A night with Stacey Abrams 10/12

Stacey Abrams is the GOAT. 

My sister Fatima and I went to ‘Conversations with Stacey’ at the Mesa Arts Center earlier this week. It was dope.

These last few weeks I have started to become more intentional about my life. About my goals, my future self, and what actions and behaviors I need to take to become the person I want to become. Listening to a powerhouse like Ms. Abrams was transformational.

Biggest takeaways from that evening (long but worth it):

-Meet people where they are 
-Don’t get excited about the vote, become a voter. It’s not just about one action, it’s the mindset and consistency that comes with it
-The best organizations check on you before they need you. They continue to nurture that relationship before, during and after 
-Sometimes, containment only is the answer, not the cure
-Read voraciously and watch tv voraciously. Stories connect you with others
-Why feel guilty about watching TV? Don’t feel guilty about things you get pleasure from! Whether it’s a romance novel or the great British bake-off 
-Organizations need to be intentional about diversity. Bring others in that aren’t represented 
-Find alignment with others. You don’t have to have all of the same views on everything 
-Focus on progress, NOT perfection
-Evil doesn’t take a vacation, it recruits mean and comes back with a vengeance. Stay vigilant.
-Build strong teams. Be intentional and bring others up with you, remember.. there’s safety in numbers in success and when going through hardships
-Compromise your actions but don’t compromise your values
-Check out the Whistlestop podcast with John Dickerson
-Push back against disinformation. It’s a disease that wreaks havoc
-It’s not the vote it’s what it means that your voice matters 
-You should not have a higher level of democracy because of your race or status 
-Don’t enter conversations trying to change someone’s mind 
-Ideas are malleable ideologies are not 
-Remember the John Lewis quote “Get in good trouble”
-Be responsible for others. Always be learning, education is a passport. Volunteer your time no matter how little you have someone has it worse
-How to get your kids involved in civic duty? Take your child to vote with you every time
-And last but not least, have political discourse without being mean ❤️

Day 2

“All progress starts by telling the truth.”

Dan Sullivan

Today, I took honest stock of my life. I wrote it all down.

It was sobering. 

Neither negative or positive, but sobering. Where I’ve been, where I am. Apparent.

 Laid it all out. Neutral words, visible, peering back. 

The computer screen, bright white, straining my eyes. 

Or are the words straining my eyes? 

How do I feel right now?

Entrenched in the present. 

Empty? Full?



“I’m sorry”

After reading Extreme Ownership by Jocko several years ago, I decided to stop apologizing.

Unnecessarily over-apologizing, I mean.

A lot of women are raised to be less obtrusive, less offensive, and we’re quick to apologize for trivial things like someone else bumping into us, or for apologizing to the bartender for making the wrong drink.

Instead, develop a mindset shift and take extreme ownership. Become a leader and get to the root of the problem in a productive way. Utilize the phrase “I’m sorry” for when it really matters, not for everyday situations or it loses sincerity.

Some things to never apologize for include:

  • Asking questions
  • Voicing your point of view in a respectful way
  • Standing up for people and causes you care about
  • Being yourself

What are some things you should never apologize for?

2018: A Year of Reading

I read quite a bit last year. I made some graphs because I like nerd shit. I read a variety of books, I reread some books because I thought they were important and they were short and sweet and it helped me reach my 52 book goal. I read comics, essays and fiction. I read nonfiction, I listened to audiobooks. I read books about zombie babies murdering neighbors. I read a book Da Terminator wrote about his Terminator life and there were actual nuggets of wisdom that I deeply appreciated.

I read the last book one of the greatest scientists of our time wrote. I read books that made me cry. Books that made me pull over and replay the last 30 seconds because that stanza was just so damn beautiful, so thought provoking and insanely and gorgeously and painfully written.

I read about how Starbucks began. I appreciated the hell out of the story.

I read a book about Elon Musk’s larger than life story, a heart wrenching story about a neurosurgeon’s fight with lung cancer. Books about the big bang theory, event horizons, and books that provided a hypothesis that disproved Gods existence – which really fucked me up, but in a good way. A book by Seth Godin about how to stand out, how to use your imagination and creating with love because that’s what differentiates us from machines in a cog – “Linchpin” was the book that inspired me to start this blog. And James Altucher’s “Choose Yourself” taught me to train my idea muscle on the daily – I’m all about that swole idea muscle life.

I reread Carol Dweck’s “Mindset.” Why? It’s a book so fucking important it should be read at least once every year. I also read 2 books that taught me about meditation and the power of being present, and lead me to download Headspace, an app that has positively affected my life. “You Are a Badass,” “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck,” and “Rejection Proof” made me laugh out loud IRL, and the story of Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos in “Bad Blood” made me go WTF IS WRONG WITH PPL.

