1 – Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address

steve jobs

For teaching me to stop attributing value to unimportant things, and start trusting my instincts. Before reading Jobs’ speech, I was working a job I hated because it was really the only thing I ever tried. It was what I knew. Jobs says “You’ve got to find what you love.” His speech helped me realize that I was wasting my life living someone else’s dream. If I settled for someone else’s dream, I’d grow old and die without ever seeking my own.

2 – Hunter S Thompson “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail” June 3, 1976, Rolling Stone

The real world is exciting, but the news is boring. Hunter S Thompson changed all that. During his stint with Rolling Stone, Thompson wrote some of the most brilliant journalism featured in a news publication. He invented Gonzo journalism, and proved what a man can accomplish with the right perspective. Hunter S Thompson didn’t just report the news; he redefined the media. Gonzo journalism laid the ground work for the modern citizen’s journalism movement.

3 – Tabitha Soren “Tupac interview” 1995, MTV

Tupac (2Pac) Shakur is often quoted by members of the hip-hop community, but most of them seem more committed to achieving his fame than his dream. Tupac inspired me since I was a kid. I was taught musical theory and performance at an early age so I understood his music, but I was too young to understand the media. This interview forever preserves the mannerisms of one of the most iconic musicians of multiple generations. Pac knew he couldn’t change the world, but we believed he would inspire the mind that does.

4 – Gabriella Coleman  “Who is Anonymous?” June 27, 2012, TEDGlobal 2012

who is anonymous

The hivemind of Anonymous is a byproduct of modern life in a surveillance state. The instant you leave your home, you’re in public and lose certain rights of privacy (although never all). Every human being deserves complete control over the privacy in their own home though. Your smartphone or tablet connects your home to the rest of the world, and Anonymous is the internet’s natural defense against it. In this TED Speech, Anthropologist and academic Gabriella Coleman breaks down what she learned from Anonymous.

5 – Brian Penny “I’m a Bank Whistleblower and You Can Be Too” October 29, 2012, The Huffington Post

I learned to utilize the media for defense. Social media had proven effective, and I was connected to the right people at the right time. HuffPo invited me to contribute a series of blogs to a political column. I wasn’t really following politics, so I only got 1 boring article cranked out before I realized I was the journalist I needed to tell my story. I spent so much time training regulators, lawyers, journalists, and activists that I forgot to leave a breadcrumb trail. This article launched a successful writing career for me and taught me the power of the media.

6 – The Beatles – The Beatles Anthology (1995)

The Beatles Anthology

By the age of 25, I completely ran out of both new and old music to listen to. I decided to buy the Beatles Anthology and watched it straight through…twice. Whether you like The Beatles or not, this collection of media about them is an amazing story about fame, fortune, and art. This is your brain on drugs. It taught me everything I need to know about the world and the media, and the music is amazing. Paul McCartney is easily one of my Top 10 Concerts of all time, and thanks to the media, the legacy of The Beatles will forever be preserved.

7 – James Duane & George Bruch “Don’t Talk To The Police “ June 21, 2008

do not talk to police

Watching this could be the best 45 minutes of your life. I’ve spent a lot of time with police officers as a witness, person of interest, friend, and family. I also grew up on Army bases to a mother and father who worked military intelligence. I blew the whistle on the largest bank in the United States. If you trust one thing you see on the internet, trust this speech. It’s your right to remain silent, and anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.

8 – Julian Assange “Why the World Needs Wikileaks” July 2010, TEDGlobal 2010

why the world need wikileaks

Wikileaks is a legend. Last month on Mother’s Day weekend, Julian’s mother Christine RT’ed a tweet of mine with a link to a blog about some of the retaliation I experienced as a whistleblower. Assange redefined the media and changed the world. Seeing him speaking on TED opened my eyes to the new world we live in. He explains many yogic ideas being applied to society as opposed to individuals. Assange’s vision of the world is even more chilling now that Bradley Manning is on trial and Edward Snowden leaked a glimpse of big brother.

9 – Every News Outlet in the World “The World Trade Center South Tower Attack” September 11, 2001

I was in Ft Benning, GA standing in lines getting my gear assigned for Army basic training. What started as a shot for college money and escape from Ft Huachuca suddenly became a brutal reality. The military restrained information from soldiers, especially those in training. We were cut off, and rumors were rampant as snipers, MP’s, and Special Forces shipped out in dessert combat gear. It wasn’t until a year later after seeing a contractor beheaded online that I finally sat down, read what got reported, and watch the media footage of the WTC attack… Where were you?

10 – TMZ Staff “Michael Jackson DIES” June 25, 2009, TMZ

michael jackson died

I’m an 80’s baby. I grew up on Michael Jackson. There’s no hard time in your life that can’t be soothed with a little MJ in it. Michael was a genius, an artist, a businessman, an icon, a star. When he died, it was almost unbelievable. We’ll never have another like the King of Pop, and it was the internet that reported it first. We’ll always be faster online. Michael Jackson will forever be preserved on the internet.

