Greg Smith Keynote Speaker

Leadership Expert on Resiliency and Inner Strength – Greg helps leaders and teams “Go Full-Strength!” for maximum productivity.

(228) 424-3896

Inner Strength insights from the world of sports, disability, entertainment, business, politics and everything else I’d like to share with you.

Monthly Archives: April 2013

A Letter to You From My Nursing Home Room in 2023

08wedfreed

Help me avoid this nursing home fate!

The year is 2023.  We’ve invented time travel and I’m writing this letter to you in the past from a nursing home in hopes that you can spread my message and something can be done to avoid this.

I’m 59 years old, still in the prime of my life.  My mind is sharp.  But I’m fading fast.  I’m losing my passion for life because I have no freedom.  Someone else decides when I get up, when I take a shower, what I eat.  I have good friends all over the country, but nobody visits and few people call.  I don’t blame them.  Who would want to be around this atmosphere?  I used to fly all over the world talking about the things I did with my freedom.  And now, I’m basically locked up.  How did I get here?

It’s a long story, but I was born with muscular dystrophy.  My condition has weakened all my life.  In 1983, I could dress myself, shower myself and do everything without assistance. By 1993, I was married and my wife helped me do that stuff until our divorce.  In 2003, I had to hire an assistant to come over for an hour every morning to help me shower and dress.  But I could still use the bathroom independently.  In 2013, my condition had evolved to the point where I needed more help than I could afford to pay.  I would take risks, going hours home alone, despite the knowledge that I could easily get myself into a position or situation in which I needed help and I would be stuck.  One time, I was reaching for something and I slipped and fell over in my chair.  I didn’t have the strength to sit upright so I had to spend the night slumped over in my chair.  Those kind of things happened more and more, to the point where the only way I could get the hours and hours of “care” I needed paid for was to be institutionalized.

Yes, I have Medicaid.  They pay for that kind of thing.  But unfortunately, the only way they will pay for extended “care” is if the person in a nursing home!  It doesn’t make sense!  The government could save a lot of money by allowing me to hire my own people and manage my own care.  I need about 5 hours a day at $10 an hour.  But because of the nursing home industry and their strong lobbying efforts, our government… the one that stands for liberty and justice for all… supports the nursing home industry above the freedom of the people who elected them to office.

But there is still time for you to help me avoid this fate.  The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act requires that people receive services in the most integrated setting and the US Supreme Court’s 1999 Olmstead decision reinforced the idea that unnecessary institutionalization is discrimination against people with disabilities. However there is a bias toward institutionalizing people that is prevalent in America and it is harmful and even deadly to people with disabilities. People come here to die.

I’m writing this letter to you to wake you up to what is going on right now in Washington DC.   ADAPT is having their annual “action.”  They are a national grass-roots community that organizes disability rights activists to engage in nonviolent direct action, including civil disobedience, to assure the civil and human rights of people with disabilities to live in freedom.  They are in Washington right now, fighting for my future freedom, and the freedom of millions of people who want to remain free.  And that includes you.  Please visit the ADAPT web site  and look for ways you can support the effort.

Greg & Justin Dart 1999

A very wise old man once told me “Get involved as if your life depended on it.  Because it does.”  His name was Justin Dart, one of the greatest leaders in the history of the disability rights movement.  Now more than ever, I realize exactly what he meant.  Free yourself.  Free me!  Free our people!  Let the money follow the person!

I have to go.  They’re telling me it is time to go to bed.  Please share this article now with your friends!  Do it now before they discover it and delete it and take my computer away!

09wed

 

10X – The Only Difference Between Success and Failure!

Author Grant Cardone talks about “The 10X Rule” with “The Strength Coach”

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of interviewing a man who has provided a source of inspiration in the form of a book he authored in 2011.  “The 10X Rule” by Grant Cardone has “The Strength Coach” fired up.

I reached out to him and he said yes to this exclusive interview.   Grant is an international sales expert and author providing motivation & sales training programs to Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, success-minded individuals and entrepreneurs. He is an internationally recognized motivational speaker and is a New York Times best selling author. He is regularly seen on Fox Business, NBC, MSNBC, and Business Insider. Cardone is the executive producer and star of “Turnaround King”, a TV program created around his motivating solution-oriented business coaching. Cardone hosts his own radio show, The Cardone Zone, where he entertains and educates listeners with tips and strategies to achieve greater success and break out of the “middle class rut.”

