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January 4, 2006

Five Things That Make It Easy To Get Up In the Morning

Why do you get out of bed in the morning?

It's a question worth asking often. Last night I was reading a quote I have on the wall at home. It's from a commencement address that Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave to Stanford students last June.

For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

The answer for me is "Yes" and I thought I'd share with you five reason why. Five reasons for being (I thought I'd dress it up with a bit of French). Bear with me. I think you'll see my point by the end. :)

Raison d'etre #1 - I want to learn from the world. Today, around the world, there are thousands of people teaching. Scratch that. There are millions of people teaching. I want to learn from them. I don't want to be limited to learning from the minute percentage that broadcast media gives to us. The few talking heads that say the same things in the same way. That doesn't do it for me.

Tomorrow somewhere someone will give a talk on some niche topic within the world of search engine optimization (or any of thousands of other subjects, take your pick. This person will know more than 99.99999% of the planet on the subject. His talk may reach 30 or even 300 people. Yet there are thousands of people around the world who could benefit from that talk. How do we enable that?

That's my raison d'etre #1.

Raison d'etre #2 - I want to teach the world. Maybe I have a message. Maybe I'm an expert in a particular area. Maybe the words that I spoke two days ago or two hours ago could add value to someone's life. Maybe I'm that guy or gal teaching that search engine class. Why should I have to limit my message to just the people in the room at the time of the class. In this era of technology and new media that makes no sense.

There's a reason why college professors are relatively underpaid (IMHO). It's because of leverage. Professors typically only reach a few dozen people at one time. They could be reaching hundreds, thousands or even millions. A child growing up in Africa could have the finest education in the world if the technology enabled it. And the people who are the best teachers of our era could at last become the rock stars that they truly are.

That's my raison d'etre #2.

Raison d'etre #3 - I want to immortalize wisdom. On the way to the office tonight I was listening to Martin Luther King Jr. (A Knock At Midnight is one of my "broken records"). Every time I listen to that I am so thankful that someone took the time to record his voice so that we have it for future generations. I'm glad that my children will one day listen to MLK's sermons and that they'll be able to pass them to their children.

But I also get sad when I think of all of the wisdom we have captured and that we'll never be able to go back and get. People who had incredible things to share with the world that we'll never be able to hear. So I plan to do my best to tell everyone to record everything. Not only will digital audio and video content have increasing monetary value in the upcoming years, it's also a tremendous legacy to leave to future generations.

That's my raison d'etre #3.

Raison d'etre #4 - I want to help the diamonds in the rough to be discovered. There are so many people out there who have incredible things to share with the world. They just need a little help to get that voice heard about the crowd. My buddy Brian Johnson is a great example. He has some incredible wisdom to share with the world.

In the past he would have had very limited options for sharing his spoken message with the world. But we've been able to post his content here at LearnOutLoud and now people are saying stuff like this:

Brian's reading of this collection of quotes on courage helps to enliven them for us - thus, giving us a greater chance of learning and mastering the courage we need in order to maxmize our lives.

There might not be anyone just like Brian out there but I guarantee there are a ton of people who have some awesome content out there and just need a little incentive to get it captured and online.

That's my raison d'etre #4.

Raison d'etre #5 - I'm frickin' selfish. :) The reason I love audio and video learning is that it gives me options for learning at all times throughout the day. Out for a run? I can throw on a pair of headphones and listen to an audio book or podcast. Need to veg on the couch for bit? Give me a cool video course or documentary to watch.

A big factor in the quality of our lives is the quality of the information we're exposed to. The better the information, the better our lives are. I want more choices. Audible has 5,000 audio books. Great. I want 50,000. iTunes promises 20,000 podcasts. Cool. I want 200,000. I want to give people the incentive to bring the absolute best possible content to market and share it with as many people as possible.

That's my raison d'etre #5.

So why do I bring all this up? Well, last night I had the opportunity to see a sneak preview of LearnDirect, the new service we'll be rolling out in a few weeks. It might be a bit presumptious to say this but LearnDirect (and other services like it that will no doubt follow) will. change. the. world. Sure, it won't happen overnight but when it comes to opening up the flow of information I think it has tremendous potential.

Let me go back to a quote from Jeffrey Sachs that I posted last week:

I believe that the single most important reason why prosperity spread, and why it continues to spread, is the transmission of technologies and the ideas underlying them.

We here at LearnOutLoud are incredibly excited to help with this "transmission." We hope you'll join us.

For more information about LearnDirect, please send an e-mail to learndirect@learnoutloud.com.

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