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Books Leaders Should Read

10 Books Aspiring Leaders In Their 20s Should Read

By Leadership 7 Comments

I wish I would have started reading at an earlier age, but it is never too late! As we develop our leadership skills, we can learn from others who have put their wisdom into written words. Here are 10 books aspiring leaders in their 20s should read:

7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The Alchemist


Lean In

Letters from Leaders

Leaders Eat Last

Strengths Finder

The Five Love Languages

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

If you read and implement even three of these books while you are in your 20s you will be light-years ahead of your peers and one day soon be the leader running a Fortune 500 company, global non-profit, or creating the “next big thing” that will change our world! Happy reading and as always…

Dream BIG,

What is a Todayer?

By Communication, Leadership, Motivation 3 Comments

The reason I started this blog was to motivate and inspire people to take action on their big goals. I believe we all have the opportunity to add value to this world, and the bigger we dream, the more value we add.

I see my friends, family and community go through the motions of life rather than utilizing their potential and giving their gifts to the world. It’s been said, “The biggest obstacle keeping you from becoming the greatest, is you settling for being good at what you do!”

Just like a car needs gasoline, humans need motivation to move. The farther you plan to go the more you need! My articles, videos, speeches, and life are dedicated to motivating you toward accomplishing your goals and helping you make things happen.

This blog is for those who want to take advantage of today, plan for tomorrow, and to achieve their BIG dreams. I write, speak, and share stories to motivate you to pursue your goals while being open and honest as I strive to attain mine.

So where does the term “Todayer” come into play?

I want to build a like-minded community of people who think, “I am sick of being average, and I am ready to be the best!” I looked at those who were accomplishing big things and I found that each one of them

  • Takes advantage of what he or she has right now
  • Plans for the future
  • Has a positive attitude
  • Takes action
  • Gives back

So, for me a Todayer is someone who takes advantage of today, plans for tomorrow, and actively goes after BIG dreams!

We learn as we go, we support each other while we are on our way, and we make things happen. Do we mess up? Yes! Do we give up! No! We take advantage of what we are given and use it to help others, build up those around us, and make an impact.

After seeing this quote, “The goal is not to live forever, the goal is to create something that will!” on an old journal I thought… I want to build a community around people who want more motivation, want to make a difference in this world, and want to go after their big dreams… no matter how crazy, outlandish, and far-fetched the dream seems!

I hope you will join us. Read, share, and comment on articles and videos you see here. I am here for you. I am here to offer motivational stories, strategies, and insights of real value to you.

You will see a lot more of the word “Todayers” on this blog. My hope is to one day see the word spread and have a community full of those who take advantage of today, plan for tomorrow, and go after their BIG dreams!” As always…

Dream BIG,

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4 Things You Should Know About Your Followers

By Leadership No Comments

One reason I like to blog, speak, and train is because it builds a community around those who have big dreams and want to accomplish them! I like pulling people together to make things happen and to build a team for those who want to work hard toward accomplishing their goals. My community is made of what we call “Todayers!”

Todayer: One who takes advantage of today, plans for tomorrow, and works towards accomplishing a big dream!

In order for you to build a community and understand your followers, there are four things you should know about them at all times:

1) How do they like to digest and view your content? I am a speaker, not a writer. Even so, half of my audience enjoys reading blog posts instead of watching videos. I do record videos, but I also take time to write it out to give people what they want. Just because you like to deliver your information in one format does not mean that is how your audience likes to digest it!

2) What is cohesively holding your community of followers together? What is the one thing that all followers have in common? For Todayers, we all go after BIG dreams. We like to accomplish things and then move on to the next. We like to help others accomplish their dreams, and we like to have fun doing it. Our common thread is accomplishing BIG dreams! What holds your community together?

3) What problems do they face on a regular basis? Todayers can face procrastination, lack of motivation, lack of clarity in goal setting or purpose; my goal is to provide secrets, strategies and insights to keep them motivated to pursue their dreams and to be honest and open about going after mine.

