Who is ____? What makes you tick? How did you get where you are? What is your “heart” story? And tell me one thing about you that isn’t business related.
I started doing this as new people came into my life in my business, particularly on social media. Sometimes I get a single paragraph and other times I get a few pages. But it allows me to see someone not just for their title and image, but to have a sense of who they are.
I had been at it a while when someone turned the table on me. After she had bared her soul about an alcoholic father and abusive marriage and how she is now a successful business woman, she wanted to hear my story. So I am sharing what I told her so you all get to know who I am.
I want to know who YOU are! Email me at Lewis@gettothedamnpoint and answer my queries at the top.
Who is Lewis?
I am the kid from the “wrong side of the tracks”, literally. Our house was 22 feet from the railroad tracks in the tiny town of St. Charles Kentucky, a town so small the sign says “Welcome to St. Charles” on both sides.
Growing up, there were a brother and sister on the other side of the tracks that were friends with my sister and I. I never looked down on them, because my mother taught me everyone is equal, but I did think of them as less well off than us.
When my sister Jada and I visited the “old house” some years back, before nature claimed it, we were looking around and she said, “Momma never let us know how poor we were.” It’s all about perspective.
I was a skinny kid who would excel if I liked a subject, but if I didn’t, you couldn’t make me take interest. I’m still like that to a degree. Being a small but tall kid meant I was the target of bullies. I had to fight (often losing) and suffer the indignities wrought by mean, older, bigger kids.
While this might make you laugh, as I type it, I don’t. They once hung me up on the wall on coat racks by my belt loops. A child’s laugh can be joyous or torturous. I still hear those kids in the hall.
I wasn’t the popular kid and developed a wicked sense of humor as a defense to most situations. I became what a boss would later call a rolodex of jokes. Pick a topic and chances are I had a joke for it. It’s something that came naturally as my father and grandfather always had a ear for a joke.
I sought solace in movies and movie making but no one in that area, at that time, would dare encourage me to “go west, young man” and chase my dreams. You were expected to marry early, have kids, work the coal mine or whatever jobs there were around the area. My great-grandfather was killed in a coal mining accident. My grandfather was a State Mine Inspector when he died. My father had his hips broken in 8 places in a coal mine. I changed the family business.
No thanks to my guidance counselor. When I told her I wanted to be a lawyer, she discourged me by telling me that by the time I graduate, the field will be so full, attorney’s will be flipping hamburgers.
No one really guided me but my mother who made sure I went to college, something for which I could never repay her.
What makes you tick?
I hate bullies. I will stand for anyone being bullied. Now that I am no longer that skinny kid and I have sometimes been called intimidating and while I often dislike it, other times I don’t mind it. Those scars run deep and long.
Maybe that’s what led to my love of helping people, teaching what I know and having those light bulb moments go off for them.
I enjoy life with my wife, two grown sons, Spencer and Evan, and THE BOSS of it all: My granddaughter Emma, who is just started pre-school today. If you want to hear a couple of really fun stories about my boys, watch my TEDX.
After you see how I got where I am you will understand why I like bringing joy to people, lifting people up. And I do it by wearing a few hats. Evan says “Dad, do you have any idea how hard it is to answer the question ‘what does your father do’?” I am an entrepreneur; consultant; professional speaker; media coach; professional Mentalist/ Magician; writer; director; indie film maker; photographer; husband; father; grandfather and certified geek who has a fantastic Phaser and an actual, working, Blue Tooth Communicator from Star Trek.
How did you get where you are?
My first degree was just the basics with an undeclared major. Second was in Communications. I went into that and I talked classmates into making movies in my TV class. Not what they expected, but hey, did I mention I love movies? (I’ve since written, produced and directed short films and videos)
I don’t talk about my education because those documents were worthless right after the ink dried. I ask people to consider my doctorate’s, master’s and bachelor’s of experience.
I sort of backed into a career in television, getting my first job at a local station as a photog (I despise the term videographer) shooting and editing local stories.
I moved to another station after 6 months and found a boss, mentor, and good friend named Leonard Judd from whom I learned so much. I shot many award winning stories, including Emmy winners. And hey, I got to use $40,000 cameras (1980’s dollars) and other TV equipment to shoot short films and music videos. That was something Leonard liked because what I learned there came back into play in my work.