Sample this 18- minute interview and let me know what you think.  If you have high aspirations and believe in your future, like I do, this guy will get you fired up and put you on a successful path.  What do you think?

Philadelphia Freedom!

Mark Your Calendars for May 21st!

hyatt_photo

Freedom will ring in my keynote address at the Hyatt Regency at Penn Landing in Philadelphia, on May 21.  For people with disabilities, the road to true freedom starts with employment.  The workforce is tough for everyone these days.  But one requirement to landing a job and having a successful career is belief in yourself!  If you project an inner strength and a confident message, you can make others believe in you and you can have the career of your dreams!

If you come to Networks for Training and Development’s 14th Employment Supports Symposium: “Employment 1st – Communities at Work!” you’ll learn exactly how to develop inner strength and how to project self-confidence for gainful employment!

And that’s not all.  I’ll be delivering a breakout session worth the price of admission alone.  In my session “How to Work a Room…” I’ll reveal some specific challenges people with disabilities face in networking situations, and sure-fire tactics to overcome them.

Come on down to the Hyatt Regency at Penn Landing on Tuesday, May 21!  Registration is at 8:30 am.  I hit the stage at 9:30 am with the Opening Keynote.  I hope to see all my Philly friends in the room and look forward to making many new ones!  You can download the full brochure here.

greg-timeout

 

I’m Available to Speak on Monday and Wednesday

I’ll be in Philadelphia and available all day on Monday, April 20 to speak to any group.  I’m also available on Wednesday morning, April 22.  If  you’d like “The Strength Coach” to deliver a message to your school, your team, your church, your sales force, let me know.  You can be the hero who brings a lasting message of inner strength to the folks you want to inspire the most.  Fill out the form or call me at 228-424-3896.

From Death Bed to Biggest Dreams!

Why I Feel an Energy I Haven’t Felt Since My 20′s!

I thought I was dying. From late summer through the winter in 2012, I could never get right. I had been taking my medicine properly every day since being diagnosed with congestive heart failure in 2005. That is a rough diagnosis for a man with muscular dystrophy. But I endured with it. I had surprised my cardiologist. The meds had worked for seven years.

But for several weeks at the end of last year, I found myself in grave condition, coughing endlessly, unable to clear my lungs of endless thick mucus. There were times I was so congested that I literally panicked because I didn’t believe that I could get any air into my lungs for the next breath. I thought to myself, “Is this the way it’s going to go down?” Somehow, through it all, I kept my sense of humor and sent this video Christmas card to some friends.

But this was serious. I was laying in bed for 18-20 hours every day. I was losing strength. I was rushed to the emergency room twice. My computers were turned off. My nebulizer and my cough assist machine were turned on, hissing and spewing like a deadly snake. I painfully realized, or so I thought, that I was on my “death bed.”

As I lay there, I began to reflect on my life and think about all my accomplishments. And what came to mind was the fact while I was proud of much, I had wasted so much time. How many healthy days did I spend doing nothing productive? How many healthy nights did I sit and watch TV or surf around endlessly in search of nothing good on the Internet. How many effortless inhales and exhales did I take for granted during those days, weeks and years that I merely “existed?”

Before I switched to the iMac, I remember sometimes my computer would freeze up and the only thing I knew how to do was hit “control-alt-delete,” which reset the machine and made it run smoothly again, most times. I feel like that’s what happened to me with my illness at the end of 2012.

As the year turned new, so did my condition. Slowly and surely, I was breathing easier. Gradually, I started spending more and more time in my wheelchair. And by the third week of the new year, I was feeling strong. And I thought, “Now that I’m up again, I’m going to make the most of it.” So I decided to resurrect my speaking career. I found Blake Watson and we set up this web site. I started making calls and setting up speaking engagements, and I started writing. I’m back again. “The Strength Coach” has returned. But this time, he’s “re-booted.”

I’m hungrier than the 28 year old who started “On A Roll Radio” back in 1992. I have more fire than the 30-something guy you saw in the documentary, “On A Roll: Family, Disability and the American Dream.” I have a clearer vision than the 42 year old you see on the marquee speech on my web site. This time, at age 49, my sights are set higher. My ambitions loftier. My dreams bigger. Some might call them unrealistic. I don’t care. I’m shooting for the stars. I’m putting them out there in hopes that you know someone who can help them along. If you know someone who can help in any of these areas, send them a link to this article.

