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Jerry Gumbert » Uncategorized Steve Safran's MediaReinvent

    June 3rd, 2020

    I can’t breathe.

    It is the new anthem for racism in America.

    I can’t breathe.

    Detroit, MI, 1967:  I can still remember my family driving down Woodward Avenue a few days after the riots.  I was nine years old. The city was still smoldering and reduced to torched buildings and choking smoke.  It was hard to breathe. The emptiness I felt is still with me today.

    America, 2020:  The more things change, the more they stay the same — some 53 years later.

    Like many African Americans before him, George Floyd was murdered by a policeman.  Perhaps several policemen?   We should all be outraged, not just African Americans, but every American.  Some police officers are murdering Americans.

    I know racism is complicated, I get it.  But, if we would all extend a warm and kind hand to others, regardless of our differences, and if we would all get down on our knees and pray with and for each other, all Americans and America would be stronger.

    Benjamin Franklin once said:  “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”

    Some police officers are murdering Americans.  Its time for all of us to do something about it.

    I can’t breathe.

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    January 28th, 2019

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  • GET UP! Move Forward.

    December 31st, 2018

    I’ve been knocked down a few times in my life.  My dad taught me to just keep getting up.  I did.
    2018 landed a near knockout punch that I never saw coming:  a perforated colon and septic.  I was face down on the mat when the doctor counted to nine before I got up.  A close call.  Too close.
    On this eve of 2019, know that this ‘ol bear is up, dancing in the ring and ready to take on the world again.
    Get ready.  Here I come.  Ding!

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  • VETERANS: Today is their day.

    November 11th, 2018

    Today is Veterans Day. It honors America’s current and former military men and women. To say that these people are special is just not enough. They are self-less, united and proudly provide all of us with the freedom and safety we take for granted. Every day.

    As a business traveler, I see them at the airport and on airplanes every week.

    I watch them say goodbye to their families. I watch young children grab on to their legs, crying, not wanting to ever let go. I watch tears pour down the face of their spouse who prays this won’t be the last time they see their other half, the love of their life and best friend. For they all know and live with the fear, emptiness and uncertainty of tomorrow.

    It is heart-breaking to watch and it always puts tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat because I can’t imagine the courage it must take to walk away from each other.

    Today is for them. All we have to do is support and pray for them. All of them.

    Perhaps one day we can idolize them as much as we lift up professional athletes and celebrities.

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    February 3rd, 2018

    I’ve always believed that continuous hard work and doing it the right way were drivers of success. Many people believe that luck has a lot to do with it, too. After all, luck is when preparation meets opportunity, right? Nope. Being at the right place at the right time and being prepared for an opportunity is not luck. It’s something earned. These two bullets shot during WW II collided before they reached an intended destination. Luck is the two people that they were aimed at didn’t end up dead.

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    November 4th, 2017

    I’ve always tried to teach my kids that “character” is what you do when no one is looking. Character is all about doing the “right thing” — no matter the circumstance or consequence. The decisions we make, or choose to not make, define who we are.

    Today, it is clear, crystal clear, that more high-profile Hollywood “A Listers” knew about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment and assault than those who did not. For decades. Think of that the next time you buy a ticket to a George Clooney, Matt Damon, (insert hundreds more names here), movie and choose to put them on a pedestal.

    We are all human and we all make mistakes. But, allowing the sexual assault of women to continue, again for decades, by someone you know and work with, is just unforgivable. Yes, its easier to be a tree-hugger than to stand up for the safety and well-being of our female colleagues. But, that’s exactly when character should prevail. Unfortunately, it’s still about fame, money and what’s “best for me.”

    These people are not “larger than life.” They are actually very small.

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  • Accountability? Well, not in the World Series!

    October 31st, 2017

    Yuli Gurriel hit a home run off of Yu Darvish last night. When he returned to the dugout, he held his index fingers to the outer corners of his eyes and pulled to narrow them, mimicking Darvish’s asian eyes. This from a 33-year old guy who make millions.

    This is everything that’s wrong with people. We disrespect others based on how they are different. In today’s world, if you don’t look like me, talk like me, dress like me, make what I make, etc., I will single you out, go out of my way to make you feel ashamed of your difference, then call myself a Christian.

