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.

How to tell a good story

This week I’m working on my fourth project in the Toastmasters Humorously Speaking manual.  I’ve been stuck on the fourth project because it requires you to write at least two joke set consisting of two or three jokes.  Today, I went through the entire manual during my 750 words and took notes from each of the lessons.  There is some good advice that I’m going to write posts about in the coming weeks.

One of the pieces of advice was the five parts to every humorous story. Below I’ve listed the five parts of a story from the Toastmasters manual. Here is the example story from the Toastmasters manual:

A young illiterate man applied for a job as a janitor.  When the personnel manager discovered the young man couldn’t read or write, he didn’t hire him. Desperate for work, the young man borrowed some money from his uncle and started selling fruit on a busy street corner.  His business grew, and he soon owned a chain of markets and became very rich.  One day he went to the bank to deposit some money.  As he signed an “x” on the deposit slip, the bank manager said, “You have done so well with no education.  Just think what you could have done if you had gone to school!” “Oh,” replied the man, “I’d be a janitor.”

Most stories consist of these five parts:

1. Set-up

The information the listener needs to find the joke funny.  It leads the listeners down a path to an unexpected destination. The information about the young man’s job search is the set up.

2. Pause

Occurs just before you deliver the punch line to the joke.  By pausing, you create tension in the audience.  The pause also signals your audience that you are about to say something important.

3. Punch line

The phrase or sentence that creates the humor.  It’s unexpected destination at the end of the path.  The punch line is a surprise twist and the payoff to the entire story.  It’s what makes people laugh.  In the janitor story, the punch line is “Oh, ” replied the young man, “I’d be a janitor.”

4. Punch word

The one word in the punch line which creates the humor. “Janitor” is the punch word in the above story.

5. Pause

The end of the story gives the audience an opportunity to absorb the punch line, see the humor, and respond.

Nothing is worse than when the storyteller forgets the punch line.

I know a person who tells long stories but they never have a punch line.  They usually just end.  It drives us all crazy because everyone is waiting for the punch line.  When it doesn’t come, we all groan. This happens so often we’ve started referring to these types of stories that don’t have a punch line as a [insert person’s name] story.

Whenever your crafting a story for your speeches or when you’re telling one in any social setting, make sure the story has all five parts. You don’t want to be the person telling stories without a punch line.

BIG Goal: Give a Speech Every Week

There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.

– Aristotle

Yesterday, I wrote about my BIG goal of writing a daily blog post.  Today, I’m writing about another goal of giving a speech every week.  Last year, I had the goal of giving a speech every month but I hardly completed anything until mid year.  By June, I had only completed three speeches which was enough to earn my Toastmasters Competent Communication and Competent Leadership awards but I couldn’t get into a rhythm because I’d procrastinate and then push my speech to the next month. I found myself continuously saying, “I’ll do it next month.”

There is always an excuse when you’re trying to step out of your comfort zone

Finally in October, I got fed up with my lack of progress and I gave a speech titled, A Speech Every Week.  In this speech, that I gave in front of my local Toastmasters club, I told them that I was planning to give a weekly speech until the end of the year.  I’m sure a few people chuckled to themselves when they first heard this idea.  In this club most of the members might give a speech every few months.

I was determined and, in the end, I was able to complete this goal.  The only week’s I didn’t give a speech were the weeks during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.  In that time frame I gave eight speeches at two different Toastmasters clubs, a presented a seminar at the my local District Toastmasters Conference, and I was the Toastmaster at a Toastmasters information session during a conference my company sponsors for young professionals.

Now I want to continue with that goal I started at the end of last year.  In my October speech I outlined how I’d create content on a weekly basis.  Every day I usually spend some time in the morning writing.  I want to use some of that time to craft a new speech each weekend with the goal of having a draft completed by Monday.  Then I’ll have the next three days to revise and practice my speech before I present it on Friday.

One of the most difficult parts of completing this goal is finding a venue to present. At the end of last year, I was finding time at my two Toastmasters clubs but I can’t keep that up for an entire year because there are not enough speaking opportunities.  Then I realized a simple solution.  Post them online to this blog and YouTube.  My goal each week will be to find a venue to present but if I’m unsuccessful then I simply record and publish them.  Even if I do find a venue, I want to record the speech so I can still post it on this blog and probably YouTube.  That way I can rematch my presentation to find out what I need to improve and it will be a part of my trail.

