Every time you turn on the news or scroll through your news feeds, you're exposed to tons of celebrities and famous figures. You may feel envious of them, or wonder why they even ended up with the platform they have.
It's important to remember that most people who end up in extraordinary positions are people who faced extraordinary amounts of adversity in order to get there. People will look at them and be wowed while completely ignoring the number of bumps and bruises they may have endured to get to that point.
People will talk about me hanging out at Yankee Stadium with world-class athletes, but they often fail to mention the days when I waited in the freezing cold outside Giants Stadium for athletes just to try and get a phone number or two (as they snuck out the side exit - which I later learned to cover).
My friend Harvey MacKay recently published a blog entry that discusses this in more detail, and I wanted to share it with you in case you haven't seen it:
Life is not a parabolic curve. It doesn’t go straight up. There are a lot of lumps, a lot of bumps. I have never yet met a successful person that hasn’t had to overcome either a little or a lot of adversity in his or her life. Overnight success is much more of a myth than reality.
Remember the four-minute mile? Humans had been trying to do it for centuries, since the days of the ancient Greeks. They found the old records, how the Greeks tried to accomplish this. They had wild animals chase the runners, hoping that would make them run faster. They tried tiger’s milk, not the stuff you get down at the supermarket. I’m talking about the real thing. Nothing worked.
So, the experts decided it was physiologically impossible for a human being to run a mile in four minutes. Our bone structure is all wrong. Our wind resistance is too great. Humans have inadequate lung power. There were a million reasons – until one day when one human being proved the doctors, the trainers and the athletes all wrong.
In 1954, Roger Bannister showed the world that it could be done. Over the next few years, more and more people broke the four-minute mile once they realized that yes, it was possible.
When Bannister passed away in early March of this year, it brought back a lot of memories from that time in history that I remember so well.
The world was changing a great deal. People around the world were overcoming the long-perceived physical boundaries of nature. American pilot Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in 1947. And who can forget Sir Edmond Hillary and his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay conquering Mount Everest in 1953.
Many famous people have overcome tremendous adversity to triumph:
- Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and one of the richest people in the world, dropped out of school and had his first business fail.
- Oprah Winfrey overcame terrible poverty growing up in rural Mississippi to become a billionaire media mogul who has inspired millions around the world.
- Albert Einstein didn’t speak until he was four years old and couldn’t get a job in physics for two years after graduation.
- Richard Branson didn’t let his dyslexia stop him from founding Virgin Group and controlling more than 400 companies.
- Popular recording star Jay-Z came from a rough Brooklyn neighborhood but couldn’t get signed to any record labels as a rapper. In 2013, “Time Magazine,” ranked him as one of the most influential people in the world.
- Vincent Van Gogh is considered one of the greatest painters of all time, yet he only sold one painting during his lifetime.
- Simon Cowell, star judge from “American Idol” and “The X Factor” had a record company fail.
Botanists say trees need the powerful March winds to flex their trunks and main branches, so that the sap is drawn up to nourish the budding leaves. Perhaps people need to meet the stresses of life in the same way, though we dislike enduring them. A stormy period in our lives can be a prelude to a new spring of life and health, success and happiness. That is if we keep our self-confidence and faith in the future.
Everyone faces adversity, pain, loss and suffering in life. When you go through those periods, it’s hard to remember that the emotions you’re feeling are only temporary. The best thing to do is to develop a plan for what you will do when these times hit and find your way to the silver lining – the place where you can feel hopeful again.
You need a personal sense of commitment, the ability to let go when appropriate, and strong values. Take charge of the things you can control, such as your treatment of others, the way you spend your time outside of work, how you think about yourself, how often you exercise, when and how to share your feelings, how to let others know you’re stressed and how mature you act.
Who says that you can’t accomplish your goals? Who says that you’re not tougher and better and smarter and harder working and more able than your competition? It doesn’t matter if they say you can’t do it. The only thing that matters is if you say it. So, we all know, if we believe in ourselves, there’s hardly anything that we can’t accomplish.
Mackay’s Moral: How you handle adversity says a lot about how you will handle success.
Song of the Day: "Wake Me Up" by Avicii
Movie Quote of the Day: "We are who we choose to be" (Spiderman)
This may be the most important post to date Brandon. It’s logic I learned to live by in 1996 after I overcame one of the most incredible runs of “bad luck” from late 1993-early 1995. We cannot control how others treat us, but we can control how we act or don’t react to ignorance and just plain stupidity.
When I was 24 and living in Port St. Lucie, FL, my uncle rented to most of the NY Mets during Spring Training and my uncle was friends with Mead Chasky so I became acquainted with Mead Chasky too. Back then being young and ignorant, I thought I wanted to be just like Mead. Years later when I learned what it took for him to get where he did, I don’t think I would or could do what he did to get where he was. Knowing what I know now, I’m so glad I decided to become my own hobby expert in my way by teaching myself almost everything from every angle from scratch and I didn’t have to basically be a puppet for anyone to do this.
Today I’m proud of how I got to where I did in the sports card & autograph hobbies fighting fraud for free.
Like everyone who does only the right thing for the right reason, not giving anyone a “break” because of who they are or bribery- of course there are those who don’t even know the first thing about me, yet they make up lies that they put on one specific full-time card dealer’s Forums (I busted the owner of that Forum, so I was blocked from defending myself on those Forums from day one!). I invited anyone from that site who had bad LIES to say about me to contact me directly if they act professionally and give me reasons why they say what they do. So I put my personal email all over the Internet so it would be impossible for them to not find me. Guess how many contacted me? Correct, NOT ONE! So I let it go, and ignore their stupidity.
