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: May 2013

FAQ: “How Did Your Speech Go?”

Every time I call home after a presentation I get the question.

I have always kept a checklist in my mind that I use to evaluate how well my speech went.  There is so much going through my head as I descend from the platform and my mind is swimming with answers to these questions:

  • Did I assume command of the platform with confidence?
  • Did I connect with my audience and hold every eye on me throughout the presentation?
  • When I invited interaction, did they respond appropriately?
  • Did they laugh at all my jokes?
  • Did all of the audio and video elements work properly? 
  • Was my voice loud, clear, and strong throughout?
  • At the end, did I get a standing ovation?
In my room at the Hyatt.  Ready to go down and give the speech!

In my room at the Hyatt. Ready to go down and give the speech!

Last Tuesday morning in Philadelphia, I gave the opening keynote address on Day 1 of the 14th Employment Supports Symposium, sponsored by Networks for Training and Development, Inc.

  • I took the stage with confidence.  I hit the ramp full speed after the introduction and I started with my planned first line.  Not “small talk” like “how’s everybody doing?”
  • I connected with my audience and I held every eye except for “that one guy” who insisted on carrying on a conversation with his neighbor. (There’s always “that one guy” in every audience who whispers to his neighbor while waving his hands frantically in gestures, making sure that his mission to distract you is most effective!)
  • They were eager participants in all of the interaction elements.
  • They appreciated and responded well to the humor in my presentation.  They pretty much laughed on cue.
  • Despite a dry run the evening before, there was a technical snafu with the PowerPoint presentation at the beginning, but I overcame that and proceeded smoothly.
  • My voice quality was just okay. Maybe because of jet lag, or maybe because I’m getting old, I didn’t have the energy to blast out the booming bass that I’m capable of but it was okay.
  • At the end, I received a standing ovation.

Immediately after the talk, I thought I did “okay.”  I gave it a B.

Then, this morning I received this email from Shauna Roman, Executive Director of “Networks.”

Good morning Greg,
 It was a pleasure to meet you in person, and to have you join us for the 14th Employment Supports Symposium! This year’s event sparked such creativity and engagement, and your keynote delivery and breakout session facilitation were a large part of that.  I consider “unsolicited feedback” the best kind of feedback, and I could not count the number of attendees who approached me with positive comments about you!
Thanks, Greg, for being such a valuable part of our conference this year, and I wish you all the best in your life’s endeavors.

(And this is what really fired me up:)

P.S. At the beginning of Day 2 of the conference, I did an informal welcome to the large group over breakfast.  I gave them a “pop quiz”, asking them if they could recall the charge that you left us with, the day before.  Immediately, people shouted out “BIG DREAMS!  SELF DEF! NO QUIT!”, followed by a loud applause.  So, your message came through loud and clear – - and it stuck.

After reading that email, I now realize the most important questions in evaluating a speech may be:

  • Did they listen to your message?
  • Will they remember what you had to say?

I’m changing my grade from a B to an A+.  And I’m shooting for “straight A’s” from now on!






Inner Strength Profile: “Simon Illa”

By Greg Smith

Let’s “Kickstart” Simon Illa’s Book Deal

Simon Illa and The Strength Coach

Simon Illa and The Strength Coach

Brad Gilbert, AKA “Simon Illa” was born with osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), which is caused by lack of collagen in the bones. He gets around in a power wheelchair.  When he was 3 years old, Simon and his brother who also has OI, witnessed the murder of their mother at the hands of her ex-boyfriend. They grew up with their grandparents. When Simon was in his early 20s, his father committed suicide.

Despite his rough start, Simon has used his inner strength to build a successful career in the music industry as a recording artist and producer.  Since his break into the music business, he has produced and written with and for artists such as Big Boi signees Vonnegutt, D Woods of Danity Kane and more, remixed Manchester Orchestra, the Millionaires and others. His versatile production abilities have landed his work on everything from Major League Baseball to Documentaries to Major Film Work. Simon earned an Emmy Nomination for his music production for NBC’s ‘Tribute to 9/11′, was dubbed ‘Philadelphia’s Hottest Producer’ by Blender Magazine, and is often recognized from his appearance on TLC’s hit series ‘Miami Ink’.

Exactly 10 years ago, May  25, 2003, Simon and I first met through this live interview when I was host of “On A Roll – Talk Radio on Life & Disability.” Simon would later produce the music for my “Strength Coach” radio show and appear on several programs as a guest.  Our friendship, fueled by mutual respect and admiration, remains strong today.

