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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.

Category Archives: Disability

“Super Crip” Author Kills It On Philadelphia Radio Airwaves

Philadelphia Sports Radio Listeners Get “Schooled” During Groundbreaking Radio Interview

Rob Quinn, Author ofThe Adventures of Red O'Ryan:The Birth of Super Crip

Rob Quinn, Author of The Adventures of Red O’Ryan: The Birth of Super Crip

Gotta give a shout out to my fellow journalist colleague Rob Quinn. The Philadelphia writer, who happens to have cerebral palsy, has shattered a significant barrier and his accomplishment needs to be more thoroughly acknowledged.  So click “share” and “like” and “retweet” for the good of society! 

Gotta start with a little personal background:  

Many years ago during the rise of my nationally syndicated “On A Roll” radio show, I did a remote broadcast at a disability conference in Ohio.  One of the organizers of the conference was a man with cerebral palsy.  His speaking was difficult for me to understand.  He wanted me to interview him on the show.  I rejected him.

My rationale was that the conservative decision makers at the news/talk radio stations to whom I was marketing the show wouldn’t be receptive. I was trying to “expand the voice” for people with disabilities by increasing the number of affiliates and I made the difficult judgement call to not allow him as a guest.  I’ve long regretted that decision, made nearly 20 years ago.  

So, fast forward.  

On February 25, 2016, Quinn broke new ground by commanding the airwaves during a 15-minute (that’s a hellava long time) live radio interview on a top sports radio station in Philadelphia!  He was promoting his new book. John Marks of 97.5 FM “The Fanatic” was the host.  

While listening to the stream, I closed my eyes and put my brain in a very familiar place: right between Marks’ headphones. In the first 30 seconds, I cringed twice.  

My first cringe was in reaction to how Rob was introduced: (“Rob suffers from cerebral palsy…”)  

The second cringe was my reaction to the way Rob spoke and the fact that I couldn’t understand him!  I had never heard him speak before.  All of our communication had been online. 

Of course I continued to listen and what transpired next was self-revealing:  I started to listen more intently. I started to pick up on his speech patterns.  I couldn’t understand every word.  But I understood enough to realize that I was enjoying the interview!

I could tell that Marks was reacting similarly because at first, he seemed too controlling of the dialogue, pulling from Quinn’s bio as his “GPS” to a destination he had in mind for the interview. But as the conversation went on, he began to relax and let his guest make points that struck a chord. 

Like a true public relations pro, Quinn handled his business, first focusing on the task at hand: promoting his book.  Philadelphia sports fans learned that The Adventures of Red O’Ryan: The Birth of Super Crip, is a fictional story about a high school kid who has cerebral palsy and is being mainstreamed into his neighborhood school.  He is a sports fan and is dealing with a bully.  

When Marks asked about Quinn’s motivation for writing fiction, the conversation immediately careened off-road, causing the wiring on Marks’ “GPS” to go haywire.

  • QUINN: I wanted to do something fun and entertaining.  At the same time, I wanted to write a realistic book about a disabled character.  There’s so much out there that they (undecipherable) play up the handicap … a point without being inspiration and all that and a lot of disabled people are fed up with that.”
  • MARKS: “So you wanted to inspire, because I know you had written something before that said ‘I’m not here to inspire you.’  With this story you were maybe looking to give some inspiration.”
  • QUINN: “No!”
  • MARKS: “No inspiration!”
  • QUINN: “What I’m saying is a lot of stories that go down that road where it’s all about overcoming and all that stuff.  This is not that.”
  • MARKS:  “It’s not about that.  This is just real.  Because in real life, there’s not inspiration happening.  You’re just trying to live life and deal with it.”
  • QUINN:  “Right.  For example, when you introduced me you said that I suffer from CP. That’s ok.  I get it.  A lot of people say that.  But the way I feel, I don’t suffer.  I have a life and yeah I happen to have CP.  I know that must sound like a subtile difference but it really is a big deal for a lot of people with disabilities.”
  • MARKS:  “You make me feel like an idiot, Rob.  When someone says to me ‘You suffer from diabetes… I feel so bad for you.’  No diabetic feels bad for themselves.  You have what you have and you deal with it because it’s everyday life.  On a regular basis you’re not thinking about it.  You live life, so I feel silly saying you suffer from cerebral palsy.  You’re not suffering from it.  You’re living with it every day.”

