Audiobook preview

Thank you for taking the time to listen to my new audiobook. You can listen to each chapter directly from the tabs below. I’d appreciate honest feedback, positive or negative. Any positive comments could be helpful to use in promotion.

A little about the book…

Content: The book covers the arc of our lives: Childhood, Adulthood, Elderhood. No-holds-barred interviews with a wide range of lively people including: CEOs, iron workers, musicians, storytellers, political activists, a street vendor,  a dancer, a therapist, and a physician. It also includes snippets from Rick’s one-man shows in front of live audiences.

People: Along with ordinary people, interviewees include well-known people from fields as diverse as jazz, politics and drag racing: Chris Brubeck, Daniel Ellsberg, Big Daddy Don Garlits, Gloria Steinem, and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo.

Topics: sex, religion, politics, childhood, mentors, risk-taking, business, medical challenges, humor, old age, and the meaning of our lives.

Sharing our stories: tales of resilience and renewal


In a recent documentary, a man from Siberia is quoted: “What I fear most is that my life will go unnoticed.” We all do. Stories are a way to be noticed and find meaning. That is what Sharing Our Stories is all about.

Chapter 1

The Early Years / This is going on your permanent record

A pediatrician, a CEO, a jazz musician, and a drag racer all reflect on how their early years created the adults they became.

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    Chapter 2

    Family of Origin / My grandfather brought peace to my heart.

    To find my own path, I had to tell my father to go fuck himself. For others, family was a source to enduring, life-long love and support.

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      Chapter 3

      Parenthood / He never missed a meeting, or he was a great dad.

      One man who was an out-of-control teenager discovered that his father’s unconditional love turned his life around, while a retired professional dancer hopes her son will never follow her artistic path.

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        Chapter 4

        Music / Good music; good people; good money.

        From classical to rock to flamenco to jazz; ten musicians reflect on the love and struggles of life on the road.

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          Chapter 5

          Explorations in Medicine / From Slime Mold to hardening of the arteries.

          Along my failed journey to get into medical school, I fed LSD to Slime Mold; interviewed gonorrhea and syphilis patients for their sexual contacts; learned, helping with autopsies,how sclerotic coronary arteries can cause a heart muscle to turn to mush, and how getting high on pot helped me understand the profound nature of how penicillin kills bacteria.

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            Chapter 6

            Major Screwups / Fire Gilbert and get on with it!

            When Steve Blank got fired publicly in front of the whole company, he learned a lesson that changed his life and business. Similarly, a client of mine was told to fire me as a speech coach. For both Steve and me, our businesses were changed forever in very positive ways.

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              Chapter 7

              Fear / Who do I shoot first?

              A crazed drug addict, a knife-wielding psychiatric patient, a fighter pilot flying in the dead of night, low on fuel and without cockpit lights, and an iron worker on a 4-inch beam ten floors up. Meet people who’ve survived life-threatening situations.

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                Chapter 8

                Funny Stories / Nobody steals Priuses

                From college boys in a boat mooning a passenger train of vacationing families, to the humorous side of getting a cortisone shot in the neck and avoiding becoming a quadriplegic, funny stories may be more fun than canned jokes.

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                  Chapter 9

                  Sex / Hey Gilbert, are you a virgin?

                  80% of my high school graduating class were virgins in 1957. In the intervening 65 years, all hell has broken loose. As one classmate said, “Yes, I was a virgin in 1957, but between marriages, I can’t count that high.”

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                    Chapter 10


                    From “Ten Reasons Why Beer is Better Than Religion,” to why clergy need to be state licensed, we see why according to The Pew Research Center, in the United States the biggest group is the non-believers, called “The Nones,” no preference.

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                      Chapter 11

                      Politics / It is not all doom and gloom

                      Why the story of a ten-year-old “half Mexican” girl (her words) selling Girl Scout cookies who told me “I don’t think the president wants me here” is not all there is. We also have member of Congress Anna Eshoo: “The trusting relationship between those who govern and those who elect has been the hallmark of our compact for the past 25 years.” There is hope.

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                        Chapter 12

                        Turning Points / A very heavy load.

                        Daniel Ellsberg fell to the floor and cried for an hour. When he got up, it was clear – he needed to publish the Pentagon Papers and risk going to prison for life in order to help stop the Vietnam War.

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                          Chapter 13

                          Taking Risks

                          “To risk is to lose your footing momentarily, to not risk is to lose your self.” – Soren Kierkegaard

                          There are physical risks like when Don Garlits’ dragster’s transmission blew up and took off half of his right foot, or when iron worker Larry Lippert “went in the hole” and was almost killed. Then there are psychological risks like when I spoke to a group totally naked, or when I confronted my Public Health bosses from the CDC and got offered a promotion.

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                            Chapter 14

                            Mentors / A profound fingerprint

                            Former CEO, John Kispert, started working at 12 years old at a New York deli and learned the importance of quality and dependability from his boss that he still employs today. Grammy-nominated jazz pianist, Taylor Eigsti, went on the road with the Brubeck brothers at age 14. He learned from them (his jazz “uncles”) and from Dave Brubeck skills that shaped his musical career.

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                              Chapter 15

                              Communication / The key to stopping sex trafficking is an electric fence.

                              By really listening, Gloria Steinem found out that African women in one tribe did not need to turn to sex to get money for their kids’ school expenses if they could keep the elephants from eating their crops of maze. An electric fence was the key. Listening made it happen.

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                                Chapter 16

                                Kindness and Empathy / Never shoot a parachuting soldier.

                                A Luftwaffe pilot refused to shoot down a crippled B-17 bomber and became best friends with the bomber’s pilot after the war. An American Jew was invited to visit the town where his grandfather and 60 other relatives were murdered by the Nazis. The people of the town begged for his forgiveness. He said, “Not necessary. It wasn’t you who did that.” They asked how to make up for it. He said, “Just be kind.”

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                                  Chapter 17

                                  Building Community

                                  “I’d rather go to hell with my friends than heaven alone.”  – Joseph Smith

                                  A community came together is rural Wisconsin after a lightning storm burned a family’s barn killing all the cattle and destroying all their farming equipment. Iron workers create a community 15 stories up in the air on four-inch beams so all can go home safe at the end of day. Forty friends from high school recall their time together in the distant 1950s with stories, listening, and trust on bi-weekly Zoom meetings. One confesses: “Well, I’m not so different after all.”

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                                    Chapter 18

                                    Inspiration / Jeff, it’s your band now.

                                    A young, 24-year-old drummer takes over the Woody Herman Orchestra for the first time as Herman puts his hand on the drummer’s shoulder and says, “Its your band now, Jeff.” A performance artist stands in the oceans around the world through 12-hour cycles of the tide to bring attention to the climate crisis. A musician puts out her first CD as she is dying of cancer with the help of 60 musicians and recording people. The day before she dies, she holds the CD aloft, kisses it, and says, “Go do your work.”

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                                      Chapter 19

                                      Legacy / We are all just links in a chain.

                                      An iron worker says the building is like a flower, and “we are the water that makes it grow.” He proudly shows it to his children and says, “The building will be here long after I’m gone.” My Dreher / Suczek Endowed Scholarship at San Francisco State will help graduate student Shannon Ferguson on her way to a PhD that will improve the lives of her future students with autism.

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                                        Chapter 20

                                        Walking Each Other Home / Life in the rear view mirror.

                                        Sixty-five people have shared their stories of the journey from childhood to adulthood to elderhood. As we connect the dots of our lives, we bring meaning through stories: ours, our family’s, and our friends. What could be more joyful, respectful, and growthful?

                                        Let ‘er rip!

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