A CONVERSATION WITH
Neil PASRICHA 2023 ISPA CONFERENCE Keynote Speaker
Pulse : Living life with intention is at the forefront of all you do . What led you down a career path focused on intentional living ? NEIL PASRICHA : Life is short . The average lifespan in North America is around 30,000 days . Total . That ’ s it . When I ask audiences to guess the number of days they sometimes yell “ a million ” or “ three hundred thousand !” but – no . It ’ s a lot shorter than that . We have tiny , beautiful , precious lives . How do we live them most fully ? That question underpins everything I write about living an intentional life .
P : Your award-winning blog , 1000 Awesome Things , has captured the attention of millions of viewers across the globe . How did the concept behind this project come to life ? NP : In my late 20s my wife left me and my best friend took his own life . I couldn ’ t eat , I couldn ’ t sleep , and I lost 40 pounds due to stress . I started going to therapy twice a week and began the blog “ 1000 Awesome Things ” to try and cheer myself up . For the next 1,000 straight weekdays I wrote about one small joy in life .
It started slow . Many posts were duds — my first awesome thing was broccoflower , the “ strange mutant hybrid child of nature ’ s ugliest vegetables ”— but some started finding a nerve . Warm underwear out of the dryer , the smell of bakery air , getting called up to the dinner buffet first at a wedding , and playing on old , dangerous playground equipment .
One day my mom forwarded the blog to my dad and my traffic doubled . Then one day I started getting tens of hits . Then hundreds . Then thousands . Then … millions . It got bigger and bigger and bigger and then I got a phone call and the voice on the other end of the line said ,“ You just won the Best Blog in the world award !”
And I said ,“ That sounds totally fake .” Turns out it was real . The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences flew me to
New York City to parade me down a red carpet before handing me the award for “ Best Blog ” in the world . When I got home to Toronto 10 literary agents were waiting in my inbox , eager to turn “ 1000 Awesome Things ” into ... The Book of Awesome . That was my very first book and it came out in 2010 and ended up staying on bestseller lists for eight years . That ’ s the story !
P : When you started your blog , you said that you would never put ads on the blog ’ s website . What was the reasoning behind this approach ? NP : Well , there are two types of motivation : intrinsic and extrinsic . Intrinsic is internal — you ’ re doing it because you want to . Extrinsic is external — you ’ re doing it because you get something for it . I was working full-time and I wanted — needed !— my blog to be a place where I could be artistically free . Just focus on writing down positive thoughts for myself . So I decided to keep it free from extrinsic motivators .
I do think we should talk about motivators more often . Teresa Amabile , a professor at Harvard Business School ,
WE HAVE TINY , BEAUTIFUL , PRECIOUS LIVES . HOW DO WE LIVE THEM MOST FULLY ?
40 PULSE n NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2022