Home Run!  Quinn flips the bat, stares toward the left field fence and rounds the bases!  Thousands of Philadelphia sports fans learn how to avoid feeling like idiots!  

I smiled while listening, but it was short lived as another cringe quickly developed!  Marks over-reacted to how he felt stupid.  

“I manage to stick my foot in my mouth every ten minutes or so,” he joked.  But that reaction is universal and it is one of the reasons why educating the mainstream population about disability etiquette is so difficult.  We want to tell non-disabled people what we think, but we don’t want to offend them or make them feel bad.  

I know it’s confusing.  You have some disabled people talking about how they don’t want to be perceived as inspirational.  And then you have people with disabilities like me who build their careers around inspiration.  

Here’s my take: People with disabilities, like any other group, are a bag of mixed nuts.  Some are smart.  Some are absolutely stupid.  Some are fun to be around.  Others make you sick.  And some inspire people while others host pity parties.  I hope Quinn has inspired you at the very minimum to check out his book. 

The Adventures of Red O’Brien.  The Birth of a Super Crip  

You can listen to the show here:

http://975thefanatic.com/2016/02/25/109028/


Footnote:

Rob Quinn was very instrumental in getting the ADA Fan Cam initiative rolling in 2015.  His article about my project was the first coverage of the campaign which led to 3 million people seeing fans with disabilities during Major League Baseball games on July 26, 2015 — the 25th Anniversary of the ADA.   We’re gearing up for a repeat this year, and adding our push to get fans with disabilities represented in random shots of the crowd more regularly throughout the season.  

Please go to www.Facebook.com/ADAFanCam, post a picture of yourself in the crowd at a MLB game, “like” the page and “share” it with your online following.  

 

Help make the next documentary!

The documentary “On A Roll: Family, Disability and the American Dream” aired on PBS in 2005, reaching over a million Americans in the week it debuted. The film won the “Audience Award” as the top documentary on the PBS Series “Independent Lens.”  Your support can make the sequel documentary possible.

Joanne Caputo’s film shared two compelling stories: First, it shared the story of how one man navigated the complex integration of disability, ethnicity, ambition, and family life. The film covered my journey from birth with muscular dystrophy, through high school, college, married life, fatherhood and the pursuit of my career ambitions as a disability leader and broadcaster. Secondly, it covered the rich culture of America’s disability community as it celebrated the 10-year Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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The young, energetic subject of that film, who traveled solo, is now 51 years old. My young children you saw are now grown. I have gradualy lost abilities once taken for granted, such as sitting upright in my wheelchair without support, transfering in and out of my chair and using the bathroom independently.

Muscular dystrophy and aging have taken a severe toll on my physicial abilities. But I still drive my van, travel frequently to speaking engagements and host my weekly podcast.

“On A Roll Again” will focus on the complex challenges one man faces as he ages with a severe disability. Who will provide his needed personal assistant care? The parents we met in the first film are now in their mid 70′s. Where will he live?

“On A Roll Again” will also focus on the status of life with a disability as we approach 2020, the 30 year Anniversary of ADA. How has American’s attitude about people with disabilities shifted? How have developments in technology and medical care impacted disability lifestyles?

This is a film that must be made. We need your donation to raise the funds to make it possible. Thanks for watching “On A Roll” and I look forward to seeing your name in the credits and inviting you to the screening party of the new film.

Thanks for making a contribution!

Screening of PBS Documentary “On A Roll: Family, Disability & the American Dream” Starts Now!