    What ever happened to just being kind. What ever happened to embracing our uniqueness and celebrating life….together.

    Like so many, Gurriel acted like a racist on a world stage. I can’t image what he’s teaching his children.

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  • Currency of a Well-Lived Life

    September 19th, 2017

    Some unsolicited advice to the younger generations (it may sting a bit).

    If you think you are special, get over it.  You’re not.

    If you think you are more attractive or handsome, you had nothing to do with it. Thank your parents.

    Wanting and needing are very different. Be a giver not a wanter.

    The true currency of a well-lived life is not what you have, but what you don’t need.  It’s about loving relationships. It’s about lifting others up, not basking in the spotlight. It’s about having compassion for those who don’t have what you think you need.

    Step back.  Only then can you see how small we really are.

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  • Love Fiercely

    June 3rd, 2017

    I went to a funeral this morning. Wilburn Davis was 105.  That’s a lot of years.
    Still, no matter how long we live, it does end. So, love fiercely.  It’s the only thing we truly leave behind.
    Wilburn sure did.

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  • Looking Back: Teachers Are My Heroes

    April 16th, 2017

    (Note:  A speech to elementary and middle schools teachers.)

    Thank you for your time this afternoon.  The real intent for being here is to once and for all find out what really happens during “Teacher In-Service Days.”  And, to validate the widely held belief that these meetings are used to further the conspiracy against the parents and students of St. Andrew!!

    Seriously, I am here because of the fondness and respect I have for this school, everything it stands for, and all of the people that provide this safe and academically nurturing community.  Today, I want to talk to about heroes.  Heroes are ordinary people, doing extraordinary things at an extraordinary time.  This is a room full of HEROES and a room full of EXTRAORDINARY people.

    Growing Up

    I would like to tell you a story about a young boy.  He started kindergarten at four years old in Southfield, Michigan.  He had neither the maturity or ability of his classmates and quickly fell behind, and was LEFT behind.  It would take a long, long time for this boy to ever catch up.  C’s, D’s, and F’s became his elementary school legacy.  A.D.D. and Dyslexia didn’t exist, so he was labeled, perhaps rightly so, an academically-challenged child with a behavioral problem.  In most education circles – it was the kiss of death.

    Struggle became his life.  He was the only student given spelling test words three days in advance.  One of a few students in the S.R.A Reading Program (he read a lot “Sea Hunt” books in 6th grade), and with an inability to articulate because of a stuttering impairment, he spiraled ever so consistently, out of control.

    His physical size was also a concern.  As a 5th grader, he was still smaller than most third grade students.  So small, that his homeroom teacher once asked him how it felt like to be “so tiny.”

    He didn’t learn that he was “different” until the 7th grade.  The morning before the new school year began he rode his bike to school to pick-up his class schedule.  He was headed to Birney Junior High!  When he returned home, he showed his mom his schedule and asked her what the “R” in parenthesis after almost every class meant.  His mom told him the word that he didn’t want to hear – remedial.

    Not that he actually knew what it meant, so she explained that too.  It devastated him.  For he knew, or at least thought, that he was not as “good” as everyone else.  He was the “dumb” boy.  In the “dumb class.”  And what ever measuring stick was used – it was clear that he didn’t measure up.

    High school brought other challenges.  His family moved 1,200 miles from the only place he ever called home.  A motorcycle accident at 15 almost killed him.  It didn’t, but he was hospitalized for a month with internal bleeding and a broken femur.  He didn’t walk for a year.  And his ever-growing liability of a bullet-proof mentality and rebel attitude rubbed, in every way, against the grain.  He did graduate from high school.  Barely.  Then, it was on to college.

    As you have probably figured out by now, this story is MY STORY.  It is still humbling and still difficult at times to talk about.  The human mind has a way of blocking out the pain of the past, doesn’t it?

    This is My Story

    I am telling you this story today because through it all….there were three teachers who saved my life, They literally saved my life.  They were just like you…and today they are the great heroes of my life.  Each teacher found a way, in their own way, to connect with me and impact my life.  Each teacher gave to me the special gift of time and undivided attention, even when I repelled against it.  Each teacher taught me and instilled in me a “life lesson” that still shines brightly within me.

