One tear meant more to Dave Pygon than if he were to receive a million favorable reviews on Amazon.
His mother, 79-year-old Norma Pygon of Alsip, got a chance to read Dave’s debut effort as an author, “Win the 16,” a motivational book which was released in early May.
The premise of the book is to help readers make the most out of the 16 waking hours that most people get.
Norma is one of the inspirations for his career — and for the book. She even received her own chapter.
“She raised three kids on her own,” Pygon said. “She worked during the day and went to school at night to get her college degree. That was highly motivating.
“Watching that and living that and seeing that was highly inspiring.”
So, Dave anxiously waited for his mother’s reaction to his book.
Would she like it? Would she hate it? Would she criticize it?
It turns out she overwhelmingly approved, much to Dave’s relief.
“She had a tear in her eye,” he said. “She’s a ex-college teacher and she’s a tough grader. She gave it thumbs-up and she’s not your typical mom, so I was curious as to what she was going to say.
“She enjoyed the book and she said she was going to read it again. It was a good moment for her and she’s tough. You don’t raise three boys on your own on the South Side of Chicago without being as tough as she was.”
Pygon, a graduate of St. Rita High School in Chicago, had success in the business world and parlayed that into becoming a motivational speaker, podcaster and author. He now runs his own business, Pygon ONE Consulting.
He lived in Orland Park for close to two decades and made his mark organizing and coaching a youth and high school travel team organization called the Windy City Magic.
Three stars who had their early careers formed by the Magic were Hickory Hills native Max Strus, who is a starter for the NBA’s Miami Heat, Tinley Park native Miles Boykin, a multisport athlete who is a receiver with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL, and Orland Park’s Tommy Demogerantas, who is playing professional basketball in Argentina.
Whether its coaching future pros or coaching people to be the best they can be in life, Pygon has always been a go-getting type.
“I was always high energy and had a lot of passion by nature,” he said. “I would say that was always a part of my personality. I always had that fire. I was always an early riser going after it. I always enjoyed motivational things whether it’s books, movies or sports.”
One of Pygon’s strongest suggestions to try to get a lot of work done in the morning.
“I believe in getting early workout and getting things done early,” he said. “You can start to win your day then. If you can get a lot done by 10 a.m. or 11 a.m., that’s good because after that, people will be stealing your time.”
He had never written a book before and his early-morning discipline came in handy in getting this 168-page project done in mere months.
“It was learning, it was fun, it was frustrating and it was hard,” he said about writing. “I started writing the book Oct. 2 and it was published on May 2. I would schedule 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. or 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and I had to get stuff done.
“I put a little pressure on myself. I didn’t have the luxury of ‘oh, I have writer’s block.’ But that absolutely happened. But I think what made it enjoyable was something Mark Twain said about writing something that you know. And that’s what I did.”
He logged a lot of information about writing the book, including the fact that it took him 108 hours to write 50,000 words before it was pared down to 38,000. His next writing adventure might be about writing a book for those, like him, who are not writers.
Meanwhile, there is another inspiring figure in his life that he gives credit to in the book — former St. Rita English teacher Mike Kisicki.
Pygon said that he and a group of Mustangs athletes were not too keen on learning poetry until spending a few minutes with Kisicki.
“Nobody wanted to be there,” Pygon said. “There were a bunch of athletes in his room. But he opened up the class with ‘Born to Run’ by Bruce Springsteen and we dissected poetry by dissecting the lines in that song.”
All of a sudden, attitudes changed.
“He made a class that we enjoyed and learned poetry because of it,” Pygon said of Kisicki. “I remember Simon and Garfunkel song ‘I am a Rock’ being about isolation. I never would have learned that or remembered that but that’s the way he inspired us to embrace poetry.
“We all can inspire people and we can do it in different ways. But it does take work. And it does take conscious effort. He clearly did that.”
Jeff Vorva is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.