Live Your Legend | How An Average Person Becomes Famous: The Path from Ordinary to Extraordinary (in 2 sacred steps)
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How An Average Person Becomes Famous: The Path from Ordinary to Extraordinary (in 2 sacred steps)

How An Average Person Becomes Famous: The Path from Ordinary to Extraordinary (in 2 sacred steps)

taylor swift becoming famous

“If you’re lucky enough to be different, don’t ever change.”

~Taylor Swift

Today I want to challenge you to be different.

Not necessarily better. Just different.

To stand out in a way no one has.

I challenge you to do something that causes people to say: “What the */$# are you talking about?!”

The path to this type of recognition (and even fame), be it business, social or whatever, is not as complicated as you think. 

So why is it that some people seem to crush it while so many others flail around in mediocrity?

Somehow the lucky few become overnight-famous, while the rest spin their tires.

*Side note: by now I hope you know that nothing meaningful happens overnight – we seem to like to think it does for others, but it’s really all in our head.

I’ve made a study of the ordinary vs. extraordinary since as long as I can remember. And spending time with all kinds of relatively well-known Living Legends, exposed some interesting results.

And I have good news.

Standing out is pretty damn simple (so is becoming somewhat famous…)

Now let’s not confuse ‘simple’ with ‘easy’, especially in this case.

The process is simple. But getting the results is by no means easy – it takes massive work (or else the whole world would be doing it).

The problem is most of us focus our attention on the wrong things. We get so caught up in being different, that we try to mimic how other successful folks have stood out. As a result, they’re still different, and you’re just another follower.

Not good.

Those who genuinely stand out, have two things in common:

1. They want it badly enough

People talk about wanting to write and blog professionally all the time. I get emails non-stop. They see a guy like Leo Babauta of ZenHabits and want to create what he’s created (or a slightly smaller version).

The problem is most aren’t seeing the whole picture (or refuse to accept it). Leo used to be a full-time Journalist in Guam. He also had a family of 8 to support. He had every excuse why he didn’t have the time to pursue a side project (let alone create one of the biggest single author blogs in the world). But you know what he did instead? He wrote articles during every spare second he had – lunch breaks, early mornings, nights and weekends. He wrote 10-20 articles a week. Did you hear that??

For him, there was nothing he wanted more than to have his own business and have his freedom and time to spend with his wife and kids.

How many of you are willing to write 10-20 articles a week on top of a full-time job and more than full-time family? That’s what I thought.

You get what you put in.

If you don’t want something bad enough then stop trying. It’s a waste of time. But once you come across a cause or goal that truly matters to you, anything’s possible.

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”

~Friedrich Nietzsche

2. They’re willing to compete on a totally different playing field –

Or maybe they plow their own field altogether…

A few years ago Chris Guillebeau could have started yet another personal development blog about living the location independent life, yada, yada, yada.

Instead, he decided to coin the term The Art of Non Conformity and build his business and movement around the seemingly ridiculous quest of visiting every country in the world.

Who does that?

A million people blog about world travel. But I only know of exactly one who blogs about visiting every country on the planet.

Sure it’s a massive, crazy goal, but life’s a lot more fun going after those anyway. As of today, I think he only has like 20 or 30 left to visit…

You have to stop competing on the same level as everyone else. 

huge goals

Huge goals have a lot less competition than you think.

The good news (at leaset for you and me) is most people aren’t willing to do either of the above. They pass on #1 because they don’t have the motivation (or simply don’t give a sh*t), and they pass on #2 either because they’re too afraid or don’t think they’re creative enough.

Instead, the great majority of the world settles for average goals.

The irony of it is that while most people around you are trying to compete against the rest of the world for some less-than riveting accomplishment, it leaves the playing field wide open when it comes to the huge audacious endeavors. Everyone’s so busy trying to stumble up the anthill in their backyard, that they leave the mountain free and clear to summit.

It’s a crazy fact of life, but there is simply less competition at the top than there is in the middle.

I’d say it’s about time to start climbing mountains.

