letters.

I stopped bathing. What for? I didn’t leave my apartment. One time some friends rang my doorbell and when I answered they said, “Oh!” And then they left.

My dad offered to drive up to where I was and just take me home. “Maybe you need to rest for awhile.” Thinking about it makes me sad because now he’s dead and perhaps I should’ve taken him up on his offer.

When you’re a parent you realize all the missed opportunities you had with your parent.

My sister gave me advice, “Just do one thing a day.” So I would do that. I gave chess lessons. I would try to write one page a day. I would read. I would apply for a job.

I really wanted to work at the local comic book store but they wouldn’t hire me. “This is not really a profitable business,” the owner told me. He was nice about it.

But on my podcast, 20 years later, almost all of my guests says that the key to success is, “Show up every day,” which is similar to the advice my sister gave me when I was at a low point.

I think Adam Carolla said it to me while he was washing dishes during my podcast. Very efficient. “Show up every day.”

I hate when someone gives me work to do. But lately I’ve realized that showing up every day actually gives me less work to do.

It doesn’t mean “Show up ALL DAY.” It just means, “Show up.” It could take ten minutes. It could take an hour. But if you do it, then you did your showing up for today.

How can you show up today?

– Connect two people.

A friend of mine, Nicole Lapin, is coming out with a book in two months. I introduced her to another friend of mine, Ryan Holiday, to help her market her book. They agreed to work together.

How does this help me? It doesn’t. But it was me showing up for them. That upgrades the quality of my network and everyone benefits in the long run.

– Write every day.

This is the one thing I’ve been doing every day for 20 years. We live through our emails, our texts, our sales presentations, our ability to tell a story.

If you can’t write today (because maybe you are showing up in one of the other ways listed here) just make sure you have it in your arsenal. Write once a week or once a month.

– Share something.

Claudia is preparing a class on curing back pain using yoga.

It used to be, you had to give the class to share what you learned. But now you can slice it in so many ways.

For instance, she doesn’t have to put the whole class online today. She can simply share the reading list she used when creating the class. Keep track of every part of your process. Many slices make up an entire sandwich and they are all tasty.

If you can’t figure out what to share I have an idea for you. Take a picture of the most interesting person you see today and post it. That’s all you have to do today to “Show up.”

– The 100 Day Rule.

This is Joey Coleman ‘s excellent rule for keeping customers. Call them every day for the first 100 days and they become a customer for life.

I’m applying the rule in a different way. I’ve recently made an investment. I’m calling the founder every day (I hope I don’t annoy him too much) to learn more about what he does and to hopefully help him in the areas I am good at.

I will do this for 100 days and see if it works in investment relationships as well. It’s just one phone call. It’s probably the only phone call I will make today.

– Three emails.

A friend of mine has a startup that is doing pretty well. With a startup there are so many things trying to grab your attention: getting customers, servicing customers, developing technology, raising money, dealing with administrative stuff.

Sometimes you don’t know what to do or where to focus on. It feels overwhelming.

I suggested to my friend to do what I do: I send three “business” emails a day. So maybe he can send to one potential investor and two potential clients. That’s over 1000 emails a year to help build your business.

If you have a good business then good things will come from this.

For me, I usually send out emails to three potential podcast guests. Three a day means 90 a month. Even with a 10% response rate I’ll get nine great guests a month and it’s worked.

For some people this might mean look into three job possibilities a day. Or say “thanks” to three people you work with today and tell them why. This is showing up.

– Take yourself on a date.

When I was at a low point in 2008 I lived next door to a museum. I would go to the museum and sit in the bookstore/cafe and read. Then sometimes I’d walk through the museum and look at the art. I had to take care of myself because I was very depressed.

At my worst points, I find it very hard to connect with people. Art is like a secret part of our brain where we can all connect and share the parts of ourselves where language is not enough.

There. If you were fired yesterday, just show up today. If you have to get something done at work, just show up. If you have to write, just write a paragraph, or write about the three people you sent emails to today. If you’re sick or someone close to you is very sick then do something that will add a tiny bit to their health.

When a relative was sick with cancer I would visit the hospital with a deck of cards and poker chips and we’d play cards for a few hours. I couldn’t do anything else to help him.

When we die our entire legacy is simply the added together strengths of all the connections we make with others. This is the ghost of ourselves we leave behind. This is showing up.

If you show up every day for 365 days you will look back and be amazed at how much you did, even if it was just one thing a day.

I wrote this. I showed up.