Watch and read here the full transcript of the powerful motivational speaker Les Brown’s speech: You Have Greatness within You. The title is also called: Step Into Your Greatness.
T Harv Eker – Author, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind
Can it get any more incredible? Yes?
T Harv Eker: It’s all incredible. It’s all wonderful. You know, the people who are on this stage, for the most part, they are handpicked. All the trainers have been handpicked by me, and this next person that I want to bring up here, oh, man, this guy is going to light a fire under your ass. This guy can resonate. All right. He can bring the house, all of it. He is a renowned professional speaker and author, a television personality. He has a high, high-energy message that really has people shake off mediocrity. Shake off what?
T Harv Eker: And live up to their true greatness. He has been honored with award after award after award after award after award, and he’s been touted as one of the world’s top five speakers by Toastmasters International in all time. Good or good?
T Harv Eker: He was actually awarded an Emmy, an Emmy for one of his recorded speech presentations, and he has become a leading fundraiser with PBS. With who?
T Harv Eker: He is, as I said, internationally recognized. He has got successful books all over the place, and one of his books is called Live Your Dreams. A newly released book is called It’s Not Over Until You Win. This is a treat. This is the magnificence of none other than Mr. Les Brown!
Les Brown – Motivational speaker
All right, let’s get to it. It’s so great to be here.
Well, let’s get to work. All right, thank you. Let’s get to work. You are beautiful. I’m so excited to be here. I’m very honored to be invited here by a man that I consider an icon when it comes to personal empowerment, a man who is truly a Renaissance man, who is ahead of his time, and having the vision and the dream to create a Woodstock of the Mind. He is making history. T. Harv Eker, let’s give him a round of applause! Let’s give it to him. Thank you so very much. Yes.
I consider him a personal coach, an example of what we all can be when we make up our minds of living from our greatness as opposed to fears.
How many have some major goals you would like to achieve? Raise your hands, please. Very good. I’d like to ask that question. There is an old saying that says, “If you aim at nothing in life, you hit nothing.” Dead on the head.
I’ve been looking at my life and reflecting on my life because 10 years ago I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I stand before you because of God’s grace and mercy, and faith in knowing that as we work together, as we believe in the possibilities of the fact that healing takes place first within, then without, the possibilities are unlimited to what we can do. I’m going to do a national tour called You Are More Powerful Than Cancer.
One of the things I think, doctors should never tell anyone they’re terminally ill. I think what they should say is that, “my knowledge and ability to help you has terminated.” My PSA 10 years ago was 110. As I stand before you, it’s 270. One to four men, you know that’s normal. PSA stands for prostate-specific antigen, but to me PSA stands for Positively Staying Alive.
I was reflecting on my life during the time when I received 238 radiation seed implants, and as I looked at my life, I asked myself a question. And I want to ask you a question. How many of you know if you had your life to live over again, you could have done more than what you’ve done thus far? Raise your hands, please.
Now, that proves a point of what we do, what we accomplish, what we produce in life is only a tip of the iceberg of what’s possible for us. I want you to think about some major goals that give your life a sense of meaning right now, and as you’re thinking about that, I want you to shake someone’s hand on your right and your left and around you, look them in the eyes and say with conviction, “You have something special.” Do that quickly now, please. Tell them, “You have something special.” Yes.
So now, I want you to join me right now. I want you to think about some major goals that you’d like to achieve, something that gives your life a sense of meaning, something that will give your life a sense of purpose and direction.
My first major goal was to buy my mother a home. That was important to me. I’m adopted. I was born in a poor section of Miami, Florida called Liberty City in an abandoned building on a floor with a twin brother. And when we were 6 weeks of age, we were adopted by Mrs. Mamie Brown. My mother was 46 years of age. She only had a third-grade education but she had a Ph.D. in Mother Wit. I feel like Abraham Lincoln who said, “All that I am and all that I ever hope to be I owe to my mother.” I saw a sign once that said, “God took me out of my biological mother’s womb and placed me in the heart of my adopted mother.”
So my goal and dream was to buy my mother a home, to take care of my mother. My mother was a domestic worker on Miami Beach, and she would go to work and many days she would take us with her. And we ate the food left over from the families that my mother cooked for. They were very kind and generous people. They would say, “Mamie, whatever food is left over after you cook, you can pack it up and take it home to the children, the food that’s left over after we eat, and feed those seven children that you have adopted.”
Because of that generosity, many nights we did not go to bed hungry because they were so kind and so giving. We wore the hand-me-down clothes of the children that Mama kept. If they were too small, Mama could sew, she would let them out, or if they were too large, she would tape them in.
And my mother was a great baker. She could bake a cake. She could bake a sweet potato pie so good you couldn’t eat it with your shoes on. You had to take your shoes off so you could wiggle your toes.
And I used to say, looking at the beautiful mansions that she used to clean, I would say, “Mama!”
She said, “What is it boy?”
“When I become a man I’m going to buy something like this for you. I’m going to buy you a home one day.”
She said, “Leslie, you don’t have to do that.”
I said, “I know Mama, but I want to. I’m going to one day.”
She didn’t know and she was curious, where was I getting those thoughts from? I used to work and take care of Mr. Sidorsky. He was a very demanding man, very meticulous guy. He would say, “Leslie!”
I’d say, “Yes, sir!”
“You did not clean this ashtray!”
“I’m sorry, sir. I do apologize.” And I’d clean the ashtray.
“Look at this dust here. Look at this dust!”
“I’m sorry, sir.”
Now, what Mr. Sidorsky did not know was that I deliberately didn’t clean certain things because I wanted him to call me into his office. Because when he was in his office, he would listen to motivational messages by a guy by the name of Earl Nightingale. It was a series called The Strangest Secret in the World. “We become what we think about.” “All of us are self-made but only the successful will admit it.”
