I was born a nerd, and not a very confident one...
more specifically, please welcome, SUPERNERD! That's me!
On my 16th birthday, my mom thought it would be a good idea if I got a job.
So I headed down to the grocery store, and the first week on the job, I found my role model:
The assistant manager was 2 years older than me,
and he drove a '69 Canary Yellow Plymouth SUPERBIRD.
Anybody familiar with this car? The '69 SUPERBIRD was The Greatessports Car Ever Built!
Now if THAT NERD could drive a car like that, well, maybe I could, TOO. After all, I was a nerd.
So I got to work, moppin' floors, sackin' groceries.
My Goal, the Assistant Manager position.
Picture it, me behind the wheel of a 1969 Canary Yellow Plymouth Superbird!
The problem was, I had flat feet.
Ya ever try walking on a concrete floor 5 hours straight, with flat feet? I have.
10 PM, store closed, we had to mop the entire store floor, three high school football linemen, and me.
I think you can sense my dilemma: "How was I gonna weasel my way out of this one?"
I spotted the microphone connected to the store intercom system. It was calling my name!
I'd been dreaming about what my voice would sound like over those speakers.
If I could just keep 'em entertained, they'd do all the work! They'd mop, I'd talk.
My plan was about to unfold!
Dead of winter, 10 below zero, NORTHERN IOWA, small town, my friends were easily amused.
I felt I could contribute to molding these young football players, by quoting poetry.
This was around the time of the original Woodstock, FLOWER CHILDREN, HIPPIES!,
about the same time Mike Pallin was hanging around Greenwich Village.
I was a dreamer, you might say. I hope you'll allow me this, from "Desiderata":
"Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself...
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."
I think I mesmerized the football players.
It worked! They were sackin', I was yackin'!
It Flashed Across My Mind...Were the football players gonna beat me up?
It was NOT clear that my intercom ramblings were doing me any good.
The store manager realized what a blowhard I was!
Ya ever find yourself not cut out for the job you have?
Ya know, like the uniform, or the work jacket, doesn't fit just right?
Maybe it's too small, like this one! Well, this is how I was starting to feel!
Eventually, the store manager caught up with me & HE said: "You might be in the wrong business!"
"NAWWW! Me?" You kiddin'? I LOVE this job.
"Well, wait a minute, Mr. Store Manager, I mean, what about my entertainment value?
That's gotta be worth something.
Ah, NO! The manager was not pleased: "Ya either sack, or we'll sack you!"
"Whaddaya think yer a disc jockey or somethin'? You're fired!"
So much for me driving that '69 Canary Yellow Plymouth Superbird,
the greatest sports car ever built. It wasn't meant to be.
It was time for me to decide: Did I want more of the same, more failure,
or could I cash in on my talents with the store intercom?
I just needed to find another microphone, somewhere,
and this time, there needed to be an audience of more than THREE.
I really kinda did like the store manager's idea about becoming a disc jockey!
So I headed for the local COLLEGE radio station, and I got a job sweeping the floor.
"Assistant Janitor". And I had the KEY to the STUDIO!
The station signed off the air at 1AM. So, at 2AM, I was behind the "main control board".
...spinnin' the dials! My goal? I would work my way up, from janitor to DISC JOCKEY!
I'd found my role model: In NYC, Don/Imus had a limo take him to the studio every morning!
Now, Don/Imus was kind of goofy & crazy!
I figured if that goofball got a limo, maybe I could, too. After all, I could be goofy & crazy.
I had a Don/Imus comedy album, and I had it memorized!
So I turned on the microphone, and over that dead radio transmitter,
I CROWED my very best Don/Imus imitation, from which I now quote:
"Say Hallelujah! It's the Right Reverend Doctor Billy Sol Hargis here on behalf of the first church of the gooey death and discount house o' worship ...here in Del Rio, Texas...
and friends: Buh-lessings do not guh-row on trees, ya don't just walk out in the backyard,
and pluck one from a tree. Say hallelujah!"
By the end of that summer, I signed on the air, with my own radio show:
3 weeks later, I had the number one show on the station.
I, was a, D.J.!! Suddenly, it was my full-time career, and
I became, "The Morning DJ"!!
I was no longer Nerd Boy. They started calling me "TED BOY".
Some people said I looked like Johnny Fever!
Ya Ever Met A Rock Star? I have!
Backstage, with Billy Joel...Me & Billy, looking at pictures of Christie Brinkley. Pretty Cool!
THERE I WAS, every morning over a 100,000 Watt TRANSMITTER,
"Playin' Stax O' Wax From The Bax O' The Rax"!
