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What would you do without social media?

By Motivation 2 Comments

(DISCLAIMER: This post was written without my editor’s approval and I have been traveling for more than 24 hours! Edited posts will resume next week).

I just landed back in the United States after 17 days in China and Hong Kong! The trip was fantastic and I will be sharing stories and speaking strategies on the blog all next week.

I am five minutes away from bed because I have been up for almost 32 hours but before I do I wanted pose a question to you:

What would you do without social media?

In China, without a VPN, you cannot access social media. I have not had Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram for three weeks and truthfully it has been a bit freeing. What did I do without social media?

1) Focused: My mind was clear to not think about “What did he post?” or, “I wonder what she did this weekend?” on all my accounts. Instead I thought about my goals, dreams and what I wanted to accomplish in 2015.

2) Engaged: I didn’t have a need to bring my phone with me or set it on the table when I went out to eat. So instead of checking my texts, Facebook posts and Twitter updates I engaged in quality conversation and felt connected to everyone I was talking to at the table.

3) Enjoyed: I looked at scenery, skyscrapers and food without the intention of posting it online or looking at it through a screen but rather looking at it with my eyes.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time away from social media and I think this is something I am going to look into doing more of on a regular basis. So the question is, what would you do without social media? What are the pros and cons to using social media in your world? 

As always…

Dream BIG,

Adventures of Public Speaking: Philadelphia

By Motivation, Videos 4 Comments

What leadership lessons can you learn when the airlines lose your luggage, a creepy guy sleeps next to you on the floor and you have to pay over $1,000 in one-way tickets to make your speech on time? Adventures of public speaking…. oh the places you will go! What was the worst travel experience you had and what lesson did you learn from it? 

Adventures of Public Speaking: Panama City Beach

By Motivation, Videos 3 Comments

What leadership lesson can we learn from swimming with a school of baby manta rays?

Adventures of Public Speaking: Sumter, SC

By Motivation, Videos 2 Comments

Here are a few leadership lessons learned while in Sumter, SC this week to speak at my first

Advice form John C. Maxwell: Good Leaders Ask Great Questions
He mentioned there are seven questions that can unlock big doors for you. The next time you are getting together with someone ask them one or all of these questions:

1) What is the greatest lesson you have ever learned?
2) How has failure shaped your life?
3) Who do you know that I should know?
4) What have you done that I should do?
5) What have you read that I should read?
6) What are you learning now?
7) How can I add value to you?

The one that I would add that I always ask those I meet with is, “What would you do differently if you were starting out again at my age?” This one always gets me great answers.

Advice from Linda Kaplan Thaler: It’s all about GRIT
“Every time you do something nice for someone, you create a positive imprint, and positive impressions are like seeds. It may take 1, 5 or 10 years, but those seeds will blossom and flower in some wonderfully unexpected way!” – Linda Kaplan Thaler

1) Every leader needs GRIT to succeed: GUTS. RESILIENCE. INITIATIVE. TENACITY.
2) Be brave enough to try!
3) Dont prepare! Over OVER prepare!

There was SO much I learned while speaking and listening to the other speakers, like Craig Valentine and Tim Sanders, and I am very thankful Lefford Fate put this event on in Sumter, SC. Hope you are having a great day and as always…

Dream BIG,

4 things to look forward to for #TICONV14

By Motivation No Comments

Toastmasters International will host its first International Conference outside of North America this year in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Chelsea and I are on our way to attend.

Throughout the week I will be recapping the event and posting about my journey of what it took to become the

Here are the 4 things to look forward to for #TICON14

1) Seeing friends: Chelsea and I have traveled to many Districts and met many amazing people. It is always so good visiting with them, catching up, and hearing their goals for the upcoming year. This might be my favorite part of any conference!

2) Meeting new members: I am still in contact with many of the Toastmasters I met at my first convention. I hope to meet many more! I am also looking forward to connecting with leadership teams in China and Australia to learn more about their Districts, since I will be speaking at their upcoming conferences.

3) Finding out who will be named this year’s world champion: I cannot wait to see who will be crowned this year’s World Champion. I have attended so many District contests this year and have seen some powerful speeches. This year’s competition is going to be tough which will make for a great event! Who will become the next World Champion of Public Speaking? We will know very soon! If you want to be among the first to know, subscribe to the blog in the top right hand corner of this page. I will post immediately once the winner is announced!

4) Reliving fun memories: It is fun to think about the year I competed and what it took to get there. It is fun to think about my team at Special Olympics Oregon supporting me and sending me flowers to my hotel room. It is fun to think about the friends I met, my family being in the audience, and my District being by my side every step of the way. It is fun to think about Chelsea and I tossing and turning the night before the big competition and her saying, “I love you no matter what happens… but you need to get some sleep!” It is fun to think about how much our lives have changed and imagining what these next years will look like! Reliving memories can inspire you and light a new fire inside of you! What are some fun times you can relive to get those creative juices flowing again?

