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  • 21 Nov 2016 11:50 AM | Debra Simpson (Administrator)

    In this episode of Speaking With Influence, you'll meet Ryan Shorthill of CEO/Founder of Positive Adventures, LLC.

    Ryan has taught a variety of curriculum to every level of academia as well as large organizations and senior management teams and is accustomed to speaking to a variety of audiences. He is an accomplished corporate trainer and facilitator getting tangible results. Also, an avid traveler, his global journeys include six continents, 52 countries, all 50 states, and summiting some of the world’s highest peaks.

    Ryan holds a B.S. degree in Kinesiology: Outdoor/ Experiential Education from the University of New Hampshire.  As the CEO/Founder of Positive Adventures, LLC, an experiential learning company focused on organizational development, adventure recreation, and outdoor education, he is one of the driving forces behind his team in its quest to make a positive impact in the local community that will spill over into the world at large. 

  • 01 Oct 2016 5:05 PM | Debra Simpson (Administrator)

    San Diego Speakers Guild, Speaking With Influence interviews Thought Leader, Neil Thompson, on Monday, October 3, 2016 at 3pm PT. 

    Neil Thompson, the man behind Neil Thompson Speaks!, is just a guy who likes to think about stuff. What keeps employees from bolting? What can we do to move past our excuses and towards solutions? What does it mean to be a great public speaker? 

    Neil uses keynotes, trainings, and web-based courses to address these questions. You can also hear him on his podcast where he talks to people who turned in their employee business cards for entrepreneur ones. He’s a firm believer that we are all entitled to chase our dreams and that we shouldn’t let excuses derail us.  

  • 22 Sep 2016 5:53 PM | Debra Simpson (Administrator)

    I’m not an expert. I’m just a guy who likes to think about stuff.

    It took me a long time to build up the courage to reject corporate life and go out on my own.  I’m sure a lot of you who have ever thought about quitting your corporate jobs have one reason for another as to why you don’t go through with it. I sat down one day and wrote out every excuse I could think of. Some of them applied to me, others did not. My next few posts will address these excuses and reasons to overcome them.

    Why I won’t leave a corporate job I don’t like

    I have a mortgage. I have a significant other. I have kids. I have responsibilities. Wouldn’t it be irresponsible for me to quit the job that pays me every other week? My answer to that is: it’s irresponsible of you to stay if you’re not happy at your job.

    If you’re happy in one aspect of your life and totally miserable in another, the miserable will inevitably bleed into the happy. I had a coworker who would come to work miserable every day. Do you think he was a pleasure to work with? Hardly. And when he left the office to go home as unhappy as when he came, was he a joy for his family to be around? I doubt it. His work life affected his home life, and vice versa. His life devolved into a continuous cycle of…meh! Your family deserves your best self. And you should want to give it to them. Why stay at a job that you don’t like just for a paycheck? Aren’t there other ways to earn money?

    But, Neil, what about my responsibilities to my family? The mortgage won’t pay itself! Your responsibility is to be someone your family members want to be around. Which do you think your family prefers: your money or your happiness? If your family actually likes you, I hope the latter is the answer!

    I’m not suggesting you leave your job tomorrow. Definitely develop an exit strategy. But you shouldn’t stay on at a job just because of the money. You can make money at other jobs. Even if you decide against working for yourself, you can always get another job elsewhere. You just have to believe that you deserve to be happy. I didn’t even have a family relying on me, and I was still wary of giving up direct deposit! But I eventually got over the fear of giving up the supposed job security at a company. In this day and age, there is no such thing as job security. A couple bad quarters and you can find yourself packing up your desk.

    So don’t let your responsibility to bring in a paycheck stop you from leaving a toxic job. Your happiness at work matters, and it translates into all aspects of your life. And you can always find another job. Your responsibility is to be a happy and fully engaged family member and friend.

    Next post, I’ll offer another excuse to overcome. Stay tuned!

    Neil Thompson
    Neil Thompson Speaks

  • 27 Jun 2016 1:56 PM | Debra Simpson (Administrator)

    De’Anna Nunez dishes up a nutritious serving of peak performance, authentic leadership and healthy mindset. Most people think her job as a Hypnotist is to put them to sleep, when really it is to awaken them to their own talents, abilities and ultimate joy. 

