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Against all odds, Les Brown became one of the top motivational speakers in the world

Les Brown

Les Brown is one of the most revered and well-known motivational speakers in the world, but that was not always the case.

Born in an abandoned building in Liberty City, a poverty-stricken area in Miami, Brown was labeled “educable mentally retarded” in the 5th grade due to his hyperactivity and inability to concentrate. Because of that Brown was placed into special education classes until high school.

Despite this setback and having no college education, Brown has become a bestselling author of several books on achievement and is looked at as an icon by some of his peers for his motivational speaking engagements.

The dynamic personality has given speeches to McDonalds, AT&T, and all over the globe to share his powerful story. So how exactly did Brown do it?

Well, after graduating high school, Les Brown became a city sanitation worker, but he had bigger dreams than that.

Brown wanted to pursue a career in radio broadcasting. He loved the cadence and style that disc jockeys had so he decided to go after it.

One day, after constantly practicing his DJ skills in his home with a brush as the microphone, Brown decided to head down to one of the local radio stations in hopes to become a DJ. When he got into the station manager’s office, the manager asked, “Do you have any background in broadcasting?”

Les responded “No, sir I don’t.”

“I’m afraid we don’t have a job for you then.”

The station manager figured that would be the end of Les Brown bothering him. But that manager gravely underestimated Brown’s determination to become a disc jockey.

Brown marched into the general manager’s office every day for the next week, hoping a job would be available. Finally, the station manager relented and gave him a job as an errand boy.

Soon after, given Brown’s enthusiasm to learn the tricks and trades of being a disc jockey, the station allowed him to pick up visiting entertainers like the Fort Tops, Diana, Ross, and the Temptations in those classic Cadillacs. Mind you, Brown didn’t even have a driver’s license.

Brown did whatever was asked of him and more. He taught himself the hand movements of the DJs on the control panels, staying in the control room until they would ask him to leave.

One Saturday afternoon, Brown was the only one at the station when a DJ named Rock was drinking on the air. Brown walked back and forth in front of the booth saying to himself, “Drink Rock, drink Rock!

Brown kept filling up Rock’s drink at his request. Soon the phone rang and it was the general manager:

“Les this is Mr. Klein.”

“I know,” said Les.

“Les, I don’t think Rock can finish this program.”

“Yes, I know.”

“Would you call one of other disc jockeys to come in?

“Yes, sir.”

But when Brown hung up the phone, he said to himself, “Now he must think I’m crazy.”

Brown wasn’t about to waste this golden opportunity. This was his moment to drop the hammer and realize one of his dreams. Ain’t shit was stopping him.

He called his girlfriend and mom. “Turn up the radio and come out on the front porch because I’m about to be on the air!”

Brown waited 20 minutes before he called the GM. “Mr. Klein, I can’t find nobody,” Brown said.

Klein asked, “Young man do you know how to work the controls?”

“Yes sir,” Brown answered.

Brown couldn’t wait to get behind the control system and show Miami what he was made of. He sprinted into the booth and moved Rock out of the way so he could grab the spotlight.

He sat down behind the turntable, put on an old Stevie Wonder record and said,

“Look up this me LB, triple P-Les Brown, your platter playing poppa. There were none before and there will be none after me. Therefore, that makes me the one and only. Young and single and love to mingle. Certified, bonafide, indubitably qualified to bring you satisfaction, a whole lot of action. Look up baby I’m your l-o-o-o-ove man.”

He was HONGRY. Yes, I just created that word because spelling it with a U doesn’t do Brown’s desire for success any justice.

Brown’s performance blew away his audience and the owner of the station so much that he rose to become a full-time disc jockey.

From that memorable moment, Brown continued to achieve greatness as he landed a top radio show in Columbus, Ohio in the late 1960s and started his path to becoming one of most respected motivational speakers in the world.

After moving to Detroit in the 80s, Brown found himself in some hard times while starting his business.

Brown needed to share his office with an attorney. It got to the point where he had to sleep on the floor because he couldn’t afford an apartment. Guys in the building would laugh at him and say,

“There’s the guy talking about becoming successful and look at him. He’s bathing in the bathroom upstairs on the 21st floor. He sleeps on the floor. Look at him.”

The only one laughing now is Brown, because he persisted, prepared, and persevered to get to a place where his high-energy, passionate voice has earned him the honor of being on of the Top Five Outstanding Speakers worldwide by Toastmasters International.

Plenty of people won’t be able to envision your dream or they’ll want to tear it down because of where they are in life. Their way of thinking produces purely ‘reasonable’ results.

But in order for you to achieve your dream, you’ve got to be an “unreasonable person, you’ve got to be an uncommon person,” as Brown says in many of speeches.

As long as YOU know what you’re capable of and what it will take to achieve your dream, nobody else’s opinion matters.

Anything. Is. Possible!