We arrive in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday (yea, 30 hours of travel time). Looking forward to having fun, learning a lot, and seeing people I care about. Enjoy your weekend, and as always…

Dream BIG,

Question: If you are a Toastmaster, what are you looking forward to most? Remember, if you are not going to the conference you can still join in live stream!

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,

10 Questions You Should Be Asking to Grow Your Blog

By Motivation, Productivity No Comments

Last month I sent out a survey to my friends and followers to see how I can improve the experience on and ways I can add the most value to you as a reader.

Ryan Avery's posting scheduleThe answers you provided blew my mind! I was posting mostly on Tuesdays and Thursdays but you wanted Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

I was posting blog articles but you wanted to see more videos!

I was thinking you wanted a newsletter only once a month, but you said send it out every week!

After I got the results I have started implementing what you want (still working to incorporate more videos and the weekly newsletter). By listening to my readers and giving them what they want, the page views on my blog almost tripled in one month (photo above is a screenshot of my WordPress stats)! Thank you to everyone who took that survey. My hope is to make this the best blog you visit and that adds the most value to your life!

So what should we do to grow our blogs? Create your own survey this week and listen to what your friends and followers tell you. Once they tell you, give them the information they want, how they want it and when! It will help grow your blog and in turn help you produce stronger, more sharable, content.

Here are the 10 questions I sent in the survey that you can copy or modify to make your own:

What type of content would you like to see more of on (Select all that apply)
a) leadership  b) communication  c) public speaking  d) INSERT YOUR OWN CATEGORIES

What type of content do you enjoy most?
a) educational-based  b) entertainment-based  c) BLOGGER’s personal life  d) interviews

If you wanted to sign up for INSERT BLOGGER HERE newsletter, how often would you like to receive an email-based newsletter that offers valuable content?

a) daily  b) weekly  c) monthly  d) I would prefer to receive text updates

How do you like your content presented (please select all that apply).
a) blogs  b) videos  c) podcast

How often would you like content to be posted on (Select all that apply)

What is the best time of day for you to read/watch/listen to your favorite blog?
a) morning  b) afternoon  c) night d) what time zone are you in?

What one thing could INSERT BLOGGER HERE do online to help you in your life? Or what/how can INSERT BLOGGER HERE improve in order to add more value to you?
Left this field empty for them to fill in

Would you pay $XX.XX a month to be part of an exclusive group were you learn BLANK every week and hear BLANK on how to BLANK?
a) absolutely  b) maybe  c) no  d) if maybe, why?

When you think of THE BLOG what comes to mind?
Left this field empty for them to fill in

What tagline resonates with you more when you think of INSERT BLOGGER HERE?
Pick your top three tag lines and see what resonates with your readers

Copy these questions and use them in your survey to survey your following. Make it a priority this week because the quicker you give your audience what they want, the faster your blog will grow and the more value you will add to others. Keep using your voice to make a difference and as always…

Dream BIG,

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9 Speaking Tips for Non-Native Speakers

By Communication 6 Comments

According to the U. S. Census Bureau, there are more than 35 million adults in the United States who are non-native English speakers.

Many of these people are looking for work, to advance in their career and speak up and out for the causes they believe in. Non-native speakers can experience difficulties in developing and delivering their message when speaking to a group of people on stage, in a board room or during one-on-one conversations.

Non-native speakers might hear things like “I don’t understand what you are saying” or “Your accent is too thick” or “It’s hard to focus on what you are saying.” If you are are a non-native speaker who would like to improve the way your message gets translated into minds of those listening to you or you know someone struggling with their accent, here are nine tips you can use to improve the way you communicate:

Record yourself: Take the time to record what you are saying during your next speech or presentation. Then listen to it. Get a friend to listen to it. Identify the words that are hard to hear, understand or process. When you record yourself, you will pick up on things that you might not have noticed before.

Get a partner: Get someone to help you with your 2nd language who you trust. Someone who can call you out when you say a word wrong, aren’t pronouncing things correctly or using the right grammar. A partner can help you advance your communication skills by helping you see and hear the things you are not picking up on.

Be proud of your accent: Many of my non-native speaking clients say, “I need to get rid of my accent.” I think this is the wrong way to look at your voice. You should be proud of your voice and where you come from. You should’t get rid of your accent, you should embrace your accent. Keep the accent but make it so others can understand what you are saying. When you are proud, others will listen. This also will help you build confidence in what you are saying and remind yourself you speak two languages! Not many people can say that!

