Full text [Edited verbatim transcript] of Art Williams’ famous speech “Just Do It” addressed at the 1987 National Religious Broadcaster Convention.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here:
Introducing Speaker: Art Williams has spoken to many business groups throughout the years. The following speech was delivered to the 1987 National Religious Broadcaster Convention and has become a classic example of Art’s philosophy on winning in business. It is simply entitled “Do It.”
Dr. Jerry Falwell, Chancellor of Liberty University introduces Art Williams.
Dr. Jerry Falwell – Chancellor of Liberty University
15 years ago, he was a high school football coach. His wife Angela was teaching English in high school. He got an idea — just an idea — and ten years ago he turned that idea into a company, a concept, a practical concept.
Ten years have passed. 150,000 people work for him now. Last year he sold $77 billion worth of insurance. This year $100 billion — that is more than Prudential and New York Life, number one and two combined, in ten years. He’s from Monroe, Georgia. He has the dialect to prove it.
He, this year, will sell a hundred billion dollars’ worth of insurance and revenues $2.5 billion. And he’s just now beginning to dream to plan to go. Art and Angela Williams have two precious children, Art III and April, their daughter. He is chairman of the inner circle of our ministries. At a personal note, dear friend. He is a born-again Christian, as each of his family members, but he’s an entrepreneur and Dr. Armstrong has asked him to come tonight and talk to you about what he knows most and best about.
And having been in one of his sales meetings last Friday… last Thursday in Palm Springs, you know I usually go out preaching and I try to wake up religious morgues and most of the places… a lot of the places I go need a revival, they need a resurrection.
But he asked me to speak to his group of national sales directors, and I had to work hard at getting up where they were and not appearing as a backslidden preacher.
This man, I repeat, is a leading entrepreneur in America and a friend of NRB and I introduce to you Mr. Art Williams.
Art Williams – Entrepreneur
Thank you. Thank you Jerry and I tell you I don’t know if I’ve been this nervous in a long time. This is the most intimidating thing that I think it’s ever happened to me, an old dumb South Georgia football coach speaking to a bunch of TV personalities, like many of you, many great evangelists in the audience, and who put me between [Jerry] Falwell and [Jimmy] Swaggart on the same night just totally blows me away.
But I’ll try to give it my best shot. I was asked to talk to you about how to win in business. I think it’s a good subject for you to think about, because I believe business in America is in a crisis situation today. All you have to do is read the paper, and every month see our trade deficit, and it’s just a very depressing situation.
And to speak to you about how to win in business, there’s a lot of obvious things I could talk about. You first have to find a need. You’ve got to fill the need for the consumer out there. You’ve got to have a market. You’ve got to have somebody to sell your product or your service to.
You’ve got to, if you really want to get big and win big, you’ve got to have a uniqueness, there’s got to be something a little bit different from you than all the competition out there. But by far the most important thing you’ve got to have to win in business in these United States today, is a very unique kind of mental toughness.
I believe the difference in winning and losing in the free enterprise system, is so small it’s almost too scary to talk about. You can do 99% of the things right in business, and yet if you don’t possess what I call that winning edge, that mental toughness, folks it’s impossible to win.
I believe the thinking in corporate America has been screwed up over these last 20-25 years. And I believe this screwed up kind of thinking started in our big liberal universities today. I believe a college degree in business from most universities today, is not worth the paper it’s written on.
I just had a son graduate from the University of Georgia a few months ago. The reason I think that, is because most of these professors and most of these universities today, haven’t got enough common sense to get in out of the rain. They don’t have any idea what it takes to win out there in the real world. They deal in a bunch of theory. These people have tried to fill up corporate America with this kind of thinking.
These are the special people, if you’re born rich, if you’re born on the right side of the track, they rule you the privileged class in America. If you’re born poor from an average ordinary background like I came from, they say you’re supposed to give up all your big dreams and all your big ambitions and all your big hope. If you have a high IQ, they rule you brilliant. If you have an average IQ, like me, they say you ought to drive a truck or be a janitor.
Well bull. That ain’t the way, that ain’t the way it is and that ain’t the way it ever was. They ain’t nobody ever designed to test, nor will they design a test, that can measure the heart of a man or woman. The things that are unique to winning in business in America today, are not outside artificial things like IQs, college board scores, college degrees, and stuff like that.
The key to winning in these United States, is what’s inside a person. It’s your integrity. It’s your people abilities. It’s your character.
I believe in developing this winning edge. I’ve got 212 points that I won’t be able to go over with you tonight, but let me just give you a flavor of what I think you got to do to succeed in these United States.
NUMBER ONE, YOU’VE GOT TO GET EXCITED. Folks, I don’t believe anybody will ever tell you anything more important than this in winning these United States. 90 plus percent of winning in anything you try to do in America today, you’ve got to be excited. People in America won’t follow or believe in a negative, dull, disillusioned, frustrated, dadgum cry baby. People want people that are positive and excited and enthusiastic and tough.
The greatest lesson. The greatest definition I ever heard. I thought about this 10 million times when I wanted to quit along the way of a winner. This guy said, “Almost everybody in America can stay excited for 2 or 3 months. A few people can stay excited for 2 or 3 years, but a winner will stay excited for 30 years or however long it takes to win.”
Another key to building this winning edge and this mental toughness, is you got to become a dreamer again. You know I’m a Methodist and we just changed ministers a few weeks ago, and our new minister came in and the church was just packed. And the first thing he said is, “Well looks like everybody came out to see the mucky perform.”
And the second thing out of his mouth, he said, “For a church to be a great church, you got to have a dream. If you don’t have a dream, you’re dead.” And boy I sat up and I said, man me and this guy are going to get along good because he knows what he’s talking about.