Business Development Tune Ups!

Does your business plan (or LinkedIn profile, job search, or sales process) need a tune up? I’m between projects this week and have time to speak with you on Tuesday and Wednesday. Call or text 484.437.8409 to schedule your free 20 minute conversation!




Fail to plan? Plan to fail.

I've worked with two businesses that, I have little doubt, will soon close. Both principals / ownwes insist that, by simply opening their doors, their businesses will succeed.

In my consulting practice, I insist that my clients develop a plan to grow their business, a plan that includes revenue targets, financial obligations, and various metrics for success. We regularly revisit these plans to see how we're doing and to consider how we can do better. 

When I worked at a large law firm, senior attorneys would draft annual “plans:” lofty goals about new areas of law in which they would practice in the coming year. Following a rousing round of backslapping at the next practice group meeting, those alleged "business plans" were lost in desk drawers for another 50 weeks. No one held those attorneys to their business development goals. Subsequently, many of those attorneys still lack clients and must still service a rainmaker.

In contrast, I look at how Magna Legal Services has exploded in the last ten years, starting with providing the best court reporting and legal technology for depositions anywhere in the country. Now, they provide end-to-end legal assistance to law firms, corporations, and governments, whether in the court room or board room. They had a plan (still do) and are constantly adjusting their goals upward!

Where's your business this summer? How's your plan? Let's find 20-30 minutes to chat (no cost) this week to talk about it. 



Lucky 13

As of today, 13 years have passed since I quit drinking alcohol. Before you throw me a high five for the last 13 years, I want to tell you about those 6 final weeks before I quit.

In hindsight, I should have known something was wrong. I had finally found financial success in my first job out of college (selling television advertising), but I regularly stretched work happy hours until after midnight before driving home. I’d wake up in my apartment hungover and still wearing my suit. Along the way, I embarrassed friends, family, and colleagues with my actions and was repeatedly pulled aside with well-intended words of caution. As much as I tried to control my alcohol consumption, I went off the rails at least once a week and spent remaining nights sober and ashamed.

I started asking for help. Some suggested prayer. Some suggested AA**. Some just suggested that I get my shit together. While I don’t remember who convinced me to go, I thankfully sought the advice of a counselor (c/o my employee benefits plan) and my physician, both of whom agreed that my problem drinking was a symptom of depression rather than the problem itself. Until then, I couldn’t differentiate between depression, a mental health issue, and being depressed, a feeling. In fact, 1 in 4 Americans experience a mental health issue each year. The counselor showed me that I was not alone in self-medicating my depression with Jim Beam. My physician prescribed a few months of Paxil, the same small-dose antidepressant which had recently helped hin bounce back from his divorce.

Buoyed by this knowledge and the support of countless people, I really tried to limit myself to two drinks when I drank but, after my 4th beer with clients at a Phillies game, I knew that my time was up. That was June 30, 2005.

Flash forward to June 2018, when Chef Eric Ripert found his friend and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain dead in a Paris hotel room. In his writings, Chef Bourdain shared his mental health struggles and perennial penchant for drugs and alcohol, including a successful stint in rehab for cocaine and heroin as a young chef. Yet people were still surprised when Anthony Bourdain took his own life.

We shouldn’t be. 3 out of 4 suicides are men.  Mental health issues are very real and they manifest themselves in myriad ways, including substance abuse. Bourdain and I are not alone. But I’m lucky and thankful that family, friends, and colleagues pulled me aside, encouraged me to seek professional help, and helped me to follow through with a plan that likely saved my life, whether from a drunk driving accident in 2005 or something worse.

If somebody in your life is drinking too much, withdrawing from family and friends, or just tells you that he’s not himself these days, let him know that he’s not alone. There are a ton of resources locally and online. In fact, you can have that person call me. My number’s 484.437.8409. I have at least 10 of these conversations each year. I’d gladly have 50 more.

**A very successful bar and restaurant owner, with decades of sobriety, encouraged me NOT to go to Alcoholics Anonymous, as we’re both too independent for its 12 step program.


What I want for my birthday

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What I want for my birthday

I turn 39 on Friday and, before you start wondering what to get me, let me tell you.

I want to catch up. I want to hear about your family, your growing kids, your aging parents, and your awesome spouse. I want to hear about your continued career success and what will it fund. That dream trip? Both kids in private school? A second home? Finally, I want to hear about the cause(s) that you support after your bills are paid. Are you involved in your church? Do you support  your college or university? Has fate made another cause important to you? I look forward to hearing all about it.