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PBS site for documentary On A Roll: Family, Disability and the American Dream: www.PBS.org/onaroll

Watch online now at www.onarollmovie.com

We’ve come a long way since 1990. We’ve also come a long way since 2000. That year, the disability community, led by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) planned a 24-city, cross-country relay that celebrated the 10-year anniversary of ADA.

That relay and the events of July 26, 2000 are a major part of the award winning PBS documentary film, “On A Roll: Family, Disability and the American Dream.”  It is a nostalgic look back at the disability community’s biggest celebration to date.

The film was made by Joanne Caputo, who learned of my work as host of “On A Roll Radio” as a result of the friendship our young sons developed in Yellow Springs, OH. It started with her bringing her camcorder to our house.

From now, throughout the month of July, “On A Roll” is available free at www.onarollmovie.com. Please enjoy and spread the word about it. When it aired on PBS, 1.2 million people saw the initial broadcast. Hopefully, we can reach as many people this month as we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the ADA.

Star Studded Cast!

Here are most of the people with cameos in the film, in order of appearance:

Berkeley Smith
Donovan Smith
Greg A. Smith, Jr.
Rev. Jesse Jackson
Mike Ervin
Christopher Reeve
Dr. JR Harding
Becky Ogle
Judy Heumann
Bob Kafka
Jim Smith
Adelia Smith
Jackie Cammon
Tonya Tetteh
Wesley Gaffney
Kevin Gaffney
Eric Gaffney
Todd Richardson
“Duke”
Ron Pope
Jane Criddell
Ron Pope
Jeannie Morris
Angie Jacobs
Michelle Carston
Dr. Mitch Tepper
Terri Nealy
Eleanor Smith
Dominique Wilkins
Masha Malikina
Bobby Coward
Juliette Rizzo
Andy Imparato
Justin Dart
Ann Marie Hughey
Kyle Glozier
Senator Tom Harkin
Vice President Al Gore
Paul Spooner
Ted Kennedy Jr.
Senator Edward Kennedy
President Bill Clinton
Yoshiko Dart
Hillary Clinton
Rep. Jan Schakowsky
Steve Drosdow
Joyce Preston Scott
Gilda Dennis
Kate Adamson

Get your popcorn ready! I hope you enjoy one of the greatest disability documentaries ever made.

Guest Blog: From Poster Child to President

Shut-down of MDA Telethon inspires former ‘poster child’ to reflect and share vision

By Emily Wolinsky

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In 1984, at age seven, I was selected to represent the Muscular Dystrophy Association as its Greater Rochester Area/New York State “Poster Child.” This was a big year for me. My smile was spread all over the area in photos and local commercials.  I met a lot of people, and I was sent to camp for a week with other kids that looked just like I did.

This was also my earliest memory of disability. Before the MDA Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon, I didn’t know  being different was a problem, or that I needed to be cured. I also didn’t realize that I had a life ahead of me of being different.

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The Cure and Santa Claus

As the years rolled by and I grew to become an adult, I soon realized that the “cure” my family was promised was a well-positioned fantasy, and that the true “disease” that I “suffered” from had nothing to do with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, but rather a general dismissal of disability by the greater society that I lived in; a society that never really found out what happened to Jerry’s kids after they grew up and didn’t care.

So what happened to “Jerry’s Kids?” Where did we go after attending MDA summer camp? What happened after Jerry Lewis sang, “You’ll never walk alone” at the conclusion of the telethon? Did we suffer and die? Or did we flourish and shine?

Well, I suppose it depends. A lot of it came down to our access to great medical care and technology, our support system, our education, our financial stability. Yes, some of us suffered and died. And yes, some of us flourish and shine. But very little of it had to do with the dollars that were dropped into a fireman’s boot or the shamrocks that were purchased. In fact, for me at least, I figured out as a teenager that MDA was more about idealism and childhood than the reality of living day to day with a disability as an adult.

