Randy D. Graise is a natural-born motivator. As founder and owner of Southfield, Michigan-based RanDel Enterprises, he has formed a professional speaking and training group that provides minorities and the disabled with motivational insight on work and life. “I’ve been speaking at church and around the community since I was 13 years old,” explains Graise.
On the surface, this may seem unremarkable. His story, however, is anything but. Graise, 34, was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, with a broken arm and legs. Doctors told his parents that his chances for survival after birth would be slim. The physicians gave up hope, but his parents decided to take care of him themselves. Shortly after his birth, the Graise family moved north to Detroit, where the doctors at Children’s Hospital of Michigan diagnosed him with osteogenesis imperfecta.
“It’s a genetic, soft-tissue bone disease” that results in extremely brittle bones, explains Graise, who has been a wheelchair user since the age of 4. Simple things that most of us take for granted, such as eating hard candy or giving someone a high five, can result in broken bones for Graise. And such instances have: He has broken 50 bones over the course of his life.
Taught by his mother that he was as good as anyone else, he attended orthopedic school with other disabled students during his elementary years. He eventually moved into the general school population in junior high school. Always the talker, Graise graduated from Henry Ford High School in Detroit, but not before working on the radio staff. It was there that he realized his communication talents.
Graise attended Wayne State University, also in Detroit, in 1984. In his sophomore year, he transferred to Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts in Southfield, Michigan, where he received a diploma in radio and television production in 1986. “I love cameras and being heard on the radio; I guess I just love to talk to people,” he says. After graduation, he landed a job at Ameritech, a telephone company in Detroit.
In 1992, his love of talking to people compelled him to do public speaking part-time, while still employed at Ameritech. It wasn’t until 1997 that Graise felt ready to take on the task full-time. He left a 10-year stint and a $40,000 salary to develop RanDel Enterprises. Dipping into his pension and most of his savings, Graise invested close to $25,000 to launch the company.
The first year of business was dismal. Last year, RanDel did better, bringing in close to $15,000 in revenues. Graise was already past that figure six months into this year.
“The most important thing that I would like people to understand about me is the joy that I get from working with minorities and the disabled,” he says. The results are evident in his award-winning, volunteer efforts with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, as well as the workshops he conducts for the state of Michigan, his biggest client. He also has a cable access show titled Graisefully Speaking.
“Remember that we as speakers are gifted