Tag 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.

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….

STYX-To-It-Ness is Empowering! Reason #2

SELF Centered Leadership is my new book.  I’ve been  blogging about the 30 Reasons to Read it.  Today’s post is reason #2 – achieving STYX-to-it-ness.

Arny and Todd Sucherman

Todd Sucherman, drummer for the legendary band, STYX shares a story in my book that illustrates the principle of empowerment.   Whether you’re a Renegade, a Blue Collar Man or Miss America, Todd’s story discredits the idea that Nothing Goes as Planned. 

You might say that The Grand Illusion is that we think some Crystal Ball will give us success.  Not so.  Superstars always prepare, and they Don’t Let It End.   Todd’s preparedness has kept him Rockin’ the Paradise with STYX for many years.

In my book, you’ll learn that Love Is the Ritual of being prepared, and it’s empowering!  You’re just Fooling Yourself  if you think you can Sing For the Day without preparing yesterday.  It makes no difference if you’re a Lady or a Man in the Wilderness, you can create your Best of Times when you prepare!

Don’t be A Criminal Mind or Snowblind!   Come Sail Away on an odyssey to SELF by reading SELF Centered Leadership.  Todd Sucherman’s story will help you be the Queen of Spades in your own Castle Walls.  It’s time to Light Up  in your leadership, and get Your Boat on the River of STYX-to-it-ness!

Please read my book! Here’s the other 29 reasons to do so………..

#30 – You’ll learn to prepare for and survive an ODYSSEY!

#29 – You’ll learn how to spot IMITATIONS everywhere!

#28 – I’ll show you an APP to help you make tough decisions

#27 – I’ll introduce the Three P’s of Empowerment and how to apply them in your life

#26 – Wanna overcome regret?  I show you how!

#25 – I will illustrate how YOU can be heroic in your leadership!

#24 – You’ll learn my one-word definition for leadership

#23 – Friendship can sting.  I’ll tell you what I mean when I introduce you to Lexi and Debbie.

#22 – You’ll learn how to be EXCEPTIONAL!

#21 – You will know how to rise to the top of your fishbowl.

#20 – You will learn how to EMPOWER your life, your love, and your actions!

#19 – Love can be hazardous.  I teach you how to LOVE in a SAFE way.

#18 – My book makes a great stocking stuffer for anyone 12 and up!

#17 – You’ll be surprised to learn the 10 ways you influence others constantly!

#16 – You’ll learn to have charitable, brotherly love year round

#15 – You’ll learn the fishy art of caring for goldfish, and how to navigate your own fishbowl.

#14 – Learn to prepare for winter conditions

#13 – Learn how to communicate with credibility

#12Learn to lead with Intention

#11Learn ways to stop asking, and start helping

#10 – Help someone with oral cancer smile again by purchasing my book on www.smile.amazon.com choose Oral Cancer Cause

#9 – Stop eating Styrofoam!

#8 – You’ll have access to the SACRIFICE or VICE chart for decision making

#7 – Pain, Pain, Go Away!

#6 – Service is the best medicine.

#5 – Learn the Five Imitators of Happiness

#4 – Know the SECRET to get out of bed on those tough day.

#3 – Witness the Power of YES!

Are You Powerful or Empowered?

In October 2013, Forbes Magazine published “The World’s Most Powerful People”.  The list of 72 were mostly government leaders, entrepreneurs, and wealthy CEO’s.

This begs the question – what does it mean to be powerful?

Is power defined by strength or intelligence?  Is it gained by controlling people, possessions and wealth?  If so, this type of power seems problematic—-it can be taken away by someone even more powerful.

If Forbes published a list of “The World’s Most Empowered People”, the list would include anyone who:

  • Has studied hard and passed a test
  • Has faced a fear head on
  • Has overcome hardship

YOU would likely be on that list!

It would seem, then, that the power to control and dominate others is far less achievable than the power we have to influence our individual and personal triumphs.

The ability for self-Empowerment can never be taken from you.  It can only be diminished when your bad choices decrease your power to be what you want to be.

