Category Archives: Empowerment

Leadership: Your Potential to Empower

Carly Fiorina, former 2016 Republican Candidate for President of the United States

Carly Fiorina

As with any one of the 2016 Republican or Democratic candidates for President, you either feel Carly Fiorina is qualified to lead the country, or not. The Republican field was wide this election season, with around 17 candidates to choose from. Some of the candidates we are familiar with, while some we had not heard of before he/she took the political stage.

This post is not meant to be an endorsement for, nor an opinion against Carly Fiorina. I write this today to simply focus on some aspects of leadership I believe Carly and I agree on.

When announcing the end of her run for President yesterday, February 10, 2016, Carly Fiorina said the following. (It can be found verbatim at her website CarlyForPresident.com)


 

This campaign was always about citizenship—taking back our country from a political class that only serves the big, the powerful, the wealthy, and the well connected. Election after election, the same empty promises are made and the same poll-tested stump speeches are given, but nothing changes. I’ve said throughout this campaign that I will not sit down and be quiet. I’m not going to start now. While I suspend my candidacy today, I will continue to travel this country and fight for those Americans who refuse to settle for the way things are and a status quo that no longer works for them.

Our Republican Party must fight alongside these Americans as well. We must end crony capitalism by fighting the policies that allow it to flourish. We must fix our festering problems by holding our bloated, inept government bureaucracy accountable. Republicans must stand for conservative principles that lift people up and recognize all Americans have the right to fulfill their God-given potential.

To young girls and women across the country, I say: do not let others define you. Do not listen to anyone who says you have to vote a certain way or for a certain candidate because you’re a woman. That is not feminism. Feminism doesn’t shut down conversations or threaten women. It is not about ideology. It is not a weapon to wield against your political opponent. A feminist is a woman who lives the life she chooses and uses all her God-given gifts. And always remember that a leader is not born, but made. Choose leadership.

As I have said to the many wonderful Americans I have met throughout this campaign, a leader is a servant whose highest calling is to unlock potential in others. I will continue to serve in order to restore citizen government to this great nation so that together we may fulfill our potential.


In four paragraphs I find some exquisite gems of leadership by Carly. It is her ideas I write about today.

“…a leader is not born, but made. Choose leadership”

We all come to earth in the same way. It does not matter where we are born, what time in history, or how our mother ranked on the social scale. From the moment of birth, we all have to develop the ability to walk, talk, and overcome the fear of pain and failure.

It is through our common experiences on the same planet that our ability to lead will be developed. Leadership is a small seed in each of us. However, at some point we will choose to lead or not. In other words, we influence (or lead) others every day of our life. People watch us, learn from us, and sometimes imitate us even if we don’t know it.

Choosing leadership, as Carly suggests, means to use the influence, abilities, and experiences we’ve had to add to the influence, abilities and experiences of someone else.

“…a leader is a servant whose highest calling is to unlock potential in others”

Until you decide that life is NOT about you, then you will never be truly happy. Life is about empowering those you love to be whom they have the potential to be.

Parenting is the most perfect example of true leadership. Parenting involves sacrificing your own needs for the needs (and usually the wants) of your children. Even if you don’t have children, you can recall the example of sacrifice from your own parents, or from people in your life who shaped the good parts of who you are. Exceptional leaders have that kind of influence over their fellow human beings.

Leadership, as Carly mentions, is the act of identifying the potential in someone else, helping them see it, and then teaching them ways to empower their future through the best choices. Leadership is not about gaining followers so you can be lifted higher in status. True leadership is serving others in a way that helps them see their own value and purpose. Those who lead best are those who love to serve.

61. Servant leadership

“A feminist is a woman who lives the life she chooses and uses all her God-given gifts”

I completely agree with Carly in her idea that women should never be made to feel less than they are, especially by other women. When women are told that they will happier and more successful in life by destroying the potential of someone weaker or more vulnerable than herself, she is undermining her true happiness in every way. The same goes for men.

Women and men should seek to develop relationships founded in love and friendship. Let’s work to develop deeper, long lasting ties with people, than just casual moments of pleasure and fun. If we do, our lives will be much more fulfilling, and we’ll have fewer regrets.

Carly Fiorina may have made a great President, or not. We may never know. However, I can see by her behavior, her experience, and her ability to fight for what is good and right, that she is, has been, and will continue to be, a great leader.

You likely remember the exchange she had with another candidate, Donald Trump, after he insulted her looks:

CarlyFiorina2

I implore you to explore your leadership. Are you influencing for good the lives of others, or are you focused on getting ahead? I have written a book which defines what exceptional leadership is. I invite you to read it. I’m confident it will help you develop the most important traits of leadership.

Slide ad for book

Buy it on Amazon today!

Tell me what you think of leadership. Do you agree with me and Carly?

What if You’re C.) “All of the Above”?

*WARNING: The following post contains a rant. The writer is subject to:

A.) Fly off the handle

B.) Break down in tears

C.) Crawl under a rock

D.) Be prepared for whatever LIES ahead.

I rarely rant (okay, my husband and children would say otherwise) Yet, today I have stewed about a particular situation all last weekend, and it’s time to let it out! WHAAAA!

I am embarrassed to say that I’m looking for a job. I have owned my own business (Emerald City Consulting) for 8 years. It has been profitable at times, and not so profitable at other times. It takes money to advertise in the never ending fragmented ways that exist in today’s ever changing marketplace, and my marketing budget is non-existent. Therefore, since August I have been actively seeking employment.

In the course of my 35 year career, I have accumulated vast and varied skills. Rather than be viewed as well-rounded, I think it’s probably working against me in the hunt for a job. It’s like taking a true/false test, when I have a multiple choice background.

“Yes, I can do all of the above”. Therefore, my search for a job has been vast and varied. I have experience in many areas, rather than 35 years building on just one skill.

