I feel like I can call Jon Acuff my friend because it's a liberty I need to take, since one of my worst professional moments happened when he and I were eating lunch in the green room of a conference where we were each speaking.
I'm telling you, I was an idiot.
We were backstage at Storyline, and I was casually sharing space with people who make you raise your eyebrows with recognition. People like Donald Miller, Allison Vesterfelt, Anne Lamott, Bob Goff, Tripp Crosby, and of course "my friend" Jon. The producers had brought in burritos for lunch, and Jon Acuff and I were chatting together, eating chips and guacamole.
See, here's the thing about Jon Acuff: he is the leading revolutionary among millennials who want to quit their day jobs and make their dreams their life's truest work. After he got famous for his epically funny works of Stuff Christians Like, a satirical look at the quirky things church people do, then he turned the cubicle life upside down by teaching us all how to look forward to Monday mornings by pursuing work we actually love.
When I had met him that morning, before the conference started, he straight up gave me some of the best speaking/selling advice I've received, and I think his guidance is in part the reason my book sold out that day. He was kind, gracious, empowering and disarming. He was intentional and professional, and he treated me like a peer when I felt like a country bumpkin in the big city for the first time.
So, when we sat in the green room eating lunch, we ahd already broken the ice. Or, he had. So don't you think, in that moment over chips and guacamole, I might have said something smart to acknowledge his work?
I might have said, "Jon, I think your stuff is some of the funniest writing I've ever enjoyed."
Or, "You know you're setting the world free to live the lives they want, right? You know that? Because I know you are, and the magnitude of your influence is no small thing."
Or, "You have pulled back the curtain on what it's like to be a professional dreamer, and your wife has given voice what it's like to be married to one. That was revolutionary to my marriage, and I'd like to thank you."
No, I said, "Gosh, Jon, my brother would be so glad if he were sitting here. He's a big fan."
I couldn't go ahead and claim my own affections for his work, writing, and humor. Nope. Gee, Jon, if my brother were here, he'd be glad. I'm just here for the guac.
But this led us into talking about my brother and his own pursuit of work that he loves, as a singer, dancer, and actor at Walt Disney World. Jon was gracious and conversational, telling me how he and his wife Jenny loved to go there even before they had kids.
Now, if you've been around me for more than 7 minutes, you know I love talking about my brother. I'm pretty much his personal publicist and the president of his fan club. So I was great with this topic with Jon Acuff, but I took everything too far.
Rob had recently acted in a Disney TV vcommercial, but instead of just telling Jon about that, apparently I wanted to show him. So I tried to pull it up on my phone, but we were in the backstage bowels of a theater where WiFi is one struggling bar, and YouTube was not my friend. I handed Jon my phone, and we both sat there watching the spinning wheel of death while nothing of interest came up on the screen. My phone simply searched for service.
And somewhere in the following moments, he was finished eating and needed to move on with his next session on stage or the workshop he was teaching, or something essentially crucial to the reason he was there at all. And since he would never see that the video clip was in fact Disney quality and something to enjoy, I had presented as an out-of-touch fan who wanted to show some cell phone videos to one of America's bestselling authors.
It was ridiculous. I was ridiculous.
So, just in case he is ever looking for some kudos on the internet, I'd like to offer here what I was apparently unable to do in person.
Dear Jon Acuff,
I think your stuff is some of the funniest writing I've ever enjoyed. You know you're setting the world free to live the lives they want, right? You know that? Because I know you are, and the magnitude of your influence is no small thing.
You have pulled back the curtain on what it's like to be a professional dreamer, and your wife has given voice what it's like to be married to one. That was revolutionary to my marriage, and I'd like to thank you.
Also, you somehow know how to eat burritos and guacamole without looking sloppy. And that, too, is no small thing.
Your friend, and I hope it's okay if I claim that,