There are certain occupations that, when they come up in conversation, have an E.F. Hutton effect — people stop.
NFL running back ... actor ... rocket scientist ...
Brian Blasko of Boardman has one of those occupations.
For 15 years, the graduate of Cardinal Mooney High School, Youngstown State and University of Akron has traveled to 49 states, most of Canada and enough countries to be his own United Nations.
Blasko is a motivational speaker.
“I prefer ‘professional speaker,’” he said with a laugh, “and I hope people leave with some motivational points that can help them in some way.”
In a positive way, Blasko is “that guy.”
The one at the party who always has a funny line to complement someone else’s line ...
The one the 10-year-olds hang out with because he can have fun like a 10-year-old ...
The one who can offer a pre-meal prayer that touches on all the right things ...
He was all set to teach college after getting his master’s degree from Akron. Then a professor sat him down. Such a sit-down could mean the worst for an aspiring teacher. It was the launch for Blasko.
“He said, ‘Get out of here.’ He knew there was more for me to do. And here I am.”
Next week, “here” will include his hometown as Blasko, for the first time in his career, brings his “Cruisin’ Through Life at 35 MPH” performance to the DeYor Performing Arts Center.
He will host a night of leadership and personal development starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20, and you can order them by going online to youngs-townsymphony.com.
“I’ve always wanted to do something at home. This was the right time,” Blasko said.
In the unique career of motivational — er — professional speaking, some speakers have landed a plane on the Hudson River or made millions of dollars creating the plastic thing that props up the inside of pizza boxes.
“And many are like me — a simple message to deliver and an energetic way of engaging a crowd,” Blasko said.
It’s not something you become, he thinks. You just are or are not.
His wife, Laura, noticed it way back in the third grade at St. Luke Elementary School.
“He was in eighth grade, and I was in third grade, and I would call myself ‘Mrs. Blasko’ even then. He was my mom’s favorite student — always that guy who fits in everywhere.”
While fitting in was the norm, establishing the career took some work.
He was doing workplace presentations but knew that he didn’t want to present someone else’s words. He wanted to present his.
“I asked a business owner in Salem — give me 10 of your managers for a day. I’ll do it for free,” Blasko said.
Those managers raved. It led to a full-company event. And that was the launch of “Brian Blasko — Speaker, Author, Fun Guy.”
His core message is found in his book, “Cruisin’ Through Life at 35 MPH.” You can read about the book and the message on his website, brianblasko.com. It seems our entire world is on YouTube somewhere, and so is Blasko.
He’s on the road about 50 times per year speaking to business groups and associations. He’s been successful at it mostly, but like everyone else, he had to weather a tough economy after 2008.
“I’m the first cost cut from budgets when times are bad. I have to convince them I’m the guy they should be adding when times are bad,” Blasko said.
He just kept cruising though life. Being “that guy” (in a good way) is just who he is — all the time. His wife said it even comes at their son’s soccer games.
“Our son’s team lost pretty badly last week. Brian was in the huddle doing his thing, and the look on Ben’s face was like, ‘Come on, we lost ...’”
I first met Brian after a golf outing, and when everyone else was complaining about their shots, or their lost bets, or the other guy’s handicap, Brian was just smiling and laughing — as he was paying up.
Laura said being around “Mr. Positive” all the time is great. But occasionally ...
“Let me wallow sometimes ...” she said, laughing. “But he’ll not let me be there long. If there is a lemon, he will have an action plan to make 1,000 glasses of lemonade.”
And on Sept. 26, he’ll be serving it up finally in his hometown.
Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes emails about stories and our newspaper. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs, too, on vindy.com. Tweet him, too, at @tfranko.