Dave Stevens

 and Robert talk about the incredible impact he is making for people with disabilities. It is the only minority group YOU can join at any TIME, and yet they still have the smallest representation in politics and in corporate support. He proves it is possible to achieve greatness in spite of limitations. Dave wants to see more doors open to people with disabilities because he knows the greatness that is possible.

A little bit about Dave...

Dave Stevens is the only legless player in sports history to have played NCAA football (Augsburg University, MN) and minor league baseball (St. Paul Saints) The 7 time Emmy winning sports journalist is now a motivational speaker and television host as he nears 40 years in broadcasting (20 with ESPN).  

The father of 3 teen boys is a Professional in Residence at Quinnipiac University, and oversees the new Ability Media initiative at the college to teach media and production to disabled students and create job opportunities and careers. 

He also hosts a syndicated National Podcast and is a highly sought after Motivational Speaker.  Dave also puts on sports camps for disabled children across the country.

Check out more of Dave

 Website: dave.stevensspeaks.com

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Dave Stevens
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Show Notes

Robert Peterson 0:25
Welcome to the add value to entrepreneurs podcast, the place where we help entrepreneurs to not hate their boss. Our mission is to end entrepreneurial unhappiness. If you dream of changing the world, but you're not sure where to start. The Add valued entrepreneurs podcast will help you transform your life in business. This podcast is for entrepreneurs who want more freedom and fulfillment from their work so they can live the life that they desire. You deserve it, and it is possible. My name is Robert Peterson, Farmer passer turned CEO and the smiling coach. I believe that success without happiness is failing. But there is hope. Join us each week as we bring you an inspiring leader or message to help you. Thanks for investing time with us today. Our guest today is a history maker making an impact for the largest minority group with the smallest voice people with disabilities. And he's really proving that they are only different abilities and should not be a consideration of whether somebody has refused access or held back.

Noelle Peterson 1:30
Dave Stevens is the only legless player in sports history to have played NCAA football for osburgh University and minor league baseball for St. Paul saints. The seventh time any winning sports journalist is now a motivational speaker and television host as he nears 40 years in broadcasting 20 of that with ESPN.

Robert Peterson 1:49
The father of three teen boys is a professional in residence at Quinnipiac University and oversees the new ability media initiative at the college to teach media and production to disabled students and create job opportunities and careers.

Noelle Peterson 2:03
He also hosts a syndicated national podcast and as a highly sought after motivational speaker. Dave also puts on sports camps for disabled children across the country.

Robert Peterson 2:14
Dave Stevens and Robert talk about the incredible impact he is making for people with disabilities. It is the only minority group you can join at any time. And yet they still have the smallest representation in politics and corporate support.

Noelle Peterson 2:28
He proves it is possible to achieve greatness in spite of limitations. Dave wants to see more doors open to people with disabilities because he knows the greatness that is possible.

Robert Peterson 2:39
If you're an entrepreneur who started their business with a purpose and a passion that has been lost in the busyness of the daily grind, we get it. That is why we've opened up our free strategy calls a lot of entrepreneurs probably including you just want a sense of clarity on the barriers holding them back that you need to overcome in order to accelerate your growth and achieve your dreams. These short 30 Minute Calls give you a chance to work with one of our coaches without any commitment or pressure. Scheduling is easy, just go to smiling cole.com. Let's jump on a call and get you the help and clarity you need. Select a time and let's build your business. It's time for you to add value. Well Dave, I appreciate you coming on the show today and look forward to just having a great conversation.

Dave Stevens 3:27
Absolutely. I hope I can add some value to your life.

Robert Peterson 3:32
I have I have no doubt. So typically, I let our guests share their their entrepreneurial journey. But for obviously, your your journey is is a little different than that. But I definitely know that you have obviously inspirational and and have faced more challenges than most most people face in incredible ways. So we just share a bit of your story. And we just use that as a jumping off point.

Dave Stevens 3:59
Yeah, I mean, the funny part is, you know, my brand is me. And that is my business and my entrepreneurial pneus and everything like that. Because, you know, being born without legs and playing sports, like I did in high school in college, and then you know, working in television and broadcasting for 40 years, there's not a lot of people, given my situation that have accomplished those kinds of things. And I'm very proud that I was able to turn my disability into my ability and really, you know, showcase that, you know, given opportunities, anybody can do anything in life, if you just put your mind to it. And you know, I've had so many people, coaches and teachers and friends that along the way, were very supportive again, you don't see a guy without legs, accomplishing the things that I've been able to do and you know, it's not narcissistic, it's just, I'm overwhelmed with the amazing things that I've been a part of, and continue to be a part of, and that's just, you know, that goes back to my parents who adopted me and raised me and gave me that normal life that you know, you will Don't think a child who was born without legs would have any opportunity in life to You know, do the things that able bodied you ladies out there do so for me to play, you know wrestling in high school and baseball and football and then becoming the only college football without player without legs ever trying out for the Dallas Cowboys playing minor league baseball in Minnesota being teammates with Darryl Strawberry pinch hitting for Darryl Strawberry. So my whole entire life has been about me not having legs, but I've turned my gift into being able to tell the world that hey, we can do anything we want if we just put our mind to it, man.

Robert Peterson 5:37
So let's so let's talk a little bit about about your parents and what they did different than, than most kids that have a disability?

