Oz du Soleil is known as a master at Excel. He’s one of 30 Excel MVPs in the U.S. and has been working with spreadsheets for 20 years. Oz is also a very good storyteller.
Oz’s involvement with SuperThank began shortly after he moved from Chicago to Portland in 2014, when he decided to air a grievance during the open-mic segment at SuperThank’s first Airing of Grievances event. Invited to attend by one of his first (and best) Portland friends, fellow SuperThank storyteller Lakeitha Elliott, Oz’s first story was a grievance about off-leash dogs in Portland. He never imagined a city could love dogs as much as Portland loves dogs, but if the love of dogs was his biggest complaint about a place, he knew he had found home.
Oz was a featured storyteller at A Joint for Black Portland, a live storytelling event hosted by SuperThank at Pensole in downtown Portland in 2017. He has shared several stories at past SuperThank storytelling events as well as other storytelling venues in Portland, OR. We asked Oz to share his perspective on what makes a good story and why he thinks gratitude is important.
Oz is not only a SuperThank storyteller, but one of SuperThank’s storyteller coaches as well. We asked Oz to share some advice on how to tell a good story of gratitude.
“A good story is compelling. The characters in the story are three dimensional; they have humanity – even the villains. A good story of gratitude includes a revelation of something relatable; somebody’s trying to get something or somewhere that really matters (you have to bring people into the why). Why does it matter that you are sharing this gratitude? For example, if someone gives you $20 on the bus and you want to share gratitude for this act: Why did this $20 matter? What was your life before the $20? How did the $20 change your life when you received it? What did the $20 allow? Your story has to be more than interesting, but it also doesn’t have to be profound.”
Why is participating in the public act of sharing gratitude important?
“Let’s face it, there is plenty to complain about. Sometimes it’s helpful to take a step back and recognize that there is a lot of stuff out there to be thankful for. It’s inspiring. It’s a break from all the stuff we have to be mad about. It gets us out of finger-wagging. This public display of gratitude (through storytelling) allows us to acknowledge that there is bad stuff going on, but when we’re honest with ourselves, there is a lot of good; there are things to be appreciative of and things to be inspired by. We can see the good things in front of us that may not have always been there.”
Oz explained how gratitude can facilitate change and help us achieve our goals in life.
“A great and important thing about being grateful is that it pushes us to be honest about what we want, to recognize where there are good things going on in our lives, and it keeps us from being swallowed up by the things we don’t like. Gratitude helps us get where we want to go. We usually know what we don’t like or where we don’t want to end up. But how do we know what is working or where we want our lives to go? If we ask ourselves what we are grateful for or what would we appreciate if we had it, we have a better idea of what we’d like to see continue and what we need to change. A lot of us don’t know what this is until we ask ourselves what we’re grateful for. Being grateful, naming the stuff we’re appreciative for is a road map. It helps us identify what we’re dealing with and see the big picture.
We asked Oz to share one thing he is grateful for that he’s never told anyone before. He shared a story of gratitude for his friend Dave Twidle.
“Dave died a few years ago, but I often think about him and how he helped me when I was in a bad place. It was 1997, and I had just moved to New York City.
After a long train ride from Chicago to New York, I was exhausted, yet excited to see my new place for the first time. I picked up the keys to my new apartment, and headed to my new home. I’ll never forget it; I walked through the door and I thought, “WTF????” There were roaches everywhere, garbage was all over the floor, and the bathtub was covered in grime. Not the start I was looking for. I was now stuck in a filthy apartment and needed a job, however I wasn’t in the right mind to go out looking for a job.
But Dave and I, we could get together for a couple hours and have a cigar and some coffee. He wouldn’t try to fix my life; he couldn’t fix it. Dave and I would talk about art, smoke cigars, and after some time, I would be rejuvenated. I could go back out into the world and fight my battles.
He helped me realize that I had to go back to Chicago and start all over again. I appreciated knowing Dave at that time in my life and for those moments where he allowed me the space to not think about all the bad stuff I was going through, but made it possible to appreciate a cigar with a good friend.”