And as I heard those words, they began to program my mind and began to affect my thinking, and it changed how I saw myself. And my vision of myself began to expand. Listen to Bob Proctor talking early about awareness and how important it is. He most certainly is right because I had the awareness at that point in time as a result of being exposed to those messages that I could do more than I was now experiencing. Even since I’ve been associated with working with Peak Potentials, my level of awareness has expanded. Robert Riopel and Roxanne and Gail Kingsbury. It began to expand all of the people that I’ve interacted with. Life is about expansion. Robert Schuller said success is never ending.
And I want you to think about some goal that will give your life a sense of meaning, a meaning and value. And whatever it is, I don’t want you to limit. I want you to expand it. I’ve found that most people fail in life not because they aim too high and miss. No. Most people have been like me. Most people aim in life too low, and they aim too low and hit. I did that for many years. And many don’t aim at all.
So I want you to think about goals in three areas, some personal goals that you’d like to achieve, something that gives your life meaning right now, and some career goals, some financial goals that you’d like to achieve, and your social contribution. Horace Mann said, “We should be ashamed to die until we’ve made some major contribution to humankind.” My mother was a 22-year breast cancer conqueror, so before I leave the planet, my goal is to reduce the number of women who die from breast cancer in honor of my mother.
How many men are over 40? Raise your hands, please. As a 10-year prostate cancer conqueror, my goal is to decrease the number of men who die from prostate cancer, encouraging you to get your PSA test if you haven’t done so. I owe you a digital rectal examination, and I’ll be glad when they can check our prostate by looking in our ears. There’s got to be a better way. I’m turning red as I talk about it but you can’t see it.
A friend of mine, he’s a urologist now, used to play lineman for Ohio State University. He’d say, “Les, let me give you a free rectal.” I’d say, “No, buddy. You’re too motivated.” Oh, we don’t roll like that.
My goal before leaving the planet is to reduce the number of kids that are impacted by autism, to find a cure for autism, to work to raise money and to raise awareness, to eradicate it from the planet before I leave here.
What’s your goal? What’s your dream? What is it you want to do with your life? Dr. Joel Martin said something that I love. She said, “What would the world be like if everybody lived their dream?” Here’s what I found about life. It’s not as complicated as I used to make it. I think that life is about dreams and stories. Everything that exists — the world at one time was barren — but everything that exists, hotels, planes, they weren’t here. Everything that we see every day, computers, all the things that we see, someone had a dream.
Someone had a dream of a person standing onstage and their voice being amplified so they don’t have to scream and yell and could be heard by thousands. Someone had that dream about how to transport us from one place to the other quickly and safely. The clothes you have on, where you’re now seated, all came out of somebody’s dream. The world’s greatest achievement.
What is your dream? I said that you have something special. I didn’t say that just to be kind. I said it because it’s true. You are God’s chosen vessel. You were chosen, one out of 400 million sperm. You have something in you that when you were chosen, when you showed up, there’s something in you that if you don’t do it, all of us will suffer. Repeat after me, please. “Live full. Die Empty.” Let’s say it again. “Live full. Die empty.” Dr. Howard Thurman, one of the mentors of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Albert Schweitzer and Mahatma Gandhi. He was a very brilliant writer. He wrote some things that really grabs me. He wrote Deep is the Hunger, The Voice of the Genuine, The Centering Moment.
During the time after receiving 238 radiation seed implants, I was reflecting on his words, and these words kept me up that night. He said, “The ideal situation for a man or woman to die is they have family members praying with them as they cross over.” He said, “But imagine if you will being on your deathbed and standing around your bed, the ghost of the dreams, the ideas, the abilities, the talents given to you by life and that you, for whatever reason, you never went after that dream. You never acted on those ideas. You never used those talents. You never used those gifts, and there they are standing around your bed looking at you with large angry eyes, saying, “We came to you, and only you could have given us life, and now we must die with you forever.”
And the question is, if you die today, what dreams, what ideas, what talents, what books, what music, what leadership, what voice will die with you? Myles Munroe, great orator and speaker, said, “The wealthiest place in the planet is not in the Far East where there’s oil in the ground, it’s not in South Africa where there are diamond mines.” He said, “The wealthiest place on the planet is the cemetery. There you’ll find greatness that we’ve never seen. There you’ll find talent and genius and potential never actualized.”
Perhaps that’s why Henry David Thoreau wrote the words, “Oh God, to reach the point of death, only to realize that you’ve never lived.” Maybe that’s why some unknown writer wrote the words, “What if you live your whole life only to discover that it was wrong? That it was wrong, that you were chosen to do something else and you didn’t do it?”
Repeat after me, please. “Live full. Die empty.” I want you to take some notes and some things, and I want you to think about your goals and dreams in the three categories that I mentioned, personal, professional, and your social contribution.
How many of you are serious about your goals and dreams? Raise your hands, please. Thank you very much. How many of you don’t want to take your dreams to your grave with you? Raise your hands, please. Very good. Shake someone’s hand on your right and left, look them in the eyes and say, “Get out of your head and step into your greatness.” Do that right now, please. Say, “Get out of your head and step into your greatness.”
I want you to write this down. Let us say together as you think about your goals and dreams, let us say together, “It’s possible.” Together, please. Yes, write that down. See, ladies and gentlemen, as an entrepreneur, I’ve been an entrepreneur for 20 years. It’s my 21st year. I could have been speaking and training for 34 years, but for 14 years I was living in my head. For 14 years, I stopped myself. For 14 years, I used to go see Zig Ziglar that I consider the number one motivational speaker on the planet. Zig Ziglar and Tony Robbins, they’re the best on the planet. Bob Proctor, they’re the best on the planet. Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, T Harv Eker. I would go and see them, and then I would leave and my conversation with myself was, my heart would say, “I can do that.” And then my mind would ask, ”How? How would you do that, Les Brown?”
