Category Archives: Empowerment

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!

Three Ways to Become One of the Cool Kids, Part III

The three P’s of Empowerment are:

  • Preparedness
  • Principles
  • Promises

My most recent posts have been about becoming one of the cool kids after my District 2 win in the International Speech Contest. In case you’ve missed them: Part 1  Part 2

This post focuses on the third P – Promises.

PROMISES:

Promises and commitments are harbingers of happiness. Empowerment happens when we live true to the promises and commitments we make.

In the midst of my childhood and experience with abuse; and even into the healing phase of my abuse years later, I always knew if I just made good decisions that I would have a chance to be happy. I counted on blessings from God if I obeyed His will. I also felt that if I didn’t keep my promises to Him, that I would be forfeiting possible blessings.

That being said, I have had many trials. In fact, it seems that I’ve had more challenges than most. But maybe we all feel that way. In the midst of these challenges, I’ve wondered when the blessings were going to come. I was preparing as best I could; I was living by my values and principles; l was doing good for/to others – when would I be blessed?

There is a song written by Ryan Miller, Adam Gardner and Brian Rosenworcel that fits my life, and even the current situation I’m in as I prepare for the next level of speech competition in Las Vegas to an international audience. These three men just happen to be members of my favorite alternative pop band, GUSTER.

I share with you the words of this song, with an opportunity to listen to them as well. Can you tell why this song might have some appeal to me?


 “ALL THE WAY UP TO HEAVEN

He said to only look up; He said to never look down

Down is where we came from

He said to hope for the best; and take a load off my chest

Soon I could be happy

And go all the way up to heaven; and go all the way back home

He thought I might need his help; no one gets high on themselves

I just seemed so lonely

He’s just trying to be nice; and spread around his advice

I could be that happy

And go all the way up to heaven; and go all the way back home

Stay the way I am today, it’s certain more disaster

He can tell a fairy tale, it’s happily ever after

Just relax, and greener grass will grow here for a change

Maybe then we’ll last a million years or more, or more, or more, or more

And go all the way up to heaven; and go all the way back home

Yes, I do believe what He says

I want to be happy

I could sure use His help; no one gets by on themselves

He can make me happy

And I will always look up (It’s a warm summer breeze)

And I will never look down (it’s weakness in your knees)

Down is where we came from (It’s a perfect place above – full of everlasting love)

And I will take that advice (Nothing to fear; nothing to hide)

And take a load off my chest (You just say what’s on your mind)

We could make that happy (Needn’t think before you speak. This is how it’s meant to be)

You know we needed his help (Ever high, never fall)

Now we’re not high on ourselves (you can do no wrong at all)

I will know that happy (In this heaven up above filled with everlasting love)

Into the light

To the light


So many parts of this song are sung right to me. The day before the competition I came down with laryngitis. I’ve never had it so bad. Based on advice from others I drank teas with lemon and honey, and I sucked on zinc lozenges. I drank hot water with vinegar, lemon and honey, and I took anti-inflammatory medications. All this to no avail. The morning of the contest I was no better.

I tried to speak as little as possible. I could not practice my speech out loud, but only meditate and visualize myself on stage saying what I’d practiced. At competition time, my throat and chest had loosened and opened. My voice was not as strong as I’d hoped, but the microphone made up for the rest.

I’m so glad I was able to deliver my message, albeit in a different way than I’d imagined. Perhaps it was the sexy, low voice I had that influenced the judges.

Guster’s song reminds me that I had to depend on a greater strength than my own. I believe that was Father in Heaven. He kept a promise to bless me despite the trials and challenges that came that day. He helped me deliver a message about fairy tales that perhaps He’d prepared me to give my entire life. I needed His help, because I could not get by on myself.

As I move forward in the competition, I will only look up. I will never look down. Whatever happens, I will take His advice and try to be happy.

Promises. We’ve all made them. We all must keep them. When your promises are kept to others, you will be given assurance of promises kept to you from a power greater than yourself.

Empowerment comes through the the three P’s:

  • Preparedness
  • Principles
  • Promises

Please comment below about how these areas have empowered you.

Empowerment is the E in the acronym SELF in SELF Centered Leadership: Becoming Influential, Intentional and Exceptional. If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to do so. Perhaps my message will provide some ways for you to empower your life as you try to be one of the COOL KIDS!

Three Ways to Become One of the Cool Kids, Part II

On May 16, 2015 I competed at the District level International Speech contest, and I won! I will be moving on to the semi-finals in Las Vegas! That’s where the cool kids are!

