Don’t Give Up. Don’t Ever Give Up

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“Don’t give up, don’t ever give up”

These famous words from Coach Jimmy Valvano’s final speech at the 1993 ESPY awards are a piece of advice everyone can live by.

At times, giving up may seem like the easiest option. However, the reward you get from sticking with it, believing in yourself, and learning from failure will end up rewarding you further in the long run.

All of our contributors have experienced a pivotal point in their lives where they could have thrown in the towel. The lessons they have shared about their resilience and self-belief are all experiences we can draw parallels to in our own lives.

Cam Brown | Prove People Wrong

Cam Brown is a professional hockey player, having most recently played in the ECHL for the Wheeling Nailers and in the AHL with the Springfield Thunderbirds. He is a co-founder of Prove People Wrong; a movement that serves as an inspiration and a constant reminder that success is a choice; that hard work and determination can overcome anything, even during life’s most daunting obstacles.

From the age of eight to this day, I have been constantly told that I am too small. It’s pretty hard not to notice on the ice, when you’ve got me listed at 5’7” and 150 lbs, going against some guys who have six inches and 60 pounds on me. I always got chirped, even when I was 10, 11, 12, 13. Guys on the other team were chirping me like, “you little short shit, you little midget.

But you know what? That never stopped me.

I faced challenges early on, but I figured out how to be productive at my size and not let it hold me back. Even now, whenever I talk to a coach, the first thing I tell them is that size is my advantage. You might think I’m crazy by saying that, but that’s truly what I believe, and I have to believe that.

If I had listened to the chirps, listened to the coaches who doubted me, I would have never made it to where I am.

Sure, I hear them, but instead of letting it negatively affect me, I use it as fuel to score a goal or have a beautiful assist.

My entire life, I have always had to prove people wrong.

Read Cam’s full story here.

Nancy Cushman | oya restaurants

Nancy and her husband Tim, have built a restaurant empire across Boston and New York.  While they now have some of the most famous restaurants (o-ya, Covina, Hojoko,Roof at Park South, and one on the way in Chestnut Hill) there was a time where Nancy was two weeks away from running out of money and giving it all up. However, as she learned, sometimes you just have to back yourself and trust that your concept will prove itself out over time.

As an entrepreneur, you have to accept the fact that you’re going to have a door slammed in your face. You’re going to be told no, told that’s stupid, or told not to do something. You’ll have to endure people trying to talk you out of things, into things, and influence you into making impulsive decisions. You have to maintain a strong compass because other people will be distracting, and sometimes even persuasive. You have to keep true to your vision, your original intention, and never let that get diluted down. It’s important to listen to feedback, consider it, and have an answer for it, rather than blindly follow the influence of others.

About a year in, we were just about two payrolls away from not being able to stay open. We had been funding the payroll ourselves. The restaurant was steadily gaining acceptance and traction. People were loving it, but it still was not enough.

Then, miraculously (I still get chills thinking about our luck), we had two very big press hits.

Frank Bruni, a food critic for The New York Times, did a cross-country “best new restaurant” tour and o ya ended up being his #1 best new restaurant in the country. It was UNBELIEVABLE.

In the same week, we also got a call from Food and Wine Magazine saying that they had named Tim as one of the best new chefs, of which they select only ten each year. Since Tim had previously not had a restaurant to call his own, at 55, he was the oldest best new chef ever selected.

We always believed in what we were doing and that we would find the audience for it.

Read Nancy’s full story here.

Rich Palmer | Gravyty

When speaking about overcoming adversity, there is perhaps no one better to talk about than Rich Palmer. The co-founder of Gravyty suffered a debilitating aneurysm which should have killed him. Rather than be defeated, Rich turned a negative into a positive and used his self-belief to transform his life.

I stayed in relatively good shape. I don’t smoke and I only drink socially. One day, I was working out on a stationary bike, doing some HIIT, when all of a sudden I started to get the worst head pain ever. Mind you, over the last eight years, I had suffered migraines, which would normally knock me out for a couple of days at a time. This was different.

It turned out to be an aneurysm. Aneurysms have a 50% mortality rate—of the remaining, the majority end up with some serious disability or paralysis from brain damage. For me, I ended up with more bad headaches and a slight loss of vision. I’m the lucky one. For three to four months, I had trouble walking, talking, thinking, and doing anything.

My aneurysm set me on a different path.

Life was going to be a lot different for me going forward, and realistically, I was okay with that.

Read Rich’s full story here.

JJ Miller | JJ Miller Productions

JJ Miller faced a massive hurdle at a very young age. Suffering from dyslexia, Miller could have easily given up on his education and gone down a completely different path. Instead, with the guidance of his parents, he was able to overcome his disability, finish his education, and go onto to build a successful photography and production company.

Growing up, school was always a struggle.

At a young age, I found out I was dyslexic and was forced to attend a private school away from my friends. My childhood struggles in the classroom couldn’t have been more opposite to my successes on the athletic field. It was a unique balance that kept me going and kept me pushing forward mentally.

My parents were adamant that my disability was nothing more than a hurdle I had to overcome, and they would be damned if they were going to let me fall victim to it.

My parents were right. Their determination to see me succeed would eventually ignite my own desire to take control of my own future and not allow myself to be defined by dyslexia.

While it may have taken me longer to do the same work as my classmates, I put my head down and got it done. I realized that with the right work ethic, I could achieve the same feats. The kind of ‘old-school’ mentality of, “you do it until it’s done right” was ingrained in my DNA from a young age.

Read JJ’s full story here.

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