ASH AMBIRGE

Author, CEO & Founder

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Success Is Where the Heart Is

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired

He sat in the far corner of the room–no clip board, no notepad, no smile.

I couldn't make out his face–the room was dark and the curtains were drawn.

I waited for Al Pacino to bust down the door, cigar in hand.

I was seated near the door, at a table, with a woman named Carol opposite me. I was to address Carol–not the man in the corner–and, most importantly, stay focused.

I trembled as I pulled a box out of the garbage bag. It was a brown cardboard hexagon-shaped box. One I had bought at a craft store two weeks prior. One I had labored over. Sweat over. And one that I hoped would change everything.

“This,” I started, pointing at a scanned, shrunken newspaper article that I had pasted to one side, “was the stone wall I built for my friend Jill.”

Carol's face remained indifferent.

“She passed away when we were in middle school.”

I slowly rotated the box. “And this, over here, is when I led our volleyball team to a district championship as Captain.”

“I bet your mother was very proud,” Carol interjected.

“My mother never saw me play volleyball.”

I quickly glanced away and continued on with my carefully planned monologue, pulling a second box from inside the bigger one. Another hexagon.

With each turn of the box, I listed yet another arbitrary achievement–Honor Society President, Student Council Secretary, Yearbook Staff–before pulling out an even smaller hexagon box and rattling off more of the same. I had spent hours scanning, shrinking, and painstakingly pasting evidence to my hexagon boxes.

“And this,” I said, “is a copy of the eulogy I gave, as I led my father's memorial service,” before rotating the box to show another side. “And this is the estate sale I held thereafter.”

“How old were you?”

“Fourteen.”

She made a note. The man in the corner did not make any notes.

It was then, however, that I pulled the remaining box from the stack–the smallest, and seemingly least important. I paused, placing the tiny box on the table, and mustered the courage to look her in the eye to say the one thing I had really come to say.

I took a deep breath.

“But none of any of that matters,” I began. “Not the awards. Not the recognition. Not the hardship. And nothing I've just gotten done telling you about.”

I had her attention.

“Because if you would do me the honor of opening the last box, you'll see why.”

I slid the box toward her. She lifted the lid.

Inside was a plush red something, tucked neatly inside.

“What makes me a future entrepreneur,” I said, “is that, right there.”

She pulled it out of the box.

“HEART.”

It was then that, despite the shadows, I noticed a small smile spread across the founder of Monster.com's face. Andy McKelvey then stood up, walked over to me and shook my hand.

One week later, I had won a fully paid scholarship to a private university, including room and board and a brand new laptop, worth over $120,000.

I accepted the award on stage, and watched as the other winners' families surrounded them with flowers, proud faces and dinner reservations at fancy restaurants.

I silently snuck out the side door.

Everything was going to be alright.

It wasn't until many years later that I was convinced that what I had said in that interview room at Penn State University wasn't just a well-executed line to win a scholarship.

It was the truth.

And throughout the years would I come to discover just how true it actually was.

Because as it turns out, no matter who you are, what your circumstances are, or how little you're starting with…

…heart will always, always, always be your number one asset.

And sometimes, all we need to do?

…is remember to access it. 

Jul 20

2012

Stay Foolish. Stay Wise. Have CONFIDENCE.

Rules–particularly the dogmatic variety–are most useful for those who aren’t confident enough to make their own damn decisions.   For the rest of us, there’s vodka–so we can cope with the decisions we were foolishly wise enough to make.   So help us, Grey Goose.   Amen. -Excerpt from my forthcoming book, The Middle Finger […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired

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Jan 30

2013

The Numbers Don’t Mean Jack.

Hi.  It’s me, Ash. Was that obvious? I’m sorry to pardon your regular programming, but today we’re going to talk numbers. I hate numbers–you can go square root your mom. But sometimes, you’ve got to look at ’em. You know…like when it’s tax season. As you may remember, in 2011 I publicly showed the world how to make […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired

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May 4

2010

Shattering the Current Model of Reality

Most of you reading this website are here because you want more. Tried and true may be comfortable, but boring.  The traditional life path may be safe, but uninspiring.  The status quo is average, but nothing extraordinary. You know there’s something missing, but you can’t pinpoint what, exactly, it is. We’ve essentially been told for […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired

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Oct 23

2012

How to Be a Human.

I sat in a plaza yesterday, behind La Moneda–Chile’s version of The White House. Diagonal paths come from all directions and meet up in the center, before darting off in opposite directions. People walk gruffly, generally ignoring one another–cell phones, busy faces, stern looks, fast paces. And just like in plazas everyday across the world… […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired

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Nov 22

2012

Lust, Turkey Gizzards + A Ladylike Toast

I blame my bleak and very unpromising cooking skills on Thanksgiving, you know. You’d think I would have gotten better from helping my mom prepare such a yearly feast for me, her and my dad. (Mashed potatoes were my sworn duty. Probably because they’re mashed, requiring heavy amounts of manual mashing child labor. Not to […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired

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Nov 28

2012

Marilyn Monroe Wouldn’t Give a Damn.

Remember earlier this year… …when I sauntered over to Ecuador and had a twelve year old pierce my nose, as well as agreed to having a random Ecuadorian man sit on top of me on the beach to doodle all over my back with a mysterious black, sticky ink? Maybe we didn’t know each other […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired

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