ASH AMBIRGE

Author, CEO & Founder

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Fuck Plan B. You’re on the A Team.

In: Finding Your Voice

His name is Oskar. He's Rastafarian.

I met him when I first came to Costa Rica in 2004 and watched him trying to sell his paintings day after day on the beach, sweating, struggling to speak English to the tourists who passed by, working from dusk until the wee hours of the night to make ends meet, some days going without any food in his stomach because he needed the little money he did have to buy more paint.

“I don't paint to make money,” he would tell me, as I sat with him watching the sun set. “I paint because I believe in art, and I believe that people need art. Therefore, I have an obligation to the universe to make it.”

Talk about noble.

Fast forward eight years, to five minutes earlier than writing this. I've just run into Oskar on the street, around the corner from my new apartment.

“Hola amiga!” he enthusiastically yelled to me, his dreads up high in a twisted pony tail. “It's been so long!”

We exchanged joyous cheek kisses, and when I asked whether he was still painting, a big smile spread across his sun-kissed face. Without saying another word, he pointed across the street and said, “Venga.” Come.

I walked through the doorway to be suddenly greeted by big, bold, splashy abstract paintings of all shapes and sizes, on easels, on display walls, stacked next to one another…and instantly felt a rush of tears hit my eyes.

Oskar had his very own art gallery.

Not only did he have his very own art gallery–not a single piece had a price tag of less than $1500. And they were selling. In fact, as I was arriving, one woman from New  York was leaving with an oversized abstract piece of art that she purchased for $6,000. That's six thousand U.S. dollars.

As it seemed, Oskar had come a long way from his days of selling $20 paintings on the beach.

I cannot begin to express the flood of happiness I've just experienced. I'm so utterly proud of him. I saw how he started. I watched him struggle daily. I saw the fear in his eyes. I saw the flash of disappointment as tourists would walk away empty-handed, day after day. But I also saw the quiet determination. The unwavering dedication. The pure passion. The understanding that this was what he was meant to be doing.

And guess what?

He motherfucking did it.

So what I want to say is this.

If a young Rastafarian from Central America, with barely a high school education, with zero access to financial support (i.e. loans), who doesn't even speak the same language as his customers…can build a thriving business by doing what he loves?

What the hell is your excuse?

What's any of our excuses?

It seems to me that, in this day and age, we really can have anything we want. All the options are on the table. But on that same token, maybe having all the options in the world isn't as ideal as we like to believe.

Now, whenever things get too rough, or too complicated, we take the easy way out–we go with Plan B. Because there's always that option.

But what if you didn't have another option? What if success were the only way out? What if, like Oskar, you had complete faith that the world needed your talents? Would you make it work then? Might you be farther along the path to success if you had continually believed in yourself and your work, like Oskar always believed in his?

Might you be selling your paintings for $6,000?

And might you be proud knowing it was all worth it?

Dec 18

2017

25 Things I Stopped Doing This Year (Because, Money, Sex and Sanity, Ya’ll)

Dec 18, 2017

Responding to non-essential text messages during work hours. I love my friends, but let’s be honest: this is the digital equivalent of twenty people popping in to your house unannounced all. day. long. We don’t need another productivity hack: we need to turn off the damn phone. It’s physically, mentally and emotionally impossible to get […]

In: Finding Your Voice

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Nov 22

2017

There’s No Such Thing As An Idea That *Isn’t* Offensive

Nov 22, 2017

You know what I’m grateful for? Fucking. NOT LIKE THAT, SICKO. Although, I mean, I guess…wait. Let me start again. I like the word fucking because it’s representative of something so much bigger than that, which is the real thing I’m grateful for: freedom of expression. Remember that cute little First Amendment? It says that the […]

In: Finding Your Voice

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Oct 8

2015

Look, We’ve All Got Our Faults. *Stomps Cigar*

Oct 8, 2015

Look, we’ve all got our faults. I, for one, have a wrinkly ass neck. I don’t know how it happened. I don’t know when it happened. But all the sudden there are lines as deep as the Panama Canal cutting across my trachea. Fortunately, all the resveratrol I’ve consumed over the years seems to have […]

In: Finding Your Voice

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Dec 3

2010

The 67 Emotions of Unconventional Success: My Story

Dec 3, 2010

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 […]

In: Finding Your Voice

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Dec 31

2010

Resolutions Are For Chumps. I Choose Revolution.

Dec 31, 2010

All the things you think you need this year, you don’t. You do not need more determination.  You do not need more discipline.  And you certainly do not need more diligence. Are you kidding me? You are a Westerner–you’ve got plenty of that.  Why else have you gotten up every single day and begrudgingly gone […]

In: Finding Your Voice

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Sep 1

2017

The World’s Funniest Fucking Soaps, Uh, Ever

Sep 1, 2017

You should know that I have officially discovered THE BEST THING THAT’S EVER BEEN MADE (after Cards Against Humanity, of course) and I had to share with you because I don’t keep anything from you (except for that one thing) and because we could all use some inspiration and also because CAN WE JUST LIGHTEN […]

In: Finding Your Voice

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Jun 2

2015

When You’re Scrappy, You Don’t Give a Sh*t

Jun 2, 2015

I like the term scrappy. I’ve always pictured some femme fatale bobbing and weaving and diving and contorting herself into any number of ways to get the one and only job done that she’s there to do: Win. It reminds me of my favorite Will Smith quote (oh, you don’t have a favorite Will Smith quote?) “The […]

In: Finding Your Voice

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Sep 30

2010

Defiance or Defeat? You Pick.

Sep 30, 2010

Sometimes, the shit hits the fan. Sometimes, you find yourself living out of your car, storing all of your toiletries in an oversize red purse, lodging sweatshirts in between head rests and sunroof panels to block the windows so you can sleep, explaining to unsympathetic credit card companies that you can’t pay your $41 minimum […]

In: Finding Your Voice

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Oct 21

2010

The Greatest Form of Suffering of All: Inaction

Oct 21, 2010

Once upon a time, I was feeling stuck. If my suspicions are correct, many of you reading this might feel the same way right now. You can’t get motivated. You aren’t excited about anything. You’re tired all of the time. Lifeless. Indifferent. Apathetic. You’ve stopped caring—about yourself, about your goals, about the things you used […]

In: Finding Your Voice

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Aug 25

2017

The Competition Doesn’t Have Sh*t On You

Aug 25, 2017

There’s never been a person who went to school for accounting and said: BUT WAIT, I CAN’T BECOME AN ACCOUNTANT BECAUSE OTHER PEOPLE ARE ALREADY DOINGGGGG THATTTTTTTTTTT. There are plenty of people out there doing exactly what you want to do—times eleventy thousand. “But there are already so many writers / designers / candlestick makers” […]

In: Finding Your Voice

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