For this reason, I don’t remember exactly what the ad on www.Indeed.com said that caused me to apply for a particular job last week. There were likely a multitude of ways I “fit the bill”.  I was happy to receive an email last week from Catherine Smith in HR at Dynamic Concepts, Inc. She was requesting an interview with me. In 10 weeks of submitting over 100 resumes, this would be merely my second actual interview. (Perhaps I should have been suspicious).

Even though I had no memory of placing the application, nor did I remember the job description, I took the opportunity to look at the website for Dynamic Concepts, Inc. Here are a few screen shots from their website.

What would YOU believe Dynamic Concepts, Inc. to be known for?

My interpretation was thus:

They are a company who works with clients to increase the client’s branding and marketing efforts.

It sounded to me as though they had a unique approach to helping their clients manage and market their businesses. I was ALL ABOUT these ideas, and I was excited for an interview. Furthermore, their website touted the following (I’ve bolded the words/phrases that appealed to my skills and abilities):

  1. Success in unprecedented growth for the clients we work with by following a couple of core principles. Targeted outreach programs place branding specialists in front of an ideal buying audience to produce rapid returns. An emphasis on team building allows for the highest standard of service to be duplicated into new markets at an accelerated rate.
  2. The standard of excellence we provide has allowed us the opportunity to partner with nationally recognized name brands. As such, we are committed to maintaining the highest levels of professionalism because we know that we are not only representing ourselves, but the top-notch clients that put their faith in us.
  3. We are continually able to reach new markets and demographics with the help of our global network. Our clients know that we are not alone when marketing their brand. A solid network of marketing executives enables us to become fast and efficient problem-solvers. We can respond immediately should any situation arise.
  4. The most significant factor in our success is the experience of the consumer. We are diligent about following up spectacular campaigns with exceptional support and customer service. Our approach is convenient and cost-effective for the consumer, allowing them more freedom with their time and money without sacrificing on quality.

The Dynamic Concepts, Inc. website was done very well. Large amounts of money had been spent on its engaging and motivating content and layout. I looked forward to my interview in Renton – a few miles from where I live!

A few minutes before my scheduled interview time last Friday, I pulled into an industrial park. Industrial park? The first clue that Dynamic Concepts, Inc. may not meet my expectations.

I found building 10. Amid a sea of doors, I saw one labeled “Dynamic Concepts, Inc.”

Upon entering the door, I came face to face with a young man sitting at a desk. He looked like an adolescent trying to look like an adult. He was wearing a bow tie and a suit jacket that was at least three sizes too big.  It reminded me of this scene in the movie, Beetlejuice:

Okay, he was a nice enough looking young man, but this picture illustrates the thought that came to mind because of his over-sized clothing.

I was feeling uneasy, but took the one-page application form he offered and filled it out. Then, an adolescent-looking girl asked me to follow her into a small, poorly decorated office. She explained that this was a short “get to know you” meeting.

She asked what had drawn me to their ad.

“I actually don’t remember the ad, but I am drawn to some words and phrases on your website – mentoring, management, marketing, and client support”, I replied.

She asked, “What two words describe you?”

“Professionalism and eloquence” I said. (Yeah, corny. Whatever)

She began to describe Dynamic Concepts, Inc. as a company that uses event marketing to support their clients. “Clients”, she said “like Kroger, Costco and gas stations.”

She then showed me a picture of “what our members do”. It was a picture of three young people wearing orange safety jackets standing under a portable pop-up tent behind a table with spray-paint-can-like objects on the table.

“Where are they?” I asked.

“This is at a Kroger store. Right now, we are new to Washington, so we have two products we feature – a car wax and windshield repair. But the company has over 75 products.”

I’m trying to wrap my brain around what I’m hearing. I point to the picture. “Are these Kroger products?”

“No, these are our products, but Kroger, who is our client, partners with us.”

My stomach is getting queasy, and I realize I’ve been duped. This is nothing more than a sales position. A freaking position selling car wax under a tent in the parking lot of major retailers. Retailers who rent their space to Dynamic Concepts, Inc., who call the retailers CLIENTS.

By this definition, my landlord is my client because he lets me use his home to live in. WTH???? (“Honey, did you send a check to our “client” this month to pay our rent?”)

My choice: D.) NONE OF THE ABOVE!

Holy Crap! This company went to a lot of trouble to lie about what they do, so that they could get stupid people to apply for a stupid sales job, who would then be taught how to manage and lie to more stupid people about how to sell stupid products for “clients” who are anything but clients!

On my way home, I began to realize that they saw my resume, and thought I was stupid enough to be taken in by their masquerade. What does that say about me? I’ve struggled with this all weekend, and my ego is bruised badly. I am both angry that there are people out there making money off of lies and dishonest methods, and sad that I was viewed as someone who could be taken in by people making money off of lies and dishonest methods.

My job search has been essentially unproductive, and I’m not sure what to do next. I’ve never considered myself unskilled, but I’m sure beginning to feel that way. Perhaps it’s this way for everyone. I mean, I haven’t looked for a job for more than 10 years. Is this what it’s come to? Lies, dishonesty?

Or, am I simply going about it the wrong way? I have NEVER had trouble finding a job in the previous twenty years of my career. Yet, I am so much more experienced now. I have accomplished amazing feats. I have run a business, and directed a non-profit successfully. But I am under-valued by potential employers.

It seems that when it comes to true/false job searches – false is okay. People make lots of money being false.

It seems that in multiple choice job searches, A or B are appropriate answers, but never apply if your answer is C.) All of the above or D.) None of the above.

Therefore, I have written a 1000 word essay about my job search. Will it help? Will it matter? Heck, I don’t know. I just don’t want to be duped again.

Anyone out there want to hire an “ALL OF THE ABOVE”?

 

 

Being a Singer Leader

My husband and I are privileged to own a Singer sewing machine. We acquired the Singer 221-1 Portable Electric model years ago at a garage sale when I was quilting as a hobby. Oh, the memories….. Ahem, that’s a story for another blog post.

