ASH AMBIRGE

Author, CEO & Founder

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The 67 Emotions of Unconventional Success: My Story

In: Finding Your Voice

OBLIVIOUS

When tears silently fell from Elizabeth's cheek upon finding the note from her lover, 3 days before their daughter was born that read:  “I'm sorry. I can't do this.”

ASHAMED

When classmates asked where my daddy was. I lied & told them he was Crocodile Dundee, and had to be in Australia to tame the outback.

CONFUSED

When we used different money than everyone else to buy bread & milk.

BITTER

When I was 14 and sat in the hospital waiting room on a sunny June day. When my Uncle Jimmy finally emerged, after what seemed like hours, he handed me a pamphlet. It read, “Helping Your Family Cope with Terminal Cancer.”

NOSTALGIC

When I would hear Puff Daddy's “I'll Be Missing You” come on the radio after he died, just a few short months later, after tearfully asking me to call him “dad” instead of “Jimmy,” like I always had. I got to call him it twice.

MORTIFIED

When it was just me & my mother after that, and all of the other 15 year olds had basements underneath their houses. We had wheels.

FRUSTRATED

When my mother's debilitating anxiety & social disorder prevented her from ever coming to watch me play volleyball more than once in 4 years. We were nearly state champions.

RELIEVED

When the founder of Monster.com thought I was worthy enough to be awarded a 4-year, all-expense paid scholarship to a private, liberal arts school—room & board included. The scholarship was based on financial need & demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit. My mother cried.

GUILTY

When I took the scholarship and left her all alone.

SADDENED

When an unexpected card would arrive with $50 that she didn't have inside, telling me to go buy myself something pretty.

ANNOYED

When, a few years later, I found myself back in that same hospital waiting room. But this time, it was my mother I was waiting for to come out of the doctor's office.

SCARED

When I realized the seriousness of the matter.

PATIENT

When she taught me how to pay all of the bills, as I wrote out check after check from her hospital bedside, as nurses came in and out to take her blood.

LIVID

When the doctor's arrogant insensitivity to her pain one day made her weep.

VENGEFUL

When I let him have a piece of my 20-year-old mind.

FRUSTRATED

When college friends ragged on me for not going out that weekend to party.

RESENTFUL

When I couldn't.

SHOCKED

When I got the phone call while driving to my first day at my internship at a local TV station.

DEVASTATED

When, by the time I got to our trailer in Northeastern Pennsylvania, the coroner had taken my mother's body & simply left a note on the door.

BITTERSWEET

When, 4 months later, I walked across the graduation stage & got my college degree, not even bothering to look out into the crowd for a familiar face.

INDIFFERENT

When I hastily auctioned off all of our things.

LOST

When I sold our trailer for $13,000 at market price.

DISTRAUGHT

When I moved to Philadelphia and knew no one.

HOPEFUL

When I landed my first job in marketing.

WORRIED

When I didn't have anywhere to go that Christmas.

GRATEFUL

When I was so good at my job, I received a promotion to head up regional marketing efforts. And then another promotion. And then another.

DISHEARTENED

When I'd see planes pass by my office window, and longed to be the kind of person who did things—who went places.

DISAPPOINTED

When I realized that sitting at this desk, serving to make big companies even more money, was my entire purpose in life. I didn't want to waste my life like my parents did, always waiting until tomorrow to be happy—because tomorrow, you're dead.

DISILLUSIONED

When I discovered that my dreams of becoming a corporate CEO weren't my dreams anymore.

DESPAIRED

When friends told me to suck it up, and that work was simply that: Work.

LONELY

When I felt like no one understood me.

ARROGANT

When I quit my job & decided to start my first business, instead. I was going to do what I had been putting off for years: I was going to write.

FOOLISH

When I made some hasty financial decisions.

EXCITED

When that same year, I got a contract to write my first eBook.

SMART

When I developed my own site to sell the book there, too.

DETERMINED

When I laboriously tried to learn HTML.

ELATED

When I saw my very first sale come through Clickbank.

INTRIGUED

When I discovered the world of Google Adwords.

ADDICTED

When I took my love of marketing and applied it in new ways.

CONFIDENT

When I painstakingly slaved over a book proposal to write a non-fiction narrative titled, “The Truth About Mangoes.” (Let's not talk about what a horrible title that was.)

