Why do anything without a paycheck

When you ask most people why they show up to work each day. You rarely get an answer related to passion or love. Typically, they tell you about the paycheck. Many of us choose what we do based on the dollar value the job holds. Some of us do it because we have to, some because we want to, and others because they don’t know any other way. I don’t blame people either way. I understand that we all need to do the things to make ends meet. Though after the financial security of your family is taken care the idea of doing something for the money tends to be the wrong decision. Instead you should make career decisions based on what you’ll learn from the experience.

That’s why it can be hard to do the things that don’t give a paycheck. That’s one of the conversations I have with many people around Toastmasters, but the same conversation can happen around anything when there is no immediate financial benefit. I don’t make money by attending Toastmasters meetings. What has happened, and I think my attending weekly Toastmasters meetings has helped, is that my salary has doubled from new career opportunities over my period of involvement with Toastmasters. I don’t think it’s a mere coicideience.

This idea around only doing things that you’re paid to do is one of the biggest differences between the most successful people. Those people are doing things that interest them or help them to grow as a person. Moving forward in you life, developing into the person you want to be, is about making decisions today that will lead to either future success or failure ten years from now.

Many of us want everything right now. We don’t appreciate the process, but the process is exactly what we all need to enjoy. That’s what the people succeeding in life understand.

Speech of the Week: A Tale of Two Majors

Speech of the Week: A Tale of Two Majors

This is a repost from my Tumblr, Keller’s Daily Post, from February 23,2013. This week, I used this story to complete the Toastmasters Advanced Storytelling manual, The Moral of the Story. The speech had to be between 4 – 6 min.

The boy majored in Finance. He was told it was the smart decision, the practical decision. He took his classes in Managerial Accounting, Investment Analysis, and Corporate Finance. Liberal Arts courses were only taken because one was required and he largely viewed them as a waste of his time. He was serous about his education and he looked forward to an entry-level job in Investment Management. After three years of work experience, he wanted go to grad school as a part-time MBA student with tuition reimbursement from his employer because it was the practical decision. Unless, he was accepted into a top ten business school. Then he’d throw caution to the wind because Top Ten B-Schools were the only ones worth taken out that kind of debt and two years off of work. He had, at least, the next five or ten years of his life planned out and everyone around him told him his plan was a very good one.

The girl studied English Literature because two of her favorite things were reading and writing. She had kept a journal since she was a little girl and she never left home without her book. She was a dreamer and she wanted to turn her life into the stories she loved. She would read, think, and write about those books and their amazing stories. How amazing the people were who had written such beautiful stories. She loved reading Jane Austin, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Hemingway. She had a minor…no, a major obsession with Harry Potter. She wanted to study the authors she adored and get to know this beautiful language of English. When she told people about her degree, some were excited and others discouraged her. Many told her horror stories about majoring in Liberal Arts. About how they could never find a job and how it’s a waste of time. She would not be deterred. Studying English Literature was not some passing hobby, it was her passion. It was the reason she was even going to college.

As fate would have it, these to unlikely people meet. As many people already know, whenever you meet a beautiful girl who reads and writes, it is almost impossible to not fall madly in love with them. The boy’s better sense tried to make him believe that this pairing was unnatural. He was a serous man. He liked things like the WSJ, CNBC, and investment books. In the end it was futile to try to resist. The girl was too good to pass up. Not only was she beautiful but what she did to him was even more beautiful. This little Liberal Arts girl showed this boy how to see, how to see the beauty in the world around him. He read books before he met her, she called them boring books, and some times he still reads those boring books. He wasn’t a fan of fiction, because as he said, “I don’t like reading fiction because I don’t feel like I’m learning anything,” but then she proved him wrong by showing him the worlds of Fitzgerald and Hemingway. She persuaded him to read books he thought were for children, like Harry Potter and The Giver. She opened his eyes to a new world. He never realized what fiction could do to a person. How it could change you in ways you never felt possible. Those words, he ate up everyone one of those beautiful words. He was in love. Drunk off the feeling of discovering a new and exciting place. He discovered what he was missing when he first uttered his stupid defense about him not wanting to read fiction. He learned that certain people can create beautiful places and events from a mere flick of their pen or by simply applying pressure to a key on your computer. Then she gave him one of the greatest gifts of his life. She gave him a journal and convinced him to write. This boy, this serious boy with a plan, soon realized his plan was falling apart and he would never be able to pay her back.

