Lessons From Winning the Talent Show

I planted my feet firmly after doing 4 back-to-back forward flips.

Dizzy, but too scared to stop, I started to shake and vibrate like a mad man. “Keep dancing” was all I could think. “Mr Roboto” from Sytx screamed over the school speakers and I tried to keep it together.

A few months earlier I had ordered Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock” 33 (thats a record for my younger folks), but we decided it was a little too much for small town parents in 1983.

My brother Ray did “the worm” and reached his mark on stage, then started rolling his tummy while also “popping”. I continued to shake and “popped” on the other end of the stage.

We were scared out of our minds, but thankfully the audience filling the lunch room was more freaked out than we were.

The school talent show was filled with your normal talent show stuff, but what two underweight, unattractive new students were doing was blowing their minds.

We spun on our backs, the top of our heads, popped, shook and danced our choreographed butts off. Our dance had to be perfect. WE had to be perfect.

Ray and I had spent the last 6 months living in San Jose California before we were told we had to move to Chico, in northern California, to spend some time with our father.

We were perfecting these new dance moves that had just started to sweep the bay area. We assumed that the whole world was doing the same thing.

We were wrong.

No internet, no cell phones, only film cameras… things moved much slower in 1983.

Just a few weeks before the talent show, while we were at Cal Skate, they put cones around the middle of the skate floor for dancing. We immediately realized, NOT ONE person there had seen the kind of “dancing” we were doing.

Crowds formed and people looked at us like we were Marty McFly shredding a guitar in 1955. A combination of amazement, and judgment.

So, we did what anyone would do. We milked it!

We signed up for the school talent show, practiced, choreographed and danced to the most popular song we could get away with… Mr Roboto.

As the song faded and we hit our “competition pose” we both knew… Life will never be the same.

The crowd erupted like a movie and it was the first time anyone had ever applauded me. I liked it. After years of being invisible, this was a welcome change!

We were mobbed and thrust into instant school celebrity status.

I had my first “girlfriend” by the time the night was over and so did Ray. Mine was Cricket, and his was Brandy, I think?

So what was my lesson?


I didn’t change. I was the same person before the talent show, and I was the same person after. The ONLY thing that changed was how others perceived me.

Boys thought I was super cool, and wanted me to teach them my dance moves. Girls wanted to be the one I chose when I was done dancing. Nothing was different about me! I looked the same, talked the same, and was the same exact person.

This still happens now when I speak at events. I go from “the quiet guy in the corner”, to “that guy with a line of people waiting to talk to him”. Happens every time.

Even now, as I write this to you. Someone will read this and think, “Oh, I like that guy” or “I want to get to know him better”.

Someone else will read this and think “what a tool”, “that guys full of crap”.

I’m still the same person before and after any opinion is formed. Only their perception of me changes based on their own bias/judgment.

Until that moment in school, I thought that the only thing that mattered was getting people to like me. After that moment, I realized that the only thing that mattered was what I thought of myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have my own insecurities. They just don’t usually rule my life, how I speak, or what I say. Usually 😉

If you want to win the talent show of life, go for it!

Everyone should experience fame at some point. It’s pretty cool.

I’m sure it’s the reason I ended up the way I am today.

Open, vulnerable, loving, caring, aggressive, passive and whatever I feel like expressing in that moment.

What I feel about myself is all that really matters. And how you feel about yourself is all that matters. 🙂

You are awesome or we likely would not be friends 🙂 I like awesome people and clearly I like you 🙂

Go win the talent show, or don’t. Just know that you won’t be any different. You will still be awesome no matter what.

I never kissed Cricket, never threw a touchdown pass, and was again, completely invisible in high school, but that day, something definitely changed in me. I was OK with it all.

P.S. I returned to Chico 2 years later when break dancing had reached full blown hysteria. When I arrived at the local break dancing club, I was recognized by its founders as “the kid that brought breakin to Chico”. Yeah, that was my legacy?? LOL…

To this day, I’ve not sponge bob’d my arms once since my return to Chico. Why? Because life is a book and that chapter was fun, but it’s over, and I moved on to so many next chapters by letting go of old ones 🙂

Thanks for checkin in with me from time to time to see what page I’m on 🙂

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