You’ve heard the old axiom about how people come into your life: for a reason, a season or a lifetime, right? Well, I have known Les Brown, one of the greatest motivational speakers of our time, throughout many seasons; for various reasons; and through it all, I believe both our working relationship and friendship will last a lifetime.
Working in the Chicago office of Les Brown Enterprises, LLC., as his Executive Administrator and Senior Writer in 2007 and 2008, and still today as his Writing Consultant/Ghostwriter, has certainly not been a chance arrangement by this Universe. No, it was definitely a destined occurrence along my life’s journey; an occurrence, no doubt, orchestrated by God. How do I know this? Because out of all the people in the world, I was the one purposed with delivering a piece of vital information to Les that would literally change the dynamics of a portion of his personal life. That’s all I’m going to say about that right now. If you haven’t heard me or him tell the story then you’ll just have to wait for me to share it in one of my books down the road.
Right now, in honor of Les’ 74th solar return on February 17th, I wanted to share a little “Vintage Les.” The time period: early to mid 1970’s. The location: Columbus, Ohio. As a high-schooler, I woke up every weekday morning to pink bedroom walls and the trendy hip hop sounds of R&B amplified through my alarm clock radio. Disc jockey Les, and Columbus’ soulful radio station, WVKO, were synonymous back in the day.
We knew and loved him as Les Brown, The Man About Town; that Platter-Playing Pappa who didn’t just deliver great tunes for our enjoyment but “spit” a great message of hope and determination into our ears as well. A message that took him all the way to winning a seat in the Ohio State House of Representative, where he passed more bills than any other junior state legislator.
However, there was one very brief message of his that I remembered most as a teenager: “Get up, up, up!” It reverberated daily, in a rich baritone manner. He said it often, between his cajoling and song playing. As a morning DJ one would think he was saying “Get up” as in get out of bed and get to school or work. After following him from afar and up close for 46 years now, I know for a fact, “Get up” was a message that was bigger than most of us at that time. Who knows, maybe even bigger than Les, himself? Either way, it was a message every young black boy and girl needed to hear to prepare for solid footing in that great big unjust real world awaiting their arrival. Every black adult needed to hear it as encouragement to stand strong, stay knowledgeable and remain uplifted knowing.
Those words were telling us that when life knocks us down–and it will–we had to learn how to fall on our backs because if we can look up, then we can get up. Those words assured us to stay in the game and know that it ain’t over until we win. Oh, those old messages just keep on giving! He’s still hitting us with new profound quotes today.
If your day, today, hasn’t been instantly made a little happier and a little brighter, it’s because you haven’t heard Les Brown’s voice. Give it a try right now–even for just five minutes. Google any of his books, CDs, or his PBS specials, “You Deserve” and “It’s Possible.” Check out his multitude of videos on YouTube. And if you’ve not had the privilege of hearing him at all (BTW, where have you been? Living under a rock?), you will be blessed to listen to his Georgia Dome speech from back in the 90’s where he spoke to a crowd of 80,000 people. Wow! And a cheering crowd at that!
There are also many famous and motivating quotes by Les. One only has to put in the words “Les Brown quotes” in a web browser and a multitude are at your fingertips. One that sticks out to me is one that I’ve heard him say often–not from a stage but directly to me, or to someone else. That is, “How you do anything, is how you do everything.” To this day, I strive to live by that powerful statement.
Here are some photos I gathered off the Internet of Les back in the day: 1970’s and 80’s–his early days of making his indelible mark upon this planet. When all seemed impossible–given his poor and humble beginnings as an infant; the crippling mislabeling of educable mentally retarded cast upon him as a child; and his supposed disadvantaged non-college-degreed start into the business world–he made it possible! Was it hard for him? He answers that in his speeches with a resounding “Yes!” Was it necessary? He would say with even more fervid compassion, “Yes!”
Here’s to you, Mrs. Mamie Brown’s Baby Boy.
Happy 74th birthday!!
You are right, Les… there were none before you and there will certainly be none after you,
so please stay HUNGRY and stay around with us for a long, long time.
Terri (T’Eileen) Liggins