Dan Kennedy is right. Reach out to people whose work means the world to you.

Dan Kennedy, writer, storyteller, and Moth host, tweeted earlier this week:

 (@DanKennedy_NYC) Gonna get better at sending notes to people whose work means the world to me. Feels fanboy, but beats waiting to send an RIP tweet.

I like this advice a lot. 

I receive emails, tweets, and Facebook messages almost daily from readers around the globe who have liked my books and/or have questions about my stories. Every time I receive one of these messages, my heart skips a beat and I find myself more excited than ever about writing.

It occurs to me:

Despite all of this generosity from my readers, I've never followed their example and done the same.

In short, I'm a jerk. 

Dan says that reaching out to people whose work I love feels a little fanboy, and perhaps that's why I've hesitated from doing so in the past.

That, and I really am a jerk.

But as a daily recipient of these messages from readers - this morning from a teenage girl in Newberg, Oregon - I can assure Dan and everyone else that it doesn't feel fanboy at all from the recipient's perspective. 

It's a joy. A blessing. A spark that often arrives at the moment I needed it most. 

Next month I begin deciding upon my goals for 2018, and I think this will be one of them. I will write to at least one person per month whose work I admire every month in 2018. 

It's a good goal. 

As a warm-up for 2018, I'll mention that Dan Kennedy - dispenser of this excellent advice - is someone who I admire a great deal.

I first heard Dan's voice back in 2008 when Elysha and I listened to his memoir Rock On: A Power Ballad together in the car. We loved that book. I listened to it again a few years later on my own.

I heard Dan's voice again in 2010 on The Moth's podcast. Each week he delivered new stories to my ears.

In July of 2011, I met Dan for the first time when I took the stage at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and told my first story for The Moth. By then he was an icon in my mind. I couldn't believe I was standing beside him. Dan hosted my first Moth GrandSLAM a few months later (I lost to Erin Barker, someone else who I admire deeply and will probably write to in 2018), and then slowly, over the years, I've gotten to know him better and better as I attended and performed in more and more Moth events. 

Eventually we performed together on The Moth's Mainstage. I listened to him tell stories for the first time about the death of his therapist and his ill-advised trip to find an enormous snake, and I was blown away. Those stories are still trapped inside my heart. 

Dan is a brilliant performer. An incredibly gifted storytelling host. A talented storyteller. 

But it's Dan's most recent novel, American Spirit, that I love most. I listened to that book on the way back from Maine last year, and I have never laughed so much by myself. There are certain books that are so exquisite that you remember exactly where you were while reading or listening to them, and American Spirit is one of those books for me.

I will never forget that too-bright sun, that impossibly blue sky, the blessedly open road, and Dan's voice, making the miles melt away.

It's a hilarious, poignant, brilliant book. You should read it. 

Thank you, Dan, for sharing the book and your voice with the world.

I hope this doesn't feel too fanboy.  

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Dan Kennedy on life and the nature of success

Dan Kennedy is the author of American Spirit (a novel I adored), as well as a memoirs Rock On (which Elysha and I listened to and loved) and Loser Goes First (which is sitting on my desk, waiting to be read). He is the host of The Moth's podcast and frequent host and storyteller for The Moth. I've gotten to know Dan over the years, and I adore this man. He is soulful and clever and lovely.

Dan posted a series of tweets (@DanKennedy_NYC) a few days ago on the nature of life and success, specifically speaking to those of us whose path through life was not predetermined or blessed by the financial support of parents, a traditional academic track, or employment in a family business.

The bootstrappers. The shiftless. The frightened. My people. 

These words spoke to me, and perhaps they will speak to you. Dan posted more than the four tweets I have transcribed here, but there were the four that meant the most to me. The four sentences that said so much about what it is like to maneuver through a complex, difficult, unyielding world while the people around you speak about college as if it's a forgone conclusion, live happily with parents for extended periods of time in order to save money, furnish homes with tables and sofas that were bought in actual furniture stores, and land jobs in family businesses and with family friends when their creative dreams failed to materialize.

