April 28, 2015
If you’re a music fan then you are familiar with the term “one-hit wonder”. You know, the band or artist who managed to catch lightening in a bottle and was all over the radio for a few months and then…nothing. Sometimes, like during a meeting or a really boring conference call, I’ll find myself with a tune stuck in my head and wonder, “whatever happened to those guys?” If you’re honest with yourself, you probably do the same thing. One minute your car radio is blasting out “867-5309”, and the next, you’re wondering if those Tommy Tutone guys now spend their time begging for “Jenny’ to call at the Holiday Inn Lounge off I-45 in Tulsa or pushing real estate for Century 21. Certainly these folks have achieved a level of notoriety that few of us will ever attain, but you would think that it would be pretty hard to build a life around one singular achievement. Until I perused the schedule for the just completed Data Center World I would have said the same thing, but there right there between “Breakfast” and some guy’s presentation entitled “Meditations on Data Center Cooling” was the listing for show’s opening Keynote delivered by none other than “Rudy” himself.
For those of you unfamiliar with this real life story of relentless devotion, combined with a dash of self-promotion, let me give you a quick summary. Rudy—who has reached the same level of one name notoriety as Madonna and Cher—was this diminutive guy who wanted to play football for Notre Dame so much that he walked on and served as a human tackling dummy for the next four years. All he wants to do is to play in a real game, and gosh darn it, he’s just the plucky, young, “go team” kind of guy that everyone is pulling for to have his wish to come true. Finally, in the last game of the season, when the Fighting Irish are beating some team about 100 to 0, the coach puts Rudy in the game and, in his one shot at glory, he sacks the other team’s quarterback and is carried off the field. Should be the end of the story, right? Not for this highly motivated, former scout team member my friends.
Now we all probably have our own special moment that can serve as an example to others–I once swerved to avoid hitting a squirrel with my car, for example—but few of us get a movie made about it. Rudy, however, decided that his story needed to be shared, and shared and shared with the rest of the world So, in fairly short order, he managed to convince some guys in Hollywood to turn his brief moment of fame into a movie that, inexplicably, turns out to be a semi-hit and capitalizes on this escape from obscurity to become his very own brand. He even has his own website where you can purchase “Rudy” self help seminars, book “Rudy” for your next corporate event and even purchase an authentic signed “Rudy” jersey. Some of you may see this as overkill, but at least this guy can point to actually doing something. Has a Kardashian ever sacked—on the field anyway–a QB? I rest my case. Apparently however, he derives most of his income from being a motivational speaker and it was in this capacity that he was appearing at DCW.
Now I’m no big fan of keynotes, since they usually tend to be early and conducted by some guy from Apple, Microsoft or Google talking about how great they are, but I really was in the mood to be motivated by Rudy’s uplifting retelling of his inspirational story. I wonder if maybe he changes it up every now and then just to keep it fresh. I mean there’s only so much mileage you can get out of one play. Unfortunately, the line at Starbucks was ridiculous, and by the time I’d paid for my cheese danish and soy latte, Rudy’s chat was just finishing up. As I watched folks filing out of the room it was hard to tell how motivated they were, but I did see one guy tackle some guy running through the lobby. I think he’d stolen a woman’s purse. Since everyone loves a “Good Samaritan” story this guy’s act of Rudy-motivated altruism may have just opened up a new career path for him. Life is funny like that. One minute you’re just a data center sales guy listening to a keynote, and the next you’re hawking motivational seminars from you very own website.
Personally, I think Rudy’s story is one that should be an inspiration for all of us. While we’ve all done something that we are proud of, few of us have had the vision to make it our vocation. Perhaps, Rudy has been limited in his marketing efforts. Couldn’t he apply his acumen in turning single events into lifelong fame and fortune toward helping former one hit wonders achieve this same level of adoration? An entire generation of 80’s bands is a pretty big target market. Kajagoogoo is waiting by the phone.