Life has an amazing way of making meeting happen at their best time, when they will have impact not necessarily when we think they will. I was first supposed to meet Curt Mercadante at Charleston's first LinkedIn Local event. That meeting never happened. On my way to the event I learned I had lost a dear friend to a drug overdose and, try as I might, I just couldn't do the event in public thing. The reality is that it wasn't the time for the meeting, for whatever reason it just wasn't right.
Today was the right time.
I have followed Curt on LinkedIn for a while and I've actually become a fan of his videos and his philosophy. Meeting people you have been following is a really thrilling endeavor because you get to see the person behind the content. Sometimes this can be disappointing, that's always the risk with meeting people you admire. In the case of Curt it is anything but disappointing.
He is the physical embodiment of present in the moment. His eyes, his body posture, the tilt of his head all indicate that you are both there for the moment you are sharing. He asks a lot of questions, really excellent questions actually. They are all aimed at specific moments in the conversation and they help draw out even more, like folding butter in a recipe, it all adds flavor.
Curt has recently returned from Europe and is one his way to Egypt soon. We talk about our respective travels, about the lack of air conditioning in Europe and how you just sort of get used to sweating. Meanwhile, in the humid Southern air of Charleston, you become accustomed to slipping in a building for a blast of cool air. I tell him how no matter where in the desert I went, Charleston in August was always the hottest. It doesn't matter, we both love it here.
i think that's what I like most about Curt, this wonderful enthusiasm he carries with him. It's like an aura, a part of his being, that fills the space around him. it's catching. As we swap stories it all flows naturally. We are two people taking the time to be generous with our communication, to share freely of our stories and to take our time in this moment. Honestly, for most of our talk I can't tell if the bar is empty or full, I am just focused. This man has been on a journey similar to mine, but he made his steps earlier, and it is incredible to see that this path is possible. His stories reflect it, the gleam in his eye and the smile on his face show you that it is worth it.
In the end, purpose is what it's all about to Curt. Living your life with purpose and not apologizing for it. If your purpose is at a deli counter, make the best damned sandwiches ever and who cares what anyone thinks about it. If your purpose is to coach, then coach. If you are a writer, then write. No one has to live your life but you, and no one else gets to decide how you will do that. It's advice I have said before in my life, but never meant until now. It is a lesson you cannot be told, you have to learn it through living.
Curt has lived, and he is going to live a lot more. I can tell there are new adventures coming, more drinks and more stories. For a moment, in a wine bar in Charleston, two guys laughed and were pretty happy, and didn't really care what anyone else thought about what they were doing. It's the freedom in knowing yourself and your purpose. You can sense someone when they have that and Curt Mercadante does. (I think he keeps it in his beard. Maybe I will keep mine in my own as well.)
Our time wraps up and we share a stroll down the sidewalk as he heads to meet his wife and I make my way home. Time is our most valuable resource and I have definitely invested some wisely today. Looking at my desk right now, there is a book Curt lent me that I will be reading after this writing. That book is a reminder that there is more to come, that meetings happen when the time is right. I have learned a lot in a short time, and there is more to learn in the future.
Find your purpose and live your life with it. If that means you meet people, then meet people whenever the time is right. If people tell you that's crazy, forget them. It's your life. If you don't believe me, then just ask Curt.
Favorite Dinosaur: Stegosaurus
Why: He was a badass when he wanted to be, but he could also just chill. It was all about those spikes and plates. He did his own thing.