TORN

When I repeatedly received the infamous rejection letter (after rejection letter after rejection letter after rejection letter).

DESPERATE

When the waterfall of poor and hasty financial decisions finally caught up to me.

HOPELESS

When I caved & took a job in advertising in order to pay the bills.

ENCOURAGED

When I got contract after contract signed on the spot.

UNCERTAIN

When, in my heart, I knew I needed more than signatures & commissions.

PETRIFIED

When, despite that knowledge, I was too scared to make any bold moves, knowing that I had no one in the world to back me up if I failed.

INCENSED

When I stood by and watched that fear get the best of me…for years.

OPTIMISTIC

When I enrolled in graduate school for my master's degree in Linguistics.

ANXIOUS

When I imagined that my degree would be The Answer™.

IRRITATED

When loan applications were denied without a co-signer.

STUBBORN

When I decided that I would tutor writing to make up for it.

HEARTBROKEN

When my best friend told me I needed to find a new place to live so her boyfriend could move in.

DEFEATED

When I had no choice but to go stay with a mysterious new guy I had been seeing.

DESTROYED

When, a few weeks later, I ended up sobbing in the middle of the night in a Kmart parking lot.

HOPELESS

When I had nowhere to go.

ANGUISHED

When I looked in the mirror and saw the cranberry-colored fingerprints around my neck.

OBSTINATE

When I sat there in the middle of the night, determined not to be a victim.

DILIGENT

When I realized that I might not have had anything left, but the one thing I did have? Were my ideas.

COURAGEOUS

When I published an announcement on the Internet to write a book I had not yet written.

VALIDATED

When I heard the first sale.

AMAZED

When reader after reader voted with their wallets.

EXHILARATED

When I realized that my writing could save my life—literally.

DEDICATED

When I continued to publish.

INSPIRED

When more and more readers came to say hello.

PEACEFUL

When my influence online grew.

INVIGORATED

When I discovered that you can make red, hot money from your art, using this thing called the Internet.

HAPPY

When, nearly ten years later, I look around to find a whole different reality: One that I created by hand for myself. I’ve built a million dollar brand around giving the middle finger, which is hilarious and unexpected in its own right. I’m fortunate (and sort of freaked out) to be able to command $103,000 in a single afternoon. (I know, mom, I know: I’M SAVING FOR RETIREMENT.) I have a beautiful home in Costa Rica (read: fewer cockroaches than the neighbors), go back to Philadelphia often, and spend several months a year traveling around the world to places like Argentina and Italy; Ecuador & England—which sounds far more pretentious on the page than, perhaps, if we had this discussion while binge drinking wine. I work remotely from my Macbook, spend wide-open mornings writing words & sipping coffee, take leisurely two hour walks at sunset, and splash around in irritatingly clear turquoise water almost daily (which means I spend an inordinate amount of time sucking in my gut and trying not to look like a city slicker asshole). To add to the list of things-that-make-me-annoying, I have a wonderful woman who helps me take care of my home, send for an in-house massage every week (my greatest guilty pleasure), and relish the finest glass of red wine I can find in the evenings with my feet dangling in a pool overlooking the Pacific Ocean. (Okay, fine, it’s the neighbor’s pool.) When I’m not cringing from the sun or stringing words together in meaningful ways, I’m regularly approached by TV producers, business owners, podcasters and hundreds of bloggers who, seemingly, all want to know one thing:

How did you go from sleeping in a Kmart parking lot with $26 dollars to your name, to creating a business and a life like this? (By which I’m fairly certain they mean the cockroaches.)

To which I respond:

For everyone out there thinking to yourself that it's unrealistic, YOU ARE WRONG.

For everyone out there shackled by fear, telling yourself that you could lose everything, YOU ARE RIGHT.

And for everyone out there that, despite that knowledge, is still willing to risk it by fighting for something more out of this fleeting speck of time we're granted here on earth, YOU ARE THE ONLY ONES WHO WILL TRULY SUCCEED.

Because at the very least, you know that you did everything you could.

And you know what?

Not everybody can say the same.

