Just Do It – Speech by Art Williams – Full Transcript

Art Williams is my hero. He said “Just Do It” before Nike had their slogan, before Michael Jordan said it on TV, and definitely before Shia LaBeouf made his little motivational video.

It was at a National Religious Broadcasters organization conference in 1987 where Art Williams was a guest speaker. He was asked to talk about How to win at business.

I’m going to post the 12 highlights of his speech, but I encourage you to watch the video and read the full transcript. It’s a very powerful speech.

Art Williams Speech: How to Win in Business:

Here are the main points of Art’s speech (I’ve also highlighted these in the full speech transcript below):

  1. Find a need
  2. Have mental toughness
  3. Get excited!
  4. Be a dreamer
  5. Feel good about yourself
  6. Stand for something
  7. Be controversial
  8. Make a total commitment
  9. Learn to treat people good
  10. Establish priorities
  11. Have a desire to win
  12. Be a leader
  13. JUST DO IT (end section of speech)

Just Do It Speech Transcript:

“I was asked to talk to you about how to win in business. I think it’s a good subject for you to think about because I believe business in America is in a crisis situation today. All you have to do is read the paper and every month see our trade deficit and it’s just a very depressing situation. 

To speak to you about how to win in business, there’s a lot of obvious things I could talk about. 

1. Find a need

You first have to find a need. You’ve got to feel a need for a consumer out there. You’ve got to have a market. You’ve got to have somebody to sell your product or your service to. If you really want to get big and win big you’ve got to have a uniqueness. There’s got to be something a little bit different from you than all the competition out there.

2. Have mental toughness

Mental toughness. But by far the most important thing you’ve got to have to win in business in these United States today is a very unique kind of mental toughness. 

I believe the difference in winning and losing in the free enterprise system is so small it’s almost too scary to talk about. You can do 99% of the things right in business and yet if you don’t possess what I call that winning edge — that mental toughness — folks it’s impossible to win.

I believe the thinking in corporate America has been screwed up over these last 20-25 years and I believe this screwed up kind of thinking started in our big liberal universities. I believe a college degree in business from most universities today it’s not worth the paper it’s written on. 

I just had a son graduate from the University of Georgia a few months ago. The reason I think that is because most of these professors in most of these universities today haven’t got enough common sense to get out of the rain. They don’t have any idea of what it takes to win in the real world. They deal in a bunch of theories.

These people are trying and trying to fill up corporate America with this kind of thinking. These are the special people if you’re born rich, if you’re born on the right side of the track, they rule you the privileged class in America. If you’re born poor from an average ordinary background like I came from they say you’re supposed to give up all your big dreams and all your big ambitions and all your big hope.

If you have a high IQ they rule you’re brilliant. If you have an average IQ — like me — they say you ought to drive a truck or be a janitor. Well, bull! 

That ain’t the way it is and that ain’t the way it ever was.

Nobody ever designed a test nor will they design a test that can measure the heart of a man or woman. The things that are unique to winning in business at America today are not artificial things like IQs, college board scores, college degrees and stuff like that.

The key to winning in these United States it’s what’s inside a person. It’s your integrity. it’s your people abilities. It’s your character.

I believe in developing this winning edge. I’ve got 10 or 12 points that I won’t be able to go over with you tonight but let me just give you a flavor of what I think you’ve got to do to succeed in these United States. 

3) Get excited!

Number one, you’ve got to get excited folks. I don’t believe anybody will ever tell you

anything more important than this and winning these United States. 90 plus percent of winning in anything you try to do in America today — you’ve got to be excited, people. America won’t follow or believe in a negative dull disillusioned frustrated dadgum crybaby people. All people that are positive and excited and enthusiastic and tough.

The greatest definition I ever heard — I thought about this 10 million

times when I wanted to quit along the way of a winner — this guy said almost everybody in America can stay excited for two or three months. A few people can stay excited for two or three years but, a winner can stay excited for thirty years. Or how long it takes to win!

4) Become a dreamer

Another key to building this winning edge in this mental toughness is you got

to become a dreamer. Like again, you know I’m a Methodist and we just changed ministers a few weeks ago and our new minister came in and the church was just packed. The first thing he said he says was it looks like everybody came out to see the monkey perform… And the second thing out of his mouth, he said for church to

be a great church you got to have a dream. If you don’t have a dream you’re dead.

And boy, I said me and this guy gonna get along good because he knows what he’s talking about. 

5) Feel good about yourself

You see folks, I believe in order to win you got to feel good about yourself. When I was coaching football for seven years back in Georgia, I had a paddle in my coaching office. It was about this thick and this long and in the fat end I had little holes board in it so you could really get some speed and blister the little butt. You know when they misbehaved, I had a rule on my football team that if any kid said “I can’t”… If any football player heard one of my football players said “I can’t” he got to bring him in the coach’s office and give him three licks. And it took me about a month to get all that thinking out of my players. Every year you know and I’d have football players knock on my door at recess and at lunch and after school and they would say, “coach he said it coach he said it” and I’d make that kid bend over and I’d give that other kid the board hit. Bust him three times and folks it didn’t take long you couldn’t create a word game to get one of my kids to say “I can’t”.

