ADAPT: When you or someone you are close to has a physical limitation, you must constantly adapt to new circumstances. Perfectly normal everyday situations became new uncharted territory that I had to navigate (going out to dinner, going on an airplane, traveling, visiting friends). Being flexible, open, and understanding to these new adaptive situations is crucial.
As a part of our “Unstoppable” series, I had the pleasure of interviewing “Ambassador of Joy” Barry Shore.
Barry Shore (known as the “Ambassador of JOY”) is a Philanthropist, Serial Entrepreneur (with 2 multi-million dollar exits and 3 issued patents), Former Quadriplegic, Swimmer, Motivational Speaker, Best Selling Author, and Podcaster. He is the founder of JOY of LIVING Institute™, Keep Smiling, and Changebowl. Shore’s nationally syndicated radio show and his podcast, The JOY of LIVING, is heard globally by hundreds of thousands and has had over TWO MILLION downloads in just 19 months. His forthcoming book “The JOY of LIVING: How to Slay Stress and Be Happy” will be released in 2021 and it reveals 11 strategies for living in joy, daily.https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/e71f42c69135acc01718b32d34780d48
Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is really an honor. Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
Before I became a quadriplegic and long before I was the “Ambassador of Joy,” I had multiple careers in a variety of industries. I started an internet company in 1999, built on two patents, and sold it to a NASDAQ-listed company within 18 months for more than 10 million dollars. (Today, the acquiring company has a 4 billion dollars market cap.) I initially studied to become a gemologist and for a period of time was a wholesale diamond dealer. Within 3 years of starting this business, I bought and sold over 100 million dollars of diamonds, authored a popular book on Investing in Diamonds, and was approved for the first Diamond-Gem Limited Partnership investment in the State of California. I also dabbled in the retail industry and I once owned a flourishing fashion boutique called FRED on Newbury Street in Boston, frequented by celebrities including Cheech and Chong.
Do you feel comfortable sharing with us the story surrounding how you became disabled or became ill? What mental shift did you make to not let that “stop you”?
On September 17, 2004, my life changed forever. I woke up happy and healthy and ended up in the hospital as a quadriplegic…completely paralyzed from the neck down from a rare neurological condition called Guillain-Barre Syndrome (aka French Polio). I spent two years in a hospital bed unable to move, then four years in a wheelchair with braces on both legs from my hips to my ankles.
I have since made remarkable progress. Today, though I still need assistance (12 hours per day 7 days/week), I am able to live at home and can walk with the support of a 7-foot walking stick (made by a Zen master!)
Guillain-Barre Syndrome was and still is a struggle. However, the result of that struggle was so life changing that it must be discussed and shared. And so, I am. With You. My decision to use this experience to better my life and the lives of others has opened a unique opportunity for me.
I decided to Live the 3 Fundamentals of Life: Life has Purpose. You can go “M.A. D” (aka Make A Difference) and You can unlock the secrets and power of everyday words and terms. Simple example: SMILE means Seeing Miracles In Life Everyday.
Now, I’m on a mission to transform the world through the JOY of living, every day.
Can you tell our readers about the accomplishments you have been able to make despite your disability or illness ?
During the recovery process, I became a swimmer. Using floatation aids on my legs and tummy (to prevent my body from sinking) and adaptive swimming gloves (because I can’t close my hands) I learned how to swim again. At first it was a mile a day; 2X/week. Then with time and perseverance I can now swim 2 miles per day 6X/week.
Over the past 12 years, I have logged more than 8,000 miles — about the distance from NY to Burma or Myanmar!
Additionally, I have leveraged my talent as a speaker to build a Podcast, entitled The Joy of Living, that encourages and touches millions. And we have built the KEEP SMILING Movement which distributes Motivational/Positive Message Cards throughout the world. More than 2.5 Million have been given for FREE.
And this year my latest book, “The JOY of LIVING, How to Slay Stress and Be Happy” is due out.
Using my skills as a successful entrepreneur, I have partnered with talented people to bring to market TWO new platforms to raise money for causes. Both of these platforms promise to revolutionize the Trillion-dollar Philanthropy space. And with my talents as a Business Visionary, I have partnered with well-known leaders to build a platform entitled [email protected] which promises to bring JOY to the workplace and solve the Trillion Dollar problem of absenteeism and non-presenteeism.
