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Business Class: American Idol’s Lazaro Arbos has found his voice

By Randall Kenneth Jones

Originally published in the Naples Daily News
Friday, November 22, 2013

It’s a rite of passage—the annual transition of our nation’s youth from the comfort of childhood to the reality of the adult world.

However, Neapolitan Lazaro Arbos came face to face with his new reality in a rather spectacular way—on reality television on last season’s American Idol.

Though Idol touts itself as a singing competition, heart-string-tugging Arbos, who placed sixth, is perhaps equally known for his speech.

With a prominent stutter that completely disappears when he sings, Arbos elicited an emotional response on Idol that made him the unofficial “spokesperson” for a very deserving group whose challenges are rarely given a national voice—the stuttering community.

Of course, what workplace neophyte hasn’t searched, sometimes in vain, to find the right words to illustrate his or her skills, goals, opinions and ideas?

In so many ways, Arbos is like countless other young people seeking to find their voice and make their mark on the world. It’s just that his exceptional journey was broadcast for all to see.

As he puts it, “American Idol is like boot camp for the mind and the soul.”

In retrospect, Arbos understands one’s “voice” can be expressed in many different ways: through song as well as spoken and written words.

Plus, as they say, “Actions speak louder than words.”

His willingness to share his story—his struggle with speech and isolation—may also give him an empathic edge in the future.

“I want to give back. Whether it’s in support of those who stutter or helping kids who are going through a tough time,” says Arbos.

Of course, workplace youth are judged for their actions in every industry. Such judgments make it even more important for experienced professionals to take the time to thoughtfully mentor them.

For Arbos, support came from some very high-profile sources. “Cher told me she always gets scared before she goes on stage. That made me feel much better.”

When asked if he would change anything from the past year, Arbos confidently replied, “On the show, I tried to make other people happy. Now, I would try to make myself happy first.”

Lazaro Arbos and Randall Kenneth Jones  -- Photo by Yolanda SherbertThough many may argue there’s no shortage of self-centered 20-somethings in business, Arbos, at one time shy and introverted, has earned the right to enjoy his new-found confidence.

He is now more secure yet more cautious.

More selfish and more selfless.

More focused yet more open to change.

In short, everything we would hope for a young professional on a quest to become a well-balanced individual.

His best recommendation: “Don’t give up—no matter who gives up on you.”

Advice that hits home regardless of one’s age.

Less than one year from his American Idol debut and many accelerated life lessons later, Lazaro Arbos may have a significant advantage in our competitive business world.

Regardless of his future career path or his speaking ability, he is now—simply put—very articulate.

On so many levels, Arbos has found his voice. The question now: how will he choose to use it?

Marketing guru, business humoristprofessional-courtesy advocate, branded-content writer, creative-development consultant, and entertaining motivational speaker Randall Kenneth Jones is the creator of RediscoverCourtesy.org and the president of MindZoo, a marketing communications firm in Naples, Florida.

Randall Kenneth JonesPictured above: Lazaro Arbos (used by permission: FOX), Lazaro Arbos and Randall Kenneth Jones

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