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The Idiot Savant
I’m smart. Really smart. It’s not something that I announce, and that is probably the first time I’ve written those words. I’m smart.

When I was three, my mother asked, “When would you like to start school?”


The next day or shortly thereafter she enrolled me in a local private school. It was easy. After realizing that that school might not be meeting my academic needs, my parents transferred me to a private school in a neighboring town.

I entered public school in the second grade. At some point in elementary school my father became quite perturbed that the teacher had me teaching the students most of the day. He blasted the entire administration. Then the testing began.

The testing period was quite vague to me. In fact I don’t remember it all, but I remember after the testing people began to treat me differently. Often I would see my mother at the school coming from meetings with one person or another. She seemed perplexed. Many times I hadn’t known she was there until after the fact.

In about the third or fourth grade some students, the gifted ones, would leave for some of the school days, and come back completely satisfied, nourished, and refreshed. I stayed behind continuing to assist in teaching school.

In fact that was what I did all day on most days even in the summer. I beckoned kids from the neighborhood and taught school in my garage. My grandmother served snacks at my scheduled intervals. I taught the school. It’s the same thing I do for a living now.

In the fifth grade, on some acronym created standardized math assessment, I scored the highest grade possible in the state. This gave me some sort of national ranking.

When I transitioned to middle school, no entry testing needed, I too carried the gifted label. The district insisted that to best meet my needs, I needed to be with people like me. They were and I needed them.

My mom wanted normalcy. She feared stories of crazy gifted people not being able to acclimate to regular life or ‘tie their own shoes’. Instead of academic exposure, she exposed me to cultural literacy- literature, dance, classical music, jazz, theatre, travel, and the arts.

It was not until I was nineteen, that Mom told me the results of the test from my younger years. “You are a genius.”

“I know.”

“No, really a Mensa level genius,” she said.

“I know.” By then I really did know.

Life was easy. I understood things. I could figure out things.

Being smart didn’t mean that one always made smart decisions. At least for me it didn’t. It meant that somewhere in my brain, I could figure out things. Decoding. Mathematical equations, theories, philosophy, relationships, business plans, recipes, languages, budgets, people, habits, religion. I could figure out things.

I traipsed around the world figuring out things. This is how it was for many years. Then my father died.

I had convinced the health care professionals, our family, and even him, I had figured out cancer. We would do this and then do that and voila we would begin out next venture in 'regular' life.

Slowly, during his illness, I began to realize that maybe I didn’t have this thing understood. Manically, I continued to search, research, and modify. Search, research, and modify. His health dwindled. For some reason, people allowed me to spearhead his recovery. It was taking over my smartness and my sanity.

When he died, I couldn’t understand. I did everything I knew to do and failed. Within two years following his death, I no longer understood anything. I couldn’t figure out anything.

I lost my business, my marriage, my friends, my financial stability and was near losing my mind. Daily, I would relive the last minutes of my father’s life. What had I done wrong?

Feeling anything but smart I went to my mother’s and become glued to her cold tile floor. The kids stayed three doors away at my grandparents'. She let me stay there for a few days. I couldn’t get up. I had fallen and I couldn’t get up.

My mother came to me, “When would you like to start life again.”


Then she said the smartest thing, “You don’t have time to be crazy. God is love.”

I don’t pretend to understand, or know, anything more than anyone else. I know that God is love. And life is fabulous!

God is love

This tell begins with "The" social networking.

Once upon a time, I posted a random remark about stem cell research. Not many people bit. I was fishing for a response. One person did - Kev.

We began a chat and became quite close through this means of modern communication. We exchanged ideas, music links, and book topics. I even referred to him as my BFFB, if such a person exists, Best Friend / FaceBook.

Kev asked me to read a particular book. He had mentioned it before and had even emailed me his test results from the book's personality assessment. I promised I would and asked him to read a book in return, Think & Grow Rich. We agreed to have the purchases in hand before the next week.

Saturday night rolled around... I forgot.

When I remembered I ran to the store and purchased the book. With just enough time before picking up my daughter, I entered the code and took my personality or strengths test. The results were tallied. Hmmm. Things I knew, things I suspected.

My daughter, the mini-socialite, lingered at the house of a well known bank's president, which forced me to have a conversation. Not really forced, I like the family quite well. "Have you guys ever heard of Strengths Finders?"

"One year all of the bank's management had to take that test. It changed my life, it did. Changed my life."

It was at that moment I became completely intrigued.

We left for home. I spent the rest of the evening referencing the book and my strengths, setting up my profile, and thinking. Then it occurred to me to look at Kev's profile. Surely, we weren't the same. Or were we?

I rarely delete an email. Currently, I have 2000 and counting, that have not been transferred to folders. I have a friend that freaks out if she has more than ten emails. Strengths Finder assesses your strengths and elaborates to tell which type of personalities complement your strengths to make you stronger.

I looked at Kev's strengths, not a single same one. Then I saw it - analytical. I remembered for my strength of ideation, it is encouraged that I work with someone with a strong analytical component. My 'aha' moment. I put our strengths side by side. Together, through our many differences we make a complete business model. On the next chat, I disclosed my findings. He had already speculated the results before my test.

Sooooo, what were we going to do? He said he would leave that up to me, since I had ideation. I thought for few days. Then, it happened. Mr. Analytical not Ms. Ideation - had the idea - an ordinary person telling extraordinary stories. With my weird brain twisting I saw A.E.S.O.P. as an acronym and voila. The blog was born.

I loved the concept of a safe place for people to share their stories.  It reminded me of my former classrooms.

