Ditch the Act by Leonard Kim and Ryan Foland

This was a book that was given to me because Leonard actually reached out on Twitter. It was out of the blue and unexpected and I had no idea who he was at first. But after he offered to share his book and send me a free copy, I was intrigued and excited. Turns out, he met the co-author, Ryan Foland, at a dinner that Keith Ferrazzi had hosted a few years ago. Crazy enough, I had just finished Keith’s book, Never Eat Alone, a few months earlier and Keith shared my takeaways that I wrote up in much the same format as this. Crazy way to get the book and this one was certainly a book I enjoyed and learned a lot from.

This is a way of living I believe. What is the point of experiencing something and making mistakes that others have already made? Maybe we can learn from them and thereby not make those mistakes and become more successful. It’s in our nature to help others, if we see someone struggling, we usually help; when we cannot see someone struggling we should still do our best to help, maybe we know something that they don’t.

Pg. 7, Exposing your whole self is about more than cultivating human connection. So much of our unique expertise and skill grows from those failures, fears, and weaknesses we’ve overcome. By removing our masks, ditching the act, and sharing vulnerably, we demonstrate the authority behind the lessons we’ve learned. We give a more authentic, relatable basis for our expertise. We simply say, “We’ve been there too, and here’s what we’ve learned. Maybe it can help you.” We differentiate ourselves from those who share their expertise without revealing the raw realities behind it.

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Earn it. Period. We don’t deserve anything, we earn everything. I love the idea of fake it until you become it. It’s not enough to fake it until you make it, that’s where the imposter syndrome comes into play. We must become what we want to be and encompass that day in and day out.

Pg. 47, If you feel like you are not good enough and that someone will one day discover that you don’t deserve your position, here’s a hard wake-up call for you. You earned everything that you have for being the exact person that you are.

Everyone has influence. Everyone has a brand. Everyone is important. There are different degrees and levels to all of it but, as the author says, we may not even be aware of how we are perceived.

Pg. 59, Like the rest of us, you have a personal brand, even if you don’t know it. That brand is framed by the way people understand your story, for better or worse. More often than not, the image we believe we are portraying is the exact opposite of the message we are sending into the world.

This is a REAL one. I caught myself doing this in a recent relationship. I didn’t share how I felt, I couldn’t… it didn’t feel valued. I didn’t want to share anything, I lied by omission. Therefore, I needed to get out and surround myself with energy that embraced my full self. Again, the authors made a great point and emphasized that we could set ourselves up for potential self-destruction if we continue to hide how we truly feel.

Pg. 83, When you tell your loved one how your day was, do you tell the truth, or do you just say that it was busy at work and that you are tired, but things are fine and you are on track to hit your bonus? When you lie by omission, you get disconnected with the people who matter to you because you can’t share how you really feel. In fact, you face the same potential consequences that the brands and companies that hide their flaws do; you set yourself up for potential self-destruction.

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This worksheet was incredibly valuable. I’m the type of person who likes to measure things, I like to see data, and I like to see implementable items. This was all of those and more. I challenge you to make your own list also. With that in mind, there will be some fluidity between people. Personally, religion is more of a level 3 for me because it is such a core piece of my identity; I do understand that will isolate me from certain people but that is okay with me, it will draw me closer to God. (If this is tough for you, I’ll include a few of the authors’ many examples below).

Pg. 94, Exposures Ranked by Level Worksheet:

It is important to understand the various levels of exposing yourself.

Level 1 Exposures: Level 1 includes things that you are thinking or things that happen to you that you might not think to share. These are ranked at the lowest level of exposure and show people that you are human. Things like the silly things you do or don’t do and things that impact your mood.
Level 2 Exposures: Level 2 includes interactions you have with others and things you notice about how you feel. Things like interactions with people, things that are causing you stress, accidents, things that make you feel nervous and anxious, and what you observe.
Level 3 Exposures: These will start to feel more serious. Things like challenges you face, things that you did or that happened that you are not proud of, and financial challenges.
Level 4 Exposures: These are things that you are extremely scared to share. Things like business failures, personal setbacks, emotions and feelings you are having, abuse, and financial challenges.
Level 5 Exposures: This is when sharing goes too far. Do NOT share these exposures. Things like ego, politics, religion, sex, and policies prohibited by your employer.

These are essential and very well thought out. 8 and 9 are the most important to me. We must take time to evaluate what we post, especially in today’s world, it’s always retrievable — even if it’s deleted.

Pg. 119, The 10 Commandments of Sharing Digitally and at Work:

There is a right way and a wrong way to share your stories and what you have experienced. Follow these simple rules to make sure you create content that will not work against you.

