Tag: inspiration

Rise and Shine: The Jay DeMerit Story

Jay DeMerit grew up in Green Bay, about two hours north of me.  He was a high school star at Bay Port and went to University of Illinois Chicago to play soccer.

After he graduated, MLS didn’t want him, so he left the US with $1800 in his pocket and moved to England, joining a 9th division team, basically a sunday beer league.

After a year, with no money left, he got a trial with a 7th division team.  Watford’s manager, then in the 2nd division, was in attendance to scout two other players, but really liked DeMerit and gave him a 2 week trial.

After the two week trial, he signed a one year deal and played for Watford all season.   He scored the winning goal at Wembly that promoted Watford to the premiership, earning him legendary status with Watford’s fans.

He was a starter in the Premiership, playing with Watford for 6 seasons, scoring 9 goals as a central defender.  He made the US National Team in 2007 and led the US to a 2-0 win against Spain in the 2009 Confederations Cup.  He was named to the World Cup 2010 roster and started all four matches in South Africa.  Now there’s a movie about him coming out in November.

DeMerit’s story in unreal.  It shows that determination plus talent equals success.  He wanted something so bad that he was willing to go broke for it, move to another continent and devote his time to it to make sure it was a success.

Be like Jay DeMerit.  If you have a dream, go for it, work hard and give it your very best effort. Don’t make excuses.  He could have easily said “im from a tiny town in the US, Major League Soccer doesn’t want me, im running out of money” but he didn’t.   He didn’t whine, he just was determined to get better each day and found success beyond his wildest dreams.

Give it your best effort.  If it doesnt work, its better to have lived and tried than to have given up without a fight.

DeMerit’s goal to take Watford to the Premiership

March Books

I got a bunch of reading done this month, mostly because I found myself on an airplane fairly often.  Of the four, The Last Lecture was the best.

Rework – Rework is the newest book by 37 Signals founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.  They are well known for creating simple, easy to use online products that help business get things done.  Rework is the follow up to their first book, Getting Real, and attempts to show people how to work more efficiently and effectively.

I first became interested in 37 Signals when I heard Jason Fried speak at an entrepreneurship conference in Milwaukee where I was also speaking. Fried stressed simplicity, focus and building something you would use because if you are building something you’d use, you are already an expert.

My favorite chapters were Go, Progress, Promotion and Productivity.  They explain how to get started, make progress and then promote your business.  They also have a ton of great tips about how to be more productive.  My biggest take away is that companies should be teaching instead of promoting.  Most companies do not teach, they promote.  Companies that teach lessons to their customers have bigger followings, which leads to free promotion.

The book is a little repetitive at times, but is worth reading.  I’m fairly familiar with 37 Signals because I read their blog regularly, so most of the ideas weren’t groundbreaking, but it was nice to hear everything in a single place.  If you don’t read their blog or haven’t heard about 37 Signals, this book is a must read.  If you are familiar, you can save the money and just read their blog again.

Mark Cuban recently said “if I had to choose to invest in someone who’s read Rework or has an MBA, I’m choosing rework every time.”  While I wouldn’t go that far, I’ll want any new Entrustet hires to read the book as part of their initial training.

The Checklist Manifesto – I heard about Checklist by Atul Gawande while reading Switch last month.  It sounded interesting and I planned on picking it up.  Luckily, my Aunt came to visit and happened to have the book.  I read the book on the plane to SXSW and really enjoyed it.  Gawande is a brilliant surgeon who wanted to know how he could improve medical care.  He got interested in checklists after marveling about airline safety.  In the book, he investigates how checklists can be used to prevent mistakes in any industry. He first helped implement a clean IV lines program that help Michigan hospitals reduce infections almost entirely, which saved lives and millions of dollars.  He later helped the WHO implement a standard checklist for surgeries that has saved countless lives and money.

The book is a quick read because it is written more like fiction than non fiction and provides tips to increase productivity and help you get things done, while avoiding mistakes.  Highly recommended.

Leadership and Self-Deception – Someone gave me this book right before I got on a plane when I was complaining that I didn’t have anything to read.  It’s a self help book, styled as dialogues between an employee of a company and his bosses.  Written in 2002, the main idea is that it is not what you do, but why you do it that matters.  The central advice is that whenever you want to do something to help another person, you should do it, otherwise you make excuses for yourself and it starts a downward spiral.  I don’t agree with everything from the book, but I believe that the world would be a better place if people were motivated to help others more often.

The Last Lecture– I had seen Randy Pausch’s last lecture on youtube before, but had not read the book.  For those who don’t know, Randy Pausch was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and was given 6 months to live.  He spent that time trying to make life better for his wife and his three young children.  Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon and was given the opportunity to give a “last lecture.”  It was recorded and Pausch used the time to talk about how to live life, pursue your own dreams and enable the dreams of others.  It is a sad and uplifting book at the same time.  It is well written and funny, informative and wise.  I especially liked the section about enabling the dreams of others.  The Last Lecture is one of the best books I’ve ever read and should be required reading in high school classes.