Perhaps one of the most pivotal people in my life, even if I don’t know him, he doesn’t know me nor has he ever heard/spoken to me. Les Brown is a motivational speaker who I discovered late in Grade 9 (2015). I happened to stumble across his speeches after falling into a pit of bad grades mixed with trying times…and I was instantly hooked.
|Leslie Calvin Brown.|
In 1986, Les was sleeping linoleum floor of his office. By 1990, he had become one of the best motivational speakers in the country.
“It was very hard when I fell upon hard times, walking into the lobby of my office building, people laughing at me, snickering, ‘There’s the guy talking about being successful, bathing in the office bathroom, sleeping on the floor!'”
From Humble Beginnings
Les Brown was born in abandoned building, on the floor, in Liberty City, Miami, FL. Born to a mother who gave him and his twin brother Wesley away. Mamie Brown, a cafeteria cook adopted the twins. He credits her for all of what he’s achieved.
Coupled with his inattentiveness and mischievous nature, Les was never very good in school, and over time this took a toll on the way he was treated. In grade 5, he was labeled, ‘Educable, mentally retarded.’ It was until the day he met LeRoy Washington that all of this changed.
A Chance Encounter
As he was waiting outside a classroom for one of his friends, the substitute teacher called him inside.
“Young man, work out this problem for me,”
“Well, I can’t do that, sir.”
“I’m educable mentally retarded, sir, I’m not supposed to be in here.”
As the class burst out in laughter to this response, Mr. Washington replied sternly, “Don’t ever say that again. Someone’s opinion of you doesn’t have to become your reality.” This is the one line that has become synonymous with Les, and rightly so, it’s empowering.
Les has a plethora of great quotes, but perhaps my favorite is this:
Pushed on, despite the circumstances
“I didn’t even want a blanket or a pallet on the floor,” he explained. “I wanted it to be hard and cold so it would motivate me to keep striving. I didn’t want to get soft.”
Les’ charismatic, humorous personality makes him different than any other motivational speaker you’ll come across. As the author of many books, speeches, courses and other things, Les is one of the most dynamic speakers you’ll hear.
Here’s one of his best speeches, and if you have some time to spare, go ahead and watch it.