Dec 12

2017

To The People Who Keep Asking Me When I’m Having a Baby

Dec 12, 2017

“When are you having a baby?” “You’d be a great mom.” “You’ll regret it later if you don’t.” “You HAVE to have kids!” …and I used to think people were pushy about making me try seafood. Though the decision not to have children actually reminds me of that: people are really convinced you’re making a […]

In: Finding Your Voice

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Jan 25

2018

Right Now, Someone Out There is Admiring You, Greatly.

Jan 25, 2018

They might not have said it. In fact, they probably kept it to themselves—“don’t want to seem like a creepy ass stalker.” But no matter who you are, you have changed things for someone. You have made them rethink their career. Rethink their stance. Rethink their makeup. (Because, hey, Urban Decay is a religion.) You […]

In: Finding Your Voice

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May 27

2014

Do You Have Chickenshititis?

May 27, 2014

I have a friend named Melissa. (Yes, I have friends.) Melissa doesn’t have a job. She spent her twenties and thirties working for other people as a professional headhunter–(am I obligated to make a Headless Horseman joke here?)–before finally going back to school to pursue an advanced certification in Human Resources. And then she waited. And she […]

In: Finding Your Voice

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Jun 28

2010

Do You Have The Guts?

Jun 28, 2010

I can vividly recall the first time I wrote a resume. I typed away on our clunky, jumbo HP desktop, silently muttering words that shouldn’t appear in any resume each time autoformat would sneakily attempt to take over my painstakingly-created bulleted list of achievements. To this day, autoformat and I remain sworn enemies–and with reason, […]

In: Finding Your Voice

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Jun 8

2017

A Tiger Doesn’t Ask Permission of the Gazelles to Sprint

Jun 8, 2017

Stop giving a shit about the stats. So you don’t have any subscribers? Who cares—you don’t need subscribers to put your best work out into the world. You don’t even need a website. Just start. Surprise—I’ve had a few thousand people unsubscribe since I started doing daily emails. Guess what? I’m doing it, anyway, full […]

In: Finding Your Voice

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Apr 18

2017

Growth Requires Muscle Tears

Apr 18, 2017

Yesterday I talked about change—and it’s no coincidence. I’m making some big changes myself, given that a lot of things are coming to an end, right now. Because iteration is what we’re all doing, every single day, even if it blows by us going 100mph down the freeway. (In a red Ferrari, smoking a cigar, […]

In: Finding Your Voice

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Mar 8

2019

The Surprising Reason Why I Decided to Buy My Own (GASP!) Apartment—As an Independent Woman With Her Own Money and Her Own Mind

Mar 8, 2019

“WINNER, WINNER! OFFER ACCEPTED!!!” That’s what the subject line read as I cozied up with a glass of red wine, last night, nervously awaiting the news. And when the email came through? I almost choked. “Omg, I have tears in my eyes!” I wrote in response. (Along with a shit ton of other capital letters […]

In: Finding Your Voice

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Jun 15

2017

Having FUN Doesn’t Make You an Unprofessional Schmuck

Jun 15, 2017

Fun is underrated. We spend so much of our lives trying to get taken seriously, that fun becomes something we think of as shameful, dirty; something to be minimized in a professional setting. Giggles are juvenile; jokes are adolescent; anything more than a poker face threatens your status as “a respectable professional.” But that’s only […]

In: Finding Your Voice

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I'm a Bad Influence on Women

Hey, I’m Ash! Twenty years ago I was a small town girl growing up in a trailer park in rural Pennsylvania. Fifteen years ago, I lost my family and everything I knew right as I became the first to graduate college. Fourteen years ago, I found myself leaving everything behind for a new life in the city where I could be “normal.” Ten years ago I realized normal was the most disappointing thing that ever happened to me. Nine years ago I quit my job in advertising and pursued my dreams as a creative writer. Eight years ago, I built a 6-figure business doing what I love using nothing more than the Internet and my voice. And now, today, I’m the founder of The Middle Finger Project, an irreverent media co. that helps other women find their voice and teaches them to use it to build whatever the f*ck they want to. With a book coming out with Penguin Random House in February 2020 (YASSS, WE’RE A PRODUCT IN TARGET!) I’m proud to be a bad influence on women and guide them into doing something disobediently brave with their life and their career.

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But no serial killers. I promise I won’t send those.

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