Storytelling and the Art of Leaving a Legacy

A little over a month ago, I picked up everything I own, left a very comfortable job of six and a half years, and moved from Hoboken, New Jersey to Denver, Colorado some 1,700 miles west to start a new life with the person I love.

My girlfriend, Melissa, who had made the move six months prior, informed me sometime in March that her parents were planning a visit to Denver in mid-April for Easter weekend. As a long overdue retirement present for her father, she elected to take him skydiving that Saturday, April 15th, crossing off a long time bucket list item of his.

I coordinated my departure to align with this plan. Being the storyteller I am, I thought it would make for a pretty good one.

My lease agreement wasn’t up until the end of April. The extra paycheck would’ve been nice ahead of exiting my job, but I really wanted to meet Melissa’s parents—which I hadn’t yet gotten to do since they lived in Virginia—so I decided to depart two weeks earlier.

In researching the specifics of skydiving in Denver, however, I came across a set of requirements that I did not realize or meet. For tandem jumpers, there was a per-person weight limit, meaning that if I wanted to go skydiving with Melissa and her father, I essentially needed to lose ten pounds. It being mid-March, I had three weeks to do so.

So that’s what I did. Without much thought, I installed a calorie-counting app on my phone, began dieting and exercising every day, and practiced what I would call extraordinary discipline. It meant saying no to a lot of things—going away drinks chief among them—but I did not want to miss out on such a golden opportunity.

When Thursday, April 13th rolled around, movers carried off all of my things and the next day I officially left my job, traveling straight to the airport for a one-way flight to Denver.

The following morning, we all woke up early and went skydiving.

I was right on the mark, losing exactly the ten pounds I needed to go jumping alongside Melissa and her dad.

Why was this such a big deal to me? The simple, one-word answer to that question is  legacy.

Making Decisions Based on Legacy vs. Currency

Legacy is defined as an achievement that continues to exist after you stop working or die, and I learned long ago about the power of having that perspective, not to mention the amazing opportunities it can afford.

Basically, when you start making decisions based on legacy instead of money, power, or fame, good things tend to happen.

In 2010, I was two years removed from college and desperately looking for work. It was the tail end of the Great Recession and I had spent the better part of the last year unsuccessfully locating, applying to, and interviewing for job opportunities across the U.S. It wasn’t until I happened across a man I would soon come to admire, value, love, and respect that I had any real excitement around what I was doing.

That man’s name was Gary Vaynerchuk, and his lifelong goal was—and still is—to buy the New York Jets. Every decision he makes is based on legacy.

Although I had been following Gary for about two years at that point, it wasn’t until I was desperate that I considered working for him an actual, viable option.

I said, “Screw it. I want to work for Gary.” Then, I went to work, building up my social presence on platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn, blogging, and engaging with notable individuals in the social media space.

When I finally had a “social resume” worth sending, I reached out to Gary and his company, VaynerMedia, directly, asking if there was anything I could do to help their efforts. I was offered an unpaid internship opportunity in Manhattan.

I immediately said yes. It just felt like one of those opportunities you often hear about that only come along once. I had to explore it.

So that’s what I did. I picked up my things, said goodbye to my family and friends, and moved to New York City, where I could afford to live without pay for all of two months. At the end of those two months, however, I came away with a job offer, and that is where I remained, until—well, until a little over a month ago, when I took the next leap of faith, figuratively and literally, in moving to Colorado.

Without even realizing it, I was already adept at making decisions for the sake of legacy over currency.

The Importance of Documenting the Journey

When it came time to turn the page on the next chapter, Gary was more understanding than most anybody. And I knew he would be because of how he lives his life.

He’s the most vocal personality I know when it comes to, well, most things, but especially on the subject of only getting to live your life once.

One life. That’s all we get. So why not shoot for the moon?

The biggest thing I learned from him, probably, is this idea of documenting versus creating. In the past year, I’ve built a thriving community around it, giving people a platform to share their personal experiences, life lessons, and personal/professional journeys, and I’ve even begun documenting the journey into entrepreneurship via a personal YouTube channel of my own.

And I want to help you do the same.

As I mentioned above, I didn’t move out to Colorado just so I could find another corporate agency job I would inevitably enjoy way less than working at Vayner. I did it to build my legacy.

You do only get one life, so if you’re passionate about something, you should pursue it… and you should document the journey along the way.

We live in a day and age where the tools are not only readily available, but most of them are free to use, and one piece of content seen by the right person has the power to change your life.

Never in the history of time has it been “easier” to take that shot for the moon. So, again, what’s stopping you?

Everybody who sits on point A has a point B they’d ultimately love to reach, but not everybody knows the proper steps to take in order to get there. Or worse yet, they do know what it takes, but they’re afraid or hesitant in pursuing it for fear of failure.

We can show you how to get there. It’s a long journey, sure, but so is life… if you’re lucky.

Remember, life is about making an impact, not an income. What will your legacy be?

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