Fox Beyer on "Win Anyway"
Olive Persimmon: Hello, and welcome. This is Expert Open Radio, I am Olive Persimmon. I'm a former TEDxAsburyPark alumna, and speaker. I am here today with Fox Beyer, who is going to be a speaker at this year's TEDxAsburyPark conference on May 18th. Hi, Fox.
Fox Beyer: Hi, Olive. How are you?
Olive Persimmon: Living my best life. How are you?
Fox Beyer: Better than I deserve.
Olive Persimmon: Let's start off, Fox. I wanna hear a little bit about your talk. What's the title, and how did you come up with this idea?
Fox Beyer: Sure. The title is "Win Anyway". It's just about my perspective as a man with CP, that is that I trip and fall every day. I'm using that to tell the audience, hey that's my chaos, I know that you have chaos in your lives. It may be in a different realm, but what's helped me get back up, literally and figuratively, is understanding there's always someone else out there who has it worse than you do. That really is what give me the fuel to get back up.
Fox Beyer: I hope through sharing some of my story, and the story of others that it would help the people in the audience, whoever's listening to, in spite of their chaos, to win anyway.
Olive Persimmon: I love that. Will you define for the audience, just in case anyone listening doesn't know what CP is, will you just define that for us?
Fox Beyer: Sure. Cerebral Palsy, first is caused by brain damage. A lack of oxygen to the brain before, during or after birth. It affects all muscle control, and from me, with what is called hypertensious Cerebral Palsy, I'm stiff and I'm prone to constant muscle spasms that make my body even more rigid. I sort of explain it like I'm a towel. If you've ever taken a towel and made it into a rat tail, that's kind of how my body feels. It's entangled.
Fox Beyer: Even though it's entangled ... and if I were a towel, it will still dry you off and get the job done rather, but it takes a lot longer. It's a little bit more confused, and it's a lot more arduous.
Olive Persimmon: Yeah. That's such a great description. I love the imagery there.
Fox Beyer: I try to paint a little picture, as they say. Put a little furniture in the room. There you go.
Olive Persimmon: You're very good at that. I just heard your talk and I'm excited to see it live. I think the audience will be excited to see it because you do a really good job of storytelling and putting your furniture in the room. As you just said.
Fox Beyer: Thank you. I am honored to be able to do this. Very excited to share a little bit in May.
Olive Persimmon: Yeah. Tell us a little bit about your background.
Fox Beyer: What do I do? I like calling myself a fulfillment specialist. I do a couple of things. I'm a high school Spanish teacher, Whippany Park High School, here in New Jersey. I've done that for the past 15 years.
Olive Persimmon: How exciting.
Fox Beyer: I love words. Spanish lends itself to my passion. I've been involved in baseball all my life. Pitcher on my high school baseball team. I went on to the University of South Carolina, spent five years there as both a manager on the baseball team and a student coach. Coached baseball and volleyball at the high school level. I have been involved with the Somerset Patriots, a professional team here in New Jersey, of the past 15 years. Written a book of poetry, and I enjoy going out, speaking and sharing my story.
Olive Persimmon: Oh, that's so exciting. What's the name of your poetry book?
Fox Beyer: The book's name is 'Letter Kindling: Igniting, Inspiring, and Evoking the Fire Within'. If you want me to give you a little bit of background on the book, I can do that.
Olive Persimmon: Yeah, please.
Fox Beyer: Sure. It was after a baseball game a handful of years ago. Me and the manager, one of my best friends we're taking a ride after the game. He says to me, Fox, we should write a song. One of the things we do after games often is put on the tunes, listen to music. When he said that, I got to writing. These "songs", Olive, turned into poems. I just, in sort of a stream of consciousness kind of way kept writing, kept writing, kept writing.
Fox Beyer: I started posting my poems on a site called yourpoetry.com. It's very interactive. You can comment on others and they comment on your material. Then, at some point, this is between July of 2014 and December of 2014, I get an e-mail from another member of yourpoetry.com. They said: "Fox, I wanna publish a book, could you proofread some of my work?" I said I'd be honored. I'm new at this, but I'd be honored to do it. By the way, I asked this person, how are you going about doing that, because I'd like to get some of my work published if I could.
Fox Beyer: She got me in touch with a publishing company. I made a phone call, I gave a couple of examples of my work, they wanted to see more. Luckily for me, by January of 2015, I had a published book. It was very humbling. From then on I went out to open mics. I would recite the poems and developed whatever speaking skills that I have through reciting poetry at open mics, and at coffee stops, and such. That's the long, long version of what happened with my book.
Olive Persimmon: Congratulations. I love the long, long version, because it colors the picture of the person. Now we know that you're somebody who performs at open mics, and writes poetry. That's cool. I always appreciate the long version.
Fox Beyer: Yes. First we have furniture, now we have decorations on the walls.
Olive Persimmon: Very, very important. Very important.
Fox Beyer: Yes.
Olive Persimmon: Going back to your talk, what is your big idea that you want to communicate to your audience?
Fox Beyer: The big idea is "win anyway". I'll tell you where I got that phrase. It's the year 2000, my first year as a student coach for the South Carolina baseball team. We're in the middle of a great run. We started the season off twenty straight wins, and we were ranked number one in the nation for about six weeks. But, at some point, like game 25, as we know, things start to happen. One of our best players was badly injured. As a coaching staff, and as a team, and the city of Columbia, who follows the team, got pretty nervous.