Be open to feedback: Listen. Listen. Listen. Ask around for feedback. When you are giving a speech or presenting a proposal at work, ask three or four of your colleagues to take notes and give you feedback on specifics you can improve on. Listen to what they say. Be open to asking for feedback anytime you are speaking to get better at communicating.

Find synonyms for words you can’t pronounce: There are words in English I have trouble pronouncing (I am no longer allowed to say prerequisite and familiarity in public). I avoid them at all cost. There are words some people cannot pronounce. You are not alone, just don’t use them! Find words that are similar to them and use those instead.

Speak slower: This is for all speakers and communicators. Slow down! Most of the time you are speaking too fast and it is distracting. It slurs your words together and on top of your accent it can be hard to digest what you are saying. Remember to pause, slow down and enunciate your words.

Practice one letter at a time: Find the letter that is the hardest for you to say (V or R or W or P). Practice just saying those letters over and over again. Pick words that have those letters in them and get your mouth comfortable with finding out how to properly say them without being distracting. Practice one letter at a time.

Find speakers you like: Find speakers who are speaking like you want to be speaking. Find speakers who might even have the same accent as you but are doing it the way you want to. What are they doing to get their message across or communicate in a way that people are focused more on their words than how they say them? Find speakers you like to feel more confident in knowing that if they can do it, so can you!

Practice everyday: Practice. Practice. Practice. Get good at practicing. Remember, how you practice is how you play so use these nine steps everyday to get better at speaking in your non-native language.

Please don’t think you ever need to get rid of your accent, you only need to focus on making sure you are speaking in a way that adds value, people understand what you are saying and enjoying your message. Keep using your voice to make a difference and as always…

Dream BIG,

P.S. Know someone, or a group, who could benefit from this article? Share it with them on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn by clicking on one of the buttons below!  

How Every Airline Should Handle a “Mistake”

By Motivation 7 Comments

With more than 100 flights a year I get my fair share of “airport stories” and this one has a twist!

Chelsea and I were finishing up my book tour and headed on vacation with my parents. I am flying to Miami, she is flying to Panama City Beach so I wait by her gate because my plane is scheduled to leave an hour later than hers.

After 30-minutes of sitting, we get the announcement, “Ladies and gentleman, I have just been informed that Flight XYZ will be delayed due to a part that needs to be replaced on your airplane.”

Now usually this is where most airlines end their announcement with a “sorry for the inconvenience, please come up to the counter, wait in line and we will book anyone on another flight looking to still make their connections!”

Delta decided to handle it differently and this is how they made 200+ potential upset flyers… happy, satisfied and went above and beyond what they needed to do.

1st – They Effectively Communicated
From emails, to phone calls to messages and updates every 10 minutes, the Delta crew communicated what was happening and let their flyers know what they knew. As soon as we knew the flight was delayed I received an email saying how they could fix it. I received a phone call letting me know ways they could make it better and the crew said they were there to help with whoever needed assistance.

Delta Making a Mistake with an Avery2nd – They Passed Out Food, Snacks and Drinks
Instead of saying sorry they showed they were sorry. They brought out first-class snacks for all passengers, drinks and even went one step further and ordered 15 pizzas for all passengers so they didn’t have to order food while they waited!

3rd – They Provided Options
They gave people options to communicate. You can download the Delta app, you can call one of 500 customer service representatives to reschedule your flight or you can talk to a gate agent at the counter. They gave options to communicate and respond in the way that was easiest for their customers.

It was great to see a global company taking initiative to communicate effectively with their customers, if all companies did this when a “mistake” occurred, their customers would be happier and their retention would be greater. Plus, not to mention, we live in a digital world and as I was looking around I noticed people posting their snacks on Instagram and Twitter.

So they made the conversation online go from frustrated to thankful and let their customers communicate how well they handle mistakes that arise. They might have spent $200 on this, but think of the customers they kept, the PR they received and the example they set! If all airlines, and companies, handled situations like this (communicated effectively and provide options) we as customers would be a lot happier! Thanks Delta for setting an example. As always…

Dream BIG,

Question: What is your favorite airline story? 

What Made Maya Angelou Successful?

By Adventure 2 Comments

She has been known as an author, actor, activist and a poet, prostitute and producer. Maya Angelou had many titles in her nine decades on this planet, my favorite being “speaker!”

She inspired many with her wisdom-filled words, her stories that within two lines can make your gut sink and your heart flutter and her ability to stand up for what was right when things were wrong.

Her ability to remain focused, to speak up for those who were suffering and feed her need to live her passion have helped me be a better speaker.