“The Strength Coach” has Big Dreams! Among Them:

  • Get back into radio! It’s what I do best. I have a voice and a message. But it needs to be the right opportunity. Well established. Well funded. No more buying airtime. No more ‘vanity’ radio. I am a greatly talented radio talk show host who can bring a commanding, yet soothing, comforting, inspiring voice to the airwaves. I have expertise about a subject that people should be hungry for: “inner strength!” I have excellent interviewing skills from 14 years of weekly broadcasts, combined with my BA from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State and 5 years at the top news/talk radio station in Phoenix. “The Strength Coach Radio Show” is a great concept just waiting for the right radio industry executive to give it the green light. Do you know that person? Send ‘em a link.
  • Get a reality TV show! The success of the documentary film, “On A Roll: Family, Disability and the American Dream” (Audience Award Winner, 2005) is a clue! Hello? I’m a “telegenic” rolling sound bite who drives, travels the world, parents, and runs a business. I have a pretty assistant who gets me up in the morning and gives me showers and helps me when I travel. I’ve raised two boys to adulthood and am raising a 15 year old daughter. And I have a pair of amazing parents who are very cool, good looking people who offer me support. I have the same stresses as anybody else: medical bills, parent loans for my kids’ college, the pressures of dating. Great stuff for the flat box. Don’t you think? Do you know any reality TV producers? Send ‘em a link.
  • Take my speaking higher! I’m already a professional speaker, but not to the level that I aspire. A year from now, my schedule will be completely full, or as full as I want it to be. And I will be quadrupling my speakers fee. I know this because I’m good and getting better, fast! I’ve delivered 7 keynotes this year already and recorded all of them. I’m learning and gaining confidence. I’m spitting fire! If you know someone on a conference planning committee, let them know that they should get me now, while they can still afford me! Send ‘em a link.
  • Write more books! “On A Roll: Reflections from America’s Wheelchair Dude with the Winning Attitude” is a great book but it is outdated. I need to write another memoir about the past ten years. And I need to write a series of self-help books about “Inner Strength.” But no more self-publication. I’m swinging for the fences this time! When I have the first final manuscript complete, I’ll ask you for some connections, or if you know someone who would like to advance it, I’m game! Send ‘em a link.
  • Get a movie made! I have a story that is every bit as compelling as Mark O’brien’s (The Sessions), every bit as revealing as Christy Brown’s (My Left Foot), and just as dramatic as Ron Kovic’s (Born on the 4th of July). The book could easily be turned into a screenplay. I suppose I could do this. I don’t know how yet, but I can learn. But I’d rather just get it to Tyler Perry or John Singleton or (God Forbid) Clint Eastwood and let them handle it! (inside joke between Mr. Eastwood and the disability rights movement!) If ya’ know someone who could make it happen… Send ‘em a link.
  • Become a great disability advocate! If I can reach my lofty goals, I will, in the process, raise the level of awareness about the issues impacting the disability rights movement. If I don’t reach my goals, I believe I will have still accomplished the same because there are young people with disabilities who can use my vision as inspiration to pursue a path that is clearly laid out. But I think I can make it. There are hundreds of great disability advocates, but do we have a “star?” Can you think of a famous person with a disability? Someone who wasn’t already famous before the onset of their disability? We need one. If I make it, “we” make it.

Sources of Strength

Pretty big dreams, huh? I have inspired myself by making this “comeback.” And I hope that I’ve inspired you as well. I’ve also been seeking inspiration from different sources. Once source is an “Audible” book I listened to on my iPhone this week called “The 10X Rule” by Grant Cardone. Grant is an International Sales Expert, Sales Trainer, Motivational Speaker and NY Times best selling author. The 10X Rule unveils the principle of “Massive Action,” and teaches you to take concrete steps to be successful. It demonstrates why people get stuck and how to move into making the 10X Rule a discipline. The book teaches exactly where to start, what to do, and how to follow up each action you take with more action to achieve Massive Action results. Basically he states that it takes ten times the amount of work most people are willing to do if you want success. And if you set your goals ten times higher, those goals require an equal amount of work as “realistic” goals.

