Monthly Archives: February 2016

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I met Aaron A Fortner just about a year ago. We met because of work, had a nice conversation over coffee, then we agreed to something really unusual. Something guys basically never do.

I said, “Hey Aaron, how about we have coffee and just talk about life about once a week, for the entire year? We won’t try and figure out some way to work together. We’ll just talk about life. I think it could be rewarding.”

I was looking to fill my life with more real, authentic, non-facebook, non-work, friendship in my life. Being a full-time father, a husband and a careerist – well that keeps you pretty busy. Time to just hang out with a friend, what’s that?

But more than being busy, the reason for my suggestion ran much deeper.

I know a lot of guys whose every friendship is really just an extension of their work. Their guy friends are co-workers, colleagues, associates, or collaborators. Their friendships happen through work meetings, or mastermind meet-ups. Everyone is viewed as a “friend” but it’s really just “work” that bonds them together. Their circle of friends might as well be called “professional association meet ups.” This is a real guy-thing.

I started noticing this five years back when I left a business I was involved with where I had “friends” all over the world, but the minute we didn’t have work in common, all the friendships dried up overnight.

Nowadays, I seek to fill my life with friends who do not value me through the lense of work. Life’s too short. And I’m clear that friendship isn’t real if it only happens through FB and the occasional meet up where you hug your buddy and say, “How’s it going? What’s up with your work?”

Aaron said yes to my suggestion and our unusual guy-friendship experiment over coffees began.

Could we sustain it?

Would it fizzle quickly without the usual guy-bonding agent of work?

We kept making the time. Kept having coffees. And kept work talk to a minimum. And about 3 months into it, it started to fizzle. We went a month without a coffee meet up, a single text or call.

It was failing, because there was no work to make the guy-bonding thing easy.

Work has urgency. Work has bottom lines. Work is a strong bonding agent for guy “friendship”, like an epoxy. But non-work based conversations, was proving about as bonding as Elmers-glue. Nice but easily dissolvable.

Add to it that we were trying to bond over coffee, not alcohol. Yeah, we were way out on a limb here.

But we picked back up in May and continued on. And then a funny thing started to occur… Life kept happening to each of us, ups and downs, rewards and pains, and we kept sharing the experiences over coffees.

Somedays, I’d walk into the coffeehouse happy and share why. Somedays I’d walk in down and be real about it. Other days, it’d be coffee to mostly hear about Aaron’s tremendous personal breakthrough. And then of course there were days where something was weighing heavy on his mind.

Funny, I barely knew shit about the day to day workings of Aaron’s incredible career, but I came to know the inner workings of his day to day feelings.

At just about 1 year of this friendship developed 95% over coffee conversation, one day as Aaron saw me approaching, I was so completely out of sorts, he took one look at me and said, “Buddy, what’s the matter? Talk to me.” 6 hours later, he’d help me turn around a really shitty day.

So work never became the glue btwn us. Or alcohol. Or adrenaline sports.

We’ve never done a work project together. We’ve never done any J.V. of any kind. We’ve never invested a dime on one another’s endeavors. I don’t believe the guy’s ever seen me speak or stopped by my website.

Instead, it was the consistent sharing of our journey as two people just trying to navigate this crazy thing called life that created a true friendship, an actual one, one that has zip to do with Facebook, until this very post.

The whole thing taught me something about friendship.

True friendship isn’t easily forged. Nowadays the word “friend” is as simple as a button “Accept Request” button, and often just as hollow.

Nowadays, too many men fill their lives with “friends” who are in actuality, just colleagues, and I feel bad for those who confuse the two. They are far from the same thing.

An actual friendship takes a ton of conversations to develop. But is worth every dollar you may spend for coffees.

Parenting, Totally Awesome!

Have yourself a little laugh at this story about the birds and the bees.

Tonight at dinner with my family, I’m telling a story about my mother which involves how my mother was given away as a child because her mother was overwhelmed by trying to raise 4 children on dishwasher wages.

My son, Will, asks, “But what about her husband? Why didn’t he help her?”

