wow, what an honor. i always wonderedwhat this would feel like. so eight years ago,i got the worst career advice of my life. i had a friend tell me, "don't worry about how muchyou like the work you're doing now. it's all about just building your resume." and i'd just come backfrom living in spain for a while, and i'd joined this fortune 500 company.i thought, "this is fantastic. i'm going to havebig impact on the world." i had all these ideas.and within about two months,
i noticed at about 10am every morningi had this strange urge to want to slam my headthrough the monitor of my computer. i don't know if anyone's ever felt that. and i noticed pretty soon after thatthat all the competitors in our space had already automated my job role. and this is right about when i gotthis sage advice to build up my resume. well, as i'm trying to figure out what two-story window i'm goingto jump out of and change things up, i read some altogether different advicefrom warren buffett, and he said,
"taking jobs to build up your resumeis the same as saving up sex for old age." (laughter) and i heard that,and that was all i needed. within two weeks, i was out of there,and i left with one intention: to find something that i could screw up.that's how tough it was. i wanted to have some type of impact.it didn't matter what it was. and i found pretty quicklythat i wasn't alone: it turns out that over 80 percentof the people around don't enjoy their work.
i'm guessing this room is different, but that's the averagethat deloitte has done with their studies. so i wanted to find out,what is it that sets these people apart, the people who do the passionate,world-changing work, that wake up inspired every day, and then these people,the other 80 percent who lead these lives of quiet desperation. so i started to interview all these peopledoing this inspiring work, and i read books and did case studies,
300 books altogetheron purpose and career and all this, totally just self-immersion,really for the selfish reason of... i wanted to find the workthat i couldn't not do, what that was for me. but as i was doing this,more and more people started to ask me, "you're into this career thing. i don't like my job.can we sit down for lunch?" i'd say, "sure."but i would have to warn them, because at this point,my quit rate was also 80 percent.
of the people i'd sit down with for lunch,80 percent would quit their job within two months. i was proud of this, and it wasn'tthat i had any special magic. it was that i would askone simple question. it was, "why are you doingthe work that you're doing?" and so often their answer would be, "well, because somebodytold me i'm supposed to." and i realized that so manypeople around us are climbing their way up this ladderthat someone tells them to climb,
and it ends up being leaned upagainst the wrong wall, or no wall at all. the more time i spent aroundthese people and saw this problem, i thought, what if we couldcreate a community, a place where peoplecould feel like they belonged and that it was okto do things differently, to take the road less traveled,where that was encouraged, and inspire people to change? and that later becamewhat i now call live your legend,
which i'll explain in a little bit. but as i've made these discoveries,i noticed a framework of really three simple things that all these different passionateworld-changers have in common, whether you're a steve jobsor if you're just, you know, the person that hasthe bakery down the street. but you're doing workthat embodies who you are. i want to share those three with you,so we can use them as a lens for the rest of todayand hopefully the rest of our life.
the first part of this three-steppassionate work framework is becoming a self-expertand understanding yourself, because if you don't knowwhat you're looking for, you're never going to find it. and the thing is that no oneis going to do this for us. there's no major in universityon passion and purpose and career. i don't know how that's nota required double major, but don't even get me started on that. i mean, you spend more timepicking out a dorm room tv set
than you do you picking your majorand your area of study. but the point is,it's on us to figure that out, and we need a framework,we need a way to navigate through this. and so the first step of our compass isfinding out what our unique strengths are. what are the things that we wake uploving to do no matter what, whether we're paid or we're not paid,the things that people thank us for? and the strengths finder 2.0is a book and also an online tool. i highly recommend it for sorting outwhat it is that you're naturally good at. and next, what's our frameworkor our hierarchy for making decisions?
do we care about the people,our family, health, or is it achievement, success,all this stuff? we have to figure out what it isto make these decisions, so we know what our soul is made of, so that we don't go selling itto some cause we don't give a shit about. and then the next step is our experiences. all of us have these experiences.we learn things every day, every minute about what we love, what we hate, what we're good at,what we're terrible at.
and if we don't spend timepaying attention to that and assimilating that learning and applying it to the rest of our lives,it's all for nothing. every day, every week,every month of every year i spend some timejust reflecting on what went right, what went wrong,and what do i want to repeat, what can i apply more to my life. and even more so than that,as you see people, especially today, who inspire you, who are doingthings where you say
"oh god, what jeff is doing,i want to be like him." why are you saying that?open up a journal. write down what it is about themthat inspires you. it's not going to beeverything about their life, but whatever it is, take note on that, so over time we'll havethis repository of things that we can use to apply to our lifeand have a more passionate existence and make a better impact. because when we startto put these things together,
we can then definewhat success actually means to us, and without these different partsof the compass, it's impossible. we end up in the situation...we have that scripted life that everybody seems to be livinggoing up this ladder to nowhere. it's kind of like in wall street 2,if anybody saw that, the peon employee asksthe big wall street banker ceo, "what's your number?everyone's got a number, where if they make this money,they'll leave it all." he says, "oh, it's simple. more."
