Thursday, December 27, 2007

From hip surgery to dancing before millions -- in 3 months!

The flamboyant owner of the Dallas Mavericks had hip replacement surgery (June, 2007), then within just three months, began dancing! He competed in Dancing with the Stars (2007).

After making the cut for four weeks, the somewhat stiff yet enthusiastic and charismatic billionaire (#407 on Forbes Richest American, he sold his $100 million revenues, 330 employee to Yahoo for $5.9 billion before the NASDAQ crash, then diversified his wealth, one of the few dot com wealthy to do so) was eliminated on October 23, 2007.

He didn’t go away empty-handed. He won a new legion of fans (several ESPN anchors call him their “favorite owner). And he lost 30 pounds during the competition.

CNN honors comebackers

Give a look to these remarkable stories....

Friday, December 7, 2007

YE earns a "10" for comeback info

We came across an interesting web site and blog and thought to share it here: is a treasure chest of wealth including equal parts motivation, inspiration, productivity ideas and nuts and bolts advice for building your business. We daresay the ‘young’ in ‘young entrepreneurs’ is a state of mind, and anyone can profit from the advice contained herein.

Amidst the usual up, up and away fare, which, as the author of “Extraordinary Comebacks: 201 Inspiring Stories of Courage, Triumph, and Success”, we surely believe in, there is some refreshing fare about the “other side” of being an entrepreneur, e.g. how does one keep one’s motivation alive when there are so many compelling diversions strewn about? (See the link to the Rizvi blog, e.g.) YE makes room for these kinds of frank discussions via its links to actual YE blogs.

(That is precisely why I’m presently writing the counterparty to “Extraordinary Comebacks” which is “Extraordinary Comedowns.” Takes two sides to tell the whole story….)

Meanwhile, Entrepreneur University alone is worth the cost of admission (it’s free, just kidding), but YE also features a number of interesting categories.

Only problem: you could spend a lot of time navigating around here, all good time, to be sure, but better to actually get after the job of being an entrepreneur, and plan to consume YE in bite-size doses.

All in all, we give YE a no-holds barred “10!”

Monday, September 17, 2007

Turned down 20 times,
he persists and achieves his goal

Michael Ain knows more about rejection than almost anyone. First, he is a dwarf, just 4 ft. 3 in. He knows the stares, the teasing, the turndowns first hand.

Nevertheless, blessed with a superior intelligence and a desire to serve others, the Brown University graduate aspired to become a doctor. So he applied to some 20 medical schools.

And was rejected 20 times.

Some interviews portended the outcome. He was told he would have great physical difficulties, e.g. that he wouldn’t be able to reach the patient’s bedside. Ain suggested he could use a footstool. Others said he wouldn’t be strong enough. Ain was a weightlifter, was stronger than other applicants and pointed that out. Finally, other interviewers posed the question, ‘would Ain be respected by his patients?’ He had won awards from peers at Andover.

The excuses were lame, but the rejections stuck, like a wrongful court verdict. Ain was angry, hurt, and afraid that his dream would die. But still he would not relent.

To improve his chances of acceptance, he came back to Brown for a fifth year, took two advanced science courses, and earned two A’s with distinction. He published research.

Thus fortified, he again applied to the round of 20 medical schools. Again a batch of rejections – but this time, one acceptance!: from Albany Medical College in upstate New York. The interviewer was impressed that Ain played baseball at Brown, and batted against future star and New York Mat Ron Darling. (You never know where your redemption will come from so keep all the irons in the fire sizzling.)

Ain excelled at Albany, found a wife (5 ft. 6 in.) and started a family. Albany also took him on as a surgical resident; he received further training at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, where he practices.

Today, Dr. Ain is a successful pediatric orthopedic surgeon, likely the only one in the world who also happens to be a dwarf. He refused to allow his condition to rule his life.

He specializes in solving the orthopedic problems of little people. Dr. Ain’s can-do personality, ready smile and professional success gives his patients hope of a productive, satisfying life.

Ron Popeil's Comeback Spirit
Sets Stage for Greatest Sale

Master of the Showtime rotisserie, Veg-O-Matic, Electric Food Dehydrator and Pocket Fisherman, TV fixture Ron Popeil has been variously described as an industrial design genius and TV sales huckster, and as Salesman of the Century (his 1995 autobiography) and truth is, he is some of each. He creates unusual products, and then convinces you that you need them – even though you had no inkling of a need before encountering Ron and one of his TV infomercials.

Popeil also attained TV icon status via a parody by Dan Aykroyd, (the Super Bass-O-Matic pitchman, 1976) on an early Saturday Night Live episode.

But Popeil is one other thing as well: a master of the comeback.

