Author of "This Is Rage" and "Endless Encores"

Posts made in August, 2017

The Little We See

By on Aug 21, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

I discovered the NBC television series This Is Us in summer reruns this year and I have become obsessed with it. If you enjoyed shows like Thirtysomething and My So-Called Life, you’ll not only recognize the tone and structure in This Is Us, you’ll see familiar names pop up in the directing credits. It probably won’t surprise you that what has most attracted me to this show is the writing, both the quality of dialogue within episodes and the structural connections between episodes. Series creator Dan Fogelman has framed a milestone achievement in word-to-screen translation. If you are a student of fiction you know that narrative has the highest emotional impact when story and character are revealed on equal footing, one reinforcing the other. Whether you attempt the craft professionally or as an avocation, you know how immensely difficult this is to do, particularly consistently. Characters matter more when the story advances as a result of their arcs. The depth of characters is more fully rendered when plot points drive their change. It’s enormously challenging. Try it sometime. Or you can just watch This Is Us. I certainly don’t want to give away any spoilers surrounding this show in case you decide to binge on it after reading this post. At its core it is the story of three people born on the same day circa 1980 (the year I graduated from high school, go figure). The storyline follows them from infancy to adulthood with all of the many tangents in their lives around family, friends, loved ones lost and found, career highs and lows, and personal discoveries. The emotional complexity of the characters is what makes it powerful, yet surprise twists in their interwoven journeys jump out all the time, making it the kind of serial that leaves you both satisfied and wanting more. What consistently blows my mind in this show is how character development is revealed in snippets that link forward and back in time, particularly replaying events with increased detail layered into the unveiling of previously hidden moments. It is these hidden moments that led me to write about the show. What continually strikes me as gripping drama is how little we know about any...

Read More

You Can’t Fix Morale

By on Aug 6, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Here’s a phone call I sometimes receive, usually from someone senior in executive management or the investment team behind a once promising company: Inquirer: Hey, we need your help with something. We have a situation and we’re not sure what to do about it. Me: Sounds intriguing. What is the situation? Inquirer: Well, we’re having… I’m not sure what you would call it exactly, I guess a problem with morale. Me: What would you like me to do? Inquirer: We would like you to help us fix morale. Me: Oh, that. I’m sorry, I can’t help you. Inquirer: We haven’t spoken two minutes and you already know that? Me: Yes, I’m quite sure. I certainly would like to take your money because I’m sure you are willing to pay a lot to do something about this, but I only take on projects where I can actually help someone. Inquirer: How can you be so sure? Me: You can’t fix morale. Inquirer: What do you mean? Morale gets fixed all the time. Me: Yes, exactly. Morale gets fixed because whatever is causing it to deteriorate gets fixed, but that is where you need to look, at the disease, not a symptom. Inquirer: Are you saying we need to fix something else in our company so that maybe it can have an impact on morale? Me: Yes, that is what I am saying. In fact, you probably need to fix your company. Inquirer: So a contract to fix morale is not big enough for you? You want a bigger contract to fix our company? But our company is not broken. Me: Then you probably don’t have a morale problem and don’t need any help. Inquirer: You’re not doing yourself any favors turning this down. It’s a big project. We have a sizeable budget for it. Me: It’s tempting, but why don’t you have another look at the situation and maybe we can talk again. The call usually ends there and we don’t talk again. Every once in a while we do talk again and then I tend to get involved in long stretches of dialogue with team members up and down the line. We talk about a lot of things: leadership...

Read More