Not Your Elevator Speech - Your Story!

An article, an obituary, a cartoon and a class contributed to the thinking behind the creation of this blog. And more, to thinking about our individual stories.

The article: From The New Yorker, Mary Norris’ story "Holy Writ", tells of her winding road to becoming the “Comma Queen” at that publication. The telling of her story and the story itself delighted me! (OY! Am I missing necessary commas?).

Her early life, her decisions, the chance encounters, her risks, and opportunities, are like many of ours. Perhaps the difference is that, in her story, she took advantage of the un-outlined chapter. Her moniker, too, made me think of my story and when Jim Trombino, president of the MPI Board when I served, gave me the moniker "Conscience of the Industry.”

I don’t remember why; I do know it stuck. 

One obituary: Philip Levine, US Poet Laureate, 2011 to 2012, died recently. His story is so rich and not one that most consider to be that of a poet, is inspirational.

Others' obituaries (and cities’ stories): I’ve read obituaries for as long as I can remember. They tell great stories about individuals and communities. When I travel, the local newspaper (if there still is one), in print, is preferred reading.

From a local paper’s stories, I get a feel for a city, learning what political and business decisions may impact the meetings my clients might book; from the obituaries, a picture of the community that I cannot get in any other way, emerges (With all due respect to DMOs, your stories would be made richer if they contained stories from and about the people of the communities you represent).

The cartoon: Colleague and friend Gary Jesch posted the following cartoon on his company’s Facebook page. I shared it and wrote that a) it provided the impetus to "unfriend" those who aren’t my “real life” (What is that any more?!) friends, and b) to remind my dearest friend and my husband that there are to be no straight rows for seating at my memorial service.

The class: On Feb. 21, 2015, I taught all day in the meetings and events certificate program at UNCC. Each person in the class had a different story that brought them there, like all who populate the diversity of our universe: the former teacher who now organizes events for a charter school and wants to do more; the reluctant law student who knew she wanted to do something more than law and learned in the class about hospitality law (watch her story change!); the person who works in a church and is responsible for the logistics of weddings and other events and wants to take it further; another whose background in training and facilitation is under-utilized.

The stories of those in the class made me think of the stories of industry colleagues who became friends like Arlene, the "Queen of Everything" for her knowledge of everything; Amy, who was a meeting professional, then worked for a DMC, and then became an award-winning health educator, ran for office, and now looks at how her story will continue; and friend and sometimes co-presenter, Niesa, whose story includes theatre, meeting creation, training, teaching, and now single parenthood.

My story is long, shared in bits and pieces with newer colleagues and students, and known more fully to people like my friend of more than 60 years, Kathy, or to my friend of less time but still great intensity, Paul, whose own story is amazing (journalism major, catering manager, newspaper book reviewer, teacher). My story still has chapters left to write and perhaps an additional moniker to earn.   

What’s your story? Will you share it with us? Which paragraphs and chapters surprised you? Who gave you a moniker, why, and what? Just as you were inspired by others’ stories, your stories, told orally or written here, will inspire, inform, encourage, caution, others.

Share them, please.

Posted by Joan L. Eisenstodt

Follow Joan on Twitter: @joaneisenstodt

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