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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: Profiles

Guest blog: Life lessons from 24-year-old Cory Jacobson

Cory Jacobson has spinal muscular atrophy, a form of muscular dystrophy. She is mom to 15-month-old Kinley, and wife to Ian Jacobson.

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By Cory Jacobson

The question “What has SMA taught me?” was recently asked in a support group I am a member of. It really got me thinking so I thought I’d write out my answer. SMA has taught me a lot throughout my 24 years of life.

Doctors are “practicing”

I’ve learned that doctors are most certainly NOT always right. They have said things to me that have downright made me cry. For example, an OB doctor told my husband and I that he would need to be prepared to be a single father to our then unborn child because I was going to die during her birth. Clearly THAT didn’t happen.)

They will give out life expectancies to the already-traumatized parents when their babies are diagnosed. They are typically very wrong. They will act (and sometimes even directly state) that they are smarter than you and therefore know everything about you.

But, then you get some doctors who dedicate their lives to saving the lives of their patients. Ones who give out their personal cell phone numbers just in case you need them. Ones who learn things about you. Ones who take time to care for you in the very best way. Ones who admit they aren’t sure about something but will do research to learn more. THOSE are the good ones. Always be grateful for them.

Pushy parents are fantastic

My parents ALWAYS pushed me to try everything I possibly could. I wasn’t allowed to quit. I learned that I am capable of anything. If I have to do it differently, so what? Having SMA has taught me to appreciate the attitude my parents have instilled in me my entire life.

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Attitude is EVERYTHING

If you think you can’t do something, you aren’t gonna be able to. But, if you set your mind to something, you can do it. I’ve had so many people tell me that things were impossible for me to do, but I did them anyways. Call it stubbornness but I don’t take no for an answer. I have accomplished a lot in my life that I’m very proud of (graduating college, skiing, traveling, getting married, having a child, working, giving speeches) and having SMA has given me a “no quit” attitude.

Confidence is King

At first, confidence was not something that came naturally to me. But, eventually, I came to the realization that if you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else? I had to learn to believe that, even though I’m different, I’m still smart, beautiful, funny, and worthy of the same things that everyone else is. This newfound sense of confidence afforded me the opportunity to experience so many wonderful things: an education, a loving and supportive (and sexy!) husband, a beautiful daughter, and so much more. I had to find confidence in myself before I could be independent.

Having SMA means that sometimes, things will really suck. It means that everyday things will be challenging. It means that I will have to be creative in nearly every aspect of my life. It means that many people will treat me differently. And when I say differently, I mean they will stare, ask stupid questions, discriminate, and the like. But, it means that I will be STRONGER for having overcome those daily challenges, and for trying to educate those people who treat me differently. It means I will be smarter and more creative for having to figure out innovative ways to overcome obstacles and adversity.

I’ve learned many things from having SMA, but this is just a little glimpse. SMA is not who I am, but it’s very much a part of me. I’ve learned to EMBRACE it and THAT is what SMA has really taught me; you’re given this life because you are strong enough to live it.

Dayniah Manderson featured in New York Times Video Profile

Dayniah Manderson is a friend I met through the “Living with MD” Facebook group last year.  The New York Times put together this video profile.  I guarantee you will be compelled to watch the whole thing.  Check it out and then check back this weekend for my exclusive one-on-one video interview!

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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!

 

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?

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.

 

Best Birthday Memories

Father and Son Birthday Memories – 42 Years Apart

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I’m not one of those people who is big on celebrating birthdays.  Normally, I don’t celebrate them with very much enthusiasm.  A family dinner is usually it. I have vague memories of what I did on my 18th and 21st birthdays that cannot be shared here!  But other than those reflections, there is one particular birthday I’ll never forget.

For my 7th birthday, my father took me to see the New York Knicks play a game at Madison Square Garden.  I remember taking the subway from Jamaica, Queens where my aunt Charlene lived.  For a young kid, the ride itself was thrilling.  When we entered the building, I remember looking down at the crowd of people that walked below me because I was elevated, riding on the shoulders of my strong papa.  As we left the darkness of the hallway and entered the brightly lit arena, I was reminded of Dorthy entering the Land of Oz!  It was thrilling!  So much going on…

Dad gave the tickets to an usher who showed us our seats, midway down our row.  After being seated and removing my coat, I started to soak in all the activity going on around me.  It was mesmerizing!

“Get you popcorn here!  Popcorn!”

“Ice cold beer!  Ice cold beer!”

“Peanuts!  Get your peanuts!” And someone from the middle of our row passed money to the person to his left, and then to my dad, and then to me, and then to the person on my left.  And then the vender tossed the peanut bag right to the guy who ordered it!

The Knicks were warming up.  There were my heroes right there before me: Walt Frazier, Willis Reed, Bill Bradley, Dave DeBusschere.  And on the other side of the court, I could see the Philadelphia 76ers warm up.  The Knicks were my team.  I knew all of them.  But the only  76er I knew was #32, Billy Cunningham.

The noise level of the crowd was amazing.  Every time the Sixers had the ball, especially in the 4th quarter, we would all yell at the top of our lungs,  “Defense!  Defense!  Defense!”

I don’t even remember who won the game, but I will always remember that special birthday.

Forty-two years later, the same two guys attended another sporting event, this time the day before my birthday.  The 2013 Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic, Championship PGA Tournament.  This time, I drove Dad to Fallen Oaks Golf Course to see the final round of play.  Now that I’m grown, the relationship is different, but there is something about father and son that never changes.  I was reminded of that Madison Square Garden experience throughout the day.

My dad had golfed in the Pro-Am on Thursday and got to spend the day with Joe Daley.  Before Joe teed off, he took some practice putts on the “warm up” green.  Dad introduced us and Joe cooly took off his glove and autographed it for me.  We followed his group around for the first 9 holes and then took a seat in the Habitat for Humanity grandstand to watch the end of the tournament.  At the end, we were allowed access to the grassy area outside the club house and waited for Joe, who chatted with us before taking some pictures.  Yesterday was a special day that I’ll never forget.

“The Strength Coach” is 49 years old today.  I remember making deals with God to let me live to 50.  Now I’m making new deals.  In the land of people with muscular dystrophy who also have congestive heart failure, I’m a dinosaur.  But in my mind, I’m that same wide-eyed 7 year old, curious and amazed by the sights and sounds around me!  Maybe that curiosity and amazement is what keeps me going.  Can you relate?  If so, do me a favor on my birthday and share this with your friends.