Call or text me 484.437.8409 or send an email to

What I want to share with you is the work that Team I Hate Cancer is doing here in Philadelphia. As our name suggests, we’ve raised $350,000+ for oncology causes since 2006. A cancer diagnosis creates incredible stress on a family, whether for the patient or the caregivers, This stress can manifest itself as anxiety, depression, or trauma, among other maladies.

To address these unmet mental health needs, we have partnered with the Austin-based Flatwater Foundation to provide, at no cost, mental health therapy to cancer patients &/or their caregivers in the Philadelphia area. Flatwater’s proprietary and HIPAA-compliant software allows cancer center social workers to match families in need of mental health therapy with eager counselors in their area. Many mental health professionals in the Flatwater program offer us a preferred rate, further stretching our funds.

In Central Texas, Flatwater is currently funding $40,000 in mental health services each month. Imagine the mental health needs for families in Philadelphia - the nation’a 4th largest city - we want to help these families facing a cancer diagnosis in our area, one cancer center at a time. 

To do this work, we need your financial support. $100 funds one therapy session with a mental health professional. $250 funds a small group therapy session for cancer patients. $1,000 can likely fund the entire mental health needs of a cancer patient’s journey or her caregiver. Would you please consiser donating to Team I Hate Cancer? Our outrageous ambitions are already making differences in families facing a cancer diagnosis.  Make your donation here.

You can also celebrate with us on Saturday, May 19 at our annual tailgate at the Radnor Hunt Races in Malvern, Pennsylvania. 

Thanks for hating cancer with us! 

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I was a flabbergasted client

My neighbors and I live in and maintain a 100+ year old building near Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square. As much as we baby her,     2134 Pine is showing her age. In my home, the windows are about shot. Because  Philadelphia’s Historic Commissiom deems our building to be archictecturally significant, proposed replacement windows must be approved by the Commission.

As you probably know, I love having “a guy” that  solves problems. In this case, my mailman Frank introduced me to a window installer thaf has seemingly worked on every historic brownstone in my neighborhood. John came over, measured the 5 windows, answered my silly questions, and promised me an proposal. A month later, I get a text with a $15,000 price tag. I was flabbergasted.

Had I known each window was $3,000, I would not have wasted the vendor’s time. A “back of the envelope” estimate would have primed me, the potential customer, for sticker shock.

How do you discuss pricing with your potential customers?



Are you a lifelong learner?

I was flabbergasted.

Two friends had asked me to help them reboot their business, a true side gig that has potential to become their careers. We’ve talked about financing issues, real estate options, managing inventory, marketing plans, and new business development efforts. After countless texts and abrieviated phone calls, I finally felt like the partners saw eye-to-eye on their business goals when they sat down face-to-face. We were ready to move forward and I was stoked. 

Out of nowhere, one partner exclaimed that he repeatedly passed on learning new skills at his full-time position because (allegedly) he wouldn’t be doing it for the rest of his life.

Someone was going to pay you to learn something and you skipped it? Are you kidding me?

I was flabbergasted.

Whether it’s your day job or side gig, would you turn down the opportunity to learn new skills that would benefit you professionally or personally? I wouldn’t, especially if my employer was paying me for it.




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Don't second guess Security Sam

Tomorrow morning, I have an appointment with Security Sam, an appointment during which he'll tell me how much the security cameras and door buzzer system my condo association want are going to cost. Seeing as two other security companies have failed to submit a proposal after similar meetings, this appointment should be the ultimate one-call close.

But Security Sam's sales manager got in the way. 

Security Sam's sales manager made Security Sam contact his customer (me) to "clarify" that Security Sam is visiting a multi-family dwelling and not a single family home, a fact easily learned from a quick Zillow search. Why? Because single-family homes are serviced by a different sales team and Security Sam's sales manager wants to be Security Safe.

By second guessing Security Sam, his sales manager added an unnecessary layer of bullshit into a sales process that should be cut and dry. Security Sam, the security expert, should hear my needs, propose a solution, cash my check, and collect his commisssion. Instead, he has TWO sales managers worried that he might step outside of his contractual role and they are bothering the customer BEFORE the first meeting.

When I managed the business development process for a growing low eight-digit legal practice, I dealt with similar bullshit among the law firm partners, which only impaired my ability to service the legal needs of financial services companies nationwide. Too often, our clients were involved in conversations about how the origination credits for their bills would be divided, conversations which I often likened as having kids in the courtroom while their parents argued over their custody.

