Jake Ducey will be the first to tell you that he’s anything but conventional. The 23-year-old author of Into the Wind and The Purpose Principles didn’t take what many would consider the traditional path after high school.
As a student-athlete at California Lutheran University, Jake was going through the motions and found that he was struggling to find meaning in everything that he was doing. When he realized that his college life style of playing basketball, partying, and studying business was taking a toll on his happiness, he decided to leave school.
Upon leaving behind his college life, Jake embarked on a 6-month journey that took him to places like Guatemala, Australia, Thailand, and more. During this time, he found his calling of motivating millennials just like him. Today, he works to help young people find meaning in their lives.
We interviewed Jake to learn more about his story, his journey and how he went from college dropout to a published author with a passion.
Your path from college student to published author was a little untraditional. Tell us about that experience?
As a 19-year-old, I realized most of us are just gambling on the biggest risk of all; the bet that we can buy the freedom to do what we want later in life after we’ve made some money and did what our parents wanted from us.
I was studying business and going to college, and I realized I wasn’t happy at all. I realized that the only reason I was studying business and partying 4 nights a week was because everyone else was. So I left [college] and went backpacking around the world. [During my journey] I realized that everything I was looking for was within me. I came back and wrote my first book, Into the Wind, about my journey, but I couldn’t get a publisher.
I had to self-publish. I filled my car with books and sold them everywhere. Eventually the book picked up steam and was a top seller on the Amazon bestsellers list. Penguin/Random-House heard about me after I did this TEDx Talk and they offered me a publishing deal for my book, The Purpose Principles.
I never thought I could write, and failed English class in high school. Then I remembered what F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “You don’t write to say something. You write because you have something to say.”
My journey wasn’t really “A to B,” more like A to Z and then back again. Lots of failure and rejection, but I remembered that it’s not how skilled or smart you are, it’s about how bad you want something, and I never stopped.
Tell us about your new book, The Purpose Principles.
Gallup came out with a poll that reported how more than 70% of American’s don’t like their jobs. In fact, 2 million American’s quit their jobs every month because they hate them. Somehow most of us believe we can’t create the life and career of our dreams—that only certain special people can.
The Purpose Principles is about showing people how to create a life and career you love. It shares the stories of failure, success, and the common threads between some of today’s biggest achievers and difference-makers so we can see that we’re as capable as our heroes.
When you see that all of the people our culture idolizes, the people you admire, are just ordinary people who were full of doubt and fear, but they kept on dreaming and risking, then it gives you the courage to see you can make a difference and create a great life.
How did being an athlete influence who you are today?
In sports, the person with the most talent doesn’t always win. Talent often fails you if you don’t work hard, hustle, dive for the ball, and stay positive. As one of the top basketball recruits in San Diego out of high school, there were a lot of guys that could jump higher than me, but I just worked and hustled harder.
That philosophy is what I use for writing. Lots of people use prettier, more sophisticated words than me, I am not always grammatically correct, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you work hard, your heart is in it, and you’re doing it for all the right reasons.
What advice would you give to young people that may not want to take the traditional route?
Only you know [what’s] best for yourself—not your mom, dad, or friends. You know in your heart what your dream life is.
Write your goals down, make it happen. Remember that fear can create or destroy you. Just feel that fear and do it anyways. Ask yourself: “What would have to happen one year from now for you to look back and say it was the best year of your life?”
At the end of the day you have to live with yourself, so it’s best to just follow your heart and not settle. Who cares if you make a bit less money if you’re way happier?