See, when I was in the fifth grade, I was identified as EMR, labeled educable mentally retarded, put back from the fifth grade to the fourth grade. I failed again when I was in the eighth grade. I have no college training. And a man changed my life, and I’ll never forget his name, Mr. LeRoy Washington. He’s in his 80s now, and he’s blind from glaucoma, but he gave me a different vision of myself. I was in his class waiting on another student. He came in and said, “Young man, go to the board and work this problem out for me.”
I said, “Oh, sir, I can’t do that.”
He said, “Why not?”
I said, “I’m not one of your students.”
He said, “Look at me.”
“Go to the board and work the problem out anyhow.”
I said, “Sir, I can’t do that.”
He said, “Why?”
I said, “Sir, because I’m educable mentally retarded, sir. I’m in special education.”
And the students started laughing. They said, “That’s Leslie. That’s not Wesley. He’s DT. Wesley is the smart twin.”
He said, “What does DT stand for?”
I said, “I’m the dumb twin, sir.”
And as the students laughed at me, he came from behind his desk, he looked at me, and he said, “Don’t you ever say that again. Someone’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality.”
On one hand I was humiliated, but on the other hand I was liberated because he looked at me with the eyes of Goethe, who said, “Look at a man the way that he is, he only becomes worse. But look at him as if he were what he could be, then he becomes what he should be.” And so we developed a relationship, and one of the things that I can just tell you as you think about your goals and dreams, all of us can say in the spirit of integrity that it’s possible, that if anybody at any point in time lived their dream, then it’s possible that I can live mine.
And what I did was, I made a mistake. I looked at my goals and dreams, and my mind said, “How will you do that?” I went from my heart to my mind, and I stayed up there for 14 years. Fourteen years! I can’t bring those 14 years back. Those years are gone, and I’ve made a mission in my life to help people to stop putting it off and procrastinating.
How many ever thought about something you wanted to do and you procrastinated, you talked yourself out of it? Raise your hand, please. There’s a proverb that says, “If there’s no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm.” And so, as you look at your goals and dreams, every day we must convince ourselves, we must sell ourselves on that it’s possible.
Every seminar, every workshop, every book that I’ve ever read, every speaker that I’ve ever heard, it interrupted what I was believing about myself. Everything that you do, everything matters. As you go through each day, I know now, as I look back at age 63, looking at my life, everything matters. T Harv is right. How you do anything is how you do everything, and I realized that the choices I was making were based upon how I saw myself.
Let us say together, “It’s necessary.” Write that down. It’s necessary. As you look at your goals and your dreams, it’s necessary that you have a strategy and a game plan to change the story that you believe about yourself, and that’s an ongoing process. I discovered, and many people have, that what we do, what we accomplish, what we produce, is a result of the story we believe about ourselves.
My favorite book says, “Be ye not conformed to this world, be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” And so as I begin to work on myself, I realize that I’m getting out of one story and stepping into another story. As I become aware of some things, there are still some things I’m not aware of, so I’m still growing, I’m still developing. I’m like the lady who said, “Lord, I ain’t what I wanna be, ain’t what I’m gonna be, but thank God I sho’ ain’t what I was.”
But I realize that you have to work on yourself on a regular basis, and write this down, “for mental mindset.” “For mental mindset and stamina,” because things are going to happen to you. I believe that the reason that most people go to their graves with their talents and abilities and skills in them is because of the fact, number one, many are like me. They didn’t know that they didn’t know and thought they knew. I thought I knew myself and I really didn’t know myself as well as I thought. I’ve discovered that sometimes people can take you to a place within yourself that you can’t go by yourself.
The other reason is, I was afraid. I never worked for a major corporation. I wanted to speak for corporations. I was afraid I would be exposed because I don’t have a college education. I felt inferior because of the fact that I don’t have a college education. I allowed that level of fear, of failure, to stop me, and because I never had any experience in it, I assumed that I could not do it. I was paralyzing myself by believing and assuming the limited part of myself as opposed to believing that I had something special. You have something special. There’s something you want to do. Because you don’t know how to do it doesn’t mean that you can’t learn. I like something that I heard, “You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great.”
Repeat after me, please. “Leap and grow your wings on the way down.” See the people that will live their dreams, the 2% that will do that, these are — and write this down, “Become a risk taker.” They’re risk takers. They don’t mind failing. They don’t mind making mistakes. They’re willing to take life on, take life in the collar.
Viscott said, “If you’re not willing to risk, you cannot grow, and if you cannot grow, you cannot become your best, and if you cannot become your best, you can’t be happy, and if you can’t be happy, then what else is there?”
I like what Helen Keller said. She said, “Life is short and unpredictable. Eat the dessert first.”
Here’s something else. Write this down. “Make it important to become financially independent.” You know, people say, “Money won’t make you happy, but everybody want to find out for themselves.” A friend of mine named Rita Davenport said, “Money’s not important but it’s right up there with oxygen.”
And let me tell you something fellows, even if you’re as homely as I am, you got some money, some women will find something cute on you. “Oh, he’s got eyelashes like Tom Cruise. He’s got a walk like Denzel Washington.” I used to be so broke I’d walk past a bank and trip the alarm. Creditors would call the house and my children would answer the phone and say, “My daddy say he’s not home!”
Repeat after me, please. “I’ll never be broke again! Never, never, never!” Yes.
See, ladies and gentlemen, it makes a difference. The only time I really appreciated having money was when my mother became ill. I was a state legislator in Columbus, Ohio from the 29th House District, Whitehall in the Upper Arlington area, and my brother called me and said, “Leslie.”