To bring it home a little bit more personal, in April a little Art where was just this little, I could understand words, every time they said “I can’t” I would make them do three push-ups.

Folks there ain’t nothing you can’t do in America if you want too bad. 

6) Stand for something

Another key in building this winning edge is folks you got to stand for something. People in America are fed up with here with these dadgum fence sitters and melee miles. Corporate America has an especially black eye in business today. Most people in America think you can’t find a company or think you can’t find a salesperson that will tell you like it is and stand behind the word they think.

These companies will sell anything or say anything just to make a sale just to

make a profit. Well you know what folks – If you want to win in the free enterprise

system in America today, you got to stand for something. 

7) Be controversial

And another point — as usual it is — yes you’re going to be controversial. Folks if you want to win in these United States today just get ready you’re going to be controversial. The only way not to be controversial is to be average and ordinary. 

They just call me anything but average and ordinary now. I know some of you might say well you know I don’t think I like art Williams. You know, he sounds like an old tough. But to me, well folks, I’m telling you — you can be good and tough at the same time. I bet nobody’s ever talked to religious broadcaster. 

8) Make a total commitment

Another key to developing this winning attitude that will give you a chance to do something great. In American business, folks, you’ve got to make a total commitment to what you’re about do. You know almost the American people have lost their toughness. They’ve lost their ability to make a commitment. You see folks, in trying to win in business you just gonna have so many false starts — you think you get it going time after time and you just get knocked back to Ground Zero — And it’s your

ability to compete to pick yourself up off the mat one more time to go for it. One more time that’s going to determine success or failure. 

You know we’ve got a divorce rate in America of some 50 percent right now. You know it just seems like the people that go in business today have an attitude like, “I’m gonna stick my toe in it, and if I start making all this money and get all these promotions then I’ll see this thing through”. Folks, that’s not the way it works.

The first step to winning in business in America today is you’ve got to make a total commitment. Total commitment gives you that little extra ounce of courage you need to fight back through the tough times. 

Winning in business may have the same kind of commitment that winning in marriage demands. You know I fell in love with my wife in the second grade — only girlfriend I ever had — we ran off and got married our freshman year. Had both of our children before we left for college . We’re true business partners in marriage. We go everywhere together. I spend more time with her — been married to her for 26 years and I’ve got two grandbabies — I love her more today than I ever have. 

But I don’t like her all the time. 🙂 There’s a bunch of times every day that I don’t like her. Here, you know I’m a nut about brushing my teeth. You know, if I’m getting the toothbrush I’ll brush my teeth three or four-five-six times a day and Angels always forget everything. You know, and she always leaves the cap off the toothpaste. You know and we’re not going to brush my teeth if the caps off. You got that hard little crust around the edge burns me more than I can tell. You know

and I get on I get on Angela’s nerves about a lot of things. You know we were having dinner last week and every time we get through, Angela kicks me under the table you know and gets me back. My room says “You ain’t got no class”. “I wish Art you could learn to eat with your mouth closed.”

But see folks if you want to win in business everything is not going to work out like you want it to. But you got to be committed. I want to have great kids. I want to have a wonderful relationship. I want to have tremendous grandbabies.

9) Learn to treat people good

Another key in building this winning edge in business is you’ve got to learn to treat people good. Another thing that these universities pollute American corporations with is this attitude. You better not get to know your employees… You better not become friends or get to get to know the spouse or the children of your employees because you might have to fire them. You might have to reassign them and if you’re close friends you can’t really you can’t manage people in a tough-minded way. Bull!

Folks, the only way to manage people and get the most out of people is treat them good. Learn to love them and care about them. Yes it hurts from time to time, but it’s the only way you know everybody you work with in business. You got to look at them and pretend there’s a flashing sign on their chest and everybody’s asking you…

  • “make me feel special”
  • “Make me feel important”
  • “say something good to me” 
  • “I want to be somebody”

10) Establish priorities

Another key of winning in business in America today is to establish the right kind of priorities. 

First company I went with 15 years ago was ITT. When I was out there struggling dying every day wanting to quit and go back to coaching, a thousand times my first heroes in this business were vice presidents at ITT. Making 40 or 50 thousand dollars a year and I said, man, if I could ever get to be that kind of person, it’d be a dream come true.

I couldn’t want any more out of life. A few years later I earned the right to get promotions to that level and found so many of my heroes in business… Their personal lives were a disaster. They were alcoholics and divorced three and four and five times. I just read an article by the author of “In Search of Excellence” and I saw where he says I can’t find evidence of any successful business person America that’s not tunnel vision — that just doesn’t give everything to business. Folks, I said back then 15 years ago that if that’s the price you’ve got to pay to win in business, it’s not worth it.

