“Les” Is More: Speak, Heal, and Thrive… Les Brown’s Unfiltered Journey Through Grief, Recovery, and Business Success at Joe Polish’s Genius Network #203

Episode Summary

Les shares essential lessons for success and the transformative power of passion, energy, and purpose, guiding you to ignite your greatness within.

Embark on Les Brown’s extraordinary journey as he unveils the highs and lows of a life marked by triumph over addiction and the courage to conquer cancer. Gain invaluable insights into handling grief and obstacles, while discovering the secrets behind commanding standing ovations and transforming lives.

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Here’s a glance at what you’ll discover from Les Brown in this episode:

  • Les Brown reveals the best parts (and hardest parts) of being him
  • The incredible story of Les’s addiction and his remarkable recovery
  • Les shares the story of how he conquered cancer with courage
  • Live Full, Die Empty: Why Les doesn’t have a fear of death
  • Les reveals how he deals with grief, loss, betrayal and pain
  • You’ve Got To Be Hungry: Discover the greatness within to win
  • How to command a standing ovation and transform people’s lives
  • Les explains what the greatest speakers in the world do
  • Three lessons Les learned about living a successful life


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Show Notes

Genius Network:

  • Les praises the Genius Network for its potential to transform lives through shared experiences and building a supportive community.
  • Encourages listeners to join events like the Genius Network for personal and professional growth.

The Power of Less:

  • The conversation shifts to the concept of “less is more.”
  • Les discusses the paradox of less being more, using the example of simplicity being better understood than complexity.

Les Brown’s Background:

  • Joe Polish introduces Les Brown, highlighting his journey from being labeled mentally retarded by school officials to becoming a global motivational icon.
  • Les shares snippets from his book, “You’ve Got To Be Hungry,” highlighting his struggles, addiction, and the goal of inspiring others to unleash their greatness.

Best and Hardest Parts of Being Les Brown:

  • Les reflects on the best and hardest aspects of his life, emphasizing that believing in his potential was the most challenging part.
  • Discusses facing stage four prostate cancer and the perseverance required to overcome it, receiving the Cancer Center’s Award for Perseverance.

Addiction and Recovery:

  • Les opens up about his addiction to prescribed drugs, detailing a powerful intervention by his children and the struggle to overcome addiction.
  • Shares a personal story of recovery, including a spiritual awakening, reliance on family, and determination to beat addiction without additional drugs.

Advice for Those Struggling with Addiction:

  • Les acknowledges the agonizing pain of addiction withdrawal and advises individuals to seek distraction, dispute negative beliefs, and find inspiration.
  • Encourages people to assess their lives, eliminate toxic elements, and take responsibility for their well-being.
  • Stresses the importance of mindset, changing eating habits, and reducing negativity to live a life of joy, harmony, and peace.

Facing Terminal Illness:

  • Les discusses how Dr. Alfred Goldson distracted him from the fear of cancer, disputed negative beliefs, and inspired him to fight.
  • He stresses the importance of “distract, dispute, and inspire” in overcoming challenges.
  • Highlights the power of a positive mindset, using humor to alleviate fear, and the importance of inspiring individuals to become the authors of their own lives.

Fear of Death and Living Fully:

  • Les shares his spiritual perspective on death.
  • Quotes Dr. Miles Monroe, encouraging people to live full and die empty, making the most of their talents and gifts.
  • Les Brown shares a poignant personal experience witnessing his mother’s death, emphasizing the transformative nature of death and the importance of embracing life.
  • Describes life as a “roller toilet tissue,” emphasizing the fleeting nature of time and the need to live fully.

Overcoming Challenges and Mental Resilience:

  • Les shares a personal story about his brother’s caregiving journey, highlighting the challenges faced by caregivers and the impact on mental resilience.
  • Stresses the importance of upgrading skills and building supportive communities, like the Genius Network, to navigate life’s challenges.

Fear of Death and Unique Value:

  • Les dismisses the fear of death and emphasizes the uniqueness of each individual, comparing it to the rhythm and blues era’s song, “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing Baby.”
  • Addresses the intimidation of artificial intelligence, asserting that human experience, heart, and the ability to inspire are irreplaceable.

Using Humor in Speaking:

  • Les encourages embracing humor, describing it as a lubricant that helps navigate life. Advises against struggling with humor, suggesting finding triggers that work for you.
  • Shares a personal anecdote about a challenging time in his life, demonstrating the strategic use of humor to connect with the audience.