Dave Stevens 5:46
Well, I think you know, there's, and my youth, I don't think there were a lot of books, how to be a parent for Dummies with kids without legs. So you know, my parents were kind of just making it up as they go. But the thing that they instilled in me is they were never going to hold me back. I think there's a lot of parents that have kids with special needs, that they're just afraid to let them go out and fail. And my parents said, No, you're gonna fail a lot. Life is about wins and losses. It's not like where we are nowadays, where we give kids a participation trophy just for showing up. It's like, we need to show people that, hey, there are good times, and there are bad times, and you win and you lose. And those losses help make you a better person. So my parents just let me live a normal life, I don't even think I realized I was different until you know, 10 or 12 years old, just because I had this chip on my shoulder that I was just like everybody else and going out and doing these kinds of things. And it was just, you know, that fortitude, I guess that they instilled in me that to this day, I've tried to make my kids go by that, that we treat everybody with respect, we treat them equal. And again, we don't dwell on the negativity of a person's outward appearance, or what they look like or what they have, we judge them based on who they are, and how they treat you.

Robert Peterson 7:06
That's, that's so powerful. Obviously, the many parents tried to protect their kids in lots of different ways, like, even the dreams of playing professional sports and, and tell them, Oh, maybe maybe you shouldn't dream that big, maybe maybe you shouldn't reach reach that high. And it's heartbreaking to me as a coach knowing, you know, our potential, knowing the possibilities that each of us has within us to do great things. And, and why not aspire for, for that level of greatness. And so it had to be even, you know, more inspiring that your parents allowed you to dream big, and to believe big, and, and, you know, believe that anything is possible.

Dave Stevens 7:53
And that's true. And you know, I don't know if it was because they were so much older. When they adopted me, my dad was a world war two veteran, and my mom was a housewife. And they were in their 40s When they adopted me, so I don't know if it was different philosophy and lifestyles, but then but they they really just, you know, I had to learn to crawl before I could learn to crawl. And you know, I'm down on the ground. So I don't have a lot to fall when I failed. But, you know, I always get right back up and dust myself off and figure out okay, how do I attack this? If I can't do it this way? Let's go outside the box and thinks, how can I apply that, you know, and I wore artificial legs for much of my youth and adulthood. I didn't play sports on crutches and artificial legs, but I always felt like I had to be as tall to be accepted in your world. And so that was a real switch for me. 13 years ago, when I'd had so much wear and tear on my arms that the doctor said, hey, you need to start living your life in a wheelchair, so you don't break down so much. So I moved to a wheelchair about, I don't know 1012 years ago, and you know, it's a whole different world when when you suddenly become handicap when you don't think your handicap and you realize the restrictions in this world of wheelchairs and accessibility, especially in the east coast where I've moved to. And yesterday at the at the Eagles game, I couldn't get in the normal seating in the press box. And so I am in this television world where I see a lot of these stadiums that don't have accessibility for people with disabilities because there are no people with disabilities in the media. We are the smallest voice with the biggest minority in the world. And so when you see able bodied actors and directors and producers and people, you know, taking jobs away from us that we could do or people with disabilities not getting those opportunities, you know, select yesterday, the press box, I couldn't sit where all the other guys were, you know, but I could jump out of my chair and climb up and get there, which then freaks them out because they're like, Wow, we should do this and suddenly, you know, but I also don't want to piss people off because if they say hey, it's better off to not have Dave at these guys. Ames and deal with that situation. You know, that's that's kind of the fine line when you become an advocate or you just want to fit in as a journalist. So I pick and choose my battles like I could go on a rant and say, hey, you know, the Yankees won't credential a disabled reporter they've rejected as five times, you know, why? I don't know, everybody else gets it, do they not want to deal with me. So there's all these things that I don't ever really throw out there. But I've just I try to live you know, I live in your world, and you don't live in mind. So those challenges on a day to day basis with anybody who has crutches, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, all those things that we kind of lumped into this one big thing, you know, we're all called handicap, we're all called disabled. But if you're blind, you're blind, you know that I'm not blind, but that's a disability. If you're black, you're black. If you're Asian, you're Asian, if you're Jewish, you're Jewish. But if you're disabled, we are thrown into all these other different hodgepodge pots. But on the other hand, anybody can join our cult at any given time, you could be handicapped for a car accident, you could have a stroke, you could get cancer and lose a limb, you could be in the war, and God forbid something bad happens. So we're the only organization where you can join our family at any time. But you know, we still need rights, we still need voices, we still need the advocacy to get people like me those kinds of jobs. And I'm this old legless, Walter Cronkite, kind of dude, that, you know, won seven Emmys at ESPN. And I've been so blessed to continue to do the things that I do. But you know, now I'm a part of a building media Quinnipiac University, which is where I get to teach and help kids tell those stories and give those opportunities. So, you know, my world is pulled into so many different directions with charity, and speaking and all the good things that, you know, it's weird to be your own brand.

Noelle Peterson 11:52
I think it's great that, you know, a different perspective is the borrowed belief that your parents were able to give you their belief, and how now you are able to pass that on and encourage the next generation as well.

