Category Archives for "speaking"

Engineers Managing Engineers #PECON2017

Here’s my talk for today’s presentation at the NSPE (National Society of Professional Engineers) Annual Conference:

NSPE 2017 Conference

Engineers Managing Engineers

Jon M. Stolpe

Friday, July 21, 2017

When an optimist looks at a half-filled glass, he sees the glass half full.  When a pessimist looks at the same glass, he sees the glass half empty.  When an engineer looks at the same glass, he sees the glass as being twice as big as it needs to be.

As engineers, we look at the world through a different set of lenses than the rest of the world.  Engineers want to get to the bottom of how things work.  They tend to be technical in nature.  While the rest of the world may see us as robots, we are more than mechanical devices going through the motions.

Engineers are people too!

For the next 50 minutes, I want to help you better manage the engineers who work for you.

Here’s our agenda for our time together.

First, we’ll look in the mirror to get a better understanding of who we are.

Next, we’ll spend some time talking about how you can get to know your team members better.

I’ll give you some tips for managing performance for your direct reports, and I’ll give you a powerful tool for managing your team members.

We’ll spend some time helping our team members develop a plan for their future.

And we’ll finish our time together brainstorming ways to encourage your team of engineers to be innovative.

Before we get started, I wanted to share a few things about me.  I graduated from Grove City College in 1994 with a degree in mechanical engineering.  After graduating, I worked for a small building automation company in north Jersey and Manhattan as a project engineer.  During my year and a half with the company, I installed building automation systems on the top ten floors of Rockefeller Center and the Liz Claiborne World Headquarters.  I moved to Landis and Gyr Powers which eventually became Siemens Building Technologies where I have been for over 21 years.  I started as a project engineer and became a project manager which gave me opportunities to work on projects all over the Greater Philadelphia area.  In 2000, I went back to school to work on my MBA at Penn State University.  For the past 10 years, I’ve been an operations manager.  I lead a team of engineers, project managers, technicians, and installers.  And I love my job!

I’m married with two teenagers.  And I have a passion for personal growth, leadership development, writing, and speaking.  I’m excited to be here today to share some of the things I have learned along the way which have helped me (an engineer) lead my team of engineers.

Getting to Know Yourself

If you want to be successful managing your team, it’s important that you get to know yourself first.

When we think of becoming better leaders, we think of tools and techniques. We think of books and seminars. We think of skills we must add or improve to connect with those we are leading and to help others navigate their paths to becoming stronger contributors to the overall good of the team. Much of our leadership development is externally focused.

How can we get our team member to do this? Or how can we get our team member to stop doing that?

In our quest to become better leaders, we often forget to look in the mirror.

Becoming a better leader starts by learning to lead ourselves first.

I don’t know about you, but my podcast feed is full of podcasts about leadership. My nightstand is full of books about leadership. And my blog reader is jammed with blog posts and articles about leadership. It’s great to feed our minds with great material, but we must learn to step back from time to time and develop habits to lead ourselves.

As a leader trying to figure it out, I believe self leadership starts when we take time to STRETCH ourselves. To help you see what I mean, here’s an easy way to remember seven keys to leading yourself:

  1. Still yourself.

Too many leaders believe busyness is a badge of achievement. In the rush to hustle more than the next guy, leaders forget how to stop and be still. Learning to still yourself takes practice. Start with a minute every hour. Or start with 10-15 minutes in the morning before the days responsibilities take over.

  1. Take note.

Become an observer of life. Keep track of what is happening. Keep a journal. Spend a few minutes at the end of the day capturing the details of the day. If we don’t write it down somewhere, we’ll forget it.

  1. Reflect.

It’s not just enough to still yourself and take note. You have to take time to reflect. For me, this means getting away for a couple of days once or twice a year. Reflection provides the opportunity to gain wisdom from what we have just experienced, and it gives the chance to ponder the future.

  1. Engage in key relationships.

One of the best ways to lead yourself is to open yourself up to feedback from others. When I think of key relationships, I think of my family, my close friends, and my boss. Who are the people who will help you see the things you need to see when you look in the mirror? These are the people who can help you take your leadership to the next level.

  1. Try something new.

It’s easy to fall into a rut when we are leading. In order to break out of our patterns, we must be willing to take a risk. Leading yourself requires you to willingly move past unproductive routines. Trying new things on a regular basis helps leaders learn things they may have otherwise overlooked.

