“That guy is an absolute idiot. He will kill himself!” TV Sports Commentator talking about Ash Jurberg, May 2001.
How do I make this interesting? It can’t sound like a LinkedIn resume. Or a job application. And it better not come off like a Tinder profile.
I don’t want to sound boastful, but I do want to show off just a little. I know, let's run it like a chat at a cafe. Sit down with me and grab a coffee. If it is after 12 pm, wherever you are when you are reading, then just substitute coffee for alcohol. And if you don't drink coffee or alcohol, well…. OK, then please get a tea or a smoothie, even water.
I know I have a strong Aussie accent and can speak quickly so I’ll try and slow it down.
Drink One: Stand up, show up, get up
I love to make people laugh.
Jerry Seinfeld once said, “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
I’m the opposite; I love to speak in public. At college, I got into improv and stand up. The rush I got when people laughed was amazing. I’ve been MC for events of up to 2000 people and given speeches and presentations across the world. (Next time we meet I’ll tell you about the time I had to give a speech to 500 Japanese people….who couldn't speak English!)
I would much prefer to be on stage than in the crowd.
And I love to make the most of opportunities. You miss 100% of the shots you don't take, according to Michael Jordan/Wayne Gretzky/The Dalai Lama/Maya Angelou and 10,000 Medium articles.
At 21, I cofounded a grocery delivery business. This may not seem that innovative, but it was back in 1995 (oops, I just revealed my age) and was the same time Amazon was launching. There was little internet, no websites, or smartphones, so we were light years ahead of our time.
Our story got us on TV and in all the major news publications.
I wanted to be a sports agent like Jerry Maguire. When there were no jobs available, I dressed up as a courier and delivered my resume, inside a football, to the biggest sports agent in Australia to capture his attention. It worked.
In 2012, I started my own global cultural exchange business.
I don't list these just to brag but to demonstrate the need to stand up, show up and get up. Don’t sit back and wait for your opportunity. Seize it. (That’s my little Tony Robbins motivational spiel for today).
But honestly, none of them has given me as much joy as writing.
Drinks Two and Three: Global citizen
As a child, I always wanted to travel the world. Australia was so far away from everywhere, and watching TV and movies, I saw exotic places where people spoke funny languages, ate funny food, and had strange accents. And also Disneyland.
We were unable to travel, and so an unrequited wanderlust burned within. As soon as I finished college, I got my passport and headed off to see the world. I took a journal and made notes of my adventures, hoping to be the next Bill Bryson or Paul Theroux. That didn't occur, but my love of travel began.
On that trip, I made a bet with a friend of mine. To see who could be the first to visit 100 countries. We created a lot of rules (you had to spend 24 hours in a country, to be recognized as a country they had to participate in the Football World Cup, etc). Whenever I tell people about this bet, they always ask, how many countries have you been to? And then proceed to count how many they have been to. So I will wait while you count.
I was fortunate enough to win the competition when I made it to country 100 in 2018. My friend had a banner made with the score and trophy waiting for me at Kyiv Airport in the Ukraine.
I travel not for the museums or churches but for the people, the culture and the food. It’s been the best education I could have had.
Now, as we wear masks and are stuck at home, my travel is confined to online, and I am fortunate to have met writers, readers, and a community through my writing. Each day I am talking with people from El Salvador and the United States and Switzerland and India, and it's great. Even the New Zealanders are fun.
As you sip your third (fourth, fifth? — I’ve lost count) drink with me, I would love for you to reach out and become part of this community.
Drinks Four to Seven — The TV chameleon
I’ve been on TV several times. A few times, I have been interviewed as part of my role in Marketing and PR.
Once I was on a quiz show. I came in second but won $1000 worth of shoes and handbags. My partner was delighted; I was less so.
And there was one time in Barbados.
I was at the cricket watching Australia play the West Indies. We were in the party stand — where there is a pool, a DJ and unlimited alcohol. A combination that was too much for this guy.
Next to the party stand was an old scoreboard being run by some teens. I asked them if I could help score. They agreed if I could smuggle them some beers. Well, I had access to free beers, so I agreed. I climbed up several stories to the roof of the scoreboard, where, precariously close to the edge and full of rum, I waved to my friends so they could take a photo.
Little did I know that all the TV cameras at the ground focused on the drunk, idiotic guy about to plummet to his death. And hence the commentator's assessment of me that I lead into this article with.
It is the TV appearance I am most ashamed of. And yet somehow still proud.
Last Drinks — Rapid fire
Our time today is coming to an end, but there is so much more I want to tell you. Perhaps I should write a memoir. Or make a movie. But until then, here are a few random facts about me. And, of course, an embarrassing photo — because everyone should include one.
A photo of me at university. I thought I looked like Anthony Keidis from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Females I wanted to date thought otherwise.
Despite seeing how awful I look with long hair, when COVID hit, I made a pact with one of my sons not to cut my hair until we are allowed to travel again. It’s been 18 months since I’ve had a haircut. I look like Tom Hanks in Castaway.
I have identical twin sons. The only time in my life I have been speechless is when the gynecologist told us we were having twins. Oof.
I always wanted to be a full-time writer. Many kids wanted to be astronauts or firefighters, or professional athletes, but I wanted to write. And play professional football. It took me a long to achieve the writing goal, which I finally achieved last year. If any of you are considering it- do it!
My first ever job was as a clown performing at parties. I was thirteen and earning triple the hourly wage of McDonald's workers. Though my make up bill was higher.
I’m a terrible singer. The worst. But I love karaoke.
I am of mixed background. Polish, French, Aussie. Before my grandfather died, I told him I would travel to Jurberg, aka Yurburg, aka Jurbarkas, which I had located in Lithuania. We have no connection there, but I’m assuming many generations ago we lived there. My grandfather died before I got there but I’m sure he was proud I went.
The waiter is giving us that look. Guess our time here is up. I’ll grab the bill.
It really feels like I’ve done all the talking. How about next time we meet — we just talk about YOU.