Grant Cardone will be my guest next week on the blog in an exclusive video interview! We will examine the differences between success and failure and I guarantee that after you watch this, you’ll be writing down your lofty goals as well. As a matter of fact, go ahead and list your ultimate dreams in advance, and then check back for my interview with Grant next week.

Now, make a fist and seize the day!

 

 

“How to Succeed” in Schools

Success 101

Chalkboard_Success_H

Yesterday, I had two meetings that stimulated deep thought.  One was with a superintendent of a public school district.  The other was with a recent graduate who is currently void of ambition, direction and confidence.

During the superintendent meeting, I was asked my thoughts about the school system and what could be improved.  I had no good answer at the time, but I found my inspiration to accurately answer that question after talking to the recent grad later in the day.

I believe there needs to be a class, or a series of classes every high schooler must take which teaches personal development, self esteem, inner strength and success strategies.  Some of us are lucky to have had a great set of parents who taught us those things, or had a teacher in high school that took an interest and wanted to see us succeed.

But for many kids, there is nobody in their lives who is there to teach them how to dream.  There is nobody who is there to teach them the concept of self-definition.  There is nobody to show them the possible paths to success.

When I was in high school, I got lucky because the band instructor was a man named Al Roselieb.  He decided to rewrite the rule that states that a member of the marching band must be able to march.  He allowed a kid in a wheelchair to become a part of the “Marching Mustangs,” and he engineered a way for me to roll my power chair and play the drums at the same time.  His invention, which involved moving the joystick of my power chair from the arm rest to the foot plate, has endured for 34 years!  I still drive my chair with my foot.

His example of using “outside the box” thinking inspired me to believe that there were no challenges I could not overcome. It was just a matter of applying my brain to the problem and I would find a way to be involved.  His actions led to the development of social skills that resulted in friendships that remain strong to this day.  His actions led to a determination to force my will and never allow anyone to exclude me because of my disability.  His actions led to the development of “The Strength Coach!”

But without his influence at that impressionable stage in my life, how would I have defined myself?  What kind of self image and esteem for myself would I have developed?  What would my social skills have been like had I not established those friendships with my band buddies?

greg-old-newspaper

I believe every kid must get exposed to lessons in self development, positive thinking and how to succeed.  The curriculum for this new class could include self-help classics like “Think & Grow Rich,” or “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” combined with contemporary materials by experts like Anthony Robbins or Les Brown.  Guest speakers would include professionals who hail from the same neighborhoods and socio economic backgrounds as the kids in school.  Social media can be created as a source for students to encourage each other and share their dreams.  The final project could be a speech, or a column for publication about the kid’s dreams!

Today, especially in low-income communities, students don’t see a way to succeed if they can’t play ball or sing.  They feel trapped and have no motivation.  They see graduating from high school as a milestone but not a stepping stone.  Our education system needs to teach our kids how to dream!  How to become inspired!  How to succeed!  Today, I’m sharing this post with the superintendent.  And I’m giving the recent grad a self-help book that I’m currently reading.

Your thoughts on such a class?  What can be done to make this happen?

In the meantime, if you would like to inspire students at your school, consider inviting “The Strength Coach” to speak at a school assembly or to spend a day speaking to different classes.  Just fill out the form or call me at 228-424-3896.

 

Happy 50th Anniversary to my Parents

Today, my parents reached a milestone in their relationship.  50 years of marriage.  Here is a short video tribute to their love.

Please share their example of love to everyone who would be interested, and feel free to offer your words in the “comments” section below.  Jim and Adelia Smith, on behalf of your children and your grandchildren, I extend this message to you on this special day:

“We love you.  We appreciate you.  We celebrate you!”

Man, I Miss Radio!

From my sophomore year in high school until age 42, my voice was  broadcast somewhere on the radio airwaves at least once a week.  After a 7-year hiatus, tonight, it makes its return on WBAI Radio in New York.  I’ll be on “The Largest Minority” radio show.  The show airs at 9 PM EDT (and later archived) on 99.5 FM WBAI in NYC, and online everywhere at http://www.wbai.org/

Listen in for the key phrase to win a special prize!  Type that phrase into the “Leave a Reply” section below.  The first 10 people to comment will get the prize!

home_left

Horror Stories from Meetings and Conferences

Share your “horror stories” in the comments section below!