  1. Community. Community. Community.

Whether you or an introvert or an extrovert, you need community and community needs you. By involving yourself in community, you gain opportunities to lead others outside your team. Community is also the place where you can be led by others outside your normal circle of influence. When you lead in the community, you gain valuable insights to lead better in your organization. If you want to lead yourself to become a better leader, get involved in your community today!

  1. Help others.

Leadership too often is a race to see who climbs the corporate ladder more quickly. If you want to be an effective leader, you must analyze your motives. Why are you leading? When your season of leadership is over, what legacy will you have left? The best way to lead with impact is when you lead with a servant’s heart. Find ways to help others, and your leadership will advance to a whole new level.

If you paid attention, you may have realized that these seven keys encourage leaders to S.T.R.E.T.C.H. As you lead in your organization, don’t forget to STRETCH by leading yourself first.

Getting to Know Your Team

Piece of Paper Exercise

Learning to Look for Differences Exercise

Tools To Help You Learn More About Your Team Members (and About You)

Myers-Briggs Temperament Index – My MBTI (I am an ESTJ.  I’m more of an Extrovert than an Introvert.  I rely on Sensing as opposed to iNtuition.  I’m much more of a Thinker than a Feeler.  And I’m more likely to Judge than to Perceive.)

Wikipedia:  The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is an introspective self-report questionnaire designed to indicate psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions.

The MBTI was constructed by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. It is based on the typological theory proposed by Carl Jung who had speculated that there are four principal psychological functions by which humans experience the world – sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking – and that one of these four functions is dominant for a person most of the time. The MBTI was constructed for normal populations and emphasizes the value of naturally occurring differences. “The underlying assumption of the MBTI is that we all have specific preferences in the way we construe our experiences, and these preferences underlie our interests, needs, values, and motivation.”

16 different types

StrengthsFinder 2.0 (Get book) – My Strengths (Harmony, Achiever, Responsibility, Disciplined, and Analyzer)

DISC Profile

Wikipedia:  DISC is a behavior assessment tool based on the DISC theory of psychologist William Moulton Marston, which centers on four different behavioral traits, which today are called: dominance, influence, support, and conscientiousness. This theory was then developed into a behavioral assessment tool by industrial psychologist Walter Vernon Clarke.

There are many different versions of the questionnaire and assessment. Some date back to the 1940s while others are more recent, more accurate, and more advanced.

Communication Style Assessment


Whether you are a manager of direct reports or not, I hope you’ll find this list helpful in understanding ways to get better.  Success doesn’t happen by accident.  Success happens by being intentional, and this list offers suggestions – no, essentials – for being intentional with the performance management process.

10 Essentials for Enhancing the Performance Management Process:

  1. Start with regular one-on-one meetings. It’s important to meet with your employees on a regular basis.  These meetings provide an opportunity to touch base on performance issues and other business and non-business related items.  You can read about the power of one-on-one meetings in a guest post I wrote for Matt McWilliams.  Several years ago, I started having monthly one-on-one meetings with my team, and it’s been helpful for my team members and for me.
  2. Set performance targets. It’s critical that employees have SMART targets.  Targets should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.  At the beginning of each year, I sit down with my team members to set targets.  These targets align with our overall business objectives, and they also provide opportunities for individuals to grow personally.
  3. Quarterly review progress towards targets. It shouldn’t be a surprise at the end of the year when doing a performance evaluation.  I sit down with my employees once a quarter to review their progress in achieving their targets.  Doing this once a quarter provides an opportunity for my team members to make performance corrections that will help them meet or exceed their targets.
  4. Get feedback from others. I encourage my team members to ask for feedback from their peers.  And I get feedback from other managers and supervisors regarding the performance of my team members.  Before completing the annual performance management process, I meet in a roundtable meeting which helps to calibrate my overall assessment.  This meeting also provides extra insight into developmental action items I might want to suggest to my team members.
  5. Take time to write an honest and detailed assessment.  When I write evaluations for my team members, I want them to be fair, well-thought, and encouraging.  Writing this kind of assessment takes time.  I schedule time to carefully review the past year of activity.  I look at notes from my past one-on-one meetings.  I review previous results from the quarterly updates.  And I take into account comments shared by my fellow management team members.  A written record provides employees a tangible document to review as they seek to grow and improve.
  6. Meet with employee to review results. At the end of the year, it’s important to let your employees know how they have done.  Feedback provides information necessary to help them improve.  Feedback also keeps them doing the right things.
  7. Remember the good things. Make sure you praise your team members for the good things they have done throughout the year.  A pat on the back goes a long way towards encouraging the right behavior.
  8. Create a development plan correcting issues. As managers, it is our responsibility to help our team members succeed.  We have to give our team members help in getting better.  The performance review process is the perfect time to help employees get better.
  9. Discuss career progression essentials. Most employees want to know what it will take for them to get tho the next level in their career path.  It’s important to talk regularly to employees about their plans for the future.  What are their goals for the next 5 years or 10 years?  What do they need to do in order to be ready for the next steps?  These are questions that will help you help them.  Are their expectations realistic?  How can you help them?  The performance review process provides an opportunity to discuss essentials for career advancement.
  10. Do it again. It may seem repetitive, but you have to do it over and over and over again.  Doing this for only one year does not demonstrate a long-term interest in the performance of an employee.  Repeated year after year is essential to a successful performance management process.