Singer 221-1 Portable Electric Sewing Machine

Many times through the years we’ve thought of selling our Singer. Each time we’ve brought it out of its place on the shelf to consider its value, I am amazed at the well-made, time-tested strength and beauty of a piece of equipment made for such functional reasons – making clothing.

The Singer 221-1 was born in 1946, and may have been the first electric sewing machine. It is built like a tank, and it’s capabilities rival any military instrument. Seriously, this machine is forged steel – not plastic, not fiberglass. Yet it is decorated with classic gold filigree. All the high-tech sewing machines in use today are patterned after the Singer.

It’s also important to consider the stamina of the Singer Company. Since 1851, the name Singer has been synonymous with sewing. The spirit of practical design and creative innovation that characterized the company at its beginning continues today as they develop products for every level of sewing.

The Singer website lists the firsts they’ve celebrated over the years:

  • The world’s first zig-zag machine
  • The first electronic machines
  • The world’s most advanced home sewing and embroidery machines

I learned to sew when I was 15. On my 16th birthday, I received my first sewing machine, and I made all my school clothes that senior year of high school. I even made my own wedding dress on that machine when I married at age 19. I can truly appreciate the functional aspect of a well-made, multiple function sewing machine.

With my bridal party on my wedding day wearing the dress I made myself

I also appreciate leadership in its purest form, and leaders who provide examples of time-tested traits that help them develop strong leadership skills in others.

A multitude of leaders are mentioned in my book, SELF Centered Leadership: Becoming Influential, Intentional and Exceptional. Like the Singer sewing machine, these leaders are made of forged steel and have influenced the lives of others – even empowered the lives of others.

  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • John Quincy Adams
  • John C. Maxwell
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • Tony Dungy
  • Ralph Smedley

If you are unfamiliar with any of these influential leaders, I invite you to study up on them. They provide powerful examples of characteristics of leadership we should all strive for. Characteristics such as consensus, inspiration, action, knowledge, work, engagement, respect, strategy, empowerment, and service.

Like a Singer sewing machine, the value of an exceptional leader will never decrease. The leader will be ever-changing, ever innovating, and ever-expanding, yet the pattern of influence and strength will be steadfast and constant.

Are you that type of leader?

What would YOUR team say about you?

How do you feel when you lead?

Does your influence empower others?

Have you considered your leadership strengths and weaknesses?

Let me know your answers to these questions. Let’s take you down from the shelf, dust you off, and consider your leadership value. Let’s plug you in, turn you up, and help you create a new outfit – a stronger leadership style, and a steadfastness in innovation and empowerment. Let’s make you a Singer – Leader!

Oh, and by the way, are you in the market for a Singer sewing machine? All offers considered…

Spoons Should Be Outlawed and Other Crazy Ideas

I’ve been writing this leadership blog for several years. Today’s post is personal. It may sound political. It may sound religious. It may even sound judgmental. No matter how you interpret it, this post is MY opinion and I own it! At it’s core, it is about leadership. I invite you to weigh in whether you agree or disagree.

In the wake of another mass shooting at a school, there are many questions being asked. The leader of our nation, President Obama gave his personal opinion shortly after the tragedy at UCC in Roseburg Oregon last week. In listening to his message, I witnessed a “leader” who displayed traits that disqualify him as such.

President Obama didn’t put ANY responsibility on the young man who cowardly shot a dozen or more unarmed individuals, and killed 9 of them. Instead, he used the power of his office to blame society – a society he has had direct influence over for more than seven years. A society that has become more divided than it was when he took office seven years ago.

Mr. Obama took opportunity to blame his team members in congress (yes, Mr. President we are all on the same team even though you refuse to acknowledge that) He blamed guns. He blamed inanimate objects for the murder of human beings. How does that even make sense? Do automobiles cause car accidents? Do spoons make people fat? Are sidewalks the cause of childhood scrapes?

I’d like to see Mr. Obama, (or anyone else) file a lawsuit against a gun, a car, a spoon, or a sidewalk. As ridiculous as it sounds – his remarks, blame, and shift of responsibility are just as ridiculous. True, exceptional leaders don’t blame their team, and they don’t pass judgment prematurely.

The President tends to put blame on anyone else but the actual person whose actions inspired the outcome. Take a moment to recall Treyvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Freddy Gray. Precious lives lost due to their own choices. They put themselves in a position where their life was threatened because of their own actions – not the actions of police officers or other people. We don’t yet know the outcome of the Freddy Gray case, but he was a known drug dealer, and therefore his choices long ago took him down a road that led to his final destination.

Despite the facts, President Obama has been responsible for influencing people (through his poor leadership and message) to divide our nation rather than unite us. HE has made the aforementioned cases about race, instead of about criminals clashing with police or citizens, resulting in unfortunate deaths.

With a severe lack of respect for police officers and those in authority in our nation, there are people on the fringe of society who will use that situation to justify their own evil. School shooters are that kind of evil. True leaders have to stand against evil and NEVER justify it.

True, exceptional leaders enjoy helping others empower their lives. They act to help individuals see their strengths, and encourage them to overcome weakness. Great leaders are grateful and show appreciation for the people who protect those who can’t protect themselves.

Here is how my philosophy differs from what I believe Mr. Obama’s philosophy seems to be.

My belief:

Humans are born as innocent children. These children learn quickly how to manipulate, cheat, and deceive. Seriously, the first truth a newborn learns is – “if I cry, I will be fed”.

You can see how we quickly learn to manipulate and influence the actions of others. We enjoy this manipulation and, generally speaking, if there was no discipline for breaking rules, we would all likely enjoy breaking them.

Rules however are necessary to a civil society.

As we grow, we learn that good choices will bring good consequences; while bad choices will bring unhappy consequences. (Touching a hot stove, for instance) This helps us learn that PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY is the key to our happiness – not anyone else. That knowledge helps us WANT to be good and we make choices accordingly.

