Tag Archives: Appreciation

Platitudes of U.S. Presidents

Today is Presidents Day in the United States. With appreciation, I celebrate my admiration; renew my dedication; and strive to forget any aggravation, with the 42 men who’ve led this great, yet struggling nation.

Despite differences in viewpoints and policy, every President of the United States  has chosen to lead because of love for country. Therefore, I share with you the words they spoke as they led in love. I hope their words will inspire you to increase your love for leadership, and that you’ll love more those you lead.


George Washington 1789-1797
Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected”

John Adams 1797 – 1801
“Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write”

Thomas Jefferson 1801 – 1809
“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock”

James Madison 1809 – 1817
“Philosophy is common sense with big words”

James Monroe 1817 – 1825
“A little flattery will support a man through great fatigue”


John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams 1825-1829
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”

Andrew Jackson 1829 – 1837
“Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in”

Martin Van Buren 1837 – 1841
“I cannot expect to perform the task with equal ability and success”

William Henry Harrison 1841 – 1841
“There is nothing more corrupting, nothing more destructive of the noblest and finest feelings of our nature, than the exercise of unlimited power”

John Tyler 1841 – 1845
“I can never consent to being dictated to”


Portrait Print of President James K. Polk after a Daguerrotype by Matthew Brady

James K. Polk 1845 – 1849
“No president who performs his duties faithfully and conscientiously can have any leisure”

Zachary Taylor 1849 – 1850
“I have always done my duty”

Millard Fillmore 1850 – 1853
“It is not strange…to mistake change for progress”

Franklin Pierce 1853 – 1857
“With the Union my best and dearest earthly hopes are entwined”

James Buchanan 1857 – 1861
“The test of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there”


Abraham Lincoln2

Abraham Lincoln 1861 – 1865
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power”

Andrew Johnson 1865 – 1869
“Honest conviction is my courage”

Ulysses S. Grant 1869 – 1877
“It is men who wait to be selected, and not those who seek, from whom we may expect the most efficient service”

Rutherford B. Hayes 1877 – 1881
“Must swear off from swearing. Bad habit”

James A. Garfield 1881 – 1881
“A pound of pluck is worth a ton of luck”


Chester A Arthur

Chester A. Arthur 1881 – 1885
“I may be president of the United States, but my private life is nobody’s damned business”

Grover Cleveland 1885 – 1889
“Someday I will be better remembered”

William McKinley 1889 – 1901
“That’s all a man can hope for during his lifetime – to set an example – and when he is dead, to be an inspiration for history”

Theodore Roosevelt 1901 – 1909
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”

William Howard Taft 1909 – 1913
“Enthusiasm for a cause sometimes warps judgement”


 

Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson 1913 – 1921
“Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together”

Warren G. Harding 1921 – 1923
“I have no trouble with my enemies. I can take care of my enemies all right. But my damn friends…they’re the ones that keep me walking the floor nights!”

Calvin Coolidge 1923 – 1929
“No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave”

Herbert Hoover 1929 – 1933
“Words without actions are the assassins of idealism”

Franklin D. Roosevelt 1933 – 1945
“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort”


President Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman 1945 – 1953
“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit”

Dwight D. Eisenhower 1953 – 1961
“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it”

John F. Kennedy 1961 – 1963
“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction”

Lyndon B. Johnson 1963 – 1969
“The noblest search is the search for excellence”

Richard Nixon 1969 – 1974
“Always remember others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself”


Gerald Ford

Gerald Ford 1974 – 1977
“I had a lot of experience with people smarter than I am”

Jimmy Carter 1977 – 1981
“We must adjust to changing times and still hold to unchanging principles”

Ronald Reagan 1981 – 1989
“Some people wonder all their lives if they’ve made a difference. The Marines don’t have that problem”

George H.W. Bush 1989 – 1993
“We must act on what we know. I take as my guide the hope of a saint: In crucial things, unity; in important things, diversity; in all things, generosity”

Bill Clinton 1993 – 2001
“Let us all take more responsibility, not only for ourselves and our families but for our communities and our country”

George W. Bush 2001-2009
“We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail”


Barak Obama

Barack Obama 2009 –
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change we seek”

Which quote is your favorite? Which president was/is your favorite? How will you improve your leadership?

If you’d like to be an exceptional leader, I invite you to read my book, SELF Centered Leadership: Becoming Influential, Intentional, and Exceptional now available on Amazon.

 

 

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.

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 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.