A few years passed.... Then one day, the station manager pulled me aside, into his office.
Now, the STATION MANAGER, let me tell you about him:
When I spotted the gunrack on his pickup truck, it flashed across my mind:
HE MIGHT BE A REDNECK!
Being called into this guy's office was like having the school principal read you a Doctor Seuss Book.
Here's what he said:
"The ratings are back, you're not that popular. You used to be funny, but you ain't funny no more.
If ya get funny again, give me a call, 'cause right now, you ain't funny at all!
Then, he dropped the bomb on me. He said: We're cuttin' your pay, Big Time!"
Ya ever get kind of a queasy feeling right down in the pit of your stomach?
Like ya might have to puke?
Ya feel it beginning to form, the shape of an "L" on your forehead?
Like maybe, my ego had been writing checks that my talent couldn't possibly cash?
Well I was having ALL those feelings, ALL AT ONCE!
Maybe I wasn't COOL enough to even wear this Rock 'N Roll Jacket.
I could sense that the teenage nerd HAD RETURNED TO MY BODY.
"Aah, well wait a minute, Mr. Manager, I mean, what about my entertainment value?
Aaah, I've got a $1,000 house payment, what do you think I should do?"
The station manager said those words that will forever echo in my brain:
"Maybe YOU should buy a smaller house!"
No limosine ride for me! Wasn't gonna happen!
Now I don't know if anybody's ever suggested to you that you should lower your expectations,
I believe they call that "de-motivating".
The problem was, this time the failure was serious.
I was in my late 30's, with a beautiful family, and he wanted me to settle for less?
I DON'T THINK SO!
Was I going to allow myself to fail? I made a decision to look for another industry,
and this time, one with the potential for unlimited income.
So I met this guy, THE biggest wheeler-dealer Real Estate Dude in town.
I said to him, "Hey, Mister Real Estate Dude, whaddaya think about ME, sellin' houses?"
And he said, "Yeah!, I think YOU'D be GOOD!"
HEY, HE thought I'D be good! So I got myself a license.
My role model? You guessed it. The biggest wheeler-dealer Real Estate Dude in town.
This guy was cool! He drove a JAGUAR CONVERTIBLE.
And he had flown on an airplane?, to PHOENIX, ARIZONA?, for a HAIR TRANSPLANT?,
...you know those little plugs they put in your head to cure male pattern baldness?
Well, he had 'em, and THEY WERE COOL! Now I had something to shoot for!
I figured if this balding man could be a big shot Realtor, so could I!
After all, I was balding myself.
Can't you see it? Me, behind the wheel of a SEXY JAG CONVERTIBLE!
--with those little plugs in my head to keep my hair from falling out in the wind?
So my real estate career began!
I went to work with people who didn't know WHAT they wanted to buy or IF they wanted to buy,
or WHEN they would buy, or IF they'd EVER buy.
By the time I was completely outta money, I stumbled into a Floyd Wickman SWEATHOGS listing class.
Floyd taught me how to Ring The Doorbell, Smile, Pay A Compliment,
Take 'Em To The Kitchen Table, Break The Ice, And Take 'Em On A Safe Island!
So I did! And my home selling career took off like a 12 cylinder Jaguar convertible!
Before long, I was EARNING more, WORKING less. Started to RELAX!
Got a "personal business coach". Hit six figures!
AND THEN!, I was AN AWARD WINNING Realtor.
Flew out to Vegas on a jet, to shake Floyd's hand, and pick up the Master Sales Society 10/100 Award!
I followed that up with the Platinum Award, for a million dollars in Gross Closed Commissions!
Felt pretty cool!
Ya ever been on a "panel presentation"? I have.
I was one of 8 paneliss onstage in Las Vegas, a thousand Realtors in the audience.
Once again, the 17 year old nerd had returned to my body!
On my clipboard, I had extensive NERD NOTES, detailing MY SUCCESS.
My turn came to speak, and I gave a long, BORING report on my monthly mailing system.
"Well on the 17th of the month I send THIS postcard featuring my full color logo.
And then my alternate mailing on the 28th, well, they get this marketing piece in the mail.
And then, well never mind..."
By the time I was halfway through that, the snore factor was so high,
NERD-BOY HAD MANAGED TO LOSE the ENTIRE AUDIENCE!
Has anyone ever told YOU that YOU were boring? I mean not to your face, but....
Have you ever felt like a complete nerd?
Well, that's how I was starting to feel, again.