Simon is ready to tell his life story in the form of a book.  He needs to raise $15,000 through a “Kickstarter” campaign to pay for the production.  Please check out his video and make use of your credit card!


“Black Guy” & “Disabled Guy” Fighting in My Head!

By Greg Smith

New NBC Series “Ironside” Has Struck a Nerve

There is a fierce argument going on in my head between “the black guy” and “the guy in a wheelchair.” It is quite a battle.

The “guy in the wheelchair” saw that NBC was remaking the TV series “Ironside” and it cast a non-disabled star in the role. Blair Underwood will walk to the set every day, plop his butt in a wheelchair and pretend to be paralyzed from the waist down. What bothers me about this is the missed opportunity. There are plenty of talented actors who have real disabilities and are looking for stardom, and yet there is not one truly disabled superstar in the world. Can you name one big-time actor or actress with a disability? Here was an opportunity for that first real disabled superstar and it is gone.

The “black guy” saw that they were remaking the TV series “Ironside” and noticed that it stars a positive African American male character. We are not talking about a show targeted to a black audience. This is a show targeted for a mainstream audience on a major network. How many shows can you name where the star is a black male character in a positive role? I’m not talk about a supporting character. I’m talking about the star of the show! A black man star in a TV series drama? Not a comedy. A drama. Can you think of another?

See my problem? What am I going to do?

At first I was thinking about boycotting the show, until I saw the previews and realized that Blair Underwood is a great actor who might bring a lot of authority to the disability experience. If the show is successful, and the writing is good and appropriate, it might make people think twice about some of the stereotypes they assign to people with disabilities. Ironside looks tough, smart, resourceful, and witty. Not needy. Not dependent. Not determined to “walk again.” Hopefully, that’s what the character will be like.

Despite these positives, the disability community continues to go without it’s star, losing out on this huge opportunity to identify and place one. We need one. We need someone for young people with disabilities to look at on TV and see a reflection of themselves. We need to see that disability is a normal beautiful part of the diversity that is human life.

“Ironside” is a done deal. The shows are already in the can. “Ironside” will air on NBC this Fall. No amount of advocacy, boycotting, picketing sponsors or any of that will change the outcome. But a sufficient amount of that activity could raise the issue to the level that it will gain attention and create an opportunity for a future starring role for an actor with a disability.

NBC will easily be able to explain the decision not to hire a disabled actor: the show features flashbacks to Ironside’s days before a cap got busted in his (spine). So they had to cast an actor that could both walk and sit. I get that.

I’m hoping that “the black guy” and “the guy in the wheelchair” can come to some kind of an agreement. Maybe as a team, the two of them can reach out to Blair Underwood and make him aware of the dilemma. Perhaps a guy like Mr. Underwood could support our efforts to break down the barriers for actors with disabilities. As a black man, Mr. Underwood definitely understands barriers. We will see what happens.

Check out the video and leave a comment here on my blog below. What do you think?

How to “netWork” a Room! Networking Strategies

How to Get to “Hired!”

To me, there is no better satisfaction than the feeling you get after you accomplish something difficult. The more difficult the challenge, the greater the thrill. There is something magical about hearing your inner voice say, “Good job.”

If you live in or around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, mark your calendars for Tuesday, May 21 at 9:30 AM. I will be delivering two dynamite presentations that you don’t want to miss, especially if you are seeking to improve your place in your career.

One of the most difficult things to do in our world today is find gainful employment. It is impossible to do a good job until you get the job in the first place. And that’s where I can help!

I haven’t looked for a job in over 14 years.  But throughout that time, I have constantly been seeking to contract with companies and organizations selecting a professional speaker for their important event.  I’ve learned a lot about how to present myself that I can share with everyone looking for a job.  So Networks for Training and Development in Philadelphia has hired me to share my experiences with you at the 14th Employment Supports Symposium, May 21st at 9:30 am at the Hyatt Regency Penn Station


Come hear “The Strength Coach” speak at the Hyatt Regency Penn Landing, Tuesday, May 21 at 9:30 AM. Registration begins at 8:30 AM.

In my opening keynote presentation, “Getting the Job Done Together,” I’ll teach you some memorable strategies that will build your inner strength and allow you to face the workforce with confidence.  If you attend, I guarantee that you will change some beliefs that will become evident when you present yourself potential employers.  You’ll learn a new way to evaluate your career goals, how to define your skills and how to become relentless in the pursuit of your dream job.

