A New Everyday Biography Coming Soon

When I was a teenager, I pulled an avocado green paperback book off the bookshelf where my dad stored his dusty college textbooks. The copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie seemed helpful in my quest for social confidence. Since it was a book no teenager would want to be caught reading. I hid it under my clean laundry until I reached my room where I could read it secretly without teasing.

The anecdotes were old-fashioned ones about adults talking at cocktail or bridge parties. Many examples were about business people trying to win over clients. Yet, the ideas and principles seemed like something I could still learn and use:

  • encourage others to talk about themselves by asking them questions
  • be interested in what interests the other person
  • give sincere appreciation and praise.

The author outlined little exercises to try, and I did those. In fact, the place I had the most success trying these was with the people my parents often invited over for dinner. We seemed to always have strangers to dinner who were just traveling through and missionaries from our church.

I would usually begin by asking about the place where that person lived, finding a genuinely interesting aspect about that place and then looking for a common connection.  I discovered that if I could get a one-on-one conversation started in this new way, then I could connect with someone in most any group so that I would feel comfortable and confident in social settings.

I trace that tidbit of my personal story to why I like to interview and write stories about people. When I ask them questions about themselves, I learn more about life listening to how they approached their own experiences.

One day at our church I sat next to a woman who was visiting her mother-in-law. Our conversation started a friendship that continues whenever she “comes home” to visit Brainerd, Minnesota. That’s the simple way I met Vicki Carlson, the wife of an Air Force four-star general, the subject of my next Everyday Biography.

She insists that she is a “nobody” and wonders what story she has to tell, but our interviews have been  delightful conversations about raising a family in a military lifestyle, supporting her husband in a demanding career, and learning to overcome life’s challenges with the Lord’s help. This new series, which I have yet to name, begins this Wednesday.

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