After many years of disassociating myself from MDA, in 2012, I had the fortune of invitation. This invitation was as close to a “cure” for my “disease” as I will probably ever get. Jeff K. Hoffman, an adult with Spinal Muscular Atrophy from North Carolina, started a Facebook group called “Living with MD”, and a group member, who knew I was eager to meet and connect with others who were living as adults with neuromuscular disabilities, invited me to join.

This group changed my life in fantastic ways. The power of connection, advocacy, and empathy has made every single day better. The 794 members from all over the world remind me that I am not alone and reinforce the belief that with access to great medical care, a solid support system, education, and financial stability, barriers can be broken down.

In this confidential support group I’ve learned much about what Jerry’s grown children now face. The transition to adulthood was not easy for many of us. The knowledge to make the transition to independent living is severely lacking, along with access to personal attendant care, housing, transportation, therapies, technology, education, and employment. Yet, within “Living with MD,” hundreds of experienced and brilliant advocates post daily with advice for living.

Within this group, I’ve also come to realize that the MDA is not a big, bad, terrible thing, but it is has evolved into an organization that is missing a huge mark. That mark is the MDA’s forgotten kids who can contribute in ways so much greater than any we were credited for as children. We are educated, we are skilled, and we understand more than anyone else what a neuromuscular disability does.

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Jeff Hoffman – Founder of “Living with MD” Facebook Group

Only 17.6 percent of people with disabilities are employed, whereas the employment-population ratio for those without a disability is 64.0 percent. I have met so many adults with neuromuscular disabilities (NMDs) who have degrees and are looking for meaningful work, yet the majority of MDA local offices do not have a single person with a NMD working at them!

Why is this? I suspect employing adults with NMDs would be bad for business.  If these poster kids now adults were put to work, we wouldn’t be perceived as incapable or suffering.

I will not support the MDA until it puts people with NMDs into inclusive, leadership, and management roles within the organization. I’ve grown tired of non-profits that exist for the alleged benefit of a population, but who do not employ the very people they supposedly exist for; who see us as a disease.

We are so much more than a disease. This is exactly why I helped start NMD United​ because our goal is to hire as many qualified individuals within our community as we can and serve our own. I am confident that NMD United will be able to do great things for people LIVING, not dying, without reducing our abilities to contribute and participate.

NMD United has a current board of 6 individuals with NMD – TK Small​, Alex Landis​, Greg Smith​, Lorinda Gonzalez​, Jeff K. Hoffman​ and me. Our attorney, Kevin Fritz​, who helped us to set up our 501c3, has a NMD. Our web designer, Latish Jack Vohra​, who we have hired to design our new website (coming soon!) has a NMD. Jenna Luzzo​, a LMSW and our volunteer Counseling and Peer Support Coordinator, has a NMD. Our contracted Project Manager, Lauren Sanford​, will help us with setting up programming this summer, has a NMD. And finally, our summer intern, Katherine Landis​, a student at NYU who has a NMD, will focus on research and development.

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It’s not going to happen overnight, but my goal is to one day see NMD United become a household name, like MDA, but without the protests, tears, and inspiration porn. I believe we will help thousands upon thousands internationally without having to resort to diminishing our existence to a medical problem that needs to be erased. We have grown to be so much more than that.

Guest Profile: Andy Imparato, Executive Director of Association of University Centers on Disability

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Spread the word!

Andy Imparato will be on Greg Smith’s Podcast next week!

Next week on Timeout with The Strength Coach, the topic is depression and mental health.  Greg reached out to an old friend who is good at telling his personal story, Andy Imparato, who is now the Executive Director of the AUCD.  In the interview, Andy talks about the onset of his disability, how he decided to come “out” with it and gives advice to people who might have symptoms of depression and bipolar tendencies.

The show will be available on Monday morning at midnight, 12:00 am Eastern Time.  In the meantime, enjoy these bonus segments featuring Andy discussing his new role at the AUCD.