This and Chris’s example above is more popularly known as ‘the superstar effect’. And as it turns out, this concept is behind a great majority of success stories. It has a ton to do with why Chris Guillebeau, Leo Babauta and Tim Ferriss are now household names. It’s also why Chris was able to convince a PhD program to accept him without hardly any of the prerequisites.

Simply put, these people figured out how to stand out. Not by being better, but by being wildly different.

Normal people do Crazy things all the time.

A few years ago, an overweight pack-a-day smoker decided it was time to step up his game. So he started running. Then he started to run some more. Then he started to compete. But instead of entering marathons, which had tens of thousands of competitors, he decided to run ultra’s. The 100-mile type. Then he started to win some of them. Next, he decided to run across the Sahara Desert. After 111 days, he checked that one off too.

His next inspiration was to start the youth charity impossible2Possible. Now Ray Zahab and his team host epic educational and physical adventures all over the world to teach kids that they’re capable of so much more than most the world tells them. Just recently Ray took off on his latest trek of running from one side of South America to the other. The kids are joining him for various parts – sometimes 70-100km of running a day.

Who would ever think to even try this, especially with kids?

His story and mission had everything to do with why I chose impossible2Possible as the official Live Your Legend partner charity over the thousands of others out there.

Being different matters.

Or why not ride 6,445 km across Africa for a good cause? 

In a few weeks, a good friend of mine (and fellow member of the Young Entrepreneur’s Council), Natalie Sisson, is taking off on her own extraordinary quest called Tour d’Afrique. On March 12th she’s going to start biking 6,445 km from Nairobi, Kenya to Cape Town, South Africa in just 2 months. She’s been training for the better part of a year.

Her main purpose for stomaching two months of African sun, while riding nearly 100 km every day for 60 days, is to support another very worthy cause: Women Win, a charity aimed at giving girls and women more rights and confidence through sports.

Her goal is to raise $10,000 for Woman Win in the next few weeks. I am a proud contributor, and I hope you’ll consider doing the same. Natalie describes these quests as Human Powered Awesome. Whether you call it being a superstar, being different or simply standing out – it all helps the world in a massive way. But it only happens when you decide to play the game on an entirely new level.

If you’re up for it, you can use this link to make a donation to help Natalie. She’s broken the donation amounts into different categories to show what each size donation will do for the cause – all the way down to a few dollars. Pretty fun to see how far a little can go.

Hat’s off to what you’re doing Natalie – I wish I could join you for part of the journey!

Normal people do crazy things all the time. You just have to pay attention.

Start doing things that make people say ‘what the */$# are you talking about?!’

The great majority of things people dismiss as too hard or impossible, could be accomplished with the right motivation (i.e. if they wanted them badly enough).

So in case you haven’t noticed yet, here’s a simple rule of thumb: If it sounds crazy, and people think you’re ridiculous for attempting it, that’s generally a sign that it’s worth your time. You’ll also likely have a ton less competition.

That’s the same reason my buddies and I pick off a few wild physical adventures each year. So far that’s meant running an ultra-marathon and an untrained ‘accidental marathon’, as well as swimming from Alcatraz with a group of twelve-year-olds. And this year it means entering a Goruck Challenge and perhaps running a 50 mi. foot race.

Why not swing big? Especially when most people are too scared to pick up the bat…

There’s really only one way to be memorable.

No One Was Born Extraordinary

I don’t care what family you were born into, what privledges you had, how much you were given or what talents you started with.

No one, and I mean no one, is born extraordianary.

We all start out average. But by definition, not all of us stay that way.

The difference between the average and the extraordinary comes down to one thing…

The path one decides to take.

You are not born trying to change the world. That’s a decision you have to consciously make.

Find something that truly matters to you.

Then start doing it.

You’re in more control than you think.

On Being the Change…

As some of you know, my wife’s a (very talented :)) yoga teacher, and she recently introduced me to a song that sums this article up pretty well. I now listen to it daily.

It’s about a totally ordinary man who one day decided he wanted to do something big. Over the years he ended up leading one of the biggest revolutions in history. And he did it without harming anyone.

The title of the song is “Be the Change“.

