We all have disabilities. Disability is not the problem, it’s the people’s attitude towards it. Be inspired by Michael Hingson’s story of optimism and survival and his advocacy for inclusivity and accessibility. Michael is a #1 New York Times Best-selling author and inspirational speaker who has been blind since birth and survived the 9/11 tragedy with the help of his guide dog, a story that America fell in love with.
● Blind kids need to learn to read Braille and the educational system should support that
● Despite blindness, Michael was able to explore the things that he can do
● The more we shelter kids and don't allow them to explore and discover, the harder the life will be
● He graduated with a master's degree and was hired by the National Federation of the Blind
● Most technology is developed based on the premise that you can see it
● We get more information from sound than we ever do from what we see
● There is no excuse for not allowing access today in every app that is developed
● Make your website accessible because it's the right thing to do
About Michael Hingson:
On September 11, 2001, a blind man escaped the World Trade Center by walking down 78 flights of stairs with his guide dog. Days later, America fell in love with Mike and Roselle and the special bond that helped them both survive one of the country’s darkest days.
Immediately after the 9-11 tragedy, Michael was featured on the Larry King show five times. To quote Larry King…
“Michael Hingson is an international hero honored and awarded by top organizations worldwide.” This media exposure changed the course of Michael’s life and launched him into a speaking career that has spanned over nineteen years. He now travels the world as a keynote and inspirational speaker that can motivate audiences to action.
About the Host:
Michelle Abraham - Podcast Producer, Host and International Speaker.
Michelle was speaking on stages about podcasting before most people knew what they were, she started a Vancouver based Podcasting Group in 2012 and has learned the ins and outs of the industry. Michelle helped create and launched over 30 Podcasts in 2018 and has gone on to launch over 200 shows in the last few years, She wants to launch YOURS in 2021!
14 years as an Entrepreneur and 8 years as a Mom has led her to a lifestyle shift, spending more time with family while running location independent online digital marketing business for the last 9 years. Michelle and her family have been living completely off the grid lakeside boat access for the last 4 years!
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This is amplify you the podcast about you discovering your message and broadcasting it to the world. If you're a coach, author or speaker, you'll want to tune in. If you're looking for the best return on your time investment. To get your message out to the world in a bigger weight, we're giving you full access behind the scenes look of how we're running our podcasts, how our clients have found success, and what you can do to launch your podcast today. The world needs your message. I'm Michelle Abraham the house. Join my family as we unleash your unique genius and find the connections you need to launch your venture today. Join us and let's get amplified. Hello and welcome everyone. Today I am joined by a New York Times bestselling author and international speaker Michael Hanson. Hi, Michael, how are you doing today?Michael Hingson:
I'm doing well. Thank you. Glad to be here.Michelle Abraham:
Awesome. Well, I am thrilled that you're here to Michael and I want to tell our audience a little bit more about you. So Michael is the New York Times bestselling author and international lecturer. Michael's also been blind since birth and survived the 911 tax with the help of his guide dog goes out. So the story and this story is the subject of his best selling book Thunder dog. So Michaels been giving the lectures and presentations all around the world speaking to influence so influential groups, and you're an ambassador for the National Braille literacy campaign and the federal, a National Federation of the Blind, and also an ambassador of the American Humane Association. 2012 hero dog awards. Michael, you've done so many presentations, countless TV and Radio appearances. And you've just got this message that you're carrying on. I think this is such a great platform for you to have now podcasts to then explore all these topics. You're really interested in talking about accessibility and inclusion. And I think this is just a great, a great way to get to know you a little bit better, Michael. So thanks for joining us today.Michael Hingson:
Glad to be here. Looking forward to it.Michelle Abraham:
So Michael, tell us a little bit about your childhood. So you were Where were you born and raised.Michael Hingson:
I was born in Chicago on the south side, no less. And we was I grew up there until I was five. My parents didn't know at first I was blind. It was actually about four months after I was born that my end said to my mom, you know, he doesn't react to sunlight. I wonder if he's blind or something like that. And they took me to the hospital. And sure enough, I am I was I was blind because I was born two months premature and I was put in a pure oxygen environment that can cause retinas to malformed. It's a condition in those days that was called retro ventral fibrodysplasia. If people want to learn how to spell that they can get the underdog. But later it became known, they changed the name to retinopathy of prematurity, which is maybe a little easier to spell. But the bottom line is it's the same thing. So the render didn't form properly. And so essentially from basic about birth I was was blind. The doctors told my parents sent him to a home, he will never be able to