Please spread the word about the podcast… “Timeout with the Strength Coach.”

You can subscribe on iTunes.  Just search for Greg Smith or the name of the show and click “subscribe.”  You can also listen online at webtalkradio.net.

 

Overcoming Negative Body Image: Loving the Living Skeleton

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By Greg Smith

I can’t believe I’m posting this!

I’ve reached a milestone. I have achieved a victory over an enemy that has dominated me and limited me for as long as I can remember. And as I stand over this monster with my foot on its neck it feels so good!

The bully… the monster… the enemy has been my negative body image. At the risk of getting my “man-card” revoked, I am publicly admitting that all my life, I’ve struggled with the way my body looked.

I’m skin and bones and very little else. I have weighed 65 pounds for as long as I can remember. It never mattered that I had an excuse called ‘muscular dystrophy.’

My arms and legs are bony, my neck and face are thin. But to me, the most embarrassing part has been my torso. My ribs protrude through my chest. My clavicles pop out. I have no pectoral muscles. No chest. It is just skin and ribs.

Since the time I became self-aware, my teenage years, I avoided being seen without a shirt on. I can count the times on one hand that I’ve been swimming in a public pool. I’ve never gone shirtless while out on the boat. I’ve never felt comfortable wearing shorts, exposing my bony knees and legs.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve always held a great deal of self esteem. I’m comfortable with my overall appearance. I think I’m a very handsome guy. I have always felt that I could hide my literal frailty behind clothes and use my wisdom and personality to compensate quite well.  But self consciousness about my boniness was always with me.

Devastating Impact

Being skinny was always a barrier to full enjoyment in life. It had a tremendous impact on my love life in particular.

I didn’t want women to see me with my shirt off until after we became intimate. “Shirt on and lights off” was my modus operandi. Revealing my body was a gradual process that I only allowed to happen after I was certain that I would be accepted and loved regardless of the physical flaws.

I knew they knew I was thin, but they did not know the true horror of the condition. If they saw me with my shirt off, they would be repulsed by it and that reaction would outweigh any feelings they allowed themselves to develop for me.

And that actually happened to me a few times. I’ve had women who cared deeply say they’ve tried to think of me in that way but they just couldn’t do it.  So I’ve gone through life as a mind, a face, a voice, a smile but without a body that was acceptable enough to be presented.

Forget the physical limitations of having muscular dystrophy. I dealt with those things and figured out ways around the literal weight of life and the battle against gravity. But there was no way around my appearance.

The Living Skeleton

I recently started receiving in-home physical therapy to expand the range of motion in my neck. My therapist, Wendie Hawkins, made me realize that being so skinny might have its advantages. She was amazed at being able to look at my body and clearly see bones, joints, muscles, arteries… things she had learned in anatomy class. My clavicle, scapula, scapula winging, sternocleidomastoid muscle, sternum…

“Medical students could learn so much from you. You’re like a ‘living skeleton!’ I can actually see your heart beating in your chest!”

That led to the idea of presenting myself to universities as an option for anatomy classes. The thought of posing shirtless for young med students terrified me at first, but then I thought about how it could lead to income while helping future doctors, nurses, therapists, researchers.

So I embraced the idea. In order to proceed, we would need to take some pictures. With her iPhone, Wendy snapped a few shots. When I saw the pictures, I was literally shocked and amazed by my reaction. I had never seen my shirtless body from multiple angles before. What I saw was not repulsive.

What I saw was asymmetrical artistry, the result 51 years of weathering, like a piece of driftwood, shaped into its own distinctive beauty by the elements of scoliosis, surgery and unique positioning.

If I didn’t have muscular dystrophy, I’m quite certain that I would have a perfect body in the traditional sense. I’ve always stressed the importance of physical fitness to my children and all three of them are athletic specimens.

 

What about you?

If you are not happy with the way you look and it is impacting your level of enjoyment in life, you have two choices:

You either decide that it is impossible to change your body and find comfort in your own distinctive beauty.

