Tim Bauer Making the Most of Life’s Opportunities
I have always believed that improvement is a lifelong process. I don’t believe people reach a point at which they have achieved enough, or become good enough, to lie back and call it a day. All the little improvements we make, and all the small steps we take, prepare us for the big moments when everything comes together. We may not be in total control of what happens to us, but we can always do our best to be ready.
When I was 18, I began working as a telemarketer. I know, I was one of those guys, and I’m sorry. As crazy as it might sound, I even worked hard to get better at doing that job. My employers took notice of my enthusiasm, and it wasn’t long before they suggested I give pep talks to the team every morning. Given that a lot of my co-workers were older than I was at the time, this was a nerve-wracking proposition. At this point in my life, I had never spoken publicly in any capacity. How was I going to approach this daunting task? Well, I figured, I should learn from the best. I studied speeches from inspirational political figures — Martin Luther King Jr., Ronald Reagan, John Kennedy — and did my best to impersonate them. While I’m sure I wasn’t as stirring as these great leaders, I learned a great deal from listening to them. I gave a different speech five days per week, every week, for five years. Needless to say, I improved a lot over that time.
The need to constantly find new material prompted me to keep an ear out for exciting speeches and talks. At some point during this time, I was introduced to TED Talks. The first one I remember seeing was J.J. Abrams’ “The Mystery Box.” Immediately, I became fascinated by the format and dreamed that I would one day give a talk. I gobbled up every TED Talk I could find and eagerly awaited new episodes. The talks just spoke to me, and I learned so much from them. As I discussed in an earlier newsletter, I underwent a serious transformation in regards to my weight beginning in 2010. This journey really instilled in me the desire to share with a larger audience the lessons I learned during my life. I began the process of ingratiating myself to the TED folks and doing everything I could to give a talk. Though TED did not accept my proposals instantly (I mean, they get applicants far more famous than I am), I persisted. Oftentimes, it seems to be the case with these things, a talk at TEDx Santa Barbara opened up on very short notice. I jumped at the chance, and before I knew it I was on a plane.
While I was a seasoned public speaker at this point, my nerves did not go away. I would be sharing my story, not just motivating telemarketers. There was a greater emotional involvement, and I had to be much more vulnerable. If the audience did not like the speech, it would feel like they didn’t like me. All the years of desire and preparation paid off, though, and my speech, “Becoming Failworthy,” has been viewed online over 50,000 times already. When you constantly work to improve, it pays off in a big way. Here’s to never giving up on the goal of self-improvement.
Tim Bauer, VP of Allied Restoration, A Disaster Restoration Company in Los Angeles