Validation of Self, from Self

We are halfway through day two of RootsTech, and you may wonder why I’m choosing to post now, rather than wait until the end of the day, after classes have been attended and the dust from running around the Expo Hall like a crazed super-hero wannabe has settled.

The Key Note this morning was again introduced by the hilarious Jason Hewlett. He was on the team last year too, and quite frankly had me laughing my head off again (especially with his Louis Armstrong impression).


The Key Note itself was given by Brandon Stanton. If you’ve not heard of Brandon I urge you to go now and check out his work, Humans of New York, on Facebook; Twitter (@humansofny); Insta (@humansofny) and his website.  He tells people’s stories through pictures he takes.


During his talk he told us how he was failing college, living at his grans and not really doing anything with his life. He then decided to get back on track; picked up his grades and studied history, becoming an A Grade Student. After he graduated he ended up working in finance, trading on the market. He developed a sense of self from how successful others saw him, by how ‘successful’ he was. He told us how his thoughts about the market became all encompassing and obsessional. He was always worried about losing his job and so the cycle of outward validation increased. Then the market crashed, and his worse fear became a reality, and he lost his job.

This point gave him the chance to re-evaluate his life, where it was going, and what he wanted from it.  Brandon tells us that we use time as a commodity, rather than a resource. We spend time trying to make others happy, doing what we think we should be doing. We use time to gain validation from others. When what we should be doing is using time to do things that make us happy. Use time to do things that give us a better sense of self, to use time to gain self-validation. He wanted to spend time doing something he enjoyed, and at this point, he picked up a camera and Humans of New York was born.

In seven years Humans of New York has gained over 25,000 followers on Facebook and Instagram.

But it started with one picture. 

He had to overcome his fears of failure, his fear of talking to strangers, his fear of others not thinking that his pictures were worth anything.

He also stressed that as a race, we are all equal. The struggles that we face day-to-day in are not restricted by country, regardless of the political situations or the way the news outlets report those situations. People are People regardless and as People, we need to talk more. We shouldn’t be afraid to ask the hard questions of our friends or relatives because we need to Connect more.

We need to Connect with those around us, in the real, not just over social networks.

He finished up by saying that following your dreams is nothing but hard work. You have to work on it daily. You have to put the work in, you have to stick at it. No one else is going to do it for you. You know you’re successful in yourself when you can choose what work you want to do, and what work you don’t.

Given my journey, this hit all sorts of buttons, and even as I’m sat here writing I’m re-evaluating things. I’ve said things to people I was too scared to say, I’m recognising that I’ve done things previously I would be too scared to do, not because they’re ‘scary’ but because I’ve worried about how others’ will view me because of those actions.

Going forward I choose to Self-Validate. I choose to follow my dreams. I choose to be happy. 

So thank you Brandon. (Even if you did make me cry!)



2 thoughts on “Validation of Self, from Self

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