I just spent the day learning how to tell better stories with Dr. Nick Morgan of Public Words.

It’s amazing that I’ve gone this far in my career as a speaker with very limited training. I don’t know anything about the mechanics of building a great speech, and don’t get me started on my ability to perform. But, it turns out, I’m an okay mimic. I see what I like, and I copy from the best. If I could only start breathing properly and get my voice out of my throat, I would clean up in this market!

Anyway, now I understand that there are five types of keynote speeches.

  1. The Quest. Your hero is a regular guy who is suddenly on a journey with a purpose. This kind of story is all about endurance, persistence, and perseverance. Think Good Will Hunting.
  2. The Tale of Revenge. The hero in this story is motivated to open a can of whoop-ass his enemies and restore order in the land. Think Batman or Donald Trump. (Yikes!)
  3. The Stranger in a Strange Land. The hero in this story grows from being a novice to an expert. It can be a social story or an emotional story. Think about Coming to America or The King’s Speech. (Both kings!)
  4. Rags to Riches. The hero made something out of nothing. Think The Godfather or Wall Street.
  5. The Love Story. Our hero finds someone, loses someone, and maybe gets ’em back. Learns lessons in the process. I dislike the movie Love Actually, but you know the variety.

I always thought my story — in my book, blogs, and personal ethos — was a rags-to-riches tale. Things are pretty great, but if you’ve heard my latest keynote you’d know that the odds were stacked against me. It’s amazing that I made the right choices, I have a college degree, and I’m not the proud parent of a twenty-four-year-old Millennial who lives in my basement.

But my story isn’t a rags-to-riches tale. It’s a love story. It’s all about my romance with life.

I find something I love, but I always blow it. Then I learn that whatever happens next is better. Life is more abundant because of the experience, even if that experience results in a short-term loss.

And it’s 100% true with my career. Especially my early career in HR. Only when I broke up with HR did I actually begin my journey as an expert in the field of human resources. It’s a mission that continues to this day.

Dr. Morgan taught me that a good love story is full of ups and downs; however, it’s worth enduring the emotional roller coaster because you always reunite with your “authentic self” even if you don’t get the boy or girl in the end. You’re better for the experience. The journey was worthwhile. You learn from it. Other people learn from it, too. And then you move on to the next story.

In that way, my whole life is one big love story. I may never again be reunited with the traditional world of HR, but that’s okay. I loved it. And HR loved me, even if only for a short time. The journey was worth it, and we’re both better for it.

I’m ready for the next episode of my life to begin, and I’m ready to continue sharing it with you. Sound like a plan? Good, because there is no plan B.

[Tweet “Today’s #FailChat is at 1PM ET. We’re discussing how we fail at managing difficult people at work!”]


  1. I can’t get over the fact that you don’t like the movie Love Actually…

    Couldn’t get through the rest of this article with that weighing on my mind.

  2. I am loving hearing about what you are doing next! You are going great guns ? I don’t like the Movire Love Actually either….

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