Leslie Calvin “Les” Brown is an American motivational speaker, author, former radio DJ, former television host and the guest on this episode of the Get Attitude Podcast.
1:33 – The 8:46 intro of Les Brown
4:39 – Les Brown appearance
6:17 – The 8 minutes and 46 seconds begins. How old was Les Brown when he first experienced racism and how did it make him feel? Living in two worlds.
11:07 – If you were king of America…what would you do to change things? When you don’t recognize somebody’s humanity, you can do anything to them.
18:14 – Are all people racists? What is the greatest example of racial harmony that you have seen?
20:42 – What is your definition of attitude? Mr. Leroy Washington. Someone’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality. The story we believe about ourselves. Distract, dispute and inspire.
22:59 – What would you say to the people to bridge the gap. Have a regimen of mental resolve. The will to do it.
28:41 – Marvin Gaye was the man. Love is in need of love. Mark Anthony is a Les Brown favorite.
32:21 – Pushing your legacy forward. We all have an energy signature behind our voice.
34:21 – Knowledge through the decades. Life is full of tough decisions.
37:06 – What is the attitude lesson at the age of 10?
38:17 – What is the attitude lesson at the age of 20? Fascinated with radio
42:35 – How did Gladys Knight and Les Brown meet?
43:25 – What is the attitude lesson at the age of 30. Dumb, naked, and speechless. Editorializing against police brutality. Find a mentor. You can’t read the label when you’re inside the box.
45:19 – What is the attitude lesson at the age of 40. Learning period.
46:12 – What is the attitude lesson at the age of 50. We can’t help getting old but we don’t have to get old. You’re unstoppable.
49:11 – What is the attitude lesson at the age of 60. We determine the diagnosis. God determines the prognosis!
51:54 – What is the attitude lesson at the age of 70. We should all be committed to doing what we came here to do. Don’t go where there’s a path. Go where there isn’t one and make it.
1:00:08 – You’re more than that which you’ve become.
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We are going to have a very special 8:46 Interview with the one and only, Les Brown. I’m going to introduce the 8:46 Interviews, because on May 25th, 2020, our country changed, and it changed forever. It changed because George Floyd was publicly killed in an event, which was filmed and witnessed for us all to see in real time.
He was unable to breathe. He was tortured for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, unable to speak what was on his mind, haunting all of us to come to grips with the timeframe of his suffering. These 8:46 Interviews are meant to help us all grasp the amount of time that George Floyd suffered and to give a voice to his Black brothers and his Black sisters for that amount of time for which he could not express his feelings or his words.
We are with a great leader, a great influencer, a great activist, and the world’s foremost motivational speaker. He is here to express his feelings in this timeframe in order to discuss his race story, his thoughts on change, and his advice for the future. This is a transcendent man. Les Brown has been my mentor for years. For many years, he has transformed the lives of people of this planet.
Being dubbed the world’s number one motivational speaker, rising above poverty, racism, setbacks, divorce, loss, tragedy and terminal cancer, he is living proof that everyone’s dream, including yours, is possible. He is literally known by millions for his innate ability to show how you recognize your hidden greatness and how to unlock your untapped power that lies within you.
We are ready to go. I’m living my dream. Les Brown, let’s get started. Welcome to the show.
Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here with you. I want to thank you for the work that you’re doing, helping people get an attitude about living a larger life, interrupting the life that they’re now living, and exposing them to the next greatest version of themselves. Thank you for who you are and how you’re showing up.
The one paradigm I’ve been challenged to try to do that I felt deep in my soul this thing called racism. This thing called, how do we bring all this together? My message to White America has been, “You need to stop looking at Black folks as Black folks. You need to look inside a Black man or a Black woman and understand there is a story inside there.” There is a story inside their nervous system that has created, what I believe, this disconnect between the races.
What I’m trying to do with the 8:46 Interviews is to get the stories out that affect your nervous system, to help America understand that there’s been some bad stuff that’s gone on, especially for Back folks. If you could please share with me your personal or shared racism experience, how old were you when you experienced it and how did it make you feel?
Thank you very much for this opportunity to share some time with you and your audience. I was five years old. I remember it very well in my book called You’ve Got To Be HUNGRY: The GREATNESS Within to Win. It’s one of those special moments that created a hunger for a different life, for a larger life. I was downtown with my mother. I’m 1 of 7 children that she took in as foster kids and then adopted. She left my brothers and sisters with the neighbors.
