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A Plane Story: An HIV+ Veteran

By Motivation 6 Comments

Because of my job, I fly a lot. I get the chance to sit next to some interesting people, and some not so interesting people.

Every time I fly, I am reminded what lessons I learn and stories I hear, so I thought I would start sharing them here.

Volume 1, Person 1 – The HIV+ Veteran

His dark-rimmed glasses, skinny arms, and haberdasher hat catch my attention as I get situated into my seat and prepare for a long ride to the opposite coast.

I am being a typical millennial with headphones in my ear, and I am not in the mood to talk to anyone so nothing is playing in them. This is a decoy I use when I am in public and am looking to be an introvert!

I smile, and say “Hi” to the man, and he does the same back. We take off, and I take out my headphones because my introverted side can only last so long. We start talking, and after about five minutes of sharing things about our lives, it feels as though we have been old friends for 20 years even though I could be his grandson.

I learn about his time in Vietnam, his worldly travels and how he has lived the past 30 years infected with HIV.

We open up and talk about things like death, sex, drugs, life-partners, and most everything you wouldn’t talk to a stranger about (or your in-laws), but for some reason it feels right. To tell you the truth, it was refreshing to talk with someone who has been through so much and has such a positive outlook on life.

Here is a man who lives with one of the most stigmatized infections in the world, who has fought to protect our country, who has lived in more countries that I can count, and who has spent more time working than I have been alive. It makes me think, “How many other fascinating people like him are out there whom I will never meet?”

All of these people I judge before I meet them; yet – once I get to know them – I realize how much I could learn from them and how much we have in common. These people have so much advice, history, and story inside of them. So much opportunity to learn from and remind yourself that we are all human.

It was one of the most refreshing flights I have had in the past five years! We land and say our goodbyes! We exchange contact info, disembark, and he hops into a wheel chair.

“I will see you around, kid!” he says. Although our lives, ages, and professions are vastly different I believe we will meet again!

What stories, lessons, and history are you missing out on by not getting to know the stranger next to you? Anytime you fly it is up to a flip of a coin who will be seated next to you. It could be a kook, a cook, or even a crook; but, the rare times you find a gem like Jeremy makes it worth it.

Reach out to your fellow neighbor and get their story. Who knows what you will learn, what will wake up inside you, and what stories you will hear! As always…

P.S. Do you like the idea of a recurring article series called “A Plane Story” in which I share my stories of those people I sit next to on a plane? If so, let me know in the comments below!

Top 10 Articles of 2014

By Motivation One Comment

Thank you to every Todayer who reads, shares and likes articles on! This year, more than 50,000 people visited the site from 100+ countries!

You have consistently inspired me to grow as a leader, become a better writer and to strengthen my abilities as a speaker. If I have helped you do the same with one of my articles this year, then I feel we make a good team!

In celebration and reflection of my 5th year of blogging, here are the top 10 articles of 2014:

#10 – 6 Reminders Why You Should Take a Risk

#9 – How to Get Over The Past and Focus On The Future

#8 – Avoid These 3 Things When Speaking on Stage

#7 – 5 Lessons Learned Being a World Champion

#6 – What Made Maya Angelou Successful?

#5 – What is the Best Investment to Make in Today’s Economy?

#4 – 9 Speaking Tips for Non-Native Speakers

#3 – The Absolute 5 Worst Types of People to Sit Next to on a Plane

#2 – The Pros and Cons of Changing the Name of NSA

#1 – 31 Days of Kindness

I look forward to writing more articles in 2015 and continuing to build a community of Todayers; those who take advantage of today, plan for tomorrow and go after their goals! Happy New Year and thank you again for reading, sharing and leaving your comments along the way! As always…

Dream BIG,


3 Ways to Expand Your Comfort Zone Today

By Family & Personal Life No Comments

Whether introverted or extraverted, we can all expand our comfort zone. Here are three ways to expand your comfort zone starting today:

1) Walk into a store and try something on you can’t afford. I did this last week with a Dolce and Gabbana jacket. Wow! It made me feel uncomfortable. The jacket was priced more than my first car! You could tell that all the store clerks knew I was not going to buy it. Go into any Gucci, Tiffany’s, even a Lamborghini dealership and try it out! It will boost your confidence all while expanding your comfort zone.

