Terry Tucker is a motivational speaker, author, and international podcast guest on the topics of motivation, mindset, and self-development.
He has a business administration degree from The Citadel (where he played NCAA Division I college basketball) and a master’s degree from Boston University.
In his professional career, Terry has been a marketing executive, a hospital administrator, a SWAT Team Hostage Negotiator, a high school basketball coach, a business owner, a motivational speaker, and for the past ten years, a cancer warrior (which has resulted in the amputation of his foot in 2018 and his leg in 2020).
He is the author of the book, Sustainable Excellence, Ten Principles To Leading Your Uncommon and Extraordinary Life, and the developer of the Sustainable Excellence Membership. Terry has also been featured in Authority, Thrive Global, and Human Capital Leadership magazines.
What You’ll Learn in This Episode
- How Terry’s life experience prepared him to make different career shifts
- About his 10 year battle with cancer
- The common denominator that helped Terry overcome trauma
- Terry’s 4 Truths and how he came up with them
- About his book, Sustainable Excellence, Ten Principles To Leading Your Uncommon and Extraordinary Life
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for High Velocity Radio.
Stone Payton: Welcome to the High Velocity Radio show, where we celebrate top performers producing better results in less time. Stone Payton here with you today. Please join me in welcoming to the broadcast with Motivational Check. Mr. Terry Tucker. How are you, man?
Terry Tucker: I’m great. Stone Thanks for having me on. I’m looking forward to talking with you.
Stone Payton: Yeah. So excited to have you on the program. I got a ton of questions. I know we won’t get to them all, but I think a good place to start would be if you could articulate for. For me and our listeners alike, mission purpose. What are you really out there trying to do for folks? Man.
Terry Tucker: I am trying to help people live their uncommon and extraordinary life, and I try to do that through being guests on podcast. I’ve written a book, I’ve started a membership program. But my goal right now in life, I’ve been battling cancer for the last ten years, and in all honesty, I’m probably coming towards the end of my life is just to put as much goodness, as much positivity, as much motivation, as much love back into the world as I possibly can.
Stone Payton: Well, it certainly sounds like a noble pursuit to me, but I got to know, man. Tell us more about the back story. How in the world did you find yourself in this line of work at this point in your life?
Terry Tucker: Yeah, I’ve had quite a few jobs in my life. I was the first person in my family to graduate from college. I went to college at the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, and when I graduated, I moved home to find a job. I was all set to make my mark on the world with my newly obtained business administration degree. And I. I look back now and realize how little I knew about business just because I had a degree. Fortunately, I was able to find that first job in the corporate headquarters of Wendy’s International, the hamburger chain and their marketing department. Unfortunately, I ended up living with my parents for the next three and a half years as I help my mother care for my father and my grandmother, who are both dying of different forms of cancer. So professionally, as I said, started out at Wendy’s, Then it became a hospital administrator, and then I made a major pivot in my life and became a police officer. And part of what I did with that was I was a SWAT team hostage negotiator. After I got out of law enforcement, I started my own school security consulting business. I coached girls high school basketball. I made the brilliant business decision to start a motivational speaking business right as COVID hit became an author in 2020. But as I said, for the last ten years have been battling this rare form of cancer. So if you put all that together, I guess things make a little more sense at this point in my life to take what I learned from business, couple it with my law enforcement and my cancer journey and put as much goodness back into the world as I possibly can.
Stone Payton: Well, we’ve learned at least two things. You can’t hold a job and and you’re incredibly resilient. Well, to the degree that you’re willing to do so, I really would like to dive into what you feel like you’ve learned from your your battle with cancer and how that’s impacted the work you’re doing today and the value you’re bringing to the folks you’re serving.