    De’Anna is a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, Certified Humanistic Neuro-linguistic Practitioner, and seasoned leader from the stage for over eighteen years. Fortune 500 companies such as Aflac, Mercury Insurance, Coldwell Banker, EMC and Harley Davidson have brought her in as their keynote speaker/entertainer. Through a recipe of interactive and fun visualization techniques, audiences lessen stress as they learn how to leverage healthy habits, improve productivity and cash in on their subconscious. 

    One of De’Anna’s most appreciative opportunities has been presenting to the U.S. Marine Corps troops across the U.S. and Internationally.   Her passion to speak, entertain and train is seeded from overcoming tumultuous teen years that could have taken her life. Having survived and thrived, she developed a zest for living a healthy, vibrant life and enjoys teaching and sharing all over the world rich antidotes that help propel people into the healthiest version of themselves. 

    Her clever training style has lead health initiatives for working women in twenty-four states where ladies shed 20 to 120 pounds using her self-hypnosis and peak performance techniques. In another project, hundreds quit a life-long addiction to nicotine in a program sponsored by the California Department of Health and Human Services. De’Anna herself has completed thirty marathons putting her vital-mind-power teachings to the test. 

    Whether it’s improving your leadership style or your health, De’Anna says, “Addressing both the conscious and subconscious mind is vital to your success”. 

  • 24 Jun 2016 9:41 AM | Debra Simpson (Administrator)

    Speaking With Influence Podcast
    Show Notes: June 24, 2016

    Focal Point CoachingRobert Bowen, FocalPoint Coaching, has over 30 years experience as a business leader and coach. He has worked with all levels of management in multiple sized organizations to include McDonald’s Corporation and Ericsson. He is also a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel.

    In his current role as owner of a FocalPoint Business Coaching franchise, he works as a Certified Business Coach with business owners who have decided to work ON their business vs. IN their business. In addition to offering a full slate of business training products, this is accomplished by implementing a guaranteed & structured process with specific strategies that provide peace of mind in running their business vs. it running them.

    What Robert offers is not right for everyone, but for those few that truly want something better out of life and business and have decided to stop coming up with excuses for not having it.

  • 31 Oct 2014 12:11 PM | Vicki Garcia

    Are you planning on hiring a keynote speaker for a corporate event, industrywide conference, or executive summit? I’ve scored you some helpful advice for you here, because I know that hiring someone to speak can be disorienting.

    It isn’t something most buyers do every day, as the process is for those of us who speak professionally.

    (My personal interest in this? I myself serve as the keynote speaker for some 30 corporate and industry events a year, on topics of customer service and company culture, hospitality, entrepreneurial leadership, and the changing expectations of customers, including Millennials.)

    Image: Micah Solomon Keynote Speech, SunTrust Retail Banking Conference at Four Seasons Las Vegas

    Keynote Speech, SunTrust Retail Banking Conference at Four Seasons Las Vegas (Video courtesy of Micah Solomon)

    The process can be a bit bewildering, and the fear of making mistakes pretty high.

    Let’s clear up that bewilderment and reduce the risks of mistakes by checking in with Dr. Nick Morgan, arguably the most prominent coach of professional speakers in the world.  Here’s what I asked him, and how he responded.

    1. Micah Solomon: What mistakes do meeting planners and talent buyers make regarding keynote speakers?

    Dr. Nick Morgan, Professional Speaking Coach:

    – Scheduling keynotes during breakfast, lunch, or dinner undefined or right after lunch or dinner.  If you’re paying for a keynote, don’t make it compete with food! (or digestion)

    –Insisting that speakers modify their graphics to fit a particular event template for all slides.  Keynote speakers’ brands should be respected undefined that’s part of what you hire them for.

    – Demanding to see the slides ahead of time (the best speakers are tweaking them on the plane until final touchdown) and then distributing those slides to audiences beforehand.  Don’t “scoop” your keynotes!  Maintain some suspense!

    2. Solomon: Can you give me a conference-planning best practice or three?


    – Get your keynoters to send in 30 – 60- second video clips beforehand talking up the speech. This helps with internal and external promotion.