“Mom has been sick and we’re going to put her in a nursing home.”
I said, “Wait a minute, Wesley. We can’t do that. Get Margaret on the phone.”
“She’s on the phone.”
“Get Linda and Leonard.”
“They’re all here, Leslie.”
“Listen to me. Mama used to work in a nursing home. She said she never wanted to go into one. I promised her when I was 10 that I would take care of her. We would do whatever was necessary to take care of her.”
He said, “We knew you would feel like that, and this is why we did such a thorough job interviewing the various nursing homes, and we have found the one that’s ideal, and Mama would love them.”
I said, “Hold it. Hold it. Just a minute. She didn’t clean their behinds. She took care of us.” See, I had a problem. I couldn’t understand how one woman, third-grade education, 46, domestic worker on Miami Beach, can raise seven children who couldn’t take care of themselves, but seven children couldn’t take care of one woman. I had a problem with that. I had a problem with that.
So I resigned from the Ohio legislature and I went back to Miami to take care of Mama, and I’ll never forget taking her to Jackson Memorial Hospital. And when we went in, the receptionist said, as she looked at my mother, looked at me – she didn’t say, “How are you doing? Are you uncomfortable? Are you in any pain?” My mother, at that time, she was in her 70s. The lady just said, “What kind of insurance do you have?”
And I stepped forward and I said, “She has Les Brown Unlimited. Give my mother what she needs. I can write a check for it.” It gives you choices. It determines the difference in life and death, the ability to afford healthcare, the quality of education that you can provide for your children, the ability to make a difference in the community. I’m doing training with young people in an area of Chicago called Englewood, where more young men have been killed in Englewood than in the Iraqi War, teaching them how to develop their minds, how to develop their communication skills, how to dress like a prospect rather than a suspect, how to stay away from negative people and develop the skills to make it in the global economy. Money makes it possible for me not to have to depend upon some government and agency to make that happen.
So as you look at yourselves, make it important that you find some way to use your talents and gifts to generate the income that will allow you to control your destiny. I read something that said, “Either you control your destiny or someone else will.”
Here’s the other thing. Repeat after me, please. “Take care of myself.” Yes, so you have to take care of yourself. I’m 63. I can do 140 pushups nonstop after warming up. I couldn’t do that when I was 20 years old, and the reason that I do that, the exercise reduces the possibility of cancer reoccurring by 32% or spreading by 30%. It helps to reverse the aging process and keeps you younger, keeps your mind sharper, and allows me to take care of my temple so I can continue to do my work so that you can continue to do the good work that you were sent here to do. So you got to make it important to take care of yourself. Put that at the top of the list. Because you can’t do well, you can’t do good work if you don’t feel good. You don’t want to be like the man who said, “If I’d known I’d live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”
Here’s something else. Repeat after me, please. “OQP. Only Quality People.” Yes. Look at your relationships, and ask yourself the question — Jim Rohn would ask this question: “What is this relationship doing to me?” Sidney Poitier wrote a book called The Measure of a Man. I love the tapes because I love his voice. He said, “When you go for a walk with someone, something happens without being spoken.” He said, “Either you adjust to their pace or they adjust to your pace. Whose pace have you adjusted to?”
MIT did a study, and the study indicated that you earn within $2,000 to $3,000 of what your closest friends and associates earn. Who’s impacting you? Who’s in your ear? What influence do they have on you? Dr. Dennis Kimbro said, “If you’re the smartest one in your group, you need to get a new group.”
So practice the principle of OQP, Only Quality People. And somebody said, “Les, can I change them?” No, it’s a full-time job changing yourself. Some people are so negative, they’ll walk into a dark room and begin to develop. My family members in France call me crazy for going to seminars, spending money on books and tapes, and going to seminars. “When are you going to stop going?” I said, “When I die. That’s when I’ll stop.”
When does a man or a woman die? When their dreams die. When do we die? When we stop developing ourselves, expanding our minds, challenging ourselves, raising the bar on ourselves. The best thinking that I had at that point in my life, it produced this life that I have. I need some help on where Einstein was. He said, “The thinking that has brought me this far has created some problems that this thinking can’t stop.” I applaud you for investing in yourself, for coming here, flying thousands of miles, investing money in yourself. I can tell you, based upon my own experience, you have something special. You have greatness within you. What you’re doing is different. You represent only 2% of the planet.
One great American said, “I choose not to be a common man. It’s my right to be uncommon if I can. I’ll seek opportunity, not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I want to take the calculated risk to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to live from hand to mouth. I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence, the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of Utopia. I will never cower before any master nor bend to any threat. It’s my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid, to face the world boldly and say, ‘This I have done.’” That’s what it means to be a part of Peak Potentials. Your unquenching desire and uncommon desire to manifest your greatness. Give yourselves a round of applause. Thank you.
The other thing, as you look at your goals and look at your dreams, repeat after me, please, “I will fail my way to success.” Yes. Part of the reason why we have to continue to work on ourselves and surround ourselves with quality people is because you’re going to have a lot of failures. You’ll have a lot of disappointments. Maya Angelou said, and it’s true, I found it in my case, that most people go so far in life and then they park. They stop dead in their tracks. Why? Because they take some hits.
When you have a goal and dream, think it not strange that you face the fiery furnaces of this world. You will have tribulations. Things are going to happen to you. I was in pursuit of my dream, and all of a sudden, “Whoom!” I got hit. A person that I thought I would be with for the rest of my life, I thought was my soul mate. I went through a divorce. I was embarrassed. I was humiliated. How can I teach people how to live their dreams and I wasn’t able to make my marriage work? I questioned myself.
