An Oscars Awakening (~30,000 views on LinkedIn )

On Saturday night, I had dinner with a dear friend, the CMO of a Fortune 500 company and one of the most impressive people I know. As we were firming up dinner details, she asked if she could bring along her nephew, a college student in LA. Of course, I agreed.

When we finally sat down at dinner, I realized quickly that he was a charming young man, an honors student at the prestigious USC film school. I was fascinated to learn about his journey as a young screenwriter and got the sense that he was on his way to many Oscars.

Then, the real life lesson hit. Innocently, I said, “Your parents must be so proud.” I realized immediately that I had inadvertently struck a chord. At that moment, my friend interjected, explaining that the young man’s father had committed suicide when he was seven years old, and that his mother was in prison.

I was stunned. He seemed so normal and happy, thrilled to be in the school of his dreams in the City of Angels. The more we talked, the more I realized what made him special was his ability to find the joy in whatever life had to offer.

Halfway through dinner, I knew I’d serve as a dedicated mentor to this young man; but the funny thing was, I also knew that I would learn more from him than he could ever learn from me.