Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Darion D'Anjou: From a Boy's Dream to His Grown-Up Reality

Vol. I, No. 4

Until Dec. 1st: Artist Darion offers you a chance to become a character in his comic strip novel!

When you were ten years old, what did you think you wanted to be when you grew up? And by the time you you grew up, what did you actually end up doing with your life?

For Darion D'Anjou, that ten-year-old's dream of his happens to also be his reality. As a kid, Darion had a big imagination, and he loved telling stories. As an adult and approaching his fortieth birthday, Darion still has a big imagination, and he still loves telling stories, so much so that he's devoted his life to it. In particular though, Darion has honed his craft as a graphic novelist, someone who writes and creates a plot line through long-format comics. Yes, you read that right: Darion D'Anjou is a comic strip artist. His specialty is science fiction, and better than me telling you how good his work is, I'll let you see for yourself. 

But first, let me give you a chance to help Darion fulfill his dream. Unlike some of the other dreamers featured on this LIVE from Mongolia! blog, Darion still has a day job as a software contractor. I have no idea what that means exactly, but compared to creating novels out of comic strips, I think we all ought to lend Darion a hand in helping him take that final leap towards full-time graphic novelist. As Darion himself puts it, "My dream is to keep making these books...exclusively." 

So, let's give Darion a hand, and help him take that final leap of faith to fulfill his dream. But, wait, it's better than just helping! Darion is actually offering you, yes you, the chance to be a character in one of his novels! Your character might even be killed, in dramatic fashion of course, which is frankly the coolest part. What better way to spend your money than to live forever in a comic-strip novel series as someone who dies in spectacular fashion?

Of course, it's a little pricey to appear as a character in a book, but I know some of you reading this post are bankers, and I know this is just the sort of thing I'd have bought for myself or a friend, back when I was in banking. For $1000, Darion will draw and write you into his story. And then he will kill you. You'll receive a signed copy of the book, and you'll get a few other perks that you can read about here

Can't afford to see yourself killed in someone's novel? Me neither. Instead...

For $35, you'll receive a signed copy of his graphic novel. 
For $50, you'll get a signed copy, your name in lights on his website, and, shh, some insider material that you'll have to click here for. 
For $100, you'll get a signed copy, name in lights, that insider stuff, a signed DVD with trailer, and a playview version featuring the original musical score. Click here.
*International shipping is available on all items.

But enough from me! Let's hear it from Darion himself, who has guest-blogged a sample of his novel.

From GENETIKA: Gene, Book I by Darion D'Anjou

Would you risk your life to live forever?

Dr. Mia Allandressy reverse engineers the Fountain of Youth drug.

Graphic novel “Genetika: Gene, book i” addresses this high concept question in the context of a fast-paced, thought-provoking science fiction thriller.

Dr. Eugene Poulos is a young genetics whiz on the biotechnology corporate fast track. When Gene uncovers a secret group with the key to the fountain of youth among other technologies light years ahead of anything that should be possible, Gene quickly finds himself alienated from family and friends, on the run from the police, wanted by the FBI, and worst of all hunted by a group of people who see and hear farther, think and move faster, never sleep, live forever, and who will stop at nothing to maintain the privileged secrecy of their existence.

Dr. Manny Kowzslinski races to free his research data to the world

“Genetika: Gene, book i” is the first in a coming series of graphic novels which deal with cloning, immortality, and the ongoing struggle for power and technology. 

Gene enters his own dreams, looking for the code to Regen

Young Gene's vision is blurred by insecurities

Genetika dramatizes the extreme gap between those who are enlightened and the rest. Each wave of new technology confronts us with a flood of new ethical and emotional challenges, and it is at that junction that the Genetika story universe lives.

-Darion D'Anjou November 2012

Reserve your exclusive copy of the debut graphic novel “Genetika: Gene, book i” now, and be a part of launching this hip science fiction thriller series:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Somaly Mam: A Reason to Be Thankful This Thanksgiving

Vol. I, No. 3

Somaly Mam doesn’t know when she was born, and doesn’t know her real name. She’s from Cambodia, and she grew up an orphan. For a time, Somaly survived on other people’s kindnesses for food and shelter. And then a man took her in whom she refers to as Grandfather. Eventually, he sold her to a brothel. “I was born without love,” Somaly says simply, as a way of explaining how this sort of transaction can take place between a child and an adult.

Courtesy of Somaly Mam Foundation

Somaly was actually one of the lucky ones. She made it out of the brothel, many years later, and lived to tell about it. Some of her companions did not. As one of the other women put it, who was sold into sex slavery at the age of four, “A few moments of his pleasure killed me.” That woman had contracted AIDS from one of the brothel’s clients; those were her dying words.

And herein a point: Somaly and her team of survivors and activists refer to the men who frequent the brothels as “clients”. This is curious to me, because what they are is rapists. These women and little girls have no choice in the matter of when or whether they’ll have sex, and as Somaly described it, none of the girls “was even given a teaspoon of water to wash with for an entire day spent with clients.”

Of course, this is all very difficult to comprehend, isn’t it? It’s distant and surreal to imagine a parent figure selling a child into slavery, sex slavery no less. But it is real, and we actually can help.

For starters, Somaly’s story is not just a devastating account of evil. It’s a story of a woman’s journey from a terrible past to a present of empowerment and joy and light. As she puts it, she “believes in real and true love without any conditions.” And yes, this means forgiveness. All the things you can’t believe someone can talk about when they’ve lived what they’ve lived. Somaly and her team of survivors and activists have rescued more than seven thousand enslaved women! (To read more about how they do this, click here.)