I do not begrudge these people. I just want to remind them that there are so many other people living outside that bubble of expectation, not because we wanted to but because there was no other choice. These are the people who have rented rooms from strangers, gone without heat or electricity for months at a time, wondered how they might eat tomorrow, and thought that their dreams would likely remain dreams forever, no matter how hard they worked.

This is what makes me love Dan's words so much. They remind me and so many of us (the "cross between the pirates and the little kids") that we are not alone in our ridiculous, impossible, oftentimes invisible struggle.

Dan's words:    

That’s the thing: success takes risk. We go through straits... skate by w/o insurance... operate on cash...live where nobody else will...

If you don’t have a family break, automatic money, pre-destined academic track, you put it together any way you can.

When shit finally gets great, people applaud you. But all those other years (a decade, two, forever?) you’re the “problem.”

But for a long time you’re a cross between a pirate and a little kid. Breaking rules, full of heart, working your ass off.
— Dan Kennedy

A not-so-disappointing disappointing night at The Moth

It's always disappointing to drive almost three hours to a Moth StorySLAM and have your name remain in the hat for the duration of the night. 

I went to The Moth StorySLAM at Housing Works in New York on Tuesday, and sadly, this happened, 

I had a good story, too.

Thankfully, it doesn't happen too often, though 2016 has been unlucky for me so far.

Despite my disappointment, The Moth rarely disappoints. 

Even though I didn't have the chance to take the stage on Tuesday night, there were moments that made the slam unforgettable for both me and the audience.

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Two people who began the careers in storytelling in one of my workshops in Connecticut (and then performed at Speak Up multiple times) dropped their names into the hat to tell a story, and one of them took the stage and performed. When a storyteller who has taken one of my workshops or performed on a Speak Up stage goes on to perform at The Moth, Elysha likes to refer to us as proud parents. 

She's not far off with her description.  

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I sat beside a woman who I had an ongoing conversation all night long about storytelling. It was her first time at The Moth and was thrilled beyond imagination about finally making it to the show after listening to the podcast and Radio Hour for so long. She knew who I was from my stories on the podcast and had many questions about how slams work, how The Moth operates, and how to craft a successful story. She was over the moon about seeing Dan Kennedy - host of the podcast and host of Tuesday night's slam - in the flesh. He is an A-level celebrity to many storytelling fans. 

I remember feeling the same way in 2011 when I finally made it to my first slam. It was a good reminder about how lucky I am to have found The Moth and its community of storytellers and storytelling fans. I shouldn't take any of it for granted. 

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If your name is not pulled from the hat, you're given the opportunity to take the stage and say the first line of your story. After doing so, I was approached by a woman who had heard one of my stories on the radio recently about the death of my high school girlfriend. She surprised me with an almost violent embrace and the story of the death of her college boyfriend. She told me how much my story still lives in her heart on a daily basis.

This might have been better than having my name pulled from the hat. Maybe.  

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I had the chance to chat with my fellow storytellers. We talked about recent stories that I had heard them tell at The Moth and other venues and some storytelling strategies. I offered some advice to a couple of storytellers, which is always odd for me. Coming from Connecticut and attending about one slam per month, I have always felt like a bit of an outsider in the storytelling community. I have friends who are storytellers, but I'm not exactly in their city or in their non-storytelling lives. And they are telling stories all the time. I couldn't imagine why such seasoned New York storytellers would want my advice on their stories or storytelling in general. 

It was good. A sign that perhaps I'm not the outsider that I imagine myself to be. 

I also lined up least two of them up for future Speak Up shows. Always good. 

Then I had the chance to hear three of them tell fantastic stories about a snowstorm in a theater, a highly unorthodox dance move, and a questionable orgasm.  

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I had the chance to watch Dan Kennedy host the show. I love all The Moth hosts dearly, but Dan is the one who seems to inhabit the same brain space as me. I always feel like I'm home when Dan is onstage.