In a previous post I illustrated how I made it this far by applying the Three P’s of Empowerment:

  • Preparedness
  • Principles
  • Promises

In that same post, I told you how I’ve prepared so far, and encouraged you to become a Preparation Partner for this next phase of competition. So many of you have said, “I’m IN!” and I’m overwhelmed by your support.

I’m taking on P number 2 today – PRINCIPLES

PRINCIPLES:

Toastmasters International lists their core values as

  • Integrity
  • Respect
  • Service
  • Excellence

These are principles I also identify in my book SELF Centered Leadership: Becoming Influential, Intentional and Exceptional. Your life, relationships and purpose are empowered when you live by core values and principles, and never compromise them.

As I considered the message I wanted my audience to hear when giving my competition speech, I was guided by principles I’ve adhered to my whole life. I decided to tell a very personal story about my tragic childhood. The message in short is that, “Love overcomes hate, fear and anger. No matter how your story begins, with love you can live happily, even after.”

The message is universal, and has been well received. I believe it’s because the message is true. It makes sense, and even if life has been tragic, we can see that the happy times have been sprinkled or frosted with love.

Whether you’re giving a competitive speech, giving a report to your HR Manager, or teaching your child a skill, your message must be true. Everything you say must be straightforward, clear, and honest. If you can accomplish this, you will be credible, and your life will be empowered.

Humility is not my strong suit, but as Lee Amatangelo and others helped me prepare my speech for different levels of competition, I had to be humble. I had to consider their suggestions, and try them. If they weren’t right, it was obvious quickly. Most suggestions were right, and my speech was enhanced when I implemented them. Mind you, I never compromised my principles. Instead, I let my principles guide me as I humbly considered the feedback of others.

I found during this process that the most important aspect to my message was genuineness. If I didn’t believe what I was saying, the audience knew it. And boy, I had to get really vulnerable! I had to avoid narrating my story, and instead bring the audience into the story with me. That meant that I must not “perform”, but that I needed to truly be in the moment of a past experience while on stage in the present. Not easy, and a part of my speech I continue to perfect.

Isn’t this how we should live life? Shouldn’t we be genuine, vulnerable and humble, while at the same time adhering to our core values and principles through every experience? Shouldn’t we take lessons from past experiences and allow them to guide us in the present moment? I believe so.

Consider your core values and principles. How have they guided you, and what was the outcome when you compromised them?

Now, I must write, and prepare to deliver a second speech. Please comment below with principles I should focus on as the subject matter of my next speech. For those of you who’ve read my book, is there another moving story contained therein that would make a good speech, or parts of a speech?

What topics inspire YOU the most?

What topics do you feel would appeal to an international audience?

If you haven’t yet read my book, you can order from my website, from Amazon, or you can get one from me when you see me next. Your purchase will help me eat when I’m in Vegas.

Please comment here on my blog with questions to the above questions. Part three – PROMISES will be posted soon.

Three Ways to Become One of the Cool Kids

Have you ever wanted to hang out with the cool kids? Be part of the popular crowd? Meet a person whom you admired and wanted to be like?

I’m going to tell you how I have been able to accomplish this, and provide three steps so you can do it as well. Let me start with a little personal background…

I have been involved in the non-profit organization, Toastmasters International, for almost eight years now. There are a lot of cool kids in Toastmasters – men and women who have achieved a certain level of communication and/or leadership that makes them revered and honored. They are celebrities within the organization, not reality TV star celebrities, but more like Paul Newman or Oprah Winfrey celebrities. They have accomplished feats that very few have – feats that have affected and influenced the lives of thousands.

From the website of the organization, Toastmasters International is:

… a world leader in communication and leadership development. Our membership is 313,000 strong. Members improve their speaking and leadership skills by attending one of the 14,650 clubs in 126 countries that make up our global network of meeting locations.

The world needs leaders. Leaders head families, coach teams, run businesses and mentor others. These leaders must not only accomplish, they must communicate. By regularly giving speeches, gaining feedback, leading teams and guiding others to achieve their goals in a supportive atmosphere, leaders emerge from the Toastmasters program. Every Toastmasters journey begins with a single speech. During their journey, they learn to tell their stories. They listen and answer. They plan and lead. They give feedback—and accept it. Through our community of learners, they find their path to leadership.

What few non-Toastmasters know is that there are speech and leadership competitions in the organization twice yearly. These contests begin at the club level – members compete against fellow club members – members who are often like family. The winner of the club contests compete against other club winners in an Area contest. The winner of the Area contests compete against other Area winners in a Division contest. The winners of each Division contest compete at the District level contest.