I took another hit. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Then, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Then, my best friend from the second grade, Alexander Wims, he was diagnosed with cancer of the liver. I took a hit and life staggered me, and I parked, and I didn’t turn on my emergency lights because I didn’t want to call attention to myself. I didn’t want anybody to come and say, “Hey, do you need a job?” “No, I don’t need a job. I’m not out of gas. My battery’s not dead. My heart is beating. I’m parked. Leave me be. I’m parked.” I was in my comfort zone. I was doing just enough to get by. I was working on a job. They paid me just enough to keep me from quitting, and I worked just hard enough to keep from getting fired. How many know people like that? Blink your eyes if you understand what I’m talking about.
I was parked. I knew I could do more. But when my Mama died, it took something out of me. When I went through a divorce, it took something out of me. When my best friend died, it took something out of me. I parked. And somebody said that life is like an onion. You have to peel it one layer at a time, and sometimes you cry. Life’s going to happen to you when you have a dream. You’re going to be slapped around, and don’t take it personal. Don’t ask, “Why did this have to happen to me? Why not you?” Who would you suggest? You want to give us some names, some email addresses? And don’t tell everybody. Eighty percent don’t care and 20% glad it’s you. It’s called life. Suck it up and move on. Get over it. It happens to everybody.
Here’s the other thing, as you look at your goals and look at your dreams. When you’re going through some stuff, repeat after me, please, “When things go wrong, don’t go with them.” Yes, write that down. When things go wrong, don’t go with them. When you’re working on a business deal, you’re counting on some money, someone said you will get the loan and it falls through, you have an event, and the people that you thought would be there and support you, they don’t come through. Someone turns against you or you get ripped off. It’s going to happen to you. Happened to me.
Someone stole all my products, my database, over 180,000 names and addresses. It’s not personal. It’s going to happen to everybody, it does. Eight out of 10 millionaires have been financially bankrupt. Walt Disney had seven. He filed bankruptcy seven times and had two nervous breakdowns. It’s called life. But I got a saying, “When life knocks you down, try and land on your back because if you can look up, you can get up. You’ve got the power in you to do that. You’ve got something special. You’ve got comeback power.”
Here’s the other thing. Let us say together, “It’s possible. It’s necessary. It’s me.” Yes, write that down. It’s me. Take ownership for your life. Nobody can live your dream for you but you. Nobody’s going to take care of your business like you. Stop coming up with excuses. Don’t give yourself permission to continue to live a small life. You can’t fit a big dream into a small life. Give yourself permission to go for it, to test yourself, to challenge yourself, to live full.
I like the saying, “Always try to get on top in life because it’s the bottom that’s overcrowded.” The reason you’re here is because there’s something in you that says, “I can do more. This just can’t be it. There’s something in you. There’s a calling on your life. There’s something in your heart that calls you to get dressed and spend the money to go to seminar after seminar and listen to message after message and speaker after speaker. Because there’s something in you that tells you this is not it for you. You have not peaked here. There’s more in you than you’re expressing. Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has entered the heart of mankind what’s in store for you if you challenge yourself, if you persist and persevere, if you take ownership for your life.
George Bernard Shaw said, “The people that make it in this life, they look around for the circumstances that they want, and if they can’t find them, they create them.” Create what you want. You have the power in you to do more than you can ever begin to imagine, to control your destiny, to make a difference in our children, to make a difference on the planet, to make an impact.
Let us say together, “It’s me.” And let us say together, “It’s hard.” Say it like you know it. Say, “It’s hard.” Ladies and gentlemen, it’s hard. The people who have seen their retirements taken away from them by the corporations that they work for, they were within two or three years of retiring, and they had it taken from them. The number one entrepreneurs in this country now are senior citizens. The number one employer and number two, McDonald’s and Walmart. And there’s nothing wrong with those jobs.
I guarantee you those people did not have a plan to end up living their lives at the end of life with those types of jobs, and they didn’t have a plan like you have, and why are you investing in yourself not to? And it’s hard. There are people making choices between purchasing prescription drugs or paying for gas or a mortgage note. It’s hard when you’re working on a job for 20 years, 30 years. Give them some good years, and then they come in and tell you, “We’ve downsized.” In other words, you’re fired. And then you have to start all over again. How many of you know it’s hard? Raise your hands, please. It’s hard, and it’s not fair.
One of the things I like about T Harv is he talks about work and investing in yourself. It’s not fair when people are going up against that kind of stuff to tell them, “Just think positive and be enthusiastic and everything will work out all right.” Ain’t that kind of party. It’s hard. Life will put some nuts on your head.
I bought my first home for my mother. I was rushing, didn’t know what I was doing, and I bought a home that had a lien against it, and they called me. “Mr. Brown?”
“There’s a lien against your property. We need $55,000 if you’re going to stay there.”
“Wait a minute, sir. I just bought this home. The guy told me there were no liens against it. I’m not the one that owes you the money.”
“You should have checked that out, Mr. Brown.”
I called my attorney, we followed up, “Yes, Les, there’s a lien against the property.”
“But he told me there were no liens.”
“He lied, obviously.”
“Oh, my God. He told me he wanted to help me because he admired the fact that I was buying this home for my mother and that he was adopted. He identified with me.”
“Les, he suckered you. He played you, man.”
“So, would they take payment arrangements? What about $5,000 a month?”
“They want all the money, Les. They want all the money or you’re going to have to get out. The house is going up for sheriff sale. Do you have it?”
“No, I don’t have it. Can they give me some time? Tell them to give me three months. Please, give me three months. My mother’s in her 70s, man. She has a bad heart. Don’t do this to me. This is my dream. Don’t do this, man. Please, let me talk to them.”