I say, “Your grandmother didn’t have a husband.”

Will looked absolutely puzzled. Like someone had just told him they dropped a rock and it fell upwards.

“If she wasn’t married then HOW did she have kids?” he asked.

And with that we remember that at 7 years of age, Will’s only explanation for where babies come from has thus far been, you get married and your love makes kids. Old fashioned, I know. Close to true on the love making part. And prior to this very moment in a Thai Food restaurant, age appropriate.

Anyway, back to the story. The restaurant we’re in is so small you might as well be having dinner with everyone sitting at the tables around you because you can hear everything they’re saying and smell their food as if it was on your own table. So all things considered, we’d like to deep six Will’s question immediately so we’re all just taking a moment of… pause.

But Will’s on it like a bird dog now.

“Seriously, if she wasn’t married then HOW did she have kids?”

My wife steps into the quicksand. “They just did Will because people who are not married also have kids.”

Not good enough. “BUT HOW?!” Will asks again.

Our daughter, 16, is cracking up and turning a bit red. I’ve gone quiet trying to decide if I should break out the big V and P words.

But then my wife makes a second pass.

“Will, babies are made like this,” and her left-hand rises. Using her index finger and thumb, she makes a circle!

I immediately know what the circle represents and I can’t believe my wife is going for it! I’m shocked and just waiting for her right hand to rise up with one straight finger headed for the circle, all right over a plate full of Pad Thai!

I did NOT know she had this level of explanation in her! Nor am I sure it’s age appropriate, but at the same time I’m kinda impressed because it is straight to the point.

Wow, my son is about to learn about sex from his mom doing an anatomical demonstration with her hands! In a restaurant! My eyes are opened as wide as Will’s, and same goes for my daughter’s. Let’s just say my wife has everyone’s attention.

Then, with the little circle she makes with her left hand, my wife goes, “Will, a woman has an egg.”

I about spit out my food realizing that the circle represented an egg… I completely got that wrong! I burst out laughing!

Will, he exclaims, “Ha Mom has eggs!” That really tickled his funny bone and seems to be all the answer he needs.

My wife completes the brief fertilization talk. Rice becomes the semen. Thanks a lot honey, couldn’t you have used a food I didn’t eat all the time?

So now my son thinks babies come from putting rice into a women’s egg, and he likely thinks those eggs are about three inches around with a hard shell. Oh well, we can fill him on delivery systems the next time we’re out to dinner.

Parenting. Totally awesome.

Friendship

I love this story of friendship. They met in college. They both shared a similar dream. They both reached their dreams. They both made the world a better place with their light. And for me, Christopher Reeves was born to play Superman. He was just so perfect for the part because he portrayed the kindness of Superman so well. And Robin, what can you say about Robin Williams that hasn’t already been said?

But this is my favorite story to tell about their friendship. Imagine the depth of fear and anguish Christopher Reeves was feeling. And imagine how much pain and fear Robin Williams was feeling walking into the ICU. But Robin found a way to be exactly what his friend needed at his most trying hour of life. I like to think that Robin Williams was more grateful for his comedic gift in that moment, than he’d ever been before. And I like to think Christopher Reeves was more grateful for his friendship with Robin, in that moment, than ever before.

Friendship is everything.

Take more time with your friends.

Seriously.

Stop putting off time with your friends for later when you think you’ll have more time.

Life is now.

A handful of good friends makes you Ultra-Wealthy.

And a single good friend may be exactly what you need at your most trying hour of life.

Family, Love and Death

I’d never seen this photo of my brother and I until yesterday! A friend that I had lost touch with for 35 years sent it to me out of the blue. It is an instant absolute treasure to me. And sometimes a picture is the perfect start of a story.

My mother died about two years ago. And my brother and I were both there for the final days.

So my brother is a Dunkin Donuts guy. Me, Starbucks. It tells you a lot about us. Me, I’m stupid enough to believe you can’t get a good coffee at Dunkin Donuts. My brother doesn’t want a “latte with soy milk” or to pay an absurd $5 for it. I’ve never wandered into a Dunkin Donuts. He wouldn’t waste his money at a Starbucks. Never has. Never would.

