Tag Archives: Development

Excuses, excuses, excuses

This is the part of a blog where the writer tells you all the reasons he hasn’t been writing.

Fill in the blank _______________________________________________________________ is why I haven’t been blogging.

More than anything else, I just haven’t taken the time and sat down and wrote.  Writing is like running for me.  I love to do them both, but I have to schedule time for both activities and sometimes I just get lazy and stop.  Luckily I always come back because I love them both so.  Usually It takes a little bit of motivation for me to get on board and come back and today is no different.

Now for those of you interested in juice stuff, I have been actually writing down recipes and I will be creating a separate section on the blog for juicing and juice fast type things.  I’m not going to commit to when I’ll get it up, but hopefully before my next fast (January 5 if any of you want to start planning now).

This fitness journey for me really start with Carlos Whitaker and his #fitbyfourth initiative he started back in the summer.  That got me moving, fasting got some weight off and changed habits, and I’ve just kept at it.  Well ‘Los is back at it again with #fitbyfirst coming at us right now.  31 days to get a jump-start on a healthier me.  I’ve really done well watching what I eat, exercising, and continuing to lose weight, but everyone likes a little motivation from time to time.  One of the keys to the Journey with ‘Los is to journal.  I have terrible handwriting, so one again I’ll be bringing my journal here to share with you guys.

The first couple of days are easy…Take a before picture, make a video to yourself from yourself, and do the fitness test.  All items are complete and I’m ready to get after it.  2015 will be my year to get back into the under 200 lb club.  I also have plans for a half marathon and wait for it…muscles!!!!  I also have a pile of personal and financial things that I have been working on and improving that will continue to move forward for me.

So I’m back…again…don’t hate me because I’m wishy-washy, just love me because…well…just because I need love darnit.






Day 1

Sooooooo as you can see, I’m fat.  I guess technically I’m class 2 obese

Obesity Class 2 Information

That’s a freaking hard pill to swallow.  We all have an image in our heads attached to words.  I never attached my profile picture to the word obese.  But as GI Joe says, “Knowing is half the battle”.  So now what?

We started day 1 of our office 10 day juice fast with the scale and the tape measure.  This was my idea because I need to know how my body changes and I need to have a point of reference where I’m coming from.  The plan was to have eight fruit and vegetable juices during the day (8, 9, 10, 12, 2, 4, 6, & 8) and water for a ten-day period.  There are countless documentaries available and the internet will direct you to recipes and results, we clearly aren’t the first people to take on the fast.

Fasting has been a part of the human culture since the beginning of time.  It is biblical, spiritual, and healthful.  I’ve never successfully fasted, so that adds another challenge to the fact that I eat like crap, I eat of convenience, and I don’t really like a lot of fruits or vegetables.

My goals were very simple for this next ten days…FINISH THE TEN DAYS.  I’m great at starting things, but not great at finishing them.  I’d love to see my body measurements drop a noticeable amount but I don’t have a weight loss target.  I am also using this time to pray more and try to touch my inner spirit a little more as well.

The first day was a challenge.  The menu for the day (and the first 3 days):

Watermelon Fresca

Beet Zinger

Carrot Orange

Green Zinger

Chai Fresca

Orange Blush

Synergy (Fire water)

Green Zinger

To my surprise the juices didn’t taste horrible.  Some were more of a challenge to consume than others, but I was able to choke the majority of them down fairly easily.  I went through the day and was never really hungry, hungry.  There were a few times my mouth watered and my tummy growled, but I never had a point where I felt like I was starving.  I had a slight, dull headache in the afternoon, and was a little nauseous for a while; but nothing was too terrible.  It was a big deal that four of us at work are going through it together so there was zero temptation to cheat and you knew that everyone else was feeling the same things.

The biggest thing I noticed was the bathroom…I had to go pee 2-4 times an hour (I’ll actually track this on day two).  The juicing acts as a detox and works on cleaning and clearing out my system.  I had to find some willpower for after my son’s baseball practice when he had McDonald’s and I was sipping on Firewater (cayenne pepper infused and holy crap it was spicy).  I slept fairly well and woke up in a pretty good mood.  All in all, I think day one was a success.  I think I really helped my body by pre-toxing and taking myself off of caffeine, sugar, and breads the previous four days in preparation.

Let’s go tackle day 2.






Don’t call it a comeback…

…I’ve been here for years.  Well maybe not quite years, but it was a good title to jump back into this thing.

Ok so I know you have all been sitting on pins and needles waiting to see what kind of brilliance I come up with (here is where you yawn or laugh or stop reading).  I’ve been in the basement.  Well not the literal basement but the basement of life.  And not super depressed basement, just off the grid.  Sometimes in life we have to stop and change direction and sometimes, life changes it for you.  Life decided to make it happen for me this time.

Saving everyone from all the details, I’ve had a family change, a housing change, a job change, and a perspective change.  Through all that I have come to one great conclusion…


Hence I’m repurposing this blog.  I tried to make it fit a niche before and now I’m going to let the niche be me.  Carlos Whittaker’s blog is awesome.  He is real and authentic and all over the place.  He is true to who he is and still gets his message across.  So I’ll give doing just me a shot.  So sometimes you are going to get sports posts and sometimes you are going to get life posts and sometimes it is going to be about tv or books or politics or whatever in the world you get.    But all of these things are temporary but at the same time temporary is forever.

We all know life is a journey.  But I’ve learned over the last year that journey is nothing more than a lot of moments.  It is those moments that make it fun, depressing, exciting, exhilarating, and sometimes frustrating.  But when we are in those moments, they feel like forever.  So here I am, in this moment, contemplating forever…

So who knows what you are about to get.  I just hope you come back and sign up for updates and keep reading.  I actually like doing this, it keeps my creative juices flowing.  Please return your tray tables and seat backs to their full upright and locked positions, we are about to land!

Oh yeah, enjoy the original…



Off the cuff

Our terminology in Toastmasters is “Table Topics”.  You may call extemporaneous speaking, off the cuff responses, thinking on your feet, or just plan talking.  In my time with Toastmasters I have come to believe that it is the most critical skill that we can give our new members because we all use it and we use it every day.  It is also a skill that I would consider myself an expert at in the context of Toastmasters and would like to share some of my “how to do its”.

Now first, let me separate how I deliver a table topics into a couple of categories…





I love to laugh.  It is a lot of work to support a frown and a down attitude.  Many times when we are offered a question that is a little silly, is so far out of your realm of understanding, or is something that requires a comical answer.

“Tell me about a time you were embarrassed.”

“What is the best way to frost a cake?”

“What is the funniest movie you have seen and why?”

The key with a fun response is no different from any other response, you have to think.  The key to delivering an effective response in any situation is to think.  People are scared to death of “the quiet game”.  That is that mythical time between when the question is asked and when you craft your answer.  Awkward silence is very uncomfortable and five seconds feels like five hours to most of us.  It is though, the key to gathering your thoughts and preparing a response.  When you have a “fun” question or you want to craft a “fun” response, your time in the quiet game is not to be spent on structure, organization, transitions, or rousing summary statements.  In your moments of preparation you are simply searching for the ONE story that you can relay that is easy to tell, has characters, and has a definite and natural ending.  The hardest part of this process is taking enough time to find that story and not allowing the uncomfortable silence to cripple you.


These are fun moments and ones that are more like interview questions.  These are topics that you have an opportunity to share a belief, point of view, or message that means something to you and your being or soul.

“Who was the biggest influence on your life?”

“Define a role model.”

“How would you advise the President?”

In an interview the potential employer may ask you about how you handled certain situations or why you are right for this job.  In the same way that you play the quiet game for fun topics and questions, that is that same place you need to start for pointed topics and questions.  In that time you are sitting and thinking you are now searching for an emotion and not just a story.  These responses have to be delivered from the heart and are not simply a matter of retelling a situation.  Adding to the quiet game you must now add emotion.  Even in an interview situation, there is an emotion you need to convey in order to show an employer what is truly inside you.  So now we add find the emotion to think to give a pointed response to a question.


I’m a competitor.  I had a great run last year in the speaking contest but along the way I also finished second in the state in Table Topics.  I’ve actually won our club contest every time I have entered not to mention the several times I have won the best table topic of the day.  It is something I’m pretty good at.  Contest speaking is fun but it is different from a regular table topic.

“What is toastmasters?”

“What does the Superbowl have to say about our culture?”

“Which is more important listening or being heard?”

Theses are all questions that I have had in contests.  Now the process to answer these is still built off the same foundation.

  • Think
  • Emotion

Now we have to add in the last piece…

**********Find a ledge**********

This is my term for looking for the place to put your foot to build your speech.  In that 5-10 seconds where I am preparing for my response I am replaying the question in my head and looking for my ledge, that anchor I will tie my two minutes to.  From that ledge, I then try to find 2 stories that can be told and that I have some emotions for.  I know that seems like a lot to do, but that is where my mind is going.  I’m also trying to find an amazing opening sentence and I’m thinking about how I may be able to tie it all together.  You can do a lot in 7.7 seconds.

So the next time you are asked a question and you have to respond off the hip.  Are you just going to start spewing data and opinions?  Are you going to give a canned answer that is safe and uncreative?  Or are you going stop, think, find a story, deliver some emotion, and find a ledge?  If you do nothing more than stop and think, you are well on your way to not only winning the quiet game and table topics, but to improving your skills in speaking!



I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack

Oh the places we’ll go!

The things we’ll see!

It has been quite a ride for the last few months and its not for public consumption, but blogging just hasn’t been high on my list of priorities.  So here has what I’ve learned and where we are going to go in 2010 and beyond…


It is contest season again.  Please take the time to dig back through some of my older posts from last year and my process through the WCPS.  I am not participating in the quest for the toastmasters Superbowl but I am involved in coaching our clubs participant.  I’m also participating in the table topics contest again (I have a bitter taste in my mouth from finishing second last year).

I love the platform.  I love the process of crafting and molding a speech.  I love the interaction.  I love it all.  I have done more speaking these last few months than ever before.  I’m learning the business side of it .  It is coming it just isn’t coming as fast as I want.


If you aren’t whole spiritually you need to stop reading now and get to work on it.  I have been all over the map with my relationship with God.  I have been mad, frustrated, questioning, and lonely.  It is a daily battle with someone who loves me unconditionally.  I have spent many nights questioning why I am where I am.  I realize that the place I am in my life is due to the decisions I have made, but I see that everything ties back to my spirit.  The decisions I make, the people in my circle, the work I do, and the direction of my life comes back to me and God.  The fact is that I have always known this, but sometimes I need to get a kick in the butt to refocus.


I’m fat.  Actually if I review my BMI, I think I am obese.  That is so not awesome.  Now I know that I am not the only one and I know that I will probably fight this battle forever.  Here is the problem, being fat is easy.  It’s easy to eat bad, lay around, and consume calories by the pile.  Now luckily I feel good.  Coaching Seaver’s sports teams challenges me constantly to try to keep up with 6 and 7 year olds.  I run but I’m not training for anything so it’s very hit and miss.  For me the killer is food. I’m picky and lazy with my food.  Maybe I’ll have a great speech for next years contest about how I became Mr. Olympia, but I seriously doubt it.


I want to speak.  I like working on web development.  I like writing resumes.  I have liked doing mortgages, managing people, and sales.  I LOVE speaking.  It is the thing that I do best and it is where I will make my future.  This is a simple one.

Hop back on board gang!  I got a lot of stuff in my head that is getting ready to come out.



It’s the journey right?

I want

I need

I deserve

I earned

I won

All solutions and answers based on the efforts that you have put in.  These are the rewards for studying for a test, preparing for a race, or working on an assignment.  As Americans, though, we really want the prize.

When our neighbor gets a new TV, we are happy but secretly jealous.

When your rival wins the game, you respect it but secretly feel like you gave it away

We want the reward and sometimes we forget about the work that it took to even be considered for the reward.

In the last week I have given three speeches.  I have never given that many different speeches ever.  From everything I have read and everything I have heard, this is how it all starts.  But I want the reward; and I wouldn’t mind having it now.  I want someone to “hire” me rather than “invite” me to do a speech.  But then I stop and think about the speeches and see why I have to walk through the valley in order to reach the summit.

Speech 1

I was asked to speak in honor of my high school band director.  He was more than a teacher to me and was really a father figure and a huge influence on my life.  I was honored to be invited and even more honored to be asked to speak.  I had never been asked to do something like this and it was hard.  Talking about someone you really care about challenges your abilities as a speaker to maintain control but still show the emotions you feel.  The first few drafts of the speech were soaked in tears, I just couldn’t deliver it.  I asked some advice from another speaker and he helped me tremendously.  In the end, the speech went off well.  I was a little too loud on my top end volume but it was funny, people enjoyed it, and it honored my friend.

Speech 2

This was a toastmasters club speech.  This is also the first speech I have given in 2009 that wasn’t in preparation for a contest.  I had to dig deep to even find a manual I could work from.  Because I had spent time working on speech 1, I was late in preparing for speech 2.  I found myself stuck between speeches that were too difficult to prepare for and projects I really didn’t want to do (I thought about just delivering speech 1, but I wanted a challenge).  I eventually ended up working from the entertaining speaker manual and doing project 3 “Make them laugh”.  Most of my speeches have elements of humor in them, but when being forced to be funny it is quite a challenge.  I ended up crafting a speech about the church I grew up in and some of the silly things that I saw as a child.  It required me to be very vivid in my descriptions without running through all the details too fast.  It also required me to take some risks of being a little edgy without offending anyone.  The end result was funny.  It really felt good to achieve my task and at the end of the speech I made sure to leave them with something to chew on other than just jokes.