My belief: Good choice = good consequence = personal empowerment

Obama’s belief (based on what he’s said and done):

Humans are born as innocent children. Everyone is good, and government knows how to care for everyone. Mr Obama thinks that government makes better teachers, managers, and parents. He seems to believe that rules are restrictions to who we are, and that if “I want it” then “I should have it”.

Our president believes that when someone makes a bad choice it is an indication that society failed this person. (In Obama’s belief system touching a hot stove would lead to a lawsuit against the stove company, which would then require all stoves to be locked until dinner, at which time children would not legally be allowed in the kitchen)

Mr. Obama believes society is to blame for hatred, poverty, and crime. He believes that if government legislates the way we speak to, speak of, and treat each other that we will all be equal, that it will all be fair, and that there will be no hatred, poverty or crime. In reality, this philosophy does exactly the opposite. Government takes away any reason to be good on our own, and therefore punishes ALL of us when ONE of us does something bad.

Obama’s belief: Bad choice = bad society = government empowerment

With that groundwork laid, please read why I believe these mass school shootings keep happening and how it relates to bad leadership which has influenced individuals in our society.

There are evil people who act in evil ways. When people don’t care about right or wrong, then wrong choices are right. When government is responsible for teaching what is right and wrong – based on the philosophy above – then evil people with evil intentions do evil acts. On the other hand, when morality is based on religious philosophy such as The Ten Commandments, people are empowered to govern themselves correctly.

Years ago government began changing the moral compass of our nation. We began to take a path toward political correctness instead of moral correctness. Schools were no longer allowed to use the word God. Then, we could no longer pray at school assemblies and sporting events. Teachers were instructed to stop teaching virtues such as humility, integrity, accountability, and faith. Children don’t even pledge allegiance to the flag of the nation who gives them the very freedoms they no longer see as important.

We’re at a point today where a 12 year-old girl can’t be given an aspirin by the school nurse without a parent’s permission, but the same girl CAN be taken to an abortion clinic without parental permission. RIDICULOUS!

And while we’re talking about morals – what does legal abortion teach our children? (Let’s face it, Planned Parenthood IS NOT an organization that has any interest in empowering women. They MAKE MONEY from abortions. Why would they ever suggest a different solution to a woman faced with a difficult choice?)

Abortion is violence. Unwanted pregnancy? Destroy the “problem”. Kill a fetus so YOU can be rid of something you don’t want. Planned Parenthood teaches that an unwanted pregnancy is an enemy to happiness and an inconvenience. Once it’s gone, all will be well – you’ll have a better life. TAKE A LIFE TO HAVE THE LIFE YOU WANT.

Currently, our government FUNDS this organization, which is under investigation for selling human body parts. This is a travesty, Our leader, Mr. Obama has praised this organization – even saying “Thank God for Planned Parenthood”. Thank GOD? Are you serious? God has NOTHING to do with Planned Parenthood, and neither should our government. Bad leadership run amok!

Is it any wonder why young men who are on the fringe of society, and who have few friends, and who feel that society has in some way wronged them, choose to destroy other human beings that belong to that society? They have been taught that violence is the answer. TAKE A LIFE TO HAVE THE LIFE YOU WANT. A woman has the right to choose murder – why shouldn’t a man?

Mass shooters want to win. To them, that means “take as many people with you on the way out”. This is how they go from being unknown and faceless one day, to becoming famous the next. Violence and murder give them the life they want. And when our leader will blame their act on the inanimate object they used to commit the crime, instead of calling attention to the evil, cowardly person they were, that’s icing on the cake! Their legacy will leave a country more and more divided.

Then the president goes on television to blame society for one man’s heinous act. Not one mention is given to the brave men and women of law enforcement who brought the carnage to a halt. Why would he give them credit? Police officers are all part of the bad society that creates more bad people because of their brutality. That is the mindset of our president.

Should there be more stringent gun regulation?

In my opinion, there should be more responsible gun owners. In almost every case of a school mass shooting, the ONLY reason the evil cowards were stopped was because the police showed up with guns. It took a few good guys armed with legal weapons to stop evil people from killing more.

Gun-free zones are exactly the places where the evil cowards will go for their violent and murderous acts because they will encounter NO resistance. The students in schools are sitting ducks. There would be fewer mass shootings in schools if there were more guns in schools. I’m not suggesting that students are armed, but security guards should be, and there should be more security guards.

The next time President Obama sings his song of more gun regulation, I suggest someone ask him to take the guns from the security detail that protects him daily. Perhaps he’d then see what it’s like to live in the inner city of Chicago – his hometown – where gun laws are VERY strict yet the criminals have them – which accounts for the 2,322 gun deaths since January in Chicago. Innocent people cannot defend themselves. They are sitting ducks in a supposed “gun-free city”.

At its core, government is corrupt. The 2nd Amendment was put in place because of the fear of corrupt government. An armed citizenry would be able to protect themselves from a corrupt government.

There is no value system in our nation. Political correctness has all but removed the ability to teach values. Then we have young people who decide killing is the way to make a statement. We are to blame for electing leaders of our government who protect the rights of extremists who say, “Death to America and Israel” but ruin the livelihood of a baker who didn’t want to support a gay wedding. It’s insane!

And we wonder why this keeps happening? When you’ve been taught by teachers and government leaders that there is no God, no reason to be good for a better purpose, then why be good? Killing others will be your glory, not loving and serving others.

I would encourage you to consider who you’ve voted for in the last several elections. Have they brought a moral compass to our nation or have they deleted any moral compass we’ve ever had? Are they leading with true, exceptional principles, or are they found lacking those traits. Do our leaders unite people, or divide them? Do our leaders shift blame, and preach that ANYTHING is okay as long as it leads to the outcome they want?

