But I figured out right away what the problem was: this dog was a native Texan.
God answered my prayer in a week: I met this fantastic woman, Karen, and we fell in love, and I love that little boy, and that girl was a little tricky because she was suspicious of men.
And one day I took her to the mall for no reason, bought her a pair of shoes and told her I loved her, and in the car coming home, she said, “Little Man, there’s hope for you.”
I decided to take the V all the way to the climax and the denouement. I decided to write a column in the newspaper in which I would propose marriage.
They said, “Don’t. We don’t give personal details of our life like that.”
And I said, “Why not? These people hate me out here.”
They said, “Well, what if Karen says no,” and I said, “We’ll run a correction box.”
So I went and I pulled out this heroic quality of writing the best column I could ever write. It started, “Here in Texas, I’ve met the woman of my dreams. Unfortunately, she lives with the dog of my nightmares.”
And I talked about how we met and the boy and the girl and the dog, and then when I made that heroic turn, I said, “Now, I see the hole in my life needs more than just a dog to fill it. Karen, there’s something magical about you, me, the girl, the boy and even your doggone little dog. Karen, I love you. I want to stay forever; I really do. Will you marry me?”
And I read it to her at six in the morning on October 2, 1994, when it was still dark outside, and in shock, she said yes, and then the sun came up, and the readers read the column, and in shock, they said yes too.
Because finally, I wasn’t like every — I wasn’t that stupid, idiot Yankee boy anymore. Now, I was like them: I had a pet that didn’t like me, I had stepkids and a blended family, and I was able to connect.
And people would say, “You’re the boy that wrote the story about the dog, aren’t you?”
They wouldn’t say, “What church do you go to?” They’d say, “What did the dog say?”
So I raised those two kids, and Desiree, that girl that called me Little Man, she’s sitting over there right now — that was 20 years ago. Hi, Desiree. I love you.
Let me just tie up the loose end by telling you that we’ve been married 19 years, and that power of that story thing, that works in a memo and a paragraph and a page and a speech, this sweep of that’s what life is. It’s my life here.
The denouement is we tied up our loose end when we had a child of our own and I named him Austin Lieber, and you know why, right? Because Waco Waxahachie Lieber don’t sound good.
So tell your story. Take the data of your life and turn it into real people doing real things, and you will move mountains, you will change the world.
I know that because I’ve lived my life that way, and that’s the message that I brought to you today. And that’s the message of TEDxSMU: change the world through storytelling.
This has been an honor to be your last speaker; I’ll see you in the newspaper.
My name’s Dave Lieber and thank you very, very much.
Download This Transcript as PDF here: The Power of Storytelling to Change the World_ Dave Lieber (Transcript)
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