John?

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My name is John. My parents met at the Los Angeles Playboy Club somewhere around 1968. My old man was (and still is) a savant musician. Mom was (and still is) amazingly beautiful. I was born in Hollywood. I got his looks and her talent.

I grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles and witnessed the transformation of orange groves into endless stretches of tan stucco mini-malls. With the exception of grades 4-6, I am the product of CA public schools. School, sports, and ladies never came easy, but on occasion I tried hard and was successful.

In college, I changed majors four times. I took Marine Science until I hit the wall with required math classes, Music until I realized how much practice it was going to take, and then Business Economics for a stretch. I was good at Economics.  The Chair of the department begged me to take advanced classes. Maybe that would have positioned me well to be part of the 1%, but it was boring. Instead, I decided to ponder timeless questions in the Philosophy department.

Philosophy was the best thing that ever happened to me. I learned how to think critically and construct arguments. That has served me well. Also, I can safely use words like “ontology” and “epistemology” at cocktail parties.

After college, I tried to grow my first beard, studied Jazz guitar with Ted Greene, had a glamorous job booking concerts, moved to the beach, married a woman who was (and still is) way out of my league, and started raising some beautiful kids.

At 30, needing to be a provider, somehow, I found myself with a fascinating real job at a top ranked research university. I worked with professors and researchers doing something known as Research Development.  Every day – for a decade – some of the smartest people in the world would walk into my office, share their best ideas with me, and I would help them distill their busy thoughts down to elegant words for grant proposals.  I got a little smarter and the university made a grip of cash.

Being exposed to lots of smart people fed my irretrievable curiosity.  I decided to go back to graduate school where I earned a PhD in Education. I was the black sheep in the School of Education because I wasn’t interested in “schools” or “policy.”  I am interested in how people make sense of their worlds and I’m trained as an “interactional ethnographer.”  Basically, I watch people really closely to answer the question:  What’s going on here?

Now in my 40s, things are good, but I’m still cultivating the life I always wanted.  MAKE MOVES is my dream project and I’m happy to share it with listeners like you.

In conclusion, here are some useless facts about me:

• When I was in fourth grade, I got lost in the mountains at camp.
• I have a particularly hard time remembering names.
• I was once on CNN’s Larry King Live.
• I have four velour track suits.
• I enjoy doing subtle social experiments in bars, elevators, and supermarkets – just to see what happens.

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