In my afternoon breakout session, “How to Work A Room,” you will learn how to make the best use of networking functions.  I will reveal my “10 Secrets for What to do in Advance.”  I will share my best-practices for effectively interacting in a networking environment.  And I will teach you how to follow up after the meeting to make certain you are remembered.  We will actually be doing some networking, so please come with your business card and an open mind.

The Symposium is a state-wide cross-disability event focusing on increasing employment for individuals with disabilities. But even if you aren’t directly connected to the disability experience, I guarantee you will still learn difference-making strategies at both my presentations.  This year’s Symposium theme is “Employment 1st: Communities at Work!” Join us as we rediscover the power of our community networks and connections that are key to increasing employment opportunities for ALL!

To register, go to the Networks for Training & Development registration web site.

I’m looking forward to networking with you!

I’d like your feedback.  What advice would you give people about how to “work a room?”

I Offer a Second Definition for DWI: “Driving While In…”

Greg Smith poses with his silver van

By Greg Smith

Don’t Risk People’s Lives “Driving While Insignificant.”

We’ve all heard the expression DWI.  Everybody knows that it stands for “Driving While Intoxicated.” It is a subject that hits too close to home for millions of Americans.  If reading this phrase today conjures up painful memories, distant, or recent, I apologize.  The fact is, every day, nearly 30 people in America die from accidents involving intoxicated drivers.

But there is another form of DWI that is even more costly.  The impact of this problem is immeasurable.  What’s more, there is no law against it. We have all been guilty of it.  The form of DWI I am talking about is “Driving While Insignificant.”

People who are “Driving While Insignificant” are people who have given up on their dreams.  They are living a life that has no purpose, meaning, or positive direction. They do not believe in their own abilities, and are frustrated with what has happened to them in their lives. They are jealous of other people’s success. And these people are out there with us, clogging up the traffic system, darting in and out of lanes, speeding, and ignoring turn signals.

An intoxicated driver might say, “I was on my way back from the club. I only had a couple of drinks.” Those words offer no comfort to a grieving family.

An insignificant driver might say, “I was on my way back from the corner store to get a pack of cigarettes. I was not drinking.” Again, words that have very little meaning to a grieving family.

The next time you get behind the wheel, I urge you to ask yourself a question before you put the car in gear: “Where am I going?”  And I don’t mean your literal destination for that particular trip. I am asking you where you were going in life. What are your dreams, ambitions, and plans for yourself in the future?

If you have no dreams ambitions or plans for the future, then I urge you to turn the engine off, go inside and collect some.

It should be law! For every routine traffic stop, police officers should ask you for your drivers license, proof of insurance, and personal mission statement.


If you are a habitual insignificant driver, there are easy steps you can take to stop this behavior.

  1. Surround yourself with positive people who have dreams and ambitions. They will bring you up.
  2.  Eliminate people from your life who have no dreams or ambitions. They will pull you down.
  3. Write down five possible reasons why you are here. These reasons could include career ambitions, a cause that you champion, a spiritual purpose, or even assisting someone you love achieve their dreams and ambitions, which would make the world a better place.
  4. Choose one of those as your personal mission statement. Write it down and keep it in your wallet along with your drivers license and proof of insurance.
  5. Become obsessed with making that dream a reality. Read about it.  Talk about it  Dream about it. Identify someone who has done it already and do what they did.

We all risk our lives every day when we hit the road.  I hope that an accident is not in your future, although it may very well be. I made a mistake that caused a fender-bender about a month ago. But at least I can say that I was on my way back from a speaking engagement where I inspired people to achieve their goals. I was not driving while insignificant.  I was working on my mission.

If you have been uninspired for some time, and know that you need to change but don’t feel the ability, maybe thinking beyond yourself will help.  You don’t want to be the person out there for no reason who crushes the dreams of people who have all the reason in the world.  Get a dream destination, put it in drive, and enjoy the journey. Drive safe!

Greg's Van with Ramp Open


Not Your Grandma’s Jerry’s Kids!

By Greg Smith

Why I have new pride in my disability.



“Disability Pride” is an expression that has new meaning to me now. It’s literal. I have pride in my disability. I mean, my exact disability… muscular dystrophy.