Dave Stevens 12:03
Yeah, you know, I think I would look a little different philosophy, because I don't feel sorry for anybody. I mean, you know, I didn't get handed things. I didn't get seven Emmys because it was, we feel sorry for you. So I have a little more hard look like because I know how tough it is for people with disabilities to achieve. And to succeed. Because we have to work extra hard, we have to figure out things if you have dyslexia, or ADHD or anything like that, again, with that they lump into our world, we have to think outside the box and work much harder. And then when we do get those successes, you know, we don't want people to go, oh, we feel sorry for him, or what a nice little story or whatever like that, like, I've built my reputation based on me. And I think everybody with a disability deserves opportunities to, you know, open up the minds of others, like why can't people with disabilities work in the police force, you don't have to, you know, chase down a perp, you can sit in a dispatch and be a 911 operator with a disability or you could be a detective that goes out of the scene like that will say you got to pay your dues. But, you know, in the military, why couldn't somebody with a disability with cerebral palsy or something like that, create our systems of defense, we don't need to carry a backpack, 20 Miles filled with something when we have people that could contribute man, woman, whatever you call yourself. And so that's why I think we need the really the, you know, it's all nice that we get, oh, national handicap employment awareness month for October, but where do you take it after that, you know, all these kinds of things, we need those job opportunities, we need people to, you know, look at us and not look at us in a different way and value what we have. And that's why I think, you know, back to your point of my parents, it's like, they're like, you know, what, this is a cruel world out there, and people are gonna, you know, look at you and judge you based on what they see. And so what I've always needed to do is open up their minds ago, this guy's a goofball, he's got a great personality, he's fun. He, you know, makes fun of himself points out the elephant in the room. And you know, I always say, if you're going to stare at me, I'm going to give you a show. And I'm going to give you the best show. So when you see somebody like me in the future, you're not going to judge them differently. You're going to look at them and go, Well, that's a cool good person, or that somebody I really want to get to know where that person has a value that I want to bring into my business or my organization. Because there's so many of us out there that are not getting those chances. You see so many people, homeless, holding up signs and all those kinds of things. And I think more of us just need to get those opportunities. And people need to take those chances and not be so scared that I can't bring somebody in it's it's nothing we've ever dealt with before. Just like at ESPN, I was the first disabled person ever to work at ESPN and you got 5000 employees. And everybody's like, Oh, this guy has no legs and he's working and then they hired another guy, ironically named Dave, who was in a wheelchair. So suddenly people always ask me Hey, do you know Dave Why? Because he's in a wheelchair, you know, it's those things that people don't think about, that they're sometimes just ignorant to certain situations. But you know, what, if I can help people see me, or see people who are looked at differently, and they won't judge them based on those merits next time, then then I'm doing my job.

Robert Peterson 15:23
Yeah, there's a lot in that. And so, obviously, I think there's two sides, right, your parents had this, this side, where you know what the world is a cruel place, we're not going to, if we make the house special for you, the world's not going to make it special for you. And so you've got to be prepared. That's really powerful. But then there is that other side of the world needs to create a space, right? Even if we can't put a ramp in every place, let at least create the opportunity. Because Dave doesn't need a ramp every place, he just needs a place to sit at all or chair, maybe he needs an awkward place to

Dave Stevens 16:01
go to the bathroom, you know, the urinal that's high up or something like that, you know, it's these things now, I think sometimes we're getting oversensitive in our society to the needs of everybody else. And kind of forgetting about the disabled world that like I said, we are the biggest minority in the earth with a smallest voice. So now you're taking away parking spots. So we can have things delivered to you in the in the in the parking lot at Walmart, they've taken those handicapped spots, and move them somewhere else farther away. So people who have legs and are able to just pull up and get their stuff, they have an easier life, you know, and it's like that, you know, you're taking away bathrooms to build a transgender bathroom, you're taking away handicapped bathrooms, I'm witnessing it, I'm seeing it everywhere, you know, and it's like, let's, let's remember everybody, when we when we make these improvements, and when we when we build stadiums, when we build press boxes, let's remember that, hey, wheelchairs, there might be somebody in a wheelchair, or one of these beat writers might have a stroke one day and need to, you know, be able to have access and things like that. So when they can see me struggling, walking on my hands up and downstairs because there's no wheelchair access to get to the field, you know, all these kinds of things that I have to deal with in my broadcasting world that I think they're so shocked. But it's like, if I can't get out and do the things, I can't, you know that I need to do that. I'm not going to get to do them. But there's so many others out there that don't have that ability to have my son lift up my wheelchair out of the dugout onto the field. You know, I'm lucky I can do these things. But I also want to worry about those that can't, you know, and that's why I just try to lead by example. I'm not one of those rabble rousers that say, Hey, man, come on, look at this, I can't get in. This is unfair. You know, like yesterday, in the locker room, I'm trying to get interviews with the stars. And there's helmets and shoulder pads and everything laying around and I can't get to them. And they're like, well, the quarterbacks he's not going to talk to anybody one on one, he's just doing the podium. So I'll hang around and they'll see I'm waiting. And then I'll get that exclusive one on one. It's just, you know, those kinds of things that it's the tricks of the trade that you learn, and they respect you. And if you say, Hey, dude, I can't get to that area. Do you mind if I sit with you a little bit, I'm only going to ask you a couple of fluff questions. I'm not going to ask you about your DUI or cheating on your wife or anything like that, because you can get that stuff from ESPN. I Robert know, I'll try to get that insight. When I do my interviews, I try to go to the core of a person, I try to get what their motivation I tried to pull out some things that are different if you if you watch my interviews, they're not the normal it's not like X's and O's and wind loss and stuff like that. It's like It's like your podcast, you're trying to get tangible things that people can take away and utilize in their day to day lives that are a little different. And you know, I always have, I always say I have that face people remember, you know, just because if there's a dude without legs, they remember Dave

Noelle Peterson 18:54
it's the perspective of just working on the relationship. If that if you know they, they know you care about them and you're looking at that perspective and not what everybody else is trying to get. And they'll care more.

