A Writer on Writing

three images of Joe Campolo with group, CMM Live camera with Joe Campolo in background. and Joe Campolo with sword in front of wooden doorOn Writing – Many people ask me why I write this blog; what is the purpose? Great question, and in the beginning, I had no answer (I liken it to Forrest Gump just starting to run one day for no particular reason). Having been down this path for some time now, I am beginning to understand what compels me to write, and more particularly, why I write what I do and why I share it publicly. I interviewed myself this week to explore these issues, and I share my answers with you today.

Why I write: Since 2000, I have kept a private journal. I write in a stream-of-consciousness format, and use it to help me identify interesting issues, to rant, or just comment about happenings in my life that I want to capture. I have about 17 volumes now; almost all are the marble composition books we used in elementary school.  What I have learned from keeping a journal all these years is that magic really does happen when you put something on paper; thoughts or feelings you think are permanent begin to change, and solutions to problems suddenly seem so obvious.

But it is not an easy task to write anything (at least not for me), especially these blog essays. They take significant time to complete as I agonize over every word – not because I am trying to be careful not to offend someone, nor because I am trying to impress someone, but because I want to make sure I am being accurate and honest with myself.

Writing is the greatest tool I can use to achieve clarity of thought – something so difficult to obtain in today’s fast-moving world of social media and sound bites. This clarity is a critical step in my quest to understand: who am I? Truly understanding one’s self is (in my humble opinion) the noblest journey for a person to take him or herself on, and this blog has now become a critical part of my journey.

Why I write about what I write about: I don’t have any agenda about what topics I will blog about; usually they come from something I jotted down in my journal that I want to explore further. My journal is visceral, so now this blog helps me take it to the next level because for each topic I will research further and consider multiple viewpoints before I put pen to paper. This analysis is critical, because I want to push and test myself on these issues to help me more fully understand myself.

It goes even deeper than that (I promise I haven’t binged on edibles!). Figuring out who we are is the journey on which we all need to embark to achieve the divine quest of understanding why we are here. I believe that all the answers are locked inside of us, and that we can unlock them only by traveling this path, for along the path of self-awareness opportunities, tests, and most importantly answers will present themselves that simply would not have arisen by any other method or shortcut. Our existence cannot be understood or explained by a meme. It takes years and years of thinking and contemplating and doing to even begin to understand who we truly are, let alone why we are here. For me, reading, thinking, and writing are the tools I use to help peel away the layers of garbage that society piles on us like heaps of dirty laundry, and find my own answers.

Why do I share my writing publicly? People ask me if I find it cathartic to share my thoughts publicly. While on some level it can be, the point of my writing and sharing is not to advocate for the points I am making, but instead to force myself to undergo the agonizing process of refining my own thoughts and feelings on a topic, knowing I need to be thorough as I will be sharing my conclusions (whatever they may ultimately be). So, by bearing public witness, I am not only perhaps helping others who may have similar struggles, but also forcing myself to make sure each word accurately describes my inner narrative on that particular subject.

Another reason I share my thoughts publicly is to gain readers’ trust. As a lawyer, folks come to me to talk about some of the most significant and sensitive matters they are experiencing in their lives, and for them to approach me with these issues and view me as someone who can help them, they need to trust me. Over the years I have found the best way to gain someone’s trust is to make yourself vulnerable to them first. Thus, by writing about thoughts and ideas that are authentic to me, and by sharing them publicly and opening myself up to criticism for no pecuniary gain, I seek to gain the reader’s trust.

Finally, a wonderful bonus I hadn’t anticipated is how many people my essays would resonate with (or piss off) and would feel compelled to share their thoughts with me in return. Hearing new perspectives and angles of an issue has really enhanced the way I think about many of the issues I write about. I’ve learned a great deal from those who have taken the time to share their opinions with me, which in turn has helped me grow. When I think about that, staring at a blank screen as I sit down to write my blog essays doesn’t seem quite so daunting.


