18: The Strength

18: The Strength

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Positive

The Strength

A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.

~Francis Bacon

I waited half an hour, set the board, and sat in the studio reviewing my questions another five minutes until the telephone lines flashed. I always got butterflies before every interview. “Hello?”

“I’m so sorry I’m late. This doesn’t usually happen.” I could hear the woman on the line was a little out of breath. The line went silent.

“This is Connie Chung. How are you?” My heart sank.

Connie Chung was an icon, one of only four women anchors to make it into the elite club of major evening network television news. For almost an hour we talked about the industry. When I asked if she ever had a mentor throughout her trials she turned around and offered to mentor me. When I asked why she wanted to do it she simply replied, “Because you’re good.”

That afternoon I rushed home and told my mother what had happened. Deep down I felt a sense of competition with my mother, and her response always made me feel under-appreciated. “Good for you.”

I had been the president of a prestigious high school, argued with trustees, the school administration and chairs of departments over what the right direction to take the school was, and after a friend of mine passed in my senior year from cancer, I assisted in raising tens of thousands of dollars for charities that would aid others in their battle for survival. I worked for her front-row seat at my graduation. Instead of enjoying those moments as a family, negativity brought us down.

Until then I had been searching for something that I would never get — that sense of love and acceptance in a house full of negativity. A risk would allow me to open myself to the world again and receive all the positive energy that I needed. I knew that I could do whatever I was called to do, but first I needed to get rid of all the negativity in my life. I packed my bags, and without looking back, I walked out of that house.

Radio became therapeutic for me. It became my way of connecting with others, and telling their story. My ability to book high-level guests and celebrities led to my own talk show, The Gary Duff Show. It would air to a Malibu, California audience, while I continued to host a live morning talk show in New York.

Eventually all the words of encouragement from past guests and colleagues helped me to re-build my confidence levels. “I can do this,” I kept telling myself, and pushed even harder to find my next niche.

One of my chief mentors, John Mullen, known for his no-nonsense attitude as New York’s WBLS FM Program Director, helped me to partially develop this faster decision making process. Where can I go now? What can I do next? Who can I grab for my show? “You’re incredible at booking.” He told me. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Another friend, Joseph DeRosa, who once served as Charlie Rose’s Chief Engineer at Bloomberg, put the idea of possibly working there in my head. “Really?” I thought. “They’re always looking for people like you,” he’d say.

People had faith in me and so I developed faith in myself. Their positive attitudes towards themselves and towards me helped me develop my own positive attitude, leading to productive interactions with celebrities and adding to my list of mentors.

I may not have started life surrounded by positivity but I sure feel that I am surrounded by it now. It’s amazing how positivity builds on itself.

~Gary Duff

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