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To cap off the evening, Moth regular David Arroyo took the stage and told a story about taking his girlfriend to meet his parents in Puerto Rico and then proposed to his girlfriend onstage. An unforgettable moment for everyone, to be sure. David and his girlfriend have been coming to slams together for more than year, so it seemed fitting that he propose to her on a Moth stage.  

This is exactly what you need to accomplish your goals. Nothing more.

Want some advice on how to create? On how to get things done? How to accomplish your goals? 

There's nothing better than this from writer and storyteller Dan Kennedy:

You have to encourage yourself. I woke up with this weird urgent need to tell everyone that. We have to travel with our own fuel onboard.
— Dan Kennedy

This is not the first time that I've quoted Dan on this blog. He says a lot of smart things. 

In case you missed my previous posts, they include:

"When people tell me they don't have enough time to write, I tell them to throw a trashcan through the window of a bank or airport."

"There are people who write every now and then. And there are writers who are people every now and then."

"Most movies about life depend on giant change, chapters ending, chapters beginning. Real life depends on sticking with things."

"When it comes to work, you're gonna end up doing what you want to do. Period. Spend 10 minutes or 30 years fighting it if you insist."

"Buy books for yourself and for other people."

Four pieces of perfect truth on the nature of writing and work by Dan Kennedy

Dan Kennedy is an author, storyteller, screenwriter, and host of The Moth's podcast and their live shows. I first met Dan in 2011 when I took the stage for the first time and told a story at The Moth.

He was hosting that night. I took the stage, shook his hand, and told my story. I won that slam, and after he called me back to the stage to take a bow, he took a moment to tell me how much he liked my story. He told me that is was funny and honest and a little sad. "A perfect combination."  

I still remember the moment like it was yesterday.      

Since that day, Dan and I have been in many shows together, both in New York City and elsewhere. It's always an honor to share a stage with him. Though I adore all of The Moth's hosts, I feel a special kinship to Dan. I am saddened when he is not present to hear my story. 

I tell my stories first for my wife, Elysha, but I think Dan is a close second,

Dan is also a great follow on Twitter, and yesterday he spilled some serious truth about writing and life that was worth capturing and sharing with you here. 

@DanKennedy_NYC There are people who write every now and then. And there are writers who are people every now and then.

@DanKennedy_NYC Most movies about life depend on giant change, chapters ending, chapters beginning. Real life depends on sticking with things.

@DanKennedy_NYC When it comes to work, you're gonna end up doing what you want to do. Period. Spend 10 minutes or 30 years fighting it if you insist.

@DanKennedy_NYC Buy books for yourself and for other people.

If you're worried about the guy being a little earnest or intense, fear not. Earlier that day, he tweeted about eating pie over the sink in the middle of the night. 

Funny, honest, and sometimes even a little sad.

Speak Up is two years old! It began with a snow day and a simple question to my wife.

Speak Up, the storytelling organization that my wife and I founded in 2013, is approaching it's two year anniversary. It was born on a snow day much like the one we experienced in the northeast earlier this week. 

My storytelling career began about five years ago with the discovery of The Moth’s podcast. A friend introduced it to me, and soon after, other friends began telling me that I should go to New York and tell a story. I’ve led a life filled with unusual moments and unfortunate disasters, so my friends thought The Moth would be perfect for me.

But taking the stage in New York and telling a story to 300 strangers was daunting to say the least. Frankly, I was afraid. So I assured my friends that I would go to a Moth StorySLAM someday but had no intention of ever doing so.

Then I had the idea of starting my own storytelling organization here in Hartford. I thought that telling stories in front of a handful of friends and family would be less intimidating than 300 hipster strangers in lower Manhattan. I was excited about this idea. I thought it could be something that Elysha and I did together. 

Then I didn’t do that, either.

Eventually, I couldn't look myself in the mirror. As daunting as it might be, I hated the idea of saying that I would do something and then not doing it. I resolved to go to New York, tell a story, and be done with it.  

