Practice English Speaking&Listening with: What I've learned as an NBA mascot | Rob Wicall | TEDxSanAntonio

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Translator: Mirjana Čutura Reviewer: Peter van de Ven

Here we are. Whoo!

So, enough of that.

I want to get started by answering some questions

I used to get asked when I was the Coyote.

First of all - yes, it was a full time job.


Yes, it was hot in there.

It was very, very hot in there.

And as far as being the Coyote -

yes, it was awesome.

You know, I feel like I have one of the best jobs imaginable.

I had the opportunity to entertain others for a living.

And entertaining others really just translates to making other people happy.

And one of the first life lessons I learned from wearing fur for a living

is making other people happy makes me happy.

I remember a couple of years ago. Preseason game.

Towards the end of the third quarter, I'm working the crowd,

and I hear a girl.


I look over.

She's about 15 rows up, in an isle.

She looks to be mentally disabled in some way.

And she's yelling for Tim Duncan, who's sitting on the bench.

I know Tim is never going to look over to her and wave.

He can't, right?

If he did it for her, he'd have to do it for everybody.

But she's yelling nonetheless.

And then fans around her start getting involved, right?

(In Texan accent) "Hey, Tim! Look over here!"


So, I see an opportunity for a moment.

I make my way up there. I pick her up.

Now I start waving like I'm trying to get Tim's attention.

Then I get the crowd around us to yell "Tim."

One, two, three.


All I'm doing is creating a bigger moment.

And once that's maximized, the entire corner is now involved in this.

I take that girl, still holding her,

make my way back through the crowd, get behind the basket.

Third quarter ends.

Tim Duncan stands up and walks out onto the court,

and I beeline for him,

which, by the way, I'm not supposed to do.


Not supposed to take a fan on the court,

definitely not to meet a player during a game,

and definitely not Tim Duncan.


But making this moment,

it's worth the risk.

So I go up to Tim, holding the girl,

motion for a high five.

She puts out her arms for a hug.

Tim reaches down; he hugs her, messes with her for a little bit.

When he's done,

I take a step back.

I turn to that corner of the arena,

and I thrust my fist in the air in victory.

They erupt.

They just got to come along with me as I made a little girl happy,

but that, in turn, made them happy.

And here's the trick to that.

You don't need a Coyote suit and a court to make somebody happy.

You all can do it in your everyday lives.


Simply by making a moment.

I got to be pretty good at making moments by wearing fur for a living.

But here's how you can do it too.

Just think like I did when I was the Coyote.

Be present in the moment,

seize the opportunity when you see it,

and maximize the impact of that moment.

Let me explain it like this.

In my opinion, there're two ways to mascot.

There's a mascot that takes the noise sign.

He runs out, takes a couple laps,


runs off,

has no idea whether the crowd ever reacted or not.

Or - there's a more authentic way to mascot.

Take that noise sign out and hold it up to the crowd.

And if they don't cheer, you let them know you expect better.


You let them know you're listening to them.


You let them know they matter to you.


You're authentic in your relationship with them.

I remember a game -

pivotal moment, I want to say less than a minute left,

Spurs are down by three.

I take a noise sign out to the crowd,

hit them with it, right?


Well, now I'm frustrated.

"Come on! A little bit harder. Let me hear you."


They've given up; they're sitting on their hands.

"One more time. Come on!"


And in frustration, I take the noise sign,

bust it and throw it.

Then they cheer.


And I realize they're reacting to my authenticity,

to the realization I'm listening,

that they matter to me.

And that is how I built a relationship with Spurs fans -

through authenticity.

But listen closely. This is really important.

There're two ways to live your life.


You can go through the motions,

or you can choose to really, truly listen to others,

to let them know they matter,

and to be authentic with them.

Ladies and gentlemen, those opportunities are what's important,

and that is how - sorry -


(Screeching voice) Ha

(Normal voice) That is how you are able to have a tool.

Making moments is a tool in which to make people happy.

And remember what making other people happy does?

Let's all say it together. One, two, three.

Makes me happy, right?

Who doesn't want to be happy?

Maybe this guy over here.


I don't know you. We'll talk after, okay?

So, that became my vision for the character -

to purposely and deliberately create impactful moments

for fans through authenticity.

That's right.

I had no idea, ladies and gentlemen, what I was getting myself into,

but once I learned how to do that,

it was amazing.

See, I decided I wanted to be what people talked about.

I had a goal - three impactful moments a game.

OK? Three impactful moments.

Make them remember it, and make those people happy.

Think back to your childhood.

What do you remember?

Moments, right?

Our lives are formed by moments.

And when you become good at making a moment for someone,

sometimes, by the way, they can be bigger than you ever imagined.

I used to go to the Children's Hospital of San Antonio a couple of time a year.

I'd visit terminally ill children.

Then we'd go up to ICU.

So these are terminally ill children

who are so sick that they have to stay in a little room -

they can't leave it -

barely bigger than the bed they are laying on.

You have to wash up, open and close the door to go and sit visit them.

And I'm visiting this girl. She's about three years old or so.

She's got wires coming out her IVs.

I go up, and I give her a sweet hug, say "Hi" to the family.

And I remember vividly.

I'm backing out, saying "Bye,"


blowing kisses, and waving.

And in a frail little voice, she just says, "Bye, bye."

And I waive "Bye," and I leave.

And then I feel a hug around my waist.

And I turn around,

and it's the grandmother of that little girl that I just visited.

And she looks up at me with tears streaming down her face,

and she says, "She just spoke the first words she said in two weeks,

because of you.

Thank you."

And I hug that grandma.

She cried in my arms.

And I cried in that costume.

And there it was -

a guy in a furry costume just changed a family's life.

And if I can do that, if the character I become

when I put that suit on can change, literally change lives -

they may never have heard that girl's voice again -

then anyone can do it.


Simply by making a moment.

So, what does this mean for all of you?

Do we all go buy furry costumes and head on onto the street

and aimlessly try to make people happy?

You might need to, by the way.


But no.

That is weird.


Exactly the opposite.

I have a challenge for everyone here today.

One person a week.

Make a moment for one person a week.

Because we've all been there, where we see somebody who needs somebody.

The question is: Will you choose to be that somebody?

Will you choose to make a moment for someone?

Will you choose to make somebody else happy?

You have a decision to make today.

You see, there're two ways you can finish this day.

You can walk out those doors, get a drink,

you can talk about how great the speakers were - which they were -

and you can go on with your life.

Or, you can walk out those doors and get two drinks,

and take one to somebody.


Not like that. Come on now. Sharing is caring.


You can take those two drinks -

Jack and Coke, by the way, thank you very much,

just saying -

take those two drinks.

Give one to somebody

and begin a real discussion as to how you are going to make a moment for somebody,

how you're going to create an impactful moment through authenticity.

So, what are you going to do?

Are you going to passively listen today,

or are you going to engage in what you've heard today?

One person a week.

Make them happy. Make them remember it.

And make a moment.

Thank you.

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