Tips from Bill Porter on Living your Life to the Fullest
1) THERE ARE NO OBSTACLES. When I asked Bill Porter, who can't button his own collar, or drive, or even tie his own shoe, what his obstacles were, he told me he didn't have any obstacles. Bill tells people by word and example, "Don't think about your handicaps or problems on the job, just do the very best you can. Think of your obstacles as challenges or stepping stones. That's what I try to do." ------------------------------------------2) IF IT ISN'T BROKEN, DON'T FIX IT. Many people in this world of rapid growth and change might think this is old-fashioned advice. Bill puts it simply, "There are some things that never go out of style. I've been selling for more than half a century. I know that things like being neatly groomed, offering a friendly smile, and giving a warm greeting will always open a door for me." -----------------------------------------------------------3) MOTHER KNOWS BEST. Bill's mother told him he could accomplish anything he set his mind too. Bill believed her. We all need something or someone to believe in and someone to believe in us. And there is always someone who can help us look outside the box and perhaps help us see ourselves in a better light. It might be mother, but it could just as easily be father that knows best, or a friend, sibling, boss, or coworker. We all need mentors and champions in our lives. Bill Porter is now a champion and to many it's Bill who knows best. -------------------------------------------4) BE A TEAM PLAYER. While Bill may have appeared to be a solitary man out walking door-to-door rain or shine, there were many players on Bill's team. From the bellhops who buttoned his cuffs and put on his tie, to the shoe shiner who buffed his shoes and tied them just right. I've been blessed to be a part of Bill's team by delivering his Watkins products for more than 20 years. No man is an Island. We all need the support of our coworkers, managers, and clients. It is by working as a team that great things are accomplished. Bill often tells people, 'I couldn't have done all of this on my own, nobody should. We all need each other."
Indie Press Titles On the Silver Screen
New World Library Release, TEN THINGS I LEARNED FROM BILL PORTER, Reaches the Screen In Style"Bill Porter's led a stand-up, formidable life, against some formidable odds." - William H. Macy
If you're like most folks, you probably pick up household supplies and sundries at the local supermarket, perhaps even on your way home from a harried day at the office. After hearing Bill Porter's story you may rethink these and other aspects of your life - aspects that many of us take for granted.
When introducing a segment on Bill Porter's life, ABC's 20/20 host Hugh Downs said, "This is a simple story about a simply remarkable man." Born with cerebral palsy, Bill was told by many that he was unemployable. With the continual support of a dedicated mother and the indomitable spirit that is his trademark, Bill Porter has supported himself for decades selling household products door-to-door for the Watkins Company. While the people on his route didn't always need what Bill was selling, they grew to understand that we all need people like Bill Porter in the world.
Bill has refused to let cerebral palsy stop him from supporting himself financially or rob him of his dignity. Whether it is finding cooperative bellmen at the hotel downtown to button his cuffs and tie his shoes or beaming a video to his speaking engagements because of ill health, Bill gets the job done. And he does it all with a smile and a wave and without one moment of doubt or self-pity.
Shelly Brady, who first worked for Bill as a typist and driver to deliver his orders and then became a friend and co-speaker with him, has written a book entitled, Ten Things I Learned from Bill Porter. Through simple yet moving life lessons, she tells the story of Bill's life and the valuable lessons she learned from him. The book includes photos of Bill growing up and copies of the many heartfelt letters and emails he receives from those who have heard his story. The "ten things" include "Mother Knows Best," "Be a Team Player," "Persistence Pays Off," "Don't Take No for an Answer," and "Know Your Limits and Reach Beyond Them."
These lessons may sound simple, but told through the life and experiences of a man who authorities would have sent to an institution and who could have lived on disability all his life, they become powerful beacons to those of us with fewer obstacles, perhaps, but more resistance to living fully. Bill Porter graduated from high school at the age of 22, having to first go through a special school for the disabled, even though his disabilities are physical, not mental. Rather than receive disability assistance from the state, he sought a job and eventually was hired by the Watkins Company, as a door-to-door salesman. He agreed to be compensated entirely on commission and took on a territory no one wanted in order to close the deal. Bill went on to become the top-grossing salesman in Portland, the Northwest, and the U.S.
On Sunday, July 14, 2002, TNT aired its original movie Door to Door, based on the story of Bill Porter's life. The film stars Academy Award-nominated actor William H. Macy as Bill Porter, Kyra Sedgwick as Shelly Brady and Academy Award-nominated actress Helen Mirren as Bill's devoted mother. The story is infectious -- Macy co-wrote the script after seeing the 20/20 piece - and it moved him to tears. According to Variety, Door to Door scored one of the highest Nielsens for an original movie in cable history when it aired. Afterward, The Today Show reported "Bill Porter" was the most requested search item on Google.com.
"It's been both an honor and a delight for me to work on this project," says Monique Muhlenkamp, Marketing & Publicity Coordinator at New World Library, who published the book. "Ten Things is a short, easy, sweet read that touches people on so many different levels. From a promotion standpoint, it was incredible to have the movie and book coming out at the same time. It's been great to have all the excitement and extra publicity because of the movie. All you have to say is, 'William H. Macy,' and you've got peoples' attention." The story has also been featured in People Magazine, USA Weekend, and was showcased on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
The publication of Ten Things I Learned from Bill Porter is also a bona fide first-time writer success story. The book proposal was championed by an editorial assistant who discovered it in the "slush pile" and watched the accompanying 20/20 video segment. While the film is a biographical account of Porter's story, the book focuses on the wisdom Brady gleaned through her friendship with this remarkable man.
New World Library released the book in May and a fifth printing of 75,000 copies brings the in-print total to 125,000 copies. NWL is donating a portion of the proceeds from the book to the United Cerebral Palsy Association's Oregon and Southwest Washington Chapter. Founded in 1949, UCP is a nationwide network of more than 114 statewide and local not-for-profit agencies (UCP affiliates) in 41 states that provide programs and services and conduct public and professional education programs relevant to cerebral palsy and other disabilities.
Here's what Bill Porter himself had to say about the movie:
"I loved the movie. Bill Macy did a tremendous job! Sometimes I thought I was looking in the mirror. I can't get over how Helen Mirren and Kyra Sedgwick portrayed the two most important people in my live. I felt as though I were watching my own mother and dear friend Shelly. I have great friendships with my customers. Even though the customers in the movie were fictionalized they reminded me of many of the people I have sold to over the years."
"I cried when Kathy Baker's character died as I thought of so many of my customers and friends who are now gone. Oh, one more thing . . . the Bradys did buy my house because my back went out in 1993 and I asked Shelly and John to help me out. I have been living in my home since the 1960s and live there still . . . I never moved out like the movie suggested. I was concerned that people might be worried about where I was living."
"I love my job as a salesman and I think it was a great movie about a guy who loves to sell! I hope you enjoyed it! Be sure to read Shelly's book and don't forget to browse through all of the wonderful Watkins products on my website."
Here's what author Shelly Brady had to say:
"Wow! What an amazing movie! It kind of reminds me of "It's a Wonderful Life." Bill Porter truly is the richest man in town. My life is so much richer for having known Bill."
"Having visited the set during the filming of the movie "Door to Door," I saw firsthand the labor of love this film was to everyone involved from the executives at TNT to the director Steven Schachter, from Bill Macy and the other leading actors, to all of the cast and crew."
"It's such a positive movie, Bill Macy absolutely captured the heart and spirit of my dear friend Bill. Helen Mirren and Kathy Baker did outstanding in their roles as Bill's mother and one of his customers. Kyra Sedgwick did a great job too."
Ten Things I Learned From Bill Porter, by Shelly Brady
Foreword by William H. Macy
Afterword by Bill Porter
176 Pg Hardcover; $15.00; ISBN 1-57731-203-1
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way
Novato, CA 94949
Toll Free Number: (800) 972-6657