amount to anything blind, blind people can't grow up and do anything. And he will just take all the love that you have, and that won't be good for your older son. When my parents said No, you're wrong. He can grow up to do whatever he wants. We're going to take him home so they bucked if you will the learned medical profession of Chicago and they took me home. I grew up in Chicago for five years and did all the things that my brother and my cousins who lived next door to us and near us did and so then we moved to California. My last year in Chicago, I went to kindergarten because kindergarten for kids in Chicago starts at age four. And my parents had worked with other families of blind kids. There were a lot of preemies. It was the baby boomer era. So there were a lot of preemies who lost their eyesight. Excuse me. And so there was a special kindergarten class for blind kids. So in that class, I actually learned Braille for the first time and I learned some other skills. But then we moved to California and all that went away because we moved to an area that was very rural, but 65 miles from Los Angeles, but it might as well have been on the moon for in terms of the kinds of services and so on that were available, there was nothing for playing kits there. And also, kindergarten in California starts when you're five so I had to go through another year of kindergarten and did because pretty boring for me, and then I went into first, second and third grade and regular public schools, didn't get to read books because they weren't available to me in Braille. No one knew how to get them. And so my parents read me books and my father taught me math. I was doing algebra in my head. By the time I was Sex, and learning to do all the things mentally that other people had the opportunity to do learning by reading and so on. But I went to school prepared for lessons because my mother and father read them to me the night before. So then, between third and fourth grade, the school district hired a teacher who was knowledgeable about blindness and blind people in blind kids who had been trained in that profession. And there were now several blind children in the area. So I finally in fourth grade got to learn to read Braille again. And I need to explain, growing up, having learned Braille a second time, but having learned Braille, Braille is the means of reading and writing that blind people have. And anyone who is blind, even if you go blind later in life, should learn the basic rudiments of Braille. And kids who are blind or even low vision should learn Braille. Because if you are a child who has low vision, so you can still see, the odds are you won't ever be able to read as fast or as well, with your eyesight, as you will, if you learn Braille, simply because the strain, the physiological constraints and so on, will not allow you to do with your eyes, what you could do with your fingers and learning Braille. The educational system has not gone that way. And they keep saying, well, blind kids can use recordings and other things. Now they don't need to learn to read Braille. And my response to that is, if that's the case, then why do sighted kids need to learn to reprint they can watch cartoons and pictures on television, right? But sighted kids learn to reprint blind kids need to learn to read Braille, and the educational system should support that. And even today, it is so greatly resisted by the educational system, which is so unfortunate, but I grew up learning Braille. And being in public school.Michael Hingson:
I wanted to go to college and get a degree in physics. And I did, I went to the University of California, Irvine. But through most of growing up all the way through high school, there were some programs and books became available, and so things got to be a little better. But still looking back on it, I was tolerated more than probably as embraced as other students. And it wasn't something that was ever hostile. There were a couple of times it were it was I talked Well, sometimes, there were a couple of times that were, excuse me, a little bit hostile. But mostly, it was okay, the hostility. When I started high school, I got my first guide dog and the school superintendent of our high school district decided to enforce a rule of the school that said no live animals were allowed on school buses. That was diametrically opposed to a state law that said that I could take my guide dog on a school bus. And it took, eventually getting the governor of the state of California involved, to shoot down the superintendent on that. It was a great lesson for me, but my father fought that fight, and we succeeded. So it was a lesson to me that I was going to be treated differently. But the reality is blindness wasn't the problem. It was the attitudes of people. And I have always felt that way.Michelle Abraham:
Just suddenly you were born into like an amazing family, an amazing parents that were really, really great supporters and advocates for you. Growing up, do you feel like kids today now who are blind have more opportunities than you would have had when you were growing up?Michael Hingson:
I think the opportunities are there. But I'm not sure that parents and kids take or have the opportunity always to take them there. One of the things that my parents did, I guess you could say they were risk takers, they let me ride a bike, they let me go out in the neighborhood. I walk to school every day, sometimes with my brother, sometimes I walked alone, I did the same things that other kids did. If there was something that I couldn't do, we figured out a way around it. But the reality is, of course, there are things that I could do that other people couldn't do. And we always figure out ways around it. So my parents were very open to allowing me to grow. And I think that today the attitudes toward blindness have not x have not expanded nor changed nearly as much as they should. I know many kids who still live in very sheltered homes, who don't really learn to investigate. They don't get the opportunity to explore and as a result, they're really taught that blindness limits them. You blindness doesn't limit them. It's what people do with blindness that limits people.Michelle Abraham:
Right? I can imagine, right house house, I'm learning how to ride a bike health a little bit about that experience. So that was a little bit scary for your parents let you doMichael Hingson:
it. Well, if it was, I didn't show it. The first time I wrote a bike was actually there was a girl who moved into our neighborhood who wrote a bike and we made friends. And she let me kind of ride hers a little bit, and I got used to doing it. And then my parents got me my own bike when I was I think, like seven, we were in a very quiet town. So I could ride my bike around the neighborhood and did and learn to listen learn to hear cars in front of me that were parked on the side of the streets. And I could tell when I was passing that driveway, because the sound was different, I learned to use all the cues around me just like you or any sighted person would do. So it wasn't magical. Once I learned to stay balanced on the bike, which is what everyone has to do. So it really wasn't any different, it's just learning to use different cues.Michelle Abraham:
That's great, I love that I love that you're able to explore, and your parents were so open to letting you you know, not limit you from things that you can do and keeping you sheltered it sounds like they're, you know, that's made your childhood, you know, more of a of a childhood that was like a full of exploration like any other kids childhood, which is awesome.Michael Hingson:
Well, kids need to explore. And the more we shelter kids and don't allow them to explore and discover, the harder it is, I think in life, we we have to do that. And I think that nowadays, it's a lot tougher to let kids explore, because there's so many horrible things going on in the world. But even so, parents need to find ways to let kids explore, they may need to supervise it more, and keep an eye on their kids. But by the same token, they still need to let kids explore. And also put rules on kids. There is a there's a value in rules. And there's a value in saying this is what you can do. And this is what we're not going to allow you to do. It's not a mystery question of can and can't it's a question of what we're going to allow as parents because we are the ones that look out for you. But it's also what we're not going to allow you to do for one reason or another. And parents have to be sensible about that. But they've got to let kids explore and discover.Michelle Abraham:
Yeah, for sure. So now moving into when you're in college, how is that studying in college? What were what were some things that you were able to do that were that got you through college and picking and what made you pick the it was a chemistry that you picked up as a physics as a as a Yeah,Michael Hingson:
I've always been interested in physics and science and so on. My father during World War Two was in communications. And he, when we moved to California was hired to be in the calibration and maintenance is really the wrong word. But the calibration and the development of test equipment used in in Air Force projects, for example, he worked with Neil Armstrong when Neil Armstrong was at Edwards Air Force Base, he worked with people as they were developing some of the early rocket planes and so on. And he was responsible for the a lot of the test equipment and the equipment used on the flights and equipment used to monitor the flight. So I always had an interest in kind of science and so on. Because of what I knew his interest was, I got my first radio kit to put radios together. When I was eight or nine, I think it was it was made by a company called remko. And then I got another radio kit later on to build a radio transmitter and some other things. And then my father and I both got our amateur radio licenses. When I was 14. He could have gotten his at any time. But he waited until I studied and was old enough and got one. And soMichelle Abraham:
really, that's early stage podcasting. Right, really was.Michael Hingson:
Well, so he and I got our licenses. And we actually have a lot of fun. We each had our own radio transmitters, and we set them up with antennas at opposite ends of the house. And we carried on conversations on some of the radio bands. Because if we were like miles and miles away, and of course everyone knew who we were, and they're all sitting there going, what are you guys talking about? You know, I talk about the fact that it's raining outside and he said it wasn't and so on. We drove people crazy. But we were we were members of the local ham radio club. Yeah, I still have my license to this day.Michelle Abraham:
Oh my gosh, that's so much fun. So fast forward in college, you graduate with a degree in physics, and then what was what was the next adventure for you?Michael Hingson:
