The paparazzi haven’t started following me (yet), but lately, I’ve been feeling like a Beantown superstar. Now, I’m no celebrity, but, in the last month or so, every time I begin to introduce myself people already know me.
Me: Hello, I am Brian Fox, founder and president of On Both Feet, which is a consulting company that…
Macher: Oh, yes I’ve read all about you – you’re one of the PresenTense Fellows.
Let me be clear, this doesn’t happen everywhere I go. The guy at my local Boloco only knows me as Memphis BBQ bowl, extra guac. Though sometimes I add a Jimmy Carter smoothie – hold the fro-yo, add raspberry sorbet.
Okay, it is not every time I meet someone but it sure happens a lot lately. CJP’s PresenTense Boston Fellowship offers thought-provoking curriculum, superior coaching and a supportive community all while helping me launch my venture, On Both Feet, a boutique consulting company helping Jewish nonprofits to improve communication, teamwork and leadership skills through improv theater techniques and Jewish wisdom. The icing on the cake, I have come to find out, is that the name PresenTense holds a certain cache that starts conversations and opens doors… at least in the Jewish community. Although, I haven’t tried it elsewhere – maybe I could get a free burrito.
It is not just me with this quasi-celeb status. My fellow Fellows also get the Brangelina treatment. Recently a few of us attended a community event about the current state of Jewish education, and where it might go in the future, which is a longer discussion for another blog. During the schmoozing before and after the event, Elisha turned into a Jewish Gwyneth Paltrow (yes, GP is Jewish but you know what I mean) and was making inroads with ease on behalf of her venture, the Jewish Teacher Corps – and Dan had folks inquiring about his new venture, Making Jewish Men, like he was P.Diddy… on New Year’s Eve… in Vegas… but without the big sunglasses, diamond earring and scantily-clad dancers.
While of course I’m being a little over the top and cheeky, (Hey, I work in improv … it’s my job to exaggerate. Fun is the name of the game!) I write all of this with a strong sense of humility and responsibility. PresenTense is a grassroots community consisting of smart, creative people working tirelessly to practice innovation and creativity and breathe new life into the Jewish community. In just a few years this group of social entrepreneurs from around the world, working in a variety of fields, has made tremendous impact in so many communities. Hence the star power attached to the name.
Being part of this program has raised the stakes for me. For a long time I have been passionate about bringing the Jewish people closer together and have utilized improvisation as a learning tool with its unique power to do just that. Now, I am sowing those seeds to develop On Both Feet past a workshop and into a consulting business. My PT cohort – from my coach to the cadre of fellows – is helping me gain a deeper sense of purpose and direction. Spending time with others who are equally energized about their ventures motivates me to bring my A-game. As the kids say, “So, Bring It!” “Oh, It’s been Brought!”
So, maybe this isn’t the kind of paparazzi-crazed celebrity like that of Britney Spears or Ashton Kutcher. If this experience as a PT Fellow is anything remotely like celebrity, it is more like Wyclef Jean and Matt Damon – leveraging their talents to make the world a better place, but, in our case without bags of money, screaming fans and David Letterman interviews. But hey, I can say that I, for one, feel lucky to be able to be a part of the solution, Letterman or not.
PS – Check out the other Beantown superstars of CJP’s PresenTense Boston Fellowship here. And, tell your friends in New York, Philadelphia, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv about the fine Fellows in their neighborhood.