Here is the full transcript of comedian Steve Mazan’s TEDx Talk: It’s Never too Late to Chase your Dreams at TEDxSanJoseCA.
Right click to download the MP3 audio:
Steve Mazan – Comedian
I am Steve Mazan. Your surprise guest speaker! I know you’ve seen it in your program all day. You’re thinking TEDx? San Jose. Heart of Silicon Valley. Who is the surprise guest speaker? Steve Jobs? Steve Mazan. I apologize. I would so prefer Steve Jobs, too. Surprise!
Actually I am a comedian. Thank you for laughing. I am very honored to be here. They actually asked me not to just make you laugh but to leave you today with some motivation from everything we’ve heard today. So I am going to get to some motivation for you all here. Here we go.
Seize the day. Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing. Do not wait for your ship to come in, swim out to it. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. If you can dream it, you can do it. Wherever you go, go with all your heart. If man has done his best, what else is there? Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm. If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. I think I can I think I can I think I can. There’s no substitute for hard work. Willing is not enough. We must do. Live the life you’ve imagined. Do or do not, there is no try. Action is the foundational key to all success. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success. The cure is not to dream less, but to dream more, to dream all the time. If you don’t know where you’re going you will wind up somewhere else. Just do it.
Some pretty motivational quote from some pretty inspirational people, including Lombardi, Bruce, and the little engine they could. I heard those quotes going up all the time. When I first heard some, I memorized them. Others I wrote down, but not one of them motivated me for more than a day or two.
It was a much less inspirational quote that inspired me, from a much less-famous person, who was a doctor at UCLA. He said “Steve, you’ve got inoperable tumors all over your liver. Worse-case scenario, you have 5 years to live.” OK, maybe not as elegant as Bruce, but pretty effective.
OK, bad news. I had cancer, I was dying. But I got more bad news. You are all dying too. Maybe not from cancer, maybe not as rapidly. But unless someone in here is a highlander, we are all going to die. If you don’t get that reference, I suggest that you spend 2 hours of whatever time it is that you have left watching some awesome Sean Connery movies from the ‘80s.
OK, I am not a doctor at UCLA. I am not even a doctor at DeBry. But I’ve basically just given you all the same diagnosis that I was given. Your time is limited. And that’s a real diagnosis, so what now?
OK, like most people when they are told they are dying, you’re probably going through the 5 stages of grief.
The first stage is denial. I am not dying, I am healthy. I am going to get a second opinion from some other comedian.
Stage 2, is anger. Ugh! As a comedian, at the end of the day, telling me I am dying? Can we get that robot from the first session? To come back up, and tell a few jokes?
Stage 3 is bargaining. OK. We are all dying, maybe there is a mortuary that offers a Groupon!
Stage 4 is depression. Well, it feels like a depression, but trust the Wall Street Journal. It’s really just a mild recession.
Stage 5, the final stage, is acceptance. OK. I am not immortal, maybe my only hope is to live long enough that Willard Scott will announce my name on my birthday. Well we can all hope for that. So what now?
But let me tell you what I did when I was told I might only have 5 years to live. First of all, I got a lot of advice. A lot of friends wanted to help. Friend of my wife told me that maybe this news will give me a whole new perspective. That maybe I should look at cancer as a gift. A Gift? Cancer as a gift? Whoo! She is definitely not the person in the office you want to draw on your name at the secret Santa.
Cancer? What – Judy, was this you? Did you? Did you? No, you shouldn’t have — really you shouldn’t have. You shouldn’t have. I know you wanted to get me something that I wouldn’t get myself. But this is crazy, this is enough with the cancer Christmas.
Someone else told me that I should live everyday like it was my last. That seemed like a good idea. So I decide to do that. To move forward living everyday like it was my last one. Two weeks later, I was bankrupt and — 20 pounds heavier, and my family wouldn’t talk to me. That was awful advice.
But what I kept coming back to when I had time by myself and no one was giving me advice was my dreams — dreams that I put aside, the ones that I thought I have plenty of time to reach. But now that I realized I had a finite amount of time, I had to ask myself, what did I want to accomplish? I am not a worse-case scenario guy, but if I really only had 5 years to live, what was it that I want to make sure happen?
For me, as a comedian, it was a dream I had since I was 12 years old. It was to perform my comedy on the Late Show with David Letterman.
So, let me be clear before I move on. I was a comedian already, OK? I was making a living at it. No day job, full-time comedian. Making a good living in comedy clubs, colleges, corporate events around the world. That was a pretty big feat in itself.
But 6 years into my comedy career, I kind of stopped chasing the Letterman dream. I was waiting for it to come to me. I was waiting for some day, not chasing it anymore. That’s very important lesson for all of us mortals here today. Someday isn’t on the calendar. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, it’s on there about 4 times a month. No, Someday.
But when it comes to our dreams, probably the busiest day of the week is Someday. Right? So learning that lesson I decided that I was going to refocus my attention back on the dream. I was going to pull out all the stops and I gave myself a goal of getting on Letterman within 1 year. I was going to make Someday happen.