People who have heard my story tell me that I had touched their lives in some way, big and small. Others tell me that I had changed the life of somebody they know. And then there are many others who have asked me to speak to those who needed a little bit of inspiration about life's limitless possibilities through my stories.
These are the people who tell me in no uncertain terms that I must keep on sharing my stories for as long as I can and here are 10 who come to mind.
1. A successful business owner who spiralled into the abyss of drugs and alcohol cried on my shoulders after my presentation because his wife took his son and left him. I received a note of thanks from him 2 years later telling me that I inspired him to clean up his act, have been drug / alcohol-free, had reunited with his wife and had another little one on the way.
2. The owner of a New World supermarket writes to me after a National conference telling me that 2 of his Managers quit the day after because I had encouraged my audience to pursue their dreams. He thanked me because he knew their hearts were no longer there anyway.
3. A single mum who lost her brother and son in 2 separate incidents within a year patiently waited for the conference crowd to clear, came up to me in silent tears, said I gave her hope again and gave me the warmest hug.
4. A Pacific-Islander young woman who believed she was destined for nothingness went on to become a lecturer at the University Of Auckland. She contacted me almost 10 years after my presentation to ask me to speak to her students in the hopes that I could inspire even one of them in the same way that I changed her life.
5. A young man with a hole in his heart feels sorry for himself and believes that every single person around him is out to make his life miserable. His mother took him to an Education Summit for my presentation and he has since turned over a new leaf, enrolled for a course in TAFE and found a job.
6. An email from a very happy Mum telling me how her daughter could not stop talking about her bum-shuffle race with me after I spoke to her class at Bethlehem College.
7. An avid snowskier who was paralysed from chest down did not believe he could still ski until he heard me speak at a Health & Disability conference. He spent 20 minutes talking to me about it and 2 weeks later, I received a call from my ski instructor at Whakapapa telling me that he spent the morning skiing with that young man who could not stop smiling and whose wife was crying happy tears.
8. A couple of students at Greerton Village School did not read. After I spoke to the school at the Duffy Assembly and read to them from my book, the 2 students picked up the habit and eventually wrote their own books.
9. A young boy had a tendency for violence as a result of past neglect and physical abuse. About 6 months after my presentation to a troubled youth group, I received a letter in the mail from his foster parents telling me how their son has changed since the day he heard me speak.
10. After my presentation at Mercy Hospice, a sweet, frail, old lady said to me, "Tony, I will probably never see you again but after hearing your story, I am going to do something today that I was never going to do." She gave me a hug and slowly walked away.