The man was Mahatma Ghandi.

I think my favorite line is “Follow your heart and act real bold. Next time it’ll be your story that’s told.”

Take 4 minutes to listen to it below. Then think about what your story’s going to be.

How do you want to be remembered?

Don’t forget to check back in on Natalie’s story for some more inspiration.

**If you can’t see the video or are reading this in email, click here to watch the video on Live Your Legend

 

61 Comments
  • Ryan Ferrier
    Posted at 19:29h, 21 February Reply

    Thanks for this scott. Really enjoyed the part about nothing great happening overnight. Awesome reminder for me that greatness happens one step at a time. You’ve got me thinking of more audacious things to go after.

    • Scott
      Posted at 21:50h, 21 February Reply

      Love it! So what kind of big things do you have in mind?? We’d love to hear them!

      Remember, as long as they are big and audacious for you, that’s all that matters. Some people get all caught up in what others have done – I was hesitant to give Ray and Natalie’s examples above just for that reason.

      All that matters is that it’s epic for you. Find that and then go out and do it!

      • Ryan Ferrier
        Posted at 19:09h, 23 February Reply

        For now, I’ve started writing a blog post every day- though I don’t publish one every day. Might not sound that audacious but for me as a beginner it’s a big deal.

        • Scott
          Posted at 22:18h, 23 February Reply

          Sounds big enough for me – that type of writing can really add up!

    • Heather
      Posted at 15:05h, 20 July Reply

      So what audacious things have you done and thought about/ planned to do with your life since posting this comment?

      How is your blog going and grown?

  • Tamera
    Posted at 19:58h, 21 February Reply

    Thanks for the inspiration. I’ve been meaning to drop you a note. I bought your “Live Off Your Passion” course and thought it was fabulous. I’ve been so busy preparing for my next, big, passionate, adventure that I haven’t been able to work with a lot of the ideas and materials. I’m preparing to hike the Appalachian Trail, starting in March, and raising money for my local homeless shelter at the same time. It’s insights that I gain from sites like yours that free me to be able to do this hike. Thanks a bunch

    • Scott
      Posted at 21:52h, 21 February Reply

      Wow Tamera. Thanks for that. Totally made my night. I love hearing the experiences from the Live Off Your Passion folks. Thanks for taking the time to dig into the course. I’m actually working on the 2.0 version as we speak! More on that soon…

      Enjoy your trip! That hike is high on my list!

  • Nyaga
    Posted at 00:38h, 22 February Reply

    Hi Scott,
    Just an little nitpick.Natalie is actually riding from Nairobi, Kenya to Cape Town, South Africa not Nairobi to Kenya.

    Nyaga
    Nairobi, Kenya

    • Scott
      Posted at 09:47h, 23 February Reply

      Oh thanks for the correction. Really sorry to have messed that one up. A bit of a difference there!

  • Jullien Gordon
    Posted at 05:21h, 22 February Reply

    Great post Scott! I think that in order to play on a new level, you have to redefine the metrics of success. Moneyball is a great example. They identified on-base percentage and slugging percentage as the key factors to success and that allowed a small market team to win against teams with three times the payroll. Thanks for the shot out.

    • Scott
      Posted at 09:51h, 23 February Reply

      That’s the perfect example! Chelsea and I just watched that last week. Awesome story- and right in my backyard. The Moneyball concept is a very powerful approach to investing in the public stock market too. The stuff is so universal.

      Sorry I can’t attend your event on March 11th. I know it’s going to blow minds.

      Hope some of the NY Live Your Legend readers join you!

  • M. Tohami
    Posted at 05:40h, 22 February Reply

    Thanks for reminding us that it’s only craziness that leads to greatness.

    • Scott
      Posted at 09:52h, 23 February Reply

      Haha. May we all lead with craziness!

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  • Jared
    Posted at 07:12h, 22 February Reply

    Great post. Thanks.

    Nice to know the look I get from people… a small cock of the head and a look of confusion means something.

    Many times doing amazing things physically reminds us what we’re capable of emotionally. It sort of worked the other way for me. I overcame some emotional “stuff” and realized just living today was gravy!

