Opening Keynote: Brad Meltzer

Dave TaylorLive Blogging Dad 2.016, Uncategorized

Author Brad Meltzer. Photo credit: Steve Hall.

Author Brad Meltzer. Photo credit: Steve Hall.

“I get a phone call from my editor in Bulgaria…” And he goes just to be greeted by the paparazzi, to his surprise. The story ends up incorrectly that he sells 20mil copies per book because they want to believe he’s the #1 author from the United States. Ends up betting Slavia, a talk show host, that the host can guess more about Brad than vice versa. Host guesses that he’s devoted to his family, takes care of his parents, etc.

Dedicates his speech to Oren Miller. Turns out Brad’s sister went to summer camp with Oren’s wife.

Legacy: what goes on after you. Brad once read his own obituary. The back story: He was involved in saving the house of one of the two guys who created Superman. A reporter told him “what you’re doing right now, that’s going to be in your obituary” so he hired the reporter to write his obituary. Which ended with “He was a…”

First step: Who remembers you? Separate out the things you do for yourself from the things you do for other people. Your legacy is “the things you do for other people”

Four types of legacy: your family (a story about moving from Brooklyn to Florida and how he and his sister were his father’s life), your teachers, co-workers and peer group, your community, and the impact you will have on complete and utter strangers.

Brad shared that he moved to Boston and his job evaporated while he was in transit. So he wrote a novel. And got 24 rejection letters and moved on to his second novel, which finally sold to a publisher. His publisher told him that to sell a book you need to either know a lot of people or a few people with big mouths. “So let me tell you about my family…”

His father had surgery and “sold a dozen books” in the process. But it’s really about their care for Brad, their love for their family. Echoes that 91% of fathers now say that a real sign of love is caring, according to Dove Men+Care.

After the History Channel called him about “Brad Meltzer’s Decoded” he then asked his wife about “Brad Meltzer’s Dinner”, to have her say that he could sleep on Brad Meltzer’s Couch if he kept that up.

You can’t teach a child what to do by just telling them. You need to live your values, so he wrote “Heroes for my Son”, people like Rosa Parks, Abraham Lincoln and the Wright Brothers. Then he wrote “Heroes for my Daughter” too.

Tells story about Frank Shankowitz, founder of the Make a Wish Foundation. So how do we create that voice, make that change happen in what we do? And what of the people who will never say thank you and tell you the impact that you’ve had on their lives. They are all part of your legacy.

That’s who will remember you.

But what about how you will be remembered? “Think about what you want your legacy to be”.  All you have to do is help one person, be kind to one person.

“I believe ordinary people can change the world.”

The real strength of masculinity is that he cares. The most important part of the story isn’t Superman, it’s Clark Kent. Because he cares. Our assignment: “Go say thank you” to the people who impacted our lives.

When my kids were born I was already tired of them looking at reality TV stars and loud-mouthed athletes. They aren’t the real heroes. Tells story of Amelia Earhart at 7yo, creating her own roller coaster and giving her a first taste of flying. Talks about his books “I am Abraham Lincoln” and “I Am Amelia Earhart”. Rosa Parks, Albert Einstein, Lucille Ball, Jackie Robinson, Helen Keller, Martin Luther King Jr, Jane Goodall, George Washington.

The problem with our heroes is that we put them on a pedestal so they’re not “alive”. But no-one’s born a hero, heroism comes from the choices you make and the actions you take. Real, caring, human heroes.

He’s talking with DC Comics about Batman and Superman, focused on the value of Clark Kent. But if he could be a superhero, he’d rather be Batman.

Wrap up: What’s the point? He got to go with the USO to the Middle East because he got a letter from a sailor thanking him for one of his books. So he had his publisher donate 40,000 books to the USO. When a soldier thanked him for the books, he said “no, no, I’m here to thank you, not the other way around!” When he called the original sailor to tell him, Brad tells the guy “our mothers never leave us” after hearing that the sailor’s mother had just died.

Tasoma Yamagutchi, on vacation in Hiroshima in 1945, so he races home to Nagasaki, survives both atomic blasts. Spends the rest of his life talking about the benefits of peace and the dangers of nuclear armaments. “The good part of what happened to him is that he gets to tell his story”.

No matter what any writes about anyone in the room, no-one can capture our legacy. You’ll live a bette life, forever.


Bio: Designated as one of The Hollywood Reporter’s Top 20 most powerful writers, Brad Meltzer (@BradMeltzer) is the #1 New York Times Bestselling author ofThe Inner Circle, The Book of Fate, and eight other bestselling thrillers. Apart from his hugely successful fiction, Brad is one of the only authors ever to place books on the bestseller list for nonfiction (History Decoded), advice (Heroes for My Son and Heroes for My Daughter), children’s books (I Am Amelia Earhart and I am Abraham Lincoln), and even comic books (Justice League of America). Brad is also a TED speaker, host of Brad Meltzer’s Decodedon the History Channel, and Brad Meltzer’s Lost History on H2.

Live blogging by Dave Taylor (@DaveTaylor) of GoFatherhood.com.