I'm between presenting gigs right now. I just got done at a Boys and Girls Club on 44th Street and McDowell. I was pacing around outside before I went in. The butterflies were eating my stomach and I began thinking, "What am I doing? Why do I sign for doing these things?" I was nervous.
I noticed some maintenance guys outside the Club and got jealous. "I bet they don't get nervous before their job," I said to myself. Then I thought about my father. A person who slaved away at a factory job he hated for over 30 years. Since I was able to speak and listen, my dad has literally used every chance he could to tell me how much he hated/hates his job. That's when it dawned on me. I can't escape emotion.
There are the emotions of doing something below your potential like sadness, depression, and anger. And there are the emotions of doing something you really care about such as nervousness, excitement, and fear. The difference is, one set of emotions leads to something rewarding and the other doesn't.
I go into the Boys and Girls Club and they take me to the gym where the kids are sitting around the 3-point line. The adult is going through the announcements and again, I'm like, "What am I doing? How did I get to this point?" Then they introduced me and I began the presentation with the line, "Who watches youtube?" All the hands go up and the rest is fun.
I don't hard sell the book but, without fail, at the end, the kids want to hear about me and the journey of making Larry the Weatherman's book. It's a healthy exchange, but it's not the most rewarding part.
When it's time for the kids to share who their favorite self-made person is, a lot of them say LeBron James, a soccer player, or a youtuber, but there's always one kid who says, "My Mom."
As I was leaving the presentation today and the kids began talking to each other, I heard one boy say to another boy, "Who is your favorite self-made person?" As soon as I got in my car, I lost it.
The thing that's working is credibility. Kids can't be BS'ed. Introducing kids to self-made people is worth every single thing I had to go through to become a self-made person. Paying my bills late, not having the foods I wanted, falling behind socially, beefing with other creatives—I won't care about those things as my life continues, but telling kids that "being a self-made person is for everyone" and hearing that their favorite self-made person is their mom....man, I'm taking that with me all the way.