Inspirational Speaker, Professional Basketball Player
Briefly describe your daily job duties.
Since 2007, I’ve been playing professional basketball in the US and Internationally. I’m now turning more of my attention to being an inspirational speaker who empowers individuals, especially those who stutter or have a disability. I believe it’s my duty to remind people that our attitude will predict our now and later. I represent an idea! An idea that if we truly believe in something, we can change or create the life we want. I believe we are all mental giants. I also believe we sometimes forget how mentally strong we are. That’s why I’m here!
As a person who stutters, share the most challenging part of your job.
The most challenging part is that this stuttering bully always tries to creep back into my life. But I’m a mental giant and I will not allow that to happen. Another challenging part is talking to people that have known me for years and they expect me to stutter. Some ask, how did I overcome my speech difference and I simply tell them, “will power!” It’s a challenge to encourage people to believe every day that anything is possible for them. I’m up for the challenge to help people believe. I am living proof!
Did you self-disclose your stuttering? If so, how did you do it?
The last time I self-disclosed my stutter was in college. My speech therapist gave me an assignment to call random people and say, “Hi my name is Demetris Nichols, I have a stutter but I’m working on it.” I think it works because it removes the elephant in the room. I also would tell my coaches and sometime teachers in school that I stutter so they would be sensitive to it. I currently don’t have to disclose my stuttering. With hard work, training and will. I’m able to speak confidently in front of a large audience.
Describe how stuttering makes you a better, more valued contributor at work.
Well I have a story tell. I know all about the struggles and challenges stutterers face every day. I was that kid who raised his hand to go to the bathroom just before the teacher would call on me to read out loud. I never wanted this stuttering bully to come out in class. Sports became my way to communicate because I was afraid to speak in other environments. People who stutter are a part of the 1%. I know what it’s like to be an outsider looking in. I have a valued perspective because I lived with a stutter for more than half of my live. But I also know what it takes to get over the stuttering mountain.
What is your proudest moment at your current company?
My proudest moments are being able to confidently speak to small groups and very large groups. For years this stuttering bully has followed me, but I made a decision to stand up to the bully. I love when people come up to me and say, “Thank you for your inspiration.” Just a few years ago, I was afraid. I had a dream to speak and now my dream has become my purpose. I believe part of my purpose is to change minds and improve lives!
What are your long-term career aspirations?
My aspiration is to make a difference in the world. To help bring awareness to stuttering and individuals who have disabilities. My aspiration is to change lives and give people hope though my story. I have overcome, overachieved and have turned my weakness into a strength. My hope is to help people do the same.
What’s your best advice for people who stutter just entering the workplace and for those in a career striving to achieve greater success?
Look in the mirror and believe you can do anything you put your mind to. Mental giants keep trying!