So there came this moment near to my mom’s death, when I had to say goodbye to her. For the last time.

I had been at her side, sleeping in her hospital room for about two weeks. But now she was unconcious, heavily medicated and would not be coming back. I was leaving her, having been told by the head nurse, I needed to go home now so that my mother would let go.

So came the time for my final moments with my mother.
My brother said that he would give me all time I needed alone with her, “Call me or text me when you want to be picked up. Take all the time you need.”

It was evening. And silent when I walked in her room. My mother was still there, sleeping. under blankets. Hooked up to IV’s or some shit.

She was asleep like the dead.

At night this wing of the hospital is a ghost town.

It is dark in her room.

I walk to my mother’s side. This is the woman who birthed me. Her hair is gray. The skin on her arms hangs loose from age. I know her face so well. Even though it is the face of a tired old woman, here and now it is easy to love.

This is the blood of my blood.

I take her hand. And hold it inside of mine. It is warm. How odd that it is smaller than my hand. When I was a child it felt so big.

This is the woman who took me to the park to feed the ducks.
This is the woman who gave me a home, even when she couldn’t afford it.

This is the woman who played with me and made me laugh.
This is the woman who got me a graduation present by trading away her washer and dryer.

This is the woman who fed me. Who cooked for me. Who taught me. Who worked nights for me. Who praised me. Who always answered every single call from me with unimaginable enthusiasm.

This is the woman who gave every thing she had for me. Everything.

I want to crumble.

I don’t know how to do this.

“Mom, I want to thank you for so much.

For feeding me for raising me for always being there for me
for loving me always

for keeping a roof over our heads for

alll the times you tucked me in as a child for coming to all my track meets

for getting me to go to college for

Mom, I love you.

And I realize I can’t actually thank you
enough.

There’s too much. But thank you for being such a good mother. thank you my sweet mother.

I will miss you so so so much. And I don’t know how to do this.

How to say goodbye to you

But I love you. And I will see you again my mother.

Good by my sweet mother.”

And then I kiss her on the forehead. I take a deep breath of her in.
And next, I must find a way to stand up and walk out on my mother. For the last time ever. I don’t know if I can do it. i didn’t know you had to do things this hard in life.

This is real. It is permanent. It cannot be undone. It is an end. It is a disappearance.

I squeeze my beautiful mom’s hand. Pull up her blanket.

And walk out.

I make it down the empty hall. Down the elevator. Before I collapse onto the chair in the empty lobby, sobbing.

it is done.

I have seen my mother for the last time. And said my goodbye. I have suffered the realization that you can’t thank a parent for all they do. Even with their mistakes and weaknesses, they do too much for you to put to words. Day by day. Year by year. Moment by moment.

I wipe my face and text.

PATRICK COMBS: “Come get me.”
MIKE COMBS: “I’m outside in the parking lot”

I walk out to my older brother.

He has a look of deep compassion in his eyes.

And a Starbucks in his hand.

“Here little brother, let’s go for a drive.”

Stay Young at Heart

I live with a person who dresses up in costumes about every day.

In this photo, he was a “Wild Kratt.” The other day he was a secret agent. Last week a cowboy. Just after New Years he jumped out an attacked me as Green Arrow. The kid is starring in his own action movies about every day of his life.

But he’s still young and has much to learn. Thank God he has me.

Monday, on a drive home from Los Angeles, him and I hoped to ride a Ferris Wheel we’d seen on the way to Los Angeles, visible from the freeway..

But as we drove past, the Ferris Wheel wasn’t operating.

Will was disappointed and being just 7 and vastly inexperienced in the great art of life, thought we should just continue on our drive home, sad that it was closed.

The kid has so much to learn. Thank God he’s got a dad.

