Eugene Yiga
(Photo: Richard Keppel-Smith – GQ)

Every time I have to introduce myself, I take a deep breath before launching into what often leaves many confused. Even though I’m told I sound British (or American, depending on who you ask), I was born and raised in South Africa. And even though I studied finance, accounting, and classical piano at the University of Cape Town, I worked as a copywriter, journalist, and blogger with occasional television and voice acting, not to mention two and a half years of full-time experience in branding, communications, and market research. Perhaps it’s complicated. And perhaps it’s why I somehow love the music of both Billy Joel and Johannes Brahms!

So, who am I? Even though there are a lot of ways to answer that question, I can sum it up in two words: reading and writing. (Okay, that was three, but you get the idea!) Without a doubt, these have always been my greatest passions in life. Back when I was in first grade, I always loved reading homework with my dad every night. My best friend and I wanted to be the top performers in our class, which is why I always insisted on reading one more chapter or even one more page.

It wasn’t long before my love for reading took an interesting turn. To realise I could inspire and entertain people all over the world as much as I felt inspired and entertained by the books I read was an incredible discovery. Ever since then, I’ve felt driven to write. As a child, I’d write short stories and poems that my brother would type up and print out for all my friends at school. In fact, I still have some first edition classics like The Hungry Chef and The Spooky Pound, complete with what could be my first attempt at using a semi-colon. Not quite right, but a good effort nonetheless!

Eugene Yiga
(Photo: Richard Keppel-Smith – GQ)

As I grew up, my love for writing didn’t stop. I started a journal at fourteen and decided to pass the time over a university summer break by reading through all the entries I’d ever written. Who knew my random ramblings would contain some powerful lessons? And so, over the next winter vacation, I decided to put some of those thoughts into a book. It was quite a challenging process, but thanks to a good friend who kept me accountable, it didn’t take too long.

It was another year before I finally had the courage to publish such a personal story, but it was something I knew I had to do. I knew that the challenges I experienced in life were challenges other people experienced too. I knew they would find comfort in my writing by knowing they weren’t alone. After all the emails I received from readers around the world, it was clear I’d done the right thing by publishing this book:

  • “A joy to read.”
  • “I could relate to many of the things you talked about. All-in-all very genuine.”
  • “It points at a lot of things that I think about and never had the chance to explore.”
  • “It’s amazing how I needed to read your book to actually realise how much I needed to change in my life. I think in a way the book is an inspiration to me.”
  • “It’s beautiful, honest and inspiring.”
  • “It’s refreshing to read the work of someone who transfers their views so effectively.”
  • “Thanks very much for your labour of love.”
  • “These insights are priceless! I also have the utmost respect for you and your writings.”
  • “This is a mini BEST SELLER… These words will help so many people.”
  • “Well written and very interesting.”
  • “While reading the book, it felt as though I was reading my own journal of my destiny so far.”
  • “You are a super star! Thank you!”
  • “You bare your soul in this one. You might as well have been describing me.”
  • “You have a beautiful mind and you deserve just the best.”
  • “You’re doing good things. Good things will happen for you.”

So, where to from here? Well, I set the goal to read the 100 greatest books of all time in the 100 months from November 2007 to my 30th birthday in March 2016. I was having so much fun that I decided to expand the list. I’ve also had a great time writing about travel, leisure, food, drinks, marketing, media, TV, film, music, theatre, personal development, books, and more.

More recently, I’ve made a major switch by pursuing a career in the exciting field of data science. Oh, and because that change clearly wasn’t big enough, I also moved to Barcelona, a city full of history and culture that already feels like it’s become my new home. (I’ve also been travelling extensively, including to Malaga in Andalusia, Palma in Mallorca, and more to come!)

Despite all this, I know that reading and writing are here to stay. And as long as I can keep exploring and keep creating, I know I’ll be happy. What more could anyone want?

-Eugene Yiga