My message may sound political. It may sound religious. It may even sound judgmental. No matter how you interpret it, this post is MY opinion and I own it! True leadership is important….no, it’s vital! YOU can make a difference. YOUR choices in the next election will matter. True leaders will engage in the process rather than try to politicize their agenda.

I invite you to weigh in whether you agree or disagree. Remember to communicate politely and with kindness.

“Shades” of Communication and How to Be Authentic

I’m a youth pastor. Recently, I was teaching a group of girls about communication. We were also decorating sunglasses with paint, glitter, nail polish and ribbons. I asked them, “How does communication relate to sunglasses?”

One young woman replied, “If I’m wearing sunglasses, people may not feel like talking to me.”

I began to tell a personal experience I’d had with sunglasses…and a few other props.

Please take a moment to watch this video titled SUNGLASSES AND COMMUNICATION

This is a picture of my “Where in the Mall is Your Mother?” disguise…

The lessons learned from my personal experience are four-fold. In other words, Four Shades of Communication:

  1. Be sure of your message. What are you trying to say?
  2. Dress in such a way that your appearance is congruent to your message.
  3. Act in such a way that your message will not be misunderstood or in any way undermined.
  4. Communicate your message clearly. Speak in a manner that makes people want to hear your message

We HAVE to communicate. Make sure you’re being authentic when you do so!

By the way, here’s a picture showing the results of our decorated sunglasses…

If you’d like to up your communication and leadership game, be sure to register for, and attend my 2015 Fall Leadership Laboratory on September 26, 2015. You can find the details in the image below AND by going to my website to register. EMERALD CITY CONSULTING

Three Ways to Lose and Still Win

I have returned from Las Vegas. I competed in the semifinal competition of The World Championship of Public Speaking on Thursday, August 13th at Caesars Palace. I lost, but still won.

One hundred thirty countries were represented by 96 competitors in 10 semifinals. Speeches are five to seven minutes in length, and are essentially a seven minute secular sermon. The speaker’s message should be persuasive, inspiring, and infused with an element of humor.

I was in semifinal #10 with nine other competitors – all men. Speaking order is drawn at random, and I selected a three of diamonds from a standard card deck. This put me in the third of ten speaking positions.

In the weeks leading up to the competition, I have crafted, practiced and presented speeches to audiences of all sizes. I had the ominous task of having two speeches ready in case I moved on to the final contest. Rules require a completely different speech from the one presented in the semifinal.

The speech that helped me win a place at the semifinal was titled “Happily, Even After” and was about my experience with childhood abuse and how love and forgiveness helped me heal from it. I was encouraged to not continue competing with this speech because it lacked enough humor. (A tough subject to make fun of), therefore I have spent several weeks reworking THAT speech, and writing others as possible replacements.

The emotional and mental aspect of my journey has been all-consuming. Thus, the reason for few blog posts during this period of time since mid-May. All my writing and creativity has been spent on speeches. I have worked on speeches titled:

  • BUMPS
  • Create Your Happiness
  • It Could Be Worse
  • To Save a Life
  • Attitude Changes mood
  • Be an Action Hero

On August 3rd – ten days before the semifinal, I gave two speeches to an audience at The Microsoft Store at Bellevue Square Mall. The feedback I received was not very positive, and I came away from that event feeling confused and sad. I started over. In an attempt to concentrate on authenticity and elements that my two speeches didn’t seem to have, I wrote new speeches and reworked other speeches.

Lee Amatangelo and Rich Hopkins have coached me at different points during the process, and they were probably thinking I’d lost my mind heading into the final stretch. Maybe I had. Changes were happening daily, and I was feeling less and less prepared. Ryan Avery’s book was used as reference to add needed winning elements to my speeches.

I mentally walked through both of my speeches during my flight to Las Vegas. Because of last minute changes, I did not have any opportunity to present either speech to an audience before the contest. That was scary. I decided to focus on a speech titled, THAT HURT! for the semifinal.

The smoke and dry air in Las Vegas wreaked havoc on my voice and throat, so I tried to keep conversation minimal. I spent the first evening in Vegas practicing and preparing for the next day. In fact, I used the iron in my hotel room to press the suit I would wear for the contest. Yet, the first time I placed the iron on my black slacks, a white substance came off the iron onto my slacks. UGH! They were not going to be wearable the next day despite the hotels promise to have them dry cleaned for me. My wardrobe malfunction could have thrown me off – and in fact, forced me to wear an alternate outfit instead of the power suit I wanted to.

At 8:00am on Thursday, August 13th, I met for a briefing with all 96 contestants in the semifinal. I met the contest chair, and the other contestants in my contest. They were all men. We drew for speaking order, and had fun getting a group picture.

Pictured from left are: Emmanuel Fadahunsi (front), Martin Moreau (back), Michael Carr (front), Joe Grondin (back), Me, Michael Williams II (back), DeAndre Carter (front), Brian Olds (back), Naoki Tamura (Front) and Nelson Ortega (back).

All of us 10 semifinalists gathered again at 11:00 for a short practice on the stage. We were mic’ed, and were given three minutes to practice our blocking and gestures to ensure the mic was placed in the appropriate place. We were shown the timing device that would alert us at certain times during our speeches. We practiced entering and exiting the stage during our interviews.

I came away from the practice with my rivals feeling a desire for every one of them to win. They were my brothers at that point, and I only wanted them to do their best and win a spot in the final. One of them did.

The semifinal contest began at 7:30pm, and being the third speaker, I was on stage almost immediately it seemed. I gave a good speech. I lived by the rule that Lance Miller preaches – it’s not about perfection, it’s about connection. I believe I connected with my audience, and came away feeling confident in my performance even though there were minor mistakes. I actually had fun on stage – the nerves worked to my advantage and gave me an edge I hoped it would.

But alas, my name was not announced in the final three. I was disappointed for myself, but happy for the three that placed.