I just had an idea for a book.  50 chapters.  Each chapter would feature interesting horror stories from meetings and events I’ve attended in every state.  (In order to complete the book, I’d have to schedule trips to Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota and Alaska, but I’ve been to the 46 others.)

I could write about the time I went to a radio conference in Los Angeles where evening events were held at seperate hotels that were about a mile apart.  On the way back, around midnight, my chair ran out of power!  I had to ask a stranger off the street for a push back to my hotel.  I also had to ask him to push me into my room and plug my chair into the charger.  (I was younger and dumber then and would never put myself in that position now!)  Thank God he was appreciative of the $20 tip I gave him.

I could write about the time in Orlando when I didn’t plan my bathroom visits well enough and had to “go” in the middle of a luncheon.  We were in a huge ballroom.  It wouldn’t have been a problem if the tables had been spaced apart wide enough to allow my wheelchair to pass through.  But it was so crowded and space was so tight that I had to ask about 45 people to get up out of their chairs to create a path for my exit!  And I was kinda’ in a rush!  It seemed to take forever and I thank God I barely made it to the restroom in time!

I could also write about the time a group of about fifty conference attendees were being led on a tour of a huge sports facility in Indianapolis.  I was part of a herd, focused on networking.  My mind wasn’t on my disability until we were “shepherded” right to the edge of a staircase!  I managed to stop before I fell down the stairs but I wasn’t able to find an elevator in time to rejoin my group and I missed the rest of the tour.

My stories are all about wheelchair access, but there are plenty others that could be told by my blind friends, deaf friends, friends with epilepsy, friends who have chemical sensitivity and other disabilities.  More and more, meeting planners are realizing that people with disabilities are conference attendees.  And the good news is that these horror stories are becoming fewer and farther apart.  Accessibility has become a priority with meeting planners.

Screen Shot 2013-04-08 at 12.50.23 PMI just discovered this great resource for meeting planners produced by the American Bar Association.  Do me a favor and share this with the folks that are planning the meetings at events you will be attending.  Their attendees with disabilities will appreciate being able to attend a conference without a disability related inconvenience.  And remind the planners that if they want the best keynote speaker, they just need to have a ramp leading to the stage!

Now, let’s hear your “horror stories!”

 

Studying Your Role Model

List 10 Things that Make Your Role Model Successful

My dad turned 74 years old yesterday. If you haven’t met Jim Smith, trust me when I say that when the two of us are together, it is hard for some people to believe that we are father and son. It’s not that I look old. I think I look pretty good for 49. But he doesn’t look 74. I may be “The Strength Coach,” but Dad is the epitome of the literal meaning of “strength.” He’s in great shape, showing no signs of fading. What are his secrets?

Dad Snapper

  1. His confidence. He believes in himself. He defines himself. And he is motivated by the doubts of others. He was once told early in his corporate career that he would never be a manager. He went on to become the CEO of two corporations. Sometimes, he comes off as arrogant but he definitely believes in himself and his abilities.
  2. His routine. He calibrates himself for success. He has a very predictable routine. He goes to bed around 10:30. He gets up around 5:30. He reads the paper and watches the news. He manages his time.
  3. His tools. He makes sure to maximize his use of and understanding of his tools: iPhone, iPad, computer. It is as if he were a member of a much younger generation. He has always been on the cutting edge of new technologies that improve his productivity.
  4. His activity. He is always active and getting exercise,. He is constantly moving. Whether it is working in his garden, or deep sea fishing, playing golf, or volunteering his time constructing houses, the guy has a motor that will not quit.
  5. His self care. Dad is a cancer survivor. Because he has always had routine checkups, his cancer was discovered in time so surgery was possible. He has been cancer free for 15 years. He is attentive to his body and investigates anything out of whack. For much of his life, he worked out in the gym. (He’s been slacking a bit lately, so I’ll have to poke him in the belly and that will get his attention!)
  6. His interactions. Dad is constantly talking on the phone or visiting people. He draws a lot of energy from interacting with others. He has the gift of gab. He can’t put his iPhone down. He is aways connected to people. When he walks into a room, he owns the room. There is no such thing as a stranger.
  7. His work ethic. Dad is constantly taking care of business. He spends a lot of time thinking about his company and analyzing what is working and what is not.
  8. His use of time. Dad doesn’t waste a second. He recently boasted that he read an article that listed the most popular television shows and he had not seen an episode of any of them! No time for TV. He might kick back and watch a ball game from time-to-time, or fall asleep on the couch in front of the Western Channel late at night. But mostly, my dad is busy gettin’ stuff done.
  9. His play. Dad is not a workaholic. He balances his life and sets aside time to fish, play golf, travel, go swimming, lay in the hammock, sip on a glass of wine and entertain friends. Dad masterfully balances work and play.
  10. His focus on family. He realizes that there is nothing more important than his family and I admire him and appreciate the assistance he has provided for me and my children, and my sister. He is in regular contact with his brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews. He is the chair of the family reunion committee for 2014. His family lovingly refers to him by his nickname since childhood: “Bunk”

