At last week’s IAM Communications Conference in Austin, TX, we got a chance to experience a heartfelt moment between a father and son.
Robert Miller, directing business representative for District 98, introduced his stepson Cameron Conaway, a journalist and content marketer.
Yesterday morning I delivered the most emotional, heart-filled speech of my life.
It was for The Machinists Union’s Communications Conference and I was introduced by my stepdad Robert Miller (left), the man who took me in as his son 20 years ago.
He has spent the last 38 years of his life fighting for the underdog and working to ensure that, in this age of increasing wealth inequality, the working class has a voice at the table and is treated fairly.
All to say: he’s a personal hero to me. So as I sat beside my other hero (my mother, Sue Conaway-Miller, pictured right), I began to cry uncontrollably as he spoke to the crowd about my humble little accomplishments.
Then I had to speak.
A hot mess of emotion and dealing with a sinus infection that I picked up in Amsterdam, I spoke about the need for communicators, especially now, to cut through the junk food rhetoric out there, seek the truth, and renew their spirit.
Why? Because we are up against dangerous and wealthy forces who have and will continue spending billions to hide complex truths from the public, replace those truths with convenient lies, and otherwise churn out propaganda in the hopes that the public will be convinced that working class people do not need a voice.
It’s about divide and conquer. And my research and work here at home and all over the world has taught me that it’s always about divide and conquer… but that communities and countries simply run better when its workers feel a sense of fellowship with each other and are treated fairly.
I of course then spoke of the need to maintain and renew our spirit through all of this, and how one way to do that is to carve out time to reflect on those silent influencers in our own lives.
So I spoke about my stepdad’s role in my life, my mother’s lessons of radical empathy and fierce discipline, and how my wife Maggie Chestney inspires me each day.
It was one of my life’s greatest honors to participate in this event, and I can only hope the audience took half as much from it as they gave to me.
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