  • 3rd Place: Nelson Ortega
  • 2nd Place: Noaki Tamura
  • 1st Place: Joe Grondin

My disappointment was not because I didn’t win, but more about feeling I’d let my husband down. You see, I have served Toastmasters International since 2007 in leadership positions that have kept me from focusing on my business as much as I should have. I convinced myself that the leadership training I was getting would make me a better speaker, and that when I was finally eligible to compete, I would win big and my business would be catapulted forward, and it would finally prove worth all the sacrifice. THAT’s why I was disappointed. ALL the plans I had worked for felt like a waste of time, and I’d let my husband down.

I felt like a BIG flamingo was crushing my plans.

Yes, I’ve had an experience that few people have. Out of the 30,000 + Toastmasters that started competing in February, I had won a position in the top 100 Toastmaster competitors. I was proud of that accomplishment, and I know many people would have gladly taken my place. I was also confident that THIS WAS MY YEAR. When it didn’t materialize, my thoughts turned negative. I was starting over in my business, and I was overwhelmed.

In the days that have followed, I realize the blessing that I’ve had. I see the growth I’ve gained as a speaker. I have taken feedback and used it to improve my abilities. I have spoken in front of hundreds of people, and they have heard a message that only I have to give. I am grateful for my journey. And I am grateful my journey can continue.

Here are three ways you can lose and still win:

  1. Identify the ways the losing experience has caused personal growth. In what ways can you now help others?
  2. Identify the people who helped you along the way and feel gratitude.
  3. Identify what you’ll do differently when the opportunity arises again, then make it happen.

I have so many of you to thank for your support. The funds raised through my GoFundMe account were used to the penny to pay the fees and costs associated with this competition. My hair goddess, Lesley Gregory at 5th Avenue Salon in Issaquah cut and colored my hair AT NO CHARGE to support my contest. I am so touched by her generosity and support.

KATY OLSON didn’t let me pay her to house sit while Arny and I were away. That was a wonderful gift.

Every one of you who offered positive and helpful feedback have also been helpful. Lee and Rich, my coaches, were essential pieces of the puzzle. Arny, my husband, gave his undying support, and allowed me time to think and create as I needed to.

THANK YOU ALL for being part of my fabulous journey. Every kind word will be remembered. I jumped into the deep end, and stayed afloat. Contest season will come up again in the Spring. I will try again, beginning at a higher level than before. I already have some speeches written!

Now…back to work.

Five Ways to Win!

Preparing to give a message to the world is more time consuming and more expensive than I thought. It also takes mental, physical and emotional energy to reach the crossroads where content, delivery and inspiration meet. I find myself thinking about my speeches as I fall asleep each night; and my speeches are the first thought I have when I awake in the morning.

Toastmasters International has paid for my airfare. I leave Seattle and arrive in Las Vegas on August 12, 2015. That is the only cost that Toastmasters International is covering. That leaves so much more for me – a starving author/speaking – to come up with.

It’s not easy to ask for help, but it is a necessity for me in this case. Below I have listed four ways that you can help my message reach a world audience.

1. Practice makes perfect. I am speaking my message to audiences large and small as often as possible. I encourage you to host an event where I can give my speech(es) and get feedback from the audience. It would be very helpful if I could sell my book at the same event. Please contact me with opportunities: jackie@emeraldcityconsulting.com

2. Buy my book. SELF Centered Leadership: Becoming Influential, Intentional and Exceptional was published in December, 2014. My speech content has been taken from the stories in my book. SELF is an acronym for the four traits I believe we all must posses to become EXCEPTIONAL LEADERS. My book is available on my website in paperback, and on AMAZON in paperback and Kindle.

3. Hire me to coach you and/or your team. If you are preparing a presentation and you’d like some feedback – I am the 2015 Toastmasters International District 2 Evaluation Champion – I can help. If you are looking for a new job or career and you’d like some direction; perhaps you’d like to discover your strengths and weaknesses in communication and leadership – I wrote the book on it – I can help. If you’re a business owner and you’d like to decrease your staff turnover rates, or you’re hiring a new team member – I’m certified to use the Drake P3 system from Predictive Performance International – I can help.

4. Go fund me. If you are in a position to donate financially, I’d appreciate it. You can help me pay for my hotel in Vegas, and pay for some coaching I need help with in order to deliver a winning world-class speech. Your donation will not be in vain – I’m offering products and services as a thank you. Go here to donate: http://www.gofundme.com/WorldSpeech

5. Share this blog with your friends. It’s always nice to share, so please let your friends and social media followers know how they can help me prepare to share my message to the world.

I thank you very much. I appreciate your support in any way you can provide it.

By the way, I was recently featured on LifelongEnerjoy blog. The post is titled How to Forgive the Beasts in Our Life. It’s a short post about my winning speech – it even features a version of my winning speech. Take the opportunity to watch it, and please comment on the blog. We bloggers look out for each other.

This week I’m speaking at several locations. Perhaps you’d like to hear my latest speech, BUMPS.

Monday, June 22 2015: Seriously Funny  Toastmasters 6:30 pm

Wednesday, June 24 2015: Sammamish Star Performers Toastmasters 6:30 pm

Thursday, June 25 2015: Beacon Speakin’ Toastmasters 4:35pm (not a competition speech event)

Friday, June 26 2015: TM2: T-Mobile Toastmasters 12:00pm

Three Key Components to Selecting Winning Speech Topics

As I prepare for my semi -final competition in the Toastmasters International Speech contest, I am developing three separate speeches at the suggestion of my mentor, Lee. He feels I should be ready to share three messages, and know them well forward and backward.

Ryan Avery, Toastmasters International 2012 World Champion of Public Speaking, encourages internalizing, not memorizing your speech. Here’s a link to Ryan Avery’s 2012 winning speech: Trust is a Must In his book, Speaker Leader Champion Ryan gives several tips on selecting a topic. Here are the first three:

1. Speak to serve. The starting point: what is valued by others?

2. Choose a single core message. The speaker must be clear about what they want the audience to know, feel, or do.

3. Choose a core theme rooted in an eternal truth. The International Speech Contest calls for a seven-minute secular sermon centered on reminding the audience about an eternal truth or virtue.

