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My partners at Zoom Drain, Jim and Jason Criniti, also are the owners of the Philadelphia locations. Jim mentioned to me that he was looking for a speaker for his upcoming company meeting.
Have you done something like this? In addition to regular departmental and individual meetings, you bring the troops together for a special event. You hope it’s a big hit. You hope to “motivate” people.
Jim’s wife, Lisa, a realtor, had recently seen Nick Santonastasso speak at a company event. Lisa encouraged Jim and Jason to book Nick for their meeting. I had the opportunity to attend, too, and was moved to share my experience with you.
Nick Santonastasso is an Internet sensation, fitness athlete, model, engaging speaker and the CEO of his own company, Raw Mettle Motivations. Because of a rare genetic disorder – Hanhart Syndrome – Nick has no legs and only one arm with an underdeveloped hand.
The day of the Zoom Drain team event, Nick arrived with an entourage. They met in a Master Mind group. Crazy! (At their age, I was into, well, trouble more than anything else.) His team had assigned duties – social media, video and photography and logistics.
Before the event, Nick requested a raised platform. We didn’t know how he would get on stage or what kind of help he would need. Turns out he didn’t need any. He got himself on stage with the grace of an elite athlete and launched into his presentation.
Nick’s family’s love and support contributed to his phenomenal capabilities. One day his mom put his clothes in front of him and said, “Figure it out.” He did. And he kept expanding the boundaries of what he could do. He learned to skateboard. A video of Nick as a child doing an arm stand on his skateboard went viral (https://bit.ly/2BsLtZB). Nick says, “The video doesn’t show how many times I fell off.” Everything he has accomplished took an extraordinary number of attempts.
Nick doesn’t see failure as a negative; he sees it as the path to success.
Embracing his physicality, he would dress as a zombie and startle shoppers at the supermarket. When the app Vine came out, Nick and his buddies posted 7-second videos of Nick’s pranks. He developed a following online, which led to a high-profile prank with the cast of “The Walking Dead.”
He made the varsity wrestling team – 106 lb. class – his senior year of high school. He competed onstage in the 2017 NPC Iron Bay Classic bodybuilding event. He’s garnered a sponsorship with Kaged Muscle health supplements. Reebok asked him to be part of its Be More Human fitness campaign. As an up-and-coming model, he made the cover of New York Fashion Week Magazine.
Oh, and he is only 22 years old.
I was engaged from minute one. As Nick described his childhood, it was a between-the-eyes reminder of how many reasons I have to be grateful. I was energized and inspired.
Perhaps you’d imagine that all the team members would have the same reaction I had while listening to Nick. Some did. Nick did an exercise where he asked us to recall a time when we had been happy. He let us sit with the memory long enough to really feel it. I saw hard-boiled plumbers with tears pouring down their faces. It was a powerful moment.
I also noticed some people knit their brows. Fold their arms. I wondered what Nick’s stories and experiences meant to them. Was Nick not … relatable? While not underestimating his achievements, did Nick have the same pressures or expectations they had growing up? Or dealing with life now?
Then, Nick told a story about when he was in middle school. Growing up, he said, his family and friends accepted him as he was. It was in middle school where he started to notice the stares and giggles, and hurtful words. He hated his body. At one point he became so despondent he considered suicide. He didn’t tell his parents. He didn’t want them to worry, so he struggled privately. “How many of you felt that way in middle school? In high school?” You could hear a pin drop in the room.
He found acceptance and love with his friends and video followers. Nick worked his way through his depression, only to discover the fickle nature of his online celebrity. Nick decided it was time to move past the pranks. He felt a higher calling and wanted to focus on helping people realize their worth and reach their goals. He set goals of his own: to work with Anthony Robbins, to play Madison Square Garden (as a speaker and a musician), to be on the covers of Forbes and GQ magazines.
His fans were not happy about Nick’s change of direction. Once again, Nick felt ostracized.
Ultimately, he decided to ignore the haters and focus on what he truly wants to do. Nick is just not going to let anything or anyone keep him from living his best life. His amazing accomplishments are evidence of that. Most importantly, Nick is a happy guy. He’s living his dreams and encouraged us to do the same. That’s the message he shared with us.
‘Motivating’ Your Team?
I use air bunnies around the word “motivating” because you can’t really motivate anybody. You can share your story and experiences as Nick did. You can ask others to share theirs. You can offer experiences. You can offer training, and a safe, productive and sane working environment. However, motivation is an inside job.
As you plan your next company event, here are a few tips.
One of the many things I admire about Jim and Jason Criniti is how they feel about the people they work with. They love them. They want them to grow with them and stay forever. They understand that not everyone will. However, they aim to help people get better. Excel in the technical side of their jobs. Learn things that will travel with them forever – such as communication, project management and sales skills.
And occasionally they bring in a fresh new perspective by asking a bright and successful young man like Nick to speak to the troops. Thanks for asking me to join in!
Thoughts? Comments? I’d like to hear them! Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.ellenrohr.com.
“My mission is to empower people and show them what’s possible.” — Nick Santonastasso
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