Monday, February 21, 2011

Review: Roadtrip Nation

Roadtrip Nation, 2003
Roadtrip Nation is a book about discovering who you are, what you love, what drives you, what your passions are, and how to find the "open road" to your dreams.

The book's format is simple:

1) Introduction to the authors, and defining their aims and methods of achieving them;
2) A series of interviews with some of America's most successful industry leaders;
3) Exhortation to start talking to the people you admire, find out how they got to where they're at, and then set your own goals for getting to where you want to go.

Stylistically, the book is very casual, the way you'd estimate it would be written by a couple of surfers and newly minted university graduates.  That is, written simply but well, unreserved, inviting and open, and given to the odd surf-culture-specific flourishes.  Having occupied myself with more than a few years with academic texts and more "highbrow" literature (whatever that actually means), I found the simpler style of Roadtrip Nation refreshing and alive.  In fact, it put me in mind to do some private writing that focuses on simple but effective expression.

While I was reading through Roadtrip Nation, I was caught off-guard by the overall genuineness of the authors, and the people the authors interviewed.  Everyone involved in the contents of the book showed a high degree of realistic humility (i.e., not self-deprecation masquerading as humility, but honest self-appraisal), and an unblushing recognition of their strengths and talents.  Yes, it is possible to edit out events and statements that may have given me a different impression.  But since I only have the book as evidence of the contents, and the book itself states that the interviews were verbatim (though specific things said were re-arranged to make a more consistent flow), I am willing to believe my first-blush impressions.

There is a lot to learn about yourself in this book, if you pay close attention.  It seems to me that when you come in contact with genuine people--even if vicariously through the medium of a book--you can't help but reflect on your own self, and have an impression of your own genuineness.  And if there's one thing that I can point to that affected me the most throughout the interview section, it is that all the people interviewed were leaders in their chosen fields because what they do is who they are.

All of the people interviewed had the common thread of being involved in a way of life that built on their deepest passions; they worked their way into a place they could not do without in their life not because it sustains their life, but because it is their life.  They work at the very things that bubble and froth in the centre of  who they are.  The external results--what we would blithely call "products"--are undeniably a manifestation of their inner world.  In short, the leaders interviewed work who they are.  If anything can be admirable, that certainly is.
Bill Murray said it, so it must be true.

Would I recommend this book to anyone?  Absolutely.  While the book really doesn't lend itself to an in-depth examination of any sort, I think that is on purpose: it sets up the possibility for you, the reader, to do your own in-depth examination of yourself by interviewing people who did the same, and found their "open road" to success and satisfaction.

Roadtrip Nation most definitely gets the Saint Cynic award of awesomeness (pictured left).


Murray Lundberg said...

You note the "overall genuineness" of the authors and the people they interviewed. I like to think that being genuine is a large part of what makes successful people successful in the modern world. Living in the middle of nowhere I don't get a lot of opportunity to meet people who are successful in a large way, but when Billy Connolly was filming Journey to the Edge of the World in 2008, I was his guide for a couple of days. Now there's a genuine fellow who loves what he does! Knowing their strengths and weaknesses and remembering "where they came from" seems to make many very successful people very easy to talk to.

Kane Augustus said...


You are quite correct that being genuine "is a large part of what makes successful people successful in the modern world.

Also--a wonderful coincidence that you should mention Billy Connolly--I just finished watching Mr. Connolly's Journey to the Edge of the World last week. My wife and I were enthralled, just as we were when we watched Mr. Connolly's World Tour of New Zealand. Mr. Connolly is, in fact, one of the men I admire most, and have dedicated a chapter to him in a book I will be writing this year.

I have to say that I am playfully jealous of the two days you spent with him. I would love to have him over to my place, have a pint or two, and play a few songs with him. And my children would just love him to pieces! They already admire him from some of the tame clips I've shown them.

Thank you for writing in to my blog. I really do appreciate you taking the time to do so.

Since we're both in the Yukon, perhaps one day we'll meet!

Take care,

Roadtrip Nation said...

Hey Kane! Roadtrip Nation here. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on A Guide to Discovering Your Path in Life. When Mike, Nate, and Brian, the original Roadtrippers, set off on their path to learn more about themselves, one of the main things they took back with them after their Roadtrip was to share everything they had learned from talking with Leaders who had built their lives around what they love.  We’re so glad that you find the book helpful and inspiring—we love hearing that!

Ten years later, Roadtrip Nation has evolved into a Movement with a growing online Interview Archive, where you can find more content like in the book. To check it out, go to

By the way, we appreciate the Saint Cynic Award of Awesomeness! Keep on rockin’.

Roadtrip Nation

Kane Augustus said...

Excellent! Roadtrip Nation pulled up alongside Saint Cynic. THAT is pretty cool.

Thanks guys, for taking a peek at my review, and for your comments, too. I've been recommending your book to people here in the Yukon.

Maybe you should book a spot with one of the leaders up here (?). Say, like the owners of Bean North.

In any case, I'm going to be watching some of the material on your site. Looks very interesting.