Riding his early successes, his Ronco Corporation (founded 1964, went public 1969) was sailing along selling things like the Miracle Broom, Miracle Brush, the Roller Measure, the Salad Spinner, the Glass Froster, the Cookie Machine, Inside the Egg Scrambler and the Smokeless Ashtray. Carrying a heavy advertising tab, some years were profitable ($1.4 million, 1978), and some weren’t (loss $796,000, 1973).

Ron reached a bit far when introducing his Clean-Aire machine in the late 1970s. His competitors were now the likes of Norelco, Remington, and other top housewares makers. A price war ensured, and Ronco cut advertising in response to save dollars. When advertising dropped, so did sales, by one-third from 1982 to 1983. At the same time, Ronco’s bank called in their $15 million revolving credit line. Ronco couldn’t pay it, declared bankruptcy and went out of business (1984).

That was the company, not Ron, however. Ron still had his personal fortune, and bought back the better part of Ronco’s inventory at auction. With a new partner, he resumed business. But the partnership failed, and Popeil ws left with a huge inventory of food dehyrators, and other items.

What did he do?

The famous TV pitchman humbled himself and went back to the county fair circuit where he worked his magic, face-to-face with crowds of prospects and customers, and sold, sold, sold (1987 to 1990).

He teamed with Fingerhut briefly, which was developing a TV shopping channel. That didn’t last, but Popeil’s interest in TV sales was re-ignited and that did. He produced his first half-hour infomercial (1991). It was a recapture of his county fair spiel, in essence, and featured his food dehydrator. It was a success: he sold some $80 million of product by 1993. Then came the GLH (“great looking hair”) Formula #9, and the Popeil Automatic Pasta Maker.

His greatest triumph lay just ahead: the Ron Popeil Showtime Rotisserie and Barbecue (“set it and forget it.”) Popeil notched sales of $250 million in 1999 alone, spending an astonishing $50 in advertising to get it done.

Then an even bigger sale: that of Ronco itself, $55 million to Richard Allen, backed by Sanders Morris Harris Group Inc., a Texas investment bank (2005). Popeil got $40 million in cash, and $15 million in notes. He agreed to continue as company spokesman, at $50,000 per infomercial. A couple of name changes followed, plus a public offering, and the stock was soon trading as RNCP. The plan was to widen distribution, sell through big merchants like Walmart.

Didn’t work, however. Sales plunged from $90 million (year before the sale in June 2005) to $59 million (year after). Showtime Rotisserie was seven years old, and it seemed that everybody who wanted one had bought one. Infomercials were dated and new ones weren’t being made.

By 2007, the company was bankrupt. It was auctioned off for $6.5 million to a single bidder (August, 2007), Marlin Equity Partners, El Segundo, Calif., which secured the company's intellectual property and remaining inventory for the acquisition price.

In the aftermath, recriminations flew. Allen said the bank oversold the company and misrepresented the financial condition. Investment bank Sanders rejoined that Allen wasn’t a good CEO; he was being sued for some of his expenses as well.

The winner in all of it was Ron Popeil, largely because after his company went bankrupt in 1984, he was bold enough to purchase the assets and jump back into the ring and make a comeback. And then, after another setback, he was humble enough to step down from the airwaves and pitch his products face-to-face at county fairs until time and chance let him get back in touch with his mass audience.

How much is that kind of stamina worth? For Ron Popeil, something north of $40 million.

Friday, August 17, 2007

"It" guy on prime time TV had tried to end it all when young -- good thing he failed

Drew Carey is hot right now, very hot.

He is the new host of "The Price is Right," and CBS's "Power of 10."

It's all a comeback, and a huge one, from his early days.

The comedic star of the eponymously-named TV 1990s TV show suffered from extreme depression when young and tried to kill himself with sleeping pills, not once, but twice.

He joined the U.S. Marine reserves (1980), to get the discipline he needed to straighten his life out. Earlier he found the demands of fraternity life and academic life to be mutually incompatible and left Kent State University after three years, but without a degree.

He turned to stand-up comedy, worked his way up through the comedy club ranks, first in native Cleveland, then Los Angeles. An appearance on the Tonight Show hosted by Johnny Carson (1991) ignited his career.

Four years later, he had his own TV show. It ran from 1995 to 2004, making him rich and famous. He also served as host of the improv show "Whose Line Is It Anyways" (1998 to 2006, 215 episodes).

And his undistinguished academic past? Cleveland State University awarded him an honorary Ph.D. (2000).

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Team Hoyt

Father and son Dick and Rick Hoyt compete together in marathons and triathlons. They climb mountains together, too, and once trekked 3,735 miles across America.

Rick, however, can’t walk, or even talk.

When he was born (1962), the umbilical cord wrapped around his head and stopped the oxygen from flowing to his brain. The prognosis: Rick would never develop. He would be like the proverbial “vegetable.” The doctors advised the Hoyts to institutionalize their son.

