“Language allows us to reach out to people, to touch them with our innermost fears, hopes, disappointments, victories. To reach out to people we’ll never meet. It’s the greatest legacy you could ever leave your children or your loved ones: The history of how you felt.” Simon Van Booy
This is LifeBook founder Roy Moed’s story. In part. Like all serial entrepreneurs Roy had tried his hand at countless jobs (29 to be precise) before he struck oil. Or rather an airline meal. It was 1978. Roy’s office was a stable. It seemed an unlikely place to turn an industry (airline catering) on its head but here Roy saw a way to re-engineer a business and create a new market. The stable was as simple as the approach was sophisticated. While competitors stuck with the tried and tested, Roy embraced new technology: computers, floppy disks and something called the dial-up internet. The result: not only a unique electronic catalogue and an order processing system but a fast-growing new company. And that’s how things continued. Of course, there were the ongoing challenges of running a business but by 2002 the entrepreneur’s 30th idea had matured into a thriving enterprise. Life was good.
Except life is never so straightforward. While Roy’s business came of age, Roy’s parents grew old. By now both were in assisted care, his mother clearly nearing the end of her life and his father losing his eyesight. Roy took Jules, his father, now 86, out for lunch. As Jules repeated the same stories over and over again, Roy felt sad, frustrated and helpless. Jules, for his part, was depressed, feeling his life had become increasingly bereft of meaning. In hindsight it was the moment that the entrepreneur hit upon his next idea. Roy and his assistant, Kathy, planned that she would visit his father weekly. Not just as an antidote to loneliness and to provide companionship but to allow Jules to re-live and to reminisce. A well-lived life, such as his, shouldn’t become a burden, it ought to be an inspiration. Each week Kathy recorded Jules as he brought renewed meaning to his life by looking back over and re-telling it. There was another unexpected but priceless by-product from the weekly meeting. The stimulation that storytelling gave Jules quite literally slowed his cognitive decline. However, when Roy’s parents passed away within six days of each other in November 2002, only 35 pages of Jules’ narrative had been documented. The manuscripts were tucked away, as these things so often are, mementos of a life lived and loved but seemingly lost.
They would not be read again for another 8 years. By this time, 2010, Roy had successfully sold the business he had built up over three decades. He had mentored those who now ran it, but he was also restless, to do something more meaningful. He was about to join the dots. He re-read his father’s unfinished memoirs. He decided to complete them, and then to print them as a book. Roy and his family now had a priceless piece of family treasure, and without realising the entrepreneur had hit upon his next idea. LifeBook #1. If Jules’ “autobiography” could bring so much pleasure to its author and subsequently its readers (Roy and his family), why not let other families go on the same journey and preserve the legacy of a parent, a grandparent and perhaps even a great-grandparent in the same way?
In 2011 LifeBook, the company, was formed. Since then hundreds of autobiographies have been written and enjoyed by the thousands of family and friends closest to the “autobiographers”. It has been made possible with the help of the expert team that Roy has created at LifeBook: interviewers, ghostwriters, project managers, editors, typesetters, proofreaders, printers and bookbinders. In 2019 LifeBook was launched in the US and today our “autobiographers” are dotted all around the world. More and more people are coming to realise that it’s time to tell their story, a constant reminder to Roy of the life that inspired LifeBook. “Thank you, Dad.”