The worst advice I ever got (and followed)

Everything is coming together now, but this derailed me for a while.

Situation: I’m a journalism student who feels driven to write about biking and people and spirit, rather than city council meetings.

My college advisor: “Lee, you better learn to like covering the Blue Lake city council, because no one wants to read about your mountain biking adventures.”

14 replies
  1. Dean says:

    Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one…

    You’ve shown us that if you follow what is in your heart you will be happy and/or successful.

  2. Patrik says:

    Wow, sounds like someone ended up in the occupation he did not want (the advisor) The one thing I have found in my short work experience is that if you find something you love to do, it will happen. You will do it better than others, you will enjoy life, be happier, be more enjoyable to be around, and therefor more people will want to hire you. It may be a pay cut to do what you want to do, but I would rather enjoy life, and work, get paid a little less, and not feel the need to drown my sorrows and forget my life in alcohol at the end of the week. (Now wanting to drink at the end of the week with friends and having fun just cause is a different story entirely)

    Glad to know that you got out of that slump and followed what you love Lee, makes it better for us all in the biking community!!!

  3. Justin Brown says:

    I hope you have sent your web address and book to your advisor with a big picture of you sticking out your tongue and a caption saying ” nah nah nah nah nah nah”

  4. Jason V says:

    This thread has been an interesting one to follow Lee. Especially, since your site, as well as a few others, were a lot of inspiration when I started doing my site. ( The hard part is finally making that jump from serious hobby/ to full time occupation. I’m still working on creating a business plan/ getting direction for myself, but if everyone else can do it..

    PS. I rode with your buddies Jon Watts & Brandon Sloan at Carlmont a few weeks ago. He dumped it on the trail gap, it looked painful! He stomped the land on his next try though.

  5. leelikesbikes says:

    Wolverine thinks *my old advisor* should make love with the goat. I don’t think he cares who or what Jason does it with.

    BTW, nice site Jason …

  6. Eric says:

    Nice site, Jason. Lee, I think it’s a good thing you did what you believed in. Guys like that old advisor deserve more sympathy than scorn.

  7. Chad says:


    I have to admit your advisor’s comments were a bit harsh but there is two sides to every story. As an educator and mentor I hope he would have encouraged you to follow your dreams but in the end maybe he was just a realist. I’m sure many of your readers and fans would love to work in the cycling industry but there’s just not room for all of us. I would love to ride mtn bikes all summer and ski all winter while getting paid to do it but its not realistic for me or for the majority of others.

    My reality (like many other Americans) is I work to live. I work to afford my 6 bikes and have time off in the summer to ride them. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy what I do but I’d rather be doing something else, like riding.

    In the end, maybe your advisor was trying to prepare you for the reality of most. Luckly, for all of us you rose above “most” and pursued your dreams.

  8. Dean says:

    I think Chad has a great point. Some of us are better equipped to take things to the next level and do what we really want to do. Even less of us are able to make a living from it and be truly happy. I am trying to do both and your experiences and advice are very much appreciated Lee.

  9. jb says:

    In general, the best plan in life is to do it all, and don’t get stuck in one track. Write about the city council if you need to pay the bills, and write your ass off, on the stuff that gets you stoked, at night. I’ve worked plenty of day jobs to fund my fun projects. If the fun projects got big enough to stand on their own and support me, then I followed that path for a few years until I got tired of it or the market couldn’t support it. But the connections you make working on the fun stuff can turn into valuable resources for whatever you end up doing next, and the experience and clips do translate.

    Strangely enough, even things you love can get tedious when they become a job, and sometimes you do need to be uncomfortable to realize what really matters to you. Besides, people change and grow. There was a point in my life where I cared about music more than anything else, and I published a music magazine. Now I’m pretty fixated on bikes. But my experience writing, editing and designing that 5000-print-run music zine that had me living on ramen noodles is responsible, indirectly, for my being an art director at a national magazine, now.

    So really, I think the error was in the way the prof phrased things. Saying “don’t limit yourself to only writing about what you love” would be more appropriate. Ultimately, there are a lot more people interested in reading about mountain biking than the Blue Lake City Council, and there are a number of editors of national bike magazines who are having a lot more fun than the local politics beat writer in Dubuque…

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