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"Tommy Boy"


by Glenn Shepard
August 18, 2015
Category:  Epic Achievers


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Tommy's head was so unusually shaped that the doctor said he'd probably be "mentally ill".

After a teacher said he was "Too stupid to handle", his mother pulled him out of public school and home schooled him.

He was nearly deaf for most of his life, but it never held him back from anything.

He had no trouble landing jobs, though he did have trouble keeping them. He was fired from one for dereliction of duties, and from another after causing an accident as the result of not following procedures.

He eventually landed a job with Western Union in Boston, but got fired from that one for “not concentrating on his primary responsibilities and doing too much moonlighting”. Drowning in debt, he moved to New York for a fresh start.

Homeless and hungry, he slept in the basement of an office building in the financial district. One day he noticed a big commotion at a brokerage firm in the building. The machine that provided their stock quotes had quit working.

A lifelong tinkerer, Tommy butted in and told them he could fix it. He did, and was hired on the spot.

He continued tinkering and even earned few patents. One day his old employer, Western Union, expressed interest in buying one of them.

He wanted to ask $5,000 but was too nervous to ask that much, so he let them name a number. They offered $40,000.

He went to the bank to cash the check, still thinking it was too good to be true. His worst fears were confirmed when the teller gave it back to him, which he understood to mean it was no good.

He went back to Western Union, and they sent an official to the bank. Because Tommy had never received a check, he didn’t realize he had to endorse it. The teller had tried to explain this, but he couldn’t understand her because of his hearing loss.

Of course, you know “Tommy” as Thomas Edison. He used that $40,000 to fund his business, and the rest is history.

The little boy who was labeled “Too stupid” has his name on 1,093 patents, including the phonograph, motion picture camera, and incandescent light bulb.

To Your Success,

Glenn Shepard

P.S.  If there was ever any doubt about how much parents believing in their children affects them, here’s proof. Edison said “My mother was so sure of me; I felt I had something to live for. Someone I must not disappoint.” I’d say she was not disappointed.

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