Courtesy of Somaly Mam Foundation

And this is where you come in. You can actually help Somaly. Those survivors, the ones who’ve grown up in the brothels and have been rescued, are also creators. They craft handmade sterling silver necklaces, beautiful scarves, cufflinks, and other gift items that would be so very meaningful to receive this holiday season. And, Somaly has actually published a book about her journey. Just in time for the holidays, you can make a real difference.

What could Somaly’s dream be, you ask? After all, this is a blog about people who follow extraordinary paths in life. Well, as Somaly puts it, “My dream is to have more and more survivors.”

Let's help her achieve just that.

Read more about Somaly at

Somaly Mam, right, and me. Photo courtesy of Andrea Reese

Monday, November 05, 2012

The Funny Indian: From Corporate America to Comedian!

Vol. I, No. 2

“Basically, I’m just waiting for millions of people to know what I already know: that I’m awesome.”

When Rajiv was thirty years old, he flipped out, although he probably shouldn’t have. Rajiv was working as a marketer for consumer products giant Procter & Gamble and earning six figures. He had a nice car and lived in a nice house. He had everything he thought he should want. But, he’d run into an old friend.

You?” the old friend had said. “I’m so disappointed in you.”

Of course, the remark had nothing to do with Rajiv’s success. And, it hadn’t surprised him either. Ten years earlier, Rajiv had made a late-night declaration at a diner – we’ve all been there, the forgettable nocturnal remark, made over pancakes and eggs, that evolves into an unforgettable oath. One day, Rajiv had sworn back then, he’d be famous. But, he’d said glumly, “There are no famous materials engineers!”

His friend, the one who’d declared her disappointment in Rajiv, had aptly pointed out all this and more to him, and she hadn’t been the only one to do so. Rajiv’s own brother had told him he didn’t want to end up like Rajiv had ended up, giving up on his dream.

Harsh words, but not untrue.

For many years, Rajiv had dreamed of becoming a comedian, a ‘comic’ as the funny folk say. While at Procter & Gamble, still in his twenties, Rajiv had even performed late-night stand-up. And he’d always kept his “number” in mind, the amount of money it would take to leave his job behind to pursue his dream. For Rajiv, that number was $25,000.  

So, right around the time he turned thirty, Rajiv reached his financial goal. And, he said, something struck him: “At thirty, I knew I didn’t want to be forty knowing I could’ve done it.” And “it” was what people all along had been telling him makes his eyes light up: comedy.

And here I’ll insert a personal note. Of all the people I’ve met and interviewed from New York to New Zealand and China and even to North Korea and Mongolia, I’ve never met a single person, not one, who’s talked about the thing they’re passionate about without their eyes lighting up or welling up. Not a single person. It’s like they’re suddenly switched on

But back to Rajiv, whose seminal moment had come.

After a frank conversation with his boss, Rajiv bit the bullet and resigned from his job at Procter & Gamble. Without much adieu, he doubted himself and took another corporate job, where he lasted only a few months. And then he wrote a very un-comedian-like sixty-five-page action plan detailing how he would achieve his dream. 

Another personal note: in my experience, people who follow dreams don’t walk in a straight line. They, we, have doubts. We sidestep, backtrack, stumble, and occasionally fail miserably. But, we march on. And that’s just what Rajiv would do.

Anyway, after simultaneously quitting and getting fired from that new corporate job, Rajiv embarked upon the path he'd always dreamed of. He sold his house and moved from Cincinnati to Los Angeles. He began performing stand-up regularly. He started getting gigs in a lot of places: Ottawa. Oman. Switzerland.

I met Rajiv back in the summer, when things were looking very, very up for him. He's 36 years old now, and quips that he's a “Recovering Corporate American”. As we talked, I had to ask him several times to just...stop. I was nine months pregnant then and every time Rajiv spoke, I had to gasp for air; I was laughing that hard. For instance, as Rajiv himself explained, he's overwhelmed by the thought of Helen Keller, whom he finds completely uninspiring. As he puts it, “She was deaf, dumb, and blind, and has accomplished more than I have.” 

By now, Rajiv has repeatedly opened for the likes of Dave Chappelle, Tim Allen, Kevin Nealon, and Russell Peters. He co-founded the world-touring Make Chai Not War (A Hindu/Muslim show that traversed seven Indian cities in 2012, and is sponsored by the U.S. State Department and the Standpoint Agency). He has spoken to audiences from Fortune 500 companies to NFL players - on subjects ranging from innovation, diversity, and personal branding. Yes, he can make even those subjects funny. Rajiv has garnered more than two million Youtube views, performed on three continents, and been featured on NBC and NPR, and in the Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, and the L.A. Times. He does stand-up at dozens of colleges each year and at comedy clubs all over L.A. Rajiv records a weekly podcast, acts in funny commercials, and writes humorous ads. His favorite sites in the whole world are...his own. You can follow him on Facebook at and on Twitter at Make sure you check out his website!

As Rajiv says himself, he’s good at getting people in a room to do what he wants. Which, of course, is laugh. His ultimate goal, the real nod of approval from the comedy world, is to get his own late-night television gig. Watch this space as he does just that. Come to think of it, don’t take it from me; watch the video of Rajiv’s act to see for yourself!

This blog will be following Rajiv’s story so make sure to tune in for updates. Follow me on Twitter at Also, be sure to check out my book, which is now available on for pre-order. No surprise, it's the true story of what can happen when you follow your wildest dream in life!