Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before

June 24, 2022

Why do I write these blog posts?

There are many reasons. I do love telling stories. One of my beliefs as a parent is that stories create memories. By telling and retelling stories to our children, they become their memories that will shape them or make them smile throughout their lives. My stories become their stories. My awesome mother-in-law and I often begin our stories with, “Stop me if you’ve heard this one before . . .,” and then proceed to march on and tell the story even if our eye-rolling listener has heard it 136 times. I’m OK with that strategy. In fact, I embrace it.

I have stories. I think we all do. And the more risks you take in life, the more stories you have. Being an optimist, I think that all stories can lead to a happy ending. Even the saddest ones. That’s why I keep taking risks, and putting myself out there in the world. That’s why I push myself. That’s why I try to find ways to say yes to new opportunities. After sixty years on this planet, my story closet (I like that term!) is overflowing.

And since those closest to me have heard my stories perhaps a few too many times, it’s nice to find a medium for a wider audience to bear the brunt of my storytelling. I am grateful for those who read, and appreciative of those who comment. I have found the comments to be insightful, humorous, reflective, kind, and remarkably positive. Those are the qualities of my target audience.

I also appreciate the process of writing a weekly post. Sometimes the topic comes to me easily. Sometimes, like this week, I struggle. And the writing itself is quite enjoyable as well. If I’ve thought about it enough, the first draft just flows. I can usually write it in less than two hours. But the most difficult part is the revisions.

It’s never good enough to publish.


It’s too long. It’s not witty enough. It’s too mundane. The writing is ordinary. I’m not fishing for support here. I’m telling you, it’s just what goes through my head every single time. And it might contain a stupid mistake. I hate that too. And yet I still press “Publish.”

I’m grateful for my three long-time friends who still find time to read my drafts, offer suggestions, kindly point out my errors, and most importantly, reflect on what I’ve written and push me in different directions. It’s an incredibly caring act of friendship, and I never take it for granted. My thanks to them for our enduring friendship and for continuing to make me better.

And in the end, after sweating through the revisions – a process that takes far longer than writing that first draft – I press that publish button and put it out there to those on my mailing list and on social media. Twitter does not work well for me, but I’m OK with that. Twitter may be the meanest place on the planet. I always thought that the bus I took to Central Junior High School in 7th grade was the meanest place, but Twitter blows the wheels off that bus.  I know there’s a lot of positive, and I’m grateful to those working to make it a positive place. But it’s too mean for me.

My talented and very funny sister-in-law Tracee is a spectacular artist (that’s her painting of downtown Little Rock above) who excels in using social media to market her creations. We have a text group where we share our successes and failures on the daily Wordle (I love Wordle), and then the comments start. The photo below, taken on April 26, represents perhaps my greatest life accomplishment – guessing the Wordle in one try.

Tracee is the star of those comments on our Worldle text chain, and every day she wins the most comments or most hearts award. We’ve all had to mute the alerts on our phone, as it can be a lot.  With my phone muted, I can appreciate the comments a lot more. Anyway, Tracee is one of my role models for effective marketing and social media, and she is trying to make me better. I recently read a book she recommended, Hook Point: How to Stand Out in a 3-Second World.

Some stats that show how challenging it is to catch someone’s attention enough to actually open one of my blog posts:

  • The average American sees between 4,000 and 10,000 ads per day.
  • There are 60,000,000,000 messages sent out on digital platforms each day.
  • We have just 3 seconds to grab someone’s attention enough, to give a clever hook point, so readers will click, open the post, and start to read it. The quality of the post itself determines whether they will actually finish it.

After reading the book, I have determined that not only was I lousy at hook points before reading the book, there is no quick fix, and I’m still pretty bad at it. I could do the old man lament, and long for the older simpler days when only the newspapers and the TV clamored for our attention. But in spite of all of its flaws, and in spite of the 60 billion messages a day (I saw somewhere that if you take out the Kardashians and cat videos, it’s only 40 billion – still a lot) I love the Internet and all of its possibilities. I have to adapt.