    I also started doing some things I’d always dreamed of. SCUBA diving, 1/2 marathon, sprint triathlons. Life is grand. Great causes you’re supporting also. I look forward to following i2p.

    • Scott
      Posted at 09:53h, 23 February Reply

      That’s what I’m talking about Jared!

      I’m actually working on an article on that very topic right now: Fitness is at the base of most all huge accomplishments and human confidence. I really believe that!

  • Paul
    Posted at 07:12h, 22 February Reply

    Totally true, we have to be different to be successful. For sure there are successful models we can inspire to and the real talent is adding your personality and unique mission which has value to others. It does take time to develop a concept which can match these, however, I believe (as the video demonstrates) you create your reality it you pursue what you believe in make things happen regardless of the challenge. It always takes super action and inner strength to manifest personal success but we know we can all achieve this with the right guidance. Thanks again Scott.

    • Scott
      Posted at 22:19h, 23 February Reply

      Couldn’t have said it better myself Paul!

  • Korry
    Posted at 08:26h, 22 February Reply

    Love this! Reminds me of one of my first projects when I was getting my MBA. Each of the seven teams in the class were supposed to watch “The Godfather” and create a presentation about instituting change within an organization. While I had lots of pushback from my team, I wanted us to take a very different look at the movie. I knew virtually every other team would be saying the same things. So I pushed for us I take a risk…to be bold…and be different. My teammates were far from sold on my strategy but eventually consented. After our presetation, the prof said “I expected to see 7 identical presentations. Now I know I’ll see 6 identical ones. Your format was exceptional!” We had dared to be different. It was scary and required a little risk, but it was totally worth it! Our team learned how risk truly leads to reward. We climbed the mountain by springboarding off with this project, giving us the confidence to do it again and again throughout the program. And how exciting is that???

    • Scott
      Posted at 22:21h, 23 February Reply

      Sounds like a really fun project! And to think of how that experience will transfer going forward…

  • Anne-Sophie
    Posted at 09:06h, 22 February Reply

    Great post! I believe that becoming famous starts with believing in yourself and with literally shooting for the moon, but also with acting up on it and not procrastinating for years.
    You also have to find your uniqueness and really focus on your own different perspective of the world. You simply have to stand out and work your butt off doing it. 🙂

    • Scott
      Posted at 22:22h, 23 February Reply

      And the only real way to find your uniqueness is to step up and start trying things. Let the cycle begin!

  • Maria Brophy
    Posted at 10:15h, 22 February Reply

    This is a great post. I’ve always been different, and even as a kid, I loved not being like everyone else.

    The main reason for my comment is this: I LOVE MC YOGI! I’ve seen him live for the past 3 years. Until now, I hadn’t seen anyone outside of the “Kirtan” community talk about his music. Glad to see it here.

    I watched him sing the song you posted “Be the Change you want to see in the world” live, and it brought tears to my eyes.

    MC Yogi’s entire album, by the way, is awesome. I highly recommend it.

    • Scott
      Posted at 22:23h, 23 February Reply

      Until just now I didn’t even think to check out the rest of their stuff. Definitely going to now! I bet it was amazing to see them live.

  • Jon Wilburn
    Posted at 10:35h, 22 February Reply

    Scott-
    Awesome is my favorite word and it describes this article. And really its less about the article and more about this idea of being awesome. I was encouraged and inspired. Thanks!

    Jon

  • Paige | simple mindfulness
    Posted at 11:52h, 22 February Reply

    Thank you so much Scott! I really needed this today! I’ve been letting myself get mired in excuses. I needed this kick in my ass to cut the crap and make it happen. While I’ve been taking little steps forward, it’s really nothing compared to what I’m capable of.

    It’s been a process over the past year but it’s now painfully obvious that everything in life flows better (didn’t say more easily, although that’s frequently the case) when I’m open and being authentically me. Sometimes I feel a little vulnerable being myself but I’m doing it to help others – and what’s so wrong about that?

    Life is short. Thank you.

