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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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!

 

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!

Celebrating 50 Years of Living and Laughing!

 

Laughing

Laughter is my first lesson in longevity!

Well, it’s not my birthday yet (March 25), but I’m going to go ahead and start the celebration. It is a special one this year. 50! Time to rejoice. I made it. As a matter of fact, I’m going to celebrate it for a whole year. From March 2014 though March 2015, I will be having my own personal “Year of the Greg” right here on this blog.

I think I deserve it. When I was three years old and still not able to walk, my parents were told by doctors that I had Muscular Dystrophy and would not live much more than another decade.

As it turns out, to those doctors credit, they were right about the length of time my spine would hold up. But medical advances in orthopedic surgery gave me a lifeline at age 13 when I had spinal fusion surgery to straighten and support my back. This meant that I could take deep, full breaths and live without the chronic pain of a twisted spine. It also meant that I could no longer walk. That’s when I got the power wheelchair, right before high school. Right before the adventure began.

As I celebrate the “Year of the Greg,” I will be giving credit to people who have been pillars of support my whole life. I will also be passing along tidbits of knowledge that you may find useful in your own life.

Losing it in Laughter!

The first piece of knowledge that leads to longevity is understanding the power of a good laugh.  Laughter strengthens us by giving us energy. It removes our focus from physical and psychological pain and takes us away to a place of bliss. Laughter removes us from negative effects of stress. It gives us immediate energy.

Think back to the moments of the single greatest laugh in your life. You remember it. What was so funny? As you remember it, I bet you’ll laugh again.

For me, I was a senior in college at ASU. My cousin, Ron Pope was visiting. We, along with a couple of my frat brothers, went to the mall to try to find some new shirts for me to wear. Finding fashionable clothes that fit me has always been a problem. Because I am so small, I have to always look in the boys section. We went from store to store and found nothing. It became frustrating. Every time someone found something that might fit me, I rejected it because it didn’t look good.

“How about this Smitty?”

dinosaur tee shirt

My frat brother, Darrin Bumpus, held up a shirt for us to see. He had this stupid look on his face while presenting us a toddler sized t-shirt featuring a little dinosaur wearing a baseball cap swinging a bat!!

And then it started.

We all lost it! Ron started laughing so hard he fell to his knees, started rolling on the floor, slapping the ground with the palm of his hand! I was cracking up, having difficulty sitting upright in my chair!  Darren kept trying to get up but would start laughing again he would fall back down to the department store floor. Security came and they smirked too at the sight of the hysterical scene. We managed to regroup and then Darren grabbed another shirt and it all happened again.  We just couldn’t stop laughing.

Thinking about that as I write this puts me in a great mood. As I think about it, I feel no frustration. No pressure from my problems. No stress. It feels good to remember that brief moment in 50 years of life. And feeling good is good for your health.

What was the single greatest laugh you’ve ever had. Share it here. Write about it. You’ll feel great as you live those moments again through reflection. Use the “comments” section below.