Nobody wins when you second guess Security Sam. Don't undermine your sales process with internal drama, and empower your team to always keep your customers' needs as Job No. 1. Your top line revenue will soon reflect your investment in your customers.



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You can't sell it if you don't stock it.

I recently spent a few weekend afternoons stocking shelves and sweeping floors in the deli and bait shop where I worked as a young person. In addition to making a few bucks, I remembered how important it is for seasonal retailers to have as much of their inventory on the shelves as possible. The Jersey Shore has absolutely emptied since Labor Day and, if you haven't sold it, odds are you'll have it next spring.

As a professional, you may have skills on the shelf that don't make you any money right now. This week, I'm rewriting my website, taking the opportunity to expand the  services that I offer to professionals like you. I might not sell some of them for a while, but visitors now know that I counsel both non-profit boards on fundraising and boaters looking for a new ride in addition to my coaching practice.

What skills do you have that you're not selling this fall? Let's talk about marketing them this fall to your new and current customers.



“I don’t know if this is a fit for what you do …”

Aside from insulting someone, this is among the least effective ways to start a sales email.

Here’s a better way:

“HI CJ, having reviewed your website, I think that [this thing that I sell] might be relevant to your business. Would you have a few minutes to speak with me via telephone tomorrow so I can learn a little more about what you do and whether [this thing that I sell] might be relevant to you and your colleagues?”

If this is useful to you, let's talk this week about a few more tips to get yourself in the door.


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Sure, I'll talk to him.

My friend Tim* recently graduated from law school and is looking for his first full-time opportunity this fall. His grades and experience have yet to yield him a job, so I’ve connected with a few business lawyers, many of whom have graciously said, “Sure, I’ll talk to him.” So far, he’s learned a lot from some experienced deal lawyers and litigators, and hopefully one of them can connect Tim with another friend or colleague who needs a junior lawyer on her team.

Can you help Tim or another junior lawyer like him? Who are you helping in your network? How rewarding do you find these professional courtesies?


PS – Tim isn’t his real name.

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After a day with friends at the Jersey Shore, I had a hankering for a slice of pizza and friends had recently recommended that I consider Nemo’s as a late night option. Sitting in the driveway, I googled “Nemo’s Avalon,” quickly found the website thanks to a smart SEO investment, and clicked “Menu.” I drove towards the pizzeria, figuring that the menu would load along the way. 1.3 miles and 5 minutes later, I parked out front and walked inside. The menu finally loaded as I was halfway through my first slice. The “menu” was the 4 page high-resolution .pdf file used to print the thousands of menus that they distribute each summer.

When I asked the owner about the menu’s challenges for mobile device users, he told me that his most effective marketing tool are the menus printed and distributed to families that rent homes on the island and that he would look into a mobile-accessible menu at some point. As a marketer, I’m sure that the bags of brochures given to renters are effective. But how many other pizza shops have their menus in the same bag? Local realtors routinely recognize the diminishing number of homes available for rent in Avalon, New Jersey. Targeting only renters eliminates the opportunity to create repeat customers among island homeowners and their families, who will eat Nemo’s pizza for summers to come. Finally, who doesn’t realize that nearly everyone has a smart phone? The owner, in fact, was holding one while we chatted.

As you’re evaluating your summer marketing plans, are you making the most of the marketplace from which you’d like to mine more customers? A smart SEO (search enginge optimization) investment for your website and making your website mobile friendly are great places to start. I'd love to introduce you to my friends at Huddle Up Consulting to learn more.

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City People - City Problems

“I’ll only make $160,000 this year,” my friend whined as she explained to me how busy her big city life is. She complained how she had to squeeze her Botox treatments and Soul Cycle classes in between client meetings, how her associate’s beach house gang parties, and how her Uber Black ride to her suitor’s un-air-conditioned apartment was almost $100 each way.

I tried to empathize, but could only think how many families could do so much with more than $3,000 each week, and how little direct human interaction her day-to-day life contained. It was like talking to 50 Accenture consultants at once, all rattling off their Starwood points numbers to fund their next Instagram-perfect vacation.

