Today is Message #1026 (my birthday: October 26) and my lucky number. In fact, if you have spent some time with me, you know that I even have a #26 necklace that I always wear (it was my baseball number too), and all around my house I have different items with 26 on it from a street sign to old license plates to mahjong tiles.

Why the number twenty-six, you ask?

When I was younger, my hero was pitcher, Dwight Gooden (Dr. K) of the New York Mets. He was #16 and I had all of his baseball cards, doubles, and in some instances, triples of each. One day I flipped one of his cards over and noticed that his birthday was November 16 and instantly saw why his jersey number was the same. Well, from then on, my number was 26.

In addition to all of his baseball cards, I had Dwight Gooden posters, photos and magazine cutouts. I even tried to duplicate his pitching motion.

Well last night, I spent some time with Dwight Gooden at Yankee Stadium.


It was unbelievable. He even signed a ball to me.

I asked Doc, “What was the secret to your success?”

Without hesitation, my childhood hero replied, “Hard work.”

He didn’t say, “Talent” or “Natural Ability.”

There is a phenomenon called the “Iceberg Effect.” When we see a Dwight Gooden, we only see his out-of-this-world skills (tip of the iceberg). What we don’t see is the hard work and 10,000 hours he put in to getting to that point.

Everyone wants to be an overnight success, but do you know how long it takes to become an overnight success?

Ten years.

Thank you, Mr. Gooden for continuing to be an inspiration to me and a special Happy Birthday to Coach Anthony Carter and high school tennis player, Kevin Roveda.

MESSAGE #1016 BE INFLUENTIAL (If you want)

I am currently reading the latest issue of Time magazine, entitled, “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.”

I like to think that I will be in that issue one day; not because I want to say that I have that title, but because I truly want to make as big of a difference in the world that I can.

And you can too.

I know what you’re thinking, “What if I don’t want to be an influential figure? What if I’m happy with what I have?”

Then by all means, continue with what you are doing.

But the wrong mindset is that it is not possible. It is possible.

It won’t happen overnight, but if you figure out the right strategy, put in the work and truly have a passion for it…the sky’s the limit.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a tennis player, musician or accountant; you have unlimited potential.

My friend Bob Ryland, the first black professional tennis player used to coach the Williams sisters, and the first thing I ever asked him was, “Were they more talented than everyone else?”

“No, in fact I didn’t think they were talented at all at first, but they worked harder than anyone else (from 6am-6pm, with breaks of course).”

Yes, talent and physicality help, however, they are not the determining factors.

Remember, ANYBODY can count the number of seeds in an apple; NOBODY can count the number of apples in a seed.

Your potential is unlimited.


Today’s message is especially dedicated to all of you who think that Roger Federer was born with more tennis talent than you. And Happy Birthday to tennis great, coach John Carrigan in the UK.

I’m currently reading a great book, “Bounce – Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success” by Matthew Syed.

The premise of the book is that hard work, not talent determines success. Syed talks about the iceberg illusion. This is when we see a Roger Federer and only see the end result (tip of the iceberg). What we don’t see is the thousands of hours of hard work that he put into this “end product of a process measured in years…What we do not see is what we might call the hidden logic of success.”

Now here’s the interesting thing…

In 1984 Desmond Douglas, the greatest ever UK table tennis player, was placed in front of a screen containing a series of touch-sensitive pads at the University of Brighton. He was told that the pads would light up in a random sequence and that his task was to touch the relevant pad with the index finger of his favored hand as soon as he could, before waiting for the next pad to light up…After a minute, the task ended and Douglas’s teammates gave him a round of applause. Douglas grinned as the researcher left the room to collate the results. After five minutes, the researcher returned. He announced that Douglas’s reactions were the slowest in the entire England team: he was slower than the juniors and the cadets; slower even than the team manager…Douglas was universally considered to have the fastest reactions in world table tennis…

When Roger Federer returns a service, he is not demonstrating sharper reactions than you and I; what he is showing is that he can extract more information from the service action of his opponent and other visual clues, enabling him to move into position earlier and more efficiently than the rest of us, which in turn allows him to make the return – in his case a forehand cross-court winner…

…Federer’s advantage has been gathered from experience: more precisely, it has been gained from a painstaking process of encoding the meaning of subtle patterns of movement drawn from more than ten thousand hours of practice and competition…It is his regular practice that has given him this expertise, not his genes.



I remember reading an interview with Carol Dweck, professor at Stanford and author of Mindset. She was talking about the great Olympic athlete, Bruce Jenner.

“He was incredibly talented in sports, and had a fixed mindset, really grooving on his talent, but he had a learning disability and he had to struggle in school. He saw that the struggling paid off and led him to learn. And then he thought one day, ‘What if I put that effort where I already have the talent? What will that do?’ So he transferred it and said he never would have had the sports success he had, had he not had this learning disability. Had he not come to understand the power of effort to ignite your ability, to increase your ability.”

Did Bruce Jenner have talent?

Of course he did, but we ALL have talent.

Many talented people don’t make it because they feel that they don’t need to put the work in. These people have a fixed mindset. And guess what? They are often surpassed by less talented people who do put the time in.

If you do what you love and work hard…the sky is the limit.

Thanks for reading.


Happy Pi Day (3.14) and Happy Birthday to Albert Einstein.

“Most of us look at an unusually talented person and assume that all it takes to win is talent. Don’t be fooled. Talent is only the beginning. A great person takes a small talent and develops it as a tool for serving others. A small person with great talent soon fizzles and wonders why.”


Today’s message is by a very special ghost blogger…

Watch this video. Pay attention to what the character of master perfumer Giuseppe Baldini (played by Dustin Hoffman) exclaims in the 3rd minute.
The movie tells the story of a character who is a savant, born with a hyper-attuned sense of smell.

“Talent means next to nothing! While experience acquired in humility and hard work means everything.”

We would like to think that there exist a finite number of people who have the luck of being born with an innate gift, talent, genius, etc.
People seem to prefer to believe this myth even though it robs us of the hope that we can cultivate our talents (and robs us of the ability to give hope to others that they may cultivate their talents as well).
Why do we choose to believe this? Probably because it is safe, it is easy, and it absolves us of guilt when we know we are not working to our potential.

It’s interesting and easy to focus on talent. And, sometimes some people do have some type of advantage. However, true change and growth results when we focus on humility and hard work through commitments to continuously improve.

This is the lesson that teachers, coaches, and experts in any field need to convey.

Thanks for reading.