Mike Hyatt, the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers and the guy who signs my paychecks tagged me to play, "Five Things You May Not Know About Me." What seems like an Internet-based chain letter to some looked more like a fascinating study in how messages propagate through on line social networks to me so I've decided to participate. Here goes.
1. I design and build loudspeakers. I started at about age eight when my dad showed me how to connect an additional speaker to my record player. The sound suddenly doubled and I was hooked. Doing it right involves an interesting confluence of science and art. Listening for the sound you want is the art. Adjusting cross-over networks (electronic circuits that send lows to woofers and highs to tweeters) with the right components or tuning a cabinet to a driver's resonant frequency to get that sound is the science. I've even sold some of my designs. Most notably, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme once toured with floor monitors I designed.
2. I worked for 27 years as a mobile disc jockey. I started when I was just 12 and quite by accident. I went to my very first school dance and was talking basketball in the corner with my buddies when the girls came up and said, "Shhhhh. Don't talk so loud. We can't hear the music well enough to dance." "Well, why don't you bring a decent stereo" I asked? "This is the best we have," they replied, "Why don't you go home and get yours?" "For $3 I will." I said. (I had paid only .25 to get into the dance so this seemed like a great deal.) They agreed and I went home to get my stereo. The next week they asked me to bring it again. I raised my rate to $5 and never looked back. The work fed me through college and supplemented my income for years after that; enabling my wife to quit her job and stay home with our three children. By the time I sold the business about five years ago I had multiple rigs and several employees. In between I entertained at more than 1200 wedding receptions. My old company still exists and now has a branch office in Florida. You can still visit the website I built for it at www.fun1dj.com.
3. I lift weights. I come from a long line of tall, thin Dutch people. While most people are far too considerate to ever call an overweight person "fat", many of those same people wouldn't think twice about calling a slender person "skinny." It hurts either way.
A turning point for me came in 1999. I was telling a high-ranking person at the publishing house where I worked about a discovery I had made that meant millions of dollars to the company. In the middle of my explanation he interrupted me to say, "Man are you skinny." I determined then and there to do something about it. Since that day I have spent every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning in the YMCA weight room. I've added almost 25 pounds and can bench press 140% of my body weight. I'll never be big (genetics prevent that) but I am no longer skinny.
I've discovered the weight room has another benefit I hadn't foreseen. It is an island of black and white in an ocean of gray; a life-saving oasis of objectivity and absolute truth in a stifling desert of subjectivity and opinion. If you put 225 lbs. on the bar, that's exactly what it weighs--no more, no less. Either you can lift it or you can't. Outside the world debates the merits of opinions. Meanwhile reality is laid bare in the weight room. It's a beautiful thing.
4. I'm a Green Bay Packers fan. Okay, so you might have known this already. I'm putting on the list because it's part of my personal brand. It began in second grade when I became tired of my friends switching their allegiance to whatever team had just won the Super Bowl. "What's the point of being a fan if you're always switching," I wondered. I decided to pick one team and stick with them. I chose the Pack and have been a devoted fan ever since.
I met Pepper Burruss, the Packers Head Trainer back in 1993 and through his generosity have been privileged to spend a few days in the training room where I met guys like Brett Favre, Reggie White, and others. I also attend at least one home game each year.
My wife is an artist and painted a water color of Lambeau Field. During the stadium's recent renovation I called Pepper and asked if he could grab materials during the demolition phase that I could use to frame Amy's painting. He was able to get some of the green corrugated aluminum from the outside of the old building that I used for a custom frame. Now Amy's painting of Lambeau is framed in actual pieces of that classic building. Here's a photo.
5. I have performed stand-up comedy. It began with the Amateur Night at the Comedy Den in Grand Rapids, Michigan and includes a few other appearances. I got enough laughs to avoid flying tomatoes (thanks mom), but not enough to quit my day job.