Thinking About the Future




As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.

Bill Gates

Being a leader isn’t always easy.

If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.  Right?

If leadership stress, exhaustion, and inadequacy are common, there has to be a solution.

I’m sure we could point to many things that make leadership easier – getting more sleep, exercising regularly, reading, learning, and finding a mentor.  These are all valuable actions a leader can take to improve their leadership capabilities.  There another solution that too easily gets overlooked and sometimes misused.

Delegation is what I’m talking about.

I’m not talking about pawning off all the unpleasant tasks on someone else and acting as a dictator.  I’m talking about spreading out the work, so a leader and team can be more effective which will lead to less stress, less exhaustion, and a deeper feeling of adequacy and fulfillment.  Delegation is “the assignment of responsibility or authority to another person to carry out specific activities (Wikipedia).”

It seems rather simple.  Spread the work out.  Ease the load of the leader.  Use the leadership talents of others in the community.  And make the community happier.

Why is delegation so important?

Here are six reasons leaders should delegate:

6 Reasons Leaders Should Delegate

  1. Delegation relieves stress and overload on the leader. Leadership can be lonely, and it can be a heavy weight to bear alone.  Delegation disperses the weight, so the strain isn’t so great on any one person.
  2. Delegation allows leaders and teams to get more accomplished in less time. If a leader tries to do it all my himself, it will obviously take him longer.  “Many hands make light work.”  By getting more people involved, more can be accomplished.
  3. Delegation frees up leaders for other tasks. When a leader is overwhelmed, he will often miss out on other tasks he could and should be performing.  By delegating, a leader opens up time and energy for other priorities.
  4. Delegation buildings a better team. When a leader tries to do it all by himself, he demonstrates a lack of confidence in his team.  This will demoralize a team.  Delegation done right provides an opportunity to motivate your team.  It also provides an opportunity to develop the skills and abilities of team members which will ultimately lead to a better team.
  5. Delegation generates more success. When a leader gets others involved, he taps into the ideas and skills of other people who might otherwise be overlooked and underutilized.  When a team is used to its fullest, success is a natural byproduct.
  6. Delegation prepares for the future. A leader will not be around forever.  Eventually, he will retire or move on to another opportunity.  It is good stewardship for a leader to prepare the next in-line leaders.  Grooming successors is an essential part of delegating, and it’s the best way for a leader to leave a legacy.

If you want to overcome stress, exhaustion, and feelings of inadequacy in your leadership, it’s time for you to start delegating.

Educational opportunities

Keeping Our Teams Engaged Through Innovation

My Shark Tank Experience

What other companies are doing

  • ATT Foundry
  • Adobe Kickstart
  • Linkedin [in]cubator
  • Whirlpool
  • Ericsson Ideaboxes

A chance to brainstorm

Confirming Your Learning

  1. Why are regular one-on-one meetings with your direct reports important?
  2. What is one thing you can do to encourage innovations among your direct reports?
  3. Name three (or more) things you can do to improve the performance management process for your direct reports.

Remember, you are not leading a team of robots.  You are leading a team of people.  Be intentional as you lead and manage your team!

Questions, Answers, and Contact Information

13 Things I Learned Through My Shark Tank Experience


Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.

