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The Power of Encouragement

When I was nineteen, I spent every Saturday from 1 a.m. to 10 a.m. in the control room of a low-power, Christian radio station on the AM dial in Oklahoma. Our Saturday program line-up was mostly local guys with a message in their heart and thirty dollars in their pocket. Dick Bailey was one of those guys.

Nine hours came to about twenty dollars a week after taxes, but Pennie and I needed the money, so every Friday I would hurry home after eleven hours in a welding shop, sleep about five hours, then drive forty minutes to the radio station, where I would change tapes for the next nine hours. Lunch time saw me staggering home to fall into bed. All this for twenty dollars a week - but I got to meet Dick Bailey.

Old enough to be my granddad, Dick Bailey came to the studio each Saturday morning about 5:30 to do his radio show "live from the top of Inspiration Mountain." He would always close the show by announcing where he was going to have breakfast, and he'd invite anyone listening to join him.
When you change tapes once a week in the middle of the night on the number twenty-one station in a city of twenty-one stations, you are definitely the lowest form of life in broadcasting. Delivery men, the janitorial staff, and especially the part-timers at the FM station across the hall took great pleasure in ridiculing me. My incredibly low status was probably the reason Dick Bailey never failed to bring me a little gift each Saturday morning.

Dick worked as a salesman for Brown and Bigelow, an advertising specialties company. The first of Dick's many gifts to me was to say, "Roy, you're doing a fine job," as he pressed into my hand a little screwdriver, which I carry on my key chain to this very day. The next week it was "Roy, you're a hard worker, and I'm convinced you're going to be a great man someday." Then he handed me two Norman Rockwell prints, which Pennie still proudly displays in our dining room. One week, Dick told me a big company had placed a large order for ink pens, which had qualified them to receive a fifty-dollar, embossed-leather thesaurus. He said they didn't care about the thesaurus, so he was having it sent to me.

Dick Bailey believed in me long before I believed in me. His affirmations each week helped me bounce out of bed with a sense of mission and purpose. There might have been only fourteen people listening to my station, but one of them was Dick Bailey, and Dick cared whether I did a good job.

One Friday evening, Pennie and I opened our mail to find the most elegant leather thesaurus we had ever seen. Twelve hours later, as the morning clock approached 5:30, I walked from the control room to the parking lot to see if I could spot Dick getting out of his car. Finally, I walked back to the control room and turned the page of the program log to find a little note from the station manager: "Dick Bailey died in his sleep yesterday. Please play one of his prerecorded standby programs."

Each morning, as I unlock the offices of Williams Marketing, a little screwdriver on my key chain quietly whispers, "Encourage the people around you today, for you never know who they might become, or what tomorrow may bring."

~ Roy H. Williams

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Invisible Heroes is a collection of more than 100 biographical stories written by Roy H. Williams, the Wizard of Ads. You can read a few of these stories in the archives of this web page, but most of them are inaccessible because they're soon to be published in a book.

We create our heroes from our hopes and dreams. And then they create us in their own image.Heroes raise the bar we jump and hold high the standards we live by. They're the embodiment of all we're striving to be.

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