What Is Your Story? How Did You Get to Where You Are Now?
I like to start in high school, in how I was involved in so many things. In high school, I couldn’t wait to get out. I couldn’t wait for my life to begin. I wanted to see the world. I came from a family that really didn’t have a lot of money growing up. I knew college wasn’t an option. So, I enlisted in the Marines when I was still in my senior year of high school. I worked that summer and then left for the Marines in October and never looked back. I spent four and a half years on active duty. It’s funny because the last guy I worked for was my boss in the Marines was an alcoholic. So, I got off of active duty, and I started as an apprentice in a body shop in Arlington Heights at the time. And it turned out, as fate would have it, that he was an alcoholic as well. I remember he had a company meeting. And I think there were 11 or 12 of us at the time. And he stood up. And now this is 1981. He stood up and said, I’d like to make $50,000 more for me this year, but I can’t afford to give anybody a raise. So I stood up and said, I want my check. I’m done. A bunch of other guys were like, Are you crazy? What are you doing? I said, did you hear what he just said? He just told all of us that he expects us to work harder, and we get nothing. It’s all about him.
At that point, I broke out on my own, and I literally started in a one-car garage that had no heat, no running water. I started with $500 in my toolbox. That was almost 40 years ago; Sharp Auto Body is still going. I now have 10 employees, and it was funny because I never really set out to be in business for myself. I went into business because I was going to go back to school full time. I’ve been working full time during the day and going to college at night. And then I saw an ad in the paper, and there was an ambulance company looking to hire a body man. I called up, and I said, you don’t want somebody coming into this building where all your drivers are sleeping overnight and fixing your ambulances from accidents with Bondo, dust, paint fumes, and all that stuff. I ended up contracting their work, and at that point, I decided to go into business full time and give up college. And as they say, the rest is history. In that process, I started a towing company, bought a mechanical repair shop, sold the mechanical repair shop, sold the towing company, still have the body shop, and started my speaking consulting business. So, you know, there’s 40 years in there, but that’s kind of how it got started.
I think that I still have wanderlust. I still love to travel. For me, some people are really drained by traveling. It energizes me. I think of it as an adventure. I love to see new places, experience new things, new cultures. I’ve always been curious, and I think that when you’re curious and afraid to try new things, you discover all kinds of things that you’re good at and things that you like to do and have fun at.
Tell us a little bit about how you got into the world of speaking?
I went to a one day Jack Canfield event for personal development and personal growth. They were taking applications for this program called, Train the Trainer. And to be honest with you, up to this point in my life, I didn’t even know that professional speaking or motivational speaking was a thing. But I went to this event, and I filled out an application. They said they were taking applications from people worldwide and would give you a call to interview you. Well, I never got a call. So I figured they didn’t pick me. Then, one day, I get a phone call, and they say you’ve been accepted. So, I go to the program; it’s a year-long program. I was selected without an interview because I was one of two veterans they took into the program because Jack Canfield wanted his work to get back to the veteran community. I ended up doing a total of 20 years in the Marines, but the rest of it was inactive. I was in the reserves. I did active duty for 14 months in Desert Storm.
During this year-long training called Train the Trainer, a woman named Lisa Nichols came in and spoke to us and told us her story. And she had us laughing; she had us crying, she had us laughing, she had us crying. And at the end of the story, she said, I shared my story because I want you to know your story matters. And at that moment, it was like the sky parted. And God struck me with a bolt of lightning. And I realized at that moment that everything that had happened to me in my life, all of it, had happened for a reason.
I was abused as a child, and then I did time in the Marines and started a business and all that stuff. And so when that hit me, you had to do homework. And one of the things you had to do in this training was you had to go back home because it was three weeks of live training with Jack Canfield in a room; he ended up with 86 people from literally around the world. And a majority of them, I’d say 90% of them, were already business coaches, consultants, or speakers of some sort. And here’s Louis being The Body Shop guy thinking, man, I’m in the deep end of the pool without a life preserver. And so you had to do at least a half-day seminar, and you had to do a keynote speech. So, a friend of mine got like 50 business owners in a room, and I went out. It’s weird because it was like I’ve been doing it my whole life. And to this day, I tell people, I don’t get nervous; I get really excited for it to start, right. But I don’t get nervous. I don’t have butterflies. I don’t get queasy or lightheaded or any of that stuff. I just get really excited for it to start.
I’ve also had some experiences. I play guitar, and I’ve played in bands for the last 35 or 40 years as well. And I’ve had nights on stage when people have come up to me after a set or at the end of the night and said, Man, you were awesome tonight. You were playing out of your head. And I tell them I was because it didn’t come from me, it came through me, and the music just flowed through me. So I can tell you that every time I speak, it usually takes four or five minutes, and then for me, it’s the Holy Spirit. You can call it whatever you want. But it just moves through me, and I tell people that if you saw me do a keynote speech, and you wanted to interview me immediately after, and held a gun to my head and asked me to repeat it, you’d have to kill me. Because I practice really hard, I research, live what I talk about, have a PowerPoint, and prepare like everybody else, but I just let it go once it starts. And that’s when the magic and the miracles happen.
Who Are the Clients That You Work With?
I normally consult businesses and corporations that are looking to improve their proficiencies to get profit and time.
What Is the Free Gift You Are Sharing with the Audience?
I want to share w1 strategies on developing and creating your unique selling proposition. With everybody And that’s going to be a free resource. Go to www.thegiftedleader.com and type in your information.