They refused, determining to raise their son as “normally” as possible.

Turns out Rick wasn’t a vegetable, his cognitive powers were intact. The Hoyts hired a team of Tufts University computer scientists to build a $5,000 special PC that Rick could use to pick out letters and spell words with a very slight head movement. His first “words” were “Go Bruins” – the Boston Bruins were in the Stanley Cup finals. The family realized Rick had been following hockey with the whole family – he just couldn’t communicate it – till now.

In 1975, Rick was accepted into public school. Two years later, he expressed his interest in participating in a five-mile run in support of a local lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident. Dad Dick wasn’t an athlete, but agreed to push Rick in his wheelchair. That night Rick said he didn’t feel handicapped when he was competing.

That was just the beginning for “Team Hoyt.” In 1981, the father-son pair entered the Boston Marathon. Amazingly, they finished in the top 25%. Early on, few felt comfortable enough to speak to Rick, but that changed.

After four successful years in marathoning, the Hoyts felt it was time to take on a new challenge: triathlon. Dick said he sank like a stone in the water, at first, and hadn’t been on a bike since he was six. But he had more than enough heart for this daunting challenge, even to the point of training five hours a day, five days a week, even while working.

Dick’s Father’s Day gift was a new bike that carried Rick in front; (in the swim portion, incredibly, he pulled Rick in a boat).

Needless to say, Team Hoyt provided immeasurable inspiration to fellow competitors.

Not everything has been easy. Rick cannot fully control his tongue while eating in restaurants. It offends some patrons, who change tables, and this bothers Dick. But by and large, Team Hoyt has made great strides in developing understanding for the needs of less-abled.

Rick graduated from Boston U. (1993) with a degree in special education. He works in the University’s computer labs developing machines that can be controlled by eye movement alone.

Speaking across the nation, the Hoyts share their message of grit, triumph, and simply that everyone should be included. See for more.

Now they call me Infidel... the title of a 2006 book by Nonie Darwish. Is Islam the "peaceful religion", as Pres. Geo. Bush called it in the aftermath of 9/11? Darwish, a former Muslim, who was raised in Egypt, the daughter of a "shahid" -- a jihadist martyr -- says no.

Her father was a high-ranking, and highly respected Egyptian military officer who was assassinated by a package bomb. It was July 11, 1956. Nonie was eight. Her life changed in that instant. She lost the love and protection of the man who mattered most to her: her father. That he was lionized as a “shahid,” i.e. a martyr for jihad, was cold comfort.

Nonie spent the rest of her life trying to understand the hatred that motivates the generations-old conflict in the Middle East. As the daughter of a “shahid,” Nonie and her family enjoyed some privileges. Educated by British Catholic nuns in Cairo, and on graduation working as a journalist’s translator, she decided that hatred came from Islam itself, not the peaceful and uplifting Islam she loved, but the Islam that preached hatred and war against Jews and Christians, and marginalized women via cultural, legal, and marital traditions.

In the aftermath of 9/11 she was mortified at the celebrations in the Arabic world, and the deafening silence by so-called “moderate Muslims” who should have spoken out against the atrocity.

In response, she wrote Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror (2006). She went another step and founded With great courage, Nonie speaks around the world and calls Muslims to account for their attitudes and actions. Herself a Christian, and a Republican and a lover of all things American as only someone who emigrated from a closed, often oppressive society at thirty could be, she often meets with hostility and slander from fellow Arabs, but remains undeterred. Her aim is simple: peace for all the world’s peoples, whatever their religious faith.

Quote: “Reject hate, embrace love. Bring out the best in Islam by showing your compassion, gratitude and forgiveness. Make the holy land truly holy by giving Israel and the Jewish people the respect they deserve in their tiny little country. This is not a crisis over land. It is a crisis of the soul; a crisis in our faith, judgement and self confidence. Israel should not be regarded as an enemy, but as a blessing to our neighborhood. We need not fear peace, but embrace it.”

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Firing Back

We call to your attention, a new book out, FIRING BACK

It's a study of CEOs who have lost their jobs, and how they fight back, recoup their losses......or not. Fascinating, highly recommended.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Timely words from a very good friend

Got your book. Thank you. And thank you for your kind words.
It is a remarkable achievement and you should be justly prideful.
You should know that I've had hundreds of people tell me they intend to write this or that -- then don't. Hundreds more who start -- then stumble at the first or second hurdle. Not you.
I applaud your determination and your steely resolve.
Your book is a generous gift to your fellow man. In times of trouble it will buoy the human spirit.
Story #202 is both inspired and inspiring.
May you sell 201,000 copies.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

QUOTE: Rollo May

The most effective way to ensure the value of the future is to confront the present courageously and constructively.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Steve Van Zandt's long, strange comeback road

Steve Van Zandt was in the Bruce Springsteen band when it was unknown. He was making $200 a week. He left just before it became famous. He made five albums of his own, but none clicked.

