Interview with Bruce Kasanoff and Amy Blaschka, co-authors of the new book, “I Am: Escape Distractions, Unlock Your Imagination & Unleash Your Potential”
What is the power of the two simple words: “I Am”?
To find out, I put on my Superman t-shirt and interviewed Bruce Kasanoff and Amy Blaschka for a recent episode of The Freedom Club Podcast.
Bruce and Amy are two storytellers at heart, and the co-authors of a wonderful book entitled, I Am: Escape Distractions, Unlock Your Imagination & Unleash Your Potential.
Bruce and Amy are LinkedIn royalty.
Bruce is the author of many books including, How to Self-promote Without Being a Jerk and Never Tell People What To Do. He is one of the most famous, popular and original LinkedIn influencers.
Amy Blaschka is a writer and brand strategist as well as one of the initial innovators of LinkedIn videos.
At its heart, I Am is a book about self-awareness – embracing who you are.
That may mean 10 different things to one person, and certainly different things to other people.
For me, it means: I Am … a Superhero.
That’s because my “WHY” in life is to do my best to save the world by helping others fight for lives of freedom and fulfillment.
What’s your “WHY”? Your “I Am”?
The book started out as a creative exercise between Bruce and Amy.
Bruce told me, “With no intention to…write a book, …I got a flash of insight that had the book I Am, a series of passages that start with, ‘I am.’ They’d be positive, they’d be uplifting and that I had to write it with Amy.”
Their process dug deep into creativity.
“This started out as a creative exercise,” Amy said, “so it was very much a back and forth. But what’s interesting is, even now, even today we’ll take the book and someone will reference on page whatever. And, ‘Wait, which one of us wrote that?”
What began as a creative exercise between them soon blossomed into a book.
Amy and Bruce knew they grasped a concept that could help others. And it’s not quite what you might think.
“They’re not affirmations,” Bruce told me. “I mean people use some as affirmation, (but) that was not our goal.”
What was their goal?
Simple. According to Bruce, “Shift your awareness not because you want to see what the view looks like, but because you want to get out of your stuck place into a more creative space.”
Amy explained further. “We didn’t write it with a specific target in mind per se. (These) kinds of themes, (these) things those uplifting passages aren’t restricted to an industry, it’s not restricted to an age-group or gender or anything. So it really is something that is universal. But what’s interesting is that we’re hearing (about) people using this in lots of different ways.”
In the paperback version, every other page of I Am is blank. That’s so you can record your thoughts, doodle or whatever. It’s a book as individual as the reader.
As Amy put it, “The beauty of a book like ours, is that it really becomes your book. My copy of my book is very Amy. Bruce is … Yours Curt will be yours.”
I Am is not about staying inside and focusing on your interior life or accepting your shortcomings with a shrug. It’s about knowing yourself in order to serve others better.
To understand yourself in the context of helping others, one of the simplest activities you can do is draft a vision statement. Former congresswoman Clare Boothe Luce said that every great person you could sum up their entire lives in one sentence.
Many of my clients take weeks to come up with this single sentence.
That’s not surprising, because most people go 50 or 60 years of their lives never having even considered that question.
Amy jumped in. “What we’ve discovered is a lot of people answer that, I am in a very negative (way). It’s the stories that they’ve told themselves, they’ve heard from a teacher, a parent somewhere in their youth, somewhere along their career, like, ‘Well, I’m not very smart, I could never lead.’ These things that really are self-defeating it, but they’ve heard them enough that they’re circling inside their heads. So it becomes their reality. And they can flip the switch on that and say, I am.”
Sometimes you let other people fill in the blank: I am (what someone else says I am).
But that’s not necessarily true. There are no limits to growth.
Know who you are and focus on what’s right in front of you. What you’re good at.
When my dad was eighth grade in the 1930s, he was really good at math.
Someone pulled him aside and said, “You’re really good at math. Do you like math? And he said, “Yeah, I do.” And they said, “Well, how would you like to go to Brooklyn Tech and be an engineer?” Dad loved that idea. So actually in eighth grade back then, they took and put him on a track. Now, he was in high school, so he had to do other things, but this was a special focus based on what Dad’s strengths were.
I see this play out all the time as a coach. A great team isn’t made up of eight well rounded people, but sharp sticks that each do their part.
It’s like the Justice League; they each have their own specialty; their own superpower.
As Amy put it, “Really, I Am is just about allowing yourself to create the space, to step back, to take a break so you can consider things, you can have new insights, you can have a creative breakthrough.”
New insights. Creative breakthroughs. Doing what’s yours to do. And knowing yourself.
Aren’t these the keys to being the architect of your own life?