Steve Jobs

Last week, I traveled to Phoenix for a management conference for my company.  I was asked to present an idea as part of a “Shark Tank” competition.  This meant presenting four times in front of the top line management in my company.  I spent a week before the meeting preparing my ideas and my presentation.  During the presentations, I had the opportunity to ask for an investment to implement my idea.  In each session, I had ten minutes to present my ideas and ten minutes to answer questions from the sharks and the audience.

Competing against three other finalists, I was not certain of the outcome.  I’m happy to report, my project won the competition and the investment to move ahead.

My experience in Phoenix was exciting, uplifting, inspiring, and educational.  Specifically, I learned a lot through my shark tank experience.  Here’s what I learned:

13 Things I Learned Through My Shark Tank Experience

1. Be creative.  When I was asked to come with ideas to submit to the Shark Tank contest, I had to put my thinking cap on.  In order to have opportunities, you have to be creative.

2. Be bold.  Dream big, and don’t be afraid to ask for investments.  When I initially submitted my idea, I wasn’t thinking large enough.  After getting feedback and advice from others, I decided to triple my request for investment.  We limit ourselves and the potential to do great things when we fail to be bold in our dreams.

3. Be prepared.  To be ready to face a panel of sharks and an active audience, you have to be prepared.  You must know your idea.  You must understand the math behind your request.  You must consider all the questions you will get.  In my case, I also had to make sure my technology was working properly before my presentations.

4. Be flexible.  Things don’t always go as planned.  You might forget a key point in your presentation.  The technical side of your presentation make not work correctly.  Your demonstration may not function the way you expected.  You have to adapt.  You have to keep going.

5. Be willing to ask for help.  I have been very busy at work, and I had to ask for help from my peers. I tapped into someone to help me with the technical side of my presentation.  I asked someone to watch me rehearse.  I asked a couple of people to help me with the actual presentation.  It takes a village, and we have to be willing to use the village.

6. Be grateful.  This was an amazing opportunity.  I am so thankful for all the people who made it happen.  Over the next few days, I will be writing many thank you notes to express my appreciation.

7. Be friendly.  In the green room, I had the opportunity to talk with the other finalists.  We shared our ideas.  We encouraged each other.  There is a tendency to be hostile when dealing with our competition – especially in the business world.  In the golden rule of business presentations, we should treat others the way we want to be treated.

8. Be humble.  Deflect praise to others.  I appreciated the exposure to top line management, and I want the notoriety that comes with this opportunity.  But I want to make sure others are recognized for their efforts.  It’s possible to be confident and humble at the same time, and humility is an important virtue worth pursuing and practicing in business and in life.

9. Be confident.  During the practices for my presentation, it became clear I was not being direct in my request for funds.  Thanks to some coaching, I shifted by sales pitch.  I was able to be more confident in my presentation when I realized how much I believed in my idea.

10. Be gracious.  I had an opportunity to get positive feedback from so many top line managers as a result of my presentation.  I also had the opportunity to respond to some tough questions from the sharks and the audience.  In all cases, providing a polite and courteous response was the best way to represent my idea, my office, and myself.

11. Be ready to take the next step.  After I received the news that my project won the contest, I was initially very happy.  Then I realized the work was just beginning.  Getting the funding for my project was only the beginning.  Now, I have to fully develop my implementation plan and execute on this plan.  There is a lot of work ahead.

12. Be inspired.  Towards the end of the day, I sat in on the presentation for one of the other finalists.  It was exciting to hear their idea.  My shark tank experience reminded me that people have great ideas.  We just need to stop long enough to listen.  As a result of my experience, I’m inspired to promote a local innovation day or experience in my own office.

13. Be inspiring.  I cannot tell you how many people came up to me to comment on my idea.  They are excited to try something like this in their location.  When you put yourself out there, you have the opportunity to inspire.  Don’t waste the opportunity.

Now, it’s time to get busy implementing my shark tank idea.  It’s also time to continue dreaming.  We all have the opportunity to be innovative.

How are you being innovative?  How are you promoting innovation?  What stops you from being innovative?  What keeps you going down the path of innovation?  What have you learned as a result of sharing your innovative ideas with others?

Finding New Members for Your Club (or Organization)

new members

We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.