This chart shows how many books I read each month. I really picked up my reading when we moved out of our apartment. My commute became longer, from 30 minutes one way to almost an hour one way so I got through A LOT of audiobooks starting in the summer. Not only did my commute get longer, but I was also more awake and feeling much better after switching from night shift to day shift, which occurred sometime during March/April. Nightshift really killed any desire for me to read anything I had to actually digest and think about.
I used Overdrive/Libby and Audible to get most of my audiobooks. Shoutout to Tom Bilyeu and the Impact Theory team, they really kicked off my love of audiobooks by sending me 3 months of audible credits because I was a was a 2nd place winner for a contest they were running. I used Audible when I REALLY REALLY wanted the book and when the wait times for the library was like 6 months or longer cause I have no patience. Audiobooks and kindle books are easy to carry around, thus more convenient. I’m prone to laziness so when things are super convenient, I don’t have an excuse and I’m more likely to read. I try to follow this rule in other areas of my life. If I meal prep I don’t have to make food throughout the week. If i pick out my clothes the night before I won’t be late and I can be lazier in the mornings. If I follow a workout program I don’t have an excuse to not go to the gym. If you’re a lazy POS like I am, make it super fucking easy on yourself you’ll be able to develop that habit.
Nonfiction books are good for the brain, and fiction books are good for the soul. Fiction ignites a fire in your imagination. The majority of the books I read were nonfiction, but I didn’t just stick with personal development. I read true crime, medicine, science, biographies, and so on. Keep it spicy my dudes.
I went out of my comfort zone last year. I didn’t sky dive or give a speech in front hundreds of people, nay, it was much more tame than that. I expanded the type of reading I did. It’s important to read classics, and most of the classics are written by old white bros. It’s a fact. I’m still gonna keep reading books written by old white dudes, but I want to expand my worldview and to do that I have to read stuff from authors of different demographics. For 2019 I’m going to continue this quest.

I read short books, essays, books with pictures, ebooks, I listened to books, I read books by brown people who look like me, read books by women, just like me. That felt good. Empowering. In October I was stressed the hell out wondering how I would get to my 52 book goal and I went into Overdrive (pun intended). I felt like I was back in college, with only one week left of finals, but like, in a more fun way, not the “Oh shit I’m gonna fail this fucking class if I don’t cram all this information inside my brain which I will immediately dump out soon as I finish my test” kind of way.

My favorite books of 2018 are David Goggins “Can’t Hurt Me,” “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Giver” by Lois Lowry, “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown, “Relentless” by Tim Grover, and “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline. My goal for 2019 is to read 30 books and to even more books by authors from diverse backgrounds. My goal is lower this year because a higher priority for me in 2019 is to network and really cultivate deep meaningful relationships. I want to apply what I read instead of just consuming vast amounts of information, which often leads to inaction. Inaction is one of my greatest weaknesses. It’s easy to stay at home and read in my own little introverted bubble, life’s more comfortable that way. Ideas and people grow when we interact with others. Growth occurs when you put yourself in uncomfortable situations, and I’m trying to develop that David Goggins type of calloused mind 💪🏾🧠

My porch

I read Linchpin by Seth Godin.

I also read Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.

How do I change the world? In order to change the world, I must first change myself. I can do this through action. Through routine, I obtain freedom. I will change my world. I network, read, create and share my art.

My art, my work, is a gift. I will give this gift freely, easily. My word, my vision, my empathy, my ideas, my soul.

Through routine, by nourishing my body, my mind and my spirit, I will slowly but surely obtain what I desire.

In order to create an impact with my art, I have to exercise extreme ownership in my craft, in my life, because by owning up, I exercise control over my own world. I am in control of my actions, I own my emotions and my feelings, I control me. It’s easy to blame others, it’s not easy taking blame. Nothing world while comes easy.

Welcome, to my front porch.

I sweep it, consistently. Every day my porch is cleaned, freed of dust through my controlled movements. I hold the broom and I create. My art develops as it’s shared, from my heart to yours

Daring to Forgive

This week, I practiced forgiveness.

Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly allowed me to reflect on my culture, and on my relationship between my Hoyo and me. Hoyo is the Somali word for mom.

My parents grew up in an entirely different culture so they developed mindset that helped them survive in that environment. These last couple of days, I analyzed my relationship with my mom; I spotlighted our relationship specifically because I’m a mother myself, and as different as we are, I embody her; I often catch myself using my Hoyo’s mannerisms.