On a hot July evening in 2011, Elysha and I went to New York. Packed into the Nuyorican Poets Café with 200 New Yorkers, I dropped my name in The Moth’s tote bag (always referred to as “the hat”), and began my storytelling career.

In truth, I dropped my name into the bag and immediately began praying that I wouldn’t be called. Putting my name into the hat at a Moth StorySLAM was good enough, I told myself. I tried. I could go home with my head held high.

And I thought my prayers were about to be answered. Nine storytellers had taken the stage, and my name had yet to be called. One more name would be drawn, and I would escape from New York unscathed.

Host Dan Kennedy opened the sheet of paper, stared intently at it for a moment, and then called my name. Except I didn’t write my name clearly, so he mispronounced it. I didn't move. If I sat very still, I thought, maybe they would pull another name, and I wouldn’t have to get up.

Then Elysha kicked me under the table. “That’s you,” she said. “Go!”  

I did. I took the stage and told my story. Dan Kennedy took a photo from the stage that night. This was my view as I told my story:

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You can actually see me in this photograph. Left side near the wall. Black shirt. White graphic. Only guy with his hands not raised. Looking terrified.

This is the story that I told:

 

When the final scores were tallied, it was revealed that I had somehow won. 

Two years later, after in February 2013, I was home with Elysha. It was a snowing outside and school had been cancelled. We were sitting at the dining room table, pounding away on our laptops. Since that first night in July, I had competed in eight more StorySLAMs. I had three more wins under my belt. I was in the midst of a streak of six wins in a row and 11 our of 14. I had competed in two Moth GrandSLAMS. I had delivered two TED Talks and told stories for Literary Death Match and The Story Collider.

The Moth had changed my life. I felt like a real storyteller. A good storyteller. I was ready for a new challenge.

I looked up from my laptop. Looked across the table at Elysha and said, "You know, we should do that storytelling idea in Connecticut. Right?"

"Yeah," she said. "We should."

A friend had mentioned that Real Art Ways might be the perfect spot for a show, so on a whim, I called. I spoke to Will Wilkins, Real Art Ways’ Executive Director. "Well, it's snowing today," he said. "No one's here. Why don’t you come down now?"

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I did. About an hour later, Speak Up (still without a name or any storytellers save myself) was born. Will had given us the date for our first show and suggested that we find a name for our organization as soon as possible. Good advice. That would come about a week later on a ride home from Elysha’s parents house. While brainstorming ideas, I said, “How about using an imperative. A command. Something like Speak Up?”

“That’s it,” Elysha said. “Speak Up.”

We had found our name. 

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Our first show, in April of 2013, featured eight storytellers. All friends who we knew could tell a good story. We didn’t listen to their stories beforehand or work with storytellers back then (and thus had two stories about trips to Greece told back-to-back), so every story was as much of a surprise to us as the audience. That was fun. We’ve since learned that it makes for a better show when we take the time to listen to our storytellers’ stories and help them with their fine tuning. We’ve learned a lot in the three years that I have been telling stories, so we share this wisdom with our storytellers before they take the stage. 

When we arrived at Real Art Ways that night, the woman in charge asked us how many chairs to put out.

“Well, we have about eight storytellers,” Elysha said. “And they will all probably bring a guest. And we might get a few more people might come. So maybe 40?”

The woman laughed. “We’ll put out 90.”

Good thing she did. We had a standing room only crowd of about 125 people that first night, and we have been selling out shows ever since. There were about 250 people at our last show, and I didn’t know most of them. In those early days, our audiences were primarily our friends. Now some of our most devoted fans are people who I have never actually met.

We’ve produced 12 shows in the two years that we have been running Speak Up. We have established partnerships with The Mount in Lenox, Massachusetts, Kingswood Oxford School in West Hartford, and just this week, The Connecticut Historical Society. Speak Up will be featured at this year’s Connecticut Storytelling Festival. We run workshops for people who are interested in telling stories, and I have taught classes on storytelling in libraries, high schools, colleges, and universities, including most recently Perdue University and The University of Connecticut Law School.     