Jeff Bezos

I am the President of my local Toastmasters Club, and I’m excited about a speaking opportunity at my club tomorrow.  I’ll be speaking on the topic of finding new members for our club.  When I prepare for my presentations, I typically prepare an outline.  Then I write out my speech.  Next, I write out a few notes about the speech on a note card.  And finally, I practice several times.

In today’s post, I’ll share with you the written text for my speech.  While the speech is directed at members of my Toastmasters Club, I’m sure it will be helpful for you and the organizations you represent (clubs, churches, and teams).  Finding new members for our organizations can be a stretching experience, but it’s an effort worth pursuing for the vitality of your organizations, its members, and the community.


Aetna Articulators

The Successful Club Series

Jon M. Stolpe

October 14, 2015


Finding New Members For Your Club

After completing the Competent Leader and Competent Communicator awards, Toastmasters have the opportunity to keep learning and advancing to Advanced Leader Bronze. In order to earn ALB, Toastmasters must earn CL and CC, serve as a club officer for a minimum of six months, participate in the Club Success Plan while serving in office, participate in district-sponsored club officer training, and conduct any two speeches from The Successful Club Series and/or The Leadership Excellence Series. Today, I am presenting a speech from The Successful Club Series.

New members are essential to the success of our club. Without a continuous flow of new members, our club will stagnate or even seek to exist. New members inject new energy, new enthusiasm, and new ideas into our club. They provide an opportunity to mentor and to pass the torch of our club to others. The more people we have in our club the easier we can fill club meeting roles and try new activities. New members also represent more funds for the club. We each learn from each other, so new members represent a tool to help each of us stretch and grow.

Let us share the benefits we have gained for ourselves with others.

Dr. Ralph C. Smedly

Before I share ways to recruit members, I will share my early Toastmasters journey.

A couple of years ago, I heard about Toastmasters International, and it sounded like something that could help me in my public speaking and leadership opportunities in my work at Siemens and in my areas of interest outside the office. I did some investigation of my own, and I talked to my HR Manager, Mike, and I discovered our club. The meeting location and time were perfect for my busy work schedule and priorities right across the street. I contacted Rosalind, our club’s VP of Membership, and I decided to check out my first meeting. I felt welcome during my first visit, and Roz even checked in with me after my meeting to thank me and to see if I had any questions about the club. I came back two weeks later for our next meeting, and I started to learn some of the lingo and patterns for the meetings. I came back several more times before I handed over my application and dues to Gloria who was our club Treasurer and Secretary at the time. Shortly after joining the club, I received a call from Carol asking me to consider filling the role of club secretary. Since then, I’ve jumped in to help and participate whenever and wherever I can. My entry into the world of Toastmasters was pretty exciting!

We each have our own story about checking out Toastmasters, and these are important stories for us to remember. What attracted you to Toastmasters, and what wasn’t so attractive about your initial experiences? Your story can be helpful in bringing new members into our club.

You have a responsibility to contribute to the success of our club, our fellow members, and our future members. You and I have the privilege and responsibility of ensuring our club and our club meetings are successful. And this is why you should care about finding new members for our club.

Finding new members for our club starts through recruitment. Recruitment is not a once and done event. Recruitment is an ongoing activity. It’s kind of like breathing. As a member of our club, you should always be on the lookout for opportunities to recruit people for our club. Here are some ways to be intentional about recruiting new members:

  1. Talk to friends, relatives, and co-workers.
  2. Wear a Toastmasters membership pin every day.
  3. Display the Toastmaster magazine.
  4. Distribute promotional brochures and fliers.
  5. Conduct a Speechcraft workshop.
  6. Create an account on a social networking site, such as or

These are just a few ideas. Before I move on, I wanted to ask for your ideas on how we might be able to recruit new members. I’ll write your answers on the board. Can anyone get us started?



Getting people to come to our meetings is a major step forward in keeping our club successful, but it doesn’t stop there. When guests come to our club the first, second, or even third time, we must do our best to make sure guests are treated properly. At all of our meetings, we should make every effort to do the following:

  1. Greet guests at the door as they arrive.
  2. Sit with a guest during the meeting.
  3. Speak with the guest after the meeting.
  4. Invite the guest to join members for any after-meeting socializing.
  5. Ask the guest to visit again.