Terry Tucker: Yeah. I think one of the things that I learned from team sports and I started playing basketball when I was nine years old and played all the way up until I graduated from college. And I think this has carried over into my cancer journey is the importance of being part of something that’s bigger than yourself. You know, you realize on a team and for me it was a sports team. It can be whatever team you’re on, your business team, your family, whatever it ends up being, that you realize that if you don’t do your job on a team, you let yourself down. But you let your teammates down, your coach is down, your fans down, etc. And if you think about it, the biggest team game that we all play is this game of life. And I recently had a nurse ask me Part of my cancer journey is seeing my foot amputated in 2018 and my leg amputated in 2020. And I had a nurse that recently asked me what it was like to to lose my appendages, and I told her it hasn’t been easy. But what I also said to her was cancer can take all my physical faculties, but cancer can’t touch my mind. It can’t touch my heart and it can’t touch my soul. And that’s who I am. That’s who you are, Stone That’s who everybody who’s listening to us, that’s who we really are. I mean, this this body, this vessel is just the place to house who we really are. And we get all excited about, you know, does my hair look good and am I wearing the right clothes and do I look good and all that stuff? But in all honesty, I think we need to spend a little bit more time working on our heart, our mind and our soul, maybe a little less time working on our physical appearance.
Stone Payton: So do you feel like that’s the common denominator, That’s the the value system, the ethos, the, I don’t know, operational discipline that’s helped you get through all of these traumas you described or have you just kind of cracked the code on the I don’t know, the three step process for.
Terry Tucker: What I think. The other thing I talk about is what I call my four truths. And these are definitely things that I’ve learned through this journey. And, you know, I call them my four truths. They’re not mine. I don’t think you can own a truth, but I have them on a Post-it note that is in my office here, and I see them multiple times every day and I’ll give them to you. They’re just one sentence each and the first one, and I think this is so important is you need to control your mind or your mind is going to control you. You know, I always tell people, be very careful what you say to yourself, how you talk to yourself, that that inner voice. You know, if you are constantly negative, negative, negative, then your brain is going to get hard wired to be negative, negative, negative. So be very careful what you say to yourself. That’s number one. Number two is embrace the pain and the difficulty that we all experience in life. And it doesn’t have to be cancer or any kind of a disease and use that pain and difficulty to make you stronger and more resilient. The third one I look at more as a legacy truth, and it’s this What you leave behind is what you weave in the hearts of other people. And the number four, I think is pretty self explanatory. As long as you don’t quit, you can never be defeated. And I use those as with my cancer journey. But I think they’re also you could use those four truths if you’re starting a business or you’re already in a business and things like that, use those to as a foundation, as a bedrock of a good place to start to build a quality life off of.
Stone Payton: Okay, let’s talk about the work. Who are you working with? What are you doing to help them and maybe even a little bit more about the why?
Terry Tucker: Yeah, the work is pretty much young professionals and leaders. I started a membership. I wrote a book back in 2020 and people were have heard me speak or have heard me on podcast or read the book. And they’re like, Well, we’d like you to do a membership. And I’m still being treated for cancer. So I was like, I don’t think I want to. That’s that’s a lot of work. And I just don’t I don’t know if I have the time to do it, but eventually enough people convinced me that why not? Let’s, let’s go for it and see what happens. It’s very much in its infancy. It’s just starting out. So I don’t have a ton of people in it and things like that. But the Y is to is to really get people out of their own way. I go back to the truth about controlling your mind or it will control you. So many people and I know I’ve done this. I actually wrote an entire chapter in my book and I titled the chapter Most people think with their fears and their insecurities instead of using their minds. And I know I’ve done that. I’m not proud of it, but I know I’ve done that in my life where, Oh, you know what? I think I should do this. But wait a minute. You know what? Maybe I’m not smart enough. Maybe I don’t have enough experience. What are people going to say about me that’s thinking with our fears and our insecurities instead of using our minds? And I always tell, especially young people, if there’s something in your heart, something in your soul that you feel you’re supposed to do, but it scares you, go ahead and do it because at the end of your life, the things you’re going to regret are not going to be the things you did. They’re going to be the things you didn’t do. And by then it’s going to be too late to go back and do them.
Stone Payton: So at this point, what are you finding the most rewarding? What what are you having the most fun with?
