We discuss today with Steve Rizzo. Steve is a member of the prestigious Speakers Hall of Fame—an honor bestowed on fewer than 280 speakers worldwide since 1977. He is the author of the bestselling books Conversations With Bob, Motivate THIS! and Get Your SHIFT Together, and is often called upon as the “go-to” guy on the topic of personal development for many network, cable and radio media outlets. His immensely popular PBS special brought him into millions of homes and revealed why he’s an expert on Attitude, Humor and the Power of Positive Thinking.
You’ve had an incredible journey from being voted “least likely to succeed” in high school to becoming a member of the prestigious Speaker Hall of Fame. Can you share some pivotal moments or experiences that led to this transformation?
Yes, I was voted “Least Likely To Succeed” in high school. Also, when I was 14 years old, I was told by a guidance counselor in front of my mother and father that I didn’t have what it takes to go to college. It was that type of negative labeling that molded the direction for a good part of my life. This isn’t a Woe is me story! It’s a WOW is me story! Six years after high school, I did go to college, and although it wasn’t easy, I graduated with high honors and went back to the same school that I graduated from and taught English. Proving once and for all that guidance counselors are not fortune tellers. That was the first step towards turning my life around. Then a major shift took place. I left the school system to become a standup comedian. For over 25 years I headlined comedy clubs, theaters, and colleges throughout the country. Made a lot of TV appearances and even had a SHOWTIME Special. Then, at the pinnacle of my comedy career, I left standup to pursue my true purpose and passion: to become an inspirational speaker. I now share my blueprint for success and happiness with audiences across the globe. I guess you can say, “Now…I’m living the dream!”
Your book Conversations with Bob is all about life-changing lessons that help people develop an unstoppable attitude, humor, and grace. Could you give us a sneak peek into some of the key lessons or insights you share in the book?
Conversations with Bob is a timeless, entertaining dialogue between two characters, Bob and Bernie. Bernie resides in the Negative Zone, where challenges get blown out of proportion and problems turn into emotional havoc.
Then we have Bob. Good old Bob to the rescue! Bob is of your Higher Nature. Bob is the ever-present antidote to the firewall of fear and negativity that Bernie insists is real.
Throughout the book, Bob reveals to Bernie Common Sense Success Strategies and Shifting habits that can transform his mindset from failure to success, from unhappiness to fulfillment, and from lack to abundance.
As a motivational speaker, what inspired you to take on this role? Can you tell us about a particularly inspiring or memorable moment from one of your speaking engagements?
I have a brother Michael who is 100% disabled because of the Viet Nam War. He passed away last Christmas Eve. To say that he’s the biggest inspiration in my life is an understatement.
What he did with his life is nothing short of miraculous. I know that the word miraculous is a very powerful word to use, but often in life a miracle is simply a shift in perception.
It’s looking at something where at one point you’re saying, “I can’t do this!” But, with a shift in the way that you’re thinking, that impossibility suddenly becomes very possible.
That’s exactly what my brother did. No one has taught me more about leadership, how to deal with extreme adversity and how to embrace change more than he has. He literally defied the odds. He did more than survive, he thrived.
You mentioned that you returned to your high school to teach, changing the narrative that others had written for you. How important is it for individuals to overcome negative stereotypes and perceptions about themselves, and what advice would you give to those facing similar challenges?
Overcoming negative stereotypes and the negative labels that have been bestowed upon us is crucial for living a happy and successful life. The scary thing is that most people are not aware that they have created toxic beliefs and limiting mindsets that are manipulating and controlling their lives. The key is to become aware of the effect that your unconscious toxic thoughts, beliefs and feelings have on you. Awareness is the key that sets you free! Once you become aware, you can learn alternatives and healthier ways to shift your way of thinking so you can create an empowering belief system that is conducive to living a happier, successful life. In part, that’s what Conversations With Bob is all about.
You had a successful career as a national headline comedian, sharing the stage with renowned comedians like Drew Carey, Rosie O’Donnell, and Chris Rock. How did your background in comedy influence your motivational speaking career, and what valuable lessons did you learn from your comedy career that you applied today?
My ability to make people laugh plays a crucial role in my speaking career. The attention span of the average audience today is very minimal.
I use my comedic skills to captivate the audience, to engage them with laughter. Once I know I have their attention, I gradually teach them, step by step, my blueprint for success and happiness.
I use this Laugh and Learn methodology throughout my entire presentation. If you’re having fun while you’re learning, you ingest more information.
Can you share your thoughts on the role of humor in personal and professional development? How can humor be a tool for resilience and a positive attitude, as you’ve demonstrated in your own life?
Laughter is the pit stop in the rat race of life, in that it gives you enough emotional fuel and repairs to get back into the race again. One of the strategies that I reveal to my audience is to unleash the power of their Humor Being every day. Your Humor Being is of your higher nature.
It’s the part of you that always brings out the best in you, especially when times are tough. Humor nips negative thought patterns in the bud before emotional havoc blossoms. Sometimes in life all you need is a couple of seconds to catch your second wind. Laughter – your Humor Being – gives you that couple of seconds over and over again! The more you use it, the more it becomes a part of who you are.
You were part of the Showtime Comedy All-Star TV show and even starred in your own Showtime comedy special. What was the highlight of your comedy career, and how did it impact your life and career trajectory?
The night before my SHOWTIME special we had to do a practice run in front of a live audience.