When she started complaining about online dating, my poker face vanished. In a lifestyle punctuated by colored boxes in IPhone calendars and messages sent through a dozen apps, it’s no wonder that so many of peers turn to Bumble, OkCupid, and the League to find the next Mr. / Ms. Right (Now). But what amazes me, especially as a sales professional, is how few meetings come from the leads that these dating appps create. It’s so easy to over-analyze the other person, that it allows users to never settle to never meet someone who’s not perfect.

I’m usually pretty tolerant of these so-called “first world problems,” but after I spent so much quality time with friends over the 4th of July week at the Jersey Shore, my calluses had healed. Whether on  the boat, in line at the Post Office, or over coffee at Moran’s, I spent a lot of time just talking with friends. There was no agenda and, unlike for my lawyer clients, there was no clock. A conversation lasted until your coffee got cool or you caught your next fish.

It was remarkably relaxing and refreshing to have unfettered conversations, to share, and to listen. In my practice, I aim to make conversations like these an important part of my work as we seek to grow professional practices. My clients who are able to slow down long enough to participate definitely find our time together very productive as the follow-up work more closely solves the client’s challenges than if I just took a stab at it.

With the weekend upon us, put the IPhone on silent or in airplane mode and see what kind of conversations you have with friends or families. You’ll likely approach Monday morning with a new attitude.


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You don't know Jack ... about sunglasses.

 “Yo Duke,” a man barked behind me. “Yooooo Duke,” he bellowed. In a moment of self awareness, I realized that he was yelling at me because of the Duke University sweatshirt that I was wearing. I turned around to encounter a lean, bald man in a crowded trade show booth full of the sunglasses that he and his colleague were hawking. He immediately handed me a rakish pair of wrap-around shades and, seeing my distain, asked what I’d rather wear on my drive home today. He had me hooked; I’m a sucker for a good question.

Through his stream of questions, we talked about the Costa del Mar sunglasses that I wear offshore fishing, about the Oakley Frogskins that I had lost in Montauk last fall, and about what safety glasses I wore at the shotgun range.  He now knew how and why I wear sunglasses year round and had already sold me two comfortable pairs – rubber coated Wayfarers that are still my day-to-day glasses and a pair of yellow shooting / driving glasses – for far less than I could buy them anywhere else

 At some point in the conversation, I interrupted my new favorite salesman and introduced myself to Jack.  During his career in finance, Jack participated in a deal involving a very profitable sunglasses company in which he became involved. As both a consumer and industry professional, Jack saw an opportunity to manufacture and sell $30-$40 sunglasses that fit and feel like $150-$200 shades. Jack works with Chinese sunglass factories to tweak their styles to better reflect what American amateur athletes and outdoor enthusiasts want. His company, Viking Eyewear, sells them directly to consumers hungry for a better product at a great price at outdoor trade shows and athletic events.

But what makes Jack so effective? First, he’s not afraid to be heard, as I quickly learned in a crowded trade show aisle. Second, he’s not afraid to ask his customers what they need.

What does this mean to your practice? First, you’re not getting in front of enough prospective customers, whether through referrals or networking. We all need to be a little louder in our marketplace and to not be ashamed about it. Second, you’re likely not asking the right questions to the prospective customers with whom you do meet in order to provide them with all of the services that we need.

Small-firm and family lawyers litigators should ask clients about business succession and estate planning issues. Estate planning attorneys should keep in touch with clients to be the family’s lawyer when a question arises. Deal lawyers should ask to meet with directors and officers at client companies to learn more about where the business is going.

Be a little louder and ask a few more questions. It will increase your revenue this summer and beyond.

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The longest day of the year

Among my favorite F. Scott Fitzgerald moments is when Daisy Buchanan admits to her friends in The Great Gatsby that, while she always watches for the longest day of the year, she always misses it. It's the perfect summer setting for a great American novel.

If you got outside at lunch today, you noticed that the sun was as close to overhead as you could ever recall. That's because today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year,  a result of the Earth's seasonal tilt towards our distant Sun. Over the next six months, the Earth will actually move closer to the Sun but the Earth's tilt will shift so that the Southern Hemisphere receives increasingly longer days. Soon enough, the sun will set around 5 PM, but let's not rush it.

The next 10 weeks are what most Americans consider summer, a season during which many professionals attempt to ease their dress code and office hours. As a sales professional, these 10 weeks are when I schedule lunches, coffees, and networking meetings with busy professionals who briefly exhale and make time in their calendars for colleagues like me. I catch up with old clients and gain referrals to new ones. These meetings fill the pipeline for my third and fourth quarter work, work for which I am very grateful. 