Terry Tucker: Just just dealing with and being with young people? You know, I’m an old guy. I’m in my sixties and that so to to look at the enthusiasm, look at the excitement of young people when they they try to figure out what their purpose in life is. I mentioned when I when I graduated from college, my father was dying of cancer and he had end stage breast cancer. And back in the 1980s, they didn’t know what to do with men with that, they didn’t know how to treat it. And they pretty much told him to go home and die. But he lasted another three and one half years. And the reason I believe he did is because he had a purpose in life. He was in real estate, and he worked up till two weeks before he died. And I always tucked that sort of in the back of my mind and said, you know, when it’s when it’s my turn in the barrel, so to speak, I need to have a purpose in life. And it’s interesting because so many people think their job or their occupation has to be their purpose. And it doesn’t you know, your job could be something over here that you do to pay the bills, but your purpose or your passion or your why is to be a radio host or to be a podcast or or to write or to paint or whatever it is that you believe that your unique gifts and talents are leading you to. So it’s always fun for me because people think that I’ve got there’s one thing out there and it’s the only thing. And I know in my life when I was young, I ate, drank and slept basketball. Basketball was my purpose. And then I got into law enforcement and that was my purpose. And now, as I’m coming to the end of my life, to put as much goodness to work with these young people is just so exciting for me. So I think your purposes can evolve over time as you grow and develop.
Stone Payton: Incredibly well said. And I agree 100%. I do want to go on record and suggest that Sixties is not old.
Terry Tucker: Because I agree with you totally right there.
Stone Payton: So how does the whole sales and marketing thing for motivational check work, how do you attract the new members, The new clients?
Terry Tucker: So I have a blog that every day I put up a thought for that day, and with that thought usually comes a question about maybe how you could use that thought or apply it in your life in some way. On Mondays, I put up the Monday morning motivational message, which is usually a video or a story that I think might resonate with my readers or listeners and and that’s all it motivational check. And you can also get access to the membership at Motivational Jet.com. You get copies of my my book there I have recommendations for other books to read, other videos to watch. My social media links are there. So everything is pretty much inclusive at motivational check.
Stone Payton: So have you had the benefit of one or more mentors to help you navigate this new terrain? This. This? Kind of business.
Terry Tucker: I actually I’m working with with the young man who has really kind of helped me. I am I don’t know what the word is. I’m a little challenged when it comes to some of the technology and things like that and how to use these different formats and stuff like that. So it’s between him and I’ve got a 26 year old daughter. So between her and her husband, I always read, How do you do this? What do you and I mean, literally when I started Motivational Check, it was four pages and stone. I kid you not. It took me four months to develop those four pages. I had no idea what I was doing. I started it and I was like, I don’t know what that means. I got to go research it. I probably could have had my daughter do it in about 15 minutes, but literally it took me four months because I didn’t know what I was doing. So, yes, I’ve had and it’s been mostly the younger people that have helped me along the way to get to this point, because like I said, I am technologically challenged in my life right now.
Stone Payton: Tell me more about this book, both the title and the structure and maybe even any counsel on the best way to get the most out of it as a reader.
Terry Tucker: Yeah, the book is called Sustainable Excellence The Ten Principles to Lead in Your Uncommon and Extraordinary Life. And it’s really a book that was born out of two conversations I had. One was with a former player that I had coached in high school who’d moved to Colorado, where my wife and I lived with her fiancee. And the four of us had dinner one night. And I remember saying to her after dinner that I was excited that she was living close and I could watch her find and live her purpose. And she got real quiet for a while. And then she looked at me and she said, Well, coach, what do you think my purpose is? I said, I have no idea what your purpose is, but that’s what your life should be about. Finding the reason you were put on the face of this earth, using your unique gifts and talents and living that reason. So that was one conversation. And then I had a young man reach out to me on social media and asked me what I thought were the most important things that he should learn, not to just be successful in his job or in business, but to be successful in life. And I did want to give him that, you know, get up early, work hard, help others. Not that those aren’t important. They are incredibly important. But I wanted to see if I could go deeper with them. So I took some time and I was walking around with a pad of paper and a pencil and writing ideas, not writing thoughts down.
Terry Tucker: And eventually I had these these ten thoughts, these ten ideas, these ten principles. And so I sent them to them. And then I kind of step back and I was like, Well, you know, I got a life story that fits underneath this principle, or I know somebody whose life emulates that principle. So literally during the four month period where I was healing, after I had my leg amputated, I sat down at the computer every day and I built stories. And they’re real stories about real people underneath each of the principles. And that’s how sustainable excellence came to be. And it’s always fun for me because each chapter is a principle, but the chapters are not in a particular order. Number one is not any more important than number seven, but it’s fun for me as an author when people reach out because there’s always one principle that seems to resonate with the reader, either because they experienced it or they knew somebody that experienced it, or in some way it impacts them. So it’s always a great point to to start a conversation about, Hey, what did you think about this or why did that happen? Or why did you put this in the book and things like that. So it really for me is just a great opportunity to reach out and say, Look, I’ve learned some things, I don’t know everything, but here are some things I’ve learned and maybe you could use them to make your life more impactful.