“No Will, we should stop anyway! One thing I’ve learned about life is stop and check things out. It’s almost always fruitful to stop and check out new places, especially places you’re interested in. Good things come from stopping and checking it out. We walk to it. We stand in front of it. We see the times it’s open. We see the ticket prices. We stare up at it in awe. We do all of this and it draws us so much closer to the day we actually ride it! … If we just drive by, we’re no closer to our dream of riding it.”

So we did stop.

Well all be damned, turns out the Ferris Wheel was open! And we rode it.

After the Ferris Wheel, we discover the world’s greatest candy store. The seriously greatest, most epic, gobsmacking, unbelievable candy store in the history of the world. I know because Will says, “I can’t calm down! I can’t calm down!”

We emerge with three new Tic Tac Flavors – we are professional Tic Tac lovers – and with four of the weirdest soda’s on Earth: Bug Barf soda, Bubble Gum soda, Chocolate soda, and Peanut Butter & Jelly soda.

Then we decide to hit Dave & Buster’s.

Between us and the door was a straight line of about 20 feet.

I’m ready to proceed, but Will says,

“Wait! Dad! We can only walk where there are shadows!”

I pause. And assess.

Looked impossible. Not many shadows leading to the door.

Unless….

We make like Tom Cruise entering a bank on a Mission Impossible.

So we jumped. We wall climbed. We stretched. We shimmied. We retreated. And it took a long time to cover 20 feet. And at times it didn’t look like we were going to make. But we freakin succeeded!

As I grab for the Dave & Buster’s door, I realize, it’s a hell of a lot of fun to proceed the way a Wild Kratt or a Secret Agent would… I don’t play enough. I should play a little every day. Or a lot. Yes, as much as possible. Playing keeps you young.

Jeez, I have so much to learn. Thank God I’ve got a son.

The next day, we go to the top of a mountain for the view, drawn by an especially clear day. Will teaches me it’s better to jump for your photos.

Hold Your Opinions Loosely

So two days ago, in a beautiful conversation with friends, I found myself exerting my opinions as if they were True. (Good sweet opinions btw. Lovely opinions if I do say so myself, which I just did. ; )

Any how, on this particular occasion, the old me showed back up and I went so far as to “kindly” exert why my opinion was Truer than my friend’s. Yeah, I was being THAT guy. (Man 0, Ego 1).

Well, within minutes of doing it, I felt sick inside as I realized the error of my ways. The only real Truth going on in that moment wasn’t my opinions, it was that I was over identifying with my thoughts, and being non-peace.

I have lots of opinions. All day long. (And damn good ones!) But I’ve learned I’m not my opinions. They’re just a bundle of my thoughts. And I am not my thoughts so there is no need defend them. I can just offer them.

BizDevBootcamp

I had a really fantastic and deeply authentic morning with the team from devbootcamp.com (Thanks each of you!) Their alignment, their openness and their passion were nothing short of massively inspiring!

I ran their leadership team through three hours of catalyzing games and exercises to bond the team, deepen the connection among the team, and set the stage for strategic planning.

It’s About Love, Hopes & Dreams

There’s a great story behind this photo. If you like my stories, I hope you’ll read this one. It’s deeply personal. It’s about love. It’s about parenting. It’s about a father and a daughter. It’s about hopes and dreams, fears and insecurities, disappointments and miracles. It’s about Rob Lowe. And it just happened. It’ll take you 5 minutes to read. 

————
“Dad! I got invited to a movie audition. Should I go? Can I go?”

My daughter’s dream is acting in movies. She is staring at her computer which is open to the acting profile she keeps on Backstage.com, a movie industry site.

This is the first audition invite from Hollywood she’s ever received.

“Holy heck Alyssa, that’s wonderful, read it to me!”

It’s from a director at the American Film Institute for a short movie. AFI is a really big deal. We google to find that out and we’re both kinda stunned when we do.

“What should I write back? Could I go to Los Angeles for an audition?” she asks.

My daughter has dreamed of acting in movies since she could talk.

We work out a reply and press send.

The next day, she gets another message from the director inviting her to audition on Wednesday at 7:30. Just five days away.