2) Talk to someone to whom you would never usually speak. Perhaps a homeless person on the street, or someone who has a different sexual orientation, skin color, gender, or race than you! We will all benefit the more all of us get along and become comfortable with each other.

3) Say yes to something that you’ve never tried. Go skydiving or bungee jumping. Go to a new restaurant. Order a different drink at an unfamiliar bar! Say Yes, and see what adventures await you!

Expand your comfort zone because the more comfortable you are the more confident you will feel. I challenge you to try one of these things today and see how big your comfort zone becomes. I bet it will expand by at least 20 feet! As always…

Dream BIG,

17 Speeches in 17 Days with 17 Photos!

By Adventure 15 Comments

I spent 17 days delivering 17 speeches in China and Hong Kong these past few weeks.

I want to say thank you to D85 and D89 for hosting us and making these events happen. You were so gracious and kind. You and your teams could not have been better to us! Thank you also to McGraw-Hill, SAP and the IFC for hosting corporate events and Speaker Leader Champion talks!

Below are 17 photos from our adventures speaking in China!

Great Wall

Our first stop was Beijing! We ventured to the Great Wall and found it to be a life changing experience. We also were pretty much the only white people and this caused everyone to look at us. So several times we got stopped by people and they asked if we could take photos with them. It was hilarious. It made me think of how that would work in the United States if we saw someone that looked different than us and we went up to take their photo! Do you think people would be flattered or offended? Thank you Felix for an awesome time!


This was one of my favorite meals while we were in China. However, here is a tip: You see that bowl of dumplings to the left? Well when you bite into them you need to be carful! Why? Oh well you know, because they are filled with juice and if you want to have juice fly all over the table and everyone gets soaked in it, then it is a good idea! Again, sorry to everyone at the table for making a mess! I now know how to eat dumplings! Thank you Susan and Beautiful (That is her name translated into english) for a wonderful day in Shanghai!


This was one of the coolest “21-Century” speaking opportunities I have had so far. I spoke on top of the 68 floor at the IFC in Hong Kong while my speech was being live-streamed at their offices in China, Singapore and Australia. We interacted, they asked questions and I taught a workshop about how to deliver a winning presentation. Does this mean I have spoken in these countries now?

Ryan Avery speaking in China

The room fit 110 people according to the fire ordinance! No worries though, we fit 200+ students in this room while I delivered my talk at the Beijing Foreign Affairs lecture hall. Speaker Leader Champion just got picked up in Mandarin and will be available in China staring May 2015!


After getting done with almost a two-hour training to corporate managers at SAP headquarters in China, what else should you do besides a thumbs up selfie? Thank you Flat for making this one happen!


This was one of the nicest hotels I have stayed in. It was located in Shanghai with a view of the skyline, a rooftop deck and glass pool on the 28th floor! I spent every morning and night here looking out at the city. China has shown me that we in the United States do not know what it means to have a “BIG” city!

Scuba Diving

I went scuba diving indoor with three whales while I was in Qingdoa. What scared me the most was the size of their teeth! I didn’t know whales had teeth. Did you? I also learned a valuable lesson about the importance of communication as the Mandarin-Speaking instructor reminded me before I got in the water that “we must pee in the pool!” We had a long conversation about me not wanting to pee in the pool and after a while I realized he was trying to saying “we mustn’t pee in the pool” It really is the little things that make a BIG difference in communication! Ryan (was his name also), I had a blast diving with you and thank you for taking me here!


The food. Again the food was spectacular! We tried some items that I would usually never try in the United States like jelly fish, pig intestines and I saw more chicken heads on a plate than I would have liked to but other than that the Chinese know how to cook and cook well!


Master Your Stage! The D89 Fall Conference was spectacular! So many new friends and their leadership team is fantastic! They had one of the best conferences I have ever been to. They showed us a great time and I hope we can visit D85 again in the future! D85 also inspired me to learn another language and I am now committed to being fluent in Spanish by the end of 2015!


