It’s hard changing your life. It was hard when just over three years ago in the Penobscot Building in Detroit, Michigan, where I was operating my business, and I fell on some hard times and I was sleeping in my office. It was hard coming into the lobby and the security said, “Excuse me, Mr. Brown, can we see you for a moment?” And I said, “Yes.”
And I walked up to the counter and he gave me an envelope, and he said, “Would you mind reading it here?” And I opened the envelope and the envelope was from management that said, “This is an office tower, it’s not a hotel. “Please do not sleep in your office.”
And I said, “Excuse me, sir, I just work long hours “in creating my business. “I’m an entrepreneur and right now things are bad for me, “but they’re not going to be this way always. “And I just ask for the opportunity to continue “to operate like I’m doing. “I’m not trying to make this my home.”
And it was hard coming through the lobby, and sometimes they would laugh, “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. “Him and two other dreamers up there. “Look at him.” It was hard, ladies and gentlemen. Coming to speak to people and I was facing financial difficulties in my own life.
“It’s very important, as you hold on to that dream, there are moments when you’re going to doubt yourself, that rough times are going to come but they have not come to stay, they have come to pass.” – Les Brown
I was behind on my bills and my dreams and I’m saying to them, “You can live your dream.” It was hard, ladies and gentlemen. It was very difficult to pick myself up each day believing that I could do it. There were times that I doubted myself. I’d say, “God, why is this happening to me? “I’m just trying to take care of my children and my mother. “I’m not trying to steal or rob from anybody. “Why did this have to happen to me?”
It was very hard, and here’s what I want to say to you. For those of you that have experienced some hardships, don’t give up on your dream. No one could have convinced me by holding on, by continuing to push forward, by continuing to run toward my dream, that one day I would have my own talk show.
It’s a long shot, ladies and gentlemen, from Liberty City in an abandoned building on a floor, never knowing my mother or father. It’s a long shot being here with you today in this dome in Atlanta. It’s a long shot, no college training, labeled educable mentally retarded, but I kept running toward my dream. Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Don’t stop running toward your dream.
It’s very important, as you hold on to that dream, there are moments when you’re going to doubt yourself, that rough times are going to come but they have not come to stay, they have come to pass. It’s very important for you to know that. Don’t say I’m having a bad day. Say I am having a character-building day.
It’s very important for you to believe that you are the one to make this happen. I remember this high school teacher Mr. Leroy Washington, at the end of school 1 June, it was just a few days before we were supposed to leave. And I just got my report card and it indicated that I had failed history and I failed English and I would have to go to summer school.
“For those of you that have experienced some hardships, don’t give up on your dream. ” – Les Brown
And I was feeling within myself that I was a failure that I’m slower than most people in getting paperwork. And I was feeling down on myself and very negative. And Mr. Washington was giving a speech to the graduating seniors and I was in the 11th grade. And even though I wasn’t supposed to be in there, I went in there because the speech he was giving, that speech was for me.
And as he talked my heart began to beat fast, tears began to run by my eyes and I was in the back just listening to him, because he said — and he was a very dramatic man. I still talk to him to this day.
He said, ‘As graduating seniors of Booker T. Washington High School, I want you to know that you are blessed and highly favored and that as you go toward the future, begin to know that you have greatness within you. And if just one of you here begin to envision yourselves as being blessed and highly favored to reach your goals, if just one of you capture the essence of what that means that you have greatness within you and responsibility to manifest that greatness, that you can make your parents proud, you can make your school proud, you can touch millions of people’s lives and the world will never be the same again, because you came this way.’ And the students gave him a rousing standing ovation.
And as he left the auditorium, I ran down the steps and I caught him in a parking lot and said, ‘Mr. Washington?’
He said, ‘Yes.’
I said, ‘Do you remember me, sir?
He said, ‘No.’
I said, ‘My name is Leslie brown. My mother — she works in the cafeteria. I am one of the twins: Leslie and Wesley’. I said, ‘Mr. Washington, but you know I’ve got these big dreams and I like talking to people, I love people’, and I said, ‘I want to work with people and I’ve got this dream of buying my mama a home. Could I do that, Mr. Washington?’
He said, ‘It’s possible, Mr. Brown.’
And as he walked away I called him again, I said, ‘Mr. Washington?’
He said, ‘What do you want now?’
I said, ‘I’m the one, sir’. I said, ‘I’m the one — you remember me? I am Mr. Mamie Brown’s boy. I am the one, I am the one.’