Business

Les Brown embraces his Jamaican roots

BY DENNISE WILLIAMS
Contributor

Sunday, October 29, 2017

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Usain Bolt is not the only son of the soil who is number one in the world. Les Brown, the world's number one motivational speaker, has roots right here in Jamaica.

As he prepares to return to Jamaica for his second motivational conference, he shares his ties to the island in a telephone interview with the Jamaica Observer.

“As you know, I am adopted. And I was told that my father, who came to Florida from Jamaica, met my mother while they were both cutting sugar cane in that state. He cooked her a dinner of jerk chicken, and here I am!”

Brown shares that the birth record system 70 years ago, especially for black children, was not as advanced as it is today. And so Brown is not in a position to connect with his direct Jamaican relations.

That said, his adoptive mother told him of his connection to Jamaica, and Brown was drawn to the teachings of Marcus Garvey.

“I feel a special connection to Jamaica…I am recognised as the number one speaker in the world, and I acknowledge that the finest motivational speaker on the planet was Marcus Garvey. As I built my career, I studied his work, the courage of a man way ahead of his time. He galvanised people in America before greats such as Martin Luther King and Malcom X. I just admired his work and he has always been my role model.”

Les Brown will be in Jamaica to deliver not only a motivational speech at a conference, but also guidance on how to circumvent mental blocks to unleash your greatness.

“My main objective is to share the message that in order to make it in this new age, you have to have a new way of thinking.”

Brown told Sunday Finance says that all evidence points to the fact that we are in an era of accelerating change, increasing complexity and ever-multiplying competition.

“The 3 Cs, as they are called, were identified by Peter Drucker — and so many of us do not know what to do to master accelerating change, increasing complexity and ever-multiplying competition.”

Brown goes on to say, “Three things are very important. First, your mental mindset. So many of us are in situations that are very choatic with a lot of fear which leaves us feeling helpless and hopeless.”

How do you move from “helpless and hopeless”? Brown says, “You have to build your skill set and create your own personal economy to provide for yourself.”

And how does one do that? Again, Brown is very clear. “In this era, you must have collaborative, achievement-driven, supportive relationships. You can't make it by yourself today, you must have people around you, and you have to bring value to the table. I tell people that you have to look for ways each day to increase your value to be able to earn from a creative, sustainable process. If you are looking to earn money for the long haul, you have to look at the team of people you are working with. Because, if you are the smartest person in the group, get a new group! And we are going to teach people how to do that at the conference.”

Brown notes that life coaching and motivation has become a much-needed industry in the last 20 years because of the speed of change in business.

“I am a transformational specialist, and I see through my travels around the world that we are living in a time when people need experiences to transform themselves to accommodate the experiences that have come in the world.”

So Les is not telling you to solve your problems by reading a book.“If information could change people,” he says, “everybody would be skinny, rich and happy.” In order to transform the mind, you need to have experiences to shift your perspective.

Brown continues, “We are in a period of creative destruction. The things that are being created are destroying jobs. Research shows that 50 to 60 per cent of current jobs can be done by robots. The fact is that in less than seven years, apps, artificial intelligence or robots will do the majority of the jobs that exist now. And so this period of accelerated destruction means that people must have a plan to protect their ability to earn an income.”

Brown shared a personal example. “My first job was an elevator boy, which meant I manually worked the levers to move the elevator between floors. My next job was setting up pins in a bowling alley. Neither of those jobs exist anymore because machines can do the work. So what I am saying is that people need to go from just working a job to becoming entrepreneurial in their mindset. In today's economy you either expand or you are expendable. And so the training that we take people through at the upcoming conference is to expand their vision of themselves to help navigate the current changes in business. It is to allow them to be competitive.”

And Brown shared that, “The more money you make, somebody somewhere is thinking of technology to reduce the expense of what they are paying you. Recently in the US, there were protests by workers at McDonald's to increase the minimum wage. The result? Some of the owners of the McDonald's restaurants around the country figured out how to automate some of the functions, and 16,000 people lost their jobs.”

Bottom line: “We have to transform ourselves to create new economies,” Brown says. “There is a shortage of ideas, not a shortage of money.”

Despite all of that, the fact is that many people feel stuck in a rut and devoid of ideas. Brown explains, “In life, it is not about complaining, it's about taking action. Use the same complaining energy to take action! I challenge you to transition out of that job that is below your pay grade. You know the job that pays just enough to encourage you not to quit and you work just enough not to be fired.”

This is the answer to stepping up your game, according to Brown: “Develop specialised knowledge that people will pay you for.”

Now, Brown says that you don't have to know what to do. What is necessary is to commit yourself to do something. Then you will get into action.

“We are programmed to be logical and practical, and so when you move to commitment, then you go into action, and you will be willing to experiment until you find something that works. Thomas Edison said, 'I did not fail 10,000 times, I found 10,000 ways that did not work'.”

Brown is not giving a recipe for an easy walk to riches. He states, “We have to be patient and relentless until we become who we truly are. We have the potential to do more and achieve more. So many of us stand around and procrastinate. Life is about results. You have to judge a tree by the fruit it bears. When there is argument between mind and heart, follow your heart because there your treasure is also.”

That might be easier said than done, as many of us are defined by what we earn. How do we break the mental pattern of that?

Brown explains: “Money does not determine your wealth. Wealth is determined by self-approval and self-value. Millionaires have committed suicide, so if the mind was equal to their bank account, they would still be alive. Greater than he that is in you, than he that is in the world. So our circumstances don't define us. We define ourselves. We get to choose this day who you will serve — positive or negative thoughts.”

So what are the steps to creating not only a dream but an action plan to achieve it? Brown identifies three very important steps:

1. Be clear about what you want

2. This is major — being aware of the type of person you must become in order to accomplish what you want. You don't get in life what you ask for, but what you are. I had to ask myself, what would it take to become a dominant speaker on the planet…what would make me stand out…what blueprint do I need? What radical change must I make? So I made a commitment to study, to get the coaching that I needed, and more. And those are the things that have propelled me to the number one status I now have.

3. Having a mentor that has a trained eye and a track record of achievement — you can't see the picture when you are in the frame. Here is a fact. People who earn US$100,000 a month don't hang out with people who earn US$30,000 a year…birds of a feather stick together. I am not saying be a snob, but if you are around people who are toxic, you will behave like them unconsciously. Who you hang out with, you will become.”

For people reading this article, what is your blessing to them? Brown says, “My blessing to them is that I don't know them, yet here is what I know about them — that they have greatness in them. No one could tell me that (a) born and left abandoned; (b) being adopted and (c) labelled educable retarded in the Florida school system and (d) no college training should have stopped my dreams. So my advice is to not think like everybody else. Transform your mind. Don't stop learning. Read 30 to 40 pages of something positive every day. Have a vision and surround yourself with supportive relationships. Never give up on yourself, and do all you can and leave the rest to God.”

Brown closes with, “Pray as if everything depends upon God, and work as if everything depends upon you.”

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