4) What motivates them to share your content and stick around? Do you need giveaways, webinars, and/or consistent content posted weekly? Ask them what motivates them to stick around. I am still working on this as more than 40% of my monthly visitors are new, and out of those almost 30% leave each month. I have to do a better job of finding out what keeps them coming back to me (if you are a regular reader, I would love your insight in the comments below).

Know your followers and give them what they want because most often they are giving you what you want; a voice and opportunity to help change the world! When you are ready to become a Todayer, and join 200+ others, sign up to get articles like this one by filling out your email in the right-hand corner of this page.

We have some fun things coming up in 2015 for all Todayers and we hope you will join us. We are excited to learn about what you want to accomplish! As always…

Dream BIG,

7 Ways to Stop Procrastinating Starting Tomorrow

By Leadership, Motivation, Productivity No Comments

Procrastination is one of the biggest challenges leaders can face. I know the first step for me in getting over my procrastination addiction is finding ways to not let the pressure of the deadline motivate me. So what can we do about it?

Here are Seven Ways to Stop Procrastinating Starting Tomorrow:

1) Make a list: Write down all the things you need to get done on a piece of paper, on your computer notepad, cell phone, or anywhere you look on a regular basis.

2) Break it up: Let’s say you have 19 things to get done on your to-do list. Pick three to accomplish each day. Not 19! Three tasks, that’s it! If you have one really large task, break it up into even smaller components. For example, if you need to create a proposal for a new client, break it up into (a) research the company for one hour (b) write the proposal for three hours (c) spend one hour proofreading and seeing what else you need to add before sending it off to the client. Get three things done each day that are the most important. If you accomplish those, then move on to more! This will help you feel accomplished and train your brain to get more done.

3) Ask yourself what happens if you don’t get it done: What are the consequences if you procrastinate doing what you have planned? Will you be more stressed? Will you have to ditch your friends or family? Loss of sleep? What do you lose if you wait till the very end to get it done?

4) Ask yourself what happens if you do get it done: On the flip side, what do you get if you do it now? More time? More money? More experiences with your kids and family or friends? More opportunity to accomplish more? Knowing what you’ll get will help motivate you to get it done early!

5) Eliminate temptations: The best way to stop procrastinating is to get rid of the time wasters: social media, your cell phone, and people coming in and out of your office asking you questions. When I have tasks I need to do, my wifi is off, my phone is not in my office, and my door is shut. If you are being interrupted every ten minutes, it is hard to get anything done!

6) Get someone to hold you accountable: Let others know what you want to get done and by when. We seldom like to let those we love and like down, so if you tell them what you plan to do and by when, they will motivate you to get it done. You can also add a little more pressure by saying to the person, “and if I don’t get it done a week before my deadline, I will give you $20 cash!”

7) Reward Yourself: After every three things I accomplish each day, I reward myself. I either go for a walk, get a drink with my friends or watch a show with my wife. Don’t wait for the big reward at the end; reward yourself every step of the way!

Procrastination can be your worst enemy. It is definitely a habit worth breaking! Try incorporating one of these into your daily routine and see how much better you feel and how much more you accomplish in an everyday work situation! As always…

Dream BIG,
Ryan Avery

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The Best Business Question You Need To Be Able To Answer!

By Leadership, Motivation 2 Comments

What is the best business question you need to be able to answer when determining your worth to a client or customer?

What value do I bring?

What is your answer to that question?

Can you quantify it?

Can you show and illustrate what value you bring to those who buy your product, service or ideas?

Until you know the answer to this question, you will never know what you are worth, what position you should be in, or what you should charge!

Take time this week to find out what value you, your team or company bring. Write it out and know the value!

Keep making things happen and as always…

Dream BIG,

Correcting My Mistakes

By Leadership, Motivation 8 Comments

In the survey I sent out a few weeks ago, several of you asked me to share personal stories and mistakes I have made and what I learned from them. So here is an update!

In the the past few weeks I have had multiple people reach out to me, letting me know I have had grammar and spelling errors in my blog posts.

I will admit I am not the best speller, nor did I do the best in my English classes (C-). Even with the easy to remember rules, it is hard for me to distinguish the simple things like… then and than or their and there. I can’t remember if I put the quotation marks before the punctuation or after? I still have trouble with grammar and spelling but that is not an excuse.

