Barely Recognizable: Lisa Nichols at TEDxCalicoCanyon (Full Transcript)

Are you willing?

See, I’m just a girl from South Central who lived between the Harlem Crip 30s and the Rollin 60s, who had three fights a week to get home from school, who the last time I had took English remember I got a fail and my English teacher told me I was the weakest writer she ever met in her entire life. I’m still that girl. I don’t stand in that story.

I stand on that story ,because in addition to her I’m that seven-time best-selling author. In addition to her I’m the CEO of two multi-million dollar businesses. In addition to her I’m an international speaker and trainer. In addition to her, I’m the woman who in six months will be taking my company public. That’s who I am. All of that makes up me; unapologetically it makes up me.

So I ask you as I stop by Vegas to stir yourself, as I stop by Vegas to make you mildly, to moderately, to significantly uncomfortable in mediocracy, I don’t want to help you get a good night’s sleep tonight. I want to keep you up tonight thinking how can I make my life barely recognizable? How can I get drastic with it? How can I do it like my life depended on it, because the moment you stop making it about you and you make it about those little orphans that Robyn talked about, and that your life is not about liberating you sweetheart, your life is about liberating all the rest of us who are watching you.

The moment you can play that big, and get out of your way is the moment that we begin to benefit from your existence. I didn’t come here to [raw rye] you. I didn’t come here to entertain you. I came here to call you to your greatness. Some of that might make you feel good. Some of it might step on your toes. If it does, sit Indian-style because I’m not stopping, because I’m that same little girl from South Central who nobody thought it was possible, who I look up today.

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My son and I just built our home from ground up and we moved in four days ago. And my son was walking through the house today — a couple of days ago, and he says, “Mommy, this is the kind of house we used to visit and we get to come here every day. Mommy, is this what you talk about when you say barely recognizable?”

I say, “Yes baby. This is barely recognizable.”

I leave you with the story. Yes, it’s already time for me to go.

When I went on Oprah, I could only take one person with me. So it was only fitting that I take my grandmother with me. She’s 82 years old and she watched her mother pick cotton so she should watch her granddaughter sit on Oprah.

I took my grandmother to Oprah with me. And my grandmother is feisty and she talked loud on her cell phone, she still don’t understand how they can work with no cord. So she thinks yelling helps the people hear and I’m not going to be the one to tell her to lower her voice.

So in the limousine on the way to the airport she’s on the phone: “Yes, I’m going with my baby to Chicago to see Oprah. Yes we’re going to stay at the Omni Hotel where the guests of Oprah Winfrey stay, like because that’s how it is on TV so she has to say the whole thing.

We get to the Omni Hotel, she said “Baby, I can’t believe we’re at the Omni Hotel where the guests of Oprah Winfrey stay.”

We go out to dinner, we come back in. I have a meeting with Jack Canfield, Reverend Michael Beckwith and Rhonda Byrne and I come back into the room, she said “Baby” – she starts with single baby – “this lady came to the door housekeeping, she’s asked me if I want this thing called a turndown.”

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I asked her did it cost, she said no, it don’t cost. I said well, then turn down. My grandmother was a hoot.

The next morning I get a call, “Miss Nichols, the Harpo Inc limo is here to take you to Oprah.”

Oh Oh… the moment I put on my coat, grab my purse, and my grandmother said, “Baby, go make your bed.”

Okay. I made my bed. I put my coat back on, get my purse. My grandmother said, “Baby, go wipe out the sink basin.”

Okay, now I got the Scooby Doo look.

I said, “No disrespect grandma,” because that’s what you say when you’re about to question my grandmother: why am I making the bed and wiping out the sink basin at the Omni Hotel, where the guests of Oprah Winfrey stay. I am a guest.

She said, “Just leave the lady a tip and I tell you why.”

I put out $3. She said, “Don’t be cheap.”

I put up $10. I said “No disrespect grandma, but why am I tipping her when I did her job.”

“Just leave her tip.”

And as I put my coat on and my sweater on, I leave you with this — this charge in love and in honor – my grandmother said, “Your great-grandmother was a day worker. And when people knew she was coming they would leave their rooms extra nasty.” She said, “you’re not going to do that. You’re going to be mindful that someone has to clean up behind you and someone did it for you.”

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