Photo by 5demayo at Morguefile.com.

Speech of the Week: A chocolate frosted donut

Speech of the Week: A chocolate frosted donut

This will be the topic of my next speech in, The Entertaining Speaker manual. It’s the third project: Keep Them Laughing. The speech is meant to use humor and needs to be 5-7 minutes.

Mr. Toastmaster, Fellow Toastmasters and Guests,

Let me see a show of hands of the people who like donuts.


Now, let me see a show of hands of the people who have a favorite donut?


My favorite type of donut is a glazed chocolate cake. Though most of us have a second favorite option. You wouldn’t walk up to a box of donuts only to not find your favorite donut available and say, “Well I guess I’m not having a donut today.” No, you choose another option like raised or cake, frosted or glazed, filled with cream or jelly, or maybe some sprinkles. Today, I’m going to talk about an office dispute between two of my coworkers and a chocolate frosted donut.

I was about one year out of college when I got my second job in the Fixed Income group of a local mutual fund company.  This company was known for still requiring all employees to wear suits every day.  When I told my some-to-be-former coworkers where I was heading they all gave me the same warning.  

“That place is really buttoned up and stuffy.”

“You better watch what you say and how you act because it’s a really up tight place to work.”

I ended up finding out that they couldn’t have been more wrong.  To be fair, at the time, was working in the finance department so all my former coworkers knew about was other coworkers experience at my new jobs finance department. I’ve heard that the finance department at my new company was very much a stuffy, buttoned up atmosphere.  Investment Management, where I was going to be working, was not.

This story mainly involves two of my coworkers.  I’ll call them Chris and Kevin for this speech.  Chris worked with me in the Fixed Income group and Kevan worked in the Equity team that sat next to us. During my first few weeks on the job I considered them to be pretty close office friends.  They went to lunch together, talked about relationships, and went to happy hour. Then someone brought in a box of donuts. Actually, I think I was the one who brought in a box of donuts.  I grabbed my glazed chocolate cake donut, Chris grabbed a chocolate frosted donut, and a few other workers also got a donut. Then came Kevin.

Hold on, maybe I should give you a little bit of background information on Kevin.  I wouldn’t call him a chronic liar. I think he just really stretched the truth.  For example, he told us that he was the stunt double for Kevin on the Wonder Years, a comment so ridiculous I didn’t even think about checking the internet because what kind of stunts did Kevin do on the Wonder Years? Ride his bike or get beat up by Wayne? He also told us that he was offered a scholarship to be a pitcher for a division one baseball team but instead decided to go to a smaller college in Pittsburgh, not receive a scholarship, and not play baseball. When we asked him how far the distance was from home plate to the pitcher’s mound he didn’t know.  The other thing he told us was that his family was friends with Kevin Bacon,so your welcome, you are all now a part of the six degrees of Kevin Bacon.

Now back to the donuts story, Kevin looks at the box of donuts and then looks at Chris and me standing nearby talking.  He asks Chris if he could split his chocolate frosted donut.  Chris and I gave him and odd look and Chris abruptly said, “No, choose one of the other five donuts that are left.” Kevin went on to tell us that he didn’t like any other donuts.  His favorite was chocolate frosted and that we should have known that and left him one.  Again, he said to Chris, “Just give me one piece of your donut.” I think I had a look on my face, like are you serious. At this point, Chris was annoyed and says, “No, dude, I’m not giving you a piece of my donut. Go take one of the others that are left.” Kevin stormed off to his cubicle while Chris, our boss, and I are almost doubled over laughing about the conversation.

During lunchtime, Chris is out to lunch but I’m working at my desk when I overhear Kevin talking to another coworker, “All I wanted was just one piece and he wouldn’t give it to me.”  I think I nearly fell out of my chair.  It was too unbelievable to not tell Chris.

A week goes by and we start to notice that Kevin is ignoring not just Chris but also everyone who associates with Chris.  It got to the point when you would see Kevin walking down the hallway he would stop on a dime, turn the other way, and walk away in the opposite direction.  A week goes by and Kevin brings in rice crispy treats for what we thought was an apology for acting like a jerk during the past week.  We all received an email saying the rice crispy treats were for everyone. Chris received a different email stating that the rice crispy treats were for everyone except him.  Chris ended up forwarding that email to everyone in our group.

I decided to eat a rice crispy treat and as I was cutting off a piece.  Kevin popped his head out of his cubicle like a Meercat looking from side to side. Then after noticing it was me, he motioned an Ok sign but then pointed a finger at Chris whose back was turned and gave a stern look while shaking his head which I guess was supposed to signal to me that it was ok for me to take a rice crispy treat but not Chris. Later when Kevin went out to lunch, Chris ending up eating half of the tray. Finally, at the end of the day Chris put Kevin’s email detailing how he was not allowed to eat his rice crispy treats into the text-to-speech tool in Microsoft Word and turned his speakers all the way up.  The robotic voice shouted across our whole floor.  My coworkers and if were barreled over from laughter.

Sadly, Chris and Kevin’s relationship was never the same.  Kevin quite talking to our entire team and anyone who associated with Chris.  Less than a year later Kevin left his job and moved away from Pittsburgh.  None of us have spoken to him since.

This story makes me think about how we all have crazy events happen in our lives. Think for a moment, about how you’ve handled a difficult situation in your life. Did you ever try thinking about it from the other person’s point of view? You might think their issue is as ridiculous as wanting just one piece of your chocolate frosted donut, but it’s important to remember that small issues can lead to big problems.

Mr. Toastmaster


Speech of the week: Forget the snooze button

Speech of the week: Forget the snooze button

This week I gave my speech of the week at my lunchtime Toastmasters Club PNC PREP Speaks. This speech is about a new app I discovered this week that’s allowed me to forget the snooze button and accomplish my goals.

Madam Toastmaster, Fellow Toastmasters, and guests,

I want everyone to close their eyes then imagine you’re having the best sleep of your life. You’re having a dream of you lying on the beach with the warm sun against your face and a cold drink in your hand.


(Play my alarm clock.)

You jump out of bed scrambling to hit the snooze button and climb back into bed. Then fast foward 5 min later.

(Play my alarm clock.)

5 min later

(Play my alarm clock.)

Today, I’m going to talk about an app, available on iPhone and Android, that can help you forget you the snooze button and accomplish your goals.  First, I want to talk about the person who helped create it.  You might know him.

Can I see a show of hands of anyone who doesn’t knows who’s The Rock?

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is best know as a professional wrestler and movie star. He’s starred in such films the Mummy, Fast and Furious, a new Baywatch movie, and he also stars in the HBO series, Ballers.

The other thing you might not know is that his Instagram account is one of the most motivating accounts on the photo sharing social media app.  While I’m struggling to wakeup by 5 am to complete my goal of writing 750 words every day, The Rock is up at 4 am lifting ungodly amounts of weight.  It’s easy to say that I could look like that if I only had all that money, trainers, chefs, and time but we all know that’s really just an excuse. There are plenty of celebritites, athletes, or other rich people that don’t look like The Rock.  The reason he’s become so successful is because he’s been consistent. He’s doing the small things everyday.

That’s what’s great about the app he helped create and released this week.  #TheRockClock is an alarm clock based on the idea of completing your goals.  It’s free and requires no sign up.  You download it, set your goal, a time frame to complete your goal, and a time to wake up.  Then you select you’re alarm many of which are recorded with The Rock. Each morning when you wakeup you’re greeted with a new motivational picture or video to start your day. The screen also displays your goal and what day you’re currently on. I don’t what it is but I think it’s the combination of having to hit multiple buttons, seeing my goal, and looking at the motivational message has motivated me to skip the snooze button, because there isn’t one, and go achieve my goal for the day.  I’ve been using this app for the past week and I’ve hit my goal of writing 750 words every day.  

Another feature is your ability to set your alarm to Rock Time which is the time The Rock is waking up. The Rock is using this app along with all of us.  On the first day the Rock Time was 4:15am but it flucuates I imagine based on his schudule.  The next day it was 4:45am.

Why you should consider downloading The Rock Clock?

I think it comes down to a value proposition. What would you pay for an app that helps you not to his the snooze button, because it doesn’t have one, and accomplish your goals. I’d pay a significant amount of money. That’s the best part. The apps free so there is no excuse. 

It’s time to get up, get motivated, and achieve your goals because The Rock, myself, and Battle Cat are forgetting the snooze button.

Madam Toastmaster.

Step into the Arena 

Step into the Arena 

I spent the day competing at the Toastmasters District Contest. I didn’t win but it was a good opportunity to conquer one of my old fears and speak in front of almost 100 people.
At night, Lisa and I celebrated our seventh anniversary at @eat_gaucho which might be our new favorite restaurant in Pittsburgh.



Day 5/100

Speech of the Week: Two speeches this week.

This week I presented two speeches. One yesterday and another today. 

Yesterday, I presented a speech from the Toastmasters Better Speaker Series titled, Impromptu Speaking to The Power of Toast Toastmasters club that I founded at my company. This speech gives members a five step formula and strategies to use in impromptu speaking situations like job interviews, phone calls, or talking with coworkers or customers.

The second speech I gave today was my humorous speech on the three things Steve Martin’s memoir, Born Standing Up, taught me. This speech helped me complete the fourth project in the Toastmasters advanced manual Humorously Speaking. I’ve been planning to complete this speech for what seems like the last few months but creating the joke sets really got in my way. I was always one of those people who watched a comedy movie or standup and thought that I could do what they do. It was the most challenging speech I had to write and I have a new respect for anyone who has to continuously come up with new jokes.

Next week, I’ll be presenting my Step Into the Arena speech at the District 13 Toastmasters Spring Conference. I’ll be competing against eight other contestants from the distric for the opportunity to go to the Toastmasters International Competition in Washington, DC. 

I’ve spent some time trying to rework my conclusion. My goal for this weekend and upcoming week is to spend the next five or six days practicing my speech and then a solid 24 – 48 hours to relax before The competition.

My last point is that I need to figure how many speeches I’ve given this year. Then I can start keeping a countdown till the end of the year.

Why I had to start speaking in front of a crowd

Why I had to start speaking in front of a crowd


My palms were sweating, heart was racing, my mind was churning through each of my points, and I was about to walk to the front of the room to give my first speech at Toastmasters in June of 2013. I was attending regular meetings for about a month. I did a table topic and some other roles. Thinking back makes me wish I would have video taped some of those past performances. I would have liked to see the difference from today. Before joining Toastmasters, I can’t say I didn’t like to speak in public but I got nervous to speak.

Three years later, I find myself trying to give a speech every week. Even a year ago, I wouldn’t have thought this was possible but I’m now into week 13 of my 2016 goal. It’s been pretty amazing. It’s been kind of overwhelming to come up with material but the pressure has helped me grow. I think I’ve actually given more than a speech every week since the past week or two I’ve been practicing my competition speech.

It took me a while to to get over my fear. It wasn’t exactly public speaking but really talking in front of strangers.  This fear was also one of my roadblocks to expanding my network.  That’s another area Toastmasters has helped my build upon.  I plan to continue building my network and getting involved in different communities like Toastmasters.

Don’t be afraid. Fear is something happy people don’t worry about. Happy people aren’t afraid of being afraid. Conquering my fear of public speaking by standing up one day at a time has helped me in many areas of my life. That’s all I’m trying to do.

This was a great weekend. I think I gave the best speech of my life but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t have been better. My goal going forward is to continue to give a speech every week but continue focusing on practice and perfecting the little things that make a speech great, like eliminating my crutch words, improving vocal variety, body movement, and eye contact. The key for me is practice, practice, and more practice. Keep standing up every week.


HT themuse