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.

Category Archives: Speaking

Record and Play

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The first mic I ever spoke into was attached to a tape recorder. I used it in my bedroom in front of the flickering screen of a television set.  Unable to ride my bike with the neighborhood kids, I was forced to settle for Chicago Cubs broadcasts on summer afternoons in the mid 1970s.

It was fascinating to me the way Jack Brickhouse described each play. It was more impressive that he managed to continue to talk through the gaps in activity while keeping the audience entertained. I decided to try it myself.  Joe McConnell’s energetic coverage of the Bears inspired me to do the same during football season on frigid, dreary Sunday afternoons.

Those childhood tape recorder “broadcasts” led to real radio in high school, college, and professionally. From 1979 through 2006, my voice was on the some airwaves somewhere, weekly. But in 2006, I suffered a personal and professional setback that pulled the plug.

Back on the air… well, ummm… the Web!

I am delighted to announce that the plug has been re-inserted. I just spent hours completing episode 2 of my new podcast, “Timeout with the Strength Coach.”  And I loved every minute of it.

I am extremely proud of the quality of the new show. If you listen, you will find yourself realizing a new level of inner strength, inspired by my insights and the expertise of my guests… thought leaders in the field of personal growth and development.

Testing… Testing…

It was okay for that young child in 1975 to know nobody was listening. But for the 50-year-old man who has a lifetime of experience and expertise to share about inner strength, it is crucial for me to know that you are listening, enjoying, and growing.

Once you set up your device to subscribe to the podcast, it will download itself automatically every week. All you have to do is remember to turn it on when you’re driving around, walking, jogging, working out, waiting for your flight, in-flight or whatever you are doing alone.

You can either listen online at WebTalkRadio.net or use iTunes to have the Podcast automatically download to your phone, tablet, computer or car.  New episodes are uploaded every Sunday night at midnight.

Get back to what you love.

I love radio. That’s why I’m back.  Is there something you have a passion for that you need to bring back into your life?  What is it?  Why not get back to what you love?

 

 

Chad Hymas Video Inspires “Operation Rise & Shine”

Operation Rise & Shine Logo

Gaining Strength from a “Roll Model,” Chad Hymas

by Greg Smith

Getting in and out of bed is something most people take for granted. Due to muscular dystrophy, I have slowly been losing the ability to do this independently. I’m not prepared to live with the lifestyle restrictions caused by the rigid scheduling of assistants to get me in bed. So I’ve established “Operation Rise and Shine: One Man’s Quest to Go to Bed and Get Up Whenever!”

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Inspirational Speaker Chad Hymas

“Operation Rise and Shine” is constantly fueled by the inner strength, determination, and relentlessness that is built into my psyche. But finding even more motivation to persevere is something I always strive to do. I was extremely inspired by a video posted by my National Speakers Association colleague Chad Hymas. As C-4 quadriplegic, Chad travels the world alone as an inspirational speaker and gets undressed and dressed daily by himself. It took him 2 1/2 years to learn the entire process. In this video, he shares his process and reveals the potential of focused, relentless determination.

If you watch the whole video, please go ahead and admit it in the “comments” section below.  Were you inspired?

My “Operation Rise & Shine” has taken major strides forward over the past few days. Saturday, a new mattress was delivered to the house. This mattress is firm enough to support my body without my weight pushing me down into a hole. This allows me to much more easily turn from side to side. Adding silk sheets makes the process a lot easier too. In addition, the new mattress is about 3 inches lower to the ground than the previous one which makes transferring easier.

The next phase of the Operation is to make the process easier. Now, I am able to make the transfer from bed to wheelchair and vice versa, but is it is extremely difficult. I will be working with my occupational therapist, Danielle Johnson, to come up with little tricks that eliminate the grueling maneuvers. I look forward to sharing our progress as we try to shave the time for transfers down from 20 minutes to under one minute.

Stay tuned for more updates and video proof of the success of “Operation Rise & Shine.”  And a special ‘thank you’ to my speaker colleague, Chad Hymas.

 

Wardrobe Malfunction Can’t Slow the Strength Coach Show!

Despite extreme challenges along the way, Wednesday’s speech at the AASHTO Symposium was a huge success. And boy, were there challenges?

Our flight involved a layover in Chicago. We arrived at Midway airport forty minutes late. We were very concerned about missing the connecting flight to Phoenix. To make the connection quicker, I told the flight attendant to inform the ground crew to transfer my chair directly from one plane to the other as opposed to bringing it to me to use in the terminal.

