Erik Weir is a successful money manager, specializing in marketable securities and real estate, helping people achieve their dreams through prudent financial management. But this self-made success story struggled with stuttering, which, along with his faith in God, made him the man he is today.

At age 5, Erik was in a traumatic auto accident, after which he began to stutter heavily. “I remember how it took me two days just to get my name out in first grade. It was tough.” His father stuttered as a child, and Erik received therapy in both his public school and privately. “It helped a lot, but I still stuttered quite a bit.”

As a child, Erik confronted his stuttering through a series of businesses: selling lemonade on the corner by school and when he got a little older, mowing lawns in the neighborhood. He sold lawn care services door to door, speaking with adults, despite his stutter. He also bought and sold cars for a profit. “Stuttering got me started in business and I learned that it was actually really good for sales,” said Erik. “I sold lots!”

Unfortunately for Erik, teachers didn’t always intervene in the teasing from bullies. “They made fun of me often. Gave me nicknames and mimicked my stuttering. It made me insane. I channeled my energy into reading the Bible, participating in sports and I took up martial arts. I received my blackbelt at age 18. That really gave me a great deal of confidence.”

Over the years, Erik’s stutter has gotten less noticeable. “I taught myself to be grateful that I stuttered, and that it was OK to be different. I stopped fighting it, and started embracing it, but that is something I still struggle with today.”

When asked about what triggers his stutter today, Erik mentioned several things. “Sleep is important and too much caffeine can be a real problem,” he chuckled. “Because I really like coffee and never sleep enough—I just need to push through. New situations are also difficult, but I mainly just try to forget about stuttering. I speak publicly, which may be counterintuitive. I always tell people not to avoid uncomfortable situations—embrace them!”

Erik has advice for children who stutter, just like he did: “Be thankful for who they are, and find a way to be grateful. Realize you are different; it’s not bad, it’s just unique. Thank God for who you are and be thankful. Above all else, don’t quit on your dreams. Use the pain and insecurity you feel to be kind and help other people. It really pays off.”

Published May 1, 2017