People Are Awesome

by jdroth on 25 March 2011

My name is J.D. Roth. For the past five years, I’ve written a personal-finance blog called Get Rich Slowly. As that site has grown, it’s been fantastic to meet and mingle with readers from around the world. Along the way, I’ve learned something about human nature. Put simply: People are awesome. Sure, we make mistakes. And sure, there’s the occasional jerk who seems to have no redeeming virtues. But, in general, people are amazing.

You wouldn’t know this from listening to the news, though. The mass media is a constant celebration of all that’s wrong with the humanity. I guess that’s because a certain segment of our society is obsessed with the negative; it likes to make fun of people who fail. If you were to judge the human race by the way people are portrayed in movies, TV shows, and on the nightly news, you’d think we’re a bunch of malnourished idiots hell-bent on self-destruction.

I don’t buy it. People are not essentially stupid. They’re not mean or miserable or misguided. I believe that even the folks with whom I disagree are genuinely good, and basically want to live in a world where people get along. What’s more, I think that inside everyone is a little piece of awesome.

As a tonic to the non-stop negativity, I’m starting a site that trumpets the incredible things that people achieve and do. I’m starting a site about awesome people.

“What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals…” — from Hamlet by William Shakespeare

People Are Awesome

When I first conceived of Awesome People last November, I thought it’d primarily be a place to post photos and videos of amazing people doing incredible things. One early inspiration was this five-minute compilation from YouTube:

I still want to feature great videos like this from time-to-time, but over the past few months, my aims for Awesome People have changed. I don’t just want to post quick clips. I also want to:

  • Highlight people in the news, people who are doing awesome things to improve the lives of others. In addition, I want to feature groups that are doing great work — groups like the folks at Charity: Water, Room to Read, and Edge of 7.
  • Tell the stories of famous people — past and present — who have used their lives to change the world: Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, Marie Curie, Muhammad Yunus, Mother Teresa, and others.
  • Share videos like the one above, which show the amazing physical things people are capable of. I don’t want this to be the only thing at Awesome People, but I do want it to be a part of it.
  • Profile average people from around the world who do amazing things. Does your neighbor spend his winters building schools for kids in Zimbabwe? Did the girl next door raise $3000 for earthquake victims in Japan? Do you know a woman who rescued three dogs from a burning house? If you know somebody who’s helping and making a difference, drop me a line. I want to share their story.

That last group of people may be the most important. Because the media is so focused on failure, we tend to miss the daily awesome all around us. But it’s there. We just have to look for it.

Note: The awesome people profiled here won’t be perfect. They’ll have flaws. They’re human, after all. For our purposes, though, we’re going to focus on the good things people do — not their shortcomings. We’ll explore what makes them awesome.

Everyone Is Awesome

One of my favorite writing guides is If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland. Her thesis is:

Everybody is talented, original, and has something important to say.

In other words: Everyone is awesome. I believe this, and I hope to make you believe it during the months and years ahead.

But this isn’t meant to be a sappy lovefest with sloppy wet kisses and hugs all around. Awesome People will be a place to celebrate the amazing things people are capable of doing and achieving. It’s a place to be inspired by the best minds and bodies in the world — and by your neighbor down the street.

At first, Awesome People will feature many stories from other sources. The New York Times, for instance, has a great profile of 91-year-old track star Olga Kotelko, which I intend to summarize soon. And, to start, the stories will be sparse. I may only post once a week. Eventually, however, as I’m able to devote more time to this site, there’ll be more stories — and more stories featuring original content. Eventually, I hope this site will be like an entire encyclopedia of awesome.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kevin M April 15, 2011 at 13:29

Rock on, JD. Love that video.


2 Sarah April 17, 2011 at 08:25

I totally missed you starting this! Love the idea and can’t wait to see more. Thanks for this, it’s so needed.


3 Tamara April 17, 2011 at 19:12

Just found this and it is exactly what I needed today! Thank you! I will be on the look out for awesome people.


4 Amber, Blonde & Balanced April 18, 2011 at 14:47

In a word: AWESOME! So excited, J.D.! I am hoping that, eventually, you’ll accept “Reader Stories” like you do over at GRS. I think you’ll find tons of awesome people through that outlet, too! :D


5 neil May 1, 2011 at 22:41

A very noble effort, Mr Roth… I felt so inspired after reading about Olga Kotelko, that i promised never to cheat on my workout sessions again.Actually this is what people need on their bad days, a little courage, a little inspiration, which enables them to keep their faith in themselves, which tells them not to give up….keep up the good work,i am looking forward to more such inspiring & good posts from you.


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