    • Scott
      Posted at 22:25h, 23 February Reply

      And being vulnerable is really the only way to make meaningful progress. And it’s certainly the only way to make meaningful relationships!

  • Mars Dorian
    Posted at 12:01h, 22 February Reply

    Insightful post Scott !

    It’s true – it’s very simple to stand out, but not easy. It ain’t easy because fear is holding us hostage !

    “Start doing things that make people say ‘what the */$# are you talking about?!’”

    That’s very similar to this year’s motto of mine:
    Doing stuff that makes you have to yellow your pants !

    haha, keep up the fire !

    • Scott
      Posted at 22:27h, 23 February Reply

      Leave it to you to put it a little more directly 😉 Love it Mars!

  • Deeone Higgs
    Posted at 13:35h, 22 February Reply

    Hey Scott,

    I actually ran across your post from Paige’s (Simple Mindfulness) G+ news feed, and the title drew me right on in.

    This was an awesome post, bud! I figured I’d give it a scan through, but I was sucked in from the beginning; and couldn’t get off the ride to the end. 🙂

    Great examples and tips! I have so many favorite parts to this post. I’ll drop only a few because, I’ve been know to leave mini comments as post, and I wouldn’t want to wear out my welcome. haha

    I loved the two common things that people that stand out possess, that you shared. I totally agree, people often don’t consider what it really takes to become known as being extrodinary. They want the glamour before the sweat. Some would prefer not to sweat at all! But much like you said, anything that comes overnight, won’t carry the weight it took to get it in the first place.

    Great selection of quotes as well.

    All in all, I really enjoyed reading this post, man! It was motivating, empowering and inspiring. Great job!

    Thanks for sharing, and I must also thank Paige for helping me to find it. 🙂

    Have a great one, bud!

    • Scott
      Posted at 22:34h, 23 February Reply

      Well a big thanks to Paige for pointing us your way Deeone, and welcome to the action over here! I hope you’ll stick around a bit. We’re really just getting started with some of this stuff. Would love to see what you think of some of the things to come.

      Awesome to have you a part of what we’re building!

  • Justin Mazza
    Posted at 20:31h, 22 February Reply

    Hi Scott,
    I have a personal growth blog and wrote about the topics that most personal growth blogs write about.

    For the month of October I decided to write paranormal posts about topics that are way “out there” so to speak. I got more traffic from those posts than any other posts that I have written so far.

    It made people say what the Bleep am I talking about.

    • Scott
      Posted at 22:41h, 23 February Reply

      Haha. I love hearing that! It reminds me of a story of a friend of mine. My buddy Steve Kamb of NerdFitness.com started his site a few years ago and did all the things you’re ‘supposed’ to do. He actually wrote these cookie cutter posts for something like 9 months straight 5 days a week. His blog didn’t grow past 90 subscribers the whole time. Then he said f*%$ it! I’m just going to write the things I really want to write. His site now has over 14k subscribers and he’s built a hell of a business.

      Check him out: http://nerdfitness.com/blog/

      We have to start doing what really matters to us. Simple as that!

  • Stuart
    Posted at 03:51h, 24 February Reply

    Hi Scott,

    Couldn’t agree more with the message of this post! We get good ideas all of the time, and these are ideas that are unique to us. They’re different, they’re unheard of, and they will probably make people stare at you like you’ve just sprouted another head.

    But they’re the best ideas.

    You’re right Scott – it doesn’t matter where we’ve come from. Our past is behind us for a reason – we don’t need to look at it any more.

    Eckhart Tolle was depressed and suicidal until the age of 29. Oprah Winfrey was raped and abused as a child. Abraham Lincoln was an unhappy lawyer until his late-30s. Mahatma Gandhi spent his early years labouring in a British-controlled India.

    All of these people became great not because of their pasts and backgrounds, but because of the choices they made. The choice to be different. We all have that choice inside us – we just need to activate it 🙂

  • Sandy
    Posted at 12:13h, 25 February Reply

    Very inspiring!
    It sounds like we’re too busy trying to be like everyone else and not do something outstanding for ourselves.
    thanks for opening my eyes and giving me a new perspective.

