Mastering the art of storytelling to drive change.


MEDIUM, 06 / 18 / 2018

There’s a guy I know. Friend of mine. Twenty-five years ago, when he was about 25, he moved to New York. What he’d thought was a good work opportunity out West turned out to be anything but. So he applied for some jobs in Gotham and hopped a flight to attend some interviews.

He was offered a job as a staff accountant at an investment services company. The salary was 40K. He took it.

My friend flew back, picked up his stuff, and then turned right around. When he landed back in New York, he had less than $500 in his bank account.

He hopped in a taxicab from JFK and headed over to an apartment where a high school friend and her boyfriend were living. He told them he’d be staying a few days.

When the cab got stopped at his new temp home, he paid the driver. As he got out of the car, the cabbie hit the gas and took off — suitcases still in the trunk.

Many years later, I asked whether he thought the driver had forgot — or screwed him on purpose. He didn’t know, but he did say he’d never felt like more of an idiot. I told him that to this day, I still make a driver get out and open the trunk before I pay him. I digress.

So my pal is standing there, has zero possessions, a few hundred in the bank, and is walking into someone’s home as their houseguest.

Long story short, this friend ended up moving to Europe for his job and then switching companies. Fifteen years later, he became the president of a multi-billion dollar corporation, and was highly respected in his industry.

He worked his ass off. He made a ton of money. He raised a beautiful family.

When we were in our early 20’s, this friend was a cocky guy, but in a quiet way. He was always self-confident and never needed to prove things to others.

The interesting part is that as he grew more and more successful, the more humble he became. He never said a word about what we all knew was enormous financial success. When asked he would say he was “very lucky.” Most of the people I know who’ve earned that type of success don’t feel the need to talk about it.

He’s incredibly generous. He’s always there for his friends and family when they need him. And he doesn’t expect a damn thing in return.

The term “self-made” is a loaded term. What, exactly, did someone’s first station in life have to be in order to qualify as “self-made.” Some would say being born in this country is reason enough to exclude the term.

No matter. The point of this story is that my friend is at least a real story of someone starting their life anew and earning success. Earning it.

It’s quite different from someone who’s been given hundreds of millions of dollars from shady and/or illegal schemes, and then lying about it every single step of the way, while bragging between the lies.

To at least a considerable degree, my friend is a self-made person. Not to mention a class act. The person described in the previous paragraph is the diametrical opposite.