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The Secret? Ask Questions. A Story about Goldrush Jack

By January 8, 2020March 28th, 2021No Comments
1888 photo of cowboy in the west, story of Goldrush Jack, and secret to asking questions

One of the best things about LinkedIn is serendipity. If you are using LinkedIn, the secret to mastering it, is to expand your network, deliberately. When I see interesting phrases, professional headlines, references, I am on my own journey with serendipity in my back pocket. I especially love discovering stories that lift the human spirit.

Just a few days ago, I discovered a wonderful story from James Bliwas (LinkedIn profile) about Goldrush Jack. Following Jack’s story, one of the commenters wrote, “What an interesting story. I meet characters all the time. Those who ask questions usually do.” And James responded, “That’s the secret: Ask questions. If I hadn’t asked about the banner, I never would have known about Jack.”

My father’s 11th commandment was “Ask.” I write more about my father’s commandment of “ask” in, “Life Lessons – Everything I Learned about Sales, I Learned from My Parents.” And there’s no secret to the Ask. Smile, be thoughtful, be respectful, and be a great listener.

Here’s to a great story because James thought to ask.

Happy Birthday Goldrush Jack

I’ve met a lot of characters in my life including a gun slinger straight out of the Old West.

When I worked in TV news in San Francisco 100 lifetimes ago, my crew and I were returning from covering a two-day story in Reno. We pulled off I-80 to find a place for lunch. About a mile off the highway was a small town that looked like time forgot years earlier.

The only spot to eat was a small hotel. Above the registration desk was a banner: Happy Birthday Goldrush Jack.

“Who’s Jack?” I asked.

“That’s Jack,” the desk clerk and owner told me, pointing to a very old man sitting nearby. Then, pointing to a faded photo of a very young man brandishing a six-shooter, he added: “And that’s Jack.”

We postponed lunch to do a story.

Turns out that Jack, who was well into his 90s, had been a sometime sheriff, sometime gold miner, sometime outlaw.

He’d moseyed up from Arizona during the gold rush and stayed. He admitted to being in gunfights but denied killing anybody. I don’t blame him. There’s no statute of limitations on murder.

“I bin on both sides of t’ law,” a toothless Jack told me in an on-camera interview. “There’s more money in robbin’ banks and stagecoaches than in bein’ t’ sheriff. Cudda got killed doin’ either.”

Have you met characters in your life?


Enjoy more of James’ posts on LinkedIn here.

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Ira Koretsky

Ira Koretsky has built The Chief Storyteller® into one of the most recognized names in communication, especially business storytelling. He has delivered over 500 keynote presentations and workshops in nearly a dozen countries, in more than one hundred cities, across 30 plus industries. His specialties are simplifying the complex and communicating when the stakes are high. He is also an adjunct professor in public speaking and storytelling at the University of Maryland's Business School. With over 25 years of experience, he is a sought-after storytelling coach, global speaker, trainer, consultant, communication coach, and public speaking coach.