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