What are you doing to build a pipeline of work for the rest of your year? Let's talk via telephone or in person before the 4th of July to get you going in the right direction.



What Brown does for me

Each June, my mom and I spend a few days in Maine opening our family's cottage. To open the rustic home, we remove the sheets covering the furniture, make the beds upstairs, and I vacuum the cobwebs and dust that accumulate over 9 months. At some point, I hear the UPS truck come down the small South Bristol street as Eric is honking away. What's he bringing?

Inevitably, my mom has accumulated more than a few boxes of clean bedding, outdoor cushions, and Maine-themed ephemera over the winter. We're thankful that Denise at Wall & Walsh, the family business, is our shipping department and gets Mom's boxes to the local UPS driver in a timely fashion for them to arrive in Maine while we're there.

I was vacuuming as Eric drove by. He was looking into the front windows and passed by before I could scramble onto the front porch. A minute later, he came back, headed the other direction, and saw me pointing towards the short, steep driveway, into which he immediately backed up. I met him by the backporch as he greeted me with a lilac bough for my wife or girlfriend, and was even more excited when I told him that my mom would be the lucky recipient. He gladly handed me the 8 large boxes that we were expecting and was off again, honking as he went.

Eric's a UPS driver in coastal Maine that greets returning summer residents with wildflowers that he collects along his route. In addition to delivering packages, Eric delivers happiness every day, which is definitely not mandated in his contract. I look forward to our once annual interaction so much that I spend 900 miles in the car with my mom to do it and was compelled to tell you about it.

What small moments of joy can you create for your clients? What will keep them shipping UPS instead of FedEx?




I went to the dermatologist.

I started this year with a list of things to do as I approach the age of 40.

Retirement Plan? My friend and financial advisor Dean Vetsikas is on it.

Will? My friend and lawyer James Bainbridge just sent it to me. 

Physical? My doctors say that I should lose some weight, but otherwise things are great after a few bumpy years.

Dermatologist? The dermatologist. I just couldn't bring myself to make an appointment to see a dermatologist. The sun-loving women in my life are seemingly always waiting for pathology results regarding irregular moles. My physician friends tried to recommend a colleague known for her Manolo Blahniks. I even posted a Wall Street Journal article imploring that high-risk indviduals get annual full-body skin cancer scans. I was rattled.

But when melanoma came back to a good family friend, I made the call. The usual suspects told me how invasive the visit would be. They described how I'd leave with bandages. I was not excited about my potential experience. They could not have been more wrong.

Dr. Edward "Ned" Ryan is a thoughtul physician who uses dictation and technology to map skin imperfections on his patients' bodies. He was excited by my lack of moles, but agreed that my fair skin and mountain of freckles made me succeptible to skin cancer. He was glad to hear that I so often fish in long sleeves, pants, shoes, a hat, and sunglasses. The best news: He didn't find anything suspicisous and looked forward to seeing me next summer.

That was the best 20 minutes of my week. Why will you visit your dermatologist? Let us know when you do. #TeamIHateCancer





To Build a Bed

Recently, I helped a friend to assemble a bed from IKEA. His wife and inlaws thought that it looked great on the internet. It was white, it had drawers underneath it, and it was half the price of all the other beds. In reality, it was cheap particle board, required a tiny allen wrench for dozens of fasteners, and took 8 hours to assemble.

My friend’s first (and last) experience with IKEA furniture was total bullshit. He'll never go back again - no matter what his family's need.

Do your new clients come back? In between muffled curses and stripped screws, I considered how those of us with professional practices help our first-time clients to have the best experience that they can, so that they'll return for a second engagement, matter, project, or case. Our clients are already thinking Caveat emptor, so let's help them love us.

Does your marketing plan reflect the reality of working with you? IKEA pushes price and convenience, pains that evaporate once you open the first box and see the dozens of parts.

Does your sales process create expectations for both you and your client for the first week or month that you'll work together? Once you've found and loaded the heavy boxes onto a wobbly IKEA cart, IKEA won't let you roll the cart to your car and you are restricted to a tiny loading area with concrete barriers.

Does your onboarding process lay out the reality of working with you and the expectations for everyone involved? IKEA buries its instructions inside the boxes, in which they lay hand and hand with Pandora herself.

That new client (in which you invested heavily to acquire) will be as disappointed as my friend in our day-long IKEA bed project if we don't make "some assembly required" as easy as possible.

