Greg Smith Keynote Speaker

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

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

Monthly Archives: July 2013

Makin’ it Rain a Quarter-Million

How I helped give 14 kids a quarter million dollars.

rain·mak·er  (rnmkr)   n. 

1. Informal  One who is known for achieving excellent results in a profession or field, such as business or politics.

 

If you’re reading this, you know me as a professional speaker or a radio host or an author. But there is another aspect of my identity that I’m especially proud of today: I make highlight videos for high school athletes that result in college scholarships. So far, 14 of my clients have received nearly a quarter million dollars in free education as a result of a their athletic abilities and proof of it on video.

I started doing videos out of necessity in 2011. My son was a high school football player and I wanted to find him a scholarship. I looked around online and found that the prices for highlight videos were incredibly high.  And if I used one of those services, I would not have as much control over the details of the video. Since I have pretty good chops on the computer, I decided to give it a try on my own.

My son’s video turned out so good that a teammate’s father called me and wanted one.  He was so satisfied that he referred me to three others.  And it just kind of blossomed from there.  Just this week, one of my clients, Emily Smith, received a full-ride basketball scholarship to the University of South Dakota. Here’s her highlight video 

The average cost of one of my videos is $250. The value of scholarships my clients received ranges from $7,000 to $43,000!

Each video is very time-consuming, but time I enjoy spending. I have to go through the entire game and mark the highlight possibilities.

I work out of my bedroom in my house.  I edit the plays together and then invite the kids and their parents to review it. Together we decide which plays to include or discard, and determine the order of the plays.  Absolutely nothing beats the thrill of looking into the eyes of one of my young athletes and watching their facial expression as they realize, “Wow, I’m pretty good.”

These kids earned the following scholarships based on their tremendous athletic abilities. The only thing I did was collect video proof and show it to the world online.  But the feeling that I get from having played that role is quite thrilling!

  1. Dillon Batia – Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College – $9,852
  2. Lynsie Byrd, Birmingham Southern – $43,130
  3. Romario Cobb, Southwest Mississippi Community College – $10,040
  4. Tripp Clearman, Malone University – $34,352
  5. Matthew Hicks, East Central Community College – $7,270
  6. Alex Horn, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College – $9,852
  7. David Howell, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College – $9,852
  8. Ishmel Morrow, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College – $9,852
  9. Kenneth Paxton, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College – $9,852
  10. James Richards, University of South Alabama – $25,992
  11. Tyrin Spencer, Southwest Mississippi Community College 10,040
  12. Donovan Smith, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College – $9,852
  13. Emily Smith, University of South Dakota – $15,129
  14. Antwon Wells, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College $9,852

The name of my business is Rainmaker Highlight Videos. You can view my entire body of work on my YouTube page.  If you need a video done for your athlete, please contact me.  Let’s make it rain!

Race in America: Moving Through H.A.T.E. to GREAT!

Hate, Accept, Tolerate, Embrace: 4 steps to our Groove!

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By Greg Smith

As a child, I hated the entire concept of disability.  To hate something so much means that a person must separate himself from it.  I did not want to have anything to do with it.  There were healthy, able-bodied people seemingly everywhere… on television, at school, at church.  And there were those disabled people that I would see every now and then in public.  They made me feel awkward and uneasy.  I didn’t want to be around them.  Later in my childhood, I would see more of them in the summers when I went to camp.  But I wasn’t like those people. I did not think of myself in any way as disabled. I was better than that.

As much as I hated my association with the concept of disability, I had no choice but to accept it.  I walked slower.  I could not run.  I could not lift heavy objects.  I could not ride a bike or play sports.  Even though I didn’t consider myself disabled, I had to accept the fact that I was, at the very least limited.

When I reached high school, fate led me to meet a few people with disabilities who were impressive, personable and productive.  That trend continued in college and a slow maturation process began, to the point where I began to tolerate the thought of disability.  I recognized that no matter how hard I tried to fight it, disability was part of my identity. It was as if I had lived my entire life without having the courage to look in a mirror.  And after a long stare, I realized I was in part defined by the “D” word. I still hated that part of my identity and refused to allow it to dominate my focus.  I simply tolerated it.