This is going to be difficult but I believe this could be the most important goal I achieve this year.

The important thing I need to remember about this goal is to treat it like I did my goal of writing a daily blog post. Every speech is not going to be perfect.  Most of them will be awful but it’s about the process of creating a new speech every week and publishing my work.  It’s about improving, learning something new, and then trying it out. This goal is about continuing to move further out of my comfort zone.  I want to find new places to speak, new people to meet, and see where those opportunities take me.

In the beginning, I’m going to be using the projects from the Toastmasters advanced manuals.  There are 75 projects in the 15 advanced manuals so I’ll have more than enough projects for the entire year.

I’ll be posting a new speech on this blog every Saturday.

I hope you come back every week to see my progress and get motivated to start your own BIG goals.


Pick Four: End of the Year

Too many goals, too little time.  If I could choose only four what would they be? These are aside from my daily goals that I wrote about yesterday.

1) Complete an hour of code.

Completing an hour of code doesn’t mean I only have to complete an hour on Free Code Camp, where I’m learning Full Stack JavaScript.  Why can’t I alternate between data science and full stack programming?

My version of completing an hour of code a day can include coding, or reading/learning about programming, technology, or data science.

2) Build my personal brand.

This can be the same as building a trail, which I also like to talk about on this blog.  This can include a lot of things but I really want to create projects, complete goals, and connect with as many people as possible so I no longer have to send out another resume.

3) Become debt free.

The goal is to create a plan to become debt free, implement, and stick with it.

4) Complete a speech every week until the end of the year.

I’ll see how the end of the year goes and then I’ll reevaluate this goal. One of my main goals for 2016 is to speak at other venues than my local Toastmasters clubs like a Tedx event.

What goals are you planning to complete for the end of the year or the start of 2016?

Build a Trail: Two Speeches in One Day

Yesterday, I had plans to only complete one speech, the first speech in my Toastmasters manual, Warm Up the Audience from the advanced communication manual Humorously Speaking, but then a member of my weekly lunchtime club at my company asked if I’d be willing to do a speech their as well as long as I adjusted to meet the requirements of another project. I looked at the second speech in the manual and the only difference was I needed to add a humorous story to the end of my speech. The first project only required you to have one at the beginning. I thought this was possible so I agreed.

The night before yesterday’s meeting I was up until almost one in the morning trying to practice because two small children and a full-time job doesn’t leave much time to practice during the day. I almost thought about backing out because I didn’t think I prepared enough but I decided to hammer out a few late practice sessions and commit to completing this speech tomorrow. t think what I need to start trying to do during the week is spend one lunch hour a week in a conference room and practicing my speech. A place where I could actually record it, speak in a normal voice, and have a good hour to rehearse. I think I’m going to try to spend one day, maybe Tuesday trying this practice.

At Dawn Patrol, the evaluator said I gave my best speech to date in the club and I feel like he’s right. It felt good and though I could have done a few things better like sticking with my eye contact, moving from one side of the room to another, and dropping the -ing off the ends of my words, which is something I never noticed I did. I didn’t use a ton of crutch words at least the grammarian didn’t point them out and I was only fifteen seconds over my five to seven minute time constraints.

My second speech during lunch had the good parts of the first speech but it started get some cracks because I tried to include a humorous story at the end of my speech while also trying to shorten the speech. I tried during this without any chance to practice it. I think the actually presentation went well as far as telling my story but included a number of crutch words like so, and, you know, plus some sounds like ah.

Even with those crutch words, I still think the second speech was a success. Before today, I hadn’t given a speech since June. Today, I was able to give today and one without much practice. I kicked off my goal of trying to give a speech every week in both of my Toastmasters clubs and I have a speech lined up for next week, Evaluate to Motivate.

Now, I need to go practice.

Getting Comfortable with Visual Aids

Tonight, I’m working on my eighth speech in the Toastmasters Competent Communication manual, “Getting Comfortable with Visual Aids.” The speech is titled, “Neogeography: Maps Remixed.” The speech is about a recent paper I completed for a graduate course in Spatial Reasoning for GIS. I’m working on turning the paper into a speech and an accompanying powerpoint slideshow. The completed version will be tomorrow’s blog post.