How Will You Leave Your Mark on This World?
By Ryan Felman
Along my own path to manliness, I idolized Don Draper in a lot of ways. He looks impeccable in nearly every scene of the show. He drinks nearly constantly, but he does it with class and always controls himself in social situations. He avoids office gossip. He does as he pleases, and he can get away with it. Not everyone can do this, but Don can. Why? Because at the end of the day, he gets the job done.
Lesson right there, gentlemen.
If I am to look back on my adoration of Don Draper in my own personal life, it wasn’t all glitz and glamour. Upon a closer inspection of myself, like Don, I had my problems and shortcomings. I looked at some of his habits as part of the overall charm that makes him who he is and felt the same with my own flaws. In my early twenties… and mid-twenties… and maybe my late twenties, I had my share of vices. Drinking, smoking and womanizing. Maybe I thought I was Don Draper.
And why not? I was in sales. I dressed better than necessary, and I was confident. To quote Don from one of the episodes when he was told how confidently he exudes himself: “I have a deep voice.”
I’m fortunate to have a deep voice and it conveys authority. I also speak slowly and confidently and men much older than me will listen. Because I know what I am doing. And if I don’t know, I’m honest. But I’m too intelligent and I rarely can’t find the answer. In my years of working sales, I knew that I had the answers and tools to help the customer. If I couldn’t provide value, I wouldn’t be so confident.
There is a part of the average person that favors inaction, or deferred action. “People want to be told what to do so badly that they’ll listen to anyone.” All my life in my career I have found this to be true. Most people, most adults, are so unsure of themselves that they will literally pay someone to make decisions for them. Consulting, accounting, law, marketing…. How many other jobs are built solely around the idea of telling another person what to do?
There is another scene where Don Draper is discussing how those who don’t do the work like to criticize advertising. They look down upon it and think anyone is capable of coming up with marketing campaigns. Yet despite all the potential earnings, they don’t. “They can’t do what we do… and they hate us for it.”
I think of the line often when I was in my sales job. Don’t ask. But there were plenty who knew me well enough to see how good of a lifestyle I was living. They’d ask how to get my job and I would tell them what they needed to do to get my job. I never feared them becoming my competition. Why? Because they can’t do what I do…
“Even though success is a reality, its effects are temporary.” My twitter account has exploded practically since its inception. At one point I said I’d be happy if 1,000 people would follow me. That moment was fleeting. Almost immediately after 1,000 follows, I began to wonder if I could get 1,500. Here I sit at 3,000 and I’m supposed to say that the meaningless metrics don’t matter to me, but that would be a lie. I do care.
I want to reach a wider audience and leave my mark on the world. What type of man doesn’t want to leave an impression? The point is, with each success you make, that dopamine just hooks you in deeper. It’s never enough. People in my life ask me when I’ll be satisfied in this area or that. Are you satisfied? Are you happy now? And my response is always the same. “It’s never enough.” I keep that close to the chest most times though. The average person gets very uncomfortable when they see a man truly push himself to higher levels of greatness. It reflects poorly on their lack of success.
In high school a teacher had an extra credit question at the end of an exam. “What do you want to accomplish in your life?” A big question and most gave canned answers of being rich, famous or other bullshit in hopes of getting the extra credit point. They got the extra credit, but they missed the point. My answer: “To build something that lasts longer than I do.”
It came from the heart, but it is a line that has haunted me for years. It still does and that is why I slave away at my computer… or a notebook… or the back of a fucking bar coaster with thoughts and ideas. Out of nothing, something. The habit of writing has become intoxicating to me and the more I write, the more I have to say. A paradox.
Fortunately, I get just enough praise to commend myself for staying true to my path. And it is my path. I know I am going the right way and the feedback from my followers helps me maintain a bit of sanity as I strive to leave a lasting impression. I simply aim to share what wisdom I have with young men…. Wisdom that I was searching for in my youth. Looking up to the likes of Don Draper and Hank Moody (look for a piece on Californication soon) shows how desperate I was as a young man for some semblance of a positive male role model who was still assertive, successful and good looking.
I rarely found helpful advice in any of the conventional methods. When pursuing women, they say to be yourself and polite and always get the door. I recall one night where I met a girl at a bar and we wound up making out against the wall before heading home together. I knew her, but I didn’t know that she had a boyfriend and she told him to stay home. What worked? I was assertive, confident and showed my intention. I dressed well and worked out. Her boyfriend got fat, lazy and played some zombie LARP game. Don’t ask.
Lesson there: Don’t get complacent; live an interesting life. Women are attracted to confidence and men who are going places in their life. Don’t ever say words like: I don’t know, just, what do you want to do, nothing much. Men always have an answer, even when they don’t.
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