Dave Stevens 19:07
And to your point I've got a cell phone now filled with personalities and stars and athletes and people I've forgotten about that I've met over the years like I was sitting here the other day going, I wonder so and so's with the Phillies and I wonder if so and so's with the Phillies and these coaches that I have met in my years traveling around putting on sports camps for disabled kids. There's the third base coach of the Phillies Dusty wathan that I know and I texted and said hey, I'll see you and then the hitting coach of the Phillies Kevin long who I grew up with in high school playing against so there you get these things where you you know, it's so cool to be able to text JB Smoove or to call up you know certain athletes or stars and just say how you doing catch up I'll see you at the Superbowl you know those kinds of things and but but it's also the people like you Robert Noel that I get to meet too that are even more impressive and more important to me than somebody getting paid a million dollars here to hit a ball or kick a ball, when you guys have skills that make much more of an impact. So it's I treat everybody equally when I do my interviews and when I do my stories. Just recently in Arizona, I had the opportunity to go back to my high school, which ironically enough, I was the only high school player in the history of Arizona to play high school football without legs. Fast forward some 40 years, they hired a coach with no arms and no legs. And they said, based on me being there, that was one of those big things where, you know, history kind of repeating itself. So I mean, think about all the high schools in the country that this guy could show up at. He's at my alma mater, and it was just great to go back with him and do an interview with him and get his perspective and, and talk to him, you know, with no holds barred, you know, it's like, I don't know, it's Carter, Crosland Carter Crossland, he would be a great person to have on your show to talk. Just again, this guy, this guy born without no arms and no legs, and now he's a football coach. And he's got a great mind to create, you know, offensive and defensive plays. And, you know, so you just, you just want people to see the best out of people and learn from the best. And that's why I think this is such a great podcast that you guys have it Oh, you, you do you get a dose of hope when you see somebody without legs that can try it for the Dallas Cowboys or be on TV or do that let's so if people can see that and take away that then you guys are doing your job.

Robert Peterson 21:27
Right? And, and it's no different for every human being on the planet. Right? The difference is that people get caught up in seeing no legs, instead of seeing, Dave's got two arms and incredible mind and, and the rest of his body is working fine. And let's take advantage of the good things that he has, instead of getting caught up on the one thing that he's missing. Right. And I think that's that's what we have to start doing for ourselves is looking at looking at the good things we've got going, it's not getting caught up in the negative things that we're missing. And I think so many of us get get caught up on the negatives that we're missing. And it's too easy to see obviously in your world in for people that are part of that, you know, disability world, we focus on the disability instead of on all the abilities like your friend Carter, look at his mind and look at the week and leave the game look at the things that he can do. And and that's a powerful message. And so I think it's fantastic that you're leading the way in showing people look at all the things I can do quit focusing on the one or two things that I can't do, and, and getting caught up on that. So you mentioned Go ahead. No, I

Dave Stevens 22:39
mean, and for me to meet someone like Carter, it puts it makes it humbles me, because again, I look at myself, and I'm like man, I would not want to have grown up like that. And he's got a wife and two wonderful kids. And he rides his wheelchair through the town. But sometimes it's a bumpy ride, and the guy doesn't even have a van like I wish the town would embrace him and get him a specialized van. But he will drive to the high school on his little motor wheelchair. And he'll fall out of it sometimes because the roads are bad. And I'm just picturing this guy with no arms and legs in a ditch his cell phone nowhere near him, you know, and it's like so, when you think about somebody like that waking up every day, it puts it in perspective saying, Man, I got a great life and thank God for the gifts that I've got and the gifts that I can continue to showcase and show people.

Robert Peterson 23:29
Yeah, so powerful. So I we got to get into the sports thing, because obviously playing high school sports and then being able to, to get into college and play college baseball. You know, my my first argument is, obviously, the pitchers in that strike zone had to be an issue. Like, yeah, pinch hitting for Darryl Strawberry and your strike zone is pretty small.

Dave Stevens 23:55
Yeah, no, I'm very lucky. You know, some umpires would go above my head. But it was mostly, you know, kind of kind of here. But yeah, you would get some funny looks. And you know, and Robert, I mean, you could you could, you know, analyze this too, and think about what you would do with it. But to think about, and I have to go back to my high school days when I was trying to play and become a everyday player. Can you imagine what you're telling the coaches, the parents of the kids that I would beat out in wrestling and football and baseball, when they say, How come my kid isn't starting and he's got legs and this kid with no legs is the starting nose guard or right fielder or winning state championships and you as a coach have to go to tell that parent? Well guess what? Your kid isn't good enough if a guy without legs could beat them. And that's just not good enough for any parents. So the things that I learned about well after I was gone from Wickenburg and to think about while the coaches still didn't, you know, buck to the pressure of hey, these parents are all pissed off. They they put me in those situations I honestly succeeded, but I couldn't even imagine Have that conversation with the athlete or the parent telling them yeah, this your kid's just not good enough to have a guy without legs, you know, beat him out.

Robert Peterson 25:09
We will be right back after this short break. This episode is sponsored by perfect publishing a different approach to publishing your book. Perfect publishing carefully chooses heroes of Hope, who exemplify living a life they created through faith, hope, patience, and persistence. No matter what page you open to, in this mini cube of hope, you will find a leader with a big heart, you will see you are not alone. The authors may share similar challenges that only hope and action could resolve, get your free ebook, at get a dose of hope.com Welcome back, let's get back to more greatness. Well, and that's, that's part of our culture, right? Like everyone gets an award. Now everyone, if you're if you participate, then you get the trophy too. And, and, and the challenge with that is that that's not how the world works. That's not how you get paid. That's not how, you know, things get done. And, and there are gifts that each of us has, that we should use, and get rewarded. But if you're trying to do something that you're not gifted in, it's time to make a switch. And so, you know, I think that that's a wake up call for for people listening that, you know, sometimes you want to be a pro ballplayer and you're just not cut out for it. And the reality is, it's a pretty small number that that makes it to that level, with legs or without, obviously without legs, it's a pretty miniscule number. Try it out.