I believe in my daughter’s dream of acting. I always have. I believe in my daughter. And I believe in those whispers that tells us what we’d really love to do in our lives.

Alyssa has long amazed me with how she silently and effectively goes about care taking of her dream, almost never asking for help.

The director sends her a bit of the script, the movie is named Eyes of Dawn, and is about a teenage girl who is bullied at school and lives at home with an alcoholic dead-beat dad. Alyssa does school plays and she never reads her lines out loud for her parents. We always see it first at the live performance. But this time, I say, “Want to run lines with me? Since I’m a dad.” And she says “Sure”. I’m surprised and happy to be sitting in front of the fireplace reading script lines back and forth with my daughter for the first time ever.

In the script I get to yell, “Go to your room!” We say not a word about it, but we both know how I sound when I say the line in real life, but now she get’s a new line to respond with, “It’s a little too late for that.” We run the lines about ten times. She’s doing great.

Alyssa needed this break. This audition. Just last month, she lost the lead role she really wanted in a high school play and instead got what she felt was a bit part. I picked her up from school the day she got the news and she could barely speak the whole drive home. I think she wanted to cry. It was my first time as a father watching my kid suffer the disappointment of your dream not going as you so badly wanted, as you so badly felt you needed.

I had words of advice that were born out of my own disappointments in not being picked, of not getting the gig, of feeling overlooked and not good enough, but for the first time as I shared them with my daughter, I felt like a lousy inspirational speaker. I could see my daughter remain feeling defeated. I took her for treat. That an a hug seemed to work better than words of wisdom. And family. Just having family that loves you no matter what seemed to be far better than any words.

Three days to go before the audition. Alyssa tells me something when she gets in the car after school.

“My drama teacher was so excited about my audition she dedicated the entire class to helping me get ready. And tomorrow she’s going to do the same!”

I hear this and feel enormous gratitude, to the teacher of course, god bless the teacher for such a graceful and generous kindness, but I also feel grateful to the entire Universe. I want a friendly Universe for my daughter. I want the entire Universe to conspire for her to have a positive experience with her dreams.

Two days before the audition.

We call my close and long-time friend Ken Goldstein, an Emmy-award winning director and 20 year Hollywood veteran.

He gets on the phone with Alyssa who has never done any movie audition before. Ken says, “The most important thing is to go in there and enjoy it. Have fun! You’re auditioning at AFI and you’re doing what you love. So don’t concern yourself with getting the part. Just enjoy yourself all the way.”

As he speaks to Alyssa over speaker phone, I see my life choices and my friends now benefiting my daughter’s life, and I am amazed. Never saw that coming. My friend of decades is now mentoring my daughter.

The day of audition.

It’s my job to print out her first headshot. Her friend Lilly took it. When it comes out of the Kinko’s photo machine, I’m amazed. My daughter looks every bit a beautiful young woman but the photo is not what I expected. She is smiling in it. But not a full smile. And her eyes, they say, “I am friendly, but I am serious.” She only needs one head shot. I print a second one for my wall.

3:30 p.m.. It is time to pick Alyssa up and drive to Hollywood. Her audition is at 7:30. Hollywood is a 2 hour drive. We should have plenty of time to get there, but it is POURING RAIN. This isn’t a hard San Diego rain. This is a freak storm sent by mother nature to say, You bet your ass climate change is real, and today I’m going to send a warning to all my little friends in San Diego. I mean it’s coming down Biblically.

I don’t say anything. But I know this rain will massively slow down the drive to Los Angeles. I know this could make us late.

And then, both of our phones sound an emergency alert. And display a warning that certainly has never happened before in San Diego: TORNADO WARNING! What?! It seems almost impossible. We live in a beach town.

God. Please. Not tonight.

While we’re driving in a torrential downpour I make another call. Ransford, please pick up I think to myself. Ransford is the only working actor I know. Met him last year when he became a speech coaching client. Super nice guy with enough energy to power a small city. I would so love Alyssa to get a bit of advice from him. He answers!