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I had no idea that all of this would happen when I peeked over my laptop and said to Elysha that “we should do that storytelling thing in Connecticut.” But our lives have changed completely and forever because of it.

It's a good reminder that the best way to start something is to start something. Think less. Move fast. Figure things out along the way. And find a good partner.

I meet far too many people with big dreams and grand ambitions who spend too much time worrying about how to make them happen instead of making them happen.

Move. Create forward momentum. Take a risk.

Three years ago, I dreamed of telling a story on a Moth stage. Today I am a storyteller. Life can change quickly if you give it a chance.

Three years ago today, I wrote a post asking for readers to vote on a story pitch that I had submitted to The Moth via their website.

I wrote:

The opportunity to tell a story for The Moth is a big deal to me. So if you have a moment, please click over to The Moth’s website and vote for my story (if you think it worthy) by clicking on the stars beside the story itself.  Rating my story pitch will also register one vote for me.

This represented my cowardly attempt to tell a story for The Moth. Even though I lived close enough to New York City to compete in a StorySLAM by simply dropping my name into a hat, I was desperately attempting to avoid taking the stage and being assigned a numerical score for my performance.

It’s amazing to see how quickly your life can change when you decide to face your fear. Less than a month after pitching that story on The Moth’s website, I decided to stop acting like a coward and went to New York City with my wife to tell a story.

When we arrived at the Nuyorican’s Poets Café, I placed my name in the hat and immediately prayed that it wouldn’t be drawn. When it was, I stayed in my seat for a moment, hoping that the host, Dan Kennedy, might become impatient and choose another name instead. Then Elysha told me to get out of my seat and on the stage.

I did. This is what I saw. 

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I told a story about pole vaulting in high school. When the scores were tallied, I was astounded to discover that I had won.

I had become a storyteller.

This victory led me to my first GrandSLAM, where I competed against nine other StorySLAM winners. I placed third that night. I met two storytellers on that stage who I am proud to call my friends today.

My life has changed profoundly since the night I took that stage less than three years ago.

I have gone on to tell stories at 22 Moth StorySLAMs in New York and Boston. I have won 11 of them.

I’ve told stories at six Moth GrandSLAMs and placed a frustrating second in four of them.

I’ve told stories at two Moth Main Stage shows.

I’ve gone on to tell stories for other storytelling organizations like The Mouth, The Story Collider, Literary Death Match, and more. I’ve delivered talks at three TED conferences throughout New England. I’ve been hired to deliver speeches for a variety of reasons. 

Last year my wife and I founded Speak Up, a Hartford-based storytelling organization. Since then, we have produced six shows at Real Art Ways in Hartford. All have been sell outs.

We now teach storytelling workshops to people who want to become storytellers for a variety of reasons. Other venues throughout New England have reached out to us, asking us to consider bringing our show to them.

When someone asks me where I see myself in five years, I laugh. If you’re wiling to say yes to opportunities, as frightening or silly or impossible as they may seem, your life will change constantly.

The future will be impossible to predict. 

Three years ago, I was a guy who wanted to tell one story on one Moth stage. Someday. 

Today, storytelling has become an enormous part of my life.

It’s incredible to think that just three years ago, I was staring a website, asking friends and family to vote for my story, hoping that someone at The Moth would like my pitch enough to choose me.

Life can change fast if you give it a chance.

15 thoughts from a Moth StorySLAM

I told a story on Wednesday night at The Moth’s StorySLAM at Housing Works in New York City. The theme of the night was Secrets. I was lucky enough to win with a childhood story about discovering that Santa Claus wasn’t real (and uncovering an even worse secret as a result). image

Here are some thoughts from the night:

1. I have been fortunate enough to win 11 Moth StorySLAMs since 2012. It never gets any less exciting to win, even knowing that so many factors (in addition to your actual performance) play a role in determining who finishes first.

