Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

Robroy’s occupation

Friday, October 28th, 2011

When Robroy arrived in Baltimore about 20 years ago, I had no occupation.  No one would buy the stories I was writing.  Late nights at Funks Democratic Coffee Spot in Fells Point, I made new friends who argued passionately that the wealthy corporations were corrupting the government, wiping out the arts and oppressing the masses.

So I think I understand where Occupy Baltimore is coming from.  It made me mad when I read yesterday that our Mayor said she wanted to avoid a “violent exchange” with them.  I decided to see for myself what’s going on.

First thing I noticed, walking among the tents downtown, was how much my vantage point has changed since Fells Point. Certain aspects of the protest made me feel confronted.

For example, a guy held a sign that said: “From my corner office, everyone looks so small.”

That’s weird.  You know, I actually have a corner office now.  My writing studio is near the top of the Bromo Seltzer Tower.  I’m right where he says I should not be, yet people don’t look small to me.  As a matter of fact, they are paramount.  I want to know their stories.

I asked him why he felt that way.

“It’s ridiculous that the big corporations get huge tax breaks and pocket the money,” he said.  “The government should force them to reinvest in jobs.  Unemployed people like me need help.”

These are hard times.  The job market changed fast.  It used to be that you owed your employer 40 years and in return they owed you a rewarding career, health insurance and a pension.

Now what do we owe each other?

For me, it does no good to blame others.  I discovered I am the author of my problems.  Just as I am the author of the solution.

It keeps me occupied.

Your take?

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A portrait of the writer as a young man

Friday, July 8th, 2011

At the Marketing Excellence Awards dinner last month, I met a rising senior from a local university who reminded me of me.  I’ll call him Ernie.

Ernie has no clue what he wants to do when he graduates. I asked what he’s passionate about, and he said writing short stories and falling in love. I asked why.

“To me, falling in love is like writing in dreams,” he said. “It’s so beautiful. It’s so true. Then you wake up, and it’s gone forever. And you realize you never really had it.”

I was impressed. When I was his age, I could not even have come to an event like this, due to the fact that my only tie still had ketchup on it from the last Valentine’s Day.

“Kid,” I said, “you should be a copywriter.”

“No way,” he said. “I only write from the heart.”

“That’s great,” I said. “Stay true to what you know. There’s no reason to give that up, ever. Keep writing from the heart, no matter what you’re writing.”

He said, “Right,” and looked away, bored.

Exactly as I would have done.

What about you?  What advice would you give a young person who reminded you of you?  Leave a comment below.

(And while you’re here, have another Robroy.)

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Robroy in 3D

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Strange things online do happen.  Sometimes blog characters step right out of the screen, onto the conference room floor, smiling and telling stories.

Next week in Baltimore, Robroy will do just that.  It would be great if you can join us.

My talk is about how to use the power of story-telling and story-listening to sell better.  Here are some take-aways:

  • How to hear the prospect’s story
  • How to help them tell their story
  • How to apply the Story Wheel in your business growth strategy

Get registered here.  It’s Tuesday, March 8th at 7:30AM.  All blog personnel will return to their screens by 9:30.

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5 steps for guest bloggers

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Every now and then, someone notices how passionate you are about your topic, and asks you to submit a guest post to their blog.

You graciously accept.  After all, there’s nothing you love better than sharing your passion with others.  But what is the best way to structure a blog post?

1. Start with the Problem: For example, in this post, the problem is that it’s hard to write a guest post.

2. Dwell on the Consequence: If you don’t, you won’t be able to share what you are passionate about as clearly.

3. Find the Turning Point: What does it take to turn the problem around?  You know what to do.  You’ve lived it.

4. Share the Vision: Here you create the possibilities you have been imagining, so that others can see what you see.

5. Reap the Reward: Wrap your post with something that gives readers a reason to dream.

Be a proper guest.  Apply the 5-point structure to your topic, and you will make an imprint on the world.

That’s all we ask.

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Robroy’s writing roost

Friday, November 19th, 2010

All my life, from the top bunk to the treetops to the roof of my 4-story college dorm, I’ve always tried to get as far off the ground as possible.  Not sure why.  Reaching new heights has been even more important to me as a writer.  So, when it became time for Robroy to find new headquarters, I started thinking big.

Several business friends offered to share their offices with me, but I wanted a place that was distinctly my own.  A place from which I could write my powerful, positive stories about living and working in Baltimore.  A symbolic place.  A magical place.  And most of all, a tall place.

On a whim, I decided to apply to the Bromo Seltzer Tower.

“I thought they only accepted artists,” you say.  That’s what I thought too.  And like you, I wasn’t convinced I qualified.  Sure, Robroy’s business stories borrow a few literary elements.  They have plot, character, scene and story structure.  They sell.  But are they art?

I knew of another guy in town with my problem, a visual artist, Robert McClintock.  His commercial success threatened his status as an artist.  I was on my way to interview him for the Baltimore Business Journal (here’s the column), when I received an email on my Blackberry from the manager of the Bromo Seltzer Tower.

“Congratulations!” he wrote.  “You’re exactly what we’re looking for.”

I chose a studio on an upper floor.  It’s only 330 feet high.

But it sure feels good.

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Tender

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

As a hyper-sensitive writer, Robroy has to wear special equipment to protect his feelings.  And yet I still get stung.  Most recently, a former high school classmate and I reconnected via Facebook.  She recalled my sense of humor as “cruel.”

goalieThis surprised me.  I wondered if it came from assignments I read aloud in our English class, like the one about my favorite sport, hockey.  In that essay, I described the goaltender’s gear: He wears oversized leg pads.  Protection for his abdomen, chest and shoulders.  A large rectangular forearm blocker, and a padded catcher’s mitt.  He has a helmet, chin guard and facemask.  In fact, except for an inch and a half of neck, the goalie’s entire body is completely protected.

In my paper, I asked, What’s the object of hockey?  To hit the goalie in the neck.

That’s irony, right?  The opposite of what you’d expect, and (given that I played goalie) the opposite of how I really feel.  I’ve always preferred deflective irony to cruel sarcasm — but I should not be telling you this.

I don’t want you to know my weakness.

(Read more posts below.)

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