I left to go do commercial advertising for a year, doing everything from meeting with the client to the finished product on TV ads. Then it was round two back at my old station.
I wanted to branch out, market hop, but not in News, and that led to 2 years in Nashville, Tennessee doing shows for The Nashville Network as part of Jim Owens and Associates which produced 3 national TV shows: Crook and Chase; Today’s Country; and This Week in Country Music.
I got to work with over 400 famous people, many of them being country music artists, and the best time was 8 days in Belfast, Northern Ireland with Garth Brooks at the end of his World Tour in 1998. I wound up shooting 4 shows for him personally, in their entirety, just me and my sound guy chasing him around stage in front of thousands of fans each night.
But TNN was shifting into becoming Spike under new owners and our shows were cancelled. I went to work as a freelancer for 6 months at WSMV, then it was back to my local station, WEHT, for the third time. When it was being bought out, I left there and went out on my own. With my friend Neil Kellen, we formed a production company and I have done the other things I have wanted culminating in where I am now, including being a TEDX Alumnus.
I have seen things I can’t un-see; heard things I can’t un-hear and smelled things I can’t un-smell. For example, I can still hear the screams of a woman who doused herself with gasoline and set herself on fire. I have witnessed the worst humanity can do to itself and one another.
News darkens the soul. People say News stays in your blood. When I left, I drained it on the parking lot.
But the other side was doing stories that made a difference, like working with nonprofits and I got to train over 100 reporters and photogs.
I have also been lucky enough to do things many would have paid to get to do and make many, lifelong, friends.
What’s your heart story?
So many, but I will share this one. My first born son, Spencer, weighed in at 10 pounds at birth. He ingested fluid on the way out and wound up with wet lung. He was born just after 4 in the evening and my wife Karessa and I were excited parents with tears of joy running down our faces.
But nobody warns you that the birth of your child could have complications. He didn’t cry when he was born. He squeaked. My wife and I were clueless until several other people started pouring into the room and were calmly, but anxiously, ready to whisk him away.
At 10 p. m. the doctor came in and told us Spencer had a 50-50 shot of living through the night. My wife had a fever and couldn’t even go to NICU to see him. I had to be strong but in the hallways, away from her, I cried. Even now writing this, I tear up.
Not knowing if our child was going to die, I grabbed the video camera and called NICU to inform them I was coming to get video. They said they weren’t sure I could do that and if so, I had to make sure I shot only him. Seriously? I told them this was courtesy call, not asking for permission, that my son might not be alive tomorrow.
To this day, we can’t bear to watch the video of Spencer helpless there in that incubator, hooked up with wires and what looked like a cake pan lid over his head for oxygen.
He spent 8 days in NICU. Every 4 hours we were allowed to hold him while feeding him and we were there every 4 hours for the full 8 days, going on very little sleep.
On June 17th, 2021, Spencer turned 25. He’s Emma’s dad. They said had he not weighed what he did, he would have died.
Everything I do is to create discretionary time, to make more memories with my family. If I can make the world better and create funds so my family is taken care of, that’s all that matters.
Tell me one thing about you not work related.
And now about my car. It’s a 1976 “Starsky and Hutch” Ford Gran Torino like the one in the TV show of the same name. I’ve wanted one since I was young and have had this one for over 20 years. I blew up the engine early on and it’s got a new one with about 20,000 miles on it. Then, I wrecked it on a rainy night when a dog ran out in front of me. The insurance company should have just written it off but the adjuster fell in love with my car and they wound up refurbishing it.
The paint codes are the ones used in the movie “Starsky and Hutch” as I had access to the guy who created the two hero cars for that film. Unlike the Ford 2B Red and Wimbledon white of the orignal, mine is Viper Red and the white is toner. My body shop was confused by the paint code and called to double check. I was told the reason toner was chosen was to have the whitest of whites so the car would pop on screen.
It never fails to turn heads when I drive it and I have come out of stores to find people taking pictures of it.
Someday Emma may come running into the house to tell me she has set the car on fire. I will yell at her “Stay right there!…………. I’ll grab the stuff for S’mores.”