Additionally, we should:

  • Make sure guests sign the guest book. This helps us collect information, so we can communicate with our guests in the future.
  • Wear name tags and encourage guests to wear name tags. Saying someone’s name does wonders for helping people feel welcome. Let’s face it. We’re not all great at remembering names. Name tags help us know the names of our guests, and it helps guests to know the names of our club regulars. People are coming to our club to connect, let’s make it a little easier for them.
  • Ask guests about joining our club. Don’t assume, guests know what to do. As club regulars, we can get comfortable and complacent with how things go. We forget that guests don’t the general routines and expectations of our club. This includes signing up to join the club.

When you take time to welcome guests, you have the opportunity to advance towards your CL. These projects all deal with new members and guests:

  • Befriend a guest.
  • Co-chair an open house.
  • Co-chair a special event.

Next week, we will be hosting our annual Open House. It’s not too late to invite a friend or co-worker. When you head back to work this afternoon, take time to tell others about our club. Invite them to our Open House next week. We’ll be meeting across the street at Siemens, and there will be lunch provided. (Make sure guests pre-register on-line.) In addition to the Open House, we are also conducting a Membership Drive. Whoever brings the most guests and who recruits the most new members will win a Barnes and Noble Gift Card. Don’t let the opportunity slip by. Finally, if you have any questions about membership, be sure to contact our VP of Membership, Roz, or one of the other officers.

One enthusiastic person can make all the difference in recruiting new people for our club. We don’t need fancy tools or gadgets. We just need you to carry your passion for Toastmasters outside these walls and into the world. Don’t forget to be personal, be helpful, and be friendly.

A guest never forgets the host who had treated him kindly.


You and I can make a difference for our club and for other leaders and communicators!

Let’s do it!

Does your organization look for new members?  What has worked and what hasn’t worked when it comes to finding new members?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

My Last Five Podcasts


Podcasting has become the latest addition to the social media world.  More and more podcasts are popping up every day.  People I consider to be friends are jumping into the game with their own podcasts.  And I find myself listening to podcasts on my morning walk, during my commute to and from work, and while I’m working out at the gym.  There is a vast amount of knowledge and wisdom floating around in the podcasting world, and it sometimes seems like I cannot get enough.

If you are like me, you are always looking for new podcasts.  Today’s post is an opportunity to share the last five podcasts I listened to on my iPhone.  And I hope it’s an opportunity for others to share the podcasts getting their attention these days.

Which five podcasts did you listen to most recently?

Here’s my list.

My Last Five Podcasts

(1)  ProBlogger Podcast: Blog Tips to Help You Make Money Blogging with Darren Rowse

(2)  The Dave Ramsey Show

(3)  Organize 365 Podcast

(4)  1 Year Daily Audio Bible with Brian Hardin

(5)  How Did You Get Into That?  with Grant Baldwin

Answer today’s question in the comments (and please feel free to leave links).

Book Review: Talk Like Ted by Carmine Gallo (@cgalloacademy)

This book wasn’t even on my radar until I received a package from my friend Ellory Wells.  In the package, Ellory included Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds by Carmine Gallo with a note inside:


I’ve never read this book, but I’ve heard wonderful things!  I know you want to be a speaker.  You ARE a speaker!  If you want to read this book together, let me know; I got myself a copy too. 🙂

See you on stage!

Ellory Wells

I’m glad Ellory sent me the book, and I’m thankful for the note in the front of the book as well.

Talk Like TED is an inspiring and educational read for anyone who does presentations or who wants to present to others.  In Talk Like TED, Carmine Gallo unpacks the research he compiled by studying the most successful TEDTalk speakers.  He shares stories and statistics in a way that will help speakers take their craft to the next level.

This was the perfect book for me as I consider future speaking opportunities.  Talk Like TED gave me nine “secrets” to improving my speaking, and it gave me hours of TEDTalk presentations to review to help me refine my skills.

If you are a pastor, a teacher, a manager, or a presenter of any kind, I’d recommend picking up a copy of Talk Like TED.  If you are a writer, I’d also recommend this book as I believe it will improve your blogs, books, and other writing endeavors.  If you have a message that needs to be heard, this book will help you package your message in a way that will get people to listen.

