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: national speakers association

Podcast Debut – “Timeout with the Strength Coach”

picture of Greg Smith's studio mic flag and microphone

Photo credit: Amanda McCoy, Biloxi Sun Herald

By Greg Smith

I think the stars have finally aligned for me to maximize and fully utilize my best skill set. I am good at speaking, and pretty good at writing, but I am best at broadcasting, and we are now well into the era of the podcast!

My new podcast, Timeout with the Strength Coach will be ready for your download on Monday, November 3! Every week, I will be uploading an hour stuffed full of motivational knowledge, expert guests, my personal insights and lessons from some of the top personal development and personal growth thought leaders in in the world.

Back in the old days

When I first started broadcasting my radio show on disability issues in 1992, the Internet barely existed. We settled for weekend junk time on conservative news talk radio stations. “On a Roll” aired live on Sunday evenings and I was looking for a way to expand it beyond the limitations of our time-slots in terrestrial radio.

In ’94, I had a phone conversation with a fella named Mark about adding it to his new network, Broadcast.com. I enjoyed the talk. He was very persuasive and went on to enjoy some success in his venture! You know, Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks. The Shark Tank dude. Yeah that guy!

My success with the radio show wasn’t as marked as Mark’s with Broadcast.com, but I’m proud of what we did from 1992 to 2006. We grew the show from one single station in Phoenix to more than 70 across the country in that time span.

But it was hard to be a listener. You had to remember that the show came on a certain day and a certain time. You had to either tune into the station on your AM radio or find it on the Internet at that certain time. As a result, despite how polished and professionally produced it was, it never quite found the audience it deserved.

The new days of the podcast

Today, everyone has a radio in the palm of their hand!  Now you can listen to me anytime you want, wherever you want, on whatever device you want: your phone, your iPad, your Mac, your PC, or in your car!

You don’t have to worry about the signal fading in and out. You don’t have to worry about forgetting and missing the broadcast. All you have to do is subscribe, download and listen at your leisure.

Pew Research Center polling shows that the podcast user base continues to expand. A May 2013 survey found 27% of internet users ages 18 and older download or listen to podcasts, up from 21% three years ago in May 2010 and 7% of internet users in 2006. Those numbers are expected to rise.

My life’s mission is to take the lessons that I have learned overcoming the challenges of life with muscular dystrophy, and teach people how to apply those lessons to improve the quality of their lives and build their inner strength.  If you download my show weekly and take it with you while you’re out and about, I guarantee you will notice a difference in how you feel about yourself and what you are able to accomplish.

Here’s how you listen:

Go to webtalkradio. From there you can listen online or download the Podcast to the device of your choice. I am looking forward to interacting with you! In the kick-off broadcast, you’ll get to know me more personally and get a feel for my energy and my mission to empower you to build your inner strength.

You’ll also meet a few of my teammates… people who share my passion about living an inspired life. You’ll meet comedian Murv Seymour, my best friend and accountability partner, who will reveal the strength of humor and friendship.

You’ll meet Chad Hymas, a motivational speaking colleague for whom I has a lot of respect and admiration. (The Wall Street Journal called him the most inspirational person in the world!)

And you’ll meet Olympic athlete, author and legend John Carlos, famous for his silent protest at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. John just happens to be my uncle. Download this show and you’ll find yourself inspired, and enjoying a super-productive day.

webtalkradio page

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.

 

Operation Rise & Shine!

One Man’s Quest to Go to Bed and Get Up Whenever!

Based on your amazing response (record-setting blog numbers) to my article yesterday about my quest to rise and shine independently, I thought I would give you an update today. The news is not good, however I persevere.

In case you missed it, I am a 50 year old man with muscular dystrophy (really!), who is finding it next to impossible to independently transfer from my wheelchair to bed and vice-versa without assistance.  This is putting a cramp on my lifestyle and this difficulty must stop.  I need to figure out a way to maintain that freedom.

Part of the problem is the bedding. A few months ago, we decided to turn the mattress over, because I found myself sinking into a whole when sleeping, making it impossible to turn over. But after flipping the mattress, I noticed that the elevation of the bed was a little higher and that made it more difficult to get in bed. It was decided that we needed to buy a new one.

Determination will have to wait a while

The new mattress was delivered yesterday. It is one of those combination mattresses that features both the springs and the foam. As soon as it was delivered and placed onto the box spring, I could tell that it was even higher. I immediately had them remove the box spring and then it was obviously too low.

So my quest is on-hold until I find a mattress that is not too high, not too low, not too hard, not too soft, but juuuuusssst right!

Also, my mom went to Walmart last night to buy me some satin sheets. The thinking is I’d be able to slide across the bed easier to turn over on slick sheets. When she got home, gave me a funny look and said “These were the only ones they had.”

Greg holding up leopard skin sheets!

“Mom, you should have got me the ‘Pink” pajamas while you were at it!”

Greg kissing his leopard skin sheets

Stay tuned for the next episode of “Operation Rise & Shine!”

 

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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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.

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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