Speech 3

I have been asked to participate in a speakers group to promote the school district that my son is in and the district that I grew up in.  Yet again another great honor.  We will get to be out in the community and give highlights of our childhood and let people know about the good things that are going on in the community.  For this week, the districts PR director wanted to see what we were going to say.  I really didn’t prepare much for this at all.  I had made some notes and thought about some stories I wanted to share, but I had gone through it only a couple of times a few weeks prior.  My fellow speakers were very prepared and had typewritten and well organized presentations.  I had a story about my son saying the “F” word and playing off that one incident.  One thing I have found over the last three years is that all my speeches have a lot of emotion.  This was no different.  In an audience of three I could see the tears developing and the smiles immediately after.  I again walked the edge with some of my content, but I’m learning that is my style.  I have to challenge your thinking and maybe even make you worry about where I’m going before I give you the reward.  It was also good to be able to speak to people that had never heard me speak and still be able to connect with them.

So of course I hope that I have an email in my inbox right now asking me to come speak at someone’s conference and asking what my fee is.  But I didn’t join toastmasters and I don’t like speaking just because one day I may make a living at it.  I like that process of putting together a speech.  I like practicing it in my living room in front of my dogs.  I like the fact that my son comes around the corner to see what I’m talking about.  I like looking into people’s eyes and knowing that they understand.  It is all those things and more.  At some point I’ll get paid (or at least I hope so) but that won’t add or subtract from the joy that I feel in doing the one thing that I do best.





Moving on

I am now in all out speech preparation.  I have a speech, I have places to give the speech, and I have my eyes and ears 0pen for ways to make the speech better.  This is the fun part of the process.

After I won the last contest, I decompressed for a week and then I laid out a schedule to get ready for the next speech.

First two weeks:  Brainstorm speech ideas

Second two weeks: Settle on an idea and start putting it together

Third two weeks:  Give it, give it, give and learn

Final week: Tweak but don’t over analyze

Day before contest:  View the room/audience and make mental notes

Contest day:  Enjoy it, because it may be the only time I get to do it

That’s the road map I cooked up in my head after my last victory.  What I really didn’t calculate into the process was how difficult it would be to write another really good speech.   I knew I would have to create another speech if I won, but I figured I would just be able to tighten up an old one and make it work.  I was totally wrong.

There is no how-to book or manual on competing in a toastmasters contest.  There are a lot of opinions on blogs and websites from past participants but really no blow by blow account of how someone did it.  So I had to take bits and pieces from many different sources.  One of the most amazing things I have learned in the process is how gracious TM members are.  I have reached out to former world champions, busy professional speakers, and high ranking club officers and almost always gotten some sort of response.  These are super busy people that don’t know me from a hole in the wall, but take time out of their day to give me advice, criticism, and hope.

I have said several times that “I don’t know enough to know what I don’t know” in this process.  I have seen so many contest speeches and early on in the process I caught myself trying to copy ones that I thought were great.   And I could probably have put together a pretty good speech that was “somebody elses”, but its just not me.  At the end of the day I want to go into the contest with a speech that I am in love with.  That was the key to the first one, I loved it; it took on a life of itself; and rather than giving a speech the speech was a part of me.

The new speech is titled “Move On”.  It grew out of another speech which was me trying to make a winner rather than me trying to tell a story.  That’s what I am good at.  I tell stories with sweeping changes in emotion, volume, and position.  I move people, I don’t motivate.  My appeal is more to the heart than it is to the brain.  And that’s what I am going with.  In my mind its a winner and that’s really all that I care about.  If the judges like it, great but I am not going to put this together with the only way to measure success is with a victory.  I won the first time I delivered it at my club and new that I had found something that reflected me.  I won when I see how it lands on peoples hearts and makes them think.  The trophy would be great but the story is my reward in this process.


P.S.  I really do want to win though 😉

Coming of age

In preparation for the upcoming Region 8 Toastmasters speech contest I went back through my basic manual and reviewed all the speeches I did on the way through.  I originally looked there for speech ideas but found myself getting so much more insight into my maturation as a speaker.  From the earliest speeches in my manual I could see the beginnings of a future competitor.  

