Commemorative 60th Birthday Book - The Michael Project

The work I do as Greatest Story allows me to tell and celebrate some of the most special stories ever, and today's post is about one of those stories - the relationship between me and my dad, Michael. 

Dad's a storyteller like me, but in a different way. His background is in advertising, marketing, and sales and he's been a small business owner and manager of my grandparents' children's specialty store  for nearly three decades. Though I set out to have a very different life by having very different interests (like the movie industry), I've somehow found myself having strange intersections with him - going to the same university he did, and returning back to NC, just as he had after a big career, to run my own business.

Dad turns 60 this week (this Thursday) so a few months ago, I had the idea to create a special photo book for him - a commemorative book with best wishes, memories, and stories from people throughout his life. I named this secret photo book: "The Michael Project."

To make it a robust book, I reached out to over 60 people I found via various lines of detective work. Family was easy, but finding former bosses and big deal agents was not. But with a little luck from Google - I found them- so many of them: 66 people that contributed a total of 52 messages for the book. And they all somehow managed to keep it a secret until I gave it to Dad this weekend.

The finished book turned out beyond my wildest dreams. Built with MyPublisher, I designed "The Michael Project" as a deluxe, hardcover photo book featuring dozens of scanned photographs and layouts for text I designed and crafted in Adobe Illustrator. In the end, it was awesome and just hit the absolute MyPublisher limit of exactly 100 pages.

And after months and hours of collecting messages, formatting, uploading, and putting it all together, his past Saturday night, my family and I gathered in my grandmother's bedroom (she is recovering from a bout with pneumonia) so I could present the book to him.

And then I had him read the opening letter so he knew what the heck was going on. Here's that particular page that sums up the tone of the book and how it all came together (click the image to have it grow in size to make the text more readable):

So, his first reaction was "Am I dying?" and thankfully, the answer is no. Just loved. And his second reaction was mostly shocked mixed with a little more "have you talked to my doctor.. is something wrong with me?!"

And so anyway, all of the family went around and read their letter out loud as Dad, piece by piece, realized the full extent of the book, and not only how everyone in this room had shaped it, but so many amazing people from him life had made it such a special gift.

Before this project, I never envisioned myself a book editor, but I truly enjoyed bringing 60+ people together for this very special book. I structured it in chapters related to his life, using silhouettes that called each period time to mind.

I have to say that this whole endeavor is one of the favorite things I love about the work I do and the life I wake up and try to lead everyday. I am so grateful to every single person that put their thoughts into an email, or a letter, or even a video as a few people did, just to celebrate my dad. It's with something like this that you really see how we are all made up of stories, our greatest stories, that create the meaning in our sometimes boring or monotonous lives.

So thank you to all who contributed a bit of laughter and love to this - to say Dad was blown away, incredibly surprised, and forever touched would be a gross understatement.

And Happy 60th Birthday, Dad. You're kind of the best.