Here are a few of the quotes I highlighted as I read the book:

  • “Ideas, effectively packaged and delivered, can change the world.”
  • “Great communicators reach your head and touch your heart.”
  • “People cannot inspire others unless and until they are inspired themselves.”
  • “If you want to help someone, shut up and listen.”
  • “Our brains are more active when we hear stories.”
  • “An authentic presentation requires hours of work – digging deeper into your soul than you ever have, choosing the right words that best represent the way you feel about your topic, delivering those words for maximum impact, and making sure that your nonverbal communication – your gestures, facial expressions, and body language – are consistent with your message.”
  • “Don’t take yourself (or your topic) too seriously.  The brain loves humor.  Give your audience something to smile about.”
  • “You don’t need luck to be an inspiring speaker.  You need examples, techniques, passion, and practice.  You also need courage – the courage to follow your passion, articulate your ideas simply, and express what makes your heart sing.”


How do you feel about public-speaking?   When was the last time you spoke in public?  How did it go?  Tell me about it in the comments.

(Please note:  I received a copy of Talk Like TED for free as a gift from my friend, Ellory Wells.  I was not required to provide a favorable review.  I truly believe this book can be a helpful tool for taking your speaking opportunities to the next level.

Also to note:  There are affiliate links in this post.  Should you purchase Talk Like TED by clicking one of these links, I receive a small percentage of the purchase.  These funds are used to support The Stretched Blog and to extend ministry and missions to Guatemala.  Thank you!)

Thrust Into Greatness


Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.

William Shakespeare

Last week, I accepted the nomination and election to become the next president of my local Toastmasters club, Aetna Articulators.

I’ve been coming to Toastmasters for nearly a year, and I’ve been moving along at a decent pace as I progress towards the first major milestones – Competent Communicator (CC) and Competent Leader (CL).

I was a little apprehensive about taking on this role considering my lack of experience in the club and in the overall organization, but no one else seemed ready or excited about stepping into the role.  During the selection process, someone even voiced their concern about my lack of Toastmasters experience.

Sometimes we have to step up.  If we wait for others to take action, we may be waiting a long time.

I don’t know exactly what the year ahead looks like as I take on the responsibilities of this position.  I want to see our club continue.  I truly believe it is having a positive impact on those who are active.  I know it has had an impact on me.  It’s time for me to step up, to lead, and to pursue greatness.

One thing is sure, I’m sure I will STRETCH as a result of this opportunity.

Have you ever had a position of responsibility thrust upon you?  Tell us about your experience in the comments.

[Note:  If you are interested in being part of Aetna Articulators, we meet the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month from Noon until 1PM at Aetna in Blue Bell, PA.  For more information, click here.  If our club doesn’t work out for you, check out the Toastmasters International site for details about other clubs.]
Photo credit: JillWillRun on Flickr CC

Video Blog: Table Topics – Spring and St. Patrick’s Day

The past few Wednesdays have featured video posts.  This provides an opportunity to practice my speaking and to try something different.  Here is today’s video post.  After you watch the video, answer the questions in the comments.

Questions for the comments:

1.  Why are you excited about spring?

2.  What would you do with the gold in the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

3.  Tell us about a time when you felt like luck was on your side.

4.  St. Patrick is the patron saint of engineers, and he was a missionary to Ireland.  What is your mission?  Where are you serving?

Watch the video to hear my responses.

7 Delegation Posts To Stretch Your Leadership – Delegation Recap


Here’s how wikipedia defines delegation:

Delegation is the assignment of responsibility or authority to another person (normally from a manager to a subordinate) to carry out specific activities. It is one of the core concepts of management leadership. However, the person who delegated the work remains accountable for the outcome of the delegated work. Delegation empowers a subordinate to make decisions, i.e. it is a shift of decision-making authority from one organizational level to a lower one. Delegation, if properly done, is not abdication. The opposite of effective delegation is micromanagement, where a manager provides too much input, direction, and review of delegated work. In general, delegation is good and can save money and time, help in building skills, and motivate people. Poor delegation, on the other hand, might cause frustration and confusion to all the involved parties.  Some agents however do not favour a delegation and consider the power of making a decision rather burdensome.

The past few weeks, I have been concentrating on this important leadership topic.  Today, I want to wrap up the series (for now) with the video of my presentation to student leaders at Grove City College last month.  During the presentation, I had an opportunity to speak about delegation, leadership, and legacy.  After you watch the video, I have included links to seven delegation posts which I used to craft my presentation.