The 'tellers' lived happily ever after.

h i n

Kevin was born in the state of Virginia. He is the son of a military man and his wife and lived near Ft. Hood, Texas from kindergarden through high school. After 23 years in the U.S. Military his father went on to become a Physical Education teacher and Junior high coach of Football and Basketball. Kevin had the privilege of being both point guard on his father's basketball team and the quarterback of his football team. He learned sports, life and religion from his father.

Tennis became a big part of Kevin's life from about age twelve to seventeen. He had the honor of playing in national tennis tournaments with the likes of Jim Courier, Alex O'Brien, and Michael Chang.  Kevin put his raquet down in college and obtained a Bachelors degree and Paralegal Certificate at Texas State.

In 1997 he joined the Gallup Organization, best known at the time for the Gallup Poll. He learned plenty during his ten plus years there. Gallup taught him two of his guiding principles in life. First, they taught him his strengths and how to "Soar with them". In addition, he learned and tries to live by, "The Theory of the Dipper and the Bucket", which later became famous in Tom Rath's book, "How Full is Your Bucket?"

In 2008, Kevin, his wife and daughter moved from the outskirts of Houston, Texas to Round Rock, Texas to live near his two sister's and his parents. He gives all the credit and thanks in making this move to his wife, Michelle, who in December 2007 declared, "2008 will be the year of change". It certainly was and for the better.  He and his wife and daughter are regular parishioners of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Austin, Texas.  

Kevin has no formal training in writing or blogging, but does know his strengths and how to soar with them.

It's 5:50 AM on Wednesday July, 21 2010. Why am I up so early? I've never been known for the saying "early to bed, early to rise." I woke up with an urge to write. Going back just a few short months to the early spring of this year, I can say that I was pretty content with life. I was mentally and physically healthy. Married happily for almost thirteen years and becoming closer to my quickly maturing eight year old daughter, I was in a good place. I was settling into a relatively new job, improving, and making some new friends at the office.

I was however, struck by a sense of apathy. It was nothing serious like depression, but there was a void. I could tell there was something else I needed to do to fill that gap, but had no idea what that was. Then, I started a very long chat on Facebook with a high school cheerleader friend of mine. I was intrigued with Teffanie before the chat even began. We were already "friends" on FB, but we didn't really communicate. I looked at her page and saw success, uniqueness, and variety in her. To use a British word, I "fancied" her style. How many African American, dread lock wearing, principals of a charter school do YOU know that date a farmer?

I have never looked at color, race, nationality or anything of the sort to pick my friends. I like to treat them all with positivity. If I seek you out and you give some of it back, that in turn fuels my fire. This was a lesson I learned from a former co-worker. I admired his ability to put a smile on almost everyone's face when he came around the corner.

My problem is I have to get to know you before I'm able to do that. I'm "shy" until I really feel like I know you enough to speak comfortably around you. As I've told many of my friends, I look down in the elevator. Why would I want to to talk to a stranger? I don"t even know them and would really just throw out a superficial hello.

I do however, have a strength that my former company would call "individualization." What is that? Here's the official definition: "People strong in the Individualization theme are intrigued with the unique qualities of each person. They have a gift for figuring out how people who are different can work together productively." So in layman's terms, I am fascinated by the differences in people and love to sit down and really get to know you one on one.

Group talk is a whole other thing. Put me in a room with a bunch of people I don't know that are talking and I'll be the one that says nothing, but analyzes everything said......So back to me initiating a "chat" with Teffanie on Facebook. As I remember it, I reached out to her. I don't remember exactly what was said after that. The only thing I can tell you is that the chat had chemistry.

It went on for a good while. By the time it ended it she had convinced me to read a book and I had convinced her to do the same. Fortunately, she was faster to meet our agreement than I was. By the next weekend, she had read the short book and taken the accompanying "Strengthsfinder" test to go along with it. While I had bragged about the test and it's positive effect on my life, I didn't know how accurate she would feel it portrayed her.

The next time we chatted, I got my answer. She said it was spot on. It was after what she told me next, that I threw out a very vague proposal to her. She said, and I'm paraphrasing, "That was amazing. What was even more amazing is that one of the things the test told me was to partner up with someone who had certain strengths." (The test tells you what your top 5 strengths are). I had all 5 of those strengths. There are 34 official "strengths". I mean what are the odds of that?

I said well then let's put our heads together and think of something we can work together on. It could be philanthropic, a potential business, a book or whatever. Okay she said. Let's think on it. The next time we communicated, she threw out the idea of a blog. By the way, her number one strength is "Ideation." She's the idea woman. I asked her on what topic? Her answer: "I don't know." I did, however. I almost immediately came up with what has grown into A.E.S.O.P. "tells". I wanted to have a reality "text" that wasn't programmed or fixed. How about a forum for people to tell their story?

"EVERYBODY" has a story, just very few get to hear it. It didn't have to be your life's story, it could be an interesting story about something that happened to you or someone you know. You could be anonymous or up front with who you were. The potential material was absolutely unlimited.

And so it was. She began to work on the creative side (the look of the blog), which is her strength and I began to recruit people "individually", a strength of mine. Approximately four months later, we have had over 1400 people read our stories and a host of others submit theirs, be it solicited or unsolicited. It has at this juncture become a passion.

I may not get paid monetarily for this, but the stories, the lessons and seeing in text the raw emotion or the strength of people to overcome is ample pay. My void has been filled. My wife might argue that I have a second job now that brings in no money. However, I married Michelle for a reason. She sees the passion and encourages me, rather than complaining that I spend so much time on it. It's like a bush that grows very quickly. The branches are growing branches and it's fun to watch the flowers bloom.