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Three Things I Learned From My Cousin Beyoncé This Weekend

Three Things I Learned From My Cousin Beyoncé This Weekend


My wife and I watched Homecoming on Netflix this weekend. For those of you who live on the other side of the world or are reading this a thousand years in the future, Homecoming is a documentary that Beyoncé made about her shows at Coachella last year.

Here are three things I learned.

  1. Teamwork is essential. No one, even Beyoncé, can accomplish anything worth doing alone. Grab your friends and family. Grab your tribe. Ask for help. Demand support. Dance together. Work together. Play together. Be together, together. It’s better than the alternative.
  2. Hard work is essential. Nothing worth doing is easy. That doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Hard work can be enjoyable but it’s hard.
  3. Self-care is essential. If you want to do something amazing you have to take care of yourself as you work hard with your team.

Another big impression is that Beyoncé is incredibly gifted and she works harder than everyone else. She is a total badass.

“Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil in Acadia”. Oils on canvas, 30″ by 42″, 2009. An original artwork depicting the revolutionary Acadian leader in Canada on the eve of his life long struggle for the Acadian people which ultimately lead him to southern Louisiana as the leader of the first group of Acadians to that area.

By the way, Beyonce is part Acadian. Her mother is descended from Acadian and Cajun leader Joseph Broussard (1702-1765). His wife was a Thibideau so I know I’m related to Beyoncé by marriage at the very least. My brother assures me that there’s probably a more direct connection. There were less than 10,000 people on Acadia when Broussard was born and the first Sylvain arrived a few generations before so it’s likely that Bey and me are cousins.

Let’s just say we are and move on. I mean, I can see the resemblance.

(I hope that when I’m in my late 30s (and have delivered twins via C-section less than a year before) I can look as good as Beyonce does after dancing and singing non-stop for two hours.)

PS. I have to admit that as an older white guy I have no idea what she’s singing about most of the time. I don’t understand the meaning of the lyrics. Like when she says “I took the top off the Maybach, bitch,” I don’t have any idea what that means. I know that the Maybach is an expensive car but that doesn’t make anything clearer. I don’t think I need to understand but I feel like I need to admit that.

PSS. The contrast between B’s strong, implicit message (of female, African-American and just plain human empowerment) and some of her regressive and aggressive lyrics and presentation is confusing. Does it strike anyone else as troubling or odd? I don’t see anyone talking about that and I certainly don’t feel like I’m in any position to do it. Let me know if anyone has examined this because I’d like to read about it.

Do It Now

Do It Now

Dad Diving
This picture is from the early 60s. I think that’s my dad. I think he’s about to do a belly flop.

Here is a lesson I learned many years ago from Dave Pasquesi, a brilliant Chicago-based actor and improviser. Our group was doing a long-form improvisation (a Harold for you in the know) in rehearsal and Dave was watching. It was tough because he was squirming and sighing with frustration during some of the scenes until finally he just exploded.

Click Here to jump to the Actionable/Practical Stuff at the Bottom

“Just f***ing kill the f***king guy already!”

(I don’t remember the details but I think we were hemming and hawing about hanging someone in an old west scene.)

“You knew you were going to kill him so just kill him already and find out what happens next,” Dave said.

He was absolutely right. We didn’t go through with the killing because we had no idea what was going to happen after that.

But that’s the best place to be when you’re doing improv. That’s when the real creativity happens.

The point is a very good one for improv, writing and for life. If you know something is going to happen in an improv scene you should go ahead and have it happen so you can discover what you don’t know. The same is true with writing. If you’re writing something and you have a great ending, try making that the beginning and see what happens AFTER that. Terrible storytelling talks a long time to get where you knew it was going. Great storytelling surprises you at the end.

Most of the time it surprised the writer as well.

I have a good friend from Seattle who never really committed to anything long term because he always knew he was going to someday move to LA and “sell-out.” He was going to write screenplays and television. About 22 years ago he did it. After 8 months in Los Angeles he realized Hollywood wasn’t interested in what he was interested in so he went back to Seattle and, unburdened by this someday dream, he became one of the most important people in the vibrant theater scene there.

With no regrets.

I have done a bunch of things immediately and I’ve put off a bunch of stuff. In college someone said to me that if you wait until you’re ready to start a theater you’ll never start one because you’ll never be ready. I took that to heart and started and theater right after I graduated when I had no idea what I was doing (30 years later it’s still going strong). Everything I put off I regret putting off.

What happens when you do it now is that you get it out of your head and into reality. Your vision may come true or it may die but either way it makes your life richer and it leaves room for other visions to grow.

Like the story of my friend from Seattle illustrates, sometimes the someday dreams you don’t take out can get in the way of you living your life. Sometimes the someday dreams can’t breathe real air and when they hit reality they die.

Sometimes that’s sad but often it’s a very good thing.

So if you have a someday dream, do it today so you can make room for the thing that comes next.

This may be very obvious to you but as someone who resisted organization and to do lists for years I found it a revelation.


  • If you have something that you intend to do, it’s better to do it now.
  • Doing it now will make it live or die that much quicker.
  • Doing it now will give you room to create new dreams.

Three Steps to
Take Today

  1. Choose something you want to do someday.
  2. Figure out the first step you need to take to do that thing.
  3. Do it…now!