Rewrite Your Story
“We all have obstacles in life. It is ultimately our attitude that determines whether they block our path to success, or strengthen us on our journey. We don’t need to be defined by past labels, we can change or discard them.”
After seeing Alvin deliver his keynote speeches, audiences come away realizing “All of us have something that handicaps us. We all have problems and issues we deal with everyday. It’s how we respond to these issues that counts. We need to focus on what we do have, not what we don’t have.”
“The best thing that ever happened to me is being born without arms. It brought me to circumstances never thought possible.”
In the early 1960’s, over 13,000 babies around the world were born with deformities as a direct result of Thalidomide – a drug prescribed to relieve morning sickness. Alvin Law was one of them. In his case, just a couple of the tiny pills were enough to cause him to be born without arms.
Facing what they thought was a hopeless situation, Alvin’s birth family courageously gave him up for adoption. They hoped and prayed that their sickly, deformed newborn would somehow find a family more capable of caring for his needs. Luckily, their prayers were answered.
Hilda Law was a fifty-five year old foster mother who, along with her husband, Jack, took in neglected and abused children. They loved and encouraged them back from their hopelessness and, through social service programs, sent them to couples yearning for adoptions. They were truly special people.
One day in 1960, the most disturbing case they had ever seen was presented to them – Alvin. They were warned he’d never possess any quality of life and would likely need to be institutionalized.
Replacing ‘no’ with ‘yes
Not only did Hilda nurse him back to health, but her intuition told her that lurking inside this impossible scenario was…hope. Through the Laws’ faith, dedication and infinite belief, little Alvin learned to use his feet for hands. Suddenly, his world opened up.
Alvin attended regular schools at a time when handicapped children were relegated to institutions or, at best, schools that segregated them from the ‘normal’ students. He was blessed to have remarkable teachers who recognized his potential, and worked with the Law family to encourage his abilities.
Life took a turn for the amazing when Alvin discovered his musical ability and he joined the school band, playing trombone, drums and piano. Within an impossibly short time, he became an award winning musician and graduated from high school with honours. He then graduated, again with honours, from college… and he hasn’t slowed down since.
“You can’t hide from life. You’re going to have obstacles show up. I know how to teach people to get past theirs. After all, there’s no magic pill you can swallow – there’s just you. In a quick-fix society, we need long-term strategies. I didn’t just discover this stuff overnight.”
Alvin Law has been presenting his compelling life story to groups across Canada, the United States and around the globe since 1981. He is a trained broadcaster, fundraiser and musician. He has also worked for non-profit groups, in advertising and public relations, the civil service, and has even run for public office (unsuccessfully, but he got over it).
Alvin has played a direct role in raising over $225,000,000.00 for charity. He’s also dabbled in acting, playing a role in Harmony Korine’s quirky creative film Julien: Donkey Boy and, in a life highlight, played an armless preacher in an episode of the hit television series The X-Files.
He has appeared on countless telethons (well over 100 since 1976) and media features, and has been the subject of two award winning television documentaries. The first, Alvin, His Best Foot Forward, was shown across Canada in 1978. The second, Broken Promises, focused on the plight of Canada’s Thalidomide victims and after its Canadian showing was seen on American Public Broadcasting’s Frontline. Re-named Extraordinary People, it was nominated for an Emmy Award. Alvin has appeared on The Joan Rivers Show, CBS’s How’d They Do That, CBC’s What On Earth and ABC’s Frontrunners. Their segment about Alvin won an Emmy Award.
Alvin formed AJL Communications Ltd. in 1988 and has since brought his message about Changing the Label and accepting personal accountability to over 2 million people (and counting) on five continents around the world. He’s earned over One Million Miles with Air Canada, and has the highest tier membership at both Hertz and Avis. Yes, Alvin drives!
He has earned the designation of Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), an honour possessed by less than ten percent of professional speakers worldwide. In 2009, Alvin was inducted into the Canadian Association of Speakers (CAPS) Hall of Fame. And in 2018, Alvin was inducted into the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame, one of the few speakers to hold more than one Hall of Fame Designation.