I was sitting in the Green Room at the Sands Hotel in Atlantic City contemplating my life (where I was and where I am now.) I felt a wave of emotions building up, when Woody Harrelson (the host of the show) walked in and asked me how I wanted to be introduced. Without missing a beat, I said, “Woody, tell them you’re bringing up a guy who was voted Least Likely to Succeed in his senior year in high school. Now he’s starring in the big room in Atlantic City and an ALLSTAR on SHOWTIME! He sat down next to me, put his arm around me and said, “Now that’s a great introduction!” And that’s exactly how he introduced me! It was a very empowering experience.
In your journey, you’ve interacted with some incredible individuals in the entertainment industry, like Ellen DeGeneres, Eddie Murphy, and Jerry Seinfeld. Are there any specific stories or experiences you’d like to share from your time working alongside these notable personalities?
I have been blessed to know and learn life lessons from people in all walks of life, many of them famous. One such person was an 18-year-old by the name of Eddie Murphy.
I knew Eddie quite well back in the day. Although I was 13 years his senior, I learned so much from him. Eddie was a prime example of “what you think is what you get.” I’m certain he achieved his level of success because he truly believed he was a star long before he became one.
It was as if he had a crystal ball and saw how his life was going to unfold. It was just a matter of time before his determination to succeed would manifest in the physical world.
I witnessed firsthand how he carried himself on and off the stage. I had many heartfelt conversations with him.
His focus on his craft was laser sharp. His attitude was unfaltering. And his passion was second to none. I believe that Eddie Murphy radiated so much positive energy and had such a powerful belief in himself that he attracted what most people call lucky breaks into his life.
He just happened to have the talent and fortitude to take the appropriate action to seize opportunity when it knocked on his door.
Eddie always knew where he was headed before he got there. More importantly, there was a constant correlation between his intention, his thoughts and what was manifesting in his life. If you truly want to succeed in business and in life, this is the mindset you need to have.
How do you personally stay motivated and maintain a positive attitude in your day-to-day life?
One common sense success strategy that I always use to stay motivated and inspired throughout the day is to embrace an attitude of gratitude.
This process starts as soon as I open my eyes to greet the day, and I take it with me throughout the day.
An attitude of gratitude fills my heart with joyful, high-energy feelings of being blessed with the many things I already have, rather than fixating on what I don’t have – or what’s not working.
An attitude of gratitude is one of the most powerful connections you have to your Higher Self.
The stronger that connection is, the better you feel. The better you feel, the more creative and productive you are. It’s the best kind of snowball effect. It places you in a solution-discovery state of mind. Which in turn helps you view challenges as an adventure and an opportunity for growth.
What advice do you have for individuals who aspire to be motivational speakers or authors? How can they use their own life experiences to inspire and uplift others, as you have done in your career?
I believe the criteria to becoming a motivational speaker or author is to follow your heart, tell your truth, and allow yourself to be vulnerable. If you’re offering tools or strategies, make sure that you back them up with a story, preferably a story from your own personal experience. The power of storytelling is an art form that goes back centuries.
It’s one of the most empowering ways to captivate an audience and to get your point across.
Steve, how is a day in your life?
I go to bed around eight thirty or nine o’clock. I usually wake up around six AM. Before I get out of bed, I pray and meditate.
Then I make myself a light breakfast and go for a walk. As I’m walking, I visualize achieving my goals and manifesting the things I desire. After my walk, I go to the gym and work for about an hour or so.
I am very health conscious. Exercise, eating nutritional food, prayer, meditation, Gratitude and unleashing the power of my Humor Being on a daily basis are not just routines, they are fundamental parts of who I am. They are the foundations that enable me to create the life that I desire while enjoying the process.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
I enjoy spending a lot of quality time by myself. It’s a very secure feeling when you can spend time by yourself and not feel alone.
What are two of your favorite quotes?
“Enjoyment is the spark that ignites passion and enthusiasm! Write that down and slap it on your refrigerator!” – Steve Rizzo
“I don’t care how much money you have or how famous you are. Everyone can view your accomplishments as the ultimate success story. But the bottom line is this…If you are not happy, you are not successful.” – Steve Rizzo
If you had the power to change just one thing in the world, what would it be?
I’m not so sure I would want to change anything. I believe it would interfere with or even distort the very existence as to why we are here on this planet. Allow me to explain.
We are here on this planet to experience, learn, grow, and become the best person we are meant to be. Adversity is necessary for advancement. Mistakes, defeat, sickness, disasters, divorce, war, death, elevator music, traffic, in-laws, annoying and difficult people and situations. I can go on, but I think you get my point. It’s all there to challenge us to realize our capabilities.
It can’t be stressed enough that the filter we view experience through ultimately determines who we become.
In other words, how we choose to experience what happens to us, be it good or bad, right, or wrong, fair or unfair, will determine what we learn.
What we learn determines how we grow, and that continued growth is what shapes who and what we become. Our job is to become the best person we can be, regardless of our circumstances. Dealing with pain and loss is all a part of being human.
There is no escaping that. Yet, the truth is that throughout history, even amid the most devastating of circumstances, people have made courageous choices that have not only allowed themselves at least some degree of relief from their suffering but have led many to become victorious thought leaders who set a higher standard for the rest of the world to learn from.
To know more about Steve Rizzo, please visit https://www.steverizzo.com.