Well for me in college, one of the things Allen says was that there weren't books readily available, and so they had to be transcribed. And they're literally in those days there were people who had Braille writing machines who would transcribe by hand books. They knew mathematics. Braille mathematics was called the Nemeth Code developed by a guy named Abraham nimeth, who was a blind mathematician. So they would transcribe the books. And so our challenge was that sometimes professors didn't want to give us information about books six months or more in advance, because we haven't decided we got to wait till the last minute, see what the latest thing is. And it took a lot of work to convince some professors that there was value in making those decisions earlier. But we we mostly succeeded, there were a couple of courses that I took that I didn't have the books in time. So I worked with, with people to make sure that I got the information that I needed. My freshman, sophomore thermodynamics course, was was a one that I remember, well, where we didn't have the right book in time. So that was a challenge, but we got through it. But I went through college, did a lot of the same things that everyone else did went to class every day, got up early, went to the comments, the cafeteria eat now that I worked at the campus radio station, got my third class radio license so that I could be on the air and so on and later became program director of the station and, again, participated as much as possible in campus activities, like anyone else would do. lived in the dorms, and then an on campus apartment. And yes, they graduate, stayed at UC Irvine to get my master's degree, as well as my secondary teaching credential, which was a lot of fun.Michelle Abraham:
Did you have a guide dog with you, and you're in university.Michael Hingson:
I did. Started with my first guide dog Squire who got when I who I got when I was 14, Squire and I worked together until night from 1964 to 1973. And then I got my second guide dog Holland. So Holland, went through physics with me. He and I graduated with a master's degree. And then I was hired by the National Federation of the Blind. Because of my physics background, I was hired and asked to help with a project that they were developing with a guy named Raymond Kurzweil, Dr. Kurzweil, had developed technology that could develop an image of a printed page, and recognize the characters on the page, so that they could be put in computer readable form. So today, of course, we scan all sorts of things just by taking a picture with an iPhone back in those days, it was a whole lot different. But still, the images could be created. And his software didn't care what the type style was. Or if there were a bunch of type styles or printed styles on the page, it would still recognize the characters. He was looking for funding to help perfect the machine. And people have no interest in what he was doing. They said it couldn't be done. And he said, Yes, it can. And he finally got to somebody in the National Federation of the Blind, who was convinced at least to come and look at it. And he convinced Dr. Jernigan, Dr. Ken Jernigan, the president of the Federation, to let him go up to res lab, this guy was a guy named Jim Gasol. So Jim went up to the lab in Cambridge. And Jim told Chris Well, I don't care what you have that the machine is going to read. I'm not going to be interested unless I can bring all my stuff up whatever I want. And I'm not going to tell you in advance what it is. And if your machine reads it, then we're really interested in Ray didn't put it quite this way, but raise it bring it on. Well, Jim Gasol did, the machine did. And a project was formed where the Federation and Kurzweil works together raised foundation funding to buy five prototype machines at $50,000 each, as well asMichael Hingson:
hiring staff, which was primarily me to literally travel the country for 18 months living out of hotels, setting these 400 pound machines up in places where blind people could use them. And developing programs that all these places to allow people to use the machine, interact with it, read with the machines, and give feedback that we could use to create a final set of recommendations for what needed to go into a full production generation of the machine. So literally in late October of 1976. I put all of my furniture and things in storage, and left California with a couple of suitcases toolbox, because I wouldn't have to repair machines from time and a guy dog Holland, and we flew to Boston where I'd never been before. We set up in an apartment they arranged all day, long term rest Potential place for me to stay. So I immediately got to learn to get around Boston, and then traveled into Cambridge, where Ray Kurzweil his lab was work there for a while learning all the things that I needed to learn about the machine. And then we started putting them around the country in about March or April of 1977. And as I said, literally traveling around the country, to to be where the machines were interact with the people using them and, and all the other things that went into the to the project. And then in June of 1978, the project ended, as we created the recommendations for the final version of the report, saying what needed to be in the machine. And then I was hired by Ray to do the same thing internally. So again, I never thought I would be doing something like that. I had really thought I'd go into teaching, but I got to use some teaching skills because we wrote a training manual for the machine early on. So I went to work for Ray. And in May of 1979, I believe it was I was called into the office of the vice president of marketing and said, You said we're laying you off. And I said what? He said, Yeah, we're laying you off. I just moved to Boston. And I knew from being involved in the National Federation of the Blind, I'd been in that organization since 1972. It's the largest organization of blind people in the country. I knew the unemployment rate among employable blind people was 70%. And it's not much lower than that today. And it's not because blind people can't perk is because people think we can't roadblocks again, right? Anyway, I didn't want to leave the company. But he said, we're laying you off. And the reason we're laying you off is not that you're doing a bad job. But like a lot of startups, we've