The airport personnel wanted me to use a regular wheelchair to go two gates away, however I cannot sit in a regular wheelchair without a head rest. The aisle chair, also known fondly in wheelchair user circles as the “Hannibal Lecter chair,” has complete head support and would be perfect for the short move two terminals down.

A 10 minute argument ensued. The airport personnel would not do it. Southwest Airlines had to be the ones to push the aisle chair.

When we arrived at the gate, we noticed that the flight had not even been boarded yet. There were mechanical problems and another two hours were tacked onto the length of our voyage.

Our scheduled 6:40 arrival time didn’t happen. We arrived at the hotel around 9:30 and after a room service burger, it was lights out.

The next morning, after showering, I realized that there had been a “wardrobe malfunction” in the packing of my suit. The jacket was packed but the pants and shirt were nowhere to be found! I wore a black T-shirt, some black sweatpants, and a sports jacket!

I didn’t mention it to anyone, and nobody seemed to notice. When it was time for me to speak, I had totally forgotten about it. It wasn’t on my mind and didn’t get in my way.

The speech went well. Yes there were AV problems despite a successful “run through” an hour earlier. But the audience was immediately captivated when I began, and I held their attention throughout my 45 minute
talk.

The rousing standing ovation and the higher than average book sales ratio tell me that I was effective in delivering my message. I love what I do.

At 50: Shooting for Happiness

Here is My 50th Birthday Wish:  To Change Lives on a Mass Scale!

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By Greg Smith

My sister,  Tonya, just came in the room to wish me a happy birthday and asked me a question.

“Are you happy?”

I answered honestly, immediately, and with a smile.

“No.  I don’t have abundance,” I responded.  “I don’t have prosperity.  As a result, I can’t give enough of my gift to the world because of lack of resources.  I live paycheck to paycheck.  I don’t have a romantic soulmate.  And the Cubs are gonna suck again!”

“Are you unhappy?”

“No.  I have a wonderful family.  I have a few good friends and an army of supporters and ‘fans.’  I have a God-given talent for helping people discover an incredible feeling of self-empowerment and inner strength.  I think I still look pretty good for a 50-year-old dude.  I can still sit upright in my power chair and drive my modified van and fly in airplanes.  And the Bears offense looks Super Bowl ready next year!”

In my 50th year, I plan to go for true happiness!  True happiness means abundance.  I want to be financially secure enough to make decisions without money being the deciding factor.  I want to be able to afford to do things to elevate the impact of my message so I can exponentially help more people discover their inner strength.

To not have prosperity and abundance in my life would be a true waste of the gift which I have been bestowed.  I believe I’m destined to help a great mass of people from all walks of life.  It is my responsibility to figure it out.  I’m proud of what I have accomplished and grateful for being blessed to have such an impact.  But I believe what I have done so far is a mere drop in the bucket of what I’m capable of.

Here’s my plan.  Starting today, my 50th birthday, I have taken on the liberating belief that my gift to society is extremely valuable!  If I focus exclusively on delivering that gift, the abundance will come as a byproduct.  No longer will I be “selling” speaking engagements.  From now on, I will be “offering” the incredible feeling a person experiences when he or she discovers their inner strength!

I was supposed to be dead at 15.  There has to be a reason why I’m still around.

Why are you still around?  What is your destiny?  What do you believe about your prosperity, abundance and true happiness?

Today, my 50th birthday, I appreciate all your “happy birthday” messages.  I appreciate you for believing in me.  My request for you today is to tell someone about “The Strength Coach.”  Share me with someone who can introduce my work to hundreds, thousands or millions, and move it forward in the direction of prosperity and abundance.

You could also give me the “hookup” on a lady you think might enjoy meeting me!  Maybe I can one day take her to a Cubs World Series game!  A Bears Super Bowl is more realistic.

 

Earn Your Standing O!

Are you performing well enough to earn a standing ovation?

This is about you, not me.  But I need to use myself as an example to make this point.  When I’m in front of an audience, my goal is to connect on a personal level with everyone in the room.  I want to offer them the gift of my expertise and I strive to do so in a way that it is well received.  So I do my absolute best.

I prepare myself and develop content that is customized for each specific audience.  I rehearse to the point where I am comfortable with the message.  I get plenty of rest the night before.  I visualize the successful outcome.  I’m introduced and I roll out into the bright lights!

When I am done, the crowd reacts.  The standing ovation never surprises me.  I know whether I am connecting during the presentation.  Are heads nodding?  Are there interruptions for applause at the right moments?  Are all eyes on me?  There’s always that one guy in every crowd who seems to care only about sending me vibes that he doesn’t care.  For a split second, he distracts me, but I block him out and proceed.