I am in District 2. There are approximately 3500 members geographically in Western Washington, and includes roughly 175 clubs. Three out of four yearly contests in District 2 (Humorous Speech, Table Topics Speech, and Evaluation Speech) end at the District level. However, the District winner of the International Speech contest will move on to compete against 10 other Districts in one of 10 Semi-Finals held at the annual Toastmasters International Convention. This year it will be held in Las Vegas.

On May 16, 2015 – three days ago as of this writing – I competed in the District level International Speech contest, and I won! I will be moving on to the semi-finals in Las Vegas! That’s where the cool kids are! There have been no more than 90 winners of the final contest – less than 90 individuals who have been crowned “WORLD CHAMPION OF PUBLIC SPEAKING”. In a few months, I will be in the company of the really cool kids – the World Champs of Public Speaking!

Many of the former champs will be at the convention, and they will make themselves available to the contestants. They will support and mentor the contestants in the delivery and content of their competition speeches. Who wouldn’t be excited for the opportunity to talk with Paul Newman or Oprah Winfrey, and receive advice from them?

How did this opportunity come my way? Through the Three P’s of Empowerment. I write about these three P’s in my book, SELF Centered Leadership: Becoming Influential, Intentional and Exceptional. Hanging with the cool kids, getting your dream job, and/or finding success in all you do will happen when you apply the Three P’s of Empowerment.

  • Preparedness
  • Principles
  • Promises

PREPAREDNESS:

Can you ever be too prepared? You can certainly be under prepared. Sometimes preparation takes a lifetime. Sometimes it takes place in a few minutes, days or weeks. The bigger the event or desired result, the more preparation required.

I began preparing for the International Speech contest in 2007 when I joined Toastmasters. I committed myself to working the program, speaking as often as opportunity would warrant, and I said yes when asked to serve and help in the organization.

Many people join Toastmasters for selfish reasons – they want to be better speakers. There’s nothing wrong with this mindset, and in fact, I had the same goal. However, those individuals who see the greatest results are those who begin early to give back. They are the ones who turn from selfish motives to those of a selfless nature.

The first three speeches a new member gives in Toastmasters will teach him/her how to tell a personal story, organize a speech, and how to determine the speech purpose – to entertain, persuade, educate, or inspire the audience. All that in the first three speeches!

Every member receives feedback, called evaluations, from other club members. This is how members of the organization learn in what areas they are improving, and in what areas of communication and leadership they need to focus more time and energy on. Learning how to give this feedback is just as beneficial as getting it.

It goes without saying that if you want to pass a test, win a race, or get the job of your dreams, you must study, practice and obtain the required skills.

The speech I gave at the district level contest is not even close to the speech I started with at the club level contest. The title, “Happily, Even After…” remained the same throughout the three-month process. However, the speech content, purpose and delivery changed at each level to appeal to different audiences.

I had a fabulous mentor – one of those celebrities in Toastmasters. He has won at the district level twice before, and won at the semi-finals once before. Lee Amatangelo unselfishly sacrificed time to listen to my speech, provide suggestions, and helped me discover the message the audience would benefit from hearing. His contribution to my preparation was the key to my win. Solo preparation is possible, but partner preparation yields greater results.

At the District 2 Conference last weekend, Patricia Fripp was our morning keynote speaker, and she also provided a workshop on presentations. She shared some outstanding tips where preparation is concerned:

  1. “Build rehearsal into your everyday life”
  2. “Practice makes permanent”

She asked us, “Are you practicing to improve…or to reinforce bad habits?” This is so eye-opening when it comes to preparation – make sure you’re preparing for the right opportunity, in the right way, by focusing on the right behavior.

As I prepare my next speech to a brand new audience, I must consider who they are. I will be competing against 9 other individuals from around the world. District 2 (that’s me) will be in Semi-Final #10, and I will be competing against a Toastmaster from the following districts:

District 18 – State of Maryland, USA

District 21 – British Columbia, Canada

District 45 – States of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, USA: and New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, Canada

District 48 – West coast of Florida, USA

District 55 – Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Central/South Texas, USA

District 62 – State of Michigan, USA

District 76 – Japan

District 77 – State of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, USA

District 94 – Benin, West Africa

The content and delivery of my speech will need to be focused on connecting to this particular audience. Yikes! Preparation needed? You bet!

I invite you to follow my blog for updates about my preparations leading to my semi-final speech. Let’s call it INTERNATIONAL SPEECH WATCH 2015. To follow my blog, you need only subscribe on either the left or right side of this post. Super easy!