hired too many people who are not revenue producers, and we need to get more sales people in so we're gonna have to lay you off. And then there was this pause, and he said, Unless you want to go into sales. Now I'm a science guy, right? I'm a teacher, I'm not a sales guy. So he said, you know, where you got to decide what you want to do? Well, I took maybe a micro nanosecond and I said, Sure, I'll go into sales. I don't even want to change companies. I didn't want to go off and start trying to find another job after moving all of my stuff to Boston. So I took a Dale Carnegie sales course and went into sales. But I also had the advantage of being very technical and had the discipline of being technical, which helped, as I discovered in learning to sell the product. And not only that I wasn't selling the reading machine for blind people, I was asked to sell a commercial version of that machine that would convert not to voice for blind people to breed to read but would actually convert just to ASCII computer digital form, so that banks could digitize their paper, publishers could digitize and republish old books, lawyers could publish documents to put in a database for research. It was the first time optical character recognition was really used to help in large scale ways, take material and put it into computer readable form. Because again, curse Wiles products didn't care about typestyles. And so my sales territory became New England and Canada. So now I'm flying to a foreign country where I'd never been before as well.Michael Hingson:
And again, I was fortunate because it all started with the National Federation, the blind where I had a job. But clearly, I had to have been able to perform the work to be considered as we moved on. And I thought, as I thought about it later, Ray and the staff at Kurzweil must have had a lot of confidence in me to say, we're going to take you from what you were doing and let you sell our most advanced flagship product for companies in New England and Canada. Then I became a sales manager for the company and also helped in some other product developments that expanded as Xerox took an interest in Kurzweil and decided to buy the company. So I worked with Xerox people. And when in 1981, the end of 1981 was asked to move back to California, as Xerox was slowly assimilating the company. And I was asked to work with the West Coast technical people and sales people to integrate Kurzweil into Xerox. So we moved back to California. I met a woman named Karen Ashurst in January of 1982. And we got married in November of 1982.Michelle Abraham:
Now assess,Michael Hingson:
yeah, really well. Well, by that time, we both knew what we wanted. We were old enough to know what we were looking at. Yeah, we got along well. Well, that's okay. And 39 years later this November 27, we're still married. Congratulations. That's amazing. And so, again, I know that in some senses My story is, I don't know, though I would say unique, but it's, it shows fortunate circumstances because I was offered a position. And then I continued to move on from that. But it's a combination of educating people having the confidence to do it. And, and then making some good choices. And I believe that life is always about choices. And we have options is whenever we are confronted with a fork in the road, you know, and somebody once said, you know, with the fork in the road, you can go to the left, or the right. Take your pick.Michelle Abraham:
Yeah. And it sounds like you really had the confidence to explore new territories and do new things, which has been really great. Now, my question. Yeah, from your parents, which was amazing. You obviously, that's come right from your childhood. And when you were traveling across the country and into Canada. Now, is the accessibility vary? does it vary from, you know, state to state to country to country? Or do you find it was pretty, pretty similar to travel around both of those, both of those countries and throughout the States?Michael Hingson:
Yeah, it has been pretty similar in Canada and the United States. Over time, I think the laws haven't progressed in a uniform way. In Canada, for example, there isn't as much of a broad americans with disabilities act like legislation, as there is in the US. It's more province by province. But in the US, the Americans with Disabilities Act has limitations. For example, there are battles on a regular basis over websites. The Americans with Disabilities Act says that businesses need to provide so long as it doesn't disrupt the business operation, they need to provide reasonable accommodations to provide access for persons with disabilities, access to the facilities, I should put it a different way to the businesses. It doesn't specify brick and mortar, it just says that the businesses need to be accessible. Universities need to make materials and and what they do accessible. The problem with websites is some organizations have taken the position well, but the ADA was passed before the internet. So it clearly can't cover the internet. The ADA doesn't say brick and mortar. And so in court cases, some have said when judges rule, well, the ADA doesn't say it doesn't apply to the internet, the adea doesn't say it only applies to brick and mortar. So of course, it applies to the internet. And a number of companies have had to comply, some companies have fought and judges have said, well, the internet really wasn't around that. So clearly, the ADA can apply. So it's still a mixed bag, there's a gray area. But the reality is the majority, I think of the judicial system, the majority of people, and in most cases, the majority of what people ought to be doing is to make the internet as accessible. But it but it isn't that way all over now there is, for example, a new piece of legislation going into effect has gone into effect in Ontario, but it doesn't go across Canada, and then the Ontario legislation demands accessibility, but again, it's province by province. But in the United States, it still is much too much left up to the courts. And it shouldn't be what it really says is that people with disabilities still are not as included as other minority groups, even though over 20% of people in the United States and in Canada have a disability were not included, like others.Michelle Abraham:
Wow, that's a huge percentage. Yeah. Interesting. It's interesting, how it's varies from different different places. If you envision there being like one sort of one band of legislation across like North America at some point in your lifetime, that to have it all, in one, you know, covered underneath, like kind of the same legislation. So it's the same from state to state?Michael Hingson:
Well, I think over time, some things will happen. There was an attempt several years ago to create a treaty and essentially legislation that would more dictate treatment of persons with disabilities. But even people in our country oppose it saying, no other country is going to tell us what to do. Even though the treaty was based on the ADA. The American With Disabilities Act, it's still got a long way to go in terms of getting to the point where we truly believe that persons with disabilities should be included. what's ironic about that is that and I said it before we all have disabilities. And to say that my so called disability is that I am blind is, is really creating the limitation based on somebody's opinion, the fact is, your disability is that you need to have the lights on, or you need to have access to sunlight, because you don't know how to function and can't function well, in the dark. And most technology is developed based on the premise that you can see it. Most television is based on the premise that you can see it, and I appreciate that. But if it doesn't take into account, providing the appropriate audio information, you lose out as much as I do, what happens at any commercial, what do people do, they get up and they go get a beer or whatever. And in the background, you hear music, and there's a lot of stuff showing up on the on your TV screen. But nobody says what it is. And it's getting worse, where we see more and more TV commercials, where there is no talking or no descriptive talking that tells me what the commercials even about. That's not just true for me, that's true for anyone. Or today, we talk about the fact that people shouldn't text and drive. But society isn't taking advantage of the fact that companies like Apple have built in voice technology in their phones that can read information that comes across the screen. And apple and other companies have not taken to the extent that they should that voice technology to make it truly possible for you to deal with texts without looking at the screen. Right? And if you really want to pick on somebody, let's pick on Eon Elan Musk, right, he's got this wonderful Tesla, but it's all controlled with a touchscreen. So you got to look at the screen. Rather than keeping your eye on the road. Of course, the premise there is you don't need to keep your eye on the road eventually, because the car will drive itself, although it's not there yet. But they still should not rely on a visual screen. We get more information from sound than we ever do from what we see. And I can make that case all day long.Michelle Abraham:
Yeah, and this is 70% of the population is more auditory learners anyways. Exactly. Yeah. Then visual which, by wire podcasting industry is booming like crazy, right? Like I want to talk about a pivotal moment in your life was something that happened on 911. So what are you doing in the World Trade Center on 911.Michael Hingson:
So still doing the job migration and upgrade path. After Kurzweil was purchased totally by Xerox, we all although pre Xerox takeover, salespeople were invited to leave with thanks for being with us up, your services are no longer needed. Too many companies do that. And I went through a series of jobs. The first one in fact was I started my own company because I couldn't get a job because people didn't care what my resume showed, you're blind you could not possibly do what we need you to do. I even had job interviews canceled in advance when someone discovered that I was blind, couldn't say it up front. But we went through all that. And eventually I went to work for a company in California that in 1996 asked me to move to the east coast to open an office for them because we did a lot of selling on Wall Street. So I moved to New Jersey. And we started an office actually in number two world trade. But I was only there a year. And then I was recruited away by another company. And then in 1999 Quantum Corporation, which was and is a fortune 500 company hired me and quantum made the products that people used to back up all of their computer data. So in Wall Street, for example, whenever you conduct any activity, any transaction, any sales, or whatever you did, you have to keep a record of that for seven years as required by the Securities and Exchange Commission. So quantum may take backup systems that could be attached to computer networks. And then people could use software to backup all of their data. So quantum did that primarily through resellers, people who bought our products and resold them. But Wall Street wanted a real live office for quantum in the city. They did business with companies that had offices in the city, it didn't mean that they wouldn't buy from resellers, but they wanted to present It's nearby. So we opened an office in October, excuse me in August of 2000. In tower, one of the World