How to stay cool in the presence of a rock star like Ellen Bremen

Photo: Psycho Eyes Credit: Shonna Clark

I’m convinced that Ellen Bremen would be my favorite college professor ever.  On her blog, in social and in her book Say THIS Not That to you College Professor this college professor and author has some of the most helpful advice I could imagine, and presents it in an extraordinarily accessible way (vignettes from her teaching experience).   I had the amazing opportunity to meet her for coffee when we were in Seattle this summer, and was surprised to discover that she’s as dynamic and accessible in person as she is in her writing.

Everything about her personality and her work is larger than life, and I thought about how the experience of meeting her was kind of like meeting a rock star.  So carrying that thought to fruition, I wanted to impart lessons learned from chatting with literary rock star Ellen Bremen:

Keep your composure when you first meet

We agreed to meet at an undisclosed location (C&P Coffee in West Seattle) and she walked in like she owned the place (and by that I mean she knew the barista).  Ellen’s presence is palpable – her energy is focused and she puts a lot into interpersonal connection (see the videos below).  So it was more than a little intimidating for me to keep up, but I faked it as best I could.

I always thought that the only celebrity that could make me lose my composure would be Joan Osborne (if we were in the same room and she were singing to me and it was 1995).  After meeting Ellen, I’m rethinking that.  I think I molt in the presence of great charisma.

When they tell you exceptional stories don’t overreact

So as we were sitting there in chatting in coffee shop, Ellen casually mentioned the Kardashians and how exceptional their interpersonal communication is.  She went on to describe their use of “repairs,” and the research behind why relationships that use these repairs are more successful than others (She blogged about it here).  It takes a really strong insight and unbelievable delivery to make a guy regret that he didn’t watch “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” but for a moment in time it crossed my mind that I has missed out on something special (I learned later that while the repairs may be admirable, what happens in between the repairs on that show is kind of empty).

As we kept talking, she peppered in mentions of advice she had gotten from Christian HollingsworthAnthony Iannarino, and Ted Rubin and in my head I thought to myself: “Do you know how much of a big deal those guys are?”  But I didn’t say anything. Britney Spears doesn’t need to be told that Demi Lovato is a rock star.  If she doesn’t know I’m sure her court-appointed boyfriend tells her.  Point being – that Ellen is non-chalant about hanging with rock stars is a tell tale sign that she is one.

Relish the moment

As I left, I thought of Barack Obama’s friends who knew him as “Barry” in high school and college.  These days I imagine it would be very difficult for them to get him on the phone.  I got the sense that Ellen Bremen will soon be in similar demand (maybe not to scale with Obama).  Her book is destined for an audience much greater than college students:  there is huge value in her book for high school students, young adults, and parents.  It should be a perpetual read along the lines of What Color is Your Parachute.  She’s on the precipice of being a really big deal.

This is one of the things that I love about social media – there are so many great people to meet and learn from.  And there are a few special people that you meet on their ascent to bigger things.  Ellen Bremen is one of those people.

While she may be too busy adapting her book to a movie (just a rumor I’m starting) to have coffee next time we visit Seattle, we’ll always have the Kardashians.  And in this one singular instance that is completely okay.

By the way, you should follow Ellen on Twitter if you are one of the few who don’t:


Jim Dougherty

Jim Dougherty

Writer and chief of miscellany at leaderswest.com
I'm the guy that wrote the article you just read. Sorry for the typos.