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.

Tag Archives: academics

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!

 

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.

Grades

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.