Episode 162- Hold Your Own

Having hecklers in life is part of this. And we’re in such a woke culture now where you know, if somebody doesn’t believe in you, they’re a hater and you ignore them. And I don’t know, I’ll learn more from the haters than I do from the people that totally agree with me. And that’s why in business I kind of like flying under the radar. I like not promoting myself. I love building things grassroots. Where a small select few people love it and the rest of the people have no idea about it because it gives me a hidden advantage of seeing really where people are coming from because I’ve been around a lot of celebrities and I can tell you there’s a ton of false praise and people kissing their butt just because of their name and what they think this person could do to them or they’re afraid of possibly offending the person.

So I love personally walking into a situation where I’m leading something and the people in it really get it and I walk somewhere else and nobody knows who I am and I see the way I’m treated differently. And I liked that because it makes you realize, don’t take the praise seriously and don’t take the complaints seriously either. There’s a great line from one of the Billy Joel’s songs called The Entertainer and he’s talking about the life of a musician on the road and playing and making success. He’s talking about all the highs of it, but then he says, “but if I go cold, I won’t get sold, I’ll get put in the back in the discount rack, like another can of beans.”  So I don’t know, maybe since I was little, I’ve enjoyed the lessons of adversity and when I was about 15 I landed the job as a counter waiter at the Howard Johnson’s restaurant that was walking distance from my house.

It was the perfect job for me. I could walk to it. I had long hair and they didn’t make me cut my hair. I got to hang out with a bunch of girls. I got all the ice cream that I wanted and I got to make tips and cash. It’s pretty much the perfect job for a 15 year old. So one night I’m working at the counter. It’s a Friday night and these four guys come in, they’re the business type, they’re dressed up in a suit and ties, their jackets and they came in for a quick bite and they were pretty sarcastic, which I am prone to be often. And they pretty much took it out on me. So they got their meal, they got their coffee, they got the dessert, there were no rush, but any chance they could, they took a shot at me.

And I remember at one point I kind of gave it back to them a little bit, but I couldn’t go very far. You know, I’m 15 at a job and I’ve gotta be real careful about what I say. But they were really kind of pushing. And then I asked, are you done yet? And one of the guys looked at me and he goes, “What are you in a rush for? You have to go home and watch the Golden Girls or something? I mean, what else could you have going on?” I smiled and nodded and he asked for another cup of coffee and I went and I got it and I brought it back to him and everything that I wanted to do, I held back. I gave him the coffee and I smiled and I gave some type of good nature joke back to him and I remember it wasn’t rude, but it was witty and I smiled, I held my composure and all the other guys laughed.

I saw the guy nod and put his chin up, almost like an approval for standing up for myself and handling it without me being a jerk. So finally, eventually they got up to go and I’m not sure where they were going, but a few of the guys  are walking out. And that one guy though, when I was going back and forth with, he just looked at me and smiled and he said, have fun watching the Golden Girls tonight. The smile was more than, it wasn’t a mean smile. It was a nice smile. And I remember thinking to myself, I’m not sure what just happened there, but it felt like a growing into an adult type of moment. Like I know that’s going to happen a lot in my life going forward. I know there’s going to be a lot of people that give me crap and I know that I can’t just shut them all out and call them haters.

I’ve gotta be able to figure out how to deal with it. I think the more that you deal with that, the more that you create wit within you. You learn how to have banter and conversations and hold up your own end of the bargain and be able to give it back. But I have too much emotion tied to it and I remember thinking that I’m glad that they’re gone, but I was also glad that it happened and I walked over to where they were sitting. I started clearing off the plates to bring it back to the sink and the kitchen and underneath that guy’s coffee mug was a $50 bill. I just sat there staring at it thinking this is some mistake and you’ve got to remember this is 1987. $50 was a lot of money, especially then for a 15 year old, I mean their entire bill between the four of them couldn’t have been $25 maybe a little bit more, and the guy gave me a $50 tip and I sat there all night trying to figure out why because a normal tip in a situation like that would have been a couple of dollars.

There’s no reason to ever give anybody a $50 tip in a Howard Johnson’s restaurant, so I never got an answer from these guys. They never came back in that I know about. It was pretty obvious to me why he went and did that and I think it was a test. I think they were trying to get a rise out of me. Some people just like to push buttons and they were pushing buttons and I held my own with them. I wasn’t a pushover. I gave it back at times. For some reason I was polite but firm at the same time not trying to take myself too seriously and it was kind of an uncommon night for me at 15 years old. I was more mature then than I usually was and I realized that night what I needed to be more of to be successful going forward because the knee jerk reaction that I normally would have done, which is ignoring them or talking back to them or doing something worse would have made me feel good in the moment.

But it would, it probably got me in trouble in my job and I wouldn’t have learned anything but by a transpiring the way it did, I was rewarded in the short term and the long term in the short term because I had 50 bucks and 50 bucks cash to a 15 year old in 1987 when a long way. But also I got to go toe to toe with a group of guys that were obviously successful. Obviously smart, the guy was willing to give me a challenge, and not only did I get to go toe to toe with them and hold my own, but I didn’t know way that must’ve impressed them. And when that happened, it gave me confidence. It gave me a different kind of confidence than I had before that Friday night. And I think it’s adversities like that, those challenges that are brought to us, those are the ones that will help determine who we are. Not putting ourselves in some type of a bubble where we can’t be challenged by other people’s thoughts and disagreements or prejudices. That doesn’t make us better. That just makes us more inclusive and less likely to be able to hold our own. And I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

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