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“Someone’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality.” These words changed Les Brown’s life. He failed the fifth grade and was held back again in eighth grade. By that time, he believed what everyone was saying about him. Even the school system had labeled him as “Educable mentally retarded.” This sentence spoken to Brown by a teacher was a turning point. He’s living his dream, and works every day to help others learn how they can live their dream, too. On Oct. 8, Brown will host the WIDU Business Empowerment Breakfast as part of the WIDU Anniversary celebration. 

The WIDU Anniversary 2015 kicks off Oct. 3 and runs through Oct. 10. It is a week filled with praise, worship, entertainment, empowerment and more. Each year, Wes and Sandy Cookman, owners of WIDU radio station, pull out all of the stops for the radio’s anniversary celebration. The event list includes a Jesus Rocks youth event, We Shall Overcome on stage, WIDU Carolina’s Best Finale concert, Together as One — a midweek service, a women’s empowerment luncheon, a unity service, a prayer breakfast, Quartet Night, the Festival of Praise and  the WIDU Business Empowerment Breakfast featuring Les Brown. 

At 70, Brown is no stranger to Fayetteville or the WIDU family. 

“It is a pleasure to come back,” said Brown. “This will be like a homecoming. I am pleased to share strategies and techniques for what people need to do to take their lives to the next level.”

While many refer to Brown as a motivational speaker, that isn’t how he sees himself. “I see myself as a person who talks about things people need to do to move their lives from right now to where they want to go. For instance, in less than 10 years, one third of the jobs that exist today will be replaced. That means that the people working those jobs will be replaced by mechanized intelligence. I talk about how you handle that,” he said.

Brown has distilled his philosophy for success down to three keys to success:

Mindset – the resilience to handle rapid changes taking place in the world. 

Expanded skill sets — Brown noted that the skills most people have now will not carry over to the domestic economy and will not help them survive in the global economy. 

Staying relevant and successful by creating collaborative achievement-driven supportive relationships. 

“You can’t make it on your own. Seventy-two percent of corporations are striking partnerships,” said Brown. “If you want to make it today, you’ve got to find some people who have some knowledge and resources that you don’t have, to help you begin to move your life forward.”

Brown’s philosophy dovetails with the work of management consultant, the late Peter Drucker, who believed this era to be characterized by what he called the three Cs: accelerated change, overwhelming complexity and tremendous competition. 

“A lot of people are outside the job market and don’t know that they can’t even get in because it is an entrepreneur’s era,” said Brown. “At the beginning of the year 2000, 5 million jobs evaporated and there were 3 million permanent part-time jobs with no health benefits or security. People need to shift their thinking and what they are looking for and expand their capacity to navigate this economy.”

This news could sound dismal to some, but to Brown, it sounds like opportunity. Staying current in your professional field, continuously upgrading your skill set and improving yourself will lead to new opportunities and new experiences. 

“All of us have the opportunity to create a dynasty, a legacy,” said Brown. “The reason many don’t is because of our entertainment-driven culture. The average immigrant coming to this country has a four times greater chance of becoming a millionaire than the average American because they come from achievement-driven cultures. And when we change our culture from being victims of mass distraction and use our genius and talents in other areas, the possibilities are unlimited as to what we can create.”

The WIDU Business Empowerment Breakfast is on Thursday, Oct. 8 from 8-10 a.m. at the Crown Expo Center. Tickets cost between $15 and $50. Find out more about the WIDU Anniversary celebration and purchase tickets at www.widuanniversary.com.

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