If people want to change your life, let them

I recently attended a storytelling dinner. The rules were simple:

Come to the dinner table with a story of someone who has changed your life. When you are moved to tell it, do so. Do not clap for other stories. Instead, respond with respectful silence.

Stories trickled out about teachers, family members, daughters, friends — so many people who had given gifts that led us all to sit around that little table at that moment. I was struck by how many people told stories of people who may not have had any idea the impact they had made.

The friends I’ve made through comedy and storytelling have made a big difference in my life this year. I’m pictured here with my improv troupe, Alley Cat Comedy.

The dinner inspired me to share a few people who have changed my life and led me to this moment, nearly one year into a business I co-own with Nathan Groepper. It’s not an exhaustive list, nor does it mention my my husband and two children, my business partner, the entire cohort in the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship who attended Stanford with me in 2017–18, and many other family members — because obviously they change my life in subtle and enormous ways daily. It’s the people on my mind right now, like a secret squad of super heros behind me, capes a-billowing, that secretly inspire me daily to reach for audacity.

Throughout the year, I jotted notes to myself inspired by the wisdom of those around me.
The comedy community in Des Moines has taught me to create and take risks in public.
Every day I ask myself: What brings me energy? What inspires me? And then I do that.
I like to dance to top hits from the 90s.

Each of these people offered a gift to me this year so profound, they needed to be deeply in tune with their own humanity to give it. And none of these people could have offered me the gifts they did had I failed to reveal a need. And I’m so grateful to them and so many others who have shared their talents and opened their hearts up to me this year, including Christina Trombley, Amy Jennings, Kathleen Richardson, Kathryn Dickel, Renee Cramer, Mackenzie Ryan, Neil Ward, Suzanne Heseman Behnke and Chirasath Saenvong. Collaboration is ultimately an act in vulnerability. There are so many people out there ready to change your life as soon as you are ready to let them.



Rossi is the cofounder of Bonfire Strategy, a company that offers training on empathy and innovation.

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Lisa Rossi

Rossi is the cofounder of Bonfire Strategy, a company that offers training on empathy and innovation.