I would continue to write for a smaller audience, but I’m grateful for the hundreds of faithful readers that I have. I view the struggle of creating a quality piece of writing as jobs one, two, and three, but I will work on evolving and striving to do a better job of catching people’s interest, because I would love to expand the readership. I will aspire to be more like Tracee, I will continue to learn, and I’ll put myself out there.

Even if I fail, it’s just going to create more stories.

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  1. Rose Ann Hansen says:

    Hi Mike — Another fun read as I wind down my work day! Congratulations on the One-Guess Wordle…that’s awesome!!! I love Wordle too. I got “GLOAT” in two the other day and I yelled out when I did that and my cat was not amused at the noise.
    The only HookPoint I need to read your post is seeing that it has arrived in my Inbox. I know immediately that reading your weekly blog will do at least one of the following : (1) make me smile or laugh (2) alert me to a new idea (3) make me think and always (4) make me feel grateful that we are still friends after all these years. Just all part of my Quadrant II – Personal Development.
    Happy Weekend! 🙂

    1. Mike Matthews says:

      I still love your Q2 goal. Makes my day! Two is a great Wordle day. Congrats! Thanks for not needing the hook point, and thanks for your thoughtful comments.

  2. Kathy Hall says:

    Hi Mike

    I read your Blog faithfully because it reminds me of the fun interactions we had at MBUSD. I like this connection. I do not comment or reply but please know that I am listening and gaining a few insights on an individual I admire. Keep writing.

    I am out of HR but running a Parkinson’s Support Group with over 150 registered members in the small town of Prescott, AZ.

    1. Mike Matthews says:

      You’re a classy person, Kathy Hall. I loved working with you, and it makes perfect sense that you continue to help people in your own way. It’s what you do. Enjoy beautiful Prescott!

      1. Michelle says:

        I love reading your blog, Mike – it reminds me of how many thoughtful, intelligent people there are in the world and of how much I always enjoyed our work together with MBUSD and MBEF. And you are so right about the importance of having new and even challenging experiences to fill our “story closets”!

        Michelle McDonald

        1. Mike Matthews says:

          Thanks for your kind words, Michelle. And right back at you on enjoying working together. I always appreciated your honesty, your experience, and your optimism. Let’s keep on finding reasonable challenges for ourselves!

  3. I absolutely love reading your blogs. I love how I always get something educational, funny, and heartwarming from them all. I am very humbled that you mentioned my artwork and Me in your recent blog. I feel very honored as I respect you even though I don’t show it on our wordle texting group. Ha ha. Inside joke between you and me that I gave you a lot of hearts today. Thank you sweet brother and love you very much. Tracee ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

    1. Mike Matthews says:

      Yes – usually I don’t show a lot of respect to you in public, but now the secret’s out. Thanks for your inspiration and humor.

  4. On another note, I think your Hook Point was right on today. 🪝🪝🪝

    1. Mike Matthews says:

      Thanks. I’m not sure how good it felt, but I did feel like it was different. I appreciate the feedback.

  5. Ida says:

    I read it faithfully every week. I laugh, I smile, and on occasion have cried. I also share it sometimes. I generally don’t comment. Golf in October?

  6. Mikke Pierson says:

    Mike, your blog always inspires me. The optimism is the hook that works for me. And I connect with your process for coming up with your weekly theme. I send a daily affirmation to a group of people 4 or 5 days a week and the interesting part to me is where I find my inspiration. You do it well and I appreciate you. Thank you for taking the time to do this.

    1. Mike Matthews says:

      Daily!!!!! I’m not sure I’m optimistic (or industrious) enough to have something new every day. I’m never surprised by your accomplishments, so kudos to you. I look forward to our next conversation about doing good in our world.

  7. erika says:

    Mike, I remember when you first started at MBUSD and you were very wary of social media; and rightly so. Social media, IMHO, has been a major factor in the depressing state of the world and the mental health of all – especially your adults.
    That being said, I love your blogs & optimism. Keep it coming.

    1. Mike Matthews says:

      I will keep them coming, and thank you for your encouragement. I’ve learned to appreciate Facebook, and it does seem like a place for sharing that is free from too much judgment. But Twitter – one mistake, and the Twitter world piles on. I maintain my wariness. Thanks for reading!

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