This is embarrassing for me because I am a professional speaker and published author. Some people might wonder how I can be a published author and not know these skills? Well I have a lot of help from copy-editors, line-editors, managing-editors, a co-author and team of people helping me.

Until recently, that is the biggest mistake I have made with my blog. I have not had the proper team helping me deliver you the highest quality content and I have been treating this blog as a hobby and not a business (which is not a good thing as this website is where a majority of my speaking leads are generated).

I have also not wanted to spend money on an editor. Instead I have been asking my friends, family and Chelsea to look at articles on a occasion, but that is no more. Starting next week, I will have a managing editor to work on to proof-read all pages and posts before they go out.

I will deliver you quality content that is geared towards helping you be a better speaker and leader. I made a mistake. I took for granted that this blog is not a place for me to share my stories or ideas but rather a place people come to learn and if there are mistakes in my writing, that does not produce a conducive atmosphere for learning.

I needed to ask myself, “Do I want this to be a hobby, or a business?” If you say business, are you treating it like one? The answer as no so I am ready to do something about it.

Thank you to those who have reached out to let me know about my grammar/spelling mistakes. Thank you to those who have stuck around, subscribed to the blog and shared an article. I know many people can leave a blog once they see one or even two mistakes and I appreciate you following me along this journey. I write for you. I would hate to know you leave because of my inability to catch simple mistakes.

Let’s keep making things happen and work towards reaching our goals! As always…

Dream BIG,

The 5 Types of Mentors Everybody Needs

By Leadership One Comment

One of the most significant ways to succeed is to surround yourself with those who are more successful than you. Les Brown says, “If you are the smartest person in your group, you need a different group.” 

Who do you have in your life who has been where you want to go? I am not talking about someone who is only supportive of you getting what you want (that is a friend). I am talking about someone who has already been where you want to go and is supportive of helping you get there (that is a mentor).

Here are 5 types of mentors everybody needs:

Life Mentor: Someone you can trust who lives a life similar to what your are looking to accomplish. Someone who in balanced, present and all-around happy. They have had ups and downs, twists and turns and can help motivate and inspire you when you feel down or hungry for more.

Money Mentor: Someone who knows about money, how to invest it and what to do with it. Someone who is financially stable enough to spend time where they want, when they want and with who they want. Someone who considers themselves to be financially successful but still wants to do more. Someone who has lost a lot of money (so you can learn from their mistakes) and someone who has made a lot of money (so you can learn from their successes).

Family Mentor: Someone who is driven by their heart and focuses on their family first. Someone who can give you sound relationship advice and you can talk to openly about your relationship struggles and family ambitions. Someone who believes family is the most important thing and someone who can help you make your family stronger.

Business Mentor: Someone who is business savvy. They know how to start a business, what type of business you should own and have started a couple themselves. Someone who has tried and failed (so you can learn from their mistakes) and someone who has tried and succeeded in business (so you can learn from their successes). Someone who is connected in the business world, who reads, studies, thinks, lives and breaths business.

Expert Mentor: Someone in your specific field. Someone who knows more about the subject you are passionate about than any other person. Someone who is considered to be an expert in their field and knows what happened, what is happening and what will happen in your industry!

Meet with these mentors on a regular basis. I usually meet with mine monthly and check in every so often with a question or an update with my life.

Take them out to lunch, write then hand-written letters, show them what you are doing with what they taught you and be appreciative. Mentors can help you accomplish your big goals and connect you with the right people. I know for a fact I would not be where I am today without mine!

Go out and find these five mentors to help you succeed in the areas that matter most to you! As always…

Dream BIG,

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6 Reasons Real Leaders Are Really Speakers

By Leadership, Motivation 2 Comments

No one will follow you if you don’t know how to use your voice.

Amazing Speaker = Amazing Leader
Average Speaker = Average Leader

When you become a better speaker, you become a stronger leader!

6 Reasons Real Leaders Are Really Speakers

They Know Their Audience: Speakers, before they go on stage, learn as much as they can about their audience. Speakers know who they are talking to, what problem they have and how to fix it. They know where their audience is at in life and can provide solutions to help them go from point A to point B. Know your audience = Stronger leader!

