Meet Dave Kimbell
Well, to start with, he wasn't born that way.
In fact, the Question and Persuasion Jedi started out in the wrong movie.
Once upon a time, a geeky bespectacled teenager named Bilbo left home with the lofty ambition of travelling where most people had gone before, following the well-marked map to Obedience on the road to Dullness, achieving the same things that everyone else had achieved, not doing anything to upset or worry his parents (or anyone else, for that matter) ....
And he was happy. (Here a subtitle appears: Not really.)
Then something happened which The Ring did not intend. (Cue: Cate Blanchett.)
To the horrified looks of the other hobbits, a wandering wizard left a strange mark on his front door, and within days Bilbo was off to do something crazy.
* * * * * * * * *
There’s a reason why we love The Lord of the Rings, and films like it.
They tell us about ourselves.
Escape. Dreams buried so long, we never knew they were even there. Daring to jump off the high diving board into the Murky Deep, just to see what’s down there. Quaking with fear so bad that you realize you really were an idiot to even think about doing this . . . .
Well, it’s my story. And the story’s not over yet. By a long shot.
I graduated from Quebec High School in 1979, one of only three English-speaking high schools in the heart of French Canada. I was headed for engineering.
And with reasonable aptitude for math and sciences, and a rocket scientist father, who regaled a youngster with tales of the Avro Arrow, Apollo moon landings, missile tests, etc, you’d kind of expect that.
But there was a problem.
I suppose I could have been a rock star.
Think I’m winding you up, doncha?
Actually, I’m a decent enough musician. It’s what Mom would probably have preferred. She’d been denied music lessons in her youth, and so when I exhibited some musical ability, she saw to it I had piano and violin lessons.
But the she picked teachers were strictly in the classical tradition, which was the only music she would tolerate in the house. Everything else was garbage that she must keep from the tender ears of her children.
And this was Quebec City, in the 1970’s. The Quiet Revolution had quite taken hold, but there still wasn’t really that much Seventies Rock available on local airwaves. My school was small, and couldn’t afford music program. None of my schoolmates played music actively.
And then, there was the problem.
I learned early on to allow whatever free-spiritedness I was born with to be crushed out of my soul.
(Key point, there: I, me, myself . . . . allowed it. Parents and teachers might do the crushing, but I had not yet learned that I was responsible. We’ll talk about that another day.)
Nope. Rock stardom was never in the cards. Just as well, my wife opines, You’d never have fit in with the drugs culture.
On that point, she’s right. . . . but STILL!
Fast forward. Two engineering degrees. Lucky to have even gotten the second one. Or unlucky, maybe. With the benefit of hindsight, I should never have even started the damn thing. I passed my courses and tortured myself with a thesis in which I had only the faintest whiff of interest. Graduate students don’t get fired, but they should have broken that rule with me.
Now early thirties. Married. (And here, my luck turns. Frodo meets his Samwise Gamgee. We are just awesome, and it’s been almost three decades. Everyone should be this lucky.)
Fired from my first job. A year into my second, and I’m already sensing the Square-peg-round-hole thing. A really cool guy tells me . . . . and his words are drilled into my memory . . . “Dude, cream rises to the top of the milk. If you’re not rising to the top, you aren’t in the right environment.” (Blair Steinbach, if you ever read these words, I owe you a pint.)
Looking at the Tiny, Squirming, Squealing Mass of Flesh beside my wife in the maternity ward, I realize:
Davey boy, if you’re going to do anything crazy, you’d better get cracking.
Fast forward again. I have successfully persuaded my wife to let me drag her across the Atlantic for a year, while I study how to design aircraft. (I know. But some mothers do have ‘em.) Why she let me do it is still an object of marvel to me. Thank God love is blind.
Now I’m designing Big Birds for Airbus and thoroughly enjoying being a father to two little SSMFs (Squirming, Squealing Masses of Flesh).
Crazy has worked. Holy freakin’ cow!
But now there’s another problem: The UK is a damned expensive place to live.
Well actually, it’s not as complicated as that. I was just discovering that SSFMs have the strange tendency to drive your expenses up. And they (and wives as well, for that matter) have this irrational desire to have a roof over their heads. Who’d have thunk it?
Wife goes back out into the workforce. Hoo boy, that wasn’t easy. (All you ladies who take career breaks for the sake of your youngsters, and then try to get back to doing work that suits you . . . . I tip my hat to you. Really. If I’d had any clue it was going to be that hard, I’d have done things differently. What is it about this Stupid World?)
Still not enough moolah, though.
And then, it dawns on me.
Where is he these days? Is it time to pay Crazy another visit? (Answer: Yep.)
Actually, what I did wasn’t that crazy. Lots of other engineers were going freelance. The problem was, I hadn’t kept in touch with Crazy. I hadn’t yet learned that Crazy is your Best Bud. Stay close to him. (Her? It?)
On a terrifying June day in 2008, I handed in my notice at Airbus, and walked out two months later. Then walked back in as a freelancer three months after that, almost doubling my money.
Fast forward ten more years.
This time, I’m checking in with Crazy on a regular basis. Couch-potato Bilbo starts going to the gym, and doing martial arts. Martial arts? I’m a nerd, for pity’s sake!
But I decide: Uh-uh. Let the horse buck, this jockey’s not going anywhere. At age 54, I get my black belt.
And when I pick up my bass after a few years off, I discover (to borrow from April Wine): I like to rock.
I pay off the mortgage in half the time. Debt-free. Yessssss.
I start blogging. This is back when most people would respond with, Um, cool. What’s a blog? Is that something to do with this Facebook thing?
And I discover that people like reading what I write. Just by manipulating words on a screen, I can get people to think, and move their minds into spaces they wouldn’t have otherwise. Bloody hell, one buddy told me. You can write. You write like you talk.
So? Doesn’t everybody do that? methinks. (Answer: Nope. In fact, most people don’t. But it took me a few years to realise it.)
But the lucrative heyday of freelance engineering in the UK is over. I can smell it. This train has reached the end of the line. The ring is trying to get back to Lord Sauron.
And the oldsters back in Canuckistan aren’t doing so well. Hmmmm . . . .
When the youngest SSMF, who has promoted herself to Cocky Millenial rank, announces she’s starting a degree in Canuckification, we realize:
HMS Crazy is sailing, and we need to be on it.
So here I am in 2020. The city of Ottawa is now home. After a long hiatus, I am reacquainting myself with twenty degrees below zero, snow shovels, snow everything, The Tragically Hip, hockey teams that never win the Stanley Cup, etc, etc.
And I’ve hung out my shingle as a Question and Persuasion Jedi. A profession I didn't know existed a decade ago.
What’s does Dave Kimbell, the Question and Persuasion Jedi do?
I wield a light sabre, and use the power of The Force. I write words that capture people’s eyeballs, and keep them. I ask questions that people have not even thought of asking before.
Or which they have avoided asking.
And then I write words that persuade them to consider a good answer to that question.
That answer might even be something that YOU can do for them. (And involving an exchange of money.)
It’s very enjoyable work.
And as you’ve read this far, you’ve probably concluded . . . . . . . . there’s a fighting chance I’m good at it.
If you think you have an answer to someone else’s question (or problem) . . . . . what are you doing about it? Go to my Contact page, get in touch.