He spoke at the 1997 Rock Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The producer of the Sopranos was watching, and decided to cast him as Tony Soprano's right hand man. Steve had never acted but he fit right in. "I spent my whole life trying to learn about who I am. Being somebody else is a vacation," he said.

Another comeback: Just as "The Sopranos" began filming, Bruce Springsteen called. He was putting the E Street Band back together and wanted Van Zandt to tour with him again.

Steve's story............

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Bob Woodruff returns to ABC

Thirteen months ago, while reporting in Iraq, his convoy was attacked. The ABC anchor suffered injuries to his brain, neck, face; he nearly died. His comeback has been a grueling ordeal. But he made it. Read more....

Monday, February 5, 2007

Happiness 101

How to be happy -- the new "in" course on campus at:





And more on the Harvard prof who is getting the lion's share of the attention for this new movement.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Quote: Mark Twain

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Quote: Howard Thurman

Don't ask what the world needs. Rather ask -- what makes you come alive? Then go and do it! Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.

Motown star comes back to public stage as city councilwoman

Martha Reeves sang the hits like Dancing in the Streets and Heat Wave. But after some forty years in the record business, at age 64, she wasn't getting the amount of work she was accustomed to. It was quiet, too quiet. So she ran for and won a seat on the Detroit City Council (2005). Her platform: cut crime, build tourism. She credits Motown etiquette coach Maxine Powell, who many years earlier taught her to build a life outside of music, because when the money and fame are gone, you need something else. So she did, keeping her roots strong in Detroit, and now it paid off.

How is the new life as a neophyte working politician? Hard work. To keep pace, she takes copious notes in council meetings, and reads even more. (Her desk is stacked high.) Still, there are bumps in the road, such as when a local newspaper reported that several of her commercial properties had code violations (she fixed the problems).

Her term runs to 2010. Will she run again? Maybe, maybe not. But as a result of her new job, and the attendant publicity, her concert bookings have picked up again.

A blind man becomes history's greatest traveler

A British naval officer in the early 19th century, James Holman lost his sight at 25. He was granted a pension whereby his only duty was to attend church twice each day, but he found this intolerably boring. He set off for France -- alone -- to seek a cure. As he traveled, he regained a sense of dignity and wholeness. "I see things better with my feet," he said. A new book, A SENSE OF THE WORLD: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler, by Jason Roberts tells his story. An excerpt:

He was known simply as The Blind Traveler--a solitary, sightless adventurer who, astonishingly, fought the slave trade in Africa, survived a frozen captivity in Siberia, hunted rogue elephants in Ceylon and helped chart the Australian outback. James Holman triumphed not only over blindness but crippling pain, poverty and the interference of well-meaning authorities (his greatest feat, a circumnavigation of the world, had to be launched in secret).

Once a celebrity, a bestselling author and an inspiration to Charles Darwin and Sir Richard Francis Burton, the charismatic, witty Holman outlived his fame, dying in an obscurity that has endured--until now. (from A SENSE OF THE WORLD

Basketball coach overcomes paralysis

Tennessee Tech basketball coach Mike Sutton was felled by GBS in April, 2005. His immune system turned on itself, and within days he was paralyzed, only able to blink his eyes. He said he felt like he was being buried alive. After months of hospitalization, then rehab, he was able to return to his post by December 2005. He was aided by a special wheelchair, walker, and assistants. His dedication was a powerful inspiration to players. One year later, his contract was extended for another four years.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Tennis player overcomes herniated disks -- with a nine-year layoff and a comeback to tennis

At 23, one year out of college, Marc Howard, a former Yale tennis captain was told he would never play tennis again. Two herniated disks in his lower back would prevent any running.

For nine years, he carefully obeyed the doctors’ dictum: no tennis. After he nearly lost a finger in a circular saw accident, he used the idea of playing tennis as a motivation to make it through painful months of healing and physical therapy. He had to play again, he says; it became a mantra.

One year later, he could hold a racquet. At first he played for 10 minutes, then 20, then 30. While his back was stiff, it didn’t feel any worse after his hitting sessions. Soon he was playing twice a week.

Tennis provided Howard, a college professor, with an escape from the dull ache he felt in his fingers, and it was good treatment for his hand. And for his back; it got stronger and stronger the more he played.

He became assistant tennis coach at Georgetown University, and plays club tournaments in Europe on clay on his summer vacations.

An amazing turnaround from a life sentence. He told the full story in January 2007 TENNIS magazine.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Quote: Vince Lombardi

"Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence." Vince Lombardi