They Stand with Confidence: Great speakers know their message and believe in their words! You can truly only stand with confidence when you know your message fully and fully believe in what you are saying. When you stand with confidence you present yourself as competent. Stand with confidence = Stronger leader!

They Share Their Failures: Speakers talk about their failures, not just their success. They share what mistakes they have made and how they fixed them. They are real people who make real mistakes and share these stories with their audience. They get a following because they are open, honest and are not afraid to talk about their past. Share your failures = Stronger leader!

They Offer Solutions: Speakers offer solutions to their audience. They fix a problem, offer inspiration, share stories and do it in a way that in engaging, entertaining and educational. Offer Solutions = Stronger leader!

They Speak Up: They speak when no one else wants to. They have the hard conversations. They don’t tell you want you want to hear, speakers tell you what you need to hear. They can stand their ground and feel proud to use their voice to make a difference! Speak up = Stronger leader!

They Know When To Speak: They know the right time and place to deliver their message for maximum impact. They know it’s not just about what and how you say it but most importantly, when! Know when to speak = Stronger leader!

Without developing your speaking skills, you’ll have limited leadership abilities. Take time to work on being a better speaker so you can become a stronger leader. We need more leaders in this world so that means we need more speakers! As always…

Dream BIG,

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The Pros and Cons for Changing the Name of NSA

By Leadership, Motivation 55 Comments

Many of you are speakers and this post will focus on the name change of a very important organization to our industry. For those who do not identify as a speaker, you will still take away important lessons of what to consider when making a big announcement.

I attended the 2014 National Speakers Association (NSA) Conference this week in San Diego for the first time. I joined NSA in July 2013 and have been looking forward to this event for almost a year. Filled with life-changing content, building blocks to life-long friendships and inspiration from the world’s greatest speakers, this week was an event that will be remembered for a lifetime!

The organization made a HUGE announcement during the conference and over the past several months the Board of Directors along with staff, special committee, hours of deliberating, surveys and questioning- the leadership team has decided to change the name of the National Speakers Association to Platform.

I have mixed feelings about this and don’t know why we needed a major name change overhaul like this (As I have heard, membership has been at an all-time high and we had a $100,000 surplus in our operating budget last year) but they said “the rate of change in recent years has outpaced the evolution of the organization, and it was clear we needed to make a number of changes to stay relevant as the premier association that serves the speaking profession.” Here are the pros and cons to changing the name of NSA:

Cons to changing the name of NSA

It is SO broad that it doesn’t tell people who we are.
I like the word “speaker.” I understand that others don’t identify as speakers as many of our members are entertainers, comedians, bloggers, authors, etc. and we are wanting to be more inclusive but there are many other organizations, associations for those people to join. This group is focused on speaking and using our voice to inspire, educate and entertain. Speakers first, blogger/author/comedian/etc. later. It is a disservice to Cavett Robert (Founder of NSA), our members and those we serve for not including a form of “speaker” in the name of our organization.

It sounds like an event, not a group!

I feel like I am going to Platform, not that I am part of Platform. It doesn’t tell me who I am or what I do. TED is an event. SXSW is an event. Sundance is an event. As I heard it explained, the Medial Doctors Association is not changing their name to Emergency Room, Plumbers Association of America are not change their name to Toilet and the Sailing Association of Australia is not changing their name to Ocean. Just because we speak from the platform, it does not need to be the name of our organization. I am afraid this word is trendy and what will it mean in 10 years?

What does this mean for everything else? 
When they rolled out the name change on stage, they didn’t explain what else was changing. What about the website? What about the membership requirements to join? Where do we learn more about this and how can we get more information about how we incorporate this into our marketing?

Pros to changing the name of NSA

It will help grow our industry to include more professions.
The term “platform” allows other professionals to join our organization who do not feel they are speakers but rather thought leaders in a variety of mediums (blogging, vlogging, writing, entertainment, etc.). As much as I like the word speaker, I think it will grow the organization and attract new members around the world.