Fox Beyer: This young man at the time was a great player and a catalyst for us. I was sitting in the coaches' office with our head coach, Coach Tanner. Were just talking and there was sort of a long silence. He turns to me and he goes: "You know what Foxy? We're gonna win anyway." I had this habit in college of always writing things down that people, professors, teachers, mentors, coaches said to me. I immediately wrote that down. When I saw that TEDxAsburyPark was doing something on chaos, this immediately popped into my head.
Fox Beyer: It's basically the concept of saying this, like I said before, we all have chaos in our lives. I like to say the road to success is not paved. What are you gonna do about it? I simply say, in spite of all the things that could happen during the day, basically anything can...in spite of that, we're going to find a way to win anyway. It might not be pretty, but we're going to get the job done, and finish on top.
Olive Persimmon: I love that.
Fox Beyer: Thank you. Thank you.
Olive Persimmon: I love this idea of win anyway. Also, just in general, the message of your talk. It sounds like this is an inspirational talk. I'm curious, are there any people that have inspired you along the way?
Fox Beyer: Sure. I'll be remiss without mentioning my parents. They, basically said "you are a normal, productive kid. The only thing you are not going to be is a track star." They are the root of why I am the way that I am. Additionally, my siblings, for, to this day, being great friends and supporting me in all of my endeavors. My teachers growing up. I can share a story about an English teacher that I had, really inspired me.
Fox Beyer: It's this: His name was Mr. Foley, and he had this great reading voice. He would replace words like surprise with surpretzel. Picture this, I'm a senior in high school, I'm 18 years old. He's in front of a bunch of 18-year-old kids, young adults at the time, he would read to us. We'd all be locked in on him. I can recall in class one time he's reading a book and I'm looking down. I see the word "ass" ... I don't know if we can cuss on the podcast here, but the word "ass" was there. As an immature 18-year-old kid, I giggled. I was just waiting for him to say the word. He gets to it, and he says "arse".
Fox Beyer: The entire class erupted in laughter, but it wasn't like we were messing around. We were totally focused and fixated on this man's words. I idolized him. During my senior year, I had a nice season as a pitcher in high school. He always used to tell me I'm gonna come down to the field and see you pitch. He did one day. But, unfortunately, this is all on me. Not only did I pitch terribly in the first inning, I acted like an immature piece of garbage.
Fox Beyer: I was hanging my head, I was yelling at our fielders. By the grace of God, our head coach, Coach Chambers, he sent me back out for the second inning. I threw the first two pitches, balls in the second inning and then I saw Mr. Foley standing behind home plate. I can tell you what he was wearing. He was wearing a pair of corduroy pants with a white collared shirt and yellow sweater. He gave me a look like, "Fox, I know that's not who you are so clean up your act". I've never forgotten that. Some five years later, in 2002, he passed away.
Fox Beyer: At the College World Series when I was there, I got word that he had passed away. I took my hat, I wrote the word surpretzeled under my hat. To this day, whenever I'm teaching, especially in front of a group of people, I always watch my actions and think to myself are you acting like the person that you are. I have a lot of people, and Mr. Foley, to thank for that.
Olive Persimmon: Wow. Can you use surpretzeled in a sentence from me? In case I wanna start using it.
Fox Beyer: Sure. She was very surpretzeled to find a cat sitting in her front yard playing cards.
Olive Persimmon: I'm gonna have to start using that.
Fox Beyer: I was very surpretzeled to see a cat in my front yard playing cards. I don't know where I got that image from.
Olive Persimmon: That would surpretzel me, as well. If I saw a cat playing cards, I'd be surpretzeled. Can you use it in the past tense?
Fox Beyer: Oh, boy, you are really stretching my brain here. Can I use surpretzeled ... What did I use there? She was surpretzeled. That was passive voice. Surpretzeled.
Olive Persimmon: You surpretzeled me.
Fox Beyer: You surpretzeled me yesterday, when you got up half an hour before I did and ran backwards down fifth avenue.
Olive Persimmon: I think that's good. I think it works. In case anyone listening wants to be down with the trendy kids. Just have some new vernacular.
Fox Beyer: Yes. I need to go back to school to learn more about this generation of kids. We're on our way.
Olive Persimmon: We're on our way. Going back to your talk, what are you the most excited about, about giving your talk at TEDxAsburyPark?
Fox Beyer: I tell you what, I'm excited to share a couple of stories so it may affect change in somebody's life. I'm excited to hear the other speakers, and hear their stories and interact with them when they're not speaking during that day. Again, I am just humbled and honored to have this opportunity. I think oftentimes I'm guilty of this, we look for an end in life. But, if we keep doing that, to me you're always thinking about what's next. I'm always one to be conscious of enjoy the process. In our interaction before, I hope you saw that I enjoyed this process. We're gonna be dead a long time, so why don't we enjoy our lives while we're here?
Olive Persimmon: Yeah. That feels like a really good place to end.
Fox Beyer: Yes.
Olive Persimmon: Fox, if people wanted to connect with you, where could they find you? That can be social media, or a website.
Fox Beyer: Sure, it's all ... I'm on Instagram, I'm on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. As Fox Beyer. F-o-x B-e-y-e-r. I do have a website, it's my name dot com. My name, F-o-x B-e-y-e-r dot com.
Olive Persimmon: Great. Fox, thank you so much for doing this podcast interview with me. You have been listening to Expert Open Radio. I, for one am so excited to see you live on the stage on May 18th. I'm sure anybody listening to this is going to be excited to see you. I do wanna do a plug. If you haven't gotten your ticket yet for one of the largest conferences, the TEDx conference in Asbury Park is one of the largest ones on the East Coast, go and get your tickets so that you can see Fox and all of the other amazing speakers at Asbury Park. Thanks so much.