Dave Stevens 26:35
I don't mean to I never mean this in a in a disrespectful way. But you know, I'm a legless Jackie Robinson, because there's been one guy that's ever played college football without legs. There's been one guy that's played minor league, baseball without legs. There's one guy to try for the Dallas Cowboys without legs and the Olympic team and all these things that I've done. And I hope there's more because there's been some amazing stories over the years of like Jim Abbott, the pitcher with one hand that pitch to the major leagues, we just had a football player named Shaquille Griffin, who was born without a hand that played in the NFL for three or four seasons. I mean, so there's a lot of us out there, we just don't get those opportunities as much. And so I'm hoping that there is another Dave Stevens out there someday that that comes out and does these things. You know, I played in it in an era where, you know, I was allowed to play maybe it maybe nowadays winning means too much that coaches wouldn't allow a guy like me to go out there. I mean, you know, you see the great stories where they hand off a football to a child with Down syndrome, and he runs for a touchdown. My point is, I was an athlete, and I always wanted to go out there and perform with the best play side by side with the best and take that mentality to the work world, which I took to ESPN for 20 years. So, you know, like I said, I'm very lucky that that I earned everything that I had, and no one gave me any of these opportunities. But if you go back to when I was on a TV show, I don't know if if I'm dating myself bad but there was a TV show called that's incredible back in the old days when he had three channels or four channels. And I was on that's incredible. With brand Tarkenton John Davidson, Kathie Lee, and I looked in the camera and I said, there's two things I want to do. I want to play professional baseball, and I'm gonna replace Howard Cosell and work in network TV. And I was 15 years old when I said that. Most kids, all they want to do is get a girlfriend and get a car at that age, but I knew where I wanted to go. I had those goals. And I achieved them. And the funny part is on that's incredible. I was on my crutches on my artificial legs. And I say I've lived a Forrest Gump life because I my life is like Forrest Gump. But I'm legless. So I'm standing on my crutches in the green room, I'm 15 years old, and this little five year old kid is whacking golf balls off my legs. And I'm getting annoyed, because this kid's just kind of a little, you know, whatever he was, and the dad turns to him and says, Tiger stop doing that. It turns out I was on the same show. That's incredible. With a little five year old prodigy named Tiger Woods. You can you can Google it. You can look on YouTube, the videos there. So you never know whose path you're going to cross in our life. And you know, we kind of went different directions with with our worlds. But again, he had, you know, he wanted to be a professional golfer, be Jack Nicklaus at age five, he said that, I said, I wanted to be on TV and work in television, and I did that. So if you set those goals and achieve them, that's great. If you set those goals and fail, just like to your point, Robert, you figured out okay, maybe I'm not strong enough to play baseball, but am I strong enough to announce it or become a coach or to become a trainer, or to become a doctor that can fix athletes that don't have good arms and legs or whatever? So I mean, there's, you can always figure out your way, even if you don't get that path, you can always you know, fall and fail a couple times and get to somewhere successful.

Noelle Peterson 29:58
Yeah, just the path I have a dream and we talk about bringing the dream back into the center of your life and, and focusing on that and building your life around that. But you listening to your story, the power of a dream of a child. And the difference it makes in the trajectory of that life, I think is huge.

Dave Stevens 30:17
It is. And you know, I've turned that into my parenting philosophy because, you know, we've been having, we haven't even touched on what it's like to be a disabled parent, with kids and trying to raise them normal when everybody's staring at you and trying to get into a car and, and seats and things like that. And, you know, I've instilled that into my sons and their dreams now are my dreams, and I hope they succeed. They, they, my son wants to be GM of the Phillies one day. And because of my connections, I'm not taking my son on the World Series stage today for game three of the World Series against his Phillies team. So I'm giving these kids these opportunities, the same of the ability media, the things that we get to do with the students at Quinnipiac just giving them those opportunities, because that's all we need. And then once you give someone that opportunity, it's like you, Robert, no, you need to run with it, you need to take that opportunity then and do something with it. If people believe in you, and give you those chances than just then then go out. Because it's better to try and fail than to sit around wishing for 30 years, I wish I'd have done this, I should have asked that girl out, I should have tried for this job. I should have tried to be in you know, in that play, even though people said, oh, a guy, if you go out for a play, you know, they would say Oh, well, he's gay or something like that. And you know, and it's like, no, it's just people have different interests and just go out and try to achieve them. Because there's no guarantees, we don't have a book that says yes, there is an afterlife, or yes, you get to come back, it's like we get one go around in this world that I know of right now. So make the most of those opportunities.

Robert Peterson 31:55
When I mean, it goes back to focusing on the positive right, focusing on what you do have focusing on what you can do, and, and doing something with it. And it's too easy nowadays, for people to focus on what they don't have focus on what they they can't get and, and they get depressed, and they have all this, I mean, so much of our culture is living in stress and anxiety, for no other reason other than where their mind is and where their focus is. And so I appreciate you sharing, you know, focus on, on what you can do, and figuring out what you can, and, and making something of it. So let's you've mentioned connections, obviously, you're helping your son with connections, how have connections helped you, Dave and growing yourself growing your business.