What advice would you give to other people who have disabilities or limitations?
Here is THE KEY: Diagnosis is not Destiny.
Yes, I was told by several (well meaning) doctors that I would never walk again. And to a certain extent that is true. But when the focus is on what You CAN DO, then the ability to use NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) and the 11 Strategies (offered in my Book, Podcast, and Online Program) will enable anyone, no matter the circumstances, to Transform their Life and Live it to the FULL.
To that end I encourage all people no matter where they are in life, to learn, integrate, and leverage the 6 most important words for Living Successfully: Choice not chance Determines Your Destiny. And always remember: STRESS Kills…JOY Heals.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
This is an important question and the answer is a resounding YES! My wife, Naomi, is the bedrock upon which any success I achieve is built. Without her love and her steadfast care and concern, I would just be a protoplasm!
Gratitude is that emotion with the longest shelf life. Therefore, there are several people who are and continue to be instrumental in enabling me to Ever Strive Forward. As we say, it’s a T.E.A.M. Effort (T.E.A.M. = Together Everyone Achieves Miracles.)
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
My desire to bring more JOY and love into the world would not allow me to sit on the sidelines. My paralysis actually led me to my next business venture: I created Changebowl, a philanthropic platform that enables people to send money to their favorite nonprofit charity safely and easily. From my hospital bed, I attracted a group of talented, successful, and caring professionals to help build this platform. My mission is focused on transforming the multi-trillion dollar giving space by “making every day giving effortless and meaningful” with the big, hairy, audacious goal of giving one billion dollars to worthy causes. We can now change the world, one small donation at a time. Even Oprah mentioned this as one of “her favorite things” in her famous December edition of her magazine!
I also founded the KEEP SMILING MOVEMENT, which has now been running for 2 decades! These are Cards that read KEEP SMILING on the Front and the Value of a Smile on the back. These are now in 30 languages. In addition, there are several powerful positive messages which enhance and even save lives. They make a difference in people’s lives. Millions have been distributed for free worldwide and they have reached multiple celebrities! The next Goal is 10 Million cards by the end of 2022.
While paralyzed, I envisioned a site/portal that would enable people to LIVE in JOY, daily. To that end www.barryshore.com was born. I brought together several of my most successful processes that touch and transform people. The result is the 11 Strategies for Living in JOY, daily which are detailed in my book “The Joy of Living: How to Slay Stress and Be Happy”
Can you share “5 things I wish people understood or knew about people with physical limitations” and why.
Here are the 5 things I wish I had known and that I wish other people understood about people with physical limitations:
- SLOW (DOWN): People with challenges move at a different pace, a slower pace. Everything takes more time, whether it’s brushing teeth, getting dressed, moving from place to place. It’s a life lesson to be in rhythm with someone with physical and/or mental limitations.
- ADAPT: When you or someone you are close to has a physical limitation, you must constantly adapt to new circumstances. Perfectly normal everyday situations became new uncharted territory that I had to navigate (going out to dinner, going on an airplane, traveling, visiting friends). Being flexible, open, and understanding to these new adaptive situations is crucial.
- GIFT: I wish people understood that disabilities are a gift. This is a lesson for everybody including those with physical limitations. When you finally realize that the situation you are in is NOT a tragedy, it becomes the gift that will enable you to be in a new and more peaceful and loving environment.
- BUTTONS: People don’t realize just how tricky buttons and zippers can be when your fingers don’t work. Thank god for Velcro!
- PEOPLE: When you or someone you are close to has a physical limitation, it is important to understand and accept that people are always going to be people. And pity is a common human emotion people feel when they encounter someone with a disability. BUT it is up to us to enable people to move from pity into empathy. I don’t need pity because of my physical limitations. Pity is just feeling sorry, without necessarily understanding and sharing feelings. Empathy on the other hand is positive, purposeful, powerful, and pleasant for everyone involved.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
“Choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”
These are the six most important words to learn and internalize. The true test of life is never in what happens to us. It is always in how we choose to respond to situations.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂
Either Oprah and/or Tony Robbins. The simple reason: we are changing the process of GIVING and building a platform that enables people to GIVE at NO Cost AND Earn money at the same time. It’s the Ultimate WIN-WIN-WIN for supporters, merchants, and causes.