7 Delegation Posts To Stretch Your Leadership


  1. Stressed, Exhausted, Inadequate Leader – You’re Not Alone
  2. The Solution To Leadership Stress, Exhaustion, and Inadequacy – 6 Reasons Leaders Should Delegate
  3. 4 Reasons Leaders Resist Delegating
  4. 13 Delegation Quotes
  5. 8 Things To Avoid When Delegating
  6. 11 Keys To Delegation Success
  7. Confessions Of A Leader Who Struggles With Delegation

Which delegation post was your favorite?  What have you learned about delegating that you would like to remember?  What is one thing you can do to improve the way you delegate?

Homeward Bound

Yesterday was a spectacular day!

I spoke on the topic of leadership, delegation, and legacy to student leaders on campus at Grove City College.  Overall, it went very well.  I’ll try to post a video of my presentation when it becomes available.

I interviewed engineering students in the morning campus, and it reminded me how well Grove City does at selecting and educating students to contribute in a major way to this world after college.

I enjoyed a fabulous dinner at Rachel’s Roadhouse Grille with my wife.  This was a favorite spot of ours while we were students at Grove City College.

Today, we’ll enjoy breakfast in MAP Cafeteria before we head home.

As I was thinking about our journey home and about all the things that await us when we get there, I was reminded of this post from a few months ago.  I think it applies today just as much as it did five months ago.


We have a chain in our backyard.  We use it to keep our dog from running away when he is outside.  One end of the chain is attached to a stake in the ground, and the other end is attached to a metal loop on his collar.

The other night, I put Iso (our forever dog) on the chain.  He likes to go out in the backyard to take care of his business and to sniff around for a while.  I came back in the house for a few minutes while Iso was doing his thing.

When I went outside to bring Iso back in the house, he was gone.  The chain broke, and Iso was wandering in the dark of the night.

My heart sunk as I feared I would struggle finding him in the dark.  I quickly ran inside the house view the back patio door, and I quickly ran to the garage to get my shoes, a flashlight, and the box of Milk-bones.  These are the tools necessary to go on a hunt for your runaway dog.  Before I opened the garage door, I quickly looked out the mud room door.  As I turned on the light, I was relieved to see our black dog standing at the side door steps with the other half of the chain following behind him.

I can remember panicking as a child whenever our family dog, Snickers ran away.  She was a beagle, and her instinct to chase rabbits made it challenging for my parents to contain her even when she was tied to a stake in the middle of a fenced in backyard.

It’s amazing how dogs can capture our hearts.

I’m thankful Iso knew to come to the side door.  He knew where is home was.  He could have run around the neighborhood or even run away, but he desired the safety and comfort of home.

We all have a yearning for home.

Sometimes we don’t realize it.  We run away.  We chase after things that lead us temporarily away from home.  But after our running and chasing, our instincts call us home.  And when we get there, our loving Father is standing at the door waiting to welcome us home.

Are you wandering?  Are you running away?  Are you chasing after things that lead us away from home?

Turn back now.  Your Father can’t wait to welcome you home!

Where is your home?


P Is For Presentation – 5 Steps To A Great Presentation


Tomorrow, I have the honor and privilege of presenting at my alma mater, Grove City College.  I’m speaking on the topic of delegation and legacy, and the presentation is targeted towards leaders in fraternities, sororities, and housing groups on campus.  I’m excited for this opportunity.

A lot goes into a presentation.  It’s more than standing up there and talking.  Here are the five steps I have taken to making sure my presentation is the best it can be:

5 Steps To A Great Presentation

  1. Prepare – Do your research.  Know your audience.  Know the purpose for your presentation.  Create an outline.  Write your speech.
  2. Polish – Review your presentation.  Edit.  Edit some more.  Clean it up, and simplify it.
  3. Powerpoint (Visual aids) – Determine which visual aids will help get your point across.  It may be Powerpoint, a prop, a video, or something else.  Visual aids used correctly will move your presentation from good to great.
  4. Practice – Go over your presentation again and again.  Watch yourself in the mirror as you present, or video yourself while you are practicing.  Know it.  Get feedback.  Exaggerate.  Self evaluate.
  5. Present – If you have put the effort into the other four steps, you should be good to go.  Relax.  You have something worth sharing.  Have fun.

There is one more “P” you might want to use as you prepare for your presentation.  Prayer.  My good friend, Cindy Starr Stewart, reminded me of this important “P” word which is often overlooked.  Seek wisdom, help, and confidence from the ultimate resource.

When was the last time you gave a presentation?  What steps did you take when you gave your presentation?