Archive for August, 2015

Not Giving Up the Ghost

Ghost TreeWhether or not we want to admit it, I think most writers enjoy the recognition from others for a piece well done. It’s nice to have someone tell you that they read your article, story, or book and that it meant something to them. It’s exhilarating and a bit humbling all at the same time.

So why wouldn’t you put your name on something you’ve written?

When I embarked on my write-a-book-in-a-month journey last year, I fully intended to write, edit, and publish the book myself. But when I got into the actual writing of it, I found some things that made me slightly uneasy. I worried that if certain people (read family and judgy neighbors) saw it, they would think differently of me.

No, I’m not writing anything bad, per se, but sometimes my mind wanders into a direction that may…frighten some people. (Luckily the Hub is a confident and trusting person. Not many guys could help you enact a murder scene in the living room to get the rights and lefts down just so.) And if I discuss some of these topics with people who don’t know me as well, they get a little quiet around me. So I’d rather that only those I’m really close to know my true identity and everyone else sees a pen name.

At other times I ghostwrite. It’s like being a secret weapon in some ways. It gives me the opportunity to write things that I may feel very deeply about, but don’t have to take the heat for the article. That is very freeing.

Especially when it’s a political piece. I’m lucky enough to write for a candidate with whom I share most political views. I’ve done a pretty good job at capturing his tone of voice for all the pieces I do for him. It’s like some kind of weird synergy that we have. And it makes my job quite easy when the articles practically write themselves after the research is done.

Maybe someday there’ll be a whole book with my name on it. But for now, I’ll stay a ghost and a secret.

Many of you will thank me.


How to Repay a Mentor

This post was previously published on


Sometimes a person comes into your life for a very particular reason. At first it may not be clear to you what that reason is; but it will likely become obvious that you will never be able to pay them back. That’s when you just have to pay it forward.

Jack O’Brien began his life in the Sweet Science in 1944. As a young man of fourteen he joined the boxing team at Superior’s Cathedral High School. But his boxing career didn’t end when he was through competing. He has gone on to help coach and train both amateurs and pros, and he’s still at it.

Former pro fighter Zach “Jungle Boy” Walters credits O’Brien with helping him make major changes in his technique that helped him win matches. He has been helped directly by O’Brien’s knowledge while in the ring, and in Walters’ current capacity as the owner and coach at Jungle Boy Boxing.

Longtime coach and promoter Chuck Horton also knows firsthand the value of O’Brien’s wisdom. Horton commented in an interview with television station WDIO, “I would not be anywhere that I am today if it wasn’t for Jack.” Yes, it’s good to acknowledge those who bring you up and give selflessly to others.

A master of boxing fundamentals, O’Brien has more experience than the other coaches in the Duluth, MN boxing gym. No one will doubt the credentials of the expert who will celebrate his 85th birthday this year. He brings a unique and refined approach that helps boxers fix one punch at a time until the whole picture is realized.

The dictionary defines the word gestalt as an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts. It should say the technique of Jack O’Brien.

It’s no wonder Horton and Walters chose to name their March boxing event The Jack O’Brien Invitational. Every young boxer on the card can learn from his wisdom. The fighters from Jungle Boy Boxing Gym probably already have.

If you are lucky enough to have someone like O’Brien come into your life, count your blessings. But don’t drive yourself crazy trying to pay them back. Odds are you could never afford it and they wouldn’t take it if you offered. They’re just not in it for a reimbursement. So instead of a payback, pay it forward.

And don’t forget to say thanks.