“Les, I’m talking to their attorney. They don’t want to talk to you. I’ve got to talk to their attorney. Do you have the money?”
“No. Will they give me three months?”
“What about two months?”
“No, Les. They want the money in seven days.”
“Oh, my God. Let me call you back, I’m not sure.”
And I walked the floors thinking, “God, how could this happen to me? I got to figure this out. I got to figure this out.” It seemed like the days were just ticking off. Ticking off. Thursday, I had to call them and let them know. They called me. “Les, do you have the money?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Friday, you have to leave. The sheriff will be there. You’re going to have to leave, Les.”
“They’re going to take my house? What about my down payment?”
“You lost it, Les. You lost it.”
“Okay. I got to go.”
I prayed, “Lord, please, if you show me that you’re real, if you’re really real, you think Paul worked for you? You haven’t seen anything. Don’t let me lose this house and watch what I’ll do for you.” I was trying to cut a deal. Have you ever tried to cut a deal? It’s amazing how spiritual you’ll get when you get in trouble, you know what I mean? When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I was going as bad with the Bible and the Holy Quran and Science of Mind and Joe Goldsmith, everything I could find. I was praying to Jesus, Yahweh, Melchizedek, everybody. I was calling on everybody. It’s amazing. And there I was, walking the floor, three o’clock in the morning and I had to go and wake my mother up. I got on my knees and I said, “Mama.” I said, “I need you to wake up.”
She said, “What’s wrong, Leslie? I can hear you walking back and forth. I’m not asleep, son.”
I said, “There’s something I need to tell you.”
She said, “Your eyes are red. Why are your eyes red?”
“Because I feel so stupid now.”
“We got to move tomorrow.”
“There’s a lien against the property and they want $55,000 and I don’t have it, and we’re going to be sent out tomorrow. We have to go back to Liberty City.”
So she said, “It’s okay. I don’t like this house anyhow.”
I said, “Why?”
She said, “Because of my arthritic knees. It hurts my knees when I go up the steps.”
I said, “Then, why didn’t you tell me?”
“Because you were so happy. I just said it because you were happy. I’ll live in a shack with you, boy. I love you. It’s not the house. I love you. I love all my children.”
I said, “Thank you, Mama. Thank you.”
And the next day when we were in the truck going back to Liberty City, and we pulled down 68th Terrace, the neighbors came out and said, “Whoa! Mamie! Mamie, y’all coming back? Are you back?”
“What happened to the home your boy bought for you? Those boys you adopted?”
“Leslie didn’t do a title search. He made a mistake.”
And boy, I was so humiliated. How many ever made a mistake that you were just humiliated? Raise your hands. I was devastated. I was taking the furniture off the truck, and my mother came and I was crying, and she said, “Boy.”
I said, “Yes, ma’am.”
She said, “Hold your head up.”
I said, “Mama, I can’t.”
She said, “Hold your head up!”
I said, “Why? Look what I’ve done!”
She said, “It’s okay. It’s okay. You are going to make a lot of mistakes in life, young man. You’re going to fail your way to success. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Keep your head up and take that furniture back in the house.”
I said, “Yes, ma’am.”
And I learned something from that. If you ever go through something, hold your head up. If you ever make a mistake, hold your head up. If you ever do something that everything goes wrong, life catches you on the blind side, hold your head up. It’s not over. Goethe said, “That which does not kill you will make you stronger. Hold your head up.” Shake someone’s hand on your right and left and say, “Hold your head up.”
Here’s something else, ladies and gentlemen. Repeat after me, please. “You got to be hungry!” Everybody together. You got to be hungry! I’ll never forget Mr. Washington. He said, “Mr. Brown.”
“What do you want to do with your life, young man?”
I said, “Sir, I want to be a disc jockey.”
He said, “Mr. Brown.”
I said, “Yes sir.”
He said, “You got to be hungry!”
I said, “What do you mean by that?”
He said, “People that are hungry are willing to do the things that others won’t do in order to have the things tomorrow others won’t have. People that are hungry are willing to invest in themselves. People that are hungry will go to seminars and workshops. People that are hungry are always searching, always seeking higher ground. So how do you want to make it?”
I said, “I want to be a disc jockey.”
He said, “Good. Here’s what to do.” He said, “I want you to read 10 to 15 pages of something positive every day.” He said, “You don’t get in life what you want, you get in life what you are. You must program yourself to success.” He said, “I want you to listen to Earl Nightingale and Zig Ziglar. Listen. Faith comes by hearing and hearing and hearing.” He said, “I want you to change your relationships, and I don’t want you to ever lose your hunger.”
I said, “What do you mean by that?”
He said, “People that are hungry are unstoppable. People that are hungry are no-matter-what people. They make it happen no matter what.” He said, “I want you to listen to Paul Harvey.”
“Who is he?”
“He’s the world’s greatest communicator. Success leaves clues, young man. Always listen and follow people who are doing what it is you want to do at the level that you want to do it, and learn from them.”
I told T Harv when we were standing by the stage, I said, “Hey, man, I want to work more with you. I want you to coach me. I want to learn from you.” See I’ve found you’re never too old to learn and you’re never too young to teach. Always have a thirst for learning.
So I listened to Paul Harvey every day on the radio. While in school, I would go out and listen in his car. He gave me his keys. I was working to develop myself, and I continued to listen to motivational messages, and he would take me to see the late Dr. Norman Vincent Peale who wrote the book The Power of Positive Thinking. I toured with him before he passed. “You, you have something special. You have greatness within you. Don’t allow your circumstances to determine who you are. Don’t allow your negative thoughts to hold you back. You, you have something special. You can do more than you can ever begin to imagine.”