The neighbors said, “We can’t handle Les. He’s a little touched in the head.” I was a kid with a lot of energy. Mama took me with her downtown and it was around 94, 95 degrees in downtown Miami. I was thirsty and I let her hand go. I ran and started drinking from a water fountain. All of a sudden, my mother grabbed me by the neck. She threw me on the ground and started punching me in the face and the head. She said, “Don’t you ever do that again. Do you hear me?” I said, “Mama, please. It’s me.”
All of a sudden, a White policeman came. He had his billy club in his hand and he kept hitting it. “It’s okay. You don’t have to whip that little nigga boy anymore. He’s learned his lesson.” He walked away and he was laughing. I was crying. My mother picked me up and said, “I’m so sorry. That water fountain is for Whites only. When I saw that White policeman, his face turned red and he unbuckled his nightstick to beat you with it. Had he hit you with that billy club, he would have to kill me. I would have left you and your brothers and sisters to raise and fend for yourselves.”
She started crying. I said, “Mama, it’s okay. You didn’t hurt me that badly,” but I was swollen. My lip was bleeding. Martin Seligman, in his book called Learned Optimism, said, “Between the ages of 0 and 5, we know what’s available to us and what’s not available to us.” I knew then that I was living in two worlds and that there were certain things that just were not available. I knew then why when we got on the bus and the seats were available in front, Black people were packed in the back and there was a yellow line on the floor.
Mama said, “Keep moving.” I said, “Mama there are seats up here.” “Did you hear me? I said keep moving, boy. Keep moving to the back of the bus.” Those types of experiences, seeing signs on Miami Beach, “Jews, dogs, and coloreds not allowed,” living in an environment that is designed to destroy your sense of self. Systems that are placed to hold you down, oppress you, and take away your dreams and your purpose of life.
That’s why I say in my book, You’ve Got To Be HUNGRY, that you got to go all in. That you have to be as George Washington Carver would say, “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have. Never be satisfied.” In order to make it, it will take everything in you. The Federal Reserve out of St. Louis said stunningly in this article that a White high school dropout will create more wealth than a Black college graduate with all types of debt because of how the system is designed to oppress us, to hold us down, to prevent us from living a larger life.
That’s beautiful. Thank you for your story because that’s what we’re trying to get to. This happened. If you could become king of America and change something to solve this, what would the one change be that you would mandate that could possibly solve this?
One, there has to be an educational process to break the cycle for the collective consciousness of White people that Black people are human. When you don’t recognize somebody’s humanity, you can do anything to them. There’s a quote that I believe is very important. “Change will never come about until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are affected.” When justice takes place, you have three factors involved. They’re the victims, the perpetrators, and the witnesses.
The question is, which is worse? The answer is the witnesses. At any point in time, the witnesses always outnumber the perpetrators. They could step in and stop it, and they don’t. Like this show, you’ve decided I’m not going to be a witness. Evil prevails when good men and women do nothing. There’s a reckoning that’s taking place in America and around the world that most people were just witnesses.
They saw it, knew it was going on, and did nothing. The George Floyd killing has triggered something. The people saw it, that sense of humanity. There are some people that it didn’t touch at all. I had one guy send me a text saying, “We got rid of one that won’t be breathing and polluting the air.” There are some people of conscience who said, “This is wrong.” As a result, there are demonstrations that are taking place not only nationally, but also globally. People standing up in united voices who are as outraged as those of us that have been victims of this injustice that’s been going on.
What do you feel White people need to do? What do they need to hear?
Jane Elliott, have you ever heard her? Are you familiar with her work? We need more Jane Elliotts. Prejudice is taught. I remember asking my mother, “Don’t you ever be like them. God is love. He who dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in them. Don’t you ever be like them.” She’s right that prejudice is taught. When I was living in Vegas, my next-door neighbor, he trained elephants. He brought his little boy over. He was like two years old. As I came approaching closer to them, I said, “What’s his name?” His name was Jay. He said, “Nigger, nigger.”
He didn’t come here with that word in him. He was taught that there’s a nigger living next door. It’s going to take some education to create a shift in the collective when you have a country where Black people have no rights in which a White man has respect, or “These people are 3/4 human.” Who does that? My mentor, I asked him that question, “Why do they hate us so much?” He said, “They have to. That’s how they see themselves and how they want to live their lives.”
Education is important, very much so, in creating shift. Not only how Whites see themselves and how they treat us, but also because of the damage that has been done to us and how we see ourselves. Once self-hatred is put in place, it takes on a life of its own. Like we see in Chicago. When you disrupt and disconnect people from their sense of humanity, anything goes.
The work that I do is designed, one, to give people a larger vision of themselves beyond their circumstances, indoctrination, and vision of themselves. Two, to decrease the level of unconscious self-loathing that shows up and how people interact with each other. Three, increase our sense of worthiness, where we come to believe that life is God’s gift to us regardless of our paid job and how we live our lives as our gift to God.
