Finding My Smile

By David Jerome, president of Jerome Properties.

About a year and a half ago, during a Forum retreat, I was sitting in a hotel room with a Forum mate. I was just sitting there, wondering why it is we do what we do. My mental attitude and business outlook was at a really low point. Earlier that week, I sat down with my father and his lawyer to discuss his estate plans. He had saved and reinvested profits his entire life, only to be sitting in that office as an old man with a heart condition and a sizeable net worth the government would love to get their estate-tax-paws on.

As I sat there, I realized something: Like Billy Crystal in the movie, “City Slickers,” I discovered that I needed to find my smile. I tried to remember what used to make me happy. I mean truly giddy— when I can’t stop laughing and my face aches from smiling so hard. It had been a while since I had felt that.

I remember being that happy when I first showcased my work as an aspiring comedy writer. I was in community college, and I showed my creative writing professor a page of jokes I had written. When he laughed at a few and acknowledged that I might have some talent for it, I left the classroom elated. That small confirmation of my talent was all I needed to pursue my goal of writing comedy.

I wrote for radio-joke services, newspaper laugh-line sections and small-time comedians, to name a few. Eventually, I signed up as one of Jay Leno’s freelance writers, back when he was the Monday night fill-in host of “The Tonight Show.” Around the same time, I won a monologue writing contest and appeared on the late-night ABC talk show, “Into the Night, with Rick Dees.” 

Although mildly successful, I was never able to earn enough money to consider making writing my career. In my spare time, though, I managed to write a funny newspaper and two books: I’m A Big Fan and Roastbeef’s Promise. Those books sat in manuscript form for several years while I started a family and grew my real-estate business. The day I realized what truly made me smile was the day I decided to publish those books.

I had learned a lot publishing the newspaper, but I needed help with the marketing and distribution of my books. So, I searched the EO member directory for entrepreneurs in the publishing industry. I ended up using a member’s business that specializes in assisting small publishers. I leveraged my EO membership, and it helped me follow my dreams!

Today, my mental attitude is better than it was a few years ago. I attribute my positive mental health to pursuing my passion. Nowadays, I’m having more fun and feeling more like my old self. What’s more, publishing the book will let me participate in another one of the EO cornerstones: Having interesting once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

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