Hero Round Table Conference… And My Backpack Is Ugly.

I have an ugly backpack. 

I realized that this morning, as I hugged my family goodbye and swung it over my shoulder on the way out the door. It isn’t my epic glory (read: dirt) encrusted travel pack. No, that one’s blue and grey and shows a couple of years and more than a few countries of use in its faded, battered, dusty fabric. The one I shoved under the seat of the guy in Airbus 3055 this morning is nowhere near as cool. It’s also faded, and battered, and threadbare, but it doesn’t have that certain quality about it that screams “world traveler,” even though it’s earned the right as much as my real adventurer’s backpack. Actually, it’s more suggestive of too many rowdy mornings on a school bus, long hours buried in a closet, etc. Basically, it looks like it’s slowly morphed into a piece of modern art that might be labeled, “Enervation Through Grime.”

It looks a bit like a pig, I thought, as I wandered through the Chicago O’Hare airport. A dirty pink pig, splattered here and there in a most artistic fashion with black ink spots. My pens explode sometimes. It happens.

The edges of the bag are the worst. In fact, I think my backpack has singlehandedly created a new shade of what could maybe have been pink at one time. Now it’s a sickly peach-like color. No, that would be being kind. Take a rotting pear. Blend it together with an even squishier tomato. Mix in some Pepto. That’s about the color this bag has become.

It’s looking at me sadly now with its big ink splotch eyes, leaning against the window. A plane taxis past behind it. Apparently even that won’t distract it. It just keeps staring at me, sad and betrayed in the way that only inanimate objects can be. Sorry, backpack. I just have butterflies in my stomach which need to be taken out on something, and really. You are a bit appalling.

I have five hours to sit here and wait for my next flight. It’s better than my last airport experience, for sure. Still… five whole hours to sit here and reflect upon what’ll happen next. Fun, fun.

I’m off to the Hero Round Table Conference in Flint, Michigan. It’s an incredible conference where amazing, world-changing people get together to discuss heroism and what it means to be a hero in modern terms. I couldn’t be more excited. Some very, very cool people are going.

See for yourself:

Mike Dilbeck

Emcee for the 2014 Hero Round Table. Professional Speaker and Founder of the award-winning RESPONSE ABILITY: The Revolution for Courageous Leadership — a comprehensive program on bystander intervention and courageous leadership for campuses, organizations, companies and communities.

Philip Zimbardo

One of the world’s leading social psychologists and founder of the Heroic Imagination Project. Professor Emeritus at Stanford University.

Renee Thompson

Author and speaker. With RT Connections, she encourages nurses to choose the heroic life and helps them resist bullying cultures.

Coleen Rowley

FBI whistleblower post 9/11. Time Magazine “Person of the Year” in 2002. 23-year FBI career.

David Rendall

The Freak Factor guy. He helps people flaunt their flaws. Speaker, stand-up comedian, author, husband, and father of three girls.

Travis Price

Organized a pink shirt day at his high school in Canada to respond to a bullying incident. Started a world-wide movement and now speaks around the globe.

Morris Peterson

Michigan State basketball great. 10 year NBA career. Flintstone.

Dan Pantaleo

Retired Marine Corps Major – he was one of the first responders at the Pentagon when it was hit on 9/11.

Chase Masterson

Actress best known for her work on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Founder of Pop Culture Anti-Bullying Coalition and has mentored at Homeboy Industries since 2008.

Stephen K. Hayes

Ninja. One of the 10 most influential martial artists alive in the world today. Previously the personal bodyguard of the Dalai Lama.

Daniel Ellsberg

Henry Kissinger called him “the most dangerous man in America” after he released the Pentagon Papers. He continues to fight for whistleblowers around the world.

Edith Eger

Auschwitz survivor who now practices clinical psychology in San Diego. She realized early on that true freedom can only be found by forgiving, letting go, and moving on.


Among others. IS THIS COOL OR WHAT?!?!

And… They’ve invited me to speak. I’m elated! And terrified. And excited! And quite nervous. I’m humbled that they’ve invited me, especially in comparison to the other speakers. Who I get to meet! I feel like I did as a little kid when we did a surprise trip to Disney! No, more excited than that. This is so much cooler. It’s an incredible opportunity for me, and while the butterflies in my stomach are really more like poison frogs, I can’t wait to get there and get started!

Four more hours until I board my flight to Flint, splotchy weird backpack and all. Hero Round Table, here I come!


5 Replies to “Hero Round Table Conference… And My Backpack Is Ugly.”

  1. YAY!!! Congrats on being included – and backpacks? They are like scars – signs of life. :)

    1. Soak up ALL of the goodness, the vibes should be welcoming :-) Nothing but awesomeness can come from this!

  2. Hello! I attended the Hero Round Table conference today and even got the opportunity to speak with you I was with the College students you sat with at the end of the conference. I just wanted to let you know I think you spoke wonderfully and a lot of what you said personally resonated with me and has influenced me to do my best for others around me. I just thought it was important to let you know you did amazing this afternoon.

    1. Yeah, I remember! Thanks for letting me sit with you. It was great to get to chat for a bit. :) And I’m so glad you were inspired! Being able to speak at the Hero Round Table conference was a huge deal for me, and it means a lot that you took the time to thank me. I’m blown away at the feedback I’ve gotten. Thank you!

  3. […] Speaking at the Hero Round Table in Flint, Michigan. […]

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