When I am finished, the crowd rises to their feet.  They clap, whistle and yell, “Wooooh!”  I nod my head, smile and wave.  This extended moment is when I get my charge.  The thrill continues when I am escorted to a table to sell and autograph my books and a line of enthusiastic new friends develops.  And the first one in line is “that one guy” I thought wasn’t listening!

The energy I get from the standing ovation is a thrilling sensation.  I’d like to experience that feeling every day.  As much as I’d like to, I’m not speaking every day but I’ve figured out a way to use the concept to propel myself forward.

I look at my objectives for each day as a performance.  If I’ve prepared myself, concentrated on doing my best and complete the goals for the day, I present that to my imaginary audience.  And in my silence, I listen for the imaginary roar of the crowd.

You can go through your day and achieve just enough to get a round of applause.  Or you can seize the day and earn the exciting thrill of a standing ovation for your performance.  Prepare yourself for tomorrow.  Plan your activities.  Plan the words you will say in key conversations.  Rehearse.  Get a good night’s sleep.  Visualize a triumphant day.  Roll (or walk) out onto the stage of life and earn the roar of the crowd!

Connecting the Divide between Motivational Speakers and People who Need Them Most!

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Conference Attendees are Usually Already Motivated.

Most speakers are hired by professional associations or companies.  The people in these audiences, for the most part, are attending because they want to strengthen their position in an already existing, often thriving career.

Employees sent on the company’s dime to improve their skills and gain knowledge are usually doing pretty well to justify such a big corporate investment.  And if the attendee is a professional entrepreneur, he or she is doing well enough to afford to pay hundreds of dollars (if not thousands) for registration, travel and purchases at these events on their own.

I’m not knocking the conferences at all.  I love them!  I want to be chosen to “rock the house” at all of them!  There is a need for them.  Wonderful information is shared.  Strong connections are made.  I love conferences!

I can’t ignore, however, the fact that for every person who attends a conference, there are thousands of people who can’t afford a hotel room, much less afford airfare and a registration fee.  And these people really need the expertise, encouragement and “life skills” training that we provide.

Announcing the Weekly Power Lunch!

I’m excited to announce that I’ve teamed up with radio host and speaker Sugar Stallings to introduce the “Power Lunch Series” to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Sugar is one of the most dynamic young speakers I have met in recent years who just happened to move into my own back yard on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Each Thursday at noon (if we are in town), we will present strategies in personal development, career growth and self development.  For $5, anyone can show up and get the same level of empowerment and expertise that conference attendees get.  The $5.00 is for pizza and soft drinks.  The presentation is one hour.

The first “Power Lunch” is this Thursday, March 13 at Demiller Hall, 610 Water Street, Biloxi, MS 39530.

I’m doing this for a few reasons.  First, I want to give the opportunity for people in my community who really need the information, expertise and encouragement.  Another reason is that I love to speak.  I love seeing the look on people’s faces when I say something that registers in their mind as “good stuff.”  The more I speak, the better I will get.  And I am looking forward to working more closely with, and learning from the amazing Sugar Stallings!

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About Sugar Stallings, Esq.

As one of 22 children, native Ethiopian and Trinidadian speaker Sugar Stallings had to speak up loud to be heard.  Her powerful voice has projected her to the realization of many dreams.  Dreams like coming to the U.S. on a full scholarship, earning a law degree from the University of Maryland, working with mayors, governors, political organizations, lobbying on Capitol Hill and working at the White House on the Health Care bill.  As host of “A Call to Action Talk Show,” she blends politics, economic news, community events and a motivational message Saturdays at 10 am on WQFX – 1130 AM.  Her “Power Lunch” presentation will give you actionable advice to improve your current situation.  Her email is sugarstallingsradioshow@gmail.com

Friends on the Gulf Coast: Come out and support us and bring friends and family members who need encouragement.  You will be glad you did.  Here’s a map.  See you at noon on Thursday!


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Making Good Grades in the “University of Life”

It is not too late to get straight A’s!

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By Greg Smith

I always talk to my kids about the importance of their grades.  And they always ask me what kind of grades I got.  It’s one of those, “Don’t do as I do… do as I say” scenarios.  Parents feel me…

Do you ever wish you could go back and “re-do” your education?  If that possibility magically emerged, I would take on a whole new attitude about my grades.  I would be a 4.0 guy instead of 2.5 guy.