Rule 1: Do not share anything related to politics, religion, or sex.
Rule 2: Do not share anything illegal.
Rule 3: Do not share anything that can be hurtful to another person, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, work ethic, disabilities, and so forth.
Rule 4: Do not defame anyone.
Rule 5: Do not shame anyone.
Rule 6: Do not make it sound like you are better than anyone else.
Rule 7: Do not share anything that you have not vetted to be true.
Rule 8: Use the pause test to think over anything that you may want to share in the heat of the moment. After 24 hours, does this still seem like something you want to share? If it isn’t, don’t share it.
Rule 9: Taking a stance against a popular opinion is okay and is highly recommended in many situations, as long as it does not relate to items identified above.
Rule 10: Do not share pictures of your genitalia or topless photos if you are female (even if you are asked), and don’t ask if you can share them with others.

Any more than this, and I guess that you don’t really know yourself that well! That’s my perspective at least. The method that the authors suggest is Problem →Solution you solve →Market you cater to.

Pg. 164, Use the 3–1–3 Method to explain who you are in three sentences, one sentence, or even as few as three words.

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These examples were wonderful. This was probably one of the most impactful portions of the book for me. It’s not just that the authors wrote a lot of great content and provided many actionable steps in this book, they truly thought about their readers and helped to guide us in the right direction — by acting first.

Pg. 190, Overcoming Fear and Sharing Worksheet

Daily Level 1 Examples, consider sharing things like:

A random thought that comes to mind
Losing or misplacing something simple
The cleanliness of your car
Realizing your shirt is on inside out

Here are some examples to get you started:

“Wow I can’t believe I just walked into my shower with my headphones on!”
“It’s a cruel lesson to learn when you’ve only had three hours of sleep and you think you have coffee, but you don’t.”
“Forgot I had a meeting with a client today and accidentally wore tennis shoes. What should I do?”
“Oh my. I was walking a bug just flew into my eye!”

Daily Level 2 Examples, including interactions you have with others and things you notice about how you feel. Consider sharing things like:

An argument you had with someone and how it made you feel.
Embarrassment about missing something important.
How you are so annoyed with online dating, highlighting a date gone wrong.
Being nervous about a talk or presentation you have to give.

Here are some examples to get you started:

“Just had an argument, and I think we both think we won. But in reality I think we both lost.”
“Good friends are hard to find. I keep telling myself that on days like these when I have no one to hang out with.”
“You pay people to do specific work for you and they don’t do the work. Then they try to disappear on you. What do you do?”
“Is it normal to be nervous about attending your own birthday celebration?”

Next, the authors challenged us to begin this on our own. Let’s do it.

Pg. 194, Now you try:

Step 1. Think of something that you are scared of sharing.
Step 2. Write it down in one to three sentences.
Step 3. Share your writing with someone in person and on your digital networks.

The importance of being authentic and honest and upfront cannot be overstated.

Pg. 197, How far back can things go that come back to bite you? In 1974, George W. Bush was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. In the year 2000, when he was running for president, this information was leaked to the press.

In hindsight, President Bush wished he had just been forthcoming with this information so it would have been hard to use against him, in the same way that Barack Obama had been forthcoming about his prior use of cocaine.

These are two of the most high-profile public figures in the twenty-first century. They both had skeletons in the closet. One got out ahead of it and didn’t have to deal with the repercussions. The other almost had his decades of sacrifice for public service, along with his legacy, ruined by one tiny drunk skeleton, driving a car when he shouldn’t have — something that many of us may have done when we were younger, whether or not we were caught.

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Again, these leading questions were wonderful. They spurred some great creativity and thinking. We are ALL interesting, we simply have to identify what makes us of interest. Once more, I shared just a few of the pages of questions that the authors included in this book.

Pg. 202, Questions to Spark Stories. There are a lot of questions, which will help you spark a lot of stories you might not realize you have:

What did you see as a child that affected your life?
What did you want to be when you grew up and why?
What was the first embarrassing moment you can remember?
What was the worst moment you can recollect about middle school?
What were you like in high school, and how does that compare with who you are now? If you changed, what moment defined who you’ve grown to become?
What did you do the first time you ditched class?
How did you get your first car? What do you remember most about your time with it?
What was one thing that you’ve put all your effort into and tried with all your energy to achieve but failed at?
What was your worst travel experience like?
If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be?
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
Why do you contribute your time and money to a certain cause?
What impact has it made on your life?
What was the most debilitating moment of your career?

I thought that this proposal was interesting and most definitely of value. We need people around us who are going to push us and support us. What better way than creating an environment where what we seek to do is normal and even expected.

Pg. 261, Take the lead and organize a Ditch the Act Peer Group or Party to connect, share, and practice ditching the act.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Over and over and over and over.

Pg. 273, There are three steps in stacking each success:

1. Find the opportunity
2. Do the work needed.
3. Share the work you did.

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I learned a lot from this book. I don’t anticipate embracing everything right away, but the authors shared they don’t expect that anyways. I do however, want to become more authentic and transparent. It’s not enough to simply portray a persona, I must be who I am and express who I am becoming.

I gave this book a 3.5/5

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