Maybe I wasn't meant to be the glittering example for others.
I had fallen on my butt, this time in front of hundreds of people.
But for some reason, the nice man invited me back!
The panel moderator, Mike Pallin, said, "Come On, Try It Again!"
So I returned to Las Vegas to be on the same panel.
I decided to re-invent myself. I was tired of being a nerd.
The night before my panel appearance, some friends & I were tooling around Las Vegas!
We headed to the Rio Bamba lounge, to see the flamboyant Motown & Soul singer & performer,
The Great Mister Earl Turner.
D'ya ever wish you were wearing someone else's clothes?
I'd become obsessed with Earl's wardrobe! Earl Turner had THE coolest threads I had ever seen!
I had found my role model: EARL!!
I knew I couldn't sing or perform like Earl,
but maybe I could look like him, if I could just dress like Earl Turner!
I Began To See Myself Onstage, with The Microphone, The Lights, The Audience.
Can't you just see it? ME, wearing Earl TURNER's Canary Yellow Jacket--
The Most Flamboyant Brightly-Colored Sport Jacket Ever Built?
The next morning, after seeing Earl Turner,
my friend Rick & I were wandering throught Caesar's Palace,
heading for the pool area.
We passed a storefront window, where we spotted it!...
Earl Turner's CANARY YELLOW SPORT JACKET! So we popped in, glanced around.
That's when we met Ali, the classy gentleman who sells threads to celebrities.
His past clients include: Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Floyd Wickman
...and Earl TURNER!.
Ali said: "Monsieur, Monsieur...this is the finest silk in the world."
"Um, how much for the yellow sport jacket, Ali?" "700 dollars, but for you, 600."
(I don't know about you, but in Iowa, we don't ever pay more than $250 for any kind of sport jacket.)
"Aah, would ya take 500, Ali?" "No, no, monsieur, $600, final offer."
Well, ya know how sometimes, a friend can egg you on, to do something ya wouldn't normally do?
Before I knew it, my friend Rick had nudged me into a decision, to GO FOR IT!
I charged that baby on Mastercard!
I WAS ATTEMPTING THE RIDICULOUS, TO ACHIEVE THE SPECTACULAR!
This jacket was the most impractical choice. You can't even wear this jacket in Iowa. You'd get beat up!
So, we decided to take the jacket for a test-drive, go for a little stroll!
With my 6'6" bodyguard Rick by my side, we made a bee-line for the Caesar's Palace pool.
It was time to take in the International Bikini Competition!
By this time, we weren't walking around the pool. We were strutting around the pool.
As we did, Long Tall Texans with large beer bellies & leathery skin
were putting down their bottles of Lone Star, getting up off their Chaise Loungers,
and looking at me like "Who The Heck IS That, a movie star?"
And that is how Rick & I made our discovery. The MAGIC was in this JACKET!
Wearing the JACKET gave me SELF-CONFIDENCE! (At least that's what I thought).
Oh, it's not like I wasn't cocky before! But, this was a whole new level of cocky!
We'd bought the jacket less than half an hour before, from our friend Ali.
At the point of purchase, we thought we were being foolish.
Now, we felt completely transformed by this JACKET!
So we headed back to the convention! I was about to walk onstage. The curtain opened.
There was a huge monitor on either side.
I stepped onto the stage, and I could hear an audible gasp coming from the audience!
For a moment, the room was silent.
Then my friend Mike Pallin, the moderator, turned to me and said, "Ah, a bird of rare plumage indeed!"
And the crowd went wild. Well, THAT CROWD did anyway.
The people that were in that audience that day said that I looked like an exotic tropical bird!
And that is the story of how I went from Supernerd to Superbird!!
Due to my extreme need for recognition, I wasn't gonna settle for 3 - 10/100 Awards,
and the Platinum award.
I found it necessary to invent my OWN award, "The Yellow Jacket Award".
Each time I put on another jacket, I took on the aura of that uniform.
And that Yellow Jacket was the most seductive of all!
But here's what I REALLY wanna tell ya:
It wasn't about the Plymouth, the Jaguar, the Pictures Of Christie Brinkley, or the Hair Plugs.
In fact, it wasn't even about the Yellow Jacket!
The Yellow Jacket helped in the moment. When I put it on, it took away my fear of failure.
And it sure felt good when I was walking around that pool!
But what happened once I took off the Yellow Jacket was even more significant.
Once I was no longer attached to that symbol of success,
I finally came to realize that true strength is found within.
Remember, You, are a child of the universe, no less than the trees & the stars.
You, have a Right, to be here!