Dave Stevens 32:39
It's great, because when people see me, and they hear my speech, or they hear me talk, or they see me interact at these baseball camps, that that's just powerful enough, you know, COVID really hurt my speaking career. Because, you know, it's great to be online and doing these kinds of things. But I'm more impactful when my ass comes out on the stage. And they suddenly see this guy walking on his arms with no legs, and they're gonna listen, the kids are gonna listen, the adults are gonna listen, at least for a while. And so if I can get that short time where I can make them listen, and then accidentally teach them something, so then they take it away and have a tangible thing that next time I won't look at someone, I won't judge that someone or I'll give them those opportunities, especially in the business world. My connections have, you know, been amazing when when I got when ESPN laid off 500 of us back in September of 2015. You know, everyone says, Oh, you've got no legs and your work and you've got the golden ticket, nobody would ever fire you. Well, I'm here to tell you that 550 of my close friends, we all had career changes. So I then had to start utilizing those connections that I had built up over my time, and it has turned into an amazing life for me, you know, like I said, I can go to a Steelers Eagles game and cover it, I can go to Arizona and cover the Cardinals and I can do all these kinds of amazing things. Because of my friends and connections that I don't burn. I don't call in favors, just to you know, use them to sit around and have a beer or whatever I'm working or I'm giving others those opportunities to be with me to be my camera person to be my audio or whatever. And I you know, it's about those who's in your life. It's a matter of utilizing those who's when you need them because we all have that power of who and you should continue to utilize those because people need you and you need them and when I can return the favors I do the very same thing. And I love it. You know I get it because of those connections. I'm now part of Runway of Dreams, which is fashion and modeling for people with disabilities to get clothes that fit them better and it's like you know, I'm on the runway in New York, this fat old legless guy running around hamming it up as a model. But I enjoy those things. And for people to see that I'm not afraid to embarrass myself, then they go, Hey, let's bring in Dave to talk or let's bring in Dave to host. And suddenly, you have a guy without legs that is hosting a gala. On you have a guy without legs that is hosting a cancer research event. And again, thinking outside that box. So you know, hopefully after 30 seconds, people forget that I don't have legs. And they're like that Dave, he's an entertainer, he's funny, I liked him or a man, that guy sucked, never bring him back.

Robert Peterson 35:28
Well, and I appreciate one of your connections was recently on the show Elena and, and he's part of Runway of Dreams as well. And, and I know that you've helped her in her speaking and helped her get get started. As a as a young lady who wasn't supposed to even be alive at this point. And now he's starting to do incredible things and share the same message of, of, you know, you can do anything you set your heart to and, and it doesn't matter if you're four foot tall or

Dave Stevens 35:59
don't have more three foot two, like me. And again, you know, well, to your point of the people, it's like, Okay, so since suddenly, you know, I get texts from Leigh Steinberg, the super agent, you know, and he's like, how you doing come out, and he just invited me to a Super Bowl party in Arizona again. So those connections, I'll be able to network, I can help people, I can meet people, you know, and I would I've got so many people, I can set you guys up with shows for two years. So, you know, don't don't be careful what you wish for my friend.

Robert Peterson 36:32
Well, you never know. So, so let's talk about obviously, gratitude is has been a big part for you. And how has gratitude served you? And how do you recommend for those that you mentor? To use gratitude?

Dave Stevens 36:49
You know, for me, I am thankful because obviously I am not the norm. And if people didn't give me those opportunities, I wouldn't be where I am today. So I'm, I'm all about paying it forward. And it's to a fault. My agent hates how much that I do for free. But because most of the things I'm doing, I'm not getting paid for I'm not I wasn't paid to come to this Eagles game, I'm not getting paid to come and cover the World Series, I do it for the disability channel. Again, trying to showcase that people with disabilities can work in television. And that same for ability Media, I'm just trying to give back as much as possible. Because the more you give back, the more you're going to reap. And it's not always about standing there with your handout going, what can you do for me? It's always my mentality, Robert No, well, what can I do for you? How can I share this podcast, so more and more people that have my brand will see your brand. So then we can get more and more people to see add value to life and what you guys are trying to do. And as far as the entrepreneurialship and publishing and all those things that you work with, you know, I'm not that normal guest. But if I pay it forward, those people are going to realize, wow, Robert and Noel Those are good people. If they're tied to Dave, then Dave is a good person, I'm going to go with those guys. Because I know Dave, and anybody involved with Dave, they've got to be 100% in giving.

Robert Peterson 38:06
Nice. Alright, you mentioned the challenges of raising a family. So let's let's dig a little deeper into raising a family and building your brand and running your business.

