We had the good fortune of connecting with Andrew Mersmann and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Andrew, do you have a favorite quote or affirmation?
“You don’t have to feel bad to find ways to feel better.”
I love the embrace and invitation to look for ways to improve each day without the usual accompanying feeling of “I’m doing it wrong” or “I’m broken and need to be fixed.” We can have extraordinary lives and still explore new ways to have a gorgeous impact on ourselves and on others. Each day opens doors to discovery from exactly where we stand at exactly this moment.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve done dozens of jobs but truly treasure my career as an author. I was honored to receive awards and recognition for my book “500 Places Where You Can Make a Difference” about global volunteering and service travel, and am now most excited about several KidLit projects to work toward activating youth in service. Kids want to have an impact on the world as much as any of us, and they recognize opportunities to help without the cynical crust we usually grow as we age.
My journey as an author has been both blessed and a struggle. Years of magazine journalism (travel writing and editor-in-chief of a travel magazine) and hundreds of published articles allowed me to pursue passion projects and follow leads down rabbit holes, but every job is a grind. Spending time waiting for some random muse to wander into my brain also allows me opportunities to play at art, woodturning in my garage.
As a kid I was convinced that I was a failure if I didn’t know the answers (and I’d make stuff up to appear knowledgeable) but now I recognize the only failure is not to ask questions and delight in discoveries.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I still love the newcomer explorations I made when I first arrived in LA after college and lived in a dark little garden apartment in the hills just below the Hollywood Bowl. Nosebleed seats at the bowl were fantastic evenings. A day at the beach (but far away from the crowds, either up to Point Dume or down to the coves of Palos Verdes) is quintessential LA. Huntington Gardens always made me feel very grown up. I’m eating neighborhood good stuff like Versailles for Cuban, Hu’s for Szechuan, Father’s Office for fancy, Homegirl Cafe, Rae’s for morning after greasy, Phanny’s for breakfast burritos. We’d knock out a museum day (Academy, MOCA, Getty + Getty Villa, Broad) and eat at food trucks. We’d do one day devoted to campy stuff–La Brea tar pits, Hollywood sign hike, Museum of Jurassic Technology. Most friends also want to hang out just staring at the ocean, play with the dog, and mess around on the lathe learning how to turn pens and bar tools and stuff I make. Of course, I’d have to be beholden to whatever my friend craves as an LA Day, too.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Mom brought me up to always look for ways to be of service to others and volunteer. That mindset has blessed me with opportunities to volunteer in locations around the world. At home, my volunteering with the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation (www.AARBF.org) has opened my heart in wider ways than I’d imagined possible as we serve survivors of serious burn injuries and work to prevent burns through safety education. The family I’ve found at AARBF will be with me for life, and I am better for it.