This week, I'm going to assemble some key documents (a checklist, some templates, and project materials) that I can email to my prospective customers as part of the sales experience. My clients will know what they can expect of me, what I expect of them, and why they pay me to do it. I know some great small firm lawyers whose smart use of paperwork makes them A LOT of money. I'd be happy to introduce you to one of them.

Coda: We actually had two beds, and I built the second one alone. I had identified the trouble spots, laid out the fasteners ahead of time, and brought better tools. While it still took 8 hours to assemble, it required 2/3 the effort and angst. That's why repeat customers are so valuable to our practices.




Wax on wax off

Benjamin Frankin opined that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Each spring, boaters invest hours of prevention to ward off expensive days of cure. I won't bore you with the details of how I clean, polish, and protect 23 feet of fiberglass and metal, but imagine two four-gallon buckets full of cleaning products designed for the harsh marine environment and dozens of  terrycloth and microfiber rags to apply and remove them. So far, I've invested four long days in preparing the boat for the 2017 season while friends are catching dozens of striped bass each day and filing their taxes.

Why do I block out these four days in my calendar each April? Because, at the beginning of its fourth season, the boat looks brand new. We've kept our asset looking as good as it can for something that spends 8+ months each year floating in saltwater. The constant compliments reinforce our reputation for keeping a boat in "Bristol condition" - a reference to the English port that produced the finest ships in the world. 

Now that I'm done waxing the boat, I'm going to clean, polish, and protect the appearance of my consulting practice, in which I coach professionals through the sales, marketing, and business development processes. I'm going to strip down and re-varnish my website, detail my elevator pitch, and polish my business cards to better reflect who I am and what I do. 

I'm not alone in this effort. I know a partner in a small firm who just launched a new personal website focused on his representation of local businesses, especially breweries.  It's a great project in which I wish every lawyer would invest some web and content dollars. 

As well, my brother has done an excellent job polishing our charitable effort, Team I Hate Cancer, led by his cycling team's lightning-fast kits and our iconic t-shirts. It's a brand that excites a lot of people and allows us to raise a lot of money to support families facing a cancer diagnosis.

If you're thinking about how your business looks to current and prospective clients this spring, let's pool some resources and make sure that all of our practices are as shiny as they can be - in "Bristol condition" as they say. 



What story are you telling?

We all know that no one's life is as perfect as it is on Facebook. However, facing scores of old friends at my college reunion last weekend, I was unsure how a sober, single, childless CJ would fair in a room full of wine-fueled startup junkies and consultants married to investment bankers and law firm partners. So I decided to tell the truth.

When asked what I was doing with myself, I spoke to the impact that my brother, our colleagues, and I continue to create through Team I Hate Cancer. An amazing majority of the classmates were aware of our work via social media and wanted to learn more about it. I uncovered an entire network of biotech and medical professionals who are as excited about helping cancer survivors as we are, and I really look forward to staying in touch and collaborating with them.  

When given the opportunity to ask first, I asked about families, learning about the challenges of raising special needs kids, blending families, and the importance of grandparents as short notice babysitters. It made me thankful for all of the support that my family continues to provide to each other. 

By telling the story that you want to tell, you control the experience that follows. If you're having a tough week at the office, talk about your kids' little league team and gain the empathy of fellow parents. If you just scored two huge clients, talk about it and watch what happens with your practice as it continues to grow. 

What story are you telling this week?



Just show up.

Months ago, an old friend messaged me to ask whether I'd come back for my 15 year college reunion. I'd said, "Sure," rallied a few friends to join me and didn't think about it until Duke unleashed a relentless electronic barrage of donation solicitations. Even as a fundraiser, I was horrified by the frequency and tone of their messages. For the record, I haven't given to Duke since 2010. 

However, in the last week, a bunch of my Duke classmates popped up in a reunion-specific Facebook group, some friends local in the Triangle reached out, and all of a sudden I was driving 400 miles south without barbecue as my primary goal. 

Last night, Duke threw great parties, including turning Cameron Indoor Stadium into an '80s disco, at which I reconnected with a number of old friends, with conversations ranging from Tex-Mex, childhood anxiety, student government elections, social media sobriety, Easter plans, and I even witnessed a few quick hugs between college flames.  

As recently as Tuesday, I was more excited for a root canal than my college reunion but, because I went, I got to enjoy all of these friends while everyone else is at home checking Facebook with FOMO. 

Sometimes, once in a while, just show up. You never know who you'll see again.