Put yourself out there

In 2011, I suggested on this blog that I might make an excellent professional best man and offered my services to anyone interested. Thus far I have received three inquiries from grooms interested in hiring me in this capacity.


In 2009 I decided to become a life coach after listening to a woman with a great deal of training but very little life experience describe how she was graduating from a life coaching training program at a local college and starting her business. Listening to her describe her qualifications, I decided that I was more qualified than she.

Humility is not my forte.

Today I have two clients, and two others have inquired about my services.


In 1997, my best friend asked if I wanted to become a wedding DJ. We had no experience in the music or wedding industries, nor had I ever considered this line of work, but he had been unhappy with the DJ at his wedding and thought we could do better. I explained that I had a paper to finish for my English class, but sure, I’d give it a shot.

To date, Bengi and I have entertained at more than 400 weddings throughout New England, and I have enough wedding memories to fill three books. The DJ business eventually led me to become an ordained minister in order to marry clients, and to date, I have married a total of twelve couples and officiated three baby naming ceremonies.

One of my closest friends and fellow Patriots season ticket holder is also a former DJ client.


Ever since I began listening to their weekly podcast, I had wanted to tell a story for The Moth, a storytelling organization based in New York that features true stories told live in a competitive format. For years, I considered starting my own version of The Moth here in Connecticut rather than facing my fear of a New York City audience. Eventually I realized that I was being stupid and drove to New York one night to compete in one of The Moth’s weekly StorySLAM competitions.

I won.

I competed in a subsequent GrandSLAM championship, where I placed second.

Less than two years later, I have competed in more than a dozen StorySLAMs and have attended still more as a member of the audience.

I have won three so far and placed second in all three GrandSLAMs.

Just like that, I have become a member of The Moth community. I have developed friendships with fellow storytellers that have led to other opportunities to tell stories to live audiences, and I have even become a recognizable figure to Moth audiences.

All I ever wanted to do was take the stage, tell a story and walk away feeling like I had accomplished something. Instead, I feel like a small part of something much bigger and more meaningful.  In a short period of time, I have become a part of their storytelling community and met some remarkable people in the process.


Why am I writing about these things?

Because I almost didn’t do any of them.

When my children are old enough to understand, I will try my best to impart to them the value of putting yourself out there and trying as many things as possible in life, regardless of how difficult or frightening or absurd they may be.

Too many people, myself included, fail to take risks in life and blaze their own trails.

I have learned that I find my greatest joy and sense of accomplishment in trying something new, and the more outlandish, frightening or absurd that thing may be, the better.

Not everything that I propose has worked out. My desire to become a double date companion and grave site visitor, for example, have not worked out yet. But I have not given up hope.

After my most recent Moth victory, a friend in the publishing industry suggested that I consider teaching classes on storytelling, for would-be storytellers as well as corporations who need to be able to communicate more effectively. A couple other people in the business world agreed with her suggestion, insisting that there would be a market for this kind of service, and so I am considering giving this a shot.

Do I expect much to come of it?

Probably not.

I was forced to turn down all of my professional best man clients because of geographic distance, and I’m not sure when and if another client will come along, but just knowing that there were people interested in my services is enough for me to push this career path a little more.

So maybe I will make millions becoming a storytelling consultant for corporations around the world who need to communicate clear, meaningful and  memorable messages to employees and customers.

More likely, I will end up teaching a few people about effective storytelling for more familiar venues like author appearances and The Moth.

Actually, most likely nothing will come of it.

But I’m putting myself out there, as I have done so often in the past, because when these things work out, it can be a thrilling ride.