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Sean Luce

Feel Broken Today? This Will Help You Get Over It

by Sean Luce

Since early in my career, videos have been a key component of my sales training. I started using videos as a sales manager and have continued showing them in my consulting business.  The videos originally provided me with a chance to swallow some water in case I became nervous while speaking. Videos are now a key component of my speaking engagements. In my experience, the videos should be no longer than 5 minutes, but I did have an exception to that rule. I would show a documentary about Ernest Shackleton called "Endurance."  I had never found a story to rival Shackleton’s tale of human endurance in the Antarctic until this past July.

One of my consulting clients told me about a best-selling book that featured a man who ran in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and was personally congratulated by Adolf Hitler. One of the most fascinating points of the story was that this young athlete was on course to break the 4 minute mile by 1940, and his real story had not even started. As a high school student, Louis Zamperini ran a 4:16 mile and set the world record for the mile. He was on pace to do something nobody thought could be done. He planned to break the 4 minute mile at the 1940 Tokyo Olympic Games, but the Tokyo games never occurred. Instead, World War II started, and Louis went to flight school. While on a Pacific Island in 1943, he ran a 4:08 mile on an airport runway. Louie would never clock anything close to that time again.

In the summer of 1943, Louie's B-25 crew was searching for a downed aircraft when his plane crashed into the Pacific. Louie and the survivors did not having the usual ‘lost at sea in the raft for a few days’ ordeal. They were in a raft for 47 days. End of story…pretty amazing, right? Wrong! Louis and another crew member drifted 2,000 miles in the Pacific Ocean only to land in the Japanese controlled Marshall Islands, and now the story begins. Louie was held captive in the most brutal of conditions. The Japanese severely tortured the prisoners. So much so, that modern waterboarding techniques look like a vacation in the tropics compared to what the WWII POWs endured. Just when you thought the story could not get any worse, it did….over and over again.

There is also another story within the story that’s not in the book. The authors name is Laura Hillenbrand. Ms. Hillenbrand wrote the best seller "Seabiscuit" about a 1930s race horse. The book would later become a Hollywood movie of the same name. Ms. Hillenbrand spent 7 years writing about Louis Zamperini. Laura suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which is a debilitating disease. While writing "Unbroken," she never personally met "Zamp." She had to interview him on the phone since she could not leave her home due to the illness. Her research is impeccable. "Unbroken" made the best seller list, selling 6 million books on the first run.  Her motivation to complete the book came from Zamp himself. He helped Hillenbrand to the finish line of the book as he did running track in the 1930’s.

His story was so incredible that I wanted to learn more about this guy Zamp. He is real….and he is alive today at 94 years of age with a smile on his face that would make your knees buckle from sheer delight. Universal Studios is filming the movie set to premiere in 2013.  Zamp will be 96, and I fully expect to see him on the red carpet.

In my research, I found a video CBS made during the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics featuring the Zamp. Louie carried the Olympic Torch on the same streets where he was held as a prisoner during WWII. Bob Simon made an incredible documentary on the Zamp’s life into a 39 minute segment. The documentary does not do the book justice, but it is as close as you will find until the movie premieres.

In my seminars, I like to split up Zamp's story. I show the first 16 minutes which ends as the Zamp and a fellow survivor are finishing their 47 days on a raft. I encourage you to watch the other 23 minutes to find out how the story ends. With all the challenges we have dealing with the recession, debt crisis and natural disasters, the Louie Zamperini story will make you sit back and appreciate that what we have in life is pretty good. The next time you feel like quitting after a tough day in the field, throwing in the towel on your career or getting ready to kick the dog then please read "Unbroken."  You will probably never face the circumstances that Louis Zamperini encountered in his life. However, his inspirational tale of survival can help make the impossible seem possible. In my opinion, Ernest Shackleton and Louis Zamperini are in an elite league of their own.

Note:  To find the video, go to  hit the video tab and select CBS Video. You will not spend a better 39 minutes in your sales training or for that matter your life.

Sean Luce is the Head National Instructor for the Luce Performance Group and can be reached at

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