Dave Stevens 38:16
Yeah, you know, having three boys 1816 and 14, it's been great that, you know, I wanted a girl first, I'm so glad I didn't get one because as I've seen the, the font of raising a girl and all those issues. I mean, we know what boys are like, so I can control that. But I've tried to just teach my sons to one don't judge people. But to be respectful. And to just, you know, to just be genuinely good. I am embarrassed when I hear other parents telling their horror stories about their kids and mine are our three beautiful kids. They all play baseball, they're respectful. My middle one has my personality. So he gets in trouble a lot, you know, but, you know, to just to have many parts of me out there in the world, representing me and having interest in doing the same kinds of things that I do and to be able to, you know, parent by example, as well, I'm sure people are always looking to me, how did I do this when I was younger, you know, trying to get the kids into the car seats. And when I was on my crushes crutches, pushing a stroller with two babies in it on artificial legs through a mall. You know, I never wanted my kids ever to not have that normal life. So I had to figure outside the box ways and yes, it takes me a little longer. But then, you know, my kids as they were growing up, learn how to climb out of their their bassinet easier you know, because I couldn't lift them so they figured out how to climb over my ex wife didn't like it too much. But then they figured out how to climb stairs up and down because I couldn't carry him so it would be we'd pop one step at a time on our butts and I'd be like, Okay, I'm gonna go up. Now you follow me and again with that lower basic ground Nobody, it was much safer for them than walking up the stairs and falling down. So, you know, I've applied that parenting technique to that philosophy to that, again, I'm trying to give them that normal life. Yet, wherever we go, we get stared at, you know, and we hear the things of look at that man, or why that guy has no legs or what's wrong with that guy, we get that all the time. And some are funny, but I always try to embrace them and go up to the kids and shake their hands or just have a quick conversation with them. So they realize that, you know, people with disabilities are not monsters, we're not freaks, we're not, you know, anything unusual. If we can break down and go, Wow, that guy without legs was normal. Are there others like that out there? Are they all the same? You know, we have to re educate people. And, you know, it's important to teach empathy instead of, of sympathy. And so that's why, you know, when they see me, you know, I know people are staring at me every moment of my life, like, I can't even pick my nose without people, you know, I always have to, you know, have that sense of I'm on a, you know, on a football field yesterday, and people are looking at me, I'm going to be on the World Series, and I'll be the only wheelchair on the field, which is not normal. But for me, it is it's my normal. And that's the one thing that I hate when we talk about the disabled world, when we label people, you know, this is my normal. Yeah, I don't have legs. But that's my normal. You know, you don't have hair, that's your normal. I mean, people aren't picking out your faults all the time, people are looking at my faults. So this is my normal, somebody who doesn't have sight, they're blind. That's their normal, yet we label it something that is, that's horrible, or all that's, you know, what, my life is great. I don't wish I had been born with legs, you know, I wouldn't want to be any other way. Yeah, it has its ups and downs. But the benefits have been amazing. And I'm going to continue to try to spread my life and, you know, live on my arms, as long as these will carry me around. And I don't have to worry about that kind of stuff. I'm hoping that in my lifetime, that somebody can invent an industrial strength Roomba that I could just sit on, and then somebody can just kind of Yeah, that way, I don't have to, you know, call it a Goomba. Since I'm gimpy, it'd be a Goomba. You know. But, you know, it's those kinds of things that my body's breaking down. You know, I've had three rotator cuff surgeries on my shoulders, I've torn this one a fourth time, they said they want to fuse it, but I am not going to, you know, change my life just just based on a little bit of pain. I'm going to continue to go out and showcase that there are lots of us out there that can have a gift. And that can make an impact. And I want to find that next Alina Golan and help her and help those people to go out there and spread the love and spread the world and realize that, Hey, anybody who's a little different can make an impact.

Robert Peterson 42:54
Well, I appreciate you mentioned don't judge your boys and teaching them not to judge and I think curiosity is a power tool. And you mentioned asking the questions. And so I want to encourage people to be willing to ask right? Walk up to Dave and say, Hey, dude, what's it like living without legs? Obviously, that is your world and you know, different than anyone else and, and being able to ask somebody, and, and there's a lot of fear in that idea, right? And walking up and asking somebody about their handicapper or about their life. And I think curiosity takes away that that judgment, it gives us the opportunity to to be saying, Wow, look at look at what he can do, right? Look at what Elena can do. And, and there's so much power in curiosity, turning off judgment and opening the door for a conversation.

Dave Stevens 43:45
Yeah, and you know, it's funny, because based on the age range of things, especially when I speak, you know, you get all the hands up to ask the questions, and you get the silly ones. How do you go to the bathroom? And then you get the older ones about, like, Well, how was it for dating? Did women reject you? And obviously and yeah, I mean, that's, that's, I don't know what you call it. That's, that's the realism of of my situation. I mean, when when boys and girls are in high school, they want the cheerleader or they want the six foot two quarterback, they're not going, Oh, I can't wait to have a guy with no legs be my husband or boyfriend. So it's like, those are the challenges too. But Curiosity has also helped in certain aspects of that too. So you just never know. But it's always best to take that, that that approach that this is the first time somebody has seen somebody in a situation like I'm in. So if you take that 30 seconds to make it impactful, they're going to be more positive it's a if it's a positive interaction, than if it's just me looking straight down. And just you know, giving them a dirty look for staring at me or something like that. I mean, what what what are you going to remember the most somebody being nasty and horrible? Or somebody going Hey, kid, yeah, yeah, I don't have legs though. This is how I was born. And I walk on my arms and this is is what I do. And it's just it's okay. You know, and you try to show them that it's okay to be a little different.

Noelle Peterson 45:08
I think the impact of kids to have that positive interaction at any age. Now we had, Nick, I can't say his last name. But would

Robert Peterson 45:15
you say, Ziggy,

Noelle Peterson 45:19
came to the school when we were in Colombia, and it was just the just the impact of having that positive interaction on those kids lives forever.

