Agents of Ourselves: Part Twenty-Three

My son, Sean, coached his first basketball game when he was 22. I was there, as I was for all the basketball games in which he’d played. Most of the coaches for whom he played said he was the best pure shooter they’d ever coached. But it wasn’t until I watched him coach that I realized I was seeing him in his element. He’s a more pure coach than he was a shooter.

In his first two years of coaching, he took the team from the Catholic school at which he coached to the New England CYO Tournament. In his first year, they won all the marbles. In his second year, they lost the championship game by one point. It was Sean’s first loss in his first two years of coaching. He’ll be 38 in October. He’s still coaching. But I’m not sure he’s yet gotten over that first loss.

I’m telling you that to set the stage for having witnessed another person in her element. In last Wednesday’s writing workshop, Finding Your Voice — in which I was joined, as always, by my spirit-mates, Yvonne Jones, Laura Staley, and Tom Dietzler — the fourth member of our group, Maribel Cardez, gave us a presentation on a framework she’s developing. I could call it a program or a workshop or a class or something else. But all those something elses are too narrow. What Maribel is developing is a framework for helping people to find their way by finding themselves. Since I’m not in the spoiler business, all I’ll tell you here is that she’s made EMBRACE an acronym for something profoundly powerful.

This is all the more beautiful and compelling because Maribel had described herself of late as being under something of a cloud. But in her presentation on Wednesday, Yvonne, Laura, Tom, and I watched the cloud cover burn off in the bright light of Maribel’s radiance. She came fully, glowingly, contagiously, passionately alive. (I have goosebumps right now writing this.) The rest of us knew we were witnessing something very, very special. We knew were seeing Maribel in her element and watching her revel in the act of creating it. The rest of were having a full day in sharing that moment with her.

There are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is you should have your emotions moved to tears, which could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special. (Jim Valvano)

If you want to know more about EMBRACE, you’ll have to ask Maribel. If she explains it to you on a Zoom call, wear your sunglasses. If she makes a comment about agency, don’t blame me.

And if you want to get a feel for what we experienced on Wednesday, watch this:


Mark O'Brien
Mark O'Brien
I’m a business owner. My company — O’Brien Communications Group (OCG) — is a B2B brand-management and marketing-communication firm that helps companies position their brands effectively and persuasively in industries as diverse as: Insurance, Financial Services, Senior Living, Manufacturing, Construction, and Nonprofit. We do our work so well that seven of the companies (brands) we’ve represented have been acquired by other companies. OCG is different because our business model is different. We don’t bill by the hour or the project. We don’t bill by time or materials. We don’t mark anything up. We don’t take media commissions. We pass through every expense incurred on behalf of our clients at net. We scope the work, price the work, put beginning and end dates on our engagements, and charge flat, consistent fees every month for the terms of the engagements. I’m also a writer by calling and an Irish storyteller by nature. In addition to writing posts for my company’s blog, I’m a frequent publisher on LinkedIn and Medium. And I’ve published three books for children, numerous short stories, and other works, all of which are available on Amazon under my full name, Mark Nelson O’Brien.

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