Seizing Opportunity, or When Light Recognizes Light

Seizing Opportunity, or When Light Recognizes Light

I’m back!  😀

Long story short, at the beginning of August, just when I began working at a furious pace on new music and all the other content I’m excited to share, my computer died.

Like many independent artists, a powerful laptop is the hub of my entire enterprise.  Rather than go even deeper into debt beyond the student loans, car loan, credit card, etc….I chose to suck it up, deal with the fact that my enterprise would have to be placed on hold for a bit, and earn enough money to buy a brand new laptop.

Now that I have it, one would think that the first thing I’d do once I got the new computer is get right back to working on music, continuing where I left off.  But that isn’t the case.

Here’s what’s going on…

I bought and moved into a house in Redford Township, MI at the beginning of the year, and made a personal commitment to be a good neighbor and contribute positively to the community as best I’m able.  My queen even baked cookies, and she and I went up and down our block from door to door, handing out cookies and introducing ourselves to our new neighbors.

One day, I was at Costco, filling up my gas tank.  From behind me I heard a woman’s voice…’Hey, who does your tattoos?’  I turned around and saw the woman walking up to me.  Before I could finish saying the name of the artist, she had grabbed my wrist and was manipulating my arm to get a better view of my ink.  After telling her who did my tattoos, she said “Hold on…” and went to her vehicle.  She came back with a business card, handed it to me and said “Vote for me on the second of August.”

I looked at the card.  It had her picture on it and said ‘Vote Kelly Ann Ramsey for Wayne County Third Circuit Court Judge’.  “Oh, you’re running for judge?” I said.  “That’s right,” she replied.

This was in late July of this year, just three short months ago.  At the time, I had just done some freelance work for the Redford Neighborhood Connection, our local newspaper which is circulated to every house in the township on a monthly basis.  I first discovered the paper on my porch in June and thought, “Well, this is my local paper, so I should probably read it and get an idea of what is happening in my new community.”

As a writer, the first thing I noticed was that the front page was filled with typos and redundancies, and littered with punctuation and grammatical errors.  There was even a section advertised as being on page 6, which turned out to be on page 9.  Rather than dismiss it as an amateur effort and throw it away, I decided to find out who publishes the paper.  It turns out it is privately-owned, and is essentially a two-person operation plus a freelance graphic designer handling the layout, with no editor-in-chief on staff.

I called the owner of the paper, and we agreed to meet.  While they said they do need an editor, it’s not in their monthly budget to hire one full-time, but they promised to keep me in mind for freelance work as needed.

True to their word, within a few days they sent me an email saying that a candidate for Trustee had delivered them “a dog of a political ad”, and they wanted to get my professional opinion on how to make it better.  They hired me to re-write the ad, and according to the publishers, it ended up causing quite a stir among the so-called Redford political elite.  The paper has since hired me to do additional editing and writing, along with a strategy session to determine their core values, and occasional social media consultation.

So…at the Costco gas station, when Ramsey told me she was running to become a judge, I said, “I write for the Redford Connection from time to time.”

Her eyes widened — “Do you have a card??”  I told her no, but that I had hers now.  She told me to get in touch with her and we would do lunch.

We emailed each other over the coming weeks, and finally met at Sheesh in Livonia — her favorite — where she introduced me to beef sajji, which I’ll put right up there with Bucharest Grill’s shawarma.  (That’s right, I said it.  Oh, and extra sauce is a must.)

She proceeded to give me a basic background of her career, told me what’s going on with her campaign, where she needs help.  I told her how I came to be doing freelance work for the Redford Connection, how I saw something with several obvious errors, and instead of seeing something worthless, I saw…

And as I paused for a moment to find the word, Ramsey was already finishing my thought.  She leaned across the booth, smiled and said, “You saw opportunity.”

And she nailed it.

Sure, the errors bothered me.  I have a “perfect problem”.  That is to say, everything has to be perfect, and that’s my problem.

But beyond the errors, I saw the opportunity to help my community.  After all, how many in Redford have noticed the same as I have, and just throw the paper out without even reading it anymore?  If I could assist the paper with delivering its content as best as possible, perhaps its public perception would improve, perhaps its readership would increase, along with its inherent value to the community.

