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Scott McKain

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You Never Know What Might Happen…

Thirty-three years ago, I was invited to go to Hershey, Pennsylvania and give a speech

Thirty-three years ago, I was invited to go to Hershey, Pennsylvania and give a speech. I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined what would happen as a result…

At the time, I was working all summer for the National FFA Organization at their summer leadership programs, teaching and directing a conference where over 100 high school students from across the country would take part each week in personal development activities and visit Washington, DC.

This opportunity to address the awards banquet at the World Livestock Auctioneer Championship would be a chance to get away for a weekend, as well as earn some much-needed funds, so I accepted.

When I arrived in Hershey, I learned from the meeting coordinator that a film crew from Germany was making a documentary about the event, and he introduced me to the director or the project. It was one of those instances where there was immediate chemistry. The director’s charisma and enthusiasm were contagious.

After my speech, the director asked me to answer a few questions and be involved in a couple of the shots. Afterwards, we talked at length about filmmaking — which had always interested me — and exchanged numbers. I went back to the FFA programs, then returned for another year at Franklin College, and frankly didn’t think much more about him…until he called me in my dorm on campus.

His name was — and is — Werner Herzog. And, he was asking me to come up to Wisconsin and act in his movie, “Stroszek.” I was to play a young banker who is attempting to collect late payments from German immigrants who have borrowed money to finance their new mobile home.

We had a great time on the set, even spending Thanksgiving together there during the shoot. It was a very strange band of characters — however, they made me feel a part of their team from the beginning. In fact, Herzog and I would get in an old van early each morning and just drive in the countryside, scouting for locations to shoot scenes for the next day.

When I flew home — having been paid my small acting fee in cash — I had no idea the impact of the film. It was released in the late 1970’s to great acclaim…however, the most amazing aspect is that it is still important to this day.

Roger Ebert has named it one of the “Great Movies” ever made. He featured it last year at his “Eberfest” film festival at the University of Illinois. And, through him, I had the opportunity to reconnect all these years later with Herzog, now riding a greater wave of fame because of his hits like “Grizzly Man” and “Rescue Dawn.”

I was reminded of all of this because there is even a new post on a well-respected blog, “Not Just Movies” (formerly “The Armchair Critic”) that reviews “Stroszek.”

from the review: “And if Herzog really booked non-professional actors, then Scott McKain is almost as impressive a find as Bruno (the lead actor who plays Stroszek) himself; McKain is so good, so darkly funny, as the bank official that had he not appeared in one of the strangest movies ever made with the most unpredictable director around, he’d have at least broken into some sort of cult status.”

Why do I tell you all this?

Well, first of all — I have to admit — I’m very proud and grateful that something I did many years ago still has relevance to this day. It was a wonderful adventure.

But MOST importantly, to suggest to you that you NEVER KNOW what could happen!

I look back now and wonder: What if I would have said “no” to the speech? I was busting my behind at the FFA conferences, and it would have been very easy to just take the day off.

What if I would have been unprepared, or did a lousy job on the presentation?

If either of those would have occurred, something that brings me such joy THIRTY YEARS LATER would not have happened.

When an opportunity presents itself…say YES! Then, be your BEST! You never know what might happen…….

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More Stories By Scott McKain

Scott McKain is a business leader, bestselling author, and Hall of Fame professional speaker.
Scott's latest book, "The Collapse of Distinction: Stand Out and Move Up While Your Competition Fails" reached the #1 spot on list of Customer Service Bestsellers! He is the author of two #1 additional business bestsellers ( & 800-CEO-READ): "What Customers REALLY Want" (currently available in trade paperback) and "ALL Business is Show Business."
He is the Co-founder and Principal of The Value Added Institute, a think-tank that examines the role of the customer experience in creating significant advances in the level of client loyalty, and has appeared on multiple occasions as a commentator and analyst on FOX News Channel. His platform presentations have run the gamut from the White House lawn with the President in the audience carried live on CNN and NBC's "Today" a remote outpost near the Amazon...all 50 states, seven Canadian provinces...and from Singapore to Sweden...Mexico to Morocco.
An inductee into the Professional Speakers Hall of Fame, he is also a member of "Speakers Roundtable" -- an elite, invitation-only group of twenty of the world's top business speakers.