I have been sharing my winning speech to several clubs. Last week, I was a guest at SPEAKOUT Advanced Club

   

Last Saturday, I presented “Happily, Even After…” to Conservatively Speaking Toastmasters, my weekly club. Here is a link to watch the speech that I won five contests with: Happily, Even After….

Do you feel Happily, Even After... provides the first three key components to topic selection? What are other topics you feel fit Ryan Avery’s three suggestions above? I’d really appreciate your feedback. Please comment here on my blog when providing your advice.

Following are my speech ideas with title and core message:

1. Happily, Even After… : Love is the key to finding happiness no matter how difficult our journey has been.

2. Bumps and Blessings: Bumps in life that we avoid may be the very experiences we need to have what we want.

3. Forget Yourself and Find Yourself: We find ourselves when we lose ourselves in the service of others

Please tell me what your feelings and thoughts are about these topic choices.

Thanks for being one of my preparation partners!

I will be giving Happily, Even After… or another one of my speeches on Wednesday, June 10th at Communicating for the Cure Toastmasters club at Fred Hutch Cancer Center. The meeting begins at 12:00 noon.

I am also speaking at the Issaquah Highlands YMCA on Thursday, June 11th. That meeting will begin at 7:00pm, however, I will not be giving a competition speech.

Come see me speak, and help me prepare to give my message to the WORLD!

Fourteen Questions to A Cancer Research Student and Author

All I know about life I learned from a bowl of gold fish. Okay…maybe not everything, but I learned some of the important parts of life from watching a bowl of fish. One of those important parts of life is that we all want to lead. We all want to have a moment where we have affected the life of someone else. We all want to be the cause of change in the life of our bowl mates.

I’ve been writing Navigating Your Fishbowl blog for four years. My purpose has been to help you, my reader grow from being a bottom feeder to an exceptional leader. For the very first time in my blogging career, I’m presenting an interview I conducted with an up and coming leader. This young woman is taking action at the age of sixteen I’m confident will change the life of many people who suffer from cancer.

Jennifer Schwartz is an inspiration to me. She and a group of her high school peers discuss the most recent new ideas being explored by people all over the world. They share what they think are the most important issues facing society from social media to medicine. Jennifer says, “I am able to see what ideas can change the world and I only wish to help promote these.”

I hope Jennifer remembers me when she wins the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts.

Jennifer Schwartz is from Ridgefield, Connecticut. She is currently nearing completion of her junior year at Ridgefield High School, where one of her courses has been the Science Research Program, a three-year elective. Jennifer has recently published a book titled: On the Right Track, A Student’s Memoir of Research, Advancement, and Holding on to Hope. Her book was released on May 17, 2015 and available now on Amazon.com

Jennifer’s book is about her journey through the Science Research Program, and is filled with emotional anecdotes and new perspectives on innovative cancer research. The program is made up of a community of students who travel together from early curiosity to self-discovery in the science research world. Students’ topics are not just projects, these are the ideas that will fuel the future of research and innovation. Jennifer chronicles her struggles and successes, both in the program and in her life, to create a powerful and touching story.

I have read the first three chapters of Jennifer’s book. Following are a few excerpts from those three chapters:

“I know cancer is a seemingly endless struggle in which people undergo significant torture to fight to reach remission. Their cure may not be the end of their journey, but the end of their current suffering.”

“To me success is increasing the well-being of the world and the lives of the people who inhabit it.”

“This book is a reflection on my first steps toward lighting a match to ignite hope.”

“I took this fear and turned it into an ambitious energy….”

“I watched my mother lose her hair and feel sick.”

“Every decision one makes is based on their previous experiences.”

You can contact Jennifer on her website: www.jenniferleeschwartz.wordpress.com  She is also on Twitter @jenschwartz798


Following are Jennifer’s answers to my candid questions:

Q: Hope is in the title of your book. What are you hoping for?

A: In my book I tell a story of meeting a girl who was a cancer survivor. I hope that the type of research I’m doing will change the type of treatment she and others with cancer will have to go through, and make it easier to go through cancer treatment. I hold on to hope that the future is always improving, and that cancer treatments are getting better every day. I also hope to be successful through the science of research to help other people.

Q: What is your purpose in writing this book, or what do you want the reader to do after reading your book?

A: I want to show people the unique experience I had compared to other high school students. I also want to show people that no one is limited in how they can make a difference. I believe more people should put effort into making an issue better by helping other people rather than by raising money. Creating opportunity for yourself and finding your passion isn’t so hard. When you apply yourself to the right things, you’ll get a result.

Sarah and John are two of my closest friends, and we have started a TED Ed club at our school, which is a high school version of a TED event. It’s about finding what you’re passionate about, exploring your interests, learning how to share your ideas with the world, and how to present your ideas in a way that connects with the audience.

Q: Are there other schools in your area that offer a Science Research Program?

A: A few high schools have implemented the program, which started as an idea from the University of Albany. Each school that has the program runs it a little differently. A science fair is held every year that involves students in the high school programs. My high school has been doing it for four years, I believe. It is just one elective course. I have seven other classes each day.

Q: Is this your favorite subject?

A: It is, even though I find anatomy more interesting and more fun. This course allows me to get what I want out of it. I can watch a video of a doctor doing a presentation, or read a journal article. I can do what I want, but still get the most out of it without being stuck to a particular curriculum. We have milestones to meet every month, but it’s pretty loose.

Q: Where did your inspiration come from to write a book about your experience in the Science Research Program?

A: I wanted to show people the beginning of my journey – from my Sophomore year. There are steps you can take to help yourself and your future.I wanted to show the steps I’m taking that will hopefully make a difference.

Q: What has been the result of your two years with this program? Have you accomplished what you wanted to so far, and what do you still have left to do?