    – If it’s a lengthy program, add an emcee or host who’s lively and interactive to help the audience through the day, create opportunities for interaction, and ensure that things don’t fall between the cracks. (Note: this is someone other than the keynote speaker, and can sometimes be pulled from your own organization.)

    – Build in some breaks.  Conferences try to pack too much in, and you’ll accomplish more if you create networking moments besides at lunch or dinner.  Don’t offer 6 concurrent sessions; people will just feel paralyzed by the choices, and disappointed at what they miss.

    3. Solomon: How should the room be arranged?  And does it matter?

    Morgan: Round tables (“rounds” in industry parlance) are the most common kind of seating at conferences undefined and the worst for speaking audiences. (An aside from Micah Solomon: The reason you want to avoid seating your audience at round tables is that rounds ensure a lot of the audience has its back to the speaker.  Plus, they put distance between people, which can reduce the synergistic effect of humor on a crowd.)

    4. Solomon: How far in advance are keynote speakers usually booked?  How far in advance should you book them?

    Morgan: The norm for booking used to be a year.  Now it can be as short as 2-3 months.  Buyers will do even better for themselves if they try booking 6 months. This way you can book the best speakers and get the most out of them in terms of promotion and preparation.

    5. Solomon: What about keynote speaker fees?

    Morgan: For a good speaker who has a book out, 10-15-20K and up. [An aside from Micah Solomon: I myself charge $10K domestically for a keynote speech.]  Travel is additional. [Micah: Indeed: Plus travel. I have to get there to speak.]  For a New York Times bestselling author, you can expect to pay 40K and up.

    Meeting planners tend to try to squeeze the speakers, but it’s a mistake.  If you’re running a conference with 500 people, think of what you’re spending on the venue, food and drinks, rooms, etc.: trying to chisel the speaker down is counterproductive.

    6. Solomon: Any war stories?  Any touching anti-war stories?

    Morgan: Speaking of the squeeze, I was in a tough negotiation on behalf of a client once with a meeting planner.  We went back and forth on the price for a while, until the planner laughed and said, “Nick, I’m going to spend more on the 10 AM coffee and donuts break than I am for your speaker.  I guess we don’t actually have a problem paying his fee.”

  • 24 Sep 2014 12:37 PM | Vicki Garcia

    Becoming a good public speaker is a skill that is well worth developing for many reasons.  The requirement to stand up and speak will come up in your job, to present a proposal, to convince people to donate to your cause, to understand and follow your philosophy, and many other situations.  The ability to be a confident public speaker is the hallmark of leadership.   It is a cost-free, sure to succeed way to market your business as well.  Plus, if you get reasonably good, you can command a fee.

    Follow this roadmap to get started -  

    1. Ask yourself “Am I a public speaker or a trainer?” This important decision will give you direction on how and what you present.  A trainer, generally, is a teacher.  A trainer uses handouts, and Power Point slides to instruct a group on the fine points of how to do or think about something.

    A public speaker is more likely to be speaking about something the speaker is passionate about.  The ability to inspire, surprise, arouse, encourage or motivate falls more into the public speaker category.  Some public speakers do use PPT slides, but often they do not.  The best don’t even use notes.

    Of course, there are trainers who are inspiring and public speakers who leave behind a how to message, so the line between the two is not hard and fast.  Most corporate engagements are looking for this combination.

    2. Develop your talk. Write out what you want to say.  Then turn it into an easy to follow outline.  Your outline is both for yourself and for anyone who wants you to speak to their group.  You should be able to convey your message in 15 to 90 minute packages.  This means you write in a pyramid style with the most important points up front, followed by information that is more detailed.

    3.  Develop several compelling titles, even if they overlap.  Make them as interesting and entertaining as possible.  Change your title to match the crowd you will be speaking to.  Don’t hold back.  No public speaker ever got booked because they had a safe title.

    3. Find a mentor to follow.  The best way to learn to be a good speaker is to watch other good speakers.  This sounds easy, but it can be challenging because there are so many lousy speakers.  Find networking groups in your area and visit the ones who feature speakers.  Take notes, not on the subject, but on the speaker’s style and delivery.  Consider joining the American Society of Training Developers or the local chapter of the National Association of Speakers, where you will see the polished expert speakers.   Copy the techniques you