People Who Kick Buts: Les Brown
Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.
- Les Brown has a dream, and he is living it.
- Les Brown was born with his twin brother Wesley on February 17, 1945 in a low-income section of Miami, Florida in an abandoned building.
He was subsequently given up for adoption and adopted by Mamie Brown, a then 38-year-old single woman who worked as a cafeteria attendant and domestic assistant. He was declared “educably mentally retarded” while in grade school.
Despite the obvious self-esteem issues this created, with the encouragement of his mother and assistance by a helpful teacher in high school, he learned how to reach his full potential, a key point in many motivational speeches he gives now.
- By the early 1990s, he was one of the highest paid speakers in the nation. His company, Les Brown Unlimited, Inc., earned millions of dollars a year from his speaking tours and the sale of motivational tapes and materials.
- Brown’s audience is wide: from Fortune 500 companies to automobile workers to prison inmates to special-education classes to ordinary individuals. His mission is to “get a message out that will help people become uncomfortable with their mediocrity,” he explained to a reporter for Ebony magazine. “A lot of people are content with their discontent. I want to be a catalyst to enable them to see themselves having more and achieving more.”
- His message also works, and for a stronger reason, because he is not an outsider, an academic who offers a theoretical prescription. “I can’t lecture on something unless I am living it,” Brown wrote in his 1992 bestseller Live Your Dreams. He connects with other people’s lives-their misfortunes and missed opportunities-because he has been through it all and triumphed.
- Les Brown currently lives in the Columbus, Ohio area. He was most notably married to Gladys Knight of Gladys Knight and the Pips in 1993 but divorced in 1997 and has supposedly never remarried.