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I Owe My Smile to Perseverance: Dr. Susan O'Malley [Bold Talks]

Posted by Laura @Pistachio Fitton on 10/1/15 5:38 PM


Dr. Susan O’Malley shares her unforgettable experience to teach the critical lesson of perseverance. A childhood fall, which only took seconds, changed the course of her life. The consequences were devastating and far reaching.
Once a college drop-out and a secretary, Dr. O’Malley credits this childhood lesson with her ultimate transformation into emergency room doctor, entrepreneur, public speaker and author. This and other success strategies are outlined in her book, Tough Cookies Don’t Crumble: Turn Set-Backs into Success.

Through storytelling, this Bold talk will focus on the power and the impact of perseverance. “Perseverance can change your life. It changed mine.


(For video transcription scroll down to the bottom of this post.)




About our speaker

Cosmetic Doctor, Personal Development Expert and Author, Dr. Susan O’Malley teaches success minded individuals how to turn trying times into personal triumphs. Her book, Tough Cookies Don’t Crumble: Turn Set-Backs into Success outlines the strategies she used to transform her life.

Dr. O’Malley was a college drop-out who worked as a secretary for eleven years before transforming herself into a doctor. The day she started medical school she was 35 years old and six months pregnant without a husband, so her journey included single motherhood.

At age 50, she walked away from a lucrative career as an emergency room doctor to open a medical spa dedicated to helping women look younger without surgery. With a dream and NO business training, she rented a space, put a $75 ad in the newspaper and sat at the reception desk waiting for the phone to ring. Today, Sonas Med Spa in Madison, CT is unrecognizable from its humble beginnings.

A sought after speaker and member of the National Speakers Association, Dr. Susan O’Malley speaks from live and virtual stages to empower individuals to know it’s never too late to create the lives they want. At age 63, her life and career provide conclusive evidence."

Once a college drop-out and a secretary, Dr. O’Malley credits this childhood lesson with her ultimate transformation into emergency room doctor, entrepreneur, public speaker and author. This and other success strategies are outlined in her book, Tough Cookies Don’t Crumble: Turn Set-Backs into Success.

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Video Transcription

I Owe My Smile to Perseverance

by Dr. Susan O'Malley

Hi, good morning. I can still officially say good morning. Last week when the folks at Inbound were tying up loose ends and getting the conference, putting the finishing touches on the conference they sent out emails to speakers giving them last minute advice. You pick up your badge over here, you register over here and as a bold speaker I was told that the bold talk had changed, had ... Actually the word was graduated to this room because it now held 1,000 people. And a chill ran through me and I thought well is it going to be scarier to speak to 1,000 people or is it going to be scarier to speak to a room that can hold 1,000 if only 20 show up.

I would just like to start by thanking you for showing up. Thank you. I'm here to talk about perseverance and I can get really jazzed about perseverance because I can really back track every great accomplishment in my life straight to perseverance. Including standing here on this stage and I'll tell you that story in a minute. Before I do I just want to say perseverance is vital to your success and I believe it. I believe it so much I'm going to say it again. Perseverance is vital to your success. If you believe it too I know the folks at Inbound would really appreciate it if you would tell somebody.

Let me tell you how I got here. A call went out for speakers, I filled out the application, I hit submit and then I waited. It felt like I was waiting a really long time although I'm sure you're going to be surprised to find out that I am a New Yorker. We have a different scale, we use a different scale for waiting. But it really felt like a really long time to me and so I sent an email. I asked did you get my application? I got an email back and they said yes we got your application. I waited again and then I sent another email and I said could you just tell me the status of my application.

This is where it got interesting because this is where I found out that I was one of 75 people who were being considered for the remaining 18 spots. No matter how you feel about math in that particular order those are not good numbers. I knew I had to distinguish myself from 74 other people so I sent another email. I said I just want you to know that if what I was going to speak about didn't fit into your lineup I could also speak to this, this, this and that and I gave them four other choices. I wasn't done because I sent them yet another email. I said I would just like you to know that if anyone drops out at the last minute you can call me, I'm your girl, I'm here for you.
Then the deadline for speakers came and went and I didn't hear anything. I actually toyed with sending another email. But seven days later I got an email and that email said congratulations, you have been given one of the last two spots to speak at the Inbound Conference. That is how I came here to speak to you about perseverance.

