Leslie Calvin “Les” Brown (born February 17, 1945) is a motivational speaker, former Ohio politician, popular author, radio DJ, and former host of The Les Brown Show. As a politician, he is a former member of the Ohio House of Representatives. As a motivational speaker, he uses the catch phrase, “It’s possible,” and teaches people to follow their dreams as he learned to do.
Les Brown was born with his twin brother, Wesley, 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.
As derived from many of Brown’s speeches, he first decided to get into public radio and kept returning to the same radio station time and time again looking for a break, and it wasn’t until the on-air failures of the afternoon DJ that he took his break in radio into his own hands and was hired full-time as on-air talent. Upon his termination from the radio station, he ran for election in the Ohio House of Representatives and won. After leaving the Ohio state legislature, he decided to get into television and eventually ended up on PBS. He also formed Les Brown Enterprises in order to support his newest career as a motivational speaker and is now also on KFWB in California on a daily syndicated radio program. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he also won many local and national awards for excellence and he has an Emmy to his name.
In 1993, he began hosting a new talk show, The Les Brown Show, which began airing on September 6, 1993. After nearly four months, it went on hiatus on December 3, 1993,and on January 17, 1994, King World Productions replaced this with Rolonda, a show hosted by Rolonda Watts.
Les Brown was married to Gladys Knight in 1995 but divorced in 1997.
Giving is Good for You
When we give to others it activates the areas of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection and trust. Altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain and boosts happiness for us as well as the people we help.
Doing things for others – whether small, unplanned acts or regular volunteering – is a powerful way to boost our own happiness as well of those around us. The people we help may be strangers, family, friends, colleagues or neighbors. They can be old or young, nearby or far away.
Giving isn’t just about money, so you don’t need to be rich. Giving to others can be as simple as a single kind word, smile or a thoughtful gesture. It can include giving time, care, skills, thought or attention. Sometimes these mean as much, if not more, than financial gifts.
Scientific studies show that helping others boosts happiness. It increases life satisfaction, provides a sense of meaning, increases feelings of competence, improves our mood and reduced stress. It can help to take our minds off our own troubles too.
Kindness towards others is be the glue which connects individual happiness with wider community and societal well-being. Giving to others helps us connect with people and meets one of our basic human needs – relatedness.
Kindness and caring also seem to be contagious. When we see someone do something kind or thoughtful, or we are on the receiving end of kindness, it inspires us to be kinder ourselves. In this way, kindness spreads from one person to the next, influencing the behavior of people who never saw the original act. Kindness really is the key to creating a happier, more trusting local community.
The Benefits of Helping Others
1. Helping increases happiness
While it has long been assumed that giving also leads to greater happiness this has only recently started to be scientifically proven. For example, when participants in a study did five new acts of kindness on one day per week over a six-week period (even if each act was small) they experienced an increase in well-being, compared to control groups.
In another study, participants who were given $5 or $20 to spend on others or donate to charity experienced greater happiness than people given the same amount to spend on themselves. Interestingly the amount of money did not effect the level of happiness generated.
And there is now evidence that this leads to a virtuous circle – happiness makes us give more, and giving makes us happier, which leads to a greater tendency to give and so on. This effect is consistent across different cultures.
It makes sense that helping others contributes to our own happiness. Scientists are reconsidering the idea of the ‘selfish gene’ and are exploring the evolution of altruism, cooperation, compassion and kindness. Human beings are highly social creatures and have evolved as a species living with others.
If people are altruistic, they are more likely to be liked and so build social connections and stronger and more supportive social networks, which leads to increased feelings of happiness and well-being. Indeed participating in shared tasks like community service, and other social activities, predicts how satisfied people are even after other factors are taken into account.
2. Giving feels good
Giving literally feels good. In a study of over 1,700 women volunteers, scientists described the experience of a ‘helpers’ high’. This was the euphoric feeling, followed by a longer period of calm, experienced by many of the volunteers after helping. These sensations result from the release of endorphins, and is followed by a longer-lasting period of improved emotional well-being and sense of self-worth, feelings that in turn reduce stress and improve the health of the helper.
It used to be thought that human beings only did things when they got something in return. How then could we explain people who did kind acts or donated money anonymously? Studies of the brain now show that when we give money to good causes, the same parts of the brain light up as if we were receiving money ourselves (or responding to other pleasurable stimuli such as: food, money or sex)!
Giving to others activates the reward centers of our brains which make us feel good and so encourage us to do more of the same. Giving money to a good cause literally feels as good as receiving it, especially if the donations are voluntary.
3. Giving does you good
Giving help has a stronger association with mental health than receiving it. Studies have shown that volunteers have fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety and they feel more hopeful. It is also related to feeling good about oneself. It can serve to distract people from dwelling on their own problems and be grateful for what they have. Volunteering is also associated with psychological well-being.
Giving may increase how long we live. Studies of older people show that those who give support to others live longer than those who don’t. This included support to friends, relatives, and neighbors and emotional support to their spouse. In contrast, receiving support did not influence living longer.