Lessons from Personal Experiences:

  • Les reflects on his separation from his twin brother during the Vietnam War, emphasizing the importance of reconnection and supporting loved ones through difficult times.
  • Shares advice from his mentor, Mr. Leroy Washington, focusing on developing the mind, surrounding oneself with quality people, and honing communication skills.

Accelerated Learning and Teaching Others:

  • Discusses the three ways of learning: the school of hard knocks, learning from others’ experiences, and accelerated learning by teaching others.
  • Emphasizes the effectiveness of teaching others to accelerate personal growth and understanding.

Effective Communication and Asking the Right Questions:

  • Les shares experiences of training doctors to communicate effectively with patients, highlighting the power of strategic questioning.
  • Advocates for creating a want through effective communication and asking the right questions, emphasizing the importance of serving others.

Crafting a Unique Speaking Style:

  • Joe Polish inquires about Les Brown’s unique speaking style and how he developed it.
  • Les recalls being inspired by speech and drama teacher Mr. Leroy Washington and studying communicators like Paul Harvey, Billy Graham, and Zig Ziglar to refine his delivery.
  • Les Brown reflects on the power of creating a larger vision through experiences, tying it back to the current global situation and the opportunities for personal growth.

Vision and Synergy:

  • Les talks about the importance of vision and having a broad impact.
  • Describes a pivotal moment with his coach, Mike Williams, emphasizing the need for a grand vision.
  • Stresses the idea that limiting visions lead to limited impact.
  • Les shares insights on perpetual learning, expanding, unlearning, and the importance of being a perpetual learner.
  • Emphasizes the need to evolve and adapt, quoting thinkers like Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn, Winston Churchill, Peter Drucker, and Einstein.

Belief in Others:

  • Les shares the concept of believing in somebody’s belief until your belief kicks in.
  • Discusses the transformative power of having people who believe in you more than you believe in yourself.
  • Highlights the role of compassion and judgment-free support, particularly in overcoming personal challenges like addiction.

Authenticity and Transparency:

  • Les emphasizes the significance of who you are behind the words you speak.
  • Advocates for authenticity, transparency, and the power of sharing personal struggles.
  • Stresses the importance of the messenger’s character, aligning with the message for a profound impact.

Building Trust:

  • Les explores the three questions people subconsciously ask when encountering someone: Who are you? What do you have? Can I trust you?
  • Underlines the importance of establishing trust and connecting with audiences on a deeper level.
  • References a book titled “Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am.”

Overcoming Challenges:

  • Les opens up about facing challenges, including drug addiction.
  • Highlights the transformative power of having a support system and someone to talk to without judgment.
  • Shares the concept of dying to the old self to give birth to a new, purpose-driven self.

Creating Impact:

  • Les talks about creating a life that outlives oneself, making a positive impact.
  • Discusses the power of communication in creating peace and changing cultural narratives.
  • Shares his motto: “It’s possible, it’s necessary,” encouraging a mindset of positivity and contribution.

Legacy and Relationships:

  • Les delves into the importance of relationships and building a reference group for success.
  • Mentions an 85-year study at Harvard University, indicating successful people have a reference group of about five to seven individuals with shared goals and dreams.
  • Advocates for replicating the Genius Network model globally, focusing on unity and shared goals.
  • Les emphasizes the importance of relationships and cites the example of geese flying in formation.

Final Thoughts:

  • Les emphasizes the transformative power of the Genius Network and its potential to create positive change.
  • Encourages the audience to recognize their role in shaping history and leaving a legacy.
  • Concludes with a call to turn to each other, create peace, and build a legacy for future generations.



  • “Earn walkaway money.” – Les Brown
  • “Never make a point without a story and never tell a story without a point.” – Les Brown
  • “Start practicing OTP… Only quality people.” – Les Brown
  • “Life is God’s gift to us, and how we live our lives is our gift to God.” – A.R. Bernard
  • “Most people die at age 25 and don’t get buried until they’re 65.” – Les Brown
  • “There’s something in you that says, ‘I can do more.’” – Les Brown
  • “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s heaven for?” – Robert Browning
  • “Your comfort zone is your danger zone.” – Les Brown
  • “Effort is your responsibility.”
  • “Live full, die, empty.” – Les Brown
  • “That’s what the Genius Network is about. It’s about robbing the cemetery of the gifts that you have in you. You are a masterpiece because you are a piece of the master.” – Les Brown
  • “Artificial Intelligence has nothing on you because it doesn’t have a heart. It doesn’t have your experience, it doesn’t have your ability to look at a situation and be able to allow a person to get a vision of themselves on the other side of whatever they are experiencing.” – Les Brown
  • “Distract, dispute, and inspire.” – Les Brown


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