I'm going to tell you two stories about perseverance. I picked these two stories for two reasons. First, I think that both stories really illustrate very nicely the power and the impact of perseverance. Second, I really want you to remember me. One of these stories you may or may not remember. The other story I guarantee you, you will never forget.

I learned perseverance from my mother. I didn't know what it was. I didn't know it had a name. All I knew was my mother would never take no for an answer. When you're eight years old that's very annoying. I did not grow up like that with that kind of determined spirit. I actually great up quite the opposite. I had no fight in me at all. And true perseverance didn't come out for me until I was 33 years old. It was June of 1985. I was living in Southern California. I was finishing up my last year of college. When you're finishing up your last year of college at 33 you're called a returning student, as kindly as they can say it.

I had all my medical school applications in. I was taking a couple easy breezy classes, graduation was in my sight and life was good. It all came crashing down in June. Did you ever get a rejection letter? Yes, in June of 1985 I had 42 of them. I was rejected from every medical school in the country and I did not see that coming. Out of every worst case scenario that I could picture in my head being rejected from every school in the country never made the list.

I was devastated, I was 33, it took me 33 years to figure out what my dream was and now I was about to be shut out of it. I thought oh no, this is not happening. I am not going down without a fight. I knew that the only way that I could get myself out of this was to apply to medical school again which I did. Now I say that like it's nothing. Oh I applied to medical school again. Applying to medical school is a year-long process, there are multiple applications, multiple essay questions, multiple interviews. It's demanding, it's honestly sometimes demoralizing. I did it and the second time around it worked. I was accepted to the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City three weeks before school started. I was 35 years old, I was six months pregnant and I didn't have a husband. That is a story that will clearly take longer than the 12 minutes I have been allocated.

I gave you a little snippet about my mother and I want to circle back and tell you this last story about my mother. When I was a baby my mother, my father and I lived on the second floor of a two-story house in an apartment. The apartment door had a faulty lock so that if someone came in downstairs a gush of air would come up the hallway stairs and ever so gently push our apartment door open. In order to know that you were secure in the apartment you had to deadbolt the lock. One Saturday morning my mother came home with bags of groceries and forgot to lock the door. I was roaming around in one of those little walkers. Someone came in downstairs, our door opened, down the stairs I went.

Me and the walker traveling head first I slammed my little baby face into a steel radiator at the foot of the stairs. The impact sliced my tiny little front baby teeth in half. Half lay on the dirty hallway floor and the other half got jammed into my gums. Eventually those little baby teeth made their way down but everyone held their breath to see what would happen next. My permanent teeth grew in when I was five years old, clearly premature. Instead of both facing forward one was on a 90 degree angle and the other was on a 45. They were brown and they were pockmarked and they were jagged. They were horrifying. I remember what they looked like to this day, they were horrifying.

My mother took me from dentist to dentist to dentist, year after year after year because with all good intentions everyone had the same advice. Pull them out and give her false teeth. I was seven years old. My young mother didn't know what the answer was but she knew that wasn't it. With me in one hand and my new baby brother under her arm we went to more dentists and more and more. Until she found somebody with an idea and it was just an idea because he didn't know if it would work.

He said why don't we put braces on them so they at least both face forward. Then we can file them down and fit her for a crown which is what they did. At nine years old for the first time in my life I smiled without holding my hand up to cover my mouth and that is the power of perseverance. Make no mistake about it.

Where would I be had my mother listened to the second dentist, the third dentist, the fourth dentist? Where would I be had I listened to 42 medical schools who said we don't think you're doctor material? After I graduated I went on to become an emergency room doctor. Over the years I treated thousands of patients and I saved hundreds of lives. Where would those people be?

And where will you be tomorrow based on the choices that you make today? If it's in your heart or it's in your head never give up. Thank you.

Topics: Speaker Videos, Bold Talks


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