Tune in for the second part of this post. I will focus on the second P of Empowerment – PRINCIPLES.

Getting to Vegas is going to cost me a little money. If you haven’t purchased my book yet, I’d sure appreciate you doing so. Then I can eat while in Vegas this summer. Just go to Amazon and make your purchase. If you want a signed copy, email me, and I’ll bring you one, or have a signed copy shipped to you. There are no excuses!

I hope you’ll join me on this journey. If you’re in, please comment below “I’m IN!” We will be partners in preparation….

Three Basic Leadership Skills and How to Have Them

I once worked for two oral surgeons who had decided to make changes in a benefit that their employees had enjoyed for many years. Prior to any official announcement to the team, rumors began to circulate, leading employees to panic because the changes sounded drastic enough to affect our paychecks.

The manager of the office alerted the doctors to the quickly sinking morale in the office and suggested that rumor may be worse than reality, and that they should make an official announcement. The doctors set aside time from the surgical schedule to gather for discussion about the amended policy.

At the appointed time for the meeting to commence, the team members gathered in the front office waiting for the doctors to join them. Then, through the front window of the office, we noticed that the doctors were leaving the office, getting in their cars and driving away.

The office manager sheepishly entered the front room and was greeted by angry team members who now knew that the rumors were true. Rather than courageously face their team and respectfully explain why changes were to be made, the doctors had delegated the ugly task to the office manager. We all felt betrayed and belittled with no chance for open discussion to ensure understanding. It was obvious that the doctors knew they were hurting their employees, and didn’t care.

Being a leader, CEO, business owner, or manager is not easy. And if responsibility for such a title is taken lightly, the role becomes even harder.

I suggest three basic skills that all leaders should strengthen in themselves. They are COMMUNICATION, DELEGATION and APPRECIATION.

Communication:

  • After one airplane mysteriously disappeared and another was tragically blown up, Malaysia Airlines tried to appeal to travelers’ sense of adventure in a year-end promotional campaign this past November: “Want to go somewhere but don’t know where?” the airline tweeted.
  • As the SARS super-pneumonia swept Hong Kong, the local tourist board continued to use the slogan, “Hong Kong will take your breath away.”

We’ve all made communication blunders. The key is to minimize mistakes.

As a leader, you must have the ability to concisely state your vision and mission so the team sees it as clearly as you do. Communication is less about the words you use, and more about the way you use those words, and the actions you take to illustrate your words.

  1. Write a vision and mission statement. Introduce these statements to your team; allow time to discuss; encourage understanding and buy in.
  2. Use simple words and ask your team to explain your vision and mission in their own words.  Clarify any misunderstandings.
  3. Communicate in person more than email. Email cannot relay emotions and is a communication method that will most likely lead to miscommunication. Discipline in private and praise in public.
  4. Behave as you want your team to behave. Be consistent, positive and available.

Delegation:

Peter Drucker said, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things”

What is the right way to do the right things in leadership when it comes to delegation? You must supply the WHAT, WHY, WHEN and HOW to those to whom you are assigning tasks. In other words, a leader clearly defines:

What the task is.

Why the task is important, and the risks to not doing it.

When the task needs to be completed, and when to report back as specific milestones are met.

How the task is to be accomplished. This means that the tools to implement and complete the task must be supplied.

Part of making sure your team has the right tools is by providing training and opportunity for advancement. Show them that developing skills to do more will be rewarded with more – more pay, more benefits, more responsibility – whatever makes sense in your case.

Delegation requires follow up and feedback.

Appreciation

In a pole given to employees around the nation in varied genres of business, they were asked to rate what’s most important in keeping them engaged at work. You may think that number one would be wages, and you’d be wrong.

Clearly defined job descriptions, recognition and appreciation all rank higher than salary when employees are asked which aspects of work are most likely to keep them engaged at work.

Most recent stats in the American Workplace Report tells us that only about 17% of the American Workforce is engaged. Imagine how this lack of engagement affects profitability. Imagine how much company profits would increase if employee engagement was increased?

Appreciation is the key. Showing appreciation is done through listening, understanding, giving feedback, mentoring and team building. The most successful companies are those who focus on their TEAM ahead of their CUSTOMERS. When the team is happy, your customers will automatically happy. When the focus is reversed, the outcome is not as predictable.

Three basic skills of leadership are COMMUNICATION, DELEGATION AND APPRECIATION. You may readily see how you can improve in these areas, AND I’m sure you can identify employees who would be more effective in their responsibilities if they were to improve in these areas. Empower them to do so by showing them how.

The 10 Essentials of Leadership

A Chinese Proverb says,

“To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping.”