A: I feel like I’ve accomplished more than I ever thought I would. I came into the course thinking I would get to the cool topic, maybe go to some science fairs, and place in one of them – hopefully. I didn’t realize it was even possible for me to write a book, or to place at a science fair as a junior. I didn’t think I’d be talking on stage at the end of the year. The sophomore year set me up for the rest of my success. My junior year is where I really started to see results of the research.

Q: You weren’t sure what you wanted to research when you began the program. You considered many topics as they related to science and genetics. How did you finally come to choose the one that you knew was the right topic (Cancer treatment drugs) to research?

A: I started researching birth defects and toxins that could be in food products that could lead to the development of birth defects. It was such a controversial topic, and I didn’t always believe what other scientists were reporting. I didn’t want to be too controversial. I started researching Downs Syndrome, but I didn’t want to get involved in that. I didn’t believe I should look for a cure for Downs Syndrome because I know people with Downs Syndrome, and I love them just the way they are. I wouldn’t want to picture them any other way.

I wanted a topic where I could really make a difference and change someone for the better. I wanted to feel fulfilled, knowing I was making a positive difference. I started reading a lot of articles about things that interested me. I found an article about specific cancer treatments, and how they targeted one little protein that could kill cancer cells, and I thought that was so cool. It proved an effective way to destroy the cancer without hurting the body of the person with cancer like chemo therapy does. My amazement in this made me realize this must be the topic I should research. As I continued, I discovered so many more reasons why I love this topic.

At first, I didn’t want to let passion control my decision, but then I thought, of course I should let passion control my decision! It was an emotional decision and I settled on the topic. I read news articles and journal articles and everything I could find about these proteins.

Q: How are you marketing your book?

A: I have a friend, John who wrote a book, and we had an event together at a local library where we invited friends and family. We had two articles written about us and had some sales online from that, but most of the sales happened that day at the library.

Q: Do you plan to write a second book?

A: That’s what a lot of people have been asking me. I think I will wait until this summer to decide. I will be doing my research, and maybe some eventful things will happen. I might wait until after my senior year as a second step to my story. I don’t think I’ll write a trilogy for my three years.

Q: What does the future hold for you? What do you want to do with the knowledge you’ve gained in this process?

A: This summer I will be in a lab doing some research, and that will help me decide if this is a career for me. It could be, but I want to be open minded. I’m definitely going into the sciences.

Q: Is there an end product or a presentation of some kind that you’ll end the class with in your senior year?

A: During the summer between junior and senior year, students go around the world to research centers. This summer I will be experimenting by testing some cancer drugs. Our final report will be like a journal article. Then I will apply to present at some science fairs and hopefully attend some.

Q: What type of experiments are you doing this summer? Are you using mice?

A: We start by using cell life to test the efficacy of certain drugs and to test proteins inside of a cell. That will lead to information for clinical trials in the future. After we determine which drug is more effective, then they would be given to mice.

Q: This interest in cancer began because your mother had cancer when you were very young. How is your mother today?

A: She’s very healthy and has been cancer free for a long time.

Q: What else would you like for my readers to know about your book?

A: I wanted to thank a teacher at my school. He was my advisory teacher and he’s the one that helped me, John and Alexandra to write our books. I wanted to give credit to Mr. Bryan Holmes. I wanted to give you his website, as well as John’s and Alexandra’s websites. Mr. Holmes wrote a book about how to self publish. He didn’t market his own book that much because he wanted to help us market our books. That was really nice.

Here is Mr. Holmes’ www.bryanholmesstem.wordpress.com

This concludes my interview with Jennifer Lee Schwartz, an impressive science student who is determined to make a difference in her world! I appreciate the opportunity to help her market her book and share her story.

Jennifer inspires me because she practices what she preaches in her book – to open your mind to all possibilities, then allow an emotional connection to naturally help you realize your passion.

I encourage you, my readers, to check out Jennifer’s book, as well as the literary works of her teacher and friends. Also available on Amazon is my book – SELF Centered Leadership: Becoming Influential, Intentional and Exceptional. 

I hope Jennifer’s interview has inspired you to be curious in your search for actions you can take to better the life of yourself and others. Happy swimming!

___________ Is My Middle Name.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the line commonly used when someone is trying to convince someone else that they know the subject in question: “Well, _________ is my middle name.”

Hello. My name is Jackie Setback Bailey.

I know that President Obama likes to use the word “setback” to soften the more appropriate, “failure” at times, but failure in this case isn’t as fitting as SETBACK.

I hoped to have a video of me giving my winning speech. I delivered my speech to a group of Toastmasters this last Tuesday evening, and I asked a member of the club to use my ipad to film me. The film is great, except I believe the cameraman had his hand over the microphone, so there is no sound. Setback.

No worries. I’m presenting my contest winning speech tomorrow morning. (Full disclosure: this is a club I belong to). Details below:

If you can make it, fabulous. If not, I’ll try once again to have it filmed. I really, really want to get your feedback. And I really, really want to start presenting my second speech for audiences as well. I’m working on that.

Stay tuned for a video of my speech.

But wait, there’s more!

Yesterday I interviewed a remarkable young woman who has written a book. Keep in mind, Jennifer Schwartz is still in high school – completing her junior year in a few weeks, and will be a senior next fall. She has written a book based on her own CANCER RESEARCH. Yes, you read that right. She has been doing CANCER RESEARCH.

This is her book. It’s out now on Amazon.com. On Tuesday next week, I’m going to blog about my interview with Jennifer and about her newly published book. Jennifer is a well-spoken, gifted and intelligent young lady who deserves to be recognized for her skills in leadership. She is leading people toward a specific mission, and I’ll tell you all about that on Tuesday. Please tune in.

And while you’re checking out Jennifer’s book, please check out mine too. SELF Centered Leadership: Becoming Influential, Intentional and Exceptional.

See you all on the other side of the weekend!