In my upcoming book:

SELF Centered Leadership LOGO

I discuss ways that you can EMPOWER your life, love and happiness!  That is reason #20 to read my book.

You can be Empowered no matter what challenges you face; and no matter what your circumstance.

So far, I’ve provided 10 reasons to read my book:

#30: How to prepare for, and survive an ODYSSEY

#29: How to spot the IMITATION

#28: How to use an APP to make tough decisions

#27: How to Apply The Three P’s of Empowerment

#26: How to overcome regrets

#25: How to be a leadership HERO

#24: Learn the one-word definition of leadership

#23: Learn the sting of friendship

#22: How to be exceptional

#21: How to rise to the top of your fishbowl

Why are YOU going to read it?

 

 

Ferguson and Lessons of Empowerment

I interrupt the count down to my upcoming book to provide commentary about the happenings in a Missouri town called Ferguson.

Last summer, Michael Brown was shot several times by police officer, Darren Wilson.  Yesterday, after months of investigation by a Grand Jury, the decision was: no indictment of Officer Wilson.  In other words,  a group of Ferguson citizens decided that Darren Wilson did not commit a crime during the encounter with Michael Brown last summer.

At the announcement of this decision, some citizens of Ferguson erupted in anger.  This anger was evident in acts of violence, looting, and destroying businesses and the livelihood of many Ferguson residents.

Despite the very detailed list of evidence that was presented, there are many who believe the American justice system is broken and unfair.  That may be the case in general, but I don’t believe it is true in this case.

Officer Wilson is a man with white skin.  Michael Brown was a young man with black skin.  Somehow these facts compound the unfairness in the minds of people in Ferguson.

What if officer Wilson was black?  What if Michael Brown was white?  Would those facts change the  Grand Jury findings?  I’ll let you consider the answer.  The answer MATTERS.

The people of Ferguson who looted businesses, lit fires, and acted violently after the Grand Jury decision are asking the rest of us to accept that Michael Brown did no wrong last summer, and that their behavior is justified.  They are asking us to believe that Michael Brown had a different mindset than they themselves have.

I don’t believe it.  The acts of the protesters is proof to me that Michael Brown was very likely prone to act in the same manner.  The protesters see an injustice, and they act out in violence.  Michael Brown saw a white police officer meting out injustice, and he acted in violence.

I don’t believe that either case is an injustice.  Michael Brown was a criminal.  Officer Wilson was justified defending himself against clear and present danger.

Everything would be different if Michael Brown made a different choice on the day he died.  He shoplifted, he resisted arrest, he assaulted a police officer.  His final act was to resist arrest a second time.

Michael Brown had not acted in a way that would empower his life or his circumstance.  His choices determined his destiny.

The protestors have not acted in a way that will empower their community or the citizens of Ferguson.  Their choices have determined the destiny of many.

Everyone can be empowered no matter what challenges they face, and no matter what their circumstances.  Personal choice is either EMPOWERING, or leaves you POWERLESS.

What will YOUR choice be?

 

 

 

Empowerment With Three P’s

In October 2013, Forbes Magazine published The World’s Most Powerful People.  The list of 72 were mostly government leaders, entrepreneurs, and wealthy CEO’s.

I wasn’t on that list, and I suspect you weren’t either.  Is being powerful really that cool?  It might be if you didn’t have to worry about someone coming along who is even more powerful and taking your power from you.

Even greater than POWER is EMPOWERMENT.  I discuss Empowerment at length in my upcoming book, SELF Centered Leadership: Becoming Influential, Intentional and Exceptional.

Reason #27 to read my book is that I provide you THE THREE P’s OF EMPOWERMENT.

You can be Empowered no matter what challenges you face; and no matter what your circumstance.  The way to empower yourself is to apply THE THREE P’s.

Read my book to find out what they are!

In case you missed the other reasons to read my upcoming book, I have the links here for you…

Reason #30: How to prepare for, and survive an ODYSSEY

Reason #29: How to spot the IMITATION

Reason #28: How to use an APP to make tough decisions.