July seems so long ago at this point. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt further removed from something that is only half a year ago but it feels like the world, and more specifically my world, have completely changed.
But July is why my world changed. It’s time to tell more of that story.
I thought that Covid would be over by July and in the months prior I had been preparing for courts to open back up and life to return to normal. I was looking at flights to book and locations to visit for a late summer trip.
I was wrong. Very wrong.
So when July hit, I realized my error. Nothing was going to be the same for a very long time. The courts were going to stay closed. The borders of the world, locked down. And I needed to find my way forward.
I joined Write of Passage with David Perell. Let me be the first to say that I thought an online writing course seemed strange but I didn’t have anything else to do.
And David had written a great article about his 10-year vision. He laid out a plan to help his students find success in this online world. He wanted something bigger than just Write of Passage. That’s why I joined. I wanted to see what he was all about. I wanted to see what his vision was all about.
Quickly it became clear that a lot of other interesting people were joining WoP 5 (Write of Passage Cohort 5). I didn’t know most of them but they seemed like the type of people I wanted to hang around. I remember a few of my earliest interactions were with Michael Le and Brandon Zhang. Michael is in Med School at UCLA and Brandon was attending Columbia University in the fall as a freshman.
So you know, I was the old man. Lucky for me they saw wisdom instead of age.
Then we had the onboarding call with Will Mannon. Will is the course manager but really he is a maestro. Masterfully moving all the pieces to create this memorable and moving experience in the course. The onboarding process set the stage. I met people who would be taking the course, I had some questions answered, and I felt the excitement of where this thing was going.
It also led to the creation of my very first website. A place that would be my online home. A way to take full ownership of my name, ideas, and full portfolio.
Such a simple act plays a huge psychological role. It plants a flag in the ground of the internet. This is my home. This is where I live. I’m one of these people.
From there I was hooked. Hooked into all of the incredible potential contained online. Whether it was Twitter or Squarespace, I started telling others about this magical place.
Looking back on it now it feels a bit like a mixture of Ready Player One and Tron: Legacy to me. Let’s be clear, the book Ready Player One is amazing but the movie really fails it. Tron: Legacy is a classic. I’ve seen it more than 10 times but I don’t even know the total number.
But I say it feels like this because it was a moment where my eyes opened. To a digital frontier where new worlds existed and the possibilities were mine to go after. In July is when I first felt this.
“The game has changed Son of Flynn.”
Then the course started. David has this incredible energy and enthusiasm when he speaks about writing. He uses things to explain writing that made sense to me and reflected the way I like to teach speaking. References to Picasso and architecture. Discussions of great speakers and travel journeys. But David also backed up what he said and he demonstrated it with his writing on his website, his newsletter, and even his Twitter.
There is a reason as I write this that he has 150,000 Twitter followers. Every tweet he writes is well thought out and interesting. Every article he writes brings some level of Aha!
So I was quickly a David Perell advocate. It’s hard to argue with seeing the quality of his writing and then the quality of his person in the way he approached every session and person in WoP 5.
Here’s the thing though, this was only one part that made it such a transformational experience. Because one more critical piece tied it all together.
It was the community of people. They changed everything for me.
A difficult thing about life is that we change. With that change comes a realization that we need new friends. We need a group of people that understands the journey we are on. My friends from the legal world in Dallas couldn’t understand this journey. My college friends in finance couldn’t understand this journey.
I had grown. They had grown. Just in different ways. Which doesn’t mean we aren’t still friends but I needed to grow into new friends. That’s what WoP 5 gave me.
I found my people. Driven, curious, intelligent, creators, but also selfless and community-oriented.
The timing couldn’t have been better for WoP5. It was at the height of the initial Covid lockdown and people were yearning for human interaction. Work had mostly stalled as companies tried to navigate the new world.
So these people wanted connection and had the time to invest in the course but mostly each other.
That, combined with David, Will, and his team, led to magic.
It’s hard to fully describe. I created friendships there that felt like we had known each other for decades. I found people to be open and vulnerable with even though the most we met was through a zoom screen. I had editors and collaborators, sounding boards and teachers, but most of all I had friends.
Three hundred people all came together in July and created magic.
They showed me the impact an online course can have. They showed me the power of community.
They showed me that I was home.
I can live on the Grid.
I can live outside of it too.
Last July I learned that it’s possible to be a dual citizen.
Want to chat with me? Robbie@beondeck.com
Follow me on Twitter: @robbiecrab
On Deck Performative Speaking Fellowship coming soon...reach out if interested.