11 – Kurt Loder “Kurt Cobain 1967-1994” April 5, 1994, MTV News

Kurt Loder was the most reputable new source I knew of in the 80’s and 90’s. Kurt Cobain was the artist who created some of the most hauntingly beautiful albums I ever heard. Nirvana’s Unplugged set sits in a league of its own alongside Eric Clapton and Jay-Z’s performance with The Roots. Cobain’s death was a tragic one. His fame heralded the peak of the grunge era and the end of the 80′s. His music and subsequent suicide still resonate with generations of music fans.

12 – Mohandas Gandhi “Non-violence and World Crisis” November 26, 1938, Harijan

At a time when Adolph Hitler was taking over the world, Gandhi promoted peace. He took a stance and defended nonviolence in every situation. Reading his articles inspires me to think through difficult hurdles. There is always a way. If one man can do it, anyone can. Reading the words of Mohandas Gandhi reminds me that anything is possible if you sit still long enough.

13 – Alyona Minkovski and Ceynk Uygur  “Anonymous vs Bank of America” March 16, 2011

I wasn’t just standing at the center of the mortgage crisis. This time I was the story. I had a first-person view of the news. I got to see how skewed the media was just by reading what they wrote about me. I hid behind Anonymous and watched. Alyona and Ceynk were among only 4 journalists who put in the proper research. I beat the banks. I hit them where it hurt, and ignited a revolution. Learn how to be Anonymous here: anyone can do it.

14 – Brian Knappenberger – We Are Legion (2012)

The Story of the Hacktivists

While living in Clearwater, FL surrounded by Scientology, I downloaded We Are Legion from The Pirate Bay. I was being stopped and searched for my Guy Fawkes mask on a regular basis. Florida is a depressing place. Everyone is drugged out, and not in the good ways. This movie provided me comfort that I was backing the right flag. We are Anonymous. We are legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect Us…

15 – Parmy Olson interview with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show June 18, 2012, Comedy Central

Parmy breaks down Anonymous for the masses on the most trusted news source on cable. She did a fantastic job of explaining the movement. Once again I felt relief knowing there’s a culture built around transparency. It was a whistleblower’s dream. The more of us that exist as real people in the media, the harder it is to attack Anonymous. We are the internet’s first defense, and we’re 100% nonviolent.

16 – Wikipedia “Protests against SOPA and PIPA

Don’t use Wikipedia for a source. Do use Wikipedia for a story and cite their sources. Everyone will tell you not to use Wikipedia. Everyone has an opinion as to why it’s inaccurate. Yet it’s one of the largest websites on the internet. Why? When Wikipedia and other websites shut down to stop CISPA’s predecessors, SOPA and PIPA, the world fell to its knees and pulled the controversial bills. Clearly everyone is lying about not using the top search result for nearly every search online.

17 – Brian Penny “30 Best Movies  of All Time” Lifehack.org

I can’t help but laugh knowing I’ve appeared in the Wall Street Journal, NY Times, and countless other news outlets fighting the banks, and the most controversy I ignited is over a list of the best movies of all time. People don’t like having their opinions questioned. I can’t help but continue trolling by adding myself twice to this accomplished list.

18 – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr “Letter from a Birgmingham Jail” April 16, 1963

Dr. King sat in Birmingham jail for breaking an unjust law. From there, he wrote some brilliant ideas. One of them was this letter to address the local Clergymen who accused him of being a hypocrite for breaking a law. He brilliantly differentiates a just law from an unjust law and questions their own allegiance to justice by sitting around doing nothing. When I couldn’t find the answers I needed in life, I turned to the Doc.

19 – Richard Sears “Scientology is a criminal organization…” November 18, 2009, UK Daily Mail

Scientology is fascinating. To their merit, they are excellent with nonviolent defense. They expertly troll governments and small businesses using attorneys and PR—this I enjoy and agree with. Their financial and technical sense could use a lot of advancement, though. I personally believe transparency is necessary to control corruption, and too many things smelled fishy in Clearwater, FL.

20 – Matt Taibbi “As Bradley Manning Trial Begins, Press Predictably Misses the Point” June 6, 2013, Rolling Stone

I’ve followed Taibbi’s pieces on the mortgage industry for a few years now. He doesn’t pull any punches. Seeing him involved in the Bradley Manning trial is brilliant. Manning is a hero, and he deserves our respect and attention. I love that Rolling Stone is covering his trial, and Taibbi especially. Pay close attention to this trial, as a lot of our human freedoms are on the line.

Feel Like The Media Is Trolling You?: Fifty (50!) Tools Which Can Help You in Writing

Featured photo credit: Portrait of a cute young female laying by the wall reading a book via Shutterstock

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