Dr. Peale was an incredible man. I admired him. When he spoke, he gave me goose pimples. I could feel him in my heart. I’ll never forget, we were coming back to the school and Mr. Washington said, “Mr. Brown.”
“When Dr. Peale spoke, you didn’t move. When he spoke, you were hanging on every word. When he spoke, we didn’t have to tell you to sit down and be quiet. Why?”
I said, “Sir, I could feel him when he talked. I felt like he was talking to me, sir.”
He said, “He was.”
I said, “But he doesn’t know me.”\
“But he was speaking to you. Did you feel him in your heart?”
I said, “Yes, sir.”
He said, “Most people feel him in their head. If you felt him in your heart,” he said, “Listen to him, son. Follow him. Learn from him.” And I would go to seminars and workshops, anywhere I would find where Dr. Peale was, I would be in the audience. I would drive 200 and 300 miles just to hear him speak, and my dream and vision was to share the stage with him. I thought about it. What is your goal? What is your vision? I want you to hold it in mind. There’s some power in that. Because when I became involved in speaking, I will never forget, I got a call from Og Mandino who wrote the book The Greatest Salesman in the World. He said, “Les, I’m stuck in Philadelphia. I need to be in Kentucky. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale is appearing. I can’t make it. I heard you were in Chicago.”
I said, “Yes, I am.”
“Can you go and open for me?”
I said, “Yes, man! Oh, my God! Dr. Peale?” I said, “Yes, I’d love to do it!”
And I went there. I came and I said, “Hi, I’m Les Brown.”
He said, “You’re not the Band of Renown?”
I said, “No, I’m Mrs. Mamie Brown’s baby boy. I’m here to speak.”
He said, “Come backstage.” And his wife Martha was there, and she said, “Papa, Les Brown is here, the speaker.” And he said, “Les Brown? Les Brown, shoot for the moon, because even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.”
I said, “Sir, that’s my quote! I wrote you when I was in the 11th grade. I was a part of a special education class project. That’s my quote.”
He said, “I know. I end all my speeches with that quote.”
And Dr. Peale had a great sense of humor. A young man was backstage and I had so many questions to ask him and my mind froze up, and the young guy said, “Dr. Peale, how old are you?”
And he was up in age. He said, “Sonny, I’m 92.”
The young man looked at him and said, “I don’t know if I want to live to get 92.”
He said, “That’s because you’ve never been 91.”
So I did the things that Mr. Washington suggested. I listened to motivational tapes on a regular basis. I would go to seminars and workshops whenever Zig Ziglar and Dr. Denis Waitley and Jim Rohn would come to town. And I said, “Sir.” I said, “What do you want me to do now?”
He said, “Mr. Brown, I’ve given you everything that I can give you.” He said, “Develop your mind, put your money where your mouth is, continue to learn how to be an effective communicator, because once you open your mouth you tell the world who you are, and always surround yourself with OQP, Only Quality People.”
So I went to apply for a job on Miami Beach, WMBM Radio Station. Milton Butterball Smith was the program director. “Hello, Mr. Butterball! How are you, sir? My name is Les Brown, sir. I’d like to be a disc jockey.”
He said, “Young man, do you have any journalism in your background?”
I said, “No sir, I don’t.”
“Do you have any experience in broadcasting?”
I said, “No sir, but I practice all the time, sir. Let me audition for you sir. Let me show you how good I am. All I need is a shot, sir.”
He says, “No, we don’t have any job for you.”
How many have been rejected? Raise your hands, please. I was devastated. I went back and I told Mr. Washington. I said, “Mr. Washington, they said no.”
He said, “Don’t take it personally. Most people are so negative they have to say no seven times before they say yes.” He said, “You gotta be hungry! Make ‘no’ your vitamin. Go back again.”
I said, “Yes, sir.”
“Hello, Mr. Butterball! How are you, sir? My name is Les Brown, sir. I’d like to be a disc jockey.”
“Young man, weren’t you here yesterday?”
“Yes sir, I was.”
“Didn’t I tell you no yesterday?”
“Yes sir, you did.”
“Then why are you back today?”
“Well, sir, I didn’t know whether or not somebody was laid off or somebody was fired, sir.”
“Nobody was laid off or fired, now get on out of here.”
I came back the next day. “Hello, Mr. Butterball! How are you, sir? My name is Les Brown, sir. I’d like to be a disc jockey.”
“I know what your name is. Weren’t you here the last two days?”
“Yes sir, I was.”
“Didn’t I tell you no the last two days?”
“Yes sir, you did.”
“Then why are you back?”
“Well, sir, I didn’t know whether or not someone got sick or someone died, sir.”
“No one got sick or died. No one was laid off or fired. Now don’t you come back here again.”
I came back the next day, talking loud, looking happy like I was seeing him for the first time. I said, “Hello, Mr. Butterball! How are you?”
He looked at me with rage. He said, “Go get me some coffee!”
I said, “Yes, sir!”
My favorite book says, “The greatest among you will be your servant.” How many of you are serious about your goals and dreams? Raise your hands. Very good. Write this down. “Provide more service than you get paid for.” I go to a lot of seminars and workshops, and one of the things I know about T Harv Eker, when I was sitting in the class with Robert Riopel and all of the other presenters, they hold themselves to high standards and they provide more information than anybody else in the industry bar none. They hold nothing back because their commitment is for your success, and when you hold yourself to high standards, write this down, “Impact drives income.” That’s why you’re here, because the training, the seminars, have been making a difference in your life. If they did not have impact, 200 or 300 people would be here, if that amount. Impact drives income.
So I became the errand boy for the disc jockeys. I would go get their lunch and their dinner, and I would bring it to them in the control room, and I’d watch them working the control boards knowing my time will come. Write this down. “I expect to reach my goal.” Yes. You want to operate with a spirit of expectation. I expect to reach my goal.