That’s the opportunity I saw, and what Ramsey was able to put into words.

(I’ve since learned that Ramsey is great at spotting opportunity in every person or problem she encounters.  She also believes that the playing field should be level for all, so that everyone is able to have as many opportunities as possible to achieve the life they were meant to achieve.)

I didn’t expect that by keeping my mind open and recognizing an opportunity to help my local paper, it would lead to an opportunity for me to help someone I have come to now refer to as “a judicial Joan of Arc.”

At our first Sheesh meeting, Ramsey told me “I want you to write a story about me that will go viral.”  Of course, no one can necessarily make anything go viral.  It happens organically, and many variables work together to cause it.  I knew I could help her write a story, but it wouldn’t make much of an impact without a coordinated effort to have others share her story.

But first, I had to hear her story, to see if it was worth telling.  After all, I had just met her.  Given the current political climate in our country, how could I know at first glance whether or not she was just another sleazy politician, in it for the glory and the power and the paycheck?  So we scheduled another lunch meeting so I could prepare some questions and conduct a more in-depth interview.

Since the beginning of October, I have conducted nearly 10 hours of interviews with Ramsey.  What I have learned in those interviews, the things she told me, resonate to the core of who I am as an individual.  I value personal sacrifice, measurable growth, individual accountability, a reputation for excellence, time, intensity, and respect.  Ramsey exemplifies all of these values.

I began to believe the universe had created that chance meeting at Costco for a reason, that we met so I could help her as best I’m able to get her into a seat on the bench.  It’s a seat she deserves, based on her decades of experience in the judicial system, the indelible events which have shaped her personal and professional life, and her tireless crusade for our communities, especially our children.  Light recognizes light.

So, after much thought about how to accomplish the task of putting Ramsey’s incredible story into words, and consideration of the strategy and implementation needed to help it reach as wide an audience as possible, I decided to put my own efforts on hold and help Ramsey coordinate a grassroots mobilization of her staunchest supporters whom are active on social media, specifically Facebook, in the final week leading up to Election Day.

Understand: In order for Ramsey to win a seat on the Wayne County Third Circuit Court bench, the communities of Wayne County need to know her story.

To quote noted trial lawyer Gerry Spence, who never lost a criminal trial and whose notable cases number in the hundreds, “Storytelling has been the principal means by which we have taught one another from the beginning of time.  All learning of humankind has been handed down for eons in the form of stories.  We are, indeed, creatures of story.  All varieties of creatures inhabit this planet…but we alone are story creatures.  Telling stories and listening to stories are the activities that most distinguish our species.  The stories of our childhood remain with us as primary experiences against which we judge and decide issues as adults.  They are forever implanted in both our conscious and unconscious.”

In order to give Ramsey the push she needs to get into the seat she deserves, we’re asking her staunchest supporters whom are active on social media, specifically Facebook, to make a daily commitment to share her story, to please share the posts from her page with their networks of people on Facebook, and across social media.

Understand: Facebook actively suppresses posts from pages in order to entice page owners to pay for the post to reach a wider audience, and the advertising dollars generated are what get Facebook’s shareholders paid.  Likes and comments do not make a significant impact, but shares do, big-time.  If her supporters commit to navigating to the Kelly Ann Ramsey for Wayne County Third Circuit Court Judge Facebook page on a daily basis, and sharing the content posted over the final eight days leading up to the election, I believe the collective effort will do the job of winning the hearts and minds necessary to capture enough votes for Ramsey to win.

Starting Tuesday, November 1, and continuing each day until Tuesday, November 8, the seven parts of Kelly Ann Ramsey’s story will each be released and hosted on my blog.  Please feel free to share each part on social media, even if you don’t live in Wayne County, or Michigan for that matter.  Every share counts.

I’m very excited to help Ramsey get into the seat she deserves, and return to music-making and tour planning after Election Day.  I’ve got a bunch of new songs written which are ready to be recorded and mixed, a few songs ready to be mastered and released, and a couple of secrets up my sleeve to share before the end of the year (which my fan club members already know about).

Let’s do this!

Oh…happy Halloween!  🙂

John Kay
blog@therealjohnkay.com


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