He shares his life with his wife and business partner, Darlene, and Murphy the rescue dog (yes, Murphy Law) in beautiful Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Alvin’s adoptive parents raised him to not just survive, but to exceed expectations; it was a natural and essential part of their culture at home. And that’s the message Alvin ultimately brings to your audience – to look beyond what they think is possible for themselves, and dream big. To do more. To be more. The only true obstacle, after all, is the labels we have accepted and allowed to define our lives – the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and the people and situations around us.
In over 30 years of professional speaking, Alvin has never told his story exactly the same way twice. Although Alvin’s circumstances are unique, his story is universal. It’s easy for him to craft an experience that is relevant to your organization’s audience…so they walk away having heard the message you need them to hear.
Alvin will tailor his talk to your audience and situation, and can give his presentation a title that aligns with your specific event. We’re happy to work with you. Contact us, and tell us your story.
Meet The Brains: Darlene Law
Alvin may be the talent… but Darlene is the brains behind the whole operation!
Darlene joined AJL Communications in October, 1991 after moving to Regina, Saskatchewan from Calgary, Alberta. She brought her extensive knowledge in office management and human resources and applied them to Alvin’s growing speaking business. Good thing too, and just in time! Since 2000, she has managed the office full time, is a partner in the company and is the person who will be the first point of contact when you connect via email or telephone.
In 2005 Darlene graduated from the Mount Royal College Feng Shui Practitioner course and became a certified Feng Shui Practitioner. As well as working with her own clients, Darlene uses her knowledge and understanding of energy to enhance the success of their personal and business life.
Alvin’s Biography Long Version
Like you, keynote speaker and bestselling author Alvin Law has heard a lot of cliches about thinking positively. But are any of them true? Does thinking positively really guarantee success in life? Should we force ourselves to think positively, no matter what our situation? Will mantras and soundbites change how we view ourselves and the world? Or are we looking at it the wrong way?
With over three decades of professional speaking and over five decades of experience living life without arms, Alvin’s view is radically different. His mission is to inspire others to be accountable, to stop accepting their own excuses and to instead make choices.
After hearing Alvin speak, people start asking themselves “What’s my excuse?” They are challenged by his message to find the strength we all have within ourselves to change and to discard the labels they have allowed to define their lives and create limitations.
Alvin knows, and demonstrates to his audiences, that his message is not about touchy-feely platitudes or that if we ‘just think positively everything will be be better’. His message is about how we look at life and how we all have choices. It is a skill that can be learned, and that must be practiced. It is a tool that can be used. Most importantly, it can’t be imposed upon people — it has to come from a genuine place.
Alvin uses his story to challenge audiences to rewrite the negative stories they tell themselves about themselves; to stop feeling like victims in their lives; to stop making excuses and start making choices. His fusion of storytelling, musical performance and down-to-earth humour connect with his audiences at an intimate, intense and individual level.
Over 7,500 organizations on five continents, including Merck & Company, ConocoPhillips, Kosmos Energy, Caribbean Association of Banks, Alberta Energy Regulators and GolfTec., have engaged Alvin to ignite, engage and transform their people.
Born with no arms as a result of the drug Thalidomide, Alvin was adopted by a family who taught him to use his feet for hands and who by doing so gave him the gift of freedom. In addition to being a professional speaker, Alvin is also a broadcaster, fundraiser, award-winning musician and bestselling author. He has earned the designation of Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), an honour possessed by less than ten percent of professional speakers worldwide. In 2009, Alvin was inducted into the Canadian Association of Speakers (CAPS) Hall of Fame. And in 2018 Alvin was inducted into the very prestigious Canadian Disability Hall of Fame, one of the few speakers to have two Hall of Fame Designations.
Prior to his career as a professional speaker, Alvin worked for nonprofit groups, in advertising and public relations, the civil service, and has even run for public office (unsuccessfully, but he got over it). He has appeared on countless telethons and media features, and has been the subject of two award-winning television documentaries. He has played a direct role in raising over $225,000,000.00 for charity.
Alvin shares his life with his wife and business partner, Darlene, and Murphy the rescue dog (yes, Murphy Law) in beautiful Calgary, Alberta, Canada.