Why Larry King's Death Touched Me Deeply And Broke My Heart


Larry King was a special mentor to me for many years. His wisdom found me like an angel when I desperately needed it the most. This personal story reflects fond memories of the 1990s.


Photo by Kingsley Osei-Abrah on Unsplas

When I heard Larry died at 87, on 24 January 2021, a few drops of tears appeared in my eyes unconsciously. Tears in my eyes were an unusual occurrence for me because I did not see any tears in my stoic eyes for many years. After some thinking and checking my journal, it became clear.

I had multiple entries about Larry King in my diary starting from 1995. The most prominent one was when I discovered Larry's book in an old bookshop in Downunder. The bookstore does not exist anymore.

I used to do a lot of public speaking as part of my job. Toastmasters initiated my courage in the early 1990s. Most of my speaking engagements were in small scale from 50 to 200 people. Managing this size of an audience became a piece of cake for me. I was looking for challenges and stretching my skills.

It was the first year of my doctoral studies. With great enthusiasm, I submitted a paper to a peer-reviewed journal. The research paper was published. It was well received by the scholarly community. The federal government also awarded it for a scholarship award.

One day, out of the blue, I received an invitation to a scientific conference as a keynote speaker in the United States. The invitation was to Dallas, Texas, with around 5,000 participants. The compensation was incredible. It covered a first-class flight, which I never experienced before. The invitation not only covered accommodation in a five-star hotel, but it also offered some monetary value.

It was too good to be true for a part-time working student with a big home loan and a young child to support. Experiencing a euphoric moment, I immediately, with no hesitation, accepted the offer for this lucrative speaking engagement.

After the euphoric moment disappeared and reality showed its stern face, my anxiety raised and was about to destroy me. I felt desperate. It was only one month before the conference. I did not know how to speak in front of 5,000 people. I had no courage to face this challenge.

Sure, I performed a lot of public speaking but never addressed this size of an audience before. Anxiety turned to debilitating fear. One part of my brain was telling me to create an excuse and decline the offer. The other part was telling me it was a lifetime opportunity and proceed.

Living in limbo and struggling with this dilemma was affecting my health. I lost my sleep, appetite, and motivation to study for a few days. Myriads of worrying thoughts were producing substantial anxiety.

One day, it was lunchtime. I visited a local bookshop to clear my mind.

When I was browsing popular books, something suddenly created a flash in my brain.

The flash was caused by a red labelled book with white cover and black fonts. The title was "How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere: The Secrets of Good Communication" by Larry King with Bill Gilbert.

The testimony on top of the cover was saying "Full of some of the smartest, most practical advice I've come across... Larry King is a master of communication." - DAN RATHER.

Here is the book cover I have been saving in my library's unique part, with the flight ticket as a bookmark since 1995.


Image by Dr Mehmet Yildiz

Oddly enough, I used to ask discount for book purchases in this bookstore usually, but the first time, without any further ado, I immediately purchased the book and went to the nearest park to read it.

There were some scheduled classes about research methods in the afternoon but forgot about them. I completed reading this 220-page book in about three hours in the park. I don't remember having any breaks. When I read a good book, I forget about anything, even bathroom breaks.

As soon as I arrived home, I summarised the book by typing the highlighted sections in a Microsoft Word document. Every highlighted area was a gem for me. I created a one-month practice plan.

I volunteered for many sessions with the Toastmasters to practice my speech. Apart from my usual club, I also booked sessions in various suburbs to talk in front of an unfamiliar audience.

Practising Larry's advice became a catalyst for me to become a proficient public speaker within a month. The book was a god-sent. But what boosted my confidence was Larry's talk shows.

Since I was studying on those days, I never watched any TV shows. However, when I heard about Larry's talk shows, I decided to watch them. Watching Larry interviewing celebrities gave me unexpected inspiration.

I had an epiphany. My self-talk started. "If Larry can talk in front of millions of people with ease and beautiful smile in impromptu, why can't I speak about a topic I created myself in front of only 5,000 people?". Asking this question increased my confidence dramatically.

I kept reminding and asking this question myself. I created the image of Larry talking to millions. He became a spiritual friend to me. He was like an angel mentoring me for a lifetime opportunity.

He reminded me of the famous quote attributed to Buddha Siddhartha Guatama Shakyamuni or the Theosophists saying "a when a student is ready, the teacher appears". Larry was the teacher who appeared when I was ready.

Until that occasion, I did not know much about Larry. However, after this active learning period, Larry became a teacher, a mentor, and a soul mate to me. My brain and heart connected with him.

When I was walking through the stairs to the podium to talk in front of 5,000 people, Larry was holding my hands and telling me with his beautiful smile:

"Keep going, keep your head up, take a deep breath, they are just humans like you. Smile now! Let your body relax! Yes, keep going, you can do this. You spoke many times before. This is your forte. What a wonderful opportunity for you! Start now. I will stay next to you. I am your friend and want you to succeed."

With this spiritual assistance, the speech was even more comfortable than my local speech. This massive audience was like a single person to speak with ease. My fluency was excellent. I felt confident. I did not experience any shaking or sweating. I spoke and presented with precision and impact.


Photo by Roland Samuel on Unsplash

When standing ovation was happening, Larry was smiling at me saying, "Didn't I tell you, pal, you could do it. You nailed it. Congratulations. Now you can talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere. Enjoy your trip back to Downunder. Say hi to beautiful Kangaroos".

Now I know why a few drops of tears came to my eyes when I heard Larry left this world. He left with a beautiful legacy helping millions of people like me who needed his wisdom. He touched the hearts and minds of millions. He achieved his life purpose.

Rest in peace, Larry King. You are the king of speech-making, in the best form ever. Wish I could say you a proper goodbye.

Larry's book and talk shows taught me how to break the ice, make social conversations, make business talks, and, more importantly, make trendy talks that helped me earn my living. I learned how to speak with anyone, anytime, and anywhere from Larry King.

Thank you for reading my perspectives.

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I write about important and valuable life lessons. My ultimate goal is to delight my readers. My content aims to inform and engage my readers. Truth, diversity, collaboration, and inclusiveness are my core values. I am a pragmatic technologist, scientist, postdoctoral academic and industry researcher focusing on practical and important life matters for the last four decades.


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