One Man Feels Great -- Erik Cagle
I'd foolishly worn a 76ers t-shirt, not realizing my gaffe until I'd arrived at the park. Croce ate it up, and during one of his uplifting discourses, he managed to stick a Sixers pin into the shirt without pausing thought. I beamed with enthusiasm and was thankful that no one else was there to see me gushing with utter excitement.
As he spoke, he placed a hand on my shoulder. His eyes filled with intensity. His voice boomed at all the right times, and lowered itself appropriately. His smiles were thoughtful and appropriately placed, not the forced, flick-of-the-switch types that adorn the faces of 90 percent of corporate America's human resource directors. At times he seemed he was confiding in me, then he became inquisitive and asked me questions. It took him about 60 seconds to learn what I was all about. He seemed to care. No, he did care. He really does care.
I thanked him for the interview and climbed into my car. I stared straight ahead for a few moments, trying to digest the enormity of this unexpected Croce avalanche.
The man had nothing to sell me—no 12-volume self-help collection, no 10-cassette tape compilation of 100 ways to make a million dollars from the privacy of your one-room apartment and—as a writer for the local "Jerkwater Post"—I was quite limited in the scope of spreading his gospel. He did not benefit from our interview. I cannot say the same.
Pat Croce makes a living out of sweeping people off their feet and making them believe they, too, can fly. It doesn't matter if the backdrop is a basketball court, rehab clinic, charity drive or Fortune 500 company. In his own little corner of the world, Croce has rocketed his way to the top of the mountain, yet took the time to shake everyone's hand along the way.