Volunteering also appeared to predict maintenance of cognitive functioning in a study of 2,500 people in their 70′s who were followed in a study lasting 8 years. Others studies have shown that amongst teenagers, volunteering has been associated with improved self-esteem, reduction in anti-social or problem behaviors and school truancy, improved attitudes to school and increased educational achievement.
Whilst unpicking the benefits of volunteering from other factors can be hard, such as volunteers being more healthy in the first place and so more able to volunteer. The wealth of evidence does suggest some relationship and it may be that volunteering is one intentional activity that people can engage in as a strategy to increase well-being and maintain optimal cognitive functioning in old age.
7 TOOLS TO QUIT YOUR LIFE & REBOOT
Many people are doing jobs in fear; fear that they might not make the best out of their lives. Priya Parker provides seven techniques to help you quit your life and reboot.
She invites you to use these techniques to explore the biggest needs in the world that you might have the passion and the capacity to address.
Priya is an advisor to leaders and organizations on strategy, vision and purpose. Her company, Thrive Labs, works with individuals and teams to help them identify what they care about most and align it with market realities. Her research includes identifying what are the driving factors that lead people to thriving and what blocks them from it. She helps organizations keep and grow their culture and values as they scale. Drawing on 10 years of conflict resolution facilitation in the United States, India and the Middle East, Priya designs visioning and innovation labs that help organizations grow from the root.
She has run her signature Labs for leading global firms as well as startups from a variety of disciplines. Her clients include disruptors from the fields of fashion, technology, design, development, film, comedy and government. Priya is an expert in innovative facilitation and process design and incorporates creative visioning and movement techniques into her work. Her goal is to help people spend more of their time building things that make them and others come alive.
Priya received her B.A. in Political and Social Thought at the University of Virginia, Phi Beta Kappa, and an M.B.A. from MIT Sloan and an M.P.A. from the Harvard Kennedy School, where she received the Public Service Fellowship.
Jimmy “Jimbo” Wales is most famous for being the founder (and omnipresent face) of Wikipedia but is also the co-founder of Wikia, a for-profit business that supports the creation of wikis communities on any topic.
What advice would you give to younger self?
Fail faster. Try more things, and don’t be too emotionally tied to any one idea. I wasted nearly two years in the start of Wikipedia with a previous site called Nupedia, a project which was plodding and slow and which I wish I had been faster to cut short.
What is the most common mistake you see entrepreneurs make?
Assuming that a small dream is easier to achieve than a big one. Particularly in the internet world, I see people doing really interesting work, but with a narrow scope, when everything online should be thought about from the beginning as potentially global and potentially universal.
What — in your career — have you been most proud of?
I think it is Wikipedia’s impact on the developing world of which I’m most proud, even though I think it many ways it is just beginning. During my travels, I often take detours to visit schools in poor areas, and sometimes I meet students whose lives have been transformed by the internet, and by Wikipedia. Access to knowledge is the first step to building a better society, the first step to healing in conflict zones, the first step to genuine progress.
What has been your worst business decision to date?
Andrew Mason of Groupon tells a story about how he contacted me before he set up Groupon, asking me about a precursor project to Groupon… a political site. I don’t remember it now, but he tells me that I wrote him a long email with lots of advice that he found valuable. Based on what I know about how I usually write those kinds of emails, I probably told him that I was too busy to do more than write a single email. I should have asked to be on his board and for some stock. Ha ha. Every journalist should bug him to dig through his email archives looking for that email. I haven’t been able to find it yet, but I’m really hoping to find out that I would have become accidentally wealthy in the Groupon IPO.
Which transformative technology or market force did you not predict?
I think the most important was Youtube. I remember hearing about Youtube, and watching their growth in the pre-Google days. I thought they were bonkers; I thought their investors were bonkers. I remember hearing at one point that they were burning through a million dollars a month in bandwidth bills, and I thought they were going to be yet another of the long history of disastrous video startups. Then, like 15 seconds later, Google bought them for billions and of course they’ve become a part of the overall infrastructure of our world.
What keeps you awake at night?
Let me be really simple about this: the baby! She’s nearly a year old now, and she went through this astounding lovely period of sleeping through the night but now she’s back to her old ways.
Which single device could you not live without?
My laptop. You could take away my phone, and I’d have trouble but I could make calls with Skype or in a fit of being old school, I could get a landline (haven’t had one for years). You could take away my television, and I’d hardly even notice. I love my iPad with a passion that almost frightens me, but honestly, I would survive in a damaged state without it.
Which startups are you most excited about?
I’m sure it’s dreadfully self-serving to say Wikia, but I’m going to do it anyway. For Wikia, it’s been hard breaking through to the mainstream press and getting the attention that it deserves. By the time Wikipedia was this size, I was getting global press coverage about it. The key is that the product is just really good and people really like using Wikia. I think it’s really exciting that a site most people haven’t heard of has grown from 25 million users a month to 60 million users a month in a little more than a year without the press particularly noticing.
Shifting out of self-serving mode, I’m really excited about Dropbox (it just works, and has a sensible business model), Pinterest (massive adoption by people who aren’t normally tech early adopters), and Badoo (fascinating game-like business model and astonishing growth).