Life is filled with “If I knew then what I know now” impossibilities.  Unfortunately, we only get one shot at life’s experiences.  I was too busy worrying about my popularity, my level of “coolness,” my delight in seeking out a good time to be a 4.0 guy.  Most people can relate to sacrificing grades for other interests.

But what if I told you that it is not too late to change your grades?

Despite the fact that your formal education ended with your graduation (hopefully), as long as you’re living, you are still learning.  If you’re not learning, then you’ve begun the process of dying.  How’s that for a “stay in school” message?  You are enrolled as a full-time student in the “University of Life.”

You are majoring in whatever your goals and dreams are.  The classes you are taking are the categories of knowledge and skills that you need to master to reach those dreams.  Your daily activities in these categories and your level of success or lack thereof are your grades.  The more you master the material, the more likely you are to get good grades which will lead to the attainment of your goals.

For example, one of my dreams is to become a world-renowned, top-level motivational speaker, author and broadcaster.  The classes I’m taking in pursuit of that dream include the following:

  • Presentation Skills
  • Creative Writing
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Broadcasting and New Media Concepts
  • Advanced Marketing and Promotion
  • Sales

That is a full schedule.  I need to master all of those skills to be successful.  I’ve decided to grade myself on a daily basis.  I’m keeping track of my performance.  What have I learned?  Did I apply that knowledge to my work day?

What about you?  What are you dreams?  What “classes” do you need to take in order to reach those dreams?  What areas do you need to master with A’s so you have the knowledge and insight to be successful?  I urge you to list your schedule of classes and to pay attention to your daily progress so that you can get all A’s, which will result your success.

Lesson Applied:

While preaching to my kids about grades, I was inspired to create the following graphic which illustrates my definition of each letter.

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I posted it on Facebook and then looked at my wall.  First of all, I should have capitalized the word “mean” to be consistent with the rest of the headline.  Beyond that, after spending about an hour trying to figure out how to work my new graphics program, I decided that it was “good enough.”  I wasn’t thrilled with the layout.  The graphic came out a little “blurry” and I didn’t know why.  But what the heck, I thought.  And I posted it.

When I looked at it, I immediately decided that if I were to give it a grade, I would give it a B.  I rushed it.  I didn’t take the time to study the graphics program long enough.  The graphic is a classic B: “Because I didn’t study hard enough or long enough.”

But the beauty of the “University of Life” is that the professor will always allow you to take the test again if you’re not happy with your grade.  There will be no averaging of your first and second test results.  No penalty for turning it in late.  No limit to the number of times you get to take the test.  When you master it, you get an A.

I decided to spend more time and use more resources to improve my graphic.  I consulted with an expert and turned it in again.

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I think this time, I earned an A.  If you agree, feel free to copy it, share it and spread the word about the importance of getting good grades in the “University of Life.”

I’m excited about also sharing the graphic with students who are currently in school.  I’m looking forward to bringing my message to middle schools, high schools and college campuses in 2014.

 

Listen to me on “Disability Matters” Radio!

I’ve loved radio my whole life!

I was on the radio yesterday!  I remember my first time ever on the air. I was a freshman in high school, about to broadcast my first high school football game live.  The Downers Grove South Mustangs were hosting the Hinsdale South Hornets in Downers Grove, Illinois.

My father had to make two trips from the field level to the press box.  On his first trip, he carried me up the bleachers and lifted me over the window into the booth.  On his second trip, he carried a big black box containing the radio equipment that would be needed for the remote broadcast.

Time was short.  The introductions had been announced.  The national anthem had been played.  And we still weren’t on the air!  My dad and a few teachers who were working PA and stats bumbled around with the equipment and finally, we had a feed to the studio.  The intro played and my life suddenly changed.

I knew that day that my future was in broadcasting.  I went on to do 4 years of play-by-play in high school, 4 years of play-by-play in college and work at a top news/talk/sports radio station after college.

After 5 years on the job there, I became inspired to combine my radio skills with my experience as a person with a disability and started a radio show called “On A Roll – Talk Radio on Life & Disability.”  The rest of the story is well-documented.

Yesterday, I was a guest on Joyce Bender’s “Disability Matters” show on the Voice America network.  There is something special about a host and a guest bonding, sharing important information and stimulating thoughts with an audience.   I hope you’ll agree that Joyce and I broke new ground in communicating the disability experience to the world.  Take a listen by clicking the image below!

Improving Yourself

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Hard work really does pay off!  How you can make drastic improvements to your professional skills!