Or you can do the work and go full-strength to make the changes that are within the realm of possibility.

As “The Strength Coach,” I’m not allowing you the option of letting your negative body image diminish your quality life like I did. Nor am I allowing you the freedom of lying to yourself about your ability to make the changes necessary to build the body you desire.

It either is what it is, or it is what’s possible. You decide and embrace your choice.

Listen to my podcast this week as I discuss the “Living Skeleton” with my therapist, Wendie Hawkins, and Alice Wong, who also has muscular dystrophy and similar thoughts about her body.  Subscribe and download Timeout with the Strength Coach and please spread the word!

More about “On A Roll”

I can’t believe it has been 10 years since the “On A Roll” documentary.  I’m so excited that the film is coming back to the Web throughout the month of July.  Over a million people in the US saw it, but now millions more around the world will have the opportunity.

Here’s what they were saying a decade ago:

From ITVS Web Site

(San Francisco, CA) — Two million Americans use wheelchairs. 54 million Americans have a disability. From his state-of-the art radio studio in his parents’ Mississippi house, Greg Smith—“the wheelchair dude with attitude”—uses his popular nationally syndicated radio program to offer advice, encouragement and inspiration to not only the huge number of disabled Americans but all Americans. His upbeat, tough, and often humor-filled message closes the gap between the abled and disabled by stressing that we all need help from each other, everyday. Directed by Joanne Caputo, ON A ROLL will air nationally on the acclaimed PBS series Independent Lens on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 at 10 P.M. (check local listings) in conjunction with Black History Month.

Greg Smith sounds like a normal dad as he talks to his daughter on his cell phone and calls her “sweetie pie,” but interviews with his three kids prove opposite: “He needs help using the bathroom and getting in bed. He can’t play baseball that good.” Yet daughter Berkeley also knows what he can do: “He can move and drive… and talk.” It’s an accurate description as we hear Smith telling listeners about his new power wheelchair that can zoom around at 8 miles an hour.

Smith looks tiny and emaciated, but with a deep announcer’s voice he interviews Christopher Reeve, then blows the whistle on Clint Eastwood, Nike and Rush Limbaugh, all guilty of insensitivity to people with disabilities. We soon realize that he is no ordinary 65-pound man. He’s the host of On A Roll Radio who began broadcasting after a disability job discrimination experience in 1992.

By 2000, more than 40 cities air Smith’s program, but without major syndicator support. It’s part of the “institutionalized bigotry” that people with disabilities face regularly, according to Smith’s producer, Mike Ervin. Becky Ogle (former White House Disability Task Force director) and Judy Huemann (The World Bank Disability advisor) tell us about more concerns fueling current disability activism—nursing homes, independence vs. interdependence and the power of the growing disability voting bloc, now at 40 million.

Though Smith believes there’s a difference between disability discrimination and racial discrimination… (keep reading)

On A Roll Again

Disability Pride as ADA turns 25

Who is “The Strength Coach” and what is he about? The book I’m currently reading has forced me to look closely at my brand. I’m a motivational speaker, but what makes me different? What makes me stand out from other speakers? After an extensive process, I have realized that I left out a major part of my identity as I marketed “The Strength Coach.” I left out my disability.

How could I forget? I’ve had muscular dystrophy my whole life. I hosted a syndicated radio show on disability for 14 years!  10 years ago, I decided to branch out and become a mainstream motivational speaker. But the mistake I made was that I left behind the source of my strength:  My disability.

I’m bringing that back!  Nothing changes about the essence of what I do.  I teach people how to turn weaknesses into strengths for increased productivity and profits, leaving them feeling “full-strength swag!”  I just feel like celebrating my disability pride right now, which is fueled by the growing excitement over the 25 year anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, coming up in July!