15 years later, multi-millionaire! Folks, I can stand and preach to you that you can’t separate your personal life from your business life. God’s got to come first. Your family’s got to come second. And business has got to come third.

I believe if you have a lousy spiritual life and a lousy personal life, long range it’s going to be devastating to your business. 

11) Have a desire to win

Another thing in building this winning attitude… I see tall people make it big in business,

and short people, dumb people and smart people, fat people and skinny people, but if you cut open the winners in business — I see a heart of a champion. And all these people are competitors and they don’t quit. 

I believe desire and will to win is everything. I don’t know why I’m like I am but my butt’s always burning. There’s always something say “Art dadgummit, you’re supposed to go far. And Art dadgummit you’re supposed to be somebody! You’re supposed to make a difference with your life.”

What does the $500,000 a year person do that the $50,000 a year person doesn’t do? You’re looking outside and if you study those two individuals, everything seems to be the same. They both are the same sex, they both are the same age, have the same training, the same positions, the same contract, the same fringe benefits, they both are successful, they work hard,  they’re good family people, make tough commitments…

But what’s the difference? What does the $500,000 a year person do that the $50,000 a year person doesn’t do?

  • He pays the price and a little bit more 
  • He works harder a little bit more
  • He’s loyal to the company a little bit more
  • He believes a little bit more 
  • He makes money a little bit more 
  • He saves money a little bit more

If you want to win in these United States you got to be tough and you can’t quit.

12) Be a leader

The last thing I’ll talk to you about today in building this winning edge is folks if you want

to win in business you got to be a leader.

Leadership is everything. You show me anything in these United States that win I’ll show you a leader at work. You show me a successful Church, Boy Scout Troop, club football team, or business…. I’ll show you something run by leader. 

I thought at one time in my life you had to be smart to win. I used to have these smart people that dress so pretty and talk so pretty and use these big words… They just intimidated me and I said “Art you can’t ever be that good. Why don’t you just throw in the towel and go back coaching football for living”.

And I found two things out about smart people… I think it’s almost impossible for a smart person to win in business in America today because I find smart people spend their whole lifetime figuring things out. They’re always trying to figure out an easier way, a quicker way… Another thing I found out about smart people is they just don’t get around to doing nothing.

They see somebody like Art Williams… everybody said well “he can’t do it” and “somebody like that can’t do it”.

But he does it folks!

Just Do It Speech:

I want you to know almost everybody in America almost does enough to win.

  • they almost get there
  • they’re almost over the hump 
  • they almost have it going
  • they “almost” in everything they do 

Almost is a way of life to almost everybody in America 

But the winners do it.

What do they do?

They do whatever it takes to get the job done. They do it, and do it, and do it, and do it, and do it, until the job gets done. 

And then they talk about how great it is to be somebody they’re proud of.

We need leaders in America who can do it.

  • If you want to become somebody, do it.
  • if you want to go in business for yourself, do it.
  • If you want to become financially independent, do it.

I hear too much talk in these United States. Everybody can talk a good game, but we need

people in America who can do it.

I go all over this country with A L Williams and I have people say:

  • “Art, you count on me”. Wonderful. Just do it. 
  • “Art, I guarantee this is my last stop, I’m gonna win now”… SuperDuper. Just do it. 
  • “Art, if I could just have one good month and get the ball going I know I could make it big”… Super. Just do it. 
  • “Art, if I could just pay off this debt I could really go”… Great. Just do it.
  • “Art,  if I could just sell my house”… Do it!
  • “Art, but house they selling right now. Do it anyway!
  • “Art, I’m not making any money, what can I do?”… You just do it.

Do what Art? You do it, and do it, and do it.

  • “Art, I’m gonna win this contest”  SuperDuper. Just do it.
  • “Art, I’m over the hump now, watch my smoke.” Great. Just do it. 
  • “Art, I want to make it so bad I can taste it, what should I do?”…  You just do it!
  • “Art, I’m a vice president now can I quit doing it?”… No.
  • “Art, I don’t know if I can keep on keeping on, I’m really hurting, what do I do? You just do it.

Do what Art? You do it, and do it, and do it, and do it.

  • “Art, all my life I wanted to be somebody important”… Well do it then!
  • “Alright I’m gonna save money so I don’t have to go through this again”… Great! Just do it.
  • “Art, I don’t feel like I’ve had enough training, what do I do? You just do it.
  • “my manager don’t give me no help what do I do? You just do it.
  • “Art, you don’t understand, I was mr. everything in my former company you don’t mean I have to start off down at the bottom and do it do you?” Yep! You really got to do it!

“Art, what’s the primary difference between winners and losers? 

The winners do it. They do it, and do it, and do it, and do it until the job gets done. And then they talk about how great it is to finally achieve something.

You need and how glad they are that they didn’t quit like everybody else and how wonderful it is

to finally be somebody they’re proud of and make a difference with their life.

Thank you”



Here’s the video!

**Feature pic by Clay LeConey!