While watching the men’s Olympic aerial skiing, I did a double-take when one of the announcers mentioned the USA coach was Todd Ossian. It was a name I hadn’t heard in years, but not one I’m likely to forget: I spent a memorable freshman science class sitting next to Todd. (He moved away before graduation, though, so our high school overlap was only the one year.)
As I read through his bio online, I discovered he’s had what appears to be quite the dream career, and all by the age of 40. This made me happy. Not because I know him well, or because what he does impacts my life, but because his career simply exudes passion. I remember how much he loved to ski – it was probably the sum total of everything we ever talked about. His enthusiasm was so infectious that I even surprised him one day with a logo I had created for the line of skis, or ski equipment, or ski whatevers he wanted to make. I simply flipped his surname around to form the basis of the company name – Naisso – and then gave the text a youthful and sporty look.
Needless to say, he was blown away. Not because the logo itself was so fantastic (I assure you, it wasn’t), but because someone else had been moved to act by nothing more than his conviction. It was all there, written across his face: bewilderment, delight, reckoning. It seemed like a defining moment – one where he understood, perhaps for the first time, that the things he carried around in his head could actually be real things if only he’d just put them out into the world. He was holding the proof of it in his hands, after all; it didn’t matter that my art was probably just a temporary whimsy shared between a couple of fourteen-year-olds.
So what’s my point in all this, aside from the fact that I clearly remember the most random shit from high school? Simple. I love encountering people who live what they love – especially when they don’t compromise on their vision. They know exactly how they want something to look or be or act and stay true to that. It’s why discovering Todd in the middle of the Winter Games was such a gratifying, full-circle moment for me. He had done what he set out to do.
Inadvertently, he also proved why pushing passion out into the world is important: you just never know who you might touch with it, or what kind of difference it could make. Look at me: twenty-plus years later, Todd’s conviction found me again and caused me to act for a second time. Only difference is, now I’m the one holding the proof of it in my hands, blinking at it with bewilderment, delight and reckoning.
Thanks, Todd, for once again inspiring me. Congratulations on all your success.