Stone Payton: Well, there’s no doubt in my mind that this would be an incredibly powerful resource for the individual. But it strikes me, too, as one of those kinds of books, that in an organization you could have your leadership team or any given team go read it on their own, and then kind of come back to the group and use that as a platform for discussion. Is that accurate? Can it be applied in that way?
Terry Tucker: I think it can. I don’t know if it has to be honest with you. You know, it’s funny because when I when I initially I’ve written a book, it’s like, okay, great. There are 800 books published in the United States every single day. And I read read an article recently that said that 86% of Americans feel that they have a book inside them, either a memoir or some kind of a fiction book. And yet less than 1% of those people ever write that book. And people think, well, it’s my life, It’s not that big of a deal. But the things we’ve all learned through our experiences, through our lives, through our travels, are things that people want to understand, are things that you can teach to other people. So yeah, I think the book can have an application to an individual. I think it can have an application to a C-suite, a project team, anything like that. There there are so many different principles in there that are not just tied to one particular thing. So, you know, they say you should really kind of have a single bullet approach. In all honesty, I think motivation or sustainable excellence is more of a shotgun. There’s all kinds of things in there that I think people can learn from it.
Stone Payton: Have you found that going through the experience of writing the book and committing these ideas to paper helped you crystallize your own thinking and made you that more effective in the other work, the speaking, the facilitating, that kind of thing.
Terry Tucker: Absolutely. I mean, people have asked me how how did you write the book? What was your philosophy and and how did you go about doing it? And I said, you know, I’m really not that creative. I said, I had two rules. I said, number one, I made myself write a minimum of one page every single day. And number two, I said, I’m not going to edit anything until I have the first draft of the manuscript. So there were days, in all honesty. I sat down and I wrote Absolute garbage. This is terrible. This is never going to make it into a book. But then the next day I wrote something good, and then maybe the next day I wrote something good. And then the next day it was garbage again and stuff. So, you know, it was kind of I had all this stuff here, and then it was a matter of just going through it and saying, This is good. No, that’s got to come out. And when I published it through a small, not for profit publishing company, and so I had access to editors and things like that. And obviously I’ve never given birth to a child or anything like that, but this was the closest I’d ever come to having something that was really mine. And so these editors would be like, Well, Terry, you know, you should probably take this out or you should probably expand on this or. And I was like, Wait a minute, you know, this is my book, How dare you? But then, you know, it was like, this is what these people do for a living. I need to pay attention. I always used to tell him, Well, let me sleep on it and see how I feel in the morning. And I think 99.9% of the time I was like, Yeah, you’re the expert. I should probably listen to what you’re doing. I’ll do what you what you recommend. And I think it made for such, such a better book. Just because I had people that were good at what they did helped me get the book off basically off the street and onto the shelves.
Stone Payton: With as much as you have to contend with in your personal life and as many irons in the fire as my dad would say on the professional side of your life, what do you do when the tanks running a little bit low? You running out of out of juice? How do you recharge and get geared back up to go back out and serve some more?
Terry Tucker: I spend time with my family. I think my my story is not one where my dad drank and beat my mother kind of thing. Mike I had the greatest parents in the world and I’ve got two brothers that were both college athletes. One played in the end in the NBA and you know, they taught us the importance of family, of caring for each other, of supporting each other, of loving each other. And so whenever when I was a policeman, when I was a hostage negotiator, you know, you have a bad day, there’s a tendency to, hey, let’s go out for a drink afterwards. For me, it was, no, I want to go home and I want to spend time with the people that that I love that that rejuvenate me, that, you know, charge up my batteries. And that’s always been my family. And even though our daughter’s married now and stuff like that, we talk to her almost every day about what’s going on. We have that relationship. And I remember one of the greatest compliments she ever gave my wife and I was when she was at the Air Force Academy. She said, you know, mom and dad, I’m really happy I have the relationship I have with you because so many kids here don’t like their parents. And so it was like, oh, man, maybe we did something right in life by teaching her the importance of family.