So I started preparing for the next position. I’ll never forget one quote that I heard, “As you look at your life, you look at your goals and dreams, it’s better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared. If you expect to reach your goal, prepare yourself now.”
And so then, pretty soon, the guys at the station, they began to take a liking to me. Write this down. “Build relationships.” As you are aware, people deal with people that they know, like and trust. And so they would say, “Leslie.”
“Come outside. Who did this?”
“Oh, your car?”
“Yes. Who cleaned my car?”
“I did, sir.” I would wax their cars in the weekend inside and out.
“How much do you charge?”
“Oh, nothing, sir. I just wanted to help out.”
I was providing more service than I got paid for. I was building relationships. They said, “Whoa. Look here. Diana Ross and the Supremes are coming to town. The Four Tops and The Temptations. Here. Here are my car keys. Pick them up for me. Take them to the Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach.”
I said, “Yes, sir.” I would drive them all over Miami Beach in the big, long Cadillacs. I didn’t have any driver’s license, but I’ll drive it like I had some.
Then one day, it was a Saturday afternoon, a disc jockey by the name of Rockin’ Roger was drinking while he was on the air. It was a Saturday afternoon, and I was the only one there. Rockin’ Roger got so drunk he could not complete the show. He started slurring his words. He was about to fall off the chair and there I was, looking at him through the control room window, walking back and forth, young, ready and hungry. I was saying, “Drink, Rock, drink. Drink, Rock.” I’d have gone and got him some more if he’d asked me to.
Then, pretty soon, the phone rang. It was the general manager, and I answered the phone. I said, “Hello?”
He said, “Young boy, this is Mr. Klein.”
I said, “I know.”
He said, “Rock can’t finish his program.”
I said, “I know.”
He said, “Would you call one of the other DJs in?”
I said, “Yes, sir.” I said to myself, “He must be thinking I’m crazy.”
I called my mom and my girlfriend Cassandra. I said, “Y’all come out on the front porch and turn up the radio, I’m about to come on the air.” I waited for about 20 minutes, and I called him back. I said, “Mr. Klein, I can’t find nobody.”
He said, “Young boy, you know how to work the controls?”
I said, “Yes, sir.”
He said, “Go on then, the records but don’t say nothing, hear?”
I said, “Yes, sir.”
I couldn’t wait to get Rock out of the way. I put on a fast record. I said, “Look out, this is me, LB Triple P, Les Brown, your Platter Playing Poppa. There were none before me and there will be none after me. Therefore, that makes me the one and only. Young and single and love to mingle. Certified, bona fide, indubitably qualified to bring you satisfaction and a whole lot of action. Look out, baby, I’m your love man!” I was hungry! I was hungry! Give the old man a round of applause! I was hungry! I was hungry! You gotta be hungry! Shake someone’s hand on your right and left, all around you, and say, “You gotta be hungry! You gotta be hungry!”
To get those dreams out of your head and step into your greatness, you gotta be hungry. To get those ideas, that talent, that gift, out of your system, you gotta be hungry. To get up off the canvas of life and understand what Willie Jolley meant that a setback is a setup for a comeback, you gotta be hungry. People that are hungry are willing to do the things that the others won’t do in order to have the things tomorrow others won’t have.
How many of you got value out of what you’ve heard thus far? Raise your hands, please. Very good.
I would like to leave this with you. I don’t know what your goals are. I don’t know what you want to do. Here’s what I know about you. You have greatness within you. Here’s what I know about you. I can help you to live full and to die empty. I can show you what I’ve learned. If anybody told me that I would be doing what I’m doing now, I leave here today, I go to New Orleans and speak there, then I’ll be flown to Barcelona — if anybody told me, given my circumstances, born in an abandoned building on the floor in a poor section of Miami, Florida called Liberty City. If both my birth parents stood up and said, “Hello, son,” I would not know either one. Being labeled educable mentally retarded, put back from the fifth grade to the fourth grade, failed again when I was in the eighth grade, no college training, if anybody told me the principles that I would teach you, that they would have the impact that it has had on my life, this Les Brown that you see, I did not know he existed.
And I tell you that you have greatness within you. You have the ability to do more than you can ever begin to imagine. Come into the room with me, and I guarantee your life will never be the same again.
I’d like to leave this with you. I don’t know what your goals are. Mine is to find a cure to autism. Mine is to find a cure to breast cancer and to prostate cancer. Mine is to work with our youth and to reduce the recidivism rate in our prisons and help young people learn how to become an asset to our society rather than a liability. Mine is to train speakers to become great communicators, to speak from their heart not their heads, and teach them how to impact and create a new conversation so people can see the possibilities of life and overcome the possibility of blindness that held me hostage for 14 years.
I don’t know what your goals are but here’s what I know about you, and I don’t know you. You’ve got greatness within you. And I’d like to leave this with you, something my mother used to love to hear me say. “Leslie.”
“Say that thing for me boy that makes me feel good.”
I dedicate this to you, to the greatness in you and to the dream that you showed up on the planet to produce, and it’s simply this. “If you want a thing bad enough to go out and fight for it, to work day and night for it, to give up your time, your peace and your sleep for it. If all that you dream and scheme is about it, and life seems useless and worthless without it, and if you’d gladly sweat for it and fret for it and plan for it and lose all your terror of the opposition for it, and if you simply go after that thing that you want with all of your capacity, strength and sagacity, faith, hope and confidence, and stern pertinacity, if neither cold poverty, famished and gaunt, sickness or pain of body and brain can keep you away from a thing that you want, if dogged and grim you beseech and beset it, with the help of God you’ll get it.”
God bless you, God bless your dream, God bless Peak Potentials, God bless America. Thank you very much.