Turning “No, You Can’t” into “Yes, You Can.”

Bachrach speaks to students at Chicago's Julian High School

It’s ironic that I nearly said “No You Can’t” to Lloyd Bachrach, the founder of Yes You Can! Lloyd has an amazing story to tell about his success and personal achievements in spite of a birth defect  that made his legs unusually short. He had approached me in late December, asking to help him get coverage for his speeches before kids in Chicago’s most violent-prone public schools. Through a grant from the CME Group Foundation, Lloyd was going into the schools and encouraging kids to respect themselves and each other and to strive for greatness beyond their imaginations.

I discouraged him from doing PR during the busy Christmas season, initially telling him that getting  reporters out to the schools would be difficult. Plus, I feared administrators wouldn’t allow  for kids faces to appear on camera, plus some principals don’t like camera crews or reporters in their schools. I had an endless list of reasons for “No You Can’t.”

He accepted my advice, and I told him I’d be in touch after the New Year. Luckily I didn’t accept my advice and realized the huge mistake I made! How could I be telling this amazingly optimistic, inspiring human being that his story wasn’t ready to be told.  We started working with each other immediately. Loyd is a great speaker and a great performer. He had these middle school and high school kids in the palm of his hands! Finding ways to curb violence and bullying in Chicago Public Schools is a hot topic, because our schools have been plagued by kid-on-kid violence. So reporters, looking for a fresh angle heading into the New Year, were instantly interested.

Literally within days, I secured the first in a string of  interviews from reporters who wanted to talk to Lloyd by phone or in person at the events. Within a six-week period, Lloyd was featured on WLS Talk Radio, Chicago Tribune (print story and video online), the DeKalb Daily Chronicle, Living Lake Country publications serving Southern Wisconsin and  the Oak Leaves of the Pioneer Press. Other media are also interested in TV interviews or in having Lloyd write an article about how he helps steer kids away from violence.

Lloyd is one of the best clients I’ve ever had. Besides inspiring kids, he inspires me — A LOT!  He is always positive and funny. And he listens to my advice, always seeking constructive criticism. I’m so glad I went with my gut, and told myself Yes You Can to Lloyd. I’m also glad I had the honesty to admit a mistake and to follow my instincts.

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