From Addict to Advocate

They say you should never meet your heroes. Not only have I met one of mine, but I’m honored to be her friend.

It wasn’t enough for Tiffany Hilton to conquer her demons. As she battled addiction, she saw firsthand the gaps in our criminal justice system. Recovery gave her a second chance at life, and she decided others needed second chances too.

Tiffany went to law school, determined to gain the skills and knowledge to help others. While a student, she took on pro bono work to defend a transgender woman of color who was — I’m not sure this is the exact legal term — had the crap beaten out of her in prison because of staff neglect. Through mediation, she was able to settle the case.

Tiffany graduated from Stetson and now works as a public defender. Her work is profiled in “Chasing Justice,” a documentary that premiered last weekend at the Gasparilla International Film Festival.1 The photo at the top of this post is of her and me on the red carpet.

Tiffany says her goal is to run for office one day. I hope she does, and I’ll be first in line to vote for her. No matter where the future takes her, I know she’ll succeed and make life better and more just for everyone else.

1 At the end of the documentary, Tiffany quotes a line from House of Cards: “If you don’t like the way the table is set, turn over the table.” I had never heard that before. It’s such a Tiffany thing to say.

Travel & Food

See Ya Later!

Last week, my company’s revenue team1 descended on New Orleans to talk strategy, share information, and knock back a few hurricanes. We also did some team-building events, and the one I was looking forward to the least — an airboat ride on the swamps of Louisana — turned out to be one of my favorites.

I was anticipating sweat and bugs. Instead, I got to get up close and personal with a few of Louisiana’s three million alligators.

Here are some of the things I learned on our excursion:

Alligators Like Candy

I was shocked to learn that alligators like marshmallows. Yes, marshmallows — the things you put in s’mores and hot chocolate.2

Alligator about to chomp down on a marshmallow.
In David Attenborough’s voice: “The fierce predator stalks its prey.”

The next time I head out to the bayou, I’m going to bring a box of Peeps. I wonder if alligators would prefer chicks or bunnies.

The Swamp Is More Beautiful Than I Expected

I’m the sort of guy who thinks roughing it means staying in a hotel with less than four stars. It’s no surprise, then, that I have never visited a swamp. I expected an ugly, sticky, godforsaken place with banjo music playing in the background.

The swamp was actually more pleasant than I anticipated. It was a comfortable day with low humidity, and we got to experience the golden hour right before sunset.

Not so scary, eh?
Not long before sunset. I’m not sure how I got that awesome lens flare! No filter.

On our way from Lafitte to Lake Salvador, we saw quite a few large homes. We also saw one boat that was less than seaworthy:

This coup failed.

Airboat Captains Are Insane

Meet Captain Danny.

Gators Are Cute (As Long as They’re Small)

About an hour into our trip, Captain Danny opened a blue cooler under his chair and introduced us to his buddy, Little Ed. He was adorable.

I will hug him and squeeze him and call him George.

The trick to holding a baby gator is to grasp the tail firmly with one hand and put the other under his belly.

Airboats Are Pretty Damn Fast

I estimate we were going about 30 mph (18 kph). Perhaps a little more.

I used the Action mode on my iPhone to take this video, so it looks somewhat smooth. Actually, going fast in an airboat is choppy. I’m glad we had seat belts.

Would I Do It Again?

I had more fun than I expected on our airboat ride. I wouldn’t go out of my way to do it again, but I wouldn’t rule it out either.

Check out my new noise-cancelling headphones.

1 I can hear you saying, “Hey, Dave, you’re in marketing, not sales!” Yes, you’re right, and thank you for following me on LinkedIn. Since my company is small, marketing and sales are combined into one team and report to the Chief Revenue Officer. This is the first time I’ve worked somewhere that doesn’t have siloed marketing and sales teams, and I love it.

2 Marshmallows are also the form Gozer the Destroyer took when he attacked New York: