Tom Black: My journey to yo-yo mastery

When I was 14 years old, I had low self-esteem. I felt I was not talented at anything. One day, I bought a yo-yo. When I tried my first trick, it looked like this. I couldn't even do the simplest trick, but it was very natural for me, because I was not dextrous, and hated all sports. But after one week of practicing, my throws became more like this. A bit better. I thought, the yo-yo is something for me to be good at, for the first time in my life. I found my passion. I was spending all my time practicing. It took me hours and hours a day to build my skills up to the next level. And then, four years later, when I was 18 years old, I was standing onstage at the World Yo-Yo Contest. And I won. I was so excited. "Yes, I did it! I became a hero. I may get many sponsors, a lot of money, tons of interviews, and be on TV!" I thought. (Laughter) But after coming back to Japan, totally nothing changed in my life. I realized society didn't value my passion. So I went back to my college and became a typical Japanese worker as a systems engineer. I felt my passion, heart and soul, had left my body. I felt I was not alive anymore. So I started to consider what I should do, and I thought, I wanted to make my performance better, and to show onstage how spectacular the yo-yo could be to change the public's image of the yo-yo. So I quit my company and started a career as a professional performer. I started to learn classic ballet, jazz dance, acrobatics and other things to make my performance better. As a result of these efforts, and the help of many others, it happened. I won the World Yo-Yo Contest again in the artistic performance division. I passed an audition for Cirque du Soleil. Today, I am standing on the TED stage with the yo-yo in front of you. (Applause) What I learned from the yo-yo is, if I make enough effort with huge passion, there is no impossible. Could you let me share my passion with you through my performance? (Applause) (Water Sounds) (Music) (Applause) (Music) (Music) (Applause) (Applause) (Music) (Applause) (Applause) (Music) (Applause)

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