There are many things that so many can say about Maya Angelou but here are three actions she lived by that made her successful:

Work Hard
She worked everyday. She wrote, she re-wrote and edited and did not wait for things to happen, she made things happen! She stayed up late, woke up early. She had a fire inside of her to do something positive in this world and understood that hard work is what it would take to make a difference! Nothing will work unless you do.” – Maya Angelou

Stay Positive

Her life could have been that of a Lifetime movie plot with rape scenes, poverty, abuse, teenage pregnancy, prostitution and struggling to build a life from the ground up. Growing up, she had two ways to view her life and she decided to say positive and help others by sharing her story and living by example. “You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot – it’s all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.” – Maya Angelou

Speak Up
She shared her truth. She spoke up for civil rights, human rights and women’s rights! Since the 1990s, she made almost 80 speaking appearances a year and continued to do this until the very end. She spoke up, out and about to those who would listen so she could use her voice to make a difference in the lives of millions around the word. She motivated others by sharing her life story and speaking up when others were sitting down. She knew that speaking was an art and that it required time to master it. She used her voice, her story and her gift of writing to achieve so much and it was not granted to her overnight. All great achievements require time.” – Maya Angelou

The world lost a person of tremendous value but we are thankful for the value she added while she shared the planet with us. What are you working hard for? What are you doing to remain positive? When will you speak up for those who need a voice?

Maya Angelou is an inspiration and was successful because she lived by example and made things happen. Take the time to reflect on what you can do right now to make this world a better place when you leave it. Think of the possibilities when you work hard, stay positive and speak up! As always…

Dream BIG,

Question: What is your favorite Maya Angelou quote? (If you are a fan of Maya and thought she was an inspiration, share this article by clicking on one social media icons below). 

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

By Adventure 10 Comments

This week I have been on ten planes. I like to travel and every time we take off, I still enjoy the thrill of flying and being 30,000+ feet in the air!

However, whether you travel a little or a lot or whether you like planes or not, there are certain people that are horrible to sit next to.

These are the five worst types of people to sit next to on a plane and how to deal with them (yes, I have experienced them all):

The Bloody Nose
I am ready for my three-hour flight to the East Coast and as the first wheel leaves the ground, the guy’s nose next to me turns on like a bloody faucet. His blood starts splashing all over his shirt, legs and no one has a napkin! I am freaking out because I can’t stand blood but also trying not to make this guy feel embarrassed. This is the worst of them all for me!

How to deal with it: ALWAYS carry a napkin with you. Now in my computer bag, I have several napkins just in case this ever happens again I can assist the person sitting next to me and avoid any blood splatter on my pants!

The Electric Shaver
As I close my eyes to try to get some sleep during my red-eye flight, I hear that familiar “buzzzzzz” go right next to me and see my good ol’ seatmate is shaving his scruff on the plane! Are you serious? I kept finding little black hairs on my pants the entire trip! Not cool man, not cool.

How to deal with it: I wish I could tell you I said something, but truthfully I was so shocked and was processing what this guy was thinking that I couldn’t say anything. I literally was speechless. Next time this happens however, I will be ready to politely ask the man (or hairy lady) to wait to do that in the bathroom because I don’t wont their little hairs all over my bag and pants!

The Horrible Breath
I can take bad breath sometimes but not the constant flow of it in my face from the energetic person who wants to tell you their entire life story in two-hours. When you are sitting on a plane, you are pretty close to each other. Make sure you check your breath every now and again!

How to deal with it: Have a variety of mints and gum with you to offer them. Make it look like you want a piece first. I pop one into my mouth and then ask “would you like some gum or a mint?” this has worked 90% of the time because most people don’t like to say no and they enjoy the satisfaction of scoring a free piece of candy!

The One With BO
Oh you know what I am talking about. The one who you can smell two seats up and the one who smells like they shower using man sweat, sock juice and small bits of sewer water! The one who you try to avoid at all cost because you don’t want to get a headache from their bad odor body fumes!

How to deal with it: If it is a long flight and there are open seats, I asked to be moved. This might sound rude or mean, but this one I don’t deal with. I didn’t spend hundreds of dollars to sit next to someone who smells like they just worked out and rolled around in dirty laundry. Make sure to do it politely and go back to tell the flight attendant what is going on.

The Sick One
Whether they are throwing up their stomach or have a contagious cold, sick people should not be allowed on the plane. I am serious. You are risking infecting everyone else! If you know you are sick AND contagious, please don’t fly!

How to deal with it: Repeat the “How to” step under “The One with BO” plus make sure to carry a packet of E-mergency, travel sized Purell and wash your hands immediately when you step off the plane.

These are the five worst people that I have sat next to on the plane. What is your least favorite and are there other types of people I am forgetting? Let me know down in the comments below.

Enjoy your next flight and may you sit next to someone who does not have a bloody nose, already shaved before they got on the plane, who has minty fresh breath, smells well and is healthier than Popeye! As always…

Dream BIG,

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