What Is Your Story?

Jan 5, 2024

Recently, I had dinner with some old friends and my brother, who was somewhat an outsider to the group. Striking up a conversation, my brother asked my friend Brenton about his life story. Surprisingly, Brenton delved into his fascinating journey, revealing aspects of his life I never knew despite our long friendship. This incident made me realize how little of my own story I share publicly, despite frequent queries about my background and current endeavors.

The Quality Of Life Vs Quantity

My journey began with a profound influence from the movie “Patch Adams,” where Robin Williams’ character prioritizes quality of life over quantity. As a child, this film inspired me to become a doctor. However, a challenging first day in chemistry and calculus at Penn State quickly shattered this dream.

The Journey Of Starting Over

Feeling overwhelmed, I called my high school mentor, Eric Tyler, who advised me to explore other majors at Penn State. His guidance led me to realize that I still wanted to emulate Patch Adams, but without the medical route. This revelation steered me towards studying psychology and human services, focusing on the impact of human connection.

Can Human Connection Heal People?

My academic pursuit was driven by the question: Can human connection truly heal people? This inquiry shaped my college years, including a significant interaction with Professor Dr. Hayes, which led to regular meditation sessions and deep philosophical discussions.

From Clown Noses to Global Conversations

In college, I founded the Clown Nose Club, based on the concept of taking positive social risks. The club gained substantial recognition, leading to a meeting with the VP of Student Affairs at Penn State. This meeting serendipitously introduced me to Sam and Lori, who ran a large race relations class and an organization called World in Conversation. Their mission resonated with me: facilitating conversations on difficult topics like politics, religion, and race to foster understanding and connection.

How To Heal People Through Human Connection

Working with World in Conversation was like a PhD in humanity, confirming my belief in healing through human connection. During this time, I met my late co-founder, Will Wise, who challenged me with the question: “Are you ready for your life to change?” This led to more facilitation work and eventually to grad school, focusing on team and leadership development.

How To Get Strangers To Connect

My grad school experience, coupled with leading adventure programs for youth, sparked the idea for the WeConnect cards – a tool designed to facilitate easier connections among strangers. This project eventually took off, marking my unexpected entry into entrepreneurship.

What Are Positive Social Risks?

A TEDx talk on positive social risks soon followed, further propelling my journey. Post-talk, I was approached for professional speaking engagements, which opened a new career path for me.

The Final Question: Why Do You Exist?

A kayak camping retreat led to profound self-reflection, culminating in the question: “Why do you exist?” The clarity of the answer I received has been a guiding force ever since: “to gently eradicate small talk.”

This journey, shaped by pivotal questions and conversations, illustrates how we can indeed talk our way into tomorrow. Each step, each query, has led me to where I am today – a facilitator, an entrepreneur, and a believer in the power of human connection.