I had comments like:

Smooth delivery-Good pacing-Natural humor-Nice body language

I had no idea what I was doing, but apparently some critical pieces to my speaking puzzle came naturally to me.

There are a lot of people in this world that have natural skills and abilities in one area or another.  The playgrounds are littered with people that had college or professional basketball talent come natural but something never quite worked out.  

As a toastmaster most of us strive to improve our skills as a communicator.  The words of evaluation are meant to help expedite that improvement.  I see many toastmasters that don’t do anything with the evaluation information.  They hear it, read it, and then repeat the same mistakes in their next speech.  From my earliest days in the club, I made a point of addressing the areas for improvement on the very next speech.  My speech preparation may not have been top level, but I made a point of working on what I was instructed to work on.  

That was the beginning of the process.  Now as I work through crafting contest speeches, I am delivering them to different clubs and different groups and getting evaluations and feedback from so many sources.  Now obviously I cannot take every comment and make a change to my speech but I am mindful of the things that I hear repeatedly.  These are things I need to adjust.  My district speech was good but I heard from several sources that my ending needed work.  I eventually got an ending I liked at 2:15 am the day of the contest.  

There is no substitution for stage time.  That is where you truly improve your craft as a speaker.  A close second to stage time is evaluation.  The only way we can truly get better is if we listen to the people that are trying to help us get better. 



Two questions

When I lost my job on January 8 I was shocked and really had no idea what I was going to do.  Here I was becoming a statistic of an ever increasing unemployment rate.  The most important thing at that moment was the support my wife gave me.  She was such a calming force and in my corner from day one.  Financially I knew we would be OK with only her salary and unemployment benefits, but that doesn’t satisfy my own inner desires to be a productive member of society.  

As I started to look at my resume and examine my life skills I came to a startling conclusion…

I had done a horrible job of MAKING a career.  What I had done for most of my life had been totally reactionary.  When I needed a job, I looked for one and took what seemed to be the best thing at the time.  That process had produced some fairly good results as I had performed very well at most of the positions that I held as an adult.  But when I looked at my skills with a honest and objective eye I really saw that I really had very little input into the last 15 years of work.  Or to be more accurate, I had not succeed or failed at a career plan because I did not have a career plan.  

So now what?

One of the things that a friend asked me when we were discussing potential careers was “What gets you up in the morning?”.  Some would say “What drives/motivates you?”.  As I stared blindly back at him I wondered to myself why didn’t I have an easy answer.  Now to further explain this moment we were specifically talking about careers.  My faith and family are my driving factors for living my life, but I didn’t have a true professional passion.  I often admired my friends that always wanted to be doctors, lawyers, and film makers.  The only thing that I always wanted to do was be a good dad.  And at that moment it struck me.  

I have long lamented that one of the downfalls of American society revolves around the absentee fathers.  There are so many single mothers raising children and not enough families truly planning for their success.  In my own story there are several examples of not having a father around.  My father has 6 children by 5 different women.  My younger half brother (on my mother’s side) had a limited relationship with his father.  In my neighborhood as a child, not having dad around was the rule rather than the exception.  Could it be that what drives me and where my professional heart lies is in speaking to fathers who did not have fathers?

Another thing that I have been looking at as I search my previous job and life skills is identifying what I do best.  I am an avid sports fan and most professional athletes are what I refer to as “1 percenters”, meaning that they were born gifted in the top 1% of people with skill in their particular sport.  Many of them combined that with countless hours of work to become stars.  But 1 percenters don’t just exist in sports.  The business world is littered with people who just seem to get it.  We see singers, musicians, accountants, carpenters all with what appears to be a natural aptitude toward their particular profession.  Undoubtedly there are those that just learned to be good at a craft over years and others that are gifted in many areas.  I believe that God gives all of us specific talents that he expects us to do something with.  But yet again there is that question, “what is my 1%?”.

For those of you who do not know me personally, I love to talk.  And throughout the last few years I have discovered that I am pretty good at talking to the public.  But being pretty good and being a 1% performer are two different things.  As much as I wanted to believe I was any good, the only feedback I had was friends, family, and my toastmasters club.  But slowly over the weeks and months I started to perform outside my comfort zone.  It all finally crystalized for me at the area j international speech contest.  I finally delivered a speech that I felt was a 1% speech.  It still needed a ton of work, but it was finally something I really felt was good.  

Ladies and gentleman I hope you are in a fullfilling career that makes you happy and challenges you.  But I know that most of us are not.  What’s the next step in the process?  A good place to start is with these two simple questions…

  1. What drives you?
  2. What is your 1%?