Stone Payton: So what’s next for you, man? Have you got some specific areas of focus over the next several months to a year where you’re really going to pour most of your energy?
Terry Tucker: I’m thinking about writing another book. Sustainable Excellence is a book about success, and I’m thinking about writing another book about another word that begins with s, and that is significance. You know, success is what we do for ourselves. Significance is what we do for other people. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think you can be successful and significant at the same time, but I’ve written a book about success. Now. I think I’d like to write a book about significance and see where that goes.
Stone Payton: Fantastic. Well, I hope you do. And when you do, I hope you’ll join us again so that we can get a chance to talk about the about the book. But before we wrap, I’d love to leave our listeners with a few actionable items, maybe a couple of pro tips, you know, whether they’re an aspiring author, whether they’re an entrepreneur out there, you know, just fighting the good fight and grinding it out every day and in search of success and significance, just a little something that they can begin to to go ahead and act on. Think about do not do anything in that regard. I’d love to share that with them.
Terry Tucker: Sure. If you don’t mind, I’ll tell you one more story that I think might encapsulate all that. Perfect. I’ve always been a big fan of Westerns. Growing up, when I was young, my mom and dad used to let me stay up late and watch Gunsmoke and Bonanza. And my favorite was always Wild Wild West, 1993, The movie Tombstone came out. You may have seen it. It’s a huge. Blockbuster star Val Kilmer is a man by the name of John Doc Holliday and Kurt Russell as a man by the name of Wyatt Earp. Now, Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp were two living, breathing human beings who walked on the face of the earth. They’re not made up characters for the movie. The doc was called Doc because he was a dentist by trade, but pretty much Doc Holliday was a gunslinger and a card shark. And Wyatt Earp had been some form of a lawman his entire adult life. And somehow these two men from entirely opposite backgrounds come together and form this incredibly close friendship. And at the end of the movie, Doc Holliday is dying of tuberculosis at a sanatorium in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, which is about 3 hours from where I live. The real Doc Holliday died at that sanatorium, and he’s buried in the Glenwood Springs Cemetery. And Wyatt, at this point in his life, is destitute. He has no money. He has no job. He has no prospects for a job. So every day he comes to play cards with Doc and the two men pass the time that way.
Terry Tucker: And that’s almost last seen in the movie. The two men are talking about what they want out of life. And Doc says, You know, when I was younger, I was in love with my cousin, but she joined a convent over the affair. And he looks at why and he says, What about you? Why? What do you want and why? It looks at him and says, I just want to lead a normal life. And Doc looks at him and says, There’s no normal. There’s just life. And get on with living yours, your stone. You and I probably know people that are sitting out there listening to us that are sort of sitting back and saying, Well, when this happens, I’ll have a normal life, or when that happens, I’ll have a significant life, or when this arises, I’ll have a successful life. What I’d like to leave your your listeners with is this Don’t wait, don’t wait for life to come to you. Get out there. Find the reason you were put on the face of this earth. Use your unique gifts and talents and live that reason. Because if you do at the end of your life, I’m going to promise you two things. Number one, you’re going to be a whole lot happier. And number two, you’re going to have a whole lot more peace in your heart.
Stone Payton: A man. Well said. All right, man, what is the best way for our listeners to connect with you? Tap into your work, get access to this book and the next one that you write. Let’s make it easy for him to connect with you and follow your work.
Terry Tucker: Absolutely. The best way to do that is go to motivational checks. You can leave me a message. You can get access to the book. Like I said, there’s all kinds of things there that I think will help you. So motivational checks will get you to me.
Stone Payton: Well, Terry, it has been such a pleasure having you on the program today, man. Thank you for sharing your insight, your perspective. This has been informative, inspiring and just a marvelous way to to invest a Thursday morning, man. Keep up the good work.
Terry Tucker: Well, thank you very much for having me on, Stone. I really appreciate it.
Stone Payton: My pleasure, man. All right. Until next time, this is Stone Payton for our guest today, Terry Tucker with Motivational Check and everyone here at the Business Radio X family saying we’ll see you in the fast lane.