2015 Mad Hatter, Dancing Hares Vineyard, Napa Valley. This Bordeaux-style blend, although young, was incredibly delicious. The bouquet was crisp and strikingly resembled Luden’s cherry cough drops. The finish was smooth; very drinkable. We paired it with Omaha Private Reserve Center-Cut Ribeye Crown steaks (grilled on outdoor grill at 750 degrees for 2 ½ minutes each side) and a homemade wedge salad. Très bien!


Beyond #MeToo – Last call for our #MeToo panel discussion next Tuesday morning – only a few seats left! This don’t-miss event features leading authorities in law, business, and sociology collaborating about what the business community needs to be focused on as women continue to share their stories of sexual harassment in the workplace. I’m really looking forward to engaging these thought leaders – Judge A. Gail Prudenti, Dean of Hofstra Law School and former Chief Administrative Judge of New York State; Michael Kimmel, Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Stony Brook and Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Men & Masculinities; and Carol Allen, President/CEO of People’s Alliance Federal Credit Union – on the real-world issues facing businesses, and how we keep moving forward. Details and registration here.

CMM Spotlights – It’s been a busy month so far in Long Island innovation, and I’ve had the great pleasure of getting an inside look at some of the businesses making us proud.

Last week I stopped by Pride Products in Ronkonkoma to catch up with our clients Roya and David Emrani about their American success story. Both born in Iran, the Emranis immigrated to the U.S. to see where their entrepreneurial spirit would lead. They went from distributing paper products stored in a Plainview garage in 1983 to owning a 150,000-square foot facility today and becoming one of the leading distributors of general merchandise throughout the world (and were among the first local businesses to establish a direct link to China). Read more about their amazing journey and see more photos here.

Speaking of entrepreneurial spirit, I also spent some time with veteran Long Island banker Davi Tserpelis, a long-time friend of the firm. Davi is leading the expansion efforts of West Coast based City National Bank on Long Island, where I’m confident that CNB’s laser focus on customized solutions and the client experience for financially-savvy clients will be a great fit. Learn more about Davi’s work and CNB’s growth plans here.

If you’re in need of a pick-me-up, head on over to get your tickets for the sixth annual Long Island Imagine Awards, honoring leadership and innovation in the nonprofit sector, held this year on May 1. The awards program is the brainchild of my friend Ken Cerini of Cerini & Associates, with whom I enjoyed a good “swordfight” last week. In six short years the Imagine Awards have become one of Long Island’s most anticipated events. Not only does the program spotlight the critical work of nonprofits, but also encourages collaboration among them to maximize their impact. I’m excited to dig deeper into these issues with Ken on CMM Live next month. Stay tuned for an in-depth spotlight on what sets Cerini & Associates apart (spoiler alert: Ken has a dungeon-themed office).

I also enjoyed my time this week with CMM client Don Catalano of iOptimize Realty. We caught up over a delicious lunch from John Robertson’s Sexy Salad at Don’s beautiful office in Commack, where I saw his impressive collection of memorabilia from his military service as well as stunning aerial photos of Long Island real estate that Don took while piloting his own plane (hopefully he had a co-pilot). More details on Don’s impressive operation to follow in a future post.

Collaboration Nation – I enjoyed my meeting last week with Gregg Schor of Protegrity Advisors, Alan Sasserath of Sasserath & Zoraian, LLP, and Mike Smith of Linx discussing ways to collaborate and grow our referral networks.

CMM Live: Energy – What a fantastic way to end a busy week. On yesterday’s energy-themed episode of CMM Live (check it out here), I welcomed clients and friends Scott Maskin of SUNation Solar and Mohan Wanchoo of EC Infosystems and Jasmine Universe. Scott explained how he turned his experience installing the 14th solar system on all of Long Island on his own roof in 2001 into a successful business based on delivering the promise of choice to consumers. Discussing SUNation’s culture of giving back, he also revealed why you can’t have a bad day when there’s an eight-week-old puppy at your feet. Mohan then painted a very optimistic picture of the future of the energy industry. I loved hearing about why he chose Long Island to start his business over Silicon Valley, over the objections of friends and family. He explained that Long Island has some of the most brilliant minds and finest businesses – “if we don’t take care of our home, who will?” I couldn’t agree more.