OCT. 18, 2012 OUTDOOR ELEGANCE SPEECH: The Freedom to Express Yourself

October 20, 2012
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Randi Marshall and Life Lessons author Peter Bennett share an Outdoor Elegance moment at book signing.

Randi Marshall and Life Lessons author Peter Bennett share an Outdoor Elegance moment at book signing.



Joke No. 1: CUDDLES

I’m sorry if I appear a little somber on what should be a happy occasion.

Earlier today, I found my pet duck Cuddles absolutely motionless in my back yard, so I rushed him over to the vet.

After examining it with his stethoscope, the vet said, “I’m sorry, but Cuddles is dead.”

“Are you absolutely sure?” I asked. “Aren’t there any more tests you can run? It might be in a coma or something.”

The vet left momentarily and returned with a Labrador retriever. The dog stood on its hind legs, put its front paws on the examination table and sniffed the duck from top to bottom. The lab then looked at the vet with sad eyes and shook its head.

The vet momentarily left the room and returned with a tabby cat. The cat sniffed the duck all over, then meowed softly, shaking its head.

No further evaluation needed, the vet told me I had a dead duck on my hands. Then he quietly entered a few notes on his iPad before handing me a bill for $300.

“Three-hundred dollars!” I protested. “Just to tell me my duck is dead!”

The vet shrugged. “I’m sorry. If you had taken my word for it, the bill would have been $20, but with the Lab report and Cat scan, it came to $300.”

Joke No. 2: MANGY CAT

An art collector sees this mangy cat sipping milk from a priceless saucer out in front of a very exclusive antiques store.

The art collector immediately hatches a plan to dupe the shopkeeper out of the saucer. He enters the store and offers to buy the cat.

“It’s not for sale,” the shop owner says.

“How about $50?” the collector asks

The owner nods and takes the money.

Then the collector says, “Would you mind tossing in the saucer for free? It’ll save me the hassle of going down the street to buy one, and besides, the cat’s used to it.”

The shopkeeper says, “Sorry, that’s my lucky saucer. I’ve already sold 68 cats this week!”


Enough with the animal jokes, I’m here to talk about something far less important.

Life Lessons of a Harvard Reject is a sweeping work. It’s about giving you the freedom to tear down the walls holding back your success. It’s about giving you the freedom to blast through every barrier keeping you from what you really want to do. It’s about getting you to aim higher than your current reach. It’s about getting you to HIGHER yourself when the world isn’t hiring.

The first chapter is called Wonder, which I do a lot of in the book. So let me ask you to wonder for just a moment.

All of you, I believe, we’re part of the last century. Well, let me ask you, what should the last century best be remembered for???? What label would you give it? How would you characterize it?


In the last century, we learned how to mass market everything, from toothpaste to toasters to TVs


Once we were a world of separate villages, but World Wars I and II changed that forever. Now if a third world nation like Iran gets the bomb, it matters; it affects us here in La Verne.


In the 15th Century Gutenberg invented the printing press and printed the bible, but in the 20th century you could read the Bible on your smart phone.

Was it the GENOCIDAL Century?

Hitler’s holocaust, Stalin’s collectivization, Mao’s cultural revolution, Pol Pot’s killing fields, Pol Pot’s rampages … It was a pretty horrific century!


At the end of the 1900s, after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, America was left standing as the world’s undisputed champion.

The Century of Freedom

I would argue, foremost, that the 20th Century was the Century of Freedom. When Queen Victoria died in 1901, restraint died with her.

New discoveries, new opportunities, new freedoms seemed to explode.

·         In 1900, the tape recorder was invented.

·         In 1900, Freud published his famous book, The Interpretation of Dreams in 1900

·         In 1900, the Scholastic Aptitude Test or SAT was invented, permitting the transition of power from an aristocracy to a meritocracy.

·         In 1900, Max Planck discovered that atoms emit radiations of energy in bursts he called quanta.

·         In 1900, the Brownie camera hit the market, democratizing picture-taking.

A few short years later Orville and Wilbur Wright discovered the freedom of flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

In 1905, Einstein described how light behaves not only like a wave but also like a stream of particles, called quanta.

What other freedoms were we given in the 20th Century?

We were given the freedom from disease. Just think of it. Roughly 15 million people were killed in World War I. Yet, just after the war ended in 1918, a worldwide flu epidemic struck, killing 20 million people.

Yet, much of that fear was taken away after Alexander Fleming invented penicillin in 1929, saving millions and millions of lives.

In 1947, we were given the freedom of mass communication when William Shockley and his team of scientists invented the transistor. A transistor is able to regulate an electric current and translate it into on/off binary data. Ten years later Robert Noyce and Jack Kilby learned how to etch millions of these transistors onto tiny silicon microchips.

In 1953, we were given the freedom to begin understanding how to duplicate life itself. Watson and Crick showed how four chemical bases could be paired to create a self-copying genetic code.

In 1989, we were given freedom from totalitarianism. Capitalism had defeated fascism, communism and a lot of other isms.


So my question to you is, you have all this freedom, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH IT?

Just looking around the room tonight, I can see how many have already responded:

Randi Marshall uses her freedom to own and operate a successful vintage citrus label business.

Brian Byers uses his freedom to be an actor.

Duncan McCloud uses his freedom to be a world class opera singer.

Kyle Champion uses his freedom to be a world class cellist.

Doug Sanicola uses his freedom to build and operate Outdoor Elegance, this wonderful facility you’re enjoying tonight.

Marty Rodriguez, Ann Krauter, and Colleen Bennett use their freedom to be the best Realtors in the valley.

Ken Robbins used his freedom to make himself partner at Crowell Weedon.

Tony Ponzo uses his freedom to dispense some of the best financial advice in the business, especially when it comes to options trading. He’s also just come out with a great new book, “Never Let Wall Street Steal Your Money Again.”

Robin Carder uses her freedom to lead and govern.

MARKETING TIPS – Ways to Brand Yourself

For me, I use my freedom to publish newspapers and books, hoping to inspire, motivate and bring people a little closer together.

But I’m continually reminded that you can never stop working and marketing and building your brand. You have to keep reaching out and keep striving to be a stand-out, especially in our increasingly commoditized world.

So, when you leave here tonight, I want you to start thinking of ways to brand yourself, the way other famous figures have.

For example:

·         Lincoln had his stovepipe hat

·         Winston Churchill his cigar.

·         Charlie Chaplin his cane.

·         Jackie Kennedy her pillbox hat

·         Mr. Rogers his sweater.

·         Mary Kay her pink Cadillac

Perhaps, there’s a special color, article of clothing or something else in your toolbox or wardrobe that can give you that special accent that will separate you from the crowd.

Try it on, wear it, parade it, make it part of who you are.

And should the “new more memorable you” be a flop with friends and critics alike, you can always tell them you were simply getting an early start on your Halloween costume.

Remember, you have the freedom to do anything. The last century proved it! So now go out and prove it to yourself.

For more information about Life Lessons of a Harvard Reject, please visit www.HarvardReject.com

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