It is no longer a national organization but rather encompasses a global scale.
We should have changed it to Global Speakers Association with Platform being what our events were called and breakout sessions focused on platform specifics for speakers, bloggers, entertainers, comics, etc. But Platform is a more inclusive word than National, as we now have 20+ countries represented around the world. But again, why not Global Speakers Association?

The tagline is spot on!
Inform. Influence. Inspire. This, as an industry, is what we do and they did a wonderful job summarizing what value we add as speakers to those we serve with these three words. This will be a great way to help explain to others what I do for a living and that I am more than a public speaker, I am a problem solver.

Regardless of what you think about the name change, this involved a big announcement and a HUGE change to an organization who has more than 40 years of history. I commend the leadership team and Board for making this change and actually taking action to try and remain relevant. So the next time you are planning on making a big announcement at work, home or to your members, here are things to remember:

1) Remain professional and get insight from the world’s experts
2) Be prepared to answer questions and have staff trained and ready to answer FAQs
3) Have a place for people to get in touch to answer even more questions
4) Ask the right person to deliver the news to the group
5) Do a great job explaining “why” but also the “now what?”
6) Do your homework on what others inside and outside the organization think
7) Practice, Practice, Practice delivering the announcement beforehand

However, I don’t think associations are dead, I think the way we market them needs to improve and how we reach our target market could use some work. Because we are in over 20 countries now, I understand the need to change the word ‘National’ and would have like to have seen it be changed to The Global Speakers Association.

We are moving forward with Platform and it is an exciting time in the organization’s history as we plan to continue to serve thousands of people around the world each year with our messages, our ability to solve problems and add value to the masses.

QUESTION: I want to know what other (speakers and non-speakers) think about the new name change. Do you like the name Platform, why or why not? As speakers, let’s do what we do best and start talking and creating a conversation by posting our opinions below.

How to write powerful headlines (BONUS: Easy to use formulas)

By Leadership, Motivation 7 Comments
This article comes to you with request from Matt Maggio in Miami, FL.Matt reached out last week and gave insight in how to provide bloggers with information on how to write  headlines so engaging anyone who sees it, will click to read it! He’s been studying copywriting and how the words you choose in your headlines makes all the difference!

He said consider three things when writing powerful headlines:

1) Focus on creating a “how-to” or “why” or “number (#) series” while adding value and/or providing entertainment elements. He says, “The how-to is very powerful because it engages the prospect on a deeper psychological level. It’s self-centered and most of us pay more attention when we hear how-to and whatever follows after it.”

2) Write for your audience in mind – Do you know who your audience is? Identify who your ideal reader is and ask them what they want to learn more about. I do this through my social media accounts all the time; last week I received 20 article ideas! My audience gives me direction for what they want to hear and who is paying attention to my articles.

3) Base it off your experience – Why are you the one to write this? For example, it might be strange if I wrote an article called “How to win a basketball game if you are under six feet tall.” Not only do I know nothing about basketball, my audience knows I don’t play the game and I can’t speak for those under six feet! Write about what you know with those in mind you want to reach!

Moving forward when you are writing an article for your blog or a chapter in your book, think of these formulas to catch your readers attention and get them to click on what you just wrote!

Powerful Headline Formulas include:

“How to (eliminate pain) (without more pain)”

“How to get (specific result) (in short amount of time) (with very little risk)”

“Why (common-sense approach) doesn’t work… and what to do about it).”

I can say first hand these have worked for me. Starting out blogging I would spend hours on one article and find very little engagement after I hit publish. Other articles I would spend five minutes writing and boom my stats soar for the day! Why? When I look back at the articles, the content nor my writing was better, what the main problem seemed to be was the title in which I used to grab the readers attention. People will not click to read your article if it does not click with what interests or grabs their attention!

What sounds more powerful and more intriguing to read?
How to get more clients without sounding to pushy? – OR – Lessons I learned from an encounter with a recent client!

If I used the same content for the body of the article and used those different titles I guarantee I would have a larger open rate on the “how-to” compared to the “lessons learned.” I mean which one would you most likely open? Plus, in the first one I have considered my focus, my audience and my experience!

