On Friday I spoke at Creative Mornings London. Akin to my dream of giving a TEDx talk, I’ve long admired Creative Mornings and dreamt of speaking there too. A couple weeks ago Vicky asked – would I speak? OF COURSE. Then she mentioned the theme for the week : Magic.
Right, Magic. Vicky asked me to put together a little bio and a photo, and on the same document I jotted down ideas for my talk, mostly for myself, to help frame what I wanted to say. One of those bulleted ideas being “The Magic of Being Human.”
Two hours later there it was on the website, Facebook, Twitter and in thousands of people’s inboxes “Matt Trinetti and the Magic of Being Human.” Great. NO PRESSURE. Now I’m responsible for leading a room of 100+ Londoners on a journey to get to the bottom on what it means to be human…
After an agonizing 48 hours leading up to the talk, racking my brains with what I would say, I decided the overarching theme would be: How we can be more human in our work and life? I’d use my story of becoming a writer – actually, an engineer-trained non-writer masquerading as a writer – and how in the world that came about.
“Why Am I Here? Who Am I?”
The first question I want to voice is Why Am I Here? As in, how did it come to be that I am physically here in this room, in London, at Creative Mornings, standing in front of you? And related to that — Who Am I? Literally, who is this guy Matt anyway?
I’m here today because of my work as a writer on my blog GiveLiveExplore.com and other publications, and the work I’ve done and continue to do at Escape the City — including but not limited to writing , designing, building, leading programmes to help people who are feeling unfilled in their jobs and careers to find direction and pursue work that’s more meaningful to them. More expansively, championing a reimagined world of work that not only enables us to satisfy basic human survival and social needs, but also those that help us to self-actualize, realize our potential, feel significant, whole, loved, authentic, autonomous and know we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves.
To the question of Who Am I?, when I’m feeling brave enough, I’ll also tell you that’s who I am — I’m a writer, a speaker, a publisher, a teacher, a designer of transformational education programs.
I say “when I’m brave enough,” because those titles, roles, identities are ones that I’ve deliberately chosen or grown into. They’re the ones I’m choosing to claim. Which is very different to the identities I inherited at birth.
My inherited roles and identities include: a son to two loving parents. An older brother to two younger siblings. I’m an American. An Ohioan. A Clevelander. More specifically, a third generation European American , the great grandson of Greek, Italian, Irish immigrants. Through the lens of race, I’m probably considered white. (Although if given the choice to describe my skin color I like to say olive especially if it’s summer and I haven’t paled from a London winter yet.) Through a religious lens, I was raised a Greek Orthodox Christian — at least culturally if nothing else. Socioeconomically, I’m the child of an upper-middle class society. From a gender perspective, I’m a male. Sexually speaking I’m straight, attracted to women.
So far, these are all things I really had no say in. I inherited these when I emerged into this world. Not much will change these facts. To quote the philosopher queen Lady Gaga: “Baby I was born this way.” These are the cards I was dealt. I’ll be the first to admit: wow, great cards! The fact that all of us are in this room right now is a testament that as humans, we’ve all won what Warren Buffett calls “The Ovarian Lottery.”
So when I say “when I’m brave enough” to identify with these other chosen titles, especially writer, it’s because they feel fraudulent and sacrilegious to claim, for two main reasons:
1. I never actually studied writing. In fact, quite the opposite. I spent 5 years studying engineering and another 5 working for IBM as an IT and management consultant.
2. The last time I tried to study writing I failed massively at it. I don’t really publicly share this because it’s not exactly a point of pride. Especially as someone who went through school feeling pretty bright. During my senior year of high school I was admitted into AP English (equivalent to A levels here in England I believe). During the first semester, I got a C in that class and I was kicked out. I was demoted to a lower level English class. Although it wasn’t an ‘F,’ effectively I failed at it.
Yet somehow, despite all of this, today, 15 years later, I’ve managed to self-anoint myself a writer. I get to call that part of my job. Not only that, my work as a writer has been recognized by some of my heroes. My writing has been shared by the very writers and thinkers and entrepreneurs I admire — Tim Ferriss, Paolo Coelho, Arianna Huffington, Gary Vaynerchuk, among others.
In 2013 there were 152 million blogs out there. Probably many more by now. And how many writers are out there now? With platforms like Medium.com, everyone can and is a writer.
How is it that I’ve occasionally managed to poke my head above the crowd to stand out a bit? How does a non-writer, a flunked writer, an engineer posing as a writer, actually become recognized as a writer? So going back our first big question — Why the f*ck am I here?!?
Humanity > The Medium
I don’t think I’ve managed to get readers’ attention in a really noisy world because I’m necessarily a great or even a good writer. I can think of only one reason why an imposter writer like me can masquerade as a writer.
Above all else, more important than the writing and the work itself, is my willingness to be show up as a human in my work. More crucial than the medium, the tools, the technique is showing up and showcasing myself as a human: incomplete, flawed, warts and all, flailing through this thing called life.
I’ve found that when you admit you’re a human and you tell your story like one, the rest melds into place. It may not look pretty, but the technical aspects become secondary to the story. This became evident from the very first day I started writing on my website.
So here’s the question I’d like to offer next: What would it look like for each of us to show up as more human in our work and life?
In my next post, I’ll dig into the four thoughts I offered the Creative Mornings crowd.
- Be willing to learn in public.
- Ask the big questions.
- Know our role as humans.
Subscribe to my posts at GiveLiveExplore to get new posts straight to your inbox: subscribe now.
P.S. They recorded my talk and I’ll share it when it’s live. In the meantime, check out Twitter to see quotes and pictures from the talk. Here’s one: