Friday, July 1, 2016

4 days, 3 talks, 3 results

I had three speaking engagements in the last five days and I’m now optimistic I’ll one day soon drive a car with a functioning air conditioner.

That’s been a problem. My vehicle is an heirloom Saturn Vue, 2007, and it’s bit-by-bit falling apart.

I’m like that, too, so I’m still partial to it.

We’re conditioned to think running a car without self-cooling is akin to self-waterboarding. Really, it’s not as bad as you think. 

People who think it must be horrendous mostly fail to understand that car windows roll down at places other than fast food drive-thus.

So I park in the shade, drive in the fast lane and let the wind do its work.

Note: if your AC breaks, it helps to keep a nice tight hair cut.

I had three presentations this week and some of you might be interested in how they went.

Well, they all were exceptional, but for different reasons.

The first was Monday evening at City Books on Pittsburgh’s North Side. I was aggressive in promoting this one on the blog and social media and I’m now more than ever convinced social media only works only if you’re named Kardashian.

Just six people showed up.

And I was one of the six!

The owner and her husband were two of the others.

A sweet local couple walked in off the street and so did John McIntire.

So in the crowd was at least one celebrity! John is a friend who hosts scintillating talk shows on KDKA radio and does local stand up comedy. I was very pleased to see him walk through the door.

This was my first reading for “Last Baby Boomer” so it was, in fact, my first reading ever.

All my other talks are basically monologues. I don’t read much at all from the “Crayons” book because it’s mostly a list of stuff.

I decided a nimble mingle would work best. So I’d read from a chapter and then intersperse some personal talk about the roll dark humor plays in brightening my life.

And I sweated profusely the whole time. It was very warm and I was nervous. It’s much more difficult to try and entertain five people than it is 250.

But it went well. Despite the low turnout, it was a key event because the next day I’d be in Wheeling at the Ohio County Public Library doing the same thing before 70 people.

John — and I can count on him for bracing honesty — said the presentation was good, but I read too hastily and should have emoted more.

What buoyed me, too, was how much every — all five of ‘em — had enjoyed the actual readings from “Last Baby Boomer.” They laughed out loud often. I was thrilled to learn how much the book connects to a live audience.

So I was very confident, bold even, on Tuesday in Wheeling. 

I did a brief intro then brashly went right into the the first of four substantial readings.

It was at first a mistake. I asked an enthusiast later how I could improve the talk and she said, “The first reading was too abrupt. You need to inform the audience you’re going to read and then talk some. It turned out to be a perfect mix, but when it seemed like you were going to read for the full hour everyone got very afraid.”
Well, it became one of the best reactions I’ve ever received. They just loved it.

I’m thrilled it went over so well and will now begin aggressively promoting more readings apart from “Crayons!” motivational gigs.

I am jazzed.

Thursday was a “Crayons!” presentation where everything that could have gone wrong did. It was a South Hills men’s social club held on the awninged porch of the TGIFridays near South Hills Village. 

The setting was horrendous. It was in the parking lot. Ambient music was playing. Landscapers were mowing the trim. And the audience was intimidatingly affluent — a bunch of really rich guys.

And I killed it.

They loved my talk.

Working without notes, I on the spot boiled my normally hour-long talk down to the five of the most colorful people I knew.

It couldn’t have gone better. I know it goes well when attendees come up and say I would be a stand-up comic. That happened.

Plus, a man renowned as a talent evaluator issued heady praise.

“You were excellent. Very enjoyable.”

He was Tom Donohoe (above), director of football operations for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1991 through ’99.

Retired Pens GM Eddie Johnson was there, too. It was a great crowd. Johnson, by the way, said the greatest player who ever lived wasn’t Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby or even Wayne Gretzky.

It was Bobby Orr.

They bought a ton of books, too.

So it was a great week and leaves me convinced all the arrows are pointing up.

It’s so encouraging I’m thinking I just might do something drastic.

I’m thinking about getting the AC fixed!


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great week. One of these days I'll actually be in town for one of your talks. Looking forward to that. Ross

Chris Rodell said...

I think for sure you'd enjoy it, Ross. One of these days. I'm busy trying to book more events. Thanks!