and he just smiles. and it's the sad stateof most of the people that haven't spent timeunderstanding what matters for them, who keep reaching for somethingthat doesn't mean anything to us, but we're doing it because everyonesaid we're supposed to. but once we have this framework together, we can start to identifythe things that make us come alive. you know, before this, a passioncould come and hit you in the face, or maybe in your possible line of work,you might throw it away
because you don't havea way of identifying it. but once you do, you can see somethingthat's congruent with my strengths, my values, who i am as a person, so i'm going to grab ahold of this,i'm going to do something with it, and i'm going to pursue itand try to make an impact with it. and live your legendand the movement we've built wouldn't exist if i didn't havethis compass to identify, "wow, this is something i want to pursueand make a difference with." if we don't know what we're looking for,we're never going to find it,
but once we havethis framework, this compass, then we can move on to what's next...and that's not me up there... doing the impossibleand pushing our limits. there's two reasonswhy people don't do things. one is they tell themselvesthey can't do them, or people around themtell them they can't do them. either way, we start to believe it. either we give up,or we never start in the first place. the things is, everyone was impossibleuntil somebody did it.
every invention,every new thing in the world, people thought were crazy at first. roger bannister and the four-minute mile,it was a physical impossibility to break the four-minute milein a foot race until roger bannister stood up and did it. and then what happened? two months later,16 people broke the four-minute mile. the things that we have in our headthat we think are impossible are often just milestoneswaiting to be accomplished
if we can push those limits a bit. and i think this starts with probablyyour physical body and fitness more than anything,because we can control that. if you don't think you can run a mile, you show yourselfyou can run a mile or two, or a marathon, or lose five pounds,or whatever it is, you realize that confidence compounds and can be transferredinto the rest of your world. and i've actually gotten into the habitof this a little bit with my friends.
we have this little group.we go on physical adventures, and recently, i found myselfin a kind of precarious spot. i'm terrified of deep, dark, blue water. i don't know if anyone's ever hadthat same fear ever since they watchedjaws 1, 2, 3 and 4 like six times when i was a kid. but anything above here, if it's murky,i can already feel it right now. i swear there's something in there. even if it's lake tahoe,it's fresh water, totally unfounded fear,
ridiculous, but it's there. anyway, three years agoi find myself on this tugboat right down here in the san francisco bay. it's a rainy, stormy, windy day,and people are getting sick on the boat, and i'm sitting there wearing a wetsuit,and i'm looking out the window in pure terror thinkingi'm about to swim to my death. i'm going to try to swimacross the golden gate. and my guess is some people in this roommight have done that before. i'm sitting there, and my buddy jonathan,who had talked me into it,
he comes up to meand he could see the state i was in. and he says, "scott, hey man,what's the worst that could happen? you're wearing a wetsuit.you're not going to sink. and if you can't make it,just hop on one of the 20 kayaks. plus, if there's a shark attack,why are they going to pick you over the 80 people in the water?"so thanks, that helps. he's like, "but really,just have fun with this. good luck." and he dives in, swims off. ok. turns out, the pep talk totally worked,and i felt this total feeling of calm,
and i think it was becausejonathan was 13 years old. and of the 80 people swimming that day, 65 of them were betweenthe ages of nine and 13. think how you would have approachedyour world differently if at nine years old you found outyou could swim a mile and a half in 56-degree waterfrom alcatraz to san francisco. what would you have said yes to? what would you have not given up on?what would you have tried? as i'm finishing this swim,i get to aquatic park,
and i'm getting out of the water and of course half the kidsare already finished, so they're cheering me onand they're all excited. and i got total popsicle head,if anyone's ever swam in the bay, and i'm trying to just thaw my face out,and i'm watching people finish. and i see this one kid,something didn't look right. and he's just flailing like this. and he's barely able to sip some airbefore he slams his head back down. and i notice other parentswere watching too,
and i swear they were thinkingthe same thing i was: this is why you don't let nine-year-oldsswim from alcatraz. this was not fatigue. all of a sudden, two parentsrun up and grab him, and they put him on their shoulders,and they're dragging him like this, totally limp. and then all of a suddenthey walk a few more feet and they plop him down in his wheelchair. and he puts his fists up in the mostinsane show of victory i've ever seen.
i can still feel the warmthand the energy on this guy when he made this accomplishment. i had seen him earlier that dayin his wheelchair. i just had no idea he was going to swim. i mean, where is hegoing to be in 20 years? how many people told him he couldn'tdo that, that he would die if tried that? you prove people wrong,you prove yourself wrong, that you can makelittle incremental pushes of what you believe is possible.
you don't have to bethe fastest marathoner in the world, just your own impossibilities,to accomplish those, and it starts with little bitty steps. and the best way to do this is to surround yourselfwith passionate people. the fastest things to do thingsyou don't think can be done is to surround yourselfwith people already doing them. there's this quoteby jim rohn and it says. "you are the average of the five peopleyou spend the most time with."