I remember a White supremacist on Larry King. Larry King asking, “Why do you hate Black people?” He said, “Because they’re Black and I’m White.” He asked, “What did you have to do with your being born White?” He didn’t have a question. He just stood there silently. The conversation ended. This is a strange and time for a long time coming.
What’s interesting is how little we hear and how less often we see what happened on that fateful day in May. You can almost feel it slipping away. My goal is to continue to put it in front of people, because it was a catalyst to something that could be beautiful. This is not a trap question, but do you think all White people are racist? Either in some degree or maybe to a large degree. There are a lot of people that Black people that think that’s true. I’d like to know what you think. Secondly, what’s the greatest thing you’ve seen to bring in racial harmony into our country? What’s an example of something you’ve seen?
Let me answer the first question, absolutely not. There are a lot of White people who put themselves in harm’s way, who had dogs sicced on them, who went to jail, who were killed, who were beaten in defense of fighting for the rights of Black people. That’s happened for years. The things that helped to create a sense of harmony have been the arts. It played a major role in that.
There are some people, and I believe that they’re a minority, they can watch somebody be killed and they’re not moved by it. The majority of people, their sense of humanity, they say, “This is not right.” Look at the president’s press secretary. Her daughter is on TikTok. The president wanted to shut them down because this little young girl said, “No, this man is not right.” She’s young. She’s like fifteen years old and she’s taking a stand.
Besides the arts, athletics is another thing.
It’s played a major role in entertainment. It’s a part of it.
Thank you for your heartfelt stories and your views on racism. I’m certain that people are going to listen to this and be affected by what you had to say. I do want to jump to and bridge the gap to the attitude portion of my show. I’d like to know what your definition of attitude is, and I’d like for you to talk about your number one attitude coach. Mama would be my guest and what she did to boost your self-confidence to do what you do.Someone's opinion of you does not have to become your reality. Click To Tweet
Mama taught me how to just love people. I tapped into that. What expanded my vision of myself was Mr. Leroy Washington. I went in his class and said, “I’m looking for Stevens.” He looked at me and said, “Young man, go to the front of the room and work this problem out for me.” I said, “I’m sorry. I can’t do that.”
He said, “Why not?” I said, “I’m not one of your students.” He said, “Do it anyhow.” I said, “I can’t, sir.” The other students started laughing saying, “He has a twin. His twin brother Wesley is smart. He’s DT.” He asked, “What’s DT?” “He’s the Dumb Twin.” They all started laughing. I said, “I am, sir.” He came from behind his desk and he said, “Don’t you ever say that again. Someone’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality.”
It jarred me. How we live our lives is a result of the stories we believe about ourselves. When you have your program, when you speak, the books that you write, it distracts, dispute, and inspire. It distracts people from their story. Psychologists call this explanatory style. Through the execution of your presentation, you create an experience.
Oliver Wendell Holmes said that once a man, a woman’s mind has been expanded with an idea, concept or experience, it can never be satisfied to going back to where it was. Distract, dispute, and inspire. You inspire people by the end of your program with your guests, books, and presentation. You inspire people, as Mother Teresa would say, to become a pencil in the hand of God and start writing a new chapter with their lives.
What advice do you think you can give our GAPers about their past and how their past can empower them in their future? My group comes to the gap to bridge the gap from who they are, to who they want to become. They’re often in the midst of financial turmoil, marital turmoil, personal turmoil, drugs and alcohol, whatever it may be. What can you tell them? What advice can you give them about how they can embrace their past or get rid of their past and walk over that bridge and bridge that gap?
It’s the different approaches. One of the most important things that all of us must do is have a regimen for mental resolve. The suicide rate is up. It was up 32% before the Coronavirus, and now it spiked. It spiked for our children. Children as young as five years of age, hanging themselves. When you think about domestic violence, the divorce rate has increased 42%. People snapping.
Two little boys in a store. A guy comes in, he’s around 6’4’’. The little boy says, “How tall are you?” This guy takes a gun out and shoots them. Mental resolve is very important. That’s number one. Number two, building collaborative, achievement-driven, supportive relationships with people from all walks of life. This is a global world in which we live in. We live in this world where we have leadership, things that I never thought that I would see. I was fired years ago for editorializing against police brutality. It breaks my heart when I see White supremacists and Klan members. My twin brother was shot in Vietnam for this flag.
You have a fear when you leave home. A blue light of a police car that’s supposed to serve and protect you, that’s there to kill you and terrorize you. It’s a very frightening experience. I have my sons. I’ve coached them on how to conduct themselves. What’s going to be required is what we now see. People are standing up, speaking out, and becoming engaged. They have committed themselves to resolve it. The same level of resolve that we had in going to the moon.
