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Me and Mr. Rogers in '68

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Transcript

My first brush with a media celebrity was in 1968. I was in kindergarten. And I went to my kindergarten one day there was a big assembly and we had a guest speaker. The guest speaker was Fred Rogers, Mr. Rogers, of PBS television thing. Those of you outside of the US or those of you who are younger than 45 probably don't know who he is. But he was a staple of children's television for decades in the United States.

He came to my elementary school spoke for free. And I remember being in such awe of him. My mother said, my head looked at I couldn't even look at I was so awestruck. I stared at the floor. I felt almost like a burning sensation. And one of the most exciting things that ever happened to me afterward as we were leaving, because parents were invited to my father was there Kids chased my father around asking you for his autograph.

They thought he looked like Mr. Rogers a passing resemblance. They both had dark hair at the time. And were somewhat ordinary looking white men. But I was so excited by that. And he's someone I watched every day. For years.

In fact, he's someone I used to have my daughter watch occasionally. Now, fast forward about 25 years is now the mid 1980s. I'm being interviewed at FSU in Tallahassee, Florida, by a well known TV and radio talk show hosts there at the time, Gary yordan. We finish the interview. And something reminded me of Mr. Rogers maybe I saw his face somewhere or this image came up because he was on the air still. And I just mentioned him in passing and Gary said to me, TJ, you know, that guy really is the real Deal.

And Gary then told me about a time that Fred Rogers came to the station promoting a new show or book or something. And Gary interviewed him. And then the interview is over, Gary said, Oh, thanks a lot. And would you mind signing your poster for my daughter? She's a big fan. And Fred Rogers said, Sure, I'm happy to.

Next segment goes on. He says, Get by Gary finishes his show. It's 40 minutes later, he walks out. There's Fred Rogers. Fred turns to Gary and says, is that Laurie with an eye or an E? It was so important to Fred Rogers.

To spell this kid who'd never met the kid to spell the child's name correctly. He waited around until the show was over, just so he could ask. I guess I'm not that good of a person. And I'm not that patient. So I really have respect for Fred Rogers, who's no longer with us. But things like that.

Do pay off. And I'm not saying Fred Rogers did that to get good publicity or to have people talk about it, but your reputation is set. And especially when you're around meeting people, they talk, they talk, when you do good things like that, and you show real integrity, but they also talk if it's the opposite. So the real lesson here is, treat people the way you want to be treated. treat everyone the same, whether it is someone above you a producer who can get you booked, help your career, or the child of someone who's never going to know one way or the other. You treat all people well, and your reputation will correspond to that.

Okay, so why do I tell that lesson? I do this for a couple of weeks. And the main reason is I want people to realize that you want a great reputation. It is built by a lot of little small acts, how you treat people. And when it comes to communicating your brand, that is sometimes as important, even more important than the actual messages coming out of your mouth. So, it could be something like that.

It could be just a simple matter of don't ever make people wait for it. I might not be perfect as far as waiting 45 minutes to spell the kid's name right. But a part of my brand is I never make people wait for me. I don't really assume they're happy to wait. I show up on time or early. I respect people's time.

So keep that in mind. It's not just what you say. It's how you treat people. How you respect people. That's the message now a sub message of why I use this story is it just gives people a little better sense of who I am and how I was a little kid like anything. What else and everybody has someone they kind of liked or admired as a kid, and it sort of positions me.

This was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I'm just in a little elementary school is my kindergarten. And Fred Rogers happened to live in Pittsburgh and his TV studio was in Pittsburgh, too. By the way, first TV studio ever went to was Mr. Rogers studio in in Pittsburgh, but they weren't set up that day and I couldn't get a tour. One of the few regrets I have in life

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