Personal Writing

A series of (seemingly) random fortunate events. But how random were they really?

Creative Careers* by B. Jeffrey Madoff (no relation to you know who!) is one of the best, most useful and practical books I have ever read. Ever. And I’m only 1/4 of the way through it. I can’t wait to keep going, but first, I am stopping for a brief post that is actually a parable of sorts.

Just for the fun of it, I want to trace how this book landed in my hands (this is a two-roads-converged kind of parable):

Road I

The Bush Foundation paid for me to attend the #SOCAP19 conference in San Fransisco in late October of 2019. I met a woman named Caitlin Marlotte from the Twin Cities. She and I walked to the conference from our hotel one morning, and I told her, while panting heavily up and down (mostly up!) the bonkers hills of San Fransisco, what I wanted to do with Extraordinaryextraordinary.

She listened so intently (take note, DDV–that’s a skill you can keep working to improve!) and when I was done said, “You should take Seth Godin’s altMBA program. I did and it was really good.”

When I got home, I applied for the class and was accepted into the January cohort. It ended February 6, and Dr Marry and I left for England for his 50th birthday trip on February 7 (phew!).

Taking that incredible marathon of a four-week class connected me to an online learning community called Akimbo that has seemingly endless opportunities to connect with literally thousands of people. To be frank, it totally overwhelms me, so I don’t spend much time on it.

But, early on during this period of social isolation, I was on and found two groups I was kind of fascinated by. A Monday morning 30 minute meetup group and a Friday B.R.A.V.E. conversations over coffee group.

I started attending both, but only the Friday one has really stuck. Now, I am good friends with Elisabeth Cardiello, NYC founder of Caffè Unimatic and the convener of this group. Through our weekly time together, I have also started to develop relationships with people from all over the world who also get in on this very intentional, calming hour. I have built this time into my schedule and work very hard not to miss it.

One day, Elisabeth and I were the only ones on the call, so we started talking about other things. She was listening to me talk about what I wanted to do with my site, and she said, “You need to meet my friend Michael Roderick! He’s amazing. I’ll connect you.”

She sent this email:

Dearest Dayna and Michael,

It is my pleasure to introduce two unbelievable humans to each other. 

Dayna, Michael is the coach and friend I mentioned in NYC who has a brilliant framework for, well, for creating frameworks 😉 I’ll let him explain it to you more fully, it’s magical (and is something that made me feel even more confident in B.R.A.V.E.). He’s also a connector extraordinaire and I’m sure you two would kick around so many ideas together. 

Michael, Dayna is a new (but quite dear) friend whom I actually met whilst hosting Brave Conversations. She’s the CEO of an arts organization in Fargo, ND and has very quickly become one of my favorite humans. But beware, since I know I can talk for hours with both of you – I’m sure that’ll happen when you two connect as well 🙂

Keep me in the loop on your magic! 



I signed up for Michael’s daily emails around thought leadership on the spot, and then he and I chatted over Zoom a few weeks later. Elisabeth was right: I did immediately connect with him and can’t wait to work with him in the new year (more on that to come later).

One of Michael’s recent posts extolled the virtues of an opportunity he had had a number of years ago to attend/audit a course through Parsons School of Design called Creative Careers. The whole email was (and frankly they all are) really interesting, but I truly loved this sentence:

I often like to say that the keys to all the doors we need to open are in other people’s pockets. 

I mean, is that a great sentence or what?!?!?

Anyway, Michael said that much of what he learned from attending those lectures was now in a brand new book. I ordered it immediately, and that is how it came to be in my hands this morning.

Road II

I reached out to a number of friends about a year ago to say that I was getting pretty serious about extraordinaryextraordinary and hoped they might have some thoughts around it and new doors to open for me.

My friend Andrew, always my champion, recommended I look into a woman named Dorie Clark—a coach in NYC.

I immediately signed up for her emails and started paying some, but not much, attention to them. I liked the content, but who has time to read everything they get in their inbox?

Again, during this crazy Covid-19 period, I decided to give her emails a closer look. I started reading the backlog and really connected with what she was saying.

I signed up for an ongoing course she offers called Recognized Experts. That connected me to her and to an online community of about 450 people (much more manageable for me!).

Of course, I am loving the content and am meeting incredible people from all over the world. Dorie is the real deal, and I am really grateful to be connected to her and this work.

In an email I sent to Michael to follow up on our conversation, I said:

I don’t know if you know of Dorie Clark (she’s a NY-based consultant (so, surely you must know her because it’s such a small town and all! 🤣) who wrote Stand Out, among other books). I am taking an online course of hers right now and reading the book. One of the things I like is the idea of people naturally thinking of you as having an expanded expertise once you are a recognized expert in one area. I see this doing just that—we start with alcoholism but eventually, we are recognized as a couple whose influence/expertise is around couples overcoming failure/finding happiness in any number of areas.

Michael wrote back and said:

Thanks for sharing all of this info! I also love that you’re in Dorie’s course. She’s a friend of mine who has spoken at a conference I ran, and before the pandemic we hosted many dinners here in the city.

Of course she is. Because, again, NYC is such a small town, so it only makes sense that these two people, whom I met through two unrelated people living on both coasts, would know each other. Incredible.

Two roads converged in a yellow wood…

So Creative Careers showed up in my mailbox earlier this week. I’m looking through it, and who, of all people, should be one of the featured guest speakers in this class at Parsons School of Design and quoted in the book?

Dorie Clark.

I mean, really, why was I surprised by this?

But I was.

And so the parable, if you will (I’m sorry to treat you like the apostles who never seemed to understand even the simplest of stories), is that when we’re open to new experiences, when we say yes to walks with strangers, sign up for emails, take some time to dig into a connection from an old or new friend…we simply don’t know what new roads will open up because of it. I don’t think our job is to anticipate the opportunities; rather, I think our job is just to say “yes.”

I’m saying yes all over the place, and I love that the Universe is delivering a great big San Fransisco (where my friend Andrew also lives) to NYC life right to my hands and all from my pretty little sunroom in Fargo, ND.

* I’m sorry to have linked to Amazon (I try to avoid supporting it at all costs), but it was the only link I could really find, and in the spirit of honesty, it’s how I ordered the book. Ugh!

Dayna Del Val is on a mission to help others (re)discover the spark they were born with through her blog and newsletter, her professional talks and the (re)Discover Your Spark retreats she leads. Dayna works with people to help them not just identify and articulate their dreams but to develop a framework to get going on the pursuit of those dreams—today, in the next few months and for the years ahead. She's at the intersection of remarkable and so, so ordinary, but she knows that pretty much everyone else is, too. She's excited to be sharing this extraordinary journey with you.


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