John F. Kennedy in 1961, he convened his cabinet and he said, “We’re going to the moon.” When I was a kid, if you wanted to illustrate that something was impossible, you would say you got as much chance of doing that as a man going to the moon. It was considered impossible. John F. Kennedy looked to his right and asked Wernher von Braun, the most brilliant German scientist of that day, “What will it take for us to go to the moon?”
He didn’t talk about budget, the technology, or the years that it will take. He only spoke five words and he said, “The will to do it.” What will it take for us to begin to reduce police deadly use of force, knowing that there are no consequences for their behavior? The will to do it. What will it take for us to have juries who allow policemen to do this and the judges to give them a pass? Other police officers who see it, good cops, but they are complicit because they’re silent. They call it the blue shield.
We’re seeing that. One lady has lost her eye. One had his hands up, shot in the head with a rubber pellet. These demonstrations are coming back again and again. What does it take to create a level of love? People turn to each other, rather than on each other. The will to do it. It’s not going to be easy. We have to be willing to commit ourselves through all the frustrations, disappointments, and setbacks that we will encounter in attempting to change the way that we function as a country to create a new culture.
I am reminded of Marvin Gaye. I grew up with Marvin Gaye and I know you used to be a DJ. Remember that song, “Make me want to holler and throw up both my hands.” Did you ever meet Marvin Gaye?
I never met him and Gladys and I were married. I met The Supremes, Diana Ross, Luther Vandross, Patti LaBelle, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, but I never met him. I wanted to meet him. He was a special guy.
He was the man.
Without any questions. Talented and gifted and died tragically. Killed by his father.
What was your favorite song that he sang?
What’s Going On.
Another good one. I put on his album and it’s like, “Make me want to holler. What’s going on? Mercy, mercy me.”
I love Stevie Wonder’s song Love’s in Need of Love Today.
We need that right now.
To peel back the curtain a little bit, tell me who was your favorite artist? Who’s on your iPad? Who are you listening to in your ears?
I love Marc Anthony. He’s a bad guy. What an incredible voice. I still love Gladys. I’m having a flashback up in here. A person that I also admire in singing is John Legend.
He’s all over it right now.
I love him and Common. They have consciousness and a willingness to be involved and make a difference. I believe that Horace Mann was right when he said we should be ashamed to die until we’ve made some major contribution to humankind. There is no question in my mind. We live in the greatest country in the world. Are we perfect? No, but we have an opportunity to live a life that will outlive us.
We have an opportunity to create a greater world for our children, our grandchildren, and our great-grandchildren. We should be about that. The Book of Life says, the least that you’re doing to my brethren, you do it also under me. I am just glad to still be here, to be able to make my mark, to make some impact, and to train the next generation of messengers of hope.
I am in your Power Voice group. Anybody in the audience, if you have a story, and everyone has a story, you need to get on the Power Voice group. You need to go to LesBrown.com. You need to sign up on it. I’m in your Prodigy group, $20 a month, sign up for that on Facebook. You have an opportunity to learn from a legend. I’ve been speaking professionally for years. I’ve gotten to where I am because of what you’ve taught me, but I know you still got more.
Anything you do, I sign up for it. If I see you live, I’m right on there. When I told you that story about being in that school, talking to those children, one of the things that I want to do is push your legacy forward. The young people need to hear you. It angers me, especially Black folks that don’t know who you are. I’m like, “How in the world?” I know you got hundreds of millions of followers. I’m going, “How do you not know Les Brown?”
This is going to blow your mind. The number one purchaser of my material, the country of Sweden. Ninety eight percent of my engagements are White people.
Isn’t that beautiful?You need somebody who can take you to a place within yourself that you can't go by yourself. Click To Tweet
Black people know me because I was married to Gladys Knight. White people know me because I changed their lives.
When I speak, man gets dumber. When I speak, God just laughs.
You never know. All of us have an energy signature behind our voice. You don’t know where it’s going to land. I say, speak. Is that what you do? Is that the calling on your life? Do what you came here to do. Inspire. When I leave here, I want them to say, “He aspired to inspire until he expires.”
We are going to close the show with what has come to be a great little interview technique that people are talking about all over the world, and that’s called knowledge through the decades. Do you remember the day you were born?
February 17, 1945.
What’s the attitude lesson about childbirth that our GAPers need to know?