As good as you are, you can always strive to be better. I have been a professional speaker for 10 years. I have been a broadcaster for over 30. I have written two books. I know how to write and speak, right? That’s what I do. The problem is, every time I looked at video of myself speaking, no matter how great people said I was, I cringed in pain over the choice of words, the expressions on my face, my body language or my inability to feel completely comfortable in the spotlights.

Earlier this year, through my network of wonderful friends, the opportunity for me to speak at the Diversity Leadership Alliance annual conference in Phoenix, Arizona came about. Knowing that 800 civic, business, and professional leaders in Phoenix would be seeing me speak inspired me to take drastic action to improve myself.

I decided to start from scratch and totally rewrite my presentation. This would be an entirely new keynote. In my opinion, the old one had grown stale. It was time to kick out something new.

When I was done writing, I thought it was pretty good, but there were some elements missing and it wasn’t quite right. Around that same time, I received an email alerting me that Steve Lowell would be the presenter at a National Speakers Association chapter meeting in New Orleans.  After attending that meeting, I realized that I needed to work with Steve to really hammer out my presentation and get it into top-notch form.

It was amazing how Steve took my ideas and skillfully shifted my thought process into the direction of greatness. I started off with a pretty good speech, but Steve turned it into a great speech! He did all this by reading what I wrote and listening to what I sent him via email and Skype. As I listened to his suggestions, I could not wait to get off Skype and implement his ideas into my plan.

My speaking coach, Steve Lowell

My speaking coach, Steve Lowell

I memorized key parts of the presentation and rehearsed for countless hours to an audience of my dog Comet, and my bathroom mirror. My 50-year-old brain struggled to remember the key phrases consistently and that became very frustrating.  And meanwhile the calendar was flipping through the dates. 45 days out. 30 days out. Two weeks out. And I was still trying to memorize things!  People close to me said I was putting too much work into it.  They said I was already a great speaker and that I was inviting trouble if I made too many changes to what I had already done.  But I knew the feeling of disappointment and I was going to do everything possible to avoid leaving that stage unhappy with my performance.  I recorded the speech and listened to it loop all night in my sleep.  I totally immersed myself into the speech and gradually it and me became one.

I practiced out loud even in the “green room” moments before taking the stage.  I began with the confidence of knowing the the introduction was completely memorized and delivered perfectly.  That gave me immediate confidence.  The creative hook that Steve helped me develop was a success.  From that point on, I felt at home on that platform.  I could tell the audience was enchanted with what they were hearing.  The reaction was on cue.  The bond was incredible.  When I was done, the standing ovation stirred emotions from deep within me!  I had worked HARD on that speech and it paid off.  I didn’t leave the platform wishing I had practiced.  I left the platform happy with myself.  It felt GREAT!

Since then, Nov 1, I had to give the same presentation four more times this month and each time it has improved.  Audiences at Arizona State, Phoenix College and the Division on Career Development and Transition all thoroughly enjoyed my message.

The attitude of self improvement has always been a part of me.  But from now on, I will elevate it to a new level of priority.  You should do the same.  You are probably already good at what you do.  You may even be the best at it.  But is it possible to get even better?  What steps do you need to take to improve upon your greatness?

It is very easy to say to yourself, “I’m good at what I do.”  It takes strength to say, “I have a lot of growing to do.”  It is not easy to say “I did that bad,” or “I constantly do this wrong.”  Being extremely critical of yourself is a good thing, if you channel that energy toward self improvement instead of self destruction.

It feels great to be able to look at the video and be happy with what I see.  Well… somewhat happy.  There are plenty of things I will do better when I speak next!

 

Silencing the Negative Voice Within Debuts

“The Voice” has finally spoken!

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Thank you to all who turned out yesterday to see the debut of my new keynote, “Silencing the Negative Voice Within” at the Knight Non-Profit Center in Gulfport, MS.   It felt good to finally give the speech to somebody other than my dog, Comet!

A special thanks to the newsrooms at our two local television stations on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  These stories are well done.

My only regret is that I didn’t find the time to get a haircut the day before!  I got one today!

Here is Michelle Lady‘s coverage on WLOX. (ABC, CBS)

 

Here is coverage from Nick Patrick of WXXV (FOX, NBC)

The feedback from people in the audience confirmed that my message was well received.  It really gives me joy to inspire people and to make a difference in their lives.  After the presentation, I was told by one attendee that it touched her in a special way.  Another called me after the event to thank me and to say that she really enjoyed it and has already implemented her plan to make her negative voice within shut up!