Winning requires a great deal of luck.

Even so, it’s always a thrill.

That said, it’s also a little bit disappointing when my wife is not in the audience when I win, as was the case on Wednesday night. I went to the slam alone, and though I have many Moth friends to keep me company, it’s never the same when she’s not by my side.

2. Two storytellers approached me after the show to comment on the double arc in my story. I was aware of the double arc (and was worried that it might confuse the audience) but had no idea that anyone else would notice. It’s incredible to be around people who understand your craft at least as well as you do and probably better.

3. At the end of a StorySLAM, before the final scores are announced, the storytellers whose names weren’t drawn from the hat take the stage and tell the first line of their story. I hate this part because I always hear amazing opening lines that make me want to hear the rest of their stories, as was the case on Wednesday night. I’m still thinking of Nathaniel Bates’ opening line and wishing that I had heard his story (and relieved that I didn’t have to compete against it).

4. I almost never have a great first line to a story. I usually open my story with my age at the time of the story and my location. I think it’s important to ground the audience in your experience as quickly as possible. Let them begin to formulate images in their mind immediately. That said, I love a great opening line and wish I had them more often.

5. Moth audiences are the best. One storyteller lost her place in the middle of her story and suffered through a painfully prolonged pause, longer than any I’ve heard or seen before. I thought she might just step off the stage and abandon the story at one point, but the audience rallied her spirits and kept her going to the finish. It was a beautiful thing.

6. A distinct advantage to not memorizing your story is that you will never find yourself struggling for the next sentence and will probably never suffer from the pregnant pause. You lived the moment, so it’s not as if you’re going to forget what happened, but it’s easy to forget a memorized line.

Not memorizing allows you to edit your story while onstage, which I did a lot on Wednesday night. I was forced to drop two entire sections of the story for the sake of time and found a much better ending sentence than the one I had originally planned. None of these “in the moment” revisions would be possible had I memorized my story.

7. That said, if you actually memorize your story, or come close to memorizing it, you’ll always know how long it is. I never know. “It feels like five minutes,” is as close as I often get to knowing before I take the stage. Thankfully, my estimate is usually close, and my wife will time me for GrandSLAMs and other, more important shows when people are depending on me to be as close to perfect as possible. On Wednesday night, my estimate was not close. I probably had an 8 or 9 minute story when I took the stage. It required a lot of quick thinking. Not fun. Not memorizing your story is a bit like walking a high wire at times.

8. I don’t write my stories down, either. When I write a story down, it doesn’t sound like me anymore. I lose my speaking voice and end up sounding formal and academic. But writing my stories down would probably help with timing, too, and most of my favorite storytellers (people far better than me) always write their stories.

9. The woman sitting in front of me who shushed the two idiot women sitting to our left at least three times throughout the night was the true hero of the slam. I’ve never seen audience members engaged in full blown conversations in the middle of a storyteller’s performance before.

10.. It’s become impossible to leave your backpack unattended in a public space anymore without looking like a terrorist. I nearly went onstage last night with the damn thing.

11. Parking in SoHo is amazing. Where else in New York can I always find a parking spot in front of my destination?

12. Two strangers hugged me after the show. Didn’t say a word. Just hugged me and walked away. Independently of each other. It was a little strange but beautiful, too. Storytelling is amazing.

13. A female storyteller told a hilarious story about her propensity for flatulence that I will never forget. I have not laughed so hard in a long time. Though I know that certain people may have been turned off by this kind of story (including the two idiot women to my left who said as much), those people suck and wouldn’t know the first thing about audacity, honesty and courage.

14. The importance of a great host cannot be overstated. It makes the storyteller’s job so much easier. Dan Kennedy manages to keep the audience laughing and engaged throughout the night through the use of tiny slips of nearly indiscernible scribbling that he somehow transforms into stories themselves. He’s a master in the art of hosting.

15. Storyteller and Moth host David Crabb taught me that whenever I am faced with danger or fear, I should tell people not to worry by letting them know that “I’m a storyteller.”