I am very physically disabled (started in late 2001) and everything hit it’s worst stage by 2009 (I’ve been legally homebound and mostly bedridden at that point in severe pain/fatigue everywhere; 24/7 – 365), yet I never stopped fighting hobby fraud for free and I’ve been fighting hobby fraud for free full time since 1997 (I had my own website from 1997-2004). I exposed more hobby truth on my website than had ever been exposed by any one person in the history of the sports card hobby. I was even given permission by the writers of CARD SHARKS (highly recommended read)to write Card Sharks II. But I became so sick, so fast I just couldn’t do it sadly.
I’ve been threatened to be sued by greedy hobby scum who would do ANYTHING to make money no matter who they hurt, yet I’ve NEVER actually been sued! That speaks volumes because I always look at everything from every angle- including the crook’s. This way I don’t miss anything and is the reason I’ve never been sued; I only tell the truth with enough facts to back everything up that I say without ever revealing my sources (that wish to remain anonymous)!
I’ve always believed in myself 100% since 1997, which is why I had such huge successes for both hobbies that helped thousands of collectors from getting ripped off and I never once sought any publicity for my accomplishments. Yet Al Muir did do a nice story on the last page in Beckett Basketball #98- August 1998 (Michael Jordan dual cover "Six Shooter) about my very first fight against the Score Board bankruptcy redemption fiasco where I wrote the judge in the case a couple of letters trying to get her to understand that redemptions were not “prizes” as she termed them, but were put in packs because you can’t fit a signed baseball or 8X10 photo in a pack of cards! That was futile, bjut at least Fleer heard about my fight and donated 5,000 Certified Autographs to anyone who sent a copy of the court letter that all redemption holders received (one per household).
I didn’t expect any further publicity either as Beckett’s then President (Mike Payne) in early 2001 told me “You do all the things we wish we could do but cannot because we are afraid of losing advertising dollars.”. To me, that spoke volumes as well and I went on with an even more focused mission to stop as much hobby fraud as I could and caused a large card company to lose all their baseball licensing in early 2001 for making all fake Game-Used jerseys & bats. This was just their second fully licensed baseball product??? When I sent my evidence I collected to the MLBPA, MLB Properties and MLB itself, this company admitted to them that all the jerseys and bats they used for cards were brand new/store bought items that baseball players never even saw. Then the popular hobby figure for many decades who owned that company basically fell off the planet when his company went bankrupt in 2004 because of the loss of their baseball licensing due to the months of my hard work for free.
Next I was lured into a position as a Senior Manager at a really big card company. I knew they were committing multiples types of fraud (all hurting every collector of their products) and also knew the only way I could prove all of this fraud was from the inside, so I took the job never realizing they planned to try to END ME because the owner of this company was close personsl frirnds of the company I had just busted. Which Mike Payne knew, but never bothered to mention to me and he said he was my friend who would have my back!!!
That turned out to be an 8-year war thanks to the greed of my own father who caused me to spend a total of 5-months in jail and the loss forever of my entire personal collection from 1987-2001. The charges against me (thanks to my father) were dropped to a nothing misdemeanor from a 1st Degree Felony and in the wend I accomplished everything I set out to do. However I paid a price that put my life in jeopardy. I was held in NY for two months for extradition to TX and it took that long to get a guarantee that I would continue to get my medications in TX.
Once in Texas, they refused to give me ANY of the ten medications I was on by 2004 (because the NY jail forgot to send my medical records with me) for Myasthenia Gravis, Degenerative Disk Disease, and Fibromyalgia. So I spend 21-days in full withdrawal in a TX jail medical wing from the strong long-acting opioid I was on for very severe Chronic Intractable Pain (which cannot be fixed by surgery, and a normal regimen of pain medications simply don’t work- even the strong medication I was on only kept my pain low enough to keep me from wanting to kill myself. This is how terrible my pain was and is.). So I suffered more than anyone could imagine for the two months I was in that jail. However the charges were all dropped to a nothing misdemeanor a few weeks before I went to court for my first appearance and the judge said “time served” and I agreed just to get back to NY and save my own life since TX didn’t care one bit!
So I continued to fight non-stop in the court of public opinion since the card company paid off everyone I had as witnesses or could help prove I was innocent of any wrongdoing including that company’s own Head Of Security (Renee Greenlee)! I never stopped believing in myself or I could have easily died.
As sick as I am, I still do what I can to help the hobby on my laptop from bed everyday, but I’m very sick every day and I know I’m a shadow of my former self.
So I’d like to ask that other experts in these hobbies to FIGHT for what is right because as you’ve heard directly from me- ONE PERSON CAN MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE!
Just don’t fight against a company you work for! I learned my lesson in that case. But in the end, I won that one too. In 2009 that company was taken to court and lost all of their licensing. Ann Blake-Powell (Playoff’s owner since 1992) was BANNED from ever being involved in the production and sale of sports card ever again. Then she had to move in with an ex-husband because I bankrupted her both personally and professionally because of all the harm she let her company do to the sports card hobby through fraud!
I have no regrets and I’m proud of myself. I caused all card companies and price guides watching my web site at least weekly to see if I dug up any dirt on them. They were scared of what else I might discover. THIS NEEDS TO HAPPEN AGAIN AND IS WHY THE HOBBY GOT SO AWFUL AFTER 2009! But I’m too sick to do it, so it’s time for someone else to pick up this responsibility!