So the podcast, Timeout with the Strength Coach, will present the challenges I face and the way I maneuver them, offering analogies for how anyone can use difficulty for personal gain.  My speeches will include a little more disability pride, using examples of people with disabilities who showed me the way.  And in July, filmmaker Joanne Caputo and I will be offering a free screening of the award-winning PBS documentary film, On A Roll: Family, Disability and the American Dream. This year is the 10th anniversary of the making of one of the most impactful documentaries about disability ever made.

Keep checking onarollmovie.com for updates and articles.  Sponsorship opportunities are available.

How to Completely Change the World with Your Ideas

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by Greg Smith

Hear Podcast Interview.

Begins at the 18:10 mark.


This changes everything!

I was in zombie mode last night, sitting back in my wheelchair, completely relaxed. The only voluntary muscles I was using were my eyeballs and my index finger scrolling up and down the newsfeed on Facebook.

How many hours and hours have I spent doing that over the years? And to what end? A business opportunity here or there. Getting suckered into a link to someone’s traffic building link trail?

And then I found it!

The most impactful link to a video I have ever seen! It was the story of 17-year-old Zachery Smith. He doesn’t know it yet, but this young man’s name will go down in history as a true change agent. He will kick Dr. Zachary Smith from Lost in Space to the curb! (“Oh, the pain… the pain!” Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

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Zach, like me, has muscular dystrophy. Like me, he has endured gradual weakening of all of the muscles in his body including his arms. Like me, doing every day tasks such as feeding himself, holding the phone up against his ear, turning on and off light switches, pointing the remote control toward the television, and a million other simple tasks are becoming more and more difficult.

When people like Zach, and me, lose the ability to do something, it is gone forever. For me, that includes putting a hat on top of my head, clapping my hands to make any noise at all, and everything else that requires me to lift my hands above chest level. Some tasks, like brushing my teeth, shaving and feeding myself, are done by supporting my elbows on a raised surface but if there’s nothing available for support, and I need to raise my hands higher than my chest, I can’t do it.

Zachery Smith has spent a lot of time scrolling in his young life. However instead of doing it mindlessly, he did it with the purpose of applying his idea… an exoskeletal arm that could assist his movements… to an already existing product.

And then he found it: Exoskeleton Arm!

Zach’s scrolling led him to the X-AR, an exoskeletal arm that had already been invented dating back to the ‘70s. Its original intent was to give videographers the ability to carry heavy cameras. The famous scene in Rocky, where Sylvester Stallone leaps up the stairs and the camera leaps with him, was a shot with a videographer wearing a primitive version of the X-AR.

The use of the X-AR expanded to industrial settings, enabling workers to lift heavier objects and to endure repetitive motions longer and perform better in various tasks.

The X-AR’s design consists of a cuff that cradles the arm, allowing a patented configuration of springs and tensioning hardware to provide the zero-gravity support necessary to reach farther and accomplish more.

I’ve had similar ideas since way before Sigourney Weaver stepped into her exoskeletal contraption in Aliens! But unlike me, Zach did his research and will go down in history as a spark that changed the world. He didn’t give up and accept the status quo. He found the solution and he is working with a company that will be developing and marketing the X-AR for use in healthcare!

This is a really big deal!

When I was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at the age of 3, my parents were encouraged that a cure for the disease was 10 to 20 years away. 47 years later, we are more encouraged and excited about the development of this technology than anything happening in a biological laboratory today.

I predict Zach’s thinking has led to a breakthrough in rehabilitation technology! I predict that the X-AR will lead to a full body exoskeletal system that can support the entire body structure allowing individuals like myself to walk, lift, kneel, jump and do whatever we want.

It will take a combination of experience and expertise to make it happen. Technological minds need to collaborate with those of us are living the condition to effectively communicate the challenges and solutions.

I’ve often thought that the same technology used to guide my power wheelchair could also be used to interpret physical movements of exoskeletal limbs. For example, when I slightly press the joystick forward, my chair slightly moves forward. But when I push it all the way, the chair moves with full power and full speed.