Ransford talks to my daughter. Among a stream of great advice, the one that hits my daughter the most is, “Alyssa, just go in there and tell the story. You’re not there to audition. Or for them to like you. You’re just there to tell the story. They already saw something they like in you, that’s why they asked you to audition. Now they’re just hoping you can help them tell the story.” I see this advice both relax and excite my daughter. She feels ready. And she keeps saying she feels ready.

I have a surprise for the drive planned.

“Hey, I thought we could listen to the actor Rob Lowe’s audiobook. He’s got a chapter where he tells the story of when he did his audition at your age for The Outsiders.”

The weirdest thing I did in December is buy and listen to Rob Lowe’s audiobook. I thought I didn’t like Rob Lowe. But then one little excerpt I heard almost accidentally and I buy the thing and listen to it all. Kept saying to friends, “I’m doing the weirdest thing. I’m listening to Rob Lowe’s audiobook. I even paid money for it. I don’t even know if I like Rob Lowe.” Well I did end up liking his audiobook very much. But now as it’s playing for my daughter, and he’s saying things like, “I don’t think actors are great liars. I think great actors are actually great truth tellers. The tellers of their truth, what’s true for them in the words on the script.” I love Rob Lowe, and I want to give him a huge hug.

The car navigation system keeps pushing our arrival time back. It now tells us we’re going to make it to the audition at 7:20. If Rob wasn’t telling us a story, we’d be sweating it. We’re sweating it anyway. We’re just staying positive about it.

But we’re not going to make it on time.

Unless the rain stops.

There’s no sign of it stopping.

Mother Nature seems like she’s just getting started.

And then, the rain stops. Just goes away. Like a miracle.

We make it to AFI at 7:03. Uncle Rob shared Hollywood stories and advice with us for most of the ride.

We park at the American F-ing Film Institute. And I know this is where my daughter gets out of the car, and I be the cool dad who knows to wait in the car. I know she doesn’t want her Dad to be seen anywhere near her first Hollywood audition. I know. But I SO VERY MUCH wish I could go in. I so very much wish she wasn’t 16 yet. I so very wish she was 12 or 13 or 14 even and she still wanted me to go with her because I want to be there supporting her. But I know. I know I have to let her go. She’s 16.

“Okay honey, go in there and have fun. I know you’ll be wonderful and I’ll be here waiting!” I say.

“Dad, I’m sure you can come in with me,” she says asking.

I wrote this whole story to tell you that line.

I just broke out of story to tell you how much her saying that meant to me.

She wanted me to come in with her.

She still needs me.

I am still her Dad.

This is for me, a beautiful moment.

I’m new to being a father. Because almost every day being a parent is a new experience. I’ve never had a 16 year old daughter before. I myself never had a dad. My daughter has never been on this step into her own life, into her dreams, into the actual world. And I’m making it up as I go. Every step of the way. All the time. Constantly. Every new situation, I’m just guessing at how to be a good Dad. Aren’t we all.

And I’m sure it meant almost nothing that she wanted me to come with her, but to me, it meant the world because she’s almost grown. And I’ve got so little time left with her. And I hope I haven’t messed up too much. I hope I’ve done enough. I hope I’ve been okay as a father. And maybe this is a small sign that I’ve done enough right.

“Oh! Ok, great! Let’s go in,” I say. She has no idea.

We go in to AFI. This is hallowed ground. The walls are covered with black and white photographs of AFI award winners and graduates. It is the Who’s Who in Hollywood directing, producing, editing, cinematography and screenwriting. Giant movie posters adorn the walls also, each declaring with placards all the AFI graduates who were involved in making the movie.

My daughter’s first audition, at AFI. This is beyond legit. Thank you God!

In the hallways there are already actors gathered and waiting, my daughter’s competition. Like my daughter, they are all dressed the part. Leather jackets. Doo rags. Torn jeans. Flannel shirts. I’m wondering if my daughter’s freaking out? She looks pretty cool and confident. As a matter a fact, she’s got this HUGE smile on her face she’s so excited. Like best day of her life excited. “How is she not freaking out?” I wonder. We sit in little chairs against the hallway walls near the other actors. I lean into Alyssa and whisper, “Remember, don’t smile so much because you’re playing a girl who’s sad and angry.”

