This is the first of several When I Grow Up… posts I plan to write in upcoming weeks. It's my small way of thanking the people who've influenced and inspired me. It's also my way of introducing you to creative people whom you may not know. I have the great fortune to call C.C. Chapman my friend.
I've personally known him since 2006, though I feel like I've known him for at least a year longer than that. His Accident Hash show was one of the first podcasts I ever heard, back in those wild Early Adopter days. He regularly appeared on Adam Curry's influential Daily Source Code, and -- in a groundbreaking turn that I believe fundamentally changed (and improved) the way musicians promote their work -- helped spearhead the Podsafe Music movement. That alone is huge, but for a cat like C.C., it represented merely the beginning of his career in the social/new media space.
In person, C.C. is a big man with a boisterous, infectious laugh, and a personality that could fill a ballroom. The wit on this dude is katana-sharp; the brain behind those eyes moves a mile a minute. I've quietly watched C.C. in public settings, and folks just gravitate to the man. This may sound peculiar, but I say it with absolute respect and awe: C.C. Chapman is the Sanka coffee of social settings. Shit happens instantly with C.C. Boom, instant friendships, instant hugs and handshakes -- he's conversation caffeination. Just add water, and you’re off to the races with this guy.
Here's a guy who, six years ago, was working at a Boston college and -- within mere months -- became a progressive personality in the podspace, spotted online trends long before others, and helped found Crayon, one of the world's first social media-friendly marketing companies. He moved on to co-found The Advance Guard, another successful social media-centric marketing company. The Advance Guard was recently acquired by Campfire, a company that has concocted some of the most creative and resonant online campaigns I've ever seen. (It's no wonder: one of Campfire's founders is Mike Monello, one of the brilliant brains behind the creation and viral promotion of The Blair Witch Project.)
C.C. is future-friendly, baby. Plug and play. While most folks in this space are shilling for Twitter followers, or writing the most un-fucking-helpful Top 10-style blog posts about the social media douchebaggery du jour, C.C. remains ever-able to see things more clearly, spot trends more easily, comment more insightfully, and -- most important -- cut through the masturbatory fishbowl bullshit better than nearly anyone I know. He leads by example.
The dude probably knows he's a player, but he always downplays it. That's cool. I can brag about him all I want.
I can count on one hand the people I've met whose optimism burns as brightly as C.C.'s. I read this in his blog posts, I especially hear it in his enthusiastic Managing the Gray podcasts, and have seen it in person. This boundless optimism has personally inspired me throughout the years -- I might have unwittingly channeled a sliver of C.C. in my own exuberant Hey, everybody!-powered podcast persona -- and I know I'm not the only one.
Funny thing about C.C.: In his posts and tweets (and in emails to me), he'll often capitalize the word Friend. It took me a few times seeing this to grok that this was not, in fact, a typo. I reckon that for C.C. (whose generosity is legendary, if you know him), the word Friend is indeed a proper noun, a thing that is worthy of capitalization, nigh-sacred. If you're a Friend, the dude will go to bat for you again and again and again, and will never ask for anything in return. If that doesn't warrant a respectful capitalized Friend in your book, then I got nothin' for ya.
I'll cite a recent example of C.C.'s generosity and Friendship. Within the tiny subculture of podcasting, there's an even tinier subculture of folks (like me) who create and listen to podcast fiction. One of our own -- Tee Morris -- recently experienced a death in the family, and was confronted with the terrifying reality of raising his daughter as a single dad. An online auction was created to raise funds for Tee's daughter.
C.C. was there. He promoted the auction, and participated in it. He purchased at least two items. (I'm humbled that both were items that I either created, or helped create.) Out of respect to C.C., I won't share how much he contributed to this cause, but will say that it was enough to move me to tears. That is the act of someone who truly values community, and the people within that community.
More significant, it is the act of someone who Gets It. All of these tweets, these blog comments, these one-and-zero-soaked lives so many of us live, they mean nothing if we give nothing. C.C. gives spectacularly.
I dare not deify the man; that's not my intent. I simply wish to illustrate what kind of impact one person can make through friendliness, intelligence, talent and generosity. I think C.C. loves to love -- something he and I have in common. He falls head-over-heels for people and projects and products, and enjoys sharing that passion with others. I admire him for that.
I used to be a newspaper and magazine features reporter. I often view things, and people, in terms of stories. C.C.'s story has been an incredible one so far: the communities he's help build … the artistic works of others that he's shared ... the creativity he's helped facilitate in his day gigs and beyond ... the endless enthusiasm for this world and the people around him. Big man, big heart.
But the best part about C.C.'s story is that it's nowhere near over. From the sidelines, I'm watching him grow. C.C.'s still in Act One, in that part of the movie where the hero's just hitting his stride on that mythologized Call To Adventure.
Peculiarly, I'm reminded of Dr. Seuss right now. Today is the author's birthday. But I know C.C. well enough to know Seuss's story Oh, the Places You Will Go! has made a big impact on him. With C.C. still in the early days of his success, it seems fitting to walk off with a snippet of that story:
Oh! The Places You’ll Go! You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be seeing great sights! You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights. You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Hey. If you know C.C. -- or if you don't -- send him an appreciative tweet. Remind him of the positive impact he makes.
Thank you for all you do, C.C.