Take Matt’s advice and start writing powerful headlines so your writing gets into the hands of more people. Your stories, message and insight matter and if you are taking the time to add value to people’s life, take the time to write engaging headlines! Keep using your voice to make a difference and remember to always…

Dream BIG,


Question for comments below: Who is your favorite blogger? Why?

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Special Olympics Oregon with Ryan Avery

When is the right time to leave a company to start your own?

By Leadership, Motivation No Comments

One year ago today, I stopped working for an organization that inspired me. Everyday I went to work, I was excited by the mission, the people I worked with and my roles and responsibilities to help improve the lives of those we served. I had potential in the organization and the proposition of leaving to start working for myself was a difficult one to make.

Allison E with Special Olympics OregonI decided to leave my job at Special Olympics Oregon to become a full time speaker for three reasons:

1) I asked myself, “One day, when my kids ask me if I went for my dreams, I want to make sure I can tell them ‘yes’ with all honesty.”

2) Worst case scenario, I can always get a job again

3) As long as Chelsea was on board, I would be all in!

The decision was rational, frightening and exciting all balled into one. I felt like a peppy puppy having to choose between a run on the beach or a playdate in the park! How do you leave a job you love to create a company you know nothing about?

Here are six questions to consider if you are looking to start your own company:

AveryToday's First Office

This was AveryToday, Inc. “Headquarters” when we started last year. Dream BIG right?

Are you ok with taking a step backwards financially?

We planned for me leaving but we had to save more, spend less on things that are considered “fun” and use our finances to start a business. We even moved from Oregon to Texas to move in with my parents to save money on rent, you get better tax benefits when you own a Texas corporation and my mom and dad were willing to help support us emotionally throughout our transition.

I am not saying you will go backwards when you start your own company, but are you willing to if needed and invest your money into growing you company rather than living the lifestyle you already have? Are you willing to go three steps back to go five steps forward in the future?

Are you ok with working harder than you ever have?

When you start a company, there is a lot to learn. At the beginning stages of our company there were no weekends. We woke up early, went to bed late and replayed that schedule over and over again until I lost what day of the week it was.

Today, is a little different. I have a schedule, I take personal time and I still work harder than ever but those beginning months can be brutal if you are not prepared for your business to survive. It takes every ounce of energy you have.

Are you ok with things rapidly changing?
In this past year I have quit my full time job, moved from Portland to Houston, wrote a book, put on a 50-city North American Tour, planned a book tour and a world record, delivered keynotes, workshops and private coaching to leaders all over the world, I moved back to Portland, and now I am scuba certified. When you start your own company, things seem to always be changing. You do things you have never done. Are you ok with this?

Ryan Avery leaving Special Olympics OregonAre you ready to be your own boss?
This is the biggest thing you need to think about… Are you self-dicipled enough to make your company survive? Stop here. Think about this and come back to read the rest. Seriosuly think about what you are going to do to be self-dicplined because no longer is anyone telling you what to do, when to do it and how it should get done. It is 100% up to you. This is both freeing and very difficult to manage.

Do you already have a base and slight proof you can make it on your own if you try?
We didn’t start our  business by chance. It was our choice to leave but we planned, outlined how much money we were making, how much we could be making if we took it full-time. Planning doesn’t always work. Those first six months were brutal. We didn’t meet any of our financial goals for the first six months but we kept pushing ourselves and used the proof we had to remind each other  we could keep doing what we were doing. If you can do it once, you can repeat it twice!

Is your family okay with taking the leap with you?

Your family depends on you, they have to be okay with the above as well because this is not a decision you make alone, it is one y’all (yes I am from Texas) must make. Have a conversation with your family, tell them what you want to do. Ask them what they need and are how they are willing to help or support you on your dreams.

I went from employee to entrepreneur in 24-hours and today I own two successful business. I have a long way to go, more to learn and a whole lot more people to serve but I am ultimately glad I took the leap. You only live once, right? Take the above decisions to consider owning your own business. As scary as it was, looking back on this year, I made the right choice. You are not too young or too old to start, but what you must do is make a decision, start planning for the life you want to live and go for it!

As always…
Dream BIG,