Over time, my newfound tolerance removed barriers that led to learning about disability history, meeting more great people with disabilities and actually starting to embrace it and finally owning it as a part of my identity!  I went from hatred, to acceptance, to tolerance, to embracing.  It was when I finally reached the stage of embracing that I started to grow leaps and bounds in every area of life.  When I became ONE with my disability and viewed it as a beautiful natural part of human diversity, the world opened up to me and my path through “On A Roll Radio” to “The Strength Coach” was paved.  I was then able to move into my groove!

Racial H.A.T.E

Race relations in America can be compared to my experience with disability.  I was born in March 1964 in rural Bay Springs, Mississippi into a world of hate.  Three months after I was born, three civil rights workers were murdered in Philadelphia, Mississippi out of hate.  A month later hate was in the air when 341 were injured and 774 were arrested in race riots in the same town.  These were the headlines but the underlying theme was the same across the land.  We hated each other.

And then came July 2 when Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Hate started to yield to the fact that America was changing and like it or not, it was time to accept.

It seems that in the 50 years since the volatile civil rights movement, Americans have been stuck in the mode where racial diversity is something that we tolerate.  That’s kind of a good thing.  Tolerance has led to great accomplishments.  The end of a segregationist philosophy.  The beginning of a shared experience of Americans who started to realize that we had more in common than in conflict.  The emergence of a “middle class” of African Americans and all minorities.  Some of the resistance to the pursuit of the American Dream has eroded, although much of it still exists.  But tolerance has led to a healing path.

We have come a long way, but the recent headlines reveal to me that we are still tolerating racial diversity.  The fact that race is such a hot topic reveals that we are not at a point of embracing that part of our identity yet.

I could not become complete until I embraced my disability as a part of who I am.  That embracing made me complete.  The conflict within myself ended, and using my entire being in congruence, I was able to step into my groove!

In much the same way, America needs to take that last step and embrace ethnic diversity before she can become all that she is capable of.  America is better than she was, but she is still tolerating.  She needs to take that next step and get out of her own way to realize her destiny.  It is about time that tolerance leads to embracing diversity and when that happens, we as a society can finally reach our potential to become one nation, under a groove!

Life is Chess, Not Checkers

My 13-year old cousin’s life lessons

Having left Mississippi at the age of three to finish growing up in upstate New York and the Chicago area, I have always felt somewhat disconnected from family roots. Yes, we would make the drive south every summer, but even today, I definitely benefit when great aunts and uncles and second cousins to wear their name tags at family reunions. My mother’s family consisted of 10 children. Heck, I have first cousins that I barely even know.

I met my second cousin Andre for the first time last summer when he was 11 years old. He flew in from California to spend some time with his father, my first cousin Andy. We immediately bonded and spent the next month fishing, going bowling, golfing, going to the movies and playing chess. He had never played before last summer. I taught him how to set up the board, the names of the pieces and how they moved. And slowly but surely, after dozens of games, he started to catch on.

Andre 12

Andre at age 12, learning the game of chess.

His dad and I are very competitive chess players. When we move pieces, we slap them on the board with authority! When we capture pieces, we drop them on the table so they bounce around and make noise to irritate each other. When we have disagreements about the game or where a piece was before it was touched, we argue. And when we win, we gloat. Losing to Andy sucks, and I must admit I have felt the agony of defeat about as much as the thrill of winning when playing him.

Young Andre was just beginning his chess life. After every loss, I would always encourage him. “Keep playing,” I would say. “One day, you will begin to see the board in a different way and you will beat me.”

I don’t believe in letting people win to make them feel better. That detracts from the thrill of the actual victory. We probably played 100 games last summer and I won 99. Until the last game. The little kid beat me fair and square. As a reward, I gave him my chess set and encouraged him to continue to play.

This summer, he arrived a whole lot bigger at age 12. And when we set up the board, I took him lightly and immediately paid the price. I haphazardly began my opening without thinking and the next thing you know, I was in big trouble. He won that game rather easily. For the rematch, he had my full attention but he won that game too! I’ve since beaten him several times, but he now has my respect as a worthy opponent.

Andre turns 13 today. His chess career will be a blueprint for his success in life as he enters his teens. We can use it as our blueprint regardless of our age: Commit to becoming a winner. Learn the rules. Practice. Don’t play in fear of loss. Dislike losing. Feel the thrill of victory. Define yourself as a winner. Keep playing and learning until you become just that.

Happy birthday ‘lil cuz. It’s your day but you’ve given us the gift in your example.