Beginning of journey

What would you take with you on your hardest journey?

Boy Scouts and survivalists will tell you there are 10 Essential Items you must have to travel safely on a journey.  Some items vary, but the typical 10 Essentials for Survival are:

  1. Map
  2. Compass
  3. Flashlight
  4. Food
  5. Clothing/Raingear
  6. Sun protection
  7. 1st Aid Kit
  8. Knife or Multi-tool
  9. Fire Starter(s)
  10. Water

Leadership is a journey wherein you must keep stepping, albeit one step at a time. What do you need to have on a journey of leadership? Are there 10 essentials for that?

Yes! Keep reading for The 10 Essentials of Leadership.

Vision
No journey should begin without a map, and any leader that begins leading without a vision is going to find him/herself lost before very long into the journey. A vision is a plan, such as: “I’m going to write a book about Leadership so that greater leaders will be developed and ready to inspire others”

Antique Compass

Mission
A mission statement for a leader is like a compass to a hiker – essential for staying on the right path. You must know what action to take, and why you’re taking it. And, a compass can help you avoid pitfalls and cliffs you may not readily see. If your vision is “I’m going to write a book about leadership”, then your mission is to describe the chapters, the stories, and the lessons you’ll teach in the book.

Foresee-ability
An exceptional leader is someone who can look ahead and see a potential problem, and then take steps, or encourage team members to take steps, to get around the problem before it happens. If you’ve ever tried to find your way through a darkened space, you’ve probably experienced bumps and bruises. Like using a flashlight, a leader that can foresee obstacles in the distance will be less likely to need an ice pack or first aid kit.

Nurture-ability
Leaders not only lead, they feed. Once something is learned, an exceptional leader will then teach. The ability to nurture will lead others to be successful, and that success only increases the leader’s success, it never diminishes it. Positively feed others with kindness, knowledge and motivation, and you as leader will increase the same in yourself.

Raingear

Preparation
The first P of my Three P’s of Empowerment (found in my book) is PREPARATION. Can you imagine going on even the shortest journey without some kind of preparation? Enough said.

Courage
Sunscreen protects our skin from the suns powerful rays. However, it only works if you apply it BEFORE you need it. Courage in leadership is like that. Courage must be obtained before it is needed. And the time will surely come when it’s needed! A leader must be willing to stand up for his/her guiding values and principles in any situation. Otherwise, a painful burn will be the result.

Humility
When those burns, bruises and scrapes happen in leadership – and they will happen, the first aid kit a leader needs on hand is the balm of humility. Accepting our faults, blemishes and mistakes is never easy, in fact it HURTS! But if the wound is allowed to scab over without proper cleaning, medication and dressing it will surely fester, infect and impact our lives later on. It’s best to deal with it as quickly as possible. A humble, sincere apology is often the best cure for mistakes.

Knowledge
A leader does not have to know everything in order to influence and inspire others. In fact, some of my most influential leaders have been individuals who admitted their lack of knowledge on many things, but they knew where to look for the answers, and were not afraid to discover the answers with me. Having basic knowledge is sufficient – like a camper having one tool that is capable of helping with many tasks, an exceptional leader knows how to change and adapt to circumstances, and he/she learns from every experience!

Waterproof matches

Innovation
Have you ever awakened in a sleeping bag inside a tent after a long night of rain? It’s worse if you have to potty, right? You know you have to get up. You know it’s going to be cold. You know that a fire will warm you. You know that fire will not start by itself, and that the dampness will make it a challenge to get the kindling lit. Knowing all of this, the exceptional leader will gather his/her gumption and discipline, and find an innovative way to start a fire. YOU must be that fire starter! The reward will not come without the necessary sacrifice and work. Be innovative and warm the lives of yourself and others!

Spirituality
Water is the basic element to life. Water is so commonplace that we overlook its amazing life-giving power in our lives. Without water, we die. It’s pretty simple. Exceptional leaders recognize another source of life that is often taken for granted. It is the knowledge that there is a life-giving power greater than we can fully comprehend. Call this power God, The Great Spirit, Mother Nature, whatever you believe. It’s important to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. You have power beyond your understanding, and that power is given to you by a source you cannot see. The greatest leaders are those who rely on this source.

Backpack

There you have it. The list of 10 Essentials of Leadership. How many are in your backpack right now? Which ones do you still need to gather? Don’t take a journey without these 10 items. Doing so could make your travel perilous.

Do you have a story to share, or a comment to make? Please engage with me and my other readers by sharing your thoughts.

Make your day fabulous!