Sail Your Dream – The D85 Fall Conference! I have to give major props to the leadership team in D85 as they really set the stage for what Conferences are like in China. Full of fun, entertainment, education and did I mention fun? I had such a blast spending time with members and leaders in D85 and can’t wait to be back!

Emperail City

I am not going to lie, we may or may not have watched Mulan before we went to China! When we got to the Forbidden City that is all I could think about and that it was no longer a cartoon but real life! This was probably one of the best monuments we went to while in China as it always seemed fake to me but now I was actually getting to walk in the same place that more than 30 emperors walked over a 400+ year time period! Amazing!


Chelsea and I celebrated on top of the 118th floor at the Ritz Carleton in Hong Kong for our last night there! It was a bit cloudy/foggy but the view was still breathtaking! Thank you Cecelia for an amazing evening and day around Hong Kong!

The gifts

We now have so many amazing memories to take back with us and also so many amazing gifts. After each speech they gave us a gift that was either edible, usable or artistic! We have already enjoyed the treats and hung up the art! A huge thank you to Derek for getting us a suitcase to bring back home and to Yang for the wifi hotspot that saved us so many times!

The shopping

Oh the shopping! We shopped probably too much while we were there. You can get suits perfectly tailored to your body for $250 USD. You can get iPhone cases, scarfs, hats, bowls, art and anything you want on the streets of Hong Kong!

The translation

We saw a lot of funny English translations while we were there but this one had to be the funniest! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

My name in Mandarin

I may or many not have freaked out when I saw my name in Mandarin on this sign and a lot of people looked at me like I was crazy. This photo made me so happy even though I had no idea what it said, I felt like I was a real international speaker!

The pizza

I know I said I liked Chinese food, and I really do! But this pizza literally made me salivate when I opened the box! Derek asked me what I wanted to eat before I taught one of my last workshops and jokingly I said pizza. Well, he knew just the right spot and got me the best pizza I have ever tasted! It was amazing!

China and Hong Kong were a blast! Thank you again D85 and D89 for an unforgettable experience. During our time there I hope we inspired hundreds of Toastmasters to continue their journey in our wonderful organization and your fantastics Districts. I hope we inspired many more to use their voice to make a difference in the world. I hope we get to come back in the future and please know that you and your teams gave Chelsea and me memories that will last a lifetime!

As always…

Dream BIG,

One Awesome Way To Promote Your Book

By Motivation No Comments

(DISCLAIMER: My editor gets back this weekend from vacation so if there are any typos I am deeply sorry.  I am out of the country and she is on vacation and I still wanted to show you the best way to promote your book.)

My latest book, Speaker Leader Champion, came out in April and I wanted to sell enough copies at first to hit #1 on Amazon. We accomplished that goal but I wanted to do more. The book teaches people how to use their voice to make a difference in their personal and professional life and how to deliver a winning speech or presentation.

Besides the book tour, the World Record attempt, countless interviews and hundreds of emails I believe the best thing I did, and that had the biggest amount of engagement and long-term payoff, was this:

How to Promote Your Book with Ryan Avery

Screenshot from the backend of my YouTube channel where I uploaded almost 100 personal videos to promote the book!

Write down 100 people you know, who you believe the book will help, and create a personal video for them to say thank you for supporting you throughout the years you have known them, what the book is about and how they can help promote it. 

In fact, you could do this with anything you are selling and believe in! Today, people want that personal touch! How are you giving it to them?

I had a 95% response rate to those videos and in turn each helped me promote it, they shared it with their friends on social media and eventually helped us make Speaker Leader Champion a successful book launch. Did it take me a long time! Yes! Was it tiring and complicated at first! Of course! But was it worth it? Absolutely!

I am still hard at work looking for new ways to promote Speaker Leader Champion and to get it in the hands of as many people as I can because I believe in this book. The strategies inside it empower people to use their voice and make a difference and to learn how they can advance in their career by developing their public speaking skills.

