If you have even only peeked at the media over the past two days you have surely stumbled upon the Ted Williams story this week. I first saw the video of Ted Williams via Digg and Reddit before it turned into one best feel-good stories of the year (so far). At first I was going to put the link on my other blog, but this inspiring story actually does relate very well to many aspects of presentation. It first begins with this amateur video shot by a young man in Ohio. Watch the video.
Like everyone else, I was blown away by Williams's golden radio voice. That first line out of his mouth was very unexpected and made me laugh with amazement. Wow. His voice is a natural talent, obviously, but he has worked on it as well he says. But what is the most interesting thing to me — and is frankly a large part of the reason the whole nation took to this gentleman and wanted to either hire him or see him do well — was the short interview included in the video that he did right there next to the freeway, where he essentially told his story. In that short clip he told his story with naturalness, honesty, and brevity. "Wait a minute," you say to yourself as you listen to Mr. Williams speak, "this man has an incredible speaking voice and he speaks with great clarity and a humble yet emotional tone that is very down-to-earth and human." You say to yourself, "This is a smart man with a very marketable talent, why is he homeless?" Without going into detail he tells us why in a way that most people can relate to (alcoholism derailed my own father's life and eventually killed him when he was just 48). In that very short interview Ted Williams does something most politicians and media stars rarely do, which is to just tell it like it is with heart, honesty, and clarity. His great talent *plus* his clarity of speaking and general likability which he projects so naturally is a large part why he is getting his huge break.
The video goes viral and the story grows
Williams started receiving many invitations from media outlets like CNN and CBS, etc. Below you can see an emotional Ted Williams being interviewed on the CBS Early Show in New York (he was in Ohio). You can't help feeling good for this guy; when he talks about his mother, well, I almost lost it myself. Watch it on YouTube or below.
Well, thanks to the power of the speed-of-light media today, in a 24-hour span Ted Williams goes from "homeless man" to a job offer to work full time for the NBA's Cleveland Cavilers organization, and gets a house on top of that. An amazing story! At the 3-minute mark of his radio appearance yesterday you'll get to hear the whole thing unfold. Listen on YouTube or below.
Things are not always as they appear
After college and a stint in Peace Corps, I managed a homeless shelter for men in Oregon. I was about 25 or 26 at the time. It was then that I learned that my preconceived notions of homelessness were far too simplistic. The issue is not black and white. Every man who I interviewed who needed assistance had his own unique story about how he fell on hard times and had no place to go or no one in which to turn. Lots of sad stories. Usually it was a matter of bad choices or bad luck, but the men themselves, with very few exceptions, were not bad by any means. It's easy to forget, as we look away, that the "homeless guy" on the street corner is just a fellow human being. In Japan we have the famous story of Kaneto Kanemoto who spent two years homeless sleeping on park benches and scavenging through bins at convenient stores in Tokyo. While homeless he had the idea of starting a new kind of internet company. Today he is CEO of that company which is worth millions called OKWave, and he is a very successful and respected business leader. Yet how many people looked at him during his homeless days as being pathetic or worthless? Things are not always as they appear. In any event, I hope you will forgive me for this little digression. But I just thought that this is a great story in which to start off the new year. No matter how bad things may be, if you believe in yourself and never give up, great things may be just around the corner. 頑張ってください!