let me introduce you to my internet dads

I can’t be the only one.

I cANnoT be the only person to create a short list, a playlist, of motivational YouTube videos that keep me going through the tough times. I can’t be the only chick who goes for some of the most hardcore monster motivation videos, on a daily basis.

But if it’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Because they’re some of my favorite things. One of my favorite ways to really wake up, after the alarm goes off. The people who put them together are awesome. The people in them are awesome. These people are stronger than the average human, know how they did it and are willing to share it.

To be clear, there are women who have incredible motivational content (Mel Robbins, for one), but today I’m going to introduce you to my Internet Dads. Because I feel like it.

On days when I’m whiny or lazy, they kick me in the pants. On days when I’m feeling genuinely down, they remind me of my strength. On days when I’m sad, they help me see the future that could be.

And, so, without further ado, I introduce you to…

Tom Bilyeu

Of the five, I would say that Bilyeu has the broadest range of motivational styles. He can be tender and warm, and make you feel like he really has your back. He generally starts his videos with “As ___________ said…” and the consistency is really calming. He has a more meditation-vibe than the others. Even if he smacks you upside the head within the next five minutes. He curses a lot and with the alacrity of someone who simply considers them normal words, so heads up for younger readers.

But I still recommend him, because of what he has accomplished in his own life, because of his commitment to bring amazing content to his followers and because of his passion for people who feel hopeless. He is also exactly the same in-person, as he is in his videos, which is a rare thing. He stayed after a speaking engagement for ten hours once, to make sure he answered every single question. I was there. I’ll never forget that.

It’s one of those weird things where, of the five, Bilyeu has had the greatest effect in my life and, because of that, I don’t even know what to say. To paraphrase a quote from Jane Austen, if his content mattered less, I might be able to talk about it more.

Jocko Willink

Jocko’s awesome book, Extreme Ownership, changed my perspective on blame and responsibility. More or less, he encourages you to take complete ownership of everything that happens to you. It means no more whining sessions with friends about this or that co-worker, or your truly crazy boss. No more feeling sorry for yourself, period. There are countless relationships that are solely built on complaining. Those go flying out the window. Bummer.

And I struggled with this one at first because can you really be at fault for the accidents and tragedies in life? I don’t think he’s saying that. I think there is a difference between taking blame and taking responsibility. The power is all in the choice. He’s telling you to make a choice to shoulder responsibility, even when it doesn’t seem fair.

In Extreme Ownership, Jocko details a time when he took responsibility for a blue-on-blue (friendly fire) incident in Iraq, as the ranking officer. There were a hundred data points between him and the disaster. He wasn’t even there. But when the inquiry came around, in front of his entire team and his superiors, he said, “It’s on me.”

I’ve mentioned this in my TikToks, but when you can say, “It’s on me. How can we prevent this in the future,” people stop panicking, and start coming up with action plans. When you assume the burden of responsibility, everyone checks that box, and things actually get done.

There’s something powerful about not being afraid to take responsibility.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Finding this guy motivating was a huge surprise to me! Before two weeks ago, I knew him as the moderate governor of California who didn’t really keep anyone happy. I knew him as the guy who made bodybuilding a profession you could actually earn a living doing. I knew him as the Terminator. As the guy with the funny accent.

Now, I know him as one of the most inspiring speakers on YouTube. And he is totally kid-friendly!

I am big on mindset and on the power of your thoughts. But I will be the first to tell you that, sometimes, my research into quantum mechanics and how your mind shapes matter, can make my body weak. That is to say, it makes me less likely to get down and dirty, and do the work.

Arnold reminds me that building a life I want to live takes precise focus and planning my days around that focus. He was working full-time in construction, going to school and training for the Mr. Universe contest five hours a day, at twenty. Unbelievable. He frames a day like this:

You’ve got 24 hours. You spend 8 – 10 hours working (let’s say 9). You spend 6 hours sleeping. Maybe you drive for a couple hours. That’s 7 hours left.

What are you doing with those 7 hours? And he has a great point.

Dwayne Johnson

Did you know that The Rock was clinically depressed for years? That he was suicidal? That he started off his twenties with several heartrending disappointments? That, at on point, he was sending $250 home per week to his wife, playing in the Canadian football league? I didn’t either.

After success in wrestling, he went into Hollywood. Two years in, he had been written off and laughed at, to the point where he thought he had made a mistake. Only grit got him through that.

So it’s a treat to hear him speak about those struggles, and especially his take on what to do with the bad experiences. His philosophy is to remember where he came from, not to pretend it didn’t happen. It makes him more thankful and it makes him more hungry, in the motivational sense, because he recalls every day what it was like to only have $7 in his pocket.

Like Arnold, he values mindset, but enshrines the use of your own two hands to get where you want to go. I can appreciate that. He calls his daily routine that starts at a 4am workout the “anchor” for his success. As someone who always has struggled to establish a workable daily routine, this means a lot to me. Watch him if you need a kick in the pants.

Also, if you don’t mind colorful language.

Simon Sinek

This guy is quite a bit younger than my mom, so he’d have to have had me pretty young, so maybe he’s not a dad but more a wise uncle.

His analysis on the struggles millennials face is more professorial and certainly not laced with foul language! He has amazing talks about leadership and how to care for employees, which–while many of us may not have employees or our own businesses–give us the ability to become leaders in our workplaces.

He teaches about the delicate nature and intrinsic value of relationships, which for some reason feels very foreign but is very much needed! He puts words to concepts, that lump in your throat or that question in your chest, that you couldn’t put words to yourself.

Again, here’s the playlist I made!


So those are my five internet dads (plus a bonus video towards the end of the playlist)! I have been so helped by their content, it would be selfish and silly to hold back on them, however you might feel about their pasts, their language or their beliefs. All I can say is that they’ve helped me.

I recommend listening to them in the morning, right as you wake up, and as you go about getting ready for work. When I experience doubt during the work day, I’ll pop in my headphones and listen for a few minutes, just long enough to remember my own strength. Sometimes you have to lean on others for a little help, especially in times such as these.

And, sometimes, they’re the most unexpected people!

much love,

a.i.a.l.

P.S. – You have a powerful mind, an iron will and the heart of a lion.

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