That it takes your life to another place, my birth mother had to make a decision. She had twins. Her husband was away in World War II. She’s going to put them up for adoption, but she would not allow us to be adopted by anybody. She had to make a tough decision and life is full of tough decisions. It’s a tough decision not because you don’t know the answer to the tough decision, but because you know the answer. Most of us don’t have the courage to do what we know.
She knew she could not raise us and keep us because she was married. She had to get rid of us. She waited until she found the right person who said, “I’ll take good care of them.” She asked, “Will you promise not to separate them?” Our adoptive mother said, “I’ll never separate them. I swear to God, I’ll take good care of them.”
Wesley is your brother. Is he still with us?
He did two tours in Vietnam. We talk every day. He is a character. He’s a speaker as well, talented and gifted.
Have you ever met your natural father?
I’ve never done a search for my natural father or birth mother. Mama’s love has been so encompassing. At Father’s Day time, I gave Mama a Father’s Day card as well. I used to do celebrations on Father’s Day for men who protect and provide for the families, and for mothers who serve as fathers. I recognize mothers who’ve been serving as fathers for years. I said, “Please, come out and leave the sperm donors at home.”
I want you to think, you’re ten years old, that’s probably third grade. What city were you in? What were you doing at ten? Do you remember your teacher? What was the attitude lesson of being ten in 1955?
I wanted to buy my mother a home. The tenth grade, I wanted to buy her a home. I was working in this home, the Siderskis, and I promised my mother that I would buy her a home when I became a man. She said, “You don’t have to do that.” I looked around these big, beautiful mansions. I said, “Mama, you deserve this.” We had fans, they had air conditioners. We had linoleum on the floor, they had carpet.
I wanted to experience that. When I was a kid, there was a program that came around families and gave them $1 million every year. That was my favorite program on television. I wanted to be able to buy my mother a home and I was going to earn $1 million to do that. I bought her four homes before she passed.
Let’s take you up to twenty years old. Did you graduate from college or high school? Tell me what you were doing at twenty.
I graduated from high school when I was eighteen years old. When I was in the fifth grade, I was 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 became a disc jockey. I wanted to be involved in radio. I was fascinated with a guy named Paul Harvey who did a program called The Rest of the Story. I enjoyed listening to him and a guy named Milton “Butterball” Smith.
I wanted to be a DJ. That signature message has allowed me to speak in over 51 countries. “Look out. This is me LB, Triple P, Les Brown, your platter playing papa. 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 and I was bad man back in the day.
Drop us some O’Jays.
Their first record was Stand In For Love.
What was the song you just love to drop when you were doing that? What would you drop that you say, “It’s even going to get better?”
Aretha Franklin’s Respect.
Jennifer Hudson is getting ready to play her in a movie. That’s going to be nasty.
Jennifer is bad. Aretha wanted her to do it personally. She selected her.
You met Aretha, you said.
I talked with her three weeks before she passed. She did things her way. She operated out of the thinking of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said, “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” One time she performed in New York’s Radio City Hall in a tutu.
That’s how you keep that crowd. That’s what you talk about. I bet that crowd went, “What?”
She marched to the beat of a different drum.
You told me her attitude, blaze your trail. She had no fear. She knew she had the pipes, too.
Aretha and Gladys had their own personal competition. Gramps was what they called Gladys’ mother. She came home one day and she saw Aretha in Detroit. Gladys was probably around 8 or 9. She said, “Gladys, there’s a little girl that’s got your gift. One day, the two of you will meet. She’s gifted, too. Her name is Aretha.” The Pips and Gladys’ team always compared the two of them, their music and their performance. They did come together on several occasions.You do more than you can ever begin to imagine. Click To Tweet
Did they ever have a duet that was a hit?
They never did a duet, but in the past, the two of them fulfilled Gladys’ desire. She wanted to do a tour with Aretha. That was on her bucket list and they did do it. They had this special bond and connection with each other.
How long were you with Gladys?
We were together for five years.
Probably a few before that and obviously many after that. Did you have children with her?
No, they would look like little dried-up raisins. We’re both in our 50s.
I want to hear the story of how you two met. She had heard you speak and fell in love. Is that what happened?
I went to a concert at the Regal Theater. I remember very well. I asked her publicist, “Can I come backstage to meet her?” She said yes. I came back and we met and talked. We had a chemistry, a connection. I said, “You take it easy. Thank you so much for allowing me to come backstage.” When I was leaving, she said, “Here’s my number. You don’t have to go to my publicist, you can call me directly.” That’s what I’m talking about. At that point, becoming the captain of the midnight train. She’s going to get me for this.
We went to your twenties. You were a disc jockey. That was beautiful. Thanks for doing your call on. I appreciate that. You’re 30. Do you remember being 30? Do you remember your 30th birthday? Where were you? What city were you in and what was going on?
