What would happen if you embraced your worst fear? Invited it over for tea, if you will?

In 2008 I lost 90% of my net worth in the financial meltdown and then in 2012 I lost my emotional foundation when my 26-year marriage ended; the second blow being residual damage from the first.

At the lowest point in my life, my creative tank was running on empty. I couldn’t bring myself to put pen to paper or even tap a keyboard.

And then a funny thing happened.

In 2014, a desperate mother named Ellen Taylor reached out to me through social media to ask if I would help her son, David C. Taylor, write and self-publish his book.

The catch?

David was (and still is) in Federal prison for human trafficking. Not your typical smuggler, David reunited Hispanic families who couldn’t cross the border legally due to bureaucratic red tape.

What follows is a two-year journey of back-and-forth editing and rewriting of a 400-page manuscript that was originally hand-scribbled in prison on scraps of paper. I mentored David through a painstaking process of tapping into the emotional core of his story. Even though the thought of working with a Federal inmate went way beyond my comfort zone, I reluctantly embraced the challenge.

I invited fear of for a cup of tea.

To my surprise, the very same fear that shoved me down a dark hole, became the muse that helped me claw my way out, and into one of the most creatively rewarding, and prolific, times of my life.

Speech length: 45 minutes (a 20-minute version is also available)