Trade Center that we took a year from the time I was hired by quantum, we had an office in New Jersey, but wanted to move it to New York. And we finally found a good price and negotiated a great price in the World Trade Center, and open the office in August of 2000. So our office was on the 78th floor of tower one, I was responsible completely for running that office for hiring sales people getting support people and others involved. And we did all that. So on September 11, we were going to be doing a sales seminar, actually a series of seminars, teaching some of our reseller partners how to sell our products. And so I was in the office pretty early, I was in about 20 287 40. And a colleague from our corporate office, David Frank was back for the day because he was responsible for the pricing models that we use with resellers and distributors, and so on. And so he was going to be there to help deal with pricing and so on. And my job was to run the seminars and to do the actual selling presentations because I would be the the liaison with all of our resellers and, and the distributor that all these resellers actually purchased from them like you got to do.Michael Hingson:
You get to do some teaching. That was that was the plan. Yeah. And so that was what we were going to be doing that day. And the seminars were supposed to start about nine in the morning. So I got to the office, and David and some of our early guests arrived about eight we had arranged for breakfast. So people were eating breakfast, and David and I had a few final preparations before the seminar were to start at 845. We were in my office, when the first plane crashed into tower one. It hit 18 floors above us on the other side of the building. So none of us knew what happened. Of course, reporters always said and still say sometimes Well, of course you didn't know what happened because you couldn't see it. And I've gotten to the point of being very intolerant of that question because nobody could see it. The last time I checked, Superman and X ray vision were fictitious, fictitious, they weren't real. And when I'm on the south side of a building, and the airplane hits on the north side, 18 floors above us, how are any of us going to know what happened? We didn't know. And going all the way down the stairs, we didn't know. But I had done something that I didn't actually think about in as much detail as I should have until last year, which is I had spent a lot of time prior to September 11. Learning about the complex learning where things were literally learning how to get anywhere in the building. I also spent time learning about what to do in the case of emergencies. And spent hours talking to the the fire protection people the Port Authority security people learning everything that I could, because I knew that one, I might be the only person in my office if we happen to have an emergency because I didn't want the salespeople in there more than they needed to be. They needed to be out selling. Yeah, we had meetings and so on. But they were out more than they were in. And sometimes I was out with them. But a lot of times I might be in the office alone. And so I wanted to know all I could because I'm not going to read signs that tell me what to do when an emergency and shouldn't. But what happened because of all of that was I developed a mindset that basically said, you know what to do in an emergency, you don't need to worry about it. Unless it just falls on you. And there's nothing you can do anyway. But that mindset kicked in when the plane hit the building. And I was able to keep people focused and as I've learned to call it, I was not blinded by fear. And by that I mean I was not paralyzed, I was not consumed by fear so that I couldn't figure out what to do. I used the fear and concern that I had in a controlled way to heighten my senses of observation and my thought process processes to be able to deal with whatever was going on. And the result of that was that I realized pretty quickly that whatever was going on wasn't near enough to us that we couldn't try to evacuate in an orderly way. And we did we went to the we got our guests to the stairs and then David who got them to the stairs and started them down then came back and we then went to the stairs and started down why the stairs because in an emergency especially if there's fire you don't take the elevators because the fire could get into the elevator shafts. It did But I knew not to take the elevators because of the preparations that I had made and the knowledge that I had. So I got David to take people to the stairs. Then he came back, we went to the stairs and started down. And almost immediately I began spelling an odor. And I realized after about four floors was a familiar odor. And what it was was the fumes from burning jet fuel. So that's the first time I knew that there were airplanes involved. And I observed it to other people. And they said, yeah, we must have been hit by an airplane because you're right. That's what we're smelling as jet fuel. Wow. Yeah. But that's all we knew going down the stairs. So, but we did make it down. I was due to preparation and a mindset. And last year in the pandemic, I realized, I've talked about that. So after September 11, I traveled around the country, people would start calling me and saying, Would you come and tell us your story and speak to us about the lessons we should learn. And that happened because on the 12th of September, I called Guide Dogs for the Blind and they wrote a story and Larry King got ahold of it. And I was invited to be on Larry King Live on the 14th of September for the first of five interviews on Larry ShinMichelle Abraham:
on liking a lot having five times Yeah, pleasing. Now, over the course of the last like 10 years, or