    I am here today to tell you that you are all HEROES.  Sure, you are under-paid. Under-valued.  And under-appreciated.  But, you are HEROES and what you do, in every way, is heroic.  You change the lives of our children.  You inspire them.  You give them hope and strength.  You teach them how to dream.  And every day, you give them back to us a little more nurtured, shaped, molded, and polished than they were when we dropped them off at 7:30 am.

    You have both power and position to change lives, and I stand in front of you this afternoon in awe and with a great admiration and respect for your talent, passion and commitment.

    My Heroes

    Mr. Krass was my Leonard Elementary School gym teacher.  He was a tall athletic man and a former minor league baseball player.  This giant of a man taught me how to set goals, make the effort and sacrifice needed to reach them and gave to me the gifts of determination and competitive spirit.

    He inspired the smallest of the small to become a Top 10 goal scorer in hockey and a Michigan State Summer Olympics champion.  Today, he is responsible for my drive and success as a businessman and my determination to be an involved father.

    Mr. Orsarges was my junior high math teacher.  He was one of those “beautiful people,” a model and on the cover of a women’s nylon stockings product.  In seventh grade math, remedial math, he never stopped encouraging me.  He convinced me to go to summer school – he didn’t convince my parents – he convinced me.  Summer school allowed me to be in the regular math class in 8th grade and Mr. Orsarges was once again my teacher.  He made it a big event each time he handed out our graded tests.  And every time he handed it to me, he told the entire class how proud he was and how much I had improved in the past year.  He made me feel like…like a normal person.  His gift to me was dedication and perseverance. He taught me that, “nothing worth while ever comes easy.”  He gave me back my self-confidence and self-esteem.  And, many of you who know me, know I have never lost it again.

    Mr. David Heath was the head of our speech and drama department in high school.  R.L. Turner High School in Carrollton.  I took a drama class in my junior year because it was the easiest class I could sign up for.  Being a “path of least resistance guy,” it was the sure way to “slide by” again.  Within the first two months of school, I gave my drama teacher every reason to throw me out of his class and he did.  He sent me to Mr. Heath’s office where I am certain a miracle took place that day.

    Mr. Heath asked me only one question. He said, “Jerry, if you could be anything you wanted to be, what would you be?”  I told him a sports play-by-play announcer.  He looked into my eyes and said, “why don’t you try TV?”  Up until that moment, I had never thought about a career in radio or TV.  In fact, I had never thought about a career.  And at that moment, Mr. Heath forever and ever, changed my life.

    He put me on the speech and drama tournament team and I began the journey of being a print journalist, television sportscaster, ABC Television Network college football producer, and local TV station news director and station manager.  Today, I own several companies that develop television programs, innovate local newscast and marketing strategies, and train and coach the top television on-air personalities and Fortune 500 executives in the country.

    All because of one man.  One teacher. One hero.  Mr. David Heath.

    One Class At A Time

    This room is full of them, too.

    I am hopeful that the next time you face an academically challenged kid, a class clown kid, a disrespectful kid, a troubled or struggling kid, or a poorly parented kid, that you will realize the important and life changing impact you can have on these kids’ lives.

    About 12 years ago, I launched a community initiative in more than 50 cities across the country called One Class At A Time.  It is a community program that uses the financial and marketing power of a local television station to award local teachers and classrooms a cash gift that can be used for two purposes:  To purchase the tools a teacher needs to enhance the classroom learning experience, or to purchase supplies for students whose families’ can’t afford them, which places the burden of out-of-pocket expenses on the teacher.  Because most classroom issues are tied to “funding,” this initiative is trying to address the needs of a classroom, one at a time.

    Today, we award a grant of $16,000, or $400 to each teacher at St. Andrew.  These grants are to be used at the sole discretion of each teacher and in a way that each teacher believes is most effective for their classroom. For a young boy who was be given so much by teachers, it is the very least that he can do.  Unfortunately, you will continue to be under-paid, under-valued and almost certainly under-appreciated.  But, you will always be a shining star and a beam of light to your students.  You will always be someone that truly makes a difference.  And, you will always be HEROES.

    Thank you and God bless you!

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