She notices that she is in fact smiling like a school girl with a huge crush and nods. Then the smile disappears. Good acting.

The director, a young woman who all at once seems friendly, professional and impressive calls in the first actor.

There teenage girl goes in and the unexpected happens. Alyssa and I hear her audition through the walls!

Oh that’s not good, I think to myself. Even Rob Lowe says the last thing an actor wants is to have to see other people’s auditions. Francis Ford Coppola casted like that and Rob said it was terrifying. But Alyssa keeps giving me looks to assure me that she’s okay. She’s feeling good.

I’m so proud of her.

And then, 30ish minutes later, the director calls my daughter into the room.

And the door closes.

Now, she’s on her own.

And Dad can only wait. And hope.

Please God, it’s her first audition. Let it be a positive experience. Please God, let her walk out of that room happy. Let her walk out of there feeling that she did good.

There is one more girl in the hall waiting to audition. I decide to say hello.

“Hi, do you do a lot of these?” I say.

I worried I might be interrupting her concentration, but she is clearly relieved to get to talk.

“No, it’s only my third one! I’m so so nervous! You’re daughter sounds great in there and she didn’t seem nervous at all. She must do a lot of these,” she says.

“It’s her first audition,” I inform.

We continue to make small talk and I decide to share Ransford’s great advice with the girl. I say, “You’re in college for acting so I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but the best advice my daughter received was just go in there and tell the story.”

The minute I say it I wonder if in my kindness I’ve just accidentally betrayed my daughter. Maybe this wasn’t the time or place to try and help anyone but my daughter. Damnit, it’s hard to turn habits of sharing off. But maybe I should have.

The young woman, who again was just so nervous, says, “I’ve never heard that advice. That’s great advice! Why don’t they teach me that at college?”

We continue the small talk and then the girl, a perfect stranger 3 minutes before says, “I shouldn’t think this, but the crazy thing is, I honestly hope your daughter get’s the part. I shouldn’t but I do. Because how cool would it be if she got the lead role on her first audition. That would be so great.” She says it with total sincerity.

“That’s so incredibly kind of you,” I reply. Human beings can be awful, but they can also be so wonderful.

Then my attention goes back to the door.

Soon, Alyssa emerges.

Actually, she seems to burst.

And she is smiling.

Huge.

Thank you God.

She feels she nailed it.

As we head for the door, she is almost skipping. Her hair is somewhat bouncing. My heart is definitely dancing.

And she drops the script straight into the first trash can. Her acting teacher told her never keep an audition script. Throw it away so you have no temptation to wonder if you could have done any lines better.

Alyssa is a good student. She’s teachable.

I’m so happy.

We exit and I say, “Can we take a photo in front of the building?” She is rarely in the mood for a picture with Dad anymore.

“Yes!” she says joyfully.

One the ride homeI find myself giving her a talk about what I’ve learned about following your dreams. I’ve made a living giving this talk for 22 years. But this talk is different. Same advice. Same lessons. But for the first time, I’m not a speaker or a coach. I’m something I’ve never been before.

I’m a dad sharing what he hopes for his daughter to know about following her dreams.

She listens without saying a word.

She falls asleep.

I drive home the happiest father alive.

You’re Already Rich & Wonderful

Facebook makes a slick image out of us all, Our best photos make it as posts. Your Facebook newsfeed can make you feel like everyone else is living on permanent vacation.

But it’s our commonality, even the ordinary nature of our lives that truly binds us and makes us rich.

If you have people that love you, a few true friends, a gift you joyfully give as a parent or through your work, a roof over your head and enough to eat, you’re as rich as anyone on the planet, assuming you’re grateful for all these riches. Think about it this way, if there was no such thing has wealth or fame, we’d all be far clearer on how rich and wonderful we already are.