Dave Stevens 45:27
And again, his story pales in comparison to mine, yes, I've done blah, blah, blah. But that man wakes up every day with no arms and no legs, and still gives the most he can give in his life. And it's so impactful. So that's why I say like, look at me, like, I'm

Robert Peterson 45:43
now he's married with kids. And yeah, incredible things. And so yeah, I just remember the very first thing he did he, we were in a small classroom, like, the he came to Colombia to speak in a stadium, but he came to our kids school, the missionary school our kids were in and it was a classroom with just, you know, 50 kids, but his first, his first thing was to run off the edge run towards the edge of the table, and all the kids jumped up to try to catch him. Yeah. Yeah, he's, it's, it's, it's experiences like that, that more and more people need. And so more, I hope people in our audience that are listening will open up stages and open up opportunities for you to speak for Elena to speak and for, for others, just to have opportunities to share their story and, and just put it out there that, that disabled doesn't mean abnormal. It's, it's a normal for you it. And so there's, there's plenty of things, great things that that you can do and impact that you can have. And, and all you need is people to believe in you.

Dave Stevens 46:48
And there's also fun you can have, I mean, some people might look at what my acceptance was in high school, you know, the things that I would do, and I'm, you know, I tell my kids, you know, do what I say not what I did, some of the things that I would do, I would take my artificial legs, and we'd be at a wrestling tournament, and we'd put the legs on one side of a bus and meet the other, like, I'd been run over. And I would bury my waist up with about a one inch of snow up to my waist. And the wrestling team from the opposing team was coming up. And I'm like, You guys can't come in here that it's three foot deep in here. And so they would go around, you know, you know, things that I've kind of done in poor taste or bad taste that you might not think of, but again, it was part of acceptance. And nowadays, people might look at all they were picking on Dave, or that's bullying or those kinds of things. And it's just like, you know, we are oversensitive sometimes in our situations, because, you know, I love if I can't make fun of other people, if I can't make fun of myself. And I do like to make fun of other people.

Robert Peterson 47:53
But I think you'd be a perfect Tiktok video maker, I think I do.

Dave Stevens 47:57
And no one sees it. Like that's the part with social media and the algorithms if you're not doing all this stuff, 24 hours a day, who has time, you know, dances and all this stuff, choreography, and it's just like, oh, just get run over by

Robert Peterson 48:10
the bus every day. Do it do it a different car every day. Like

Dave Stevens 48:17
there'll be a new challenge.

Noelle Peterson 48:19
Funny. So what is the big dream?

Dave Stevens 48:27
I'm living the big dream. I mean, the big dream for me would be, you know, right now we're, my life story is in Hollywood being pitched around to studios. And we're allegedly going to know in the next couple of months, which studio may do my life story. But my big dream is just to be successful enough as a speaker to take care of my three sons, and that they never have to go through how poor I was, as a kid. We didn't really touch on that. But you know, my parents as much as they love me. He was a World War Two vet that was beat up and he lost his job in the mid 70s. And you don't realize how poor you are until you're in the moment. But we moved. I think we moved 13 times. I went to four or five different schools. And I lived in a one room house, the last four years out in Whitman, Arizona, near Wickenburg. In a one room house where I didn't even really have a bedroom. It was kind of a partition with a refrigerator blocking where my bed was and I couldn't have friends over. But you know, you make the most of that situation. And I took my sons back to Arizona a few years ago to see that house and my son Brady said, Dad, why did you live here? And I said, Brady, I couldn't choose where I lived, but I could choose where I wanted to end up. And that's when I decided to turn my disability into my ability and figure out a way that I was going to utilize my gift to get me somewhere it got me a college scholarship. It got me a TV job, and it led to so many amazing things. So I'm here hoping that now I can speak and get huge. People don't know who I am, I'm probably the best sports story that no one's ever heard of. But you know what I get opportunities to appear on a great show like this and tell my story and little by little word is getting out there of this dude in Connecticut that has no legs that is making a difference.

Robert Peterson 50:22
Absolutely. Well, Dave, we appreciate you taking the time sharing with our entrepreneurial audience. And we always end the show with what with your words of wisdom. So what would Dave's words of wisdom to encourage entrepreneurs be?

Dave Stevens 50:35
Well, no matter how bad things are, especially if you're starting a business, and in this times, it's tough, with everything that's going on prices of everything going up? You know, it's tough, but it's better. As I said, it's better to try and fail than to sit around wishing you hadn't done it. So just go out, give 100% and everything you do. Utilize your hose, utilize Robert Noel or any of the people that are part of of what you guys do, and just go out and don't take no for an answer. And if if you fail, get back up, dust yourself off and figure out an alternative way to attack it. Because there's always an answer, and a solution for almost every single problem out there. And if you don't have it, seek guidance, seek counseling, talk to friends, talk to relatives, talk to a pastor, talk to business managers, talk to people in the business, everybody can respond via text, jump on LinkedIn, ask those questions, you know, do what you got to do to gather that knowledge because having a successful business is the only way you're going to succeed in life unless you're Bruno Mars.

Noelle Peterson 51:42
So do you. So thank you so much for joining us today. It's been great listening to and I just can't wait to see your story, more around the world and changes that we'll make be made.

Dave Stevens 51:53
I hope enough people don't believe all this BS that I've been talking, you can go to Dave, Steven speaks.com. You can google Dave Stephens on all Instagram, Facebook, all that stuff. I do have a lot of funny videos that I do out there besides sports. And again, I have the day to day stuff, the stories and things like that we do. And I appreciate you guys having me on the show. Again, it's it's a great opportunity to reach a different audience. But again, we all thirst for knowledge, and we all thirst to be better people and with what you guys do, you're really adding value to not only entrepreneurs, but in everybody else's day to day lives.

Noelle Peterson 52:28
And we'll include all your links in the in our web page as well.

Dave Stevens 52:31
Thank you both.

Robert Peterson 52:32
Thank you, Dave.