I have never met Glynn Young in person, yet meeting him through his blog, Faith. Fiction. Friends, has touched my life, and my heart, deeply. Glynn is one of those people who makes me believe in the possibility of a better world. He is kind and caring, a brilliant writer, a poet, a novelist (his first novel, Dancing Priest, is a wonderful read — do order it, it’s available at Amazon as well as on Kindle. I read it in one evening — I couldn’t stop! — and reviewed it here).
Glynn never ceases to inspire me with the deepness of his thinking, the power of his expressions and the beauty of his soul shining bright in everything he does and says and writes.
Along with being a super guy, Glynn is a super grandpa! In a continuation of celebrating grandparents this weekend, Glynn is the guest blogger today! Do drop a note in the comment box to let Glynn know how his story touched you. It is a beautiful read about a man who mentored him and made a big difference in his life.
Like his friend, Jim Fox, Glynn makes a world of difference by supporting writers and artists and poets and dreamers online and in the real world.
He Made a Difference
by Glynn Young
In 1980, I attended a speechwriter seminar in New York. I had just joined the speechwriting team at my company, and this seminar offered an opportunity both for professional development and to talk with speechwriters from other companies.
The seminar leader was a man named Jim Fox. His bio on the seminar materials noted his extensive speechwriting background and the fact he had been the president of the national Public Relations Society of America organization in 1975. I had just joined PRSA the year before.
The seminar was called “Basic Speechwriting.” If we were expecting two-and-a-half days of lectures and presentations, we were to be sorely disappointed. Instead, it was two-and-a-half days of work. Intense work. Only one of the 20 participants had brought a portable typewriter (and this was long before personal computers and laptops appeared). The work was done in longhand.
Silver-haired, early 60s, gesturing with a cigarette held rather elegantly between his fingers, Fox gave a short introduction, explained our first assignment, and set us to work. When we finished, we had to stand up and read our work aloud. Our experience levels showed. We were all over the map. I was somewhere in the “beyond junior but nowhere near senior level.” It was a humbling experience.
I loved it.
By the end of the first day, I was exhausted. We had a cocktail reception with people from other seminars. It was there that I learned that Jim Fox had a famous wife – Sylvia Porter, the financial columnist published in newspapers across the country and the author of several books on managing finances. It was the second marriage for both, their spouses have died some years back.
After the reception, the 20 speechwriters went to their rooms and ordered room service for dinner. We had an overnight assignment. We had to write a 10-minute speech to hand in to Fox; he would review them and select six to be read.
My speech was one of the six. He had me read last. When I finished, he looked around the room and said, “That’s powerful stuff.”
In that single moment, I became a speechwriter.
I took his Advanced Speechwriting course and another related course later on. He persuaded me to join an association he helped found for speechwriters, trainers and managers of Speaker Bureaus. Then he persuaded me to join the association’s board. At a minimum, we saw each other every year at the association’s annual conference.
In 1991, Sylvia Porter died. It was a somber Jim Fox I talked with in San Diego. They had been married 14 years and some of him died with her. He officially retired, but he kept doing PRSA seminars. And then he retired for good, and surprised us all by moving to Brazil. We had one last exchange of letters, and then there was silence.
Jim Fox changed my life. He saw something in me and the words I wrote, and he kept pushing me to be better. When I won the highest award for speechwriting in 1989 and in 1991, it was Jim Fox who deserved the credit for inspiration.
And I miss him.