I was in Ohio. I hired a guy named Mike Williams. He wrote the book called Road to Your Best Stuff. He knew this brownie that you now look at I did not know existed. He said, “Do you know why you go see Zig Ziglar, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, and Robert Schuller?” I said, “Yes, because I love their message.” He said, “No, not just because of that. That’s who you are. You’re looking at your destiny. That’s what you do.” I said, “I don’t have a college education. I never worked for a major corporation.” He said, “All of us are born the same way. Dumb, naked, and speechless. You can learn.”
He became my mentor. I became a community activist. Ultimately, I ran for the Ohio legislature after I was fired from radio for editorializing against police brutality when police beat a Vietnam veteran, holding his four-month-old baby at a Hickie’s restaurant over a dispute about the bill. They beat him while he held his baby.
Unreal. The attitude lesson when you’re 30 is find a mentor.
You can’t read the label when you’re in the box. You got to have somebody with a trained eye who can see what you can’t see, who can take you to a place within yourself that you can’t go by yourself.
I got all of your stuff memorized. “Live full, die empty. When I was forty, life put a whooping on me.” I used to laugh every time you said that. You’re through your 30s and now you’re 40. What’s the attitude lesson when you were 40?
It’s a learning period. As former heavyweight champion, Joe Frazier said, “There are moments in our lives that we all are like a blind man standing on the corner, waiting for someone to lead us across the street because our vision has been blurred by this thing called life.” It’s a learning period for you. All of us go through those slumps, those moments in the Garden of Gethsemane where you need some guidance. You need some coaching, because you can’t see the picture when you’re in the frame. It was a growth period for me.
You probably had a big, beautiful 50-year-old birthday party. You turn a half century. Do you remember your 50th birthday?
I used to think people in their 40s were old. When I turned 50, I thought I served at the Lord’s Supper. Now that I’m older, I believe I was shining shoes at the Lord’s Supper. It’s this thing called life. Something George Burns said that I love, he said, “We can’t help getting older, but we don’t have to get old.” I took that to heart. Your attitude, back to what you’re doing. They did a study among top achievers around the world to find out what was the common denominator among them that allowed them to achieve their goals. What they found out is 85% of them because of their attitude, 15% because of their aptitude. Attitude is a determining factor.
How do you define attitude?
How you feel about yourself, how you see yourself, and how you show up in life.
Tell me what you did for your 50th birthday.
We can’t have a party at the house. I’m not big on birthdays.
For 50, the attitude lesson was what?
That you’re unstoppable, that you could do more than you can ever begin to imagine. I sat on the sideline for fourteen years. I didn’t do what I’m doing now. I don’t have a college education. I didn’t believe that I could compete with people with PhDs and MBAs and years of corporate experience that I did not have. I didn’t believe that I could develop the credibility to be hired by AT&T, Procter & Gamble, McDonald’s Corporation, General Electric, IBM, clients that I have. I heard a guy named Robert Root said, “It’s not what you don’t have, it’s what you think you need that keeps you from living a larger life.”
Thank you. I’m taking all this in. You made it through your 50s and you said, “Lord, I’m 60?” Tell me what the 60s brought your way.
Prostate cancer. My PSA was 2,400. I asked Dr. Alfred Golson, “What does that mean?” He said, “1 to 4 is normal.” I said, “What else?” He said, “The cancer has metastasized to seven areas of your body.” I said, “Can I get a second opinion?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “What is it?” He said, “You’re ugly, too.” I said, “You didn’t call me ugly. This is a serious matter.”
He stopped laughing and said, “You got this. We determine the diagnosis. God determines the prognosis. You and God have an assignment to figure this out. I don’t believe in telling you that you’re terminal. What I believe is that my knowledge and ability to help you has terminated. You need to explore some other options.”
You fought through that with your 60s. You look great and young. I love the 1980s. Did you get the three hitches?
There’s a movie called House Party. It was Kid ‘n Play. I’m Kid. You don’t have hair in your head because grass doesn’t grow on a busy street. The ladies call that sexy.
You’ve had such an unbelievable life. Your book called You’ve Got To Be HUNGRY was twenty years in the making. It’s a can’t-put-down book. I just open up a page, I’m like, “Damn, he’s good. How am I ever going to be the next Les Brown?” I know that there is never going to be a next Les Brown.
You’re going to go beyond me. We got to share the stage together. That’s on my bucket list when I heard you. We got to do it together.Endorsement brings credibility and an audience. Click To Tweet
You call my ass and I’ll be there. I don’t care. I’ll charter a plane if I can get on a stage with you. I don’t care where you are. I will be there. You can give me 24 hours. Somebody drops out on you, you need a speaker next to you, I’m there. It doesn’t matter what it costs.