For several months, I have been a member of a Facebook group called “Living with M.D.” All of us have muscular dystrophy. And when I look around the virtual room, I see some serious brain flexing going on. I’m starting to think another name for muscular dystrophy should be “cerebral advancement.” There are some smart people in this group! These ain’t your grandma’s Jerry’s Kids!

Maybe it is because at an earlier stage in life, we were forced to start solving problems while other young children were getting used to their superhuman strength. Thinking and problem solving might be something we have a head start on. I don’t know, but I do know this. I’m pretty smart, but I’m not the smartest guy in this room!

I’m talking lawyers, corporate CEO’s, artists, designers, counselors, therapists, bloggers, journalists, comedians. And from all over the world. But it’s far from a nerd collection. My LWMD friends are some of the coolest people I’ve “never” met. For the first time in all of our lives, we have a place where we can talk about topics that nobody else can even begin to understand. And the result is that I’m frequently up late at night LMFAO at threads about sex, or food, or an obnoxious personal assistant, or the weird look on someones face that time they shook your hand so hard they knocked you over in your chair!

There are serious tips for life. I’ve learned about a cough assist machine that helped me recover from serious illness. I’ve learned who the best doctor in the world for my condition is. I have new ideas for foods that are easy to swallow for people like me. I’ve even read advice about what to wear to bed to allow me to turn over independently.

Jeff Hoffman

Living with MD Founder, Jeff Hoffman

This Facebook group has literally changed my life. But before you build a desire to check it out, be warned. If you don’ have muscular dystrophy, you’re not getting in!

Jeff Hoffman created the group and is determined to keep the membership pure. It was launched in September and it already has 342 members.

“At 36, I realized that I knew no one… not one person… who had the same disability as myself,” says Jeff. “When I had a problem, or faced a situation unique to my disability, I had NO ONE to talk to. I felt very alone. So, starting the group was a selfish act: I wanted to connect, network with, and solve problems with other people in the same boat as myself.”

“Jerry’s Kids” have grown up. Our self-proclaimed daddy once said on the telethon, “My kids can’t do anything.” Here’s a list of several members and their web sites and blogs that prove the old man wrong. These are just a sample. Keep checking back because I’m sure this list will grow quickly. Enjoy!


If you are over 18 and you have a form of muscular dystrophy, you can request membership here.

Greg Smith at radio mic

Greg Smith is a professional speaker, radio host, author, blogger and father.




“Inner Strength Day!”

Mount Olive Attendance Center

“Inner Strength Day” in Mount Olive, Mississippi was a blueprint for bringing it to your community!

When I was done delivering the “Inner Strength” message to freshmen and sophomores at Mount Olive high school on April 29, I asked if anyone had questions. There were a lot of smiles and awkward stares, but the kids all sat on their hands, unwilling to ask the first question.

“Come on, somebody has to have a question,” I prodded. A girl on the top bleacher sheepishly raised her hand and said, “She… (pointing at the girl next to her) wanted me to ask you what you like to eat.”

The gym erupted in laughter. I talked about seafood, barbecue, and spaghetti, and after that, the questions flowed. In just one hour, the blank faces that had filed past a stranger upon entry into the gym were now beaming smiles of admiration and respect towards a new friend and mentor.

The prom had been held in the same gym over the weekend. A huge mural with the word “Rock Star” in sparkling letters begged me to call the kids over for a group shot — a perfect backdrop after a presentation in which I stressed to the kids the importance of setting the highest possible goals for themselves.

Mount Olive Kids

A line of young people with their camera phones formed. They wanted to take a picture with “The Strength Coach.” An hour after the speech, I had 5 new Facebook friends and 3 new Twitter followers!

Later that evening, people of all ages from the Mount Olive community came out to hear the “Inner Strength” message in a speech that was interrupted three times for applause. Touching people’s hearts and minds feels good. Making people believe in themselves and their dreams is what I was put here to do. I love my job!

“Inner Strength Day” in Mount Olive, Mississippi was a huge success. Let’s work together and make it happen in your community. You can be the hero who brings me in to fire up the people you most want to inspire.

There is not much work involved. Just make a few introductions and you’ll be amazed how it sort of grows itself. Maybe this time, after the event, we can have some barbecue or spaghetti! Just send me an email or call me at 228-424-3896 and we’ll pick a date to bring the “Inner Strength” message to your area!

Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/content/43/9465543/html/Thestrengthcoach/wp-content/plugins/simple-fields/functions.php on line 1838