My dad retired from his corporate career in 2003, only to return as a consultant and then a full time manager. He announced his second retirement which was supposed to be in June, 2013. Now I’m hearing that he may go even longer. I wish he would go on and retire so I can focus his brain on helping me grow the “Inner Strength Movement!”

I’ve learned so much about life from just watching this man. And that doesn’t even include the things he as told me that have made me successful.

I urge you to look at your role model and if you don’t have one, find one. STUDY that person. What are their habits? What are their routines? How do they calibrate themselves for success? Categorize their successful traits and make an attempt to incorporate them into your own life! And strive to become a role model for others.

 

An Open Letter to the Disability Rights Community

I’m Not a “Super Crip”

I’ve always had dreams.  My first dream was to be an athlete.  As a child, I learned that wouldn’t be possible, so eventually I set another big dream… to be an announcer for an NFL team.  As I approached the realization of that dream as host of Cardinal Talk on the Arizona Cardinals Radio Network, I realized that I had a more important contribution.  That’s not meant to slight sportscasters.  I envy them. But I felt a calling to change the world’s perception of people with disabilities through mass media, and in the process, help along the necessary changes for people with disabilities.

That’s why I started “On A Roll – Talk Radio on Life & Disability.” After 14 years of talking about the same changes needed in the world of disability rights, I realized the strength to make these changes would come from economic power (political power) from within our movement.  I decided that instead of raising the same issues for another 14 years, it would be better to help our people believe in ourselves, set high goals, and define ourselves instead of accepting the definition that society labels us with (dependent, isolated, sexless, jobless, envious… to name a few).  This would lead to employment, income, financial power and the ability to establish momentum in our movement.

1962_1077300729182_4557_n

As I started to research self advocacy, self determination, motivation and inner strength, I realized that the formulas for success are no different for people with disabilities than for anyone.  And there is room for improvement in these areas for everyone.  That’s why I shelved “On A Roll” and became “The Strength Coach.”

I know there is a stigma about the stereotypical “motivational” disabled person, the “super-crip” who accomplishes amazing things despite his/her disability.  I hope you don’t see me in that way.  I’m simply a person who has always had big dreams, who has always defined himself instead accepting the box that society wanted to place me in, and never gave up on my dreams.  My disability has nothing to do with those traits.  Furthermore, disability crosses the entire spectrum of human characteristics.  As a result, there are motivational people with disabilities and depressing people with disabilities.  Funny people. Sad people.  Angry people. Happy people. Brilliant people and bonehead people.  Straight people and gay people.   I just happen to be a motivated and motivational person.

Speaking of gay people, their movement should be an example to the disability rights movement. They have economic power, political power and the attention of the mass media.  Every day, without exception, there are gay rights issues in the news.  More and more, movies and television shows have homosexual characters and story lines.  I dream of a day when  the disability community will get the same respect and focus that our gay brothers and sisters have earned.  To get there we need to feel good about ourselves, establish our dreams, define ourselves, and be persistent.

To fans of the old “On A Roll” show, I want to let you know that I didn’t abandon you.  I wanted to explain my motivation, and I want to ask you to help fan the flames of the new “Inner Strength Movement.”  Forward the message.  Subscribe to the blog.  And look for opportunities for me to personally bring the message to the people you most want to inspire.  Thanks for your support over these many years!