Questions have guided my life ever since I was seven years old and sent one to the President of the United States in a letter, and got a reply.
Over the years, questions have taken me around the world and into interviews with hundreds of the most talented, compelling and powerful people on earth.
But not long ago, a very wise woman suggested I ask three of myself.
Who am I? Where am I going? Why?
That’s definitely a good way to begin thinking about a bio.
Of the three, the first is the hardest.
Who am I?
I am someone who is always going someplace new.
Young people wearing earbuds may only know of me through my podcast, Big Questions, which recently cracked the iTunes top 50 in its first week.
People who recognize me in airports because of my Fedora are likely to have seen me speak at conferences and corporate events around the world over the last couple of years.
Readers may know me for some time now as a New York Times best-selling author.
Magazine lovers may recognize me as the writer who spent a week with Muhammad Ali for an Esquire Magazine cover story, and interviewed Mikhail Gorbachev, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Robert DeNiro and hundreds of others who’ve shaped the last half-century.
Wine lovers will know me as the guy who became sommelier at Windows on the World at the top of the World Trade Center just before it was taken down on 9/11. Took me ten years to process that experience, and write a story about it. I’ve never been a big fan of awards, but I was proud of the James Beard medal I got for that one.
Relatively few people got to see me as the dad on the practice football field every day from the time my son couldn’t kick an extra point through the day he won a game with a 40-yard field goal in the final moments to the day he could kick them from well beyond 50. Kids in the cul-de-sac saw me as the dad who cooked breakfast for the entire neighborhood on Sunday mornings and beamed when his toothless oldest daughter said with pride: “My dad makes pancakes from scrap!” A select few friends and relatives saw me enter Carnegie Hall to watch my youngest daughter perform with her choir.
My three kids see me as the man in the photo above my desk sparring with Julio Cesar Chavez when he was 87-0 with 75 knockouts and junior welterweight champion of the world.
“Did you win, Dad?” they asked when they were very young. Actually, I am quite lucky to have survived to tell the story.
Quite a few people know me as the guy who married his dream, a woman I met on a bus at midnight headed toward the most beautiful beach in Brazil.
Before we were married, many people from many different cultures knew me as a wanderer with a backpack who drifted around the world for roughly ten years without a home.
There were a few stops along the way, so some may relate to me during that time as an eighth-grade English teacher. Others may remember me as an Emergency Medical Technician working in a hospital operating room.
Those who graduated along with me from the University of Missouri Journalism School may recall me as a sports writer who got his start at The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Miami Herald and the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
Going further back, more than a few will remember me as one of the kids lucky to have grown up on the famous 15th Street in Deer Park, Long Island.
And these days, if you join me at Larry King’s breakfast table in L.A., you’ll quickly become aware that, like Larry and other regulars at the table, my roots are from Brooklyn.
Did I leave anything out? A lot. Herding reindeer on the Arctic Circle and swimming over a 17-foot Tiger shark immediately come to mind. But you get the picture . . .
Where am I going?
Perhaps, because you came to find out about me on this website, toward you.
Maybe you’d like to bring me to your company, your conference or your school to speak about the power of questions.
Change your questions, change your life.
Maybe you’d like me to consult for your company on interviewing for hiring, the tools of storytelling, or how listening can improve sales.
Maybe you’ll want to keep up with me through the interviews that I do and the stories that I tell on my podcast. Maybe you’ll want to reach out to me with a question after reading my weekly newsletter.
Where I’m going will depend on where I can meet you.
I have come to see that I’ve been blessed with a gift to ask the right questions.
I’ve worked hard for many years to get the most out of this gift, and I’ve decided to pass it on.
There’s no reason for me to keep it to myself when so many people can use it to change their lives for the better.