and there is no bigger lifehackin the history of the world from getting where you are todayto where you want to be than the people you chooseto put in your corner. they change everything,and it's a proven fact. in 1898, norman triplett did this studywith a bunch of cyclists, and he would measure their timesaround the track in a group, and also individually. and he found that every time the cyclistsin the group would cycle faster. and it's been repeatedin all kinds of walks of life since then,
and it proves the same thing over again, that the people around you matter,and environment is everything. but it's on you to control it,because it can go both ways. with 80 percent of peoplewho don't like the work they do, that means most people around us,not in this room, but everywhere else, are encouraging complacency and keeping usfrom pursuing the things that matter to us so we have to manage those surroundings. i found myself in this situation... personal example, a couple years ago.
has anyone ever had a hobby or a passionthey poured their heart and soul into, unbelievable amount of time, and theyso badly want to call it a business, but no one's paying attentionand it doesn't make a dime? ok, i was there for four years tryingto build this live your legend movement to help people do work that they genuinelycared about and that inspired them, and i was doing all i could, and there were onlythree people paying attention, and they're all right there:my mother, father and my wife, chelsea. thank you guys for the support.
(applause) and this is how badly i wanted it,it grew at zero percent for four years, and i was about to shut it down, and right about then, i moved to san francisco and startedto meet some pretty interesting people who had these crazylifestyles of adventure, of businesses and websites and blogs that surrounded their passionsand helped people in a meaningful way. and one of my friends,now, he has a family of eight,
and he supports his whole family with a blog that he writesfor twice a week. they just came back from a monthin europe, all of them together. this blew my mind.how does this even exist? and i got unbelievably inspiredby seeing this, and instead of shutting it down,i decided, let's take it seriously. and i did everything i couldto spend my time, every waking hour possibletrying to hound these guys, hanging out and having beersand workouts, whatever it was.
and after four years of zero growth, within six monthsof hanging around these people, the community at live your legendgrew by 10 times. in another 12 months,it grew by 160 times. and today over 30,000 peoplefrom 158 countries use our career and connection toolson a monthly basis. and those people have made upthat community of passionate folks who inspired that possibilitythat i dreamed of for live your legend so many years back.
the people change everything,and this is why... you know, you ask what was going on. well, for four years,i knew nobody in this space, and i didn't even know it existed,that people could do this stuff, that you could have movements like this. and then i'm over here in san francisco,and everyone around me was doing it. it became normal, so my thinking wentfrom how could i possibly do this to how could i possibly not. and right then, when that happens,that switch goes on in your head,
it ripples across your whole world. and without even trying,your standards go from here to here. you don't need to change your goals.you just need to change your surroundings. that's it, and that's why i lovebeing around this whole group of people, why i go to every ted event i can, and watch them on my ipadon the way to work, whatever it is. because this is the group of peoplethat inspires possibility. we have a whole dayto spend together and plenty more. to sum things up,in terms of these three pillars,
they all have one thing in commonmore than anything else. they are 100 percent in our control. no one can tell youyou can't learn about yourself. no one can tell youyou can't push your limits and learn your own impossibleand push that. no one can tell you you can'tsurround yourself with inspiring people or get away from the peoplewho bring you down. you can't control a recession. you can't control getting firedor getting in a car accident.
most things are totally out of our hands. these three things are totally on us, and they can change our whole worldif we decide to do something about it. and the thing is, it's starting to happenon a widespread level. i just read in forbes, the us governmentreported for the first time in a month where more peoplehad quit their jobs than had been laid off. they thought this was an anomaly,but it's happened three months straight. in a time where people claimit's kind of a tough environment,
people are giving a middle fingerto this scripted life, the things that peoplesay you're supposed to do, in exchange for things that matter to themand do the things that inspire them. and the thing is, peopleare waking up to this possibility, that really the only thing that limitspossibility now is imagination. that's not a clichã© anymore. i don't care what it is that you're into,what passion, what hobby. if you're into knitting, you can findsomeone who is killing at knitting, and you can learn from them. it's wild.
and that's what this whole day is about,to learn from the folks speaking, and we profile these peopleon live your legend every day, because when ordinary peopleare doing the extraordinary, and we can be around that, it becomes normal. and this isn't about being gandhior steve jobs, doing something crazy. it's just about doing somethingthat matters to you, and makes an impactthat only you can make. speaking of gandhi,he was a recovering lawyer,
as i've heard the term, and he was called to a greater cause,something that mattered to him, he couldn't not do. and he has this quotethat i absolutely live by. "first they ignore you,then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." everything was impossibleuntil somebody did it. you can either hang around the peoplewho tell you it can't be done and tell you you're stupid for trying,
or surround yourself with the peoplewho inspire possibility, the people who are in this room. because i see it as our responsibilityto show the world that what's seen as impossiblecan become that new normal. and that's already starting to happen. first, do the things that inspire us, so we can inspire other peopleto do the things that inspire them. but we can't find that unless we know what we're looking for.
we have to do our work on ourselves, be intentional about that,and make those discoveries. because i imagine a world where 80 percentof people love the work they do. what would that look like? what would the innovation be like?how would you treat the people around you? things would start to change. and as we finish up,i have just one question to ask you guys, and i think it's the onlyquestion that matters. and it's what is the workyou can't not do?
discover that, live it, not just for you,but for everybody around you, because that is what startsto change the world. what is the work you can't not do? thank you guys.