I love the power of connection. Opening up to people and engaging in conversation just seems to spring connections and opportunities.

Last week, I went to a Meetup with the folks from Conversations New York. Two of the members were kind enough to invite me (and my co-founder of Climbing Fish, John Lynch) along to a couple of events in the city.

Stella PuloMichele Fulves invited us uptown to an early evening session of the Red Harlem Readers. The event is in the Indian Cafe, just below Harlem on the West side. It’s a lovely venue – enhanced by a glass box onto a New York street. There’s lots of interaction with passers by – and the taxi cabs race past. Stella Pulo did a reading from her book “Shrimp Shells in My Cleavage – Travel Tales from an Aussie Actress on the Run.” It was an engaging event – I like colourful storytellers .. and Stella is certainly that.

Peter Aguero on stage compering The Moth at The Bell House in Brooklyn

Peter Aguero on stage compering The Moth at The Bell House in Brooklyn

Last night, Elizabeth Cohn (also from the CNY Meetup) invited us over to Brooklyn to The Moth SLAM event. When we arrive there were queues up the block. Luckily Liz was on the VIP list with some pre-booked tickets – so we managed to dodge all the queues. The Moth concept is very popular – and a big hit on National Public Radio (NPR). People put themselves forward to be picked to get on stage and tell a tale. They each have 5 minutes to tell a real life story. Compere Peter Aguero was great fun – although he did pick on me a few times as I was on the front row snapping with my camera (quietly, no flash … but still he picked on me!). The Bell House is a great venue.

Moth SLAMMy favourite story of the night (but sadly not the winner) was by Adam Fawer. Adam explained that he had gradually gone blind when he was young (still retains some vision). Writing had been a release for him – and although he followed a “normal” career, he’d at one point taken a break to pursue his love of writing. His book was taken up by a major publisher, got great reviews – and combined his love of thrillers and maths by being based on the probabilty theory (book title “Improbable”). Sadly, book sales did not mirror the great reviews – although it did get translated and published in 18 countries. He created a second book – but it was only taken up in a Turkey, Germany and Japan (where sales had been reasonable). Adam had to go back to work in the real world….

He did start getting pestered by the Turkish book publisher to visit Turkey. He ignored this – as he needed to focus back on his career. The guy kept on pestering. Finally, Adam got a call from the US State Department saying that he should go to Turkey to help with their promotion of the USA. He looked up how his books performed in Turkey – and the two books were both in the Top Ten Best Sellers – ahead of the likes of JK Rowling and Stephen King!. He did the tour – and I’ve since seen the Youtube video to prove his popularity (there was a bigger queue than the whole of the audience at last night’s gig!).

Phil O'Brien and Adam MawerAs I now have a reputation for having pictures taken with famous authors (Seth Godin last week – Adam Fawer this week) – I got a snap with him at the bar after the event. He’s definitely a Climbing Fish candidate.

Finally – a big thank you to Liz for this invite. Inspiring Event… Liz has become a big fan of Climbing Fish – and shared with me a short story she has framed on her wall at home. It’s very Climbing Fish….

A Fable for Animals

Once upon a time the animals had a school. The curriculum consisted of running, climbing, flying and swimming, and all the animals took all the subjects.
The duck was good in swimming, better in fact than his instructor, and he made passing grades in flying, but he was practically hopeless in running. Because he was so low in this subject he was made to stay in after school and drop his swimming class in order to practice running. He kept this up until he was only average in swimming. But average is acceptable, so nobody worried except the duck.
The rabbit started out at the top of the class in running, but he had a nervous breakdown and had to drop out of school on account of so much makeup work in swimming.
The squirrel lead the climbing class, but his flying teacher made him start his flying lesson from the ground up instead from the top of the tree down. He developed charley horses from over-exertion at the takeoff and began getting C’s in climbing and D’s in running.
The practical prairie dogs apprenticed their offspring to a badger when the school authorities refused to add digging to the curriculum.
At the end of the year, an abnormal eel that could swim fairly well, climb and fly a little was made valedictorian.

–Author Unknown.

P.S. On the Subway ride home from Brooklyn at 1am in the morning, couldn’t resist snapping these young people who had met on the train. The couple on the left were engaging in deep conversation with the young Swiss guy on the right. Conversation New York is alive everywhere in the city….

Subway Conversation