I will call you on it.
Don’t you worry, I’ll be there quickly. Let me get to your 70s. I almost feel like you’re encapsulating your greatness. Things seem clear. I follow you. I’m all up in you. I’m like, “Look what he’s doing now.” You seem more highly organized and prolific. Getting out your legacy in a different way than I’ve ever seen you. The attitude lesson for being in your 70s, what’s your attitude?
We should all be committed to doing what we came here to do. Some people know early on. Nina Simone, the jazz vocalist and pianist. She climbed up on a piano stool at five and start playing the keys. Frank Sinatra said something that I love very much. He said, “You want to live each day as if it were your last, because one day it will be.” When he was in a movie, he only did one take. He would not do 2 and 3 takes. He gave it everything that he had each time.
When I was preparing for you, I listen. I don’t take this for granted. There are people who are listening, who need something that will give them hope. When there’s hope in the future, that gives you power in the present, this stage of my life, it’s about going all in. It’s about mastering what I do. It’s about operating out of the thinking of Ralph Waldo Emerson. That’s what I’m up to.
What are you most proud of about the book You’ve Got To Be HUNGRY? What’s your favorite thing in there?
There are three things that I talk about in there. This is a different kind of book. We have a public life, a private life, and a secret life. Most of us never share our secret life. There’s a book I read once called Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am? because you might not like me, and that’s all I’ve got. I talked about being prescribed opiates. My kids did an intervention. I was taking 75 pills a day. I could have died. There are two types of drug addicts. Those who are seeking drugs and those who are prescribed drugs. I was prescribed these drugs.
I did not know that I was addicted. I was in University Hospital in Columbus, Ohio for nine days. I had no idea. When my second oldest son drove me to my youngest daughter’s house, I saw these cars and said, “Is there a party? What’s going on?” He said, “Dad, you’ll see when you get inside.” I got inside. I saw my mentor, Mike Williams, and two people that I did not recognize. My children were there. I said, “This looks like an intervention. I am the intervention king. Who’s it for?” They said, “You.” I said, “What do you mean? Are you addicted to opiates? I taught all of you never to drink a smoke.”
My youngest daughter got up in my face and said, “Daddy, you taught me, you can’t see the picture when you’re in the frame. You are addicted. We are going to have you committed to a drug program.” I was furious, angry, and I cried like a baby. I went to each one of them, “Do you look at me and tell me that I’m addicted?” “Yes, daddy. You can’t read the label when you’re in the box.” It was very painful for us. I talked about it in the book. What I went through was a living hell, but I felt I needed to do that. That it would help someone, I did it cold turkey.
That’s because you’re a tough ass man, driven by God. Do you feel him in you?
Yes, I’m here because of his grace and mercy.
I don’t want to be you and as influential as you. I’ve been on this quest to be America’s number one Attitude Keynote Speaker. I’m making headway and then Corona hit and I had to lose sixteen gigs.
No, you did not lose sixteen gigs. You will have the opportunity to do 30 gigs virtually. I’ll share the career thing and it shall be established unto you. I’m doing more engagements from home than I did on the road around the world.
You miss the stage. You got to because that’s where you belong.
I love the challenge of talking to this little green camera light that’s looking at me. I love the challenge of imagining the audience and to transform them individually and collectively. I came here to speak. If I have to look at a green light and do it, I’m going to do it. If I have to talk to a pack of cigarettes, I’m going to do it. I came to speak and I don’t care what the platform is. I came to speak. I talk in my sleep.
I’m going to be selfish because this is my show. What would be the 2 or 3 things I should do better or do more? What would you say, “You’re doing a lot of good things, but here’s what you better get done in order to hit it big like me?” What would you tell me?
I’d like to interview you on my Facebook Live and do the honors to you as you’re doing to me. I’d like to endorse you personally. I want to be your John the Baptist. We all need one. I could’ve gotten here faster if the guys at the top would have endorsed me because endorsement brings credibility and an audience. I would use my name and my reputation to promote you nationally and globally, and do a video to support what it is you’re doing and find out more about who your audience is. I’d like to do events with you so we can do it together.
God bless you. Thank you. I’ll let you.
It is my honor. Let’s make it happen.
We will change things.
All things work together for good for those who love God and for those who are called according to his purpose. We are called according to his purpose.
For our GAPers who are standing at the bridge, trying to get from who they are to who they wish to become, trying to get from where they are to where they want to go, what is your message to help them walk across that bridge and bridge that gap?