Maybe in the future, the intent of muscle movements can be interpreted by a sensor that allows us to harness and control more physical force, increasing independence and allowing us to do what we’ve only dreamed of. That’s just one idea of millions that are in the minds of both people in need of this new technology and the people with the expertise to make it happen. Let’s work together!

Zach. I look forward to giving you a literal “HIGH FIVE!”

This message should inspire everyone. Feed your ideas. Find the right partners. What great ideas have you given up on that may have revolutionized the world? It’s not too late. An idea that can completely change the world is swimming around in your brain right now!  Start scrolling!

 

Podcast Debut – “Timeout with the Strength Coach”

picture of Greg Smith's studio mic flag and microphone

Photo credit: Amanda McCoy, Biloxi Sun Herald

By Greg Smith

I think the stars have finally aligned for me to maximize and fully utilize my best skill set. I am good at speaking, and pretty good at writing, but I am best at broadcasting, and we are now well into the era of the podcast!

My new podcast, Timeout with the Strength Coach will be ready for your download on Monday, November 3! Every week, I will be uploading an hour stuffed full of motivational knowledge, expert guests, my personal insights and lessons from some of the top personal development and personal growth thought leaders in in the world.

Back in the old days

When I first started broadcasting my radio show on disability issues in 1992, the Internet barely existed. We settled for weekend junk time on conservative news talk radio stations. “On a Roll” aired live on Sunday evenings and I was looking for a way to expand it beyond the limitations of our time-slots in terrestrial radio.

In ’94, I had a phone conversation with a fella named Mark about adding it to his new network, Broadcast.com. I enjoyed the talk. He was very persuasive and went on to enjoy some success in his venture! You know, Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks. The Shark Tank dude. Yeah that guy!

My success with the radio show wasn’t as marked as Mark’s with Broadcast.com, but I’m proud of what we did from 1992 to 2006. We grew the show from one single station in Phoenix to more than 70 across the country in that time span.

But it was hard to be a listener. You had to remember that the show came on a certain day and a certain time. You had to either tune into the station on your AM radio or find it on the Internet at that certain time. As a result, despite how polished and professionally produced it was, it never quite found the audience it deserved.

The new days of the podcast

Today, everyone has a radio in the palm of their hand!  Now you can listen to me anytime you want, wherever you want, on whatever device you want: your phone, your iPad, your Mac, your PC, or in your car!

You don’t have to worry about the signal fading in and out. You don’t have to worry about forgetting and missing the broadcast. All you have to do is subscribe, download and listen at your leisure.

Pew Research Center polling shows that the podcast user base continues to expand. A May 2013 survey found 27% of internet users ages 18 and older download or listen to podcasts, up from 21% three years ago in May 2010 and 7% of internet users in 2006. Those numbers are expected to rise.

My life’s mission is to take the lessons that I have learned overcoming the challenges of life with muscular dystrophy, and teach people how to apply those lessons to improve the quality of their lives and build their inner strength.  If you download my show weekly and take it with you while you’re out and about, I guarantee you will notice a difference in how you feel about yourself and what you are able to accomplish.

Here’s how you listen:

Go to webtalkradio. From there you can listen online or download the Podcast to the device of your choice. I am looking forward to interacting with you! In the kick-off broadcast, you’ll get to know me more personally and get a feel for my energy and my mission to empower you to build your inner strength.

You’ll also meet a few of my teammates… people who share my passion about living an inspired life. You’ll meet comedian Murv Seymour, my best friend and accountability partner, who will reveal the strength of humor and friendship.

You’ll meet Chad Hymas, a motivational speaking colleague for whom I has a lot of respect and admiration. (The Wall Street Journal called him the most inspirational person in the world!)

And you’ll meet Olympic athlete, author and legend John Carlos, famous for his silent protest at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. John just happens to be my uncle. Download this show and you’ll find yourself inspired, and enjoying a super-productive day.

webtalkradio page