How to Touch the Hands of Greatness

Did you happen to watch the Grammy Awards show last week? I missed it. But I do have a story to tell you about the time I met one of the winners of the prestigous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.  I guess you could call it my “brush with greatness.”


I knocked on the door nervously and waited. Finally a tall young man opened the door and looked at me calmly. He was tired.

“Yes?” he asked, expressionless.

“Is D-D-D-Dave there?” I stammered.

“Sure. Just a minute.”

Chris disappeared as quickly as he appeared, leaving the door slightly open. That’s a good sign, I thought.  The door opened again and there he stood, Dave Brubeck, one of America’s great jazz pianists (and recipient of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996).

I couldn’t believe it. There I was, face to face with my idol, in a dingy backstage hallway in North Manchester, Indiana.

We just stood there, looking at each other.

I was so nervous and excited, I didn’t know what to say. Dave had just finished performing. I’ve seen him play numerous times, and never get enough. He’s come to
Indiana four times over the years, and I always manage to find out about it and get a ticket.

As soon as the concert ended, I made a beeline backstage and started knocking on doors. Something inside me said “I’ve got to meet him.”

Now the moment was here and time was standing still. And my mouth wouldn’t work.

“W-W-W-ould you s-s-s-ign this?” I finally asked.

I handed him an old book of sheet music. It contained some of Dave’s greatest songs.

“That’s an old one. Where did you get this?” He was impressed.

I started to answer but no words would come out. Dave saw my struggle and smiled while signing his name. He gave me back the book and pen, then looked at me patiently.

“C-C-Can I s-s-s-ee how l-l-l-long your f-f-f-ingers are?”

God only knows how I got the words out.

As I held up my right hand, Dave instinctively put up his left hand. As expected, his fingers were several inches longer than mine.

“Wow. S-s-s-so that’s how you play all those big chords.”

We stood there laughing, hands touching.

I didn’t want to stay any longer, although I probably could have. I told him how much I loved his music, shook his hand, and left.

The whole exchange took less than five minutes. But I remember it like it was yesterday.

The day I touched the hands of greatness . . .

I don’t have many human heroes. There’s my father. And Dave Brubeck. And a retired football player named Jerry Kramer. And that’s about it.

But I’ve had many influences. People who’ve touched my life and changed the way I think. People who’ve had a profound influence on me.

How about you?

Who are your heroes? Who would you love to meet, if only for 5 minutes to shake hands and say “thank you” for the way you’ve helped me.  (Send me an email and let me know)

Perhaps “hero” is not the best word to describe the kind of people I’m talking about. How about “mentor” or “guide” or “teacher” or “coach.”

When it comes to taxes, I’ve had several excellent mentors.  Eva Rosenberg (aka TaxMama) has taught me a ton about taxes.  She’s got a great tax newsletter that I highly recommend — it’s much better than mine J.  You can check her out at

As you continue your journey into the wild and wacky world of taxes this year, do you have someone who is helping you? 

If you need a Tax Mentor, I am accepting new clients — so if you’d like to work together on reducing both the stress of tax return preparation and your tax bill, give me a call at 260-459-3858.

Of course there are many excellent tax gurus out there.  If you don’t hook up with me, I do urge you to hook up with someone.  Most folks who do their own returns end up paying more tax than necessary and/or making simple mistakes that could have been avoided.

Perhaps you’d prefer to work with a good female tax professional.  If so, check out this website – In addition to TaxMama, you’ll also meet TaxLady and a gal named Jan who’s prepared over 10,000 tax returns in her 30-year tax career. Not too shabby, eh?

Whether you get some help or decide to go it alone, I wish you . . .

Many Happy Returns,


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