You Don’t Have to Do This To Get Ahead

He looked at me, throwing his hands up to the heavens and rolling his eyes in disbelief.

I was talking with a friend of mine who clearly had a bad day.

Job — not exciting

Kids — a pain

Wife — on his case

It was the job which dominated our conversation (doesn’t it always?). He wanted to know:

“Why do you have to kiss butt to get ahead??”

I smiled and shrugged politely. Inside, I thought one word:


I don’t fault the guy for thinking this. Maybe he was just born at an awkward time — too early to be a digital native and too late for a college degree from a recognized school to mean much.

But still, ugh.

Ugh because he possesses a collector’s mind which could make him thousands in eBay.

Ugh because he uses the excuse of “I went to _______ University!” as a crutch.

Ugh because he is just one of hundreds of people who do the same thing.

In 1997, if you wanted to get a job as a writer, here is what you would do:

  • Get a degree
  • Work as an intern getting folks coffee
  • Co-write a piece with a “senior writer” (because you don’t know any better, silly youngun)
  • Finally be allowed to cover a BREAKING story on cousin Sally’s new antique shop.


  • Write a novel
  • Send it in the mail
  • Pray to the coffee gods a gatekeeper would see your genius through the dozens of other manuscripts they get by the hour

Now it is 2016. As a person who despises the “YOU MUST DO THIS TO SUCCEED,” mantra spewing from other 20-something year old white dudes, I can only offer you my story.

Here is my story:

I am clumsy and awkward and have almost zero business instinct. I started with no connections in the writing world. I started with no website. I started with only a few good ideas. I am from Dickson, Tennessee. Have you ever heard of Dickson, Tennessee?

I didn’t think so.

Still, with nobody’s permission, I have:

  • Written 300+ blog posts seen by hundreds of thousands of people in at least 12 different countries
  • Written a book endorsed by one of the top influencers on Medium
  • Had 5 top-10 stories in the world on this site
  • Sold 300-ish copies (and counting) of said book
  • Started writing another book
  • Been contracted by a millionaire to help put together his first book, with the promise of a split advance for his next one if a publisher picks it up

All the while, my lips have remained delightfully free of butt hair and poop particles.

The gatekeepers are gone.

It’s your world now.


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