Jothy Rosenberg has done a lot in his life. He’s the author of two technical books and founder of six high-tech companies. He’s also ridden in the Massachusetts Challenge Bike-A-Thon seven times and swum from Alcatraz to San Francisco 17 times, in support of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Healthcare for the Homeless, respectively.
And he’s done it all on one leg.
Rosenberg lost his right leg to osteosarcoma 37 years ago, a cancer that later claimed one of his lungs as well. (He was lucky enough to be one of the first chemotherapy patients.) But that hasn’t stopped him from doing all of the above as well as his fair share of impressive downhill skiing. (See video after the jump).
Today he travels around the country speaking about his experience which is documented in his recently published book, Who Says I Can’t? He also has a possible TV show on the way. GMPM managed to get Jothy on the phone and talk about what he’s been through and, of course, what it means to be a good man.
What have you found to be the most challenging through all your endeavors?
Probably getting this book and the message out there in print. I’m not famous so it’s very hard to get any attention. But even if the book only sells a few thousand copies, it’ll be worth it.
It’s for people. For anyone who’s been knocked down by life. Could be an injury, disease, birth defect, an event in their life, the death of a close family member. They get depressed. The message is for people who have been knocked down. That’s not for some small niche market. The most satisfying thing is hearing the comments I’m getting about the book.
What’s a message do you hope people get out of your work?
Get off the couch, stop feeling sorry for themselves and figure out what it is that they’re going to focus on. One of the things I learned was a sport. I use the word sport pretty generally. (Ping Pong is a sport and so are other things that aren’t super athletic.) And I found some sort of adaptation.
What I want is for people who have maybe given up, who think they’re not very good at anything to get motivated, get up and go find something that interests them and go focus on it. If you focus on it more than other people then you become better at it than anyone else. It builds up self esteem. Soon, you see other people respect you. All of that builds up a very positive force.
Do you consider yourself a good man? Why or why not?
I do. You’re not good every minute of every day but good means that you’re kind and understanding to the people around you.
I follow the rules. I find myself proud of even following little rules like traffic rules. I try to help people out, try to set good examples and then practice the golden rule which is to put myself in other people’s shoes. I do it in every day life and that’s it.
What makes a good man in your eyes?
I would define it as assuming the best in people. There are people who will try to take advantage of you. But if you assume the best—and then deal with it firmly if you’re surprised—it’s better than assuming the worst. If you do, you’ll probably get the worst out of people.
I’m an optimist. I sometimes jokingly refer to everyone in the world as either a Tigger or an Eeyore. I’d rather be around a Tigger type of person because the positivity is infectious.
Who has been the ultimate good man in your life? Why?
Not one individual. But it’s sort of a composite of several individuals because usually I don’t know someone well enough to say someone is a good person through and through.