Longform

Lord of Discipline

Rory Vaden does not believe in luck. More than anything else, he believes in discipline. It's his mantra, his ethos, the single factor responsible for everything that he has achieved so far in his young life, and for everything that he will achieve. In a blog entry on www.disciplinedynamic.com, his site dedicated to "Empowering today's youth to achieve by exposing them to the laws and techniques of personal Discipline," Rory, a 24-year-old "motivational humorist," discusses success: "The reality is that you got to where you are by Discipline. By paying the price, by doing what others were not willing to do. NOT because you were chosen, lucky, fateful, or somehow deserving of worship."

Luck has nothing to do with it.

So it's ironic to find Rory hooping it up in the latest commercial for the Colorado Lottery, the Holy Grail for those who believe in luck. In a thirty-second spot championing the lottery, Rory crosses over, dribbles through his legs, smiles for the camera, then busts a jump shot -- only to see the basketball burst into a cluster of decorative ribbons, each meant to symbolize the advantages that Colorado recreation receives as a result of the lottery.

"It's interesting that you bring that up," Rory, who's represented by Donna Baldwin Talent, says of the commercial. "Because the modeling and the acting has tied into my life really well. It's given me a reason to stay disciplined. I take it very seriously, but I don't take myself seriously at all. I think it's hilarious; it's the most cliche, I'm-going-to-be-famous-someday thing ever, but there's a lot of value to learning the industry and how it works. There's also value in it for me, because I'm learning to get comfortable in front of the camera. And that's necessary, because if all my plans work out, I'm going to be spending a lot more time in front of the camera."

Those plans are numerous. Rory would love to have his own HBO comedy special. He'd like to star in a couple of movies and then get behind the camera and direct a few. He wants to write a book and become a world-famous, Tony Robbins-like guru. But what he intends to focus on for the next half-dozen years is changing the trajectory of young lives.

"I want to give young people something to aspire to that is different than what they see in TV or pop culture," Rory says. "Because I think that is what I'm supposed to do. The world is ready for a role model who is not a rock star, who is not an athlete, who is not a reality-show baby. The world is ready for a young person who believes in values, who believes in hard work, who believes in God -- a person who makes it cool to be disciplined. I'm like a conduit for a message to pass, and the message is discipline. I'm not so great, I'm not so special, I have not done anything to deserve the talent I've been given, but I feel it is my responsibility to use it. I'm uniquely positioned to do something that the world really needs."

But before he can discipline the world, Rory Vaden must do something for himself: win the World Championship of Public Speaking in Washington, D.C., on August 26.

I go to the gym everyday. I don't eat fast food, drink soda, or eat candy. I've never had a cigarette and I've never touched a drug. While I do drink occasionally, I've never thrown up from alcohol abuse because I don't get obnoxiously obliterated.

At the same time I've never used money from my parents to pay for school, never been in trouble with the cops, and almost never gotten a grade below an A-, ever.

But I'm also not a nerd or a goody two shoes. I have an MBA, I have my own business; I am a speaker, a fitness model, and a stand up comedian. I'm not anti-social or prude, I'm just Driven and Disciplined. I am willing to make sacrifices that many people are not.

-- from Rory Vadens blog

Early on, Rory learned that if he wanted something out of life, he had to go out and get it himself. Born Rory McLaughlin in Boulder in 1982, Rory was raised mostly by his mother, Tessie Gale, and his older brother, Randy. Rory's birth father, a verbally abusive alcoholic, was in and out of the picture, and drifted off for good when Rory was five. His mother worked several jobs at a time to support her family. But rather than limit his options, she always encouraged Rory to chase his dreams.

"It was hard," Tessie says. "He had father figures, but he didn't have a father. But Rory came out of my womb kicking and screaming, always pursuing something, and from the time he was an infant, he wanted to do karate."

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Adam Cayton-Holland