I don’t know if this will work, but it will make me feel good. And stupid.

Do I know Dan Kennedy?

I have read two of Dan Kennedy’s three books. I own the third and will read it soon.  

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I follow him on Twitter and read his tweets daily.

I read his work in McSweeney’s.

I have listened to him tell true stories from his life, both on stage and recorded.

I have seen him host many Moth events, where he often shares bits from his life as well as his reactions to the stories.

I’ve spoken to him in person on many occasions at Moth events.

My question is this:

Do I really know Dan Kennedy?

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I’m not sure.

I think I know Dan Kennedy, but I find myself wondering what would happen if Dan and I were to  spend a weekend together. Would I discover that I didn’t really know him at all? Would I find myself liking him more or less than his public facing persona?

Is the Dan Kennedy who I know and love the real, honest-to-goodness version of Dan Kennedy that his friends and family know?

In this age of media, it’s easy to think that you can know a person by immersing yourself in their content, particularly when they produce a great deal of it across multiple platforms.

The same holds true for me. If a reader has read all of my novels, reads my blog regularly, follows me on Twitter and Facebook and has listened to me tell stories for The Moth similar organizations (live or recorded), do they really know me?

I’m not sure.

Do they know me better than an actual friend or family member who sees me once every couple months or only during the holiday season?

I have a friend named Gary. I’ve known him for at least twenty years. I’ve spent long stretches of time with him, including a road trip to Florida more than decade ago. Today, I see Gary a few times a year. He judges my annual science fair at school. We spend an occasional weekend together. I see him at parties and cookouts. We might play poker or golf together or attend a Patriots game with some mutual friends. 

Gary doesn’t read my blog. As far as I know, he hasn’t read any of my books. He doesn’t follow me on Twitter. He doesn’t use Facebook. He’s never seen or heard me tell a story onstage.

I’m not sure of he even knows that I am a storyteller.

Does Gary know me better than someone who I have never met but who consumes my written and spoken content regularly and interacts with me through social media?

I think maybe not.

I suspect that the person who immerses him or herself in my content and communicates with me regularly through social media might actually know me better than Gary.

But does that person know the real me?

Is my book/blog/social media/storytelling persona my true persona?

I like to think so, but maybe not. I’m not sure.

Here’s my hypothesis:

The person who knows me through my content probably knows me better than Gary. For the same reason, I may know Dan Kennedy better than I know Gary. But I have no idea what the combination of me and Dan Kennedy would yield.

Dan Kennedy is like a chemical compound that I have studied closely. I know a great deal about his color, consistency and chemical composition. But I don’t know how Dan Kennedy’s chemical compound would react when combined with my own. Would we integrate seamlessly into some new, more glorious compound? Would one compound consume the other? Would we separate like oil and water? Would we explode?

I may not know Gary’s chemical compound quite as well, but I know how we fit together. I know how we interact. I know that when we come together, as infrequently as that may be, Gary’s chemical compound and my own will react well together.

All will be well.

Though I don’t see Gary often and rarely speak to him unless we are doing something together, I know that we work well together.

I think this is the real difference between knowing someone in real life and knowing someone through social media and their content. It’s not a question of knowing the real person. It’s a question of knowing how you and that person would get along in the real world.

I suspect that Dan Kennedy and I would combine just as well as Gary and me, but I don’t know for sure. I can’t know for sure. I only know the side of Dan Kennedy that faces the public. There may be other parts of his chemical compound puzzle that I don’t know well and wouldn’t combine with me at all. 

Do I know Dan Kennedy as well as I think?

I don’t even think Dan Kennedy could answer this question. 

Can’t find the time to write?

When people tell me they don't have enough time to write, I tell them to throw a trashcan through the window of a bank or airport.

– Dan Kennedy, author of Rock On: An Office Power Ballad (which I recommend in audio form), American Spirit, which is sitting on my shelf, and Loser Goes First, which I just discovered while writing this post. 

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