What are you doing to create and show a personal touch for your friends, family and followers who can benefit from your resources? Take time this weekend to plan how you can be more personal in your approach and see how you can make a difference and a dollar doing something you love! As always…

Dream BIG,

How to create a to-do list that works

By Motivation, Videos 3 Comments

Here is how you can improve your to-do list so you can accomplish your short-term and long-term goals! Make sure you have a balance between what you are doing to maintain your lifestyle and items you are doing to improve (gain) your lifestyle. If you like this method share it using one of the social media icons below!

How to Stop Caring and Comparing

By Motivation 21 Comments

Without a doubt, my biggest struggle in moving forward and becoming more successful is figuring out how to stop caring what people think about me and how to stop comparing myself to others.

This might sound easy for some; but for me, it’s been my largest obstacle.

I can receive 100 emails a week: 95 amazing ones and five “not so friendly” ones. Out of all of those emails — which ones do you think I dwell upon the most? Sometimes, I am good at letting the bad ones go, but not every time.

I can speak in front of 200 people, rock the keynote to get a standing ovation, and be invited back to speak the next year, but then have one person come up to me and say, “Your style is way too much for me, and I don’t like it.” What do you think I think about most? Sometimes, I can let the negative comments slide, but not every time.

I have been blogging for over five years now and working to grow relationships with my readers. It has been paying off, but I see other speakers–who haven’t been blogging for as long as I have–claim 100,000 followers! I can’t help but wonder: What am I doing? Where am I slacking? Why am I not there, yet?

As the saying goes by Roosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of joy!” 

I am tired of living my life like this. I know I am capable of so much more! I must stop caring what people think and stop comparing myself to others. So, this weekend I decided to do something about it. I took time to define what success looks like to me and to figure out a solution to stop comparing myself to others.

In order to stop comparing ourselves to others, we need to first understand what makes us happy and feel successful. I needed to define what success looks like for me.

After some long walks, workout sessions, and coaching from my wife, I found my current definition of success: I am successful if I can do what I want, when I want, and with whom I want! As long as I can say this everyday, it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing because I am living a successful life.

What is your definition of success? Work hard to identify it! Identifying what success looks like to you is a first step in overcoming the tendency to compare yourself to others.

I haven’t mastered this, yet. I still need to work on not caring what others think of me, and I would really like to hear from you. I began this blog to help us all become better speakers and leaders. I hope I am not the only one who feels like this. So, let’s start a conversation: How do we stop caring about what others think of us? How can we stop comparing ourselves to others?

Leave a comment below, or start a conversation on a social media outlet. Let’s help each other out.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas. As always…

Dream BIG,

The Question You Should Be Asking Yourself!

By Motivation No Comments

When Chelsea and I were first starting out we asked ourselves, “What do I want to do?”

We pondered over this question, got frustrated by this question and often ignored it thinking that would help.

“What do I want to do?” became a common sentence that would run off our tongue so many times it sounded like it was on repeat!

“What do I want to do… with my life?” 

“What do I want to do… with my career?”

“What do I want to do… with my relationship?”

We would go in circles and become frustrated with the answers. Not sure of what we wanted. Until we changed the question with one word! Instead of “What do I want to do?” we started saying, “What can I do?”

“What can I do… with my life?” 

“What can I do… with my career?”

“What can I do…with my relationship?”

This opened up our minds and let a new light in. We were aware of what we could do and capable of. Once we realized all the things we could accomplish, that is when we moved to, “Now what do we want to do with it and why?”

What can you do? What can you do right now to make your life better? What do you have right now that can make you happier? What one thing can you do to be a better friend, family member or member of society?

Change the “what do I want” to “what can I” and your life will change. For us it did! It brought us clarity and keeps us focused on what is important in our life. We are not bogged down by the weight of what we want to do but rather understand we are capable of so much more. Focusing on the “can” helps you create your “why!”

So my question for you today is, “What can you do?” Think about it and use it to make things happen in your life! Enjoy your day and as always…

Dream BIG,

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