I will take them to Lion King, Simba. You are more than that which you have become. You know that it’s time for you to step out of who you’ve been, to step into who you are to become. You know that you are a masterpiece because you’re a piece of the master. You know that there’s a hunger in you, a story that’s in you. As Maya Angelou said, “There’s nothing as painful as an untold story buried in your soul.” Corona has taught us that life is fragile. You know it’s time and you are hungry. That’s why you’re on this show. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Amen and drop the mic. That is the world’s number one motivational speaker. My good friend, my mentor, my leader, my guide for years. He started out in a 1977 silver Ford Fairmont with an eight-track cassette of Les, some plastic ass red seats, driving around the city, trying to make my living in real estate, helping me become who I know I am meant to be.
I hope Les has helped you GAPers feel the hunger, the power, and the belief in yourself because you are reading this for a reason. You’re reading this because you want to become something more and you want to get somewhere more. Les Brown, I love you so much. Thank you for honoring us and being the last show of our very first season.
I love you and I appreciate it. I’m looking for us to change the world together.
We’re going to change the world one attitude at a time. You said, “It’s going to take too long. Do it 10,000 people at a time.” This is the show featuring the great Les Brown. Attitude Booster number ten, Be a part of something bigger than yourself. We will see you on season two. God bless you all.
- Les Brown
- You’ve Got To Be HUNGRY: The GREATNESS Within to Win
- Learned Optimism
- Power Voice
- Road to Your Best Stuff
- Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am?
About Les Brown
As one of the world’s most renowned motivational speakers, Les Brown is a dynamic personality and highly-sought-after resource in business and professional circles for Fortune 500 CEOs, small business owners, non-profit and community leaders from all sectors of society looking to expand opportunity. For three decades he has not only studied the science of achievement, he’s mastered it by interviewing hundreds of successful business leaders and collaborating with them in the boardroom translating theory into bottom-line results for his clients.
As a premier Keynote Speaker and leading authority on achievement for audiences as large as 80,000—Les Brown energizes people to meet the challenges of the world around them. He skillfully weaves his compelling life story into the fabric of our daily lives. The thread is forever strengthened, touting why you can’t afford to be complacent and to aim high, achieve and actively make an impact on the world.
Les Brown never tires of using his energies to transform the world, well-beyond the podium and public appearances, meshing traditional and social media to empower his audiences. Hundreds of thousands are watching him on YouTube and tens of thousands interact with him regularly on Facebook. He has a keen way of turning what he touches into gold. Over 20 years ago, he won a Chicago-area Emmy® for his unsurpassed fundraising pledge drive for the Public Broadcasting System. Followed by several bestselling books and hosting popular national talk shows on television and radio.
Addressing audiences from Denmark to Dubai, Canada to the Caribbean, Les Brown is invited back again and again for his powerful message and the ability to connect deeply with people from all walks of life. It isn’t just his great smile and his way with words that motivates people to take action like never before; when people face roadblocks or adversity it is the depth of his knowledge on achievement that creates lasting results.
Les Brown’s straight-from-the-heart, passion and high-energy, motivates audiences to step beyond their limitations and into their greatness in many ways. Over the past decade, Les has expanded his role from keynote speaker to Master Trainer, creating the kind of workshop learning experience that got him committed to personal-and-professional development many years earlier. His charisma, warmth and humor have transformed ordinary people into extraordinary achievers by using his own life, and his in-depth study of others’ challenges, to build an understanding of what works, what doesn’t work, and why.
Revered as an icon by his colleagues, Brown received the National Speakers Association coveted Council of Peers Award of Excellence (CPAE), and ultimately, its most prestigious Golden Gavel Award for achievement and leadership in communication. Toastmasters International also voted him one of the Top Five Outstanding Speakers. Worldwide. Legions of followers flock to stadiums and arenas to hear a man who never stops believing that with proper guidance and training you can achieve anything you desire in life.
A stumbling block in elementary school was when he was mistakenly declared, “Educable mentally retarded,” teachers did not recognize the true potential of little Les Brown. However, he used determination, persistence and belief in his ability to go beyond being a sanitation worker to unleash a course of amazing achievements including broadcast station manager, political commentator and multi-term state representative in Ohio.
Les Brown is committed to motivating and training today’s generation to be achievers and leaders as he introduces new audiences every day to It’s Not Over Until You Win, Up Thoughts for Down Times and Fight For Your Dream. Les Brown’s audio series,“Choosing Your Future,” remains his all-time bestseller for its acclaimed impact worldwide.
In business as in real life there are always going to be ups and downs. However, where there is a will, there is always a way to achieve amazing results for your organization when Les Brown fills the room with his high-impact, customized message and standing ovation performance!