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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Tag Archives: motivation

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.

 

Your Super Bowl Memories

A lifetime of memories from an annual game

Super Bowl Portrait

Super Bowl Sunday!  My favorite American holiday.  All across the country, and in many parts of the world, people have gathered in celebration of our favorite game.  We love the food and the beer. We love being around so many of our friends. We savor the memories that are created by our experience of watching each game.

Where were you in January 1973 when the Miami Dolphins beat the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII?  I was sitting on the shag carpeting in the basement of my parents home in Big Flats, New York. I was 9.  My face was wet from tears because the Redskins were my favorite team and they lost.

How about 1982?  When the San Francisco 49ers’s squeaked out a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, I was a senior in high school, having recently found out that I would attend Arizona State University for college.  I watched the game on our family’s wooden TV console — a cross between a television and a big piece of furniture.

Where were you in 1986 when the Chicago Bears blew out the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX?  I watched that game on my rented TV, alone in my apartment complex in Tempe, Arizona.  I didn’t want to be around anybody during the game.  It was the Bears.  I wanted to be able to yell and scream and curse and if necessary, cry, in privacy.  I was angry at my dad because he chose to use his tickets to the game on a business associate instead of his son.  It was frustrating because I had been a part of the Bears championship run that year.  Home to Chicago for the holidays, I had secured media passes for both the NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Giants and the NFC Championship Game versus the Rams. I got to meet Mike Ditka, Walter Payton, Richard Dent, Jim McMahon and the rest of the charismatic bunch that comprised the greatest football team ever gathered!

Where did you watch Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004 when the Patriots beat the Panthers?  I watched the game at my home in Ocean Springs but I have an interesting memory about that game.  I had just invented “The Strength Coach” persona and decided to go to Media Day at the Super Bowl to collect interviews and to get videotape of myself interacting in that environment for use in the documentary film “On A Roll.”  I traveled to Houston alone.  It was a frigid cold day in Houston.  When it’s cold, my hands don’t work.  I could not use my cell phone to communicate with the film crew and we never made the connection.

Lombardi Trophy

In 2001, I was living in the Super Bowl city, Tampa, and attended all the festivities that week.  I enjoyed the game at a big party with several of my closest friends.  I was pulling for the Baltimore Ravens, who beat the New York Giants 34-7.

When Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLI in 2007, I was screaming with joy at my 50″ plasma.  I was with my family at home and we were celebrating too early.  When the game was over, I turned the TV off and went to bed.  Final score: Peyton Manning’s Colts 29, the Bears 17.

Today’s game is a family affair once again.  Football is such an important part of our family structure.  My dad played.  My sons played.  I coached and I watch.  As far as I’m concerned, you can have the big Super Bowl parties.  I’m excited about watching this year’s game on our 55″ with the surround sound turned way up and my father and sons within yelling distance.

For a fun exercise, go back and look at the history of the Super Bowl. Where were you?  What was going on in your life?  Who were you watching it with?   What about your experience with this year’s game?

 

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!

 

Kicking Off a Busy Speaking Schedule!

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Five keynotes and two workshops in three weeks!

By Greg Smith

The next 30 days will be the busiest I’ve ever had as a speaker… 5 keynote presentations in 3 weeks!  I’m very excited to debut my new keynote address, “Silencing the Negative Voice Within!” This speech really examines the greatest limitation in my life.  It reveals how I identified it, planned for it’s demise, implemented the plan and succeeded.  “The Negative Voice Within” is something that we all hear and need to deal with.

    • My marathon begins October 22, when I will deliver the speech for the first time at the Knight Non-Profit Center, 11975 Seaway Rd., Gulfport Mississippi.  That event is free and open to the general public.  Arrive at 12:45 and enjoy Subway Half-subs, courtesy of Subway Edgewater Village.
    • On Friday, November 1, I will be presenting two workshops and my keynote at the Diversity Leadership Alliance annual conference in Phoenix, Arizona.  My keynote is at noon.  You can register for this free event on the conference web site.
    • On Saturday, November 2, I will be teaming up with my National Speakers Association buddy Deborah Gardner for “Finding Strength to Compete,” a motivational event free to the general public.  That event starts at 10:00 am.  It will be held at the Disability Empowerment Center, 5025 East Washington, Phoenix, AZ 85034.
    • On Monday, November 5, I will be returning to my alma-mater to speak to students!  You’ll find me in the oldest building on the campus of Arizona State University, “Old Main” at 4:00 pm.  That event is sponsored by ASU’s Undergraduate Student Government.
    • On November 14, I travel all the way across the country, after stopping back home to change my suitcase.  I will be in Williamsburg Virginia for the The Division on Career Development & Transition’s International Conference.

Thanks in advance for helping me get the word out about these events!  Let’s keep it going. Let me know if you want me to come to your city and you’re willing to help make it happen!

 

Here is the flyer for the Gulfport event on Oct 22, 12:45 pm at the Knight Non Profit Center.

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Here is the flyer for the Phoenix event, Nov 2, 10:00 am at the Arizona Bridge to Independent Living:

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