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  • Chi
    Posted at 11:50h, 28 February Reply

    Rings very true to me.Wish we could all walk the higher path. How much of failure is down to entertainment: tv, video games, netsurfing…?

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  • Greg Denning
    Posted at 13:57h, 29 February Reply

    Love it man! As you know, we are traveling with our 5 kids from Alaska to Argentina. You should hear some of the things people say to us. 🙂
    But the fact remains that we can all do the tough things that others will say are impossible; and the payoff is HUGE.
    Your post reminded me of two quotes by one of my heroes, Teddy Roosevelt. He said, “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” And, “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
    Thanks for the article.

  • @cdstern
    Posted at 18:38h, 29 February Reply

    Scott, at one point, I was imagining an anthill covered with ants and right next to that picture a man standing with one or two people atop Mt. Everest. Great Article.

  • Chris Booth
    Posted at 06:11h, 01 March Reply

    Nice post, I particularly enjoy the maxim “If it sounds crazy, and people think you’re ridiculous for attempting it, that’s generally a sign that it’s worth your time.” it made me laugh thinking about the reactions some people have had to some of my ideas.

    On a different note though I know of one very good blog about someone going to every country on earth using ONLY land and sea transport. Graham Hughes only has 8 countries left and his blog is one hell of a read: http://theodysseyexpedition.com/

  • Ian
    Posted at 10:09h, 13 March Reply

    Hey Scott,

    I have read your articles and I feel great that I can relate to your stories and advice. The same things happen here on this side of the world in Singapore. The sleepwalking is indeed over, time that I have woken up. Thanks Scott!

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  • saltna
    Posted at 16:37h, 10 July Reply

    That’s the perfect example! Chelsea and I just watched that last week. Awesome story- and right in my backyard. The Moneyball concept is a very powerful approach to investing in the public stock market too. The stuff is so universal.

    Sorry I can’t attend your event on March 11th. I know it’s going to blow minds.

    Hope some of the NY Live Your Legend readers join you!

  • Larry Nkwentsha
    Posted at 16:57h, 30 December Reply

    Scott man, that’s a point no one from the street wouldn’t though considering. For one reason, if you look at people you will notice that a mojority of people ‘are the same’, they like the same type of stuff, same type of alcohol, food, clothes etc. Generaly speaking people seem so obsessed in being the same. Why not as human being try something new or do things in a different way? Take for instance Americas hiphop artist Lilwayne, I mean amongst all hiphop artist I have never head that type of ryming. That’s new and it stands out. Take Frank Loyd Wright’s homes, he designed some of the most distinct homes that made history.

  • Larry Nkwentsha
    Posted at 16:59h, 30 December Reply

    By the way I’m from South Africa

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  • Dubem Menakaya
    Posted at 05:43h, 06 March Reply

    Great article Scott.

    What I really got from it is that even when we decide to make that change, we can’t limit our imagination to what is possible. What seems totally outlandish and outrageous -that’s what we need to be doing – not settling for average!

    Thanks for the push as always!

    Peace,
    Dubem

  • Bernice McDonald
    Posted at 06:49h, 06 March Reply

    Thank you so much! Words I needed to read today. “I have a dream…” as Martin Luther said. Been walking this path a long time but I am ready now to climb mountains… I truly want to be one who sees it through and lives my legend. Articles like this make me feel as if anything is possible!

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    Perfect article to read if your in search of answers!

  • Ashwini K
    Posted at 04:57h, 09 March Reply

    Great compilation of 14 main problems….boiling each topic into specific bang on target articles….very encouraging….I had also read most of the best TED talk compilation you had given few months back….fully loaded informative stuff…..I am surely on my path of being extra-ordinary…being my own brand….may all find their path to success

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    Posted at 02:21h, 19 October Reply

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  • Dizma Dahl (Diztopia)
    Posted at 16:51h, 24 November Reply

    wow, great article. that Nietzsche quote also made my heart stop.

  • Patriot 312
    Posted at 15:07h, 28 April Reply

    Good timing.

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