Todd Benschneider: Farmer – Gearhead – Student of Business and People
The saga begins ……… I grew up on a grain farm at the fringes of Amish horse and buggy country: Payne, Ohio, population: 1166, in constant pursuit of adventure beyond what our community offered.
By age 10, influenced by role models like The A Team, Magnum PI and the Six Million Dollar Man, I dreamed of becoming an action hero ……..
I obviously aced the marksmanship, improvised explosives, and car chase sections of the entrance exams…. however, the action hero judges denied my application, citing: “lethargic hand speed and tortoise-like reflexes in multi-ninja ambush situations”, one judge added : “unacceptably clumsy in rooftop foot chases” … as he stamped DENIED! onto my eloquent application essay.
By age 13 it seemed wiser to get in touch with my artistic side and pursue a career as a rock star, which revealed that I couldn’t dance, lip-sync or command my fingers to reliably operate most musical instruments ….. and turns out … that even I scored under the rock star minimums in the extroversion, narcissism, and addictive behavior requisites.
At age 15 a fateful intervention uncovered that I might be better suited for journalism than music …. the unexpected product of a plea agreement with my school principal over an alleged “fermenting bootleg wine on school grounds” charge.
The principal paraphrased the classic “idle time is the devil’s plaything” lecture as he issued my penance …. donating my “idle time” to the high school newspaper.
Which as you might expect, quickly progressed into my friends and I creating some pen-names to publish our own version of the student newspaper, an uncensored, underground, Mad magazine variation of a school newspaper: “The Scene”.
Weekly circulation grew magically into the thousands (well …….OK maybe more like 400 to as many as 2100 copies …… which in salesman’s math is THOUSANDS!!!!), astonishing us and the world with a devoted fan-base and a few hundred bucks a week in profits.
The newspaper theme revolved around stories about our friends and the hyberbolic comedy of their everyday adventures. The popularity of the content taught us the underlying principles that drive Facebook, Reality TV and celebrity tabloids.
It turns out that … the people you write about, good or bad, will buy your newspaper …. Apparently, we all love to read (or some of us: write) articles about ourselves ….. especially some wicked gossip or swashbuckling tales of adventure that paint us in even the slightest favorable light.
The staff of “The Scene” quickly learned two very important life-changing lessons from the experience:
POWER: Even the police, politicians and teachers avoid trifling with the press.
FAME: Even a miniscule measure of fame will get the attention of girls.
The pinnacle of satisfaction arrives on a memorable day when some freshman feeds your ego with their lavish praise of your most thoughtful prose on “The Dress Code Paradox” or “Political Favoritism and Influences on Hall Pass Approvals” …….. and you’re hooked.
But after high school you find yourself spending your days bailing hay and plowing the fields, concluding that even the modest dream to become a journalist was not going to pan out any better than that career as an action-hero or rock star.
Then as luck would have it, about ten years later some guy named Al Gore “invented the internet” and aspiring journalists found an outlet to share their unsolicited opinions with a wide world filled with two or three like-minded readers.
That leads us to today, when you happened to be surfing for viewpoints on some obscure topic that linked you here to this blog … and you asked yourself:
Who is this guy?
Where’s he from?
What does he do to earn a living, because he can’t be making a paycheck writing this drivel?
Well this guy is just a sales manager in Tampa, Florida, texting some thoughts into an iPhone and sharing them online, hoping that some easily amused freshman might find them someday and have a great laugh and maybe post a flattering comment.