Make It Rain

Make It Rain

When I was 16, a group of friends and I decided to start our own high school. Obviously, a group of kids with their heads in the clouds.

Death of a Habit

Death of a Habit

I smoked for twenty-eight years. Since I was a solid pack-a-day guy for more or less that entire time, this translates into ten thousand, two hundred twenty-seven packs (including leap years). One day, I decided to quit.

Pindar in the Classroom

Pindar in the Classroom

Students in classrooms around the globe, absorbing the lessons of Pindar’s Paradox: The more you give, the more you have. I can’t think of anything more gratifying.

The Gorgeous Moment

The Gorgeous Moment

That first step, the part of writing a story where there are no sentences and paragraphs yet, the part where there is only the empty blankness of the page, that is by far the hardest part. It’s also my favorite part.

Angels of Our Better Nature

Angels of Our Better Nature

In the photo above, taken circa 1952, you see that boy in the middle? The one who looks so happy and carefree? He isn’t. He’s terrified. How do I know this? Because I’ve spent the last year working with him on his story. People have asked me, what’s it like to write someone’s memoir? My answer: It’s somewhere between being a medium, an actor, and a ventriloquist. Last month I was asked that same question while being interviewed for an article about memoirs (and the people who write them) for New York magazine. Here’s how my answer came out: “I think it might be something like what it’s like to be an actor, playing someone’s life story on the screen. … You’ve got to find a place inside yourself that really connects with that person. If you’re going to do a good job at this, you have to get into this person and look at the world through their eyes.” Looking at the world through that little 7-year-old boy’s eyes has been quite an experience. This is perhaps the most intimate, controversial, and courageous memoir I’ve ever been a part of. It chronicles the life, multiple-times near-death, and ultimate redemption of one Bob Beckel, who survived a painful childhood of alcoholic neglect and abuse only to struggle through most of his adulthood with the demons of addiction and self-destruction. It just came out today. It is, as one commentator on CNN put it, “A hell of a book.” Its title: I Should Be Dead. When you read about his life, you’ll understand why. Beckel is a veteran of American...
This Moment Forever

This Moment Forever

One day early this month, Mike Cameron, an author and speaker friend in Canada, sat on the couch talking with his girlfriend, Colleen. At dinner that night they’d been discussing an interview Mike had just done with my buddy and Go-Giver coauthor Bob Burg. Now, sitting at home on the couch, they sat together, reading; the book in Colleen’s hands was The Go-Giver. One of the core concepts of the book is that the “secret” to success, on any and all levels, lies in living with a focus on giving, that is, on adding value to other people’s lives. At one point Colleen stopped reading, looked up at Mike, leaned in for a kiss, and then said, “Hey. I have a tip for you on adding value.” “Oh, yeah?” replied Mike. “Yeah,” she said. “When you think I look pretty, you should tell me.” What a great idea. How simple. How easy to overlook, to forget, to misplace. Yet it doesn’t take money, it doesn’t take advance notice or scheduling through Google Calendars. It takes hardly any time, and no effort at all. I do this every day. Multiple times. I tell my wife how lovely she is — because it’s true, and because the truth of it is sitting there right in front of me. What a good idea to simply say so. She does it too. I think I learned this from my father, who never ceased to let us all know just how much he loved us, and my mother, who was fiercely devoted to her children and didn’t hide that love-driven fierceness under any bushel. I re-learn it...
Reacher Transcendent

Reacher Transcendent

Child’s masterpiece is about the pain, poignancy, and inevitability of the passage of an age as it makes way for the next, and how we deal with that change.

A Long View on Politics

A Long View on Politics

Today I’d like to talk about politics. To take a long view of politics. Specifically, the politics of one city: Longview, Texas. And even more specifically, of one particular political act in Longview, Texas. What’s so special about Longview, Texas? Well, for one thing, it’s a booming little city. Two hours east of Dallas and an hour west from Shreveport, Louisiana, it manages to hold its own quite fine. Considered a major hub for the entire region, its Amtrak station is the second busiest in all of Texas. The economy is thriving, and has been so, even in tough times. In 2014, Forbes magazine ranked Longview as the sixth fastest-growing small city in the United States. I can’t help wondering if its relative prosperity has to do with its governing values. Longview likes to invest in its people. (All roughly 81,000 of them.) The city designates approximately 10 percent of its annual budget toward community services that directly benefit its youth. Its public school system is its third largest employer. In 2008 and again in 2011, Longview was named one of the “Top 100 Best Communities for Young People” by American’s Promise Alliance. Some famous people come from there. Matthew McConaughey is from Longview. Forest Whitaker, too. So is Miranda Lambert. So is Andy Mack. Wait — Andy who? Andy Mack. A surgeon with an active practice in Longview, Andy is a native of the city. Since May of this year he has also been its mayor (a volunteer position), and will be for the next three years. Which brings me to that specific political act. Mayor Mack has...
Fuzzy Clarity

Fuzzy Clarity

In 1996, I decided I wanted to have a career in Hollywood. Exactly how and when … that part was a little fuzzy.

Through a Child’s Eyes

Through a Child’s Eyes

The world of a child is not innocent, or naïve, or simplistic, or anything like an adult’s dumbed-down Disneyfied version of life. A child’s life and perspective is weighty with terror, wonder, bewilderment, yearning, and near-infinite depth of feeling.

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