My Story

A Guy, A Pie, and Finding My 'Why'

Photo by Jake Hanson

Photo by Jake Hanson

My professional writing career started by accident while I waited tables at a small town Pizza Hut in Ohio. The tips were dismal, perhaps because people considered it fast food – and I was just the person running their pie from the oven to the table.

I used to write, “Have a nice day” on the back of their checks -- these were words that people saw but did not read; they were polite and expected but they meant nothing. On a whim, for one table, I replaced this flat message with an original poem. Their tip was as big as the check. I was onto something, and so I wrote more.

These brief and memorable rhymes recalled our brief conversations. Going bowling? Bowling poem. First date? First date poem. Out with the grandkids? You get the picture. Verses were written quickly and often under pressure because a poem means nothing if the pizza arrives cold, the soda glass remains empty, or the customer waits forever for the check.

The poems made recipients feel appreciated and seen as human beings and not just a table to be turned – they also helped me stand out and get noticed. Many customers still have their poems all these years later. Quite a few wrote poems back to me. Some tables even read their poems aloud to other tables when asked to do so. For a while, our Pizza Hut became its very own Dead Poets Society.

Corporate even took notice while crunching the data, our dine-in customers returned much more frequently than the national average.

After college graduation, I took that lesson with me everywhere I went…

  • To Chicago, where I studied improv comedy at Second City while working my way into a career in PR and advertising (see LinkedIn for details)
  • To Los Angeles, where I pursued screenwriting, continued my PR career, and started writing a music blog.
  • To Seattle, where I expanded my blogging and started my own copywriting firm, Sudden Monkey. I’ve steadily grown my business since 2010 to include clients all over town and around the world.

What does pizza, poetry, PR, improv and screenwriting have to do with being a great marketing or editorial writer? Everything.

I listen. I collaborate. I adapt. I create. I deliver amazing copy – on time, on budget, and on brand.


“We’re committed to customer service.”

“Our clients are our top priority.”

“We’re excited about this new product or service”

-- These phrases are the equivalent of "have a nice day” – they’re polite, expected, invisible and mean nothing.

When I tell your story, we will say something real, something that connects, something that inspires people and ushers them to sale.