I stay up with my daughter when she’s sick; I cradle her in my lap, sitting on the uncomfortable toilet cover for hours so the steam from the hot shower relieves the pressure in her sinuses. Even long after she falls asleep. I learned that love from my mom.

My Hoyo tells us she sacrificed her life for us kids. She never finished her E.S.L classes or pursued a job or developed deep connections with other people because she was too busy caring for us. She never ate before we did, never slept longer than we did, and never bought nice things for herself. She engrained in us that she sacrificed her life, her soul, every fiber of her being for us.

My love for my daughter is fierce, and beautiful, because I learned how to love from my parents, specifically, my mom. I found myself working to the bone to provide what I thought was the best for my family. I believed, fervently, that scrubbing the tile in the bathroom on my hands and knees was an expression of love, the ultimate sacrifice.

Why then, did I feel so unbelievably empty, and alone?

The mindset of tremendous, soul-crushing sacrifice played a critical role in my depression. I used it as the only tool in my toolbox to quantify my love to those closest to me; it was the only tool I kept sharpened and oiled, not knowing there were other ways to practice love.

I went through the majority of my life feeling contempt towards my parents.

Today, I release that resentment because resentment hinders growth.

I forgive my parents, especially my mom. I will forever be grateful for my parents. They did the best they could with what they have. They loved us the only way they knew how.

Sacrifice is important, but it isn’t the only tool at my disposal. I can simultaneously want the best for my daughter, my husband, and my family, while also wanting the best for myself.

I will pursue my dreams and take time for myself. I will read books and seek experiences that will help me grow. I will go to the gym and eat healthy. I’ll cultivate meaningful relationships. I will be happy. I will exemplify grit, confidence, strength, independence, humility, and passion. If I don’t exemplify these qualities and pursue a life that I want, how can I expect my daughter to?

Thanks for reading.

Read 4.5 Books in 12 Days

I read these books since I posted last:

  • Mindset: The Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck (reread)
  • Choose Yourself by Dave Atulcher
  • Pet Sematary by Stephen King
  • Relentless By Tim Grover

And I’m halfway through The Personal MBA.

How do I do this?

I made these 3 small changes in my life.

  • Read more, watch less

I didn’t cancel my Netflix subscription and I’ll jump on Instagram/Facebook once in a while. These days though, I don’t have much time to dedicate to social media or binge watching the latest show on Netflix. Instead of cutting things out, which is negative reinforcement, I simply increased my reading time. I’ve cultivated my love and need for reading this way. I thrive on learning new things, exposing myself to new ideas, and being able to get through books so quickly. The more I read, the less time I have for other stuff.

  • Make it simple, make it special.

I make it easy to read. I listen to audiobooks when I’m doing chores, when I’m on the treadmill for 15-20 minutes before I lift, at the grocery store when the lines are long. I listen to audiobooks when I ride my bike. I carry my kindle or a book with my when I’m going somewhere. I get a minimum of 2 hours of reading on my workdays because my commute is so long.

I make reading special. I read with my kid. The time I read to her helps me bond with her. She’s awesome. We make jokes, do silly voices for characters, read books with pictures, books without pictures, classic books, audiobooks. It’s fun. Don’t have a kid? Read to your grandma, or fish.

I share what I learn from reading with my family and others. I highlight and write down quotes in my journal. I read reviews about books and try to understand what other people learned from that book and compare and contrast. I look up words I don’t know the meaning of. I read books from different genres and age groups. I read poetry and essays. I don’t let myself get bored with reading.

  • Listen fast, read fast

Listen to audiobooks at 1.5 speed and above. Start with 1.25, then up the speed when you get used to it.

Lastly, I invested in a program that helped me read faster. Athletes pay coaches insane amounts of money to become elite. Businesses pay consultants like, hella money yo to increase their profits and efficiency. I take reading seriously; if you do too, throw some money down on a legit company to help you read faster. If you don’t have money, look for free resources on Google or Youtube.

That’s it. Promise. It sounds easy because it really is.

First Post


I’m Ayan. I started this blog because I don’t know what I’m doing. Though, I have some idea of where I want to be. I think if I post consistently about steps that I’m taking every week to get closer to where I want to be, I’ll get closer to my goals.

What are my goals exactly?

I want to read 52 books this year.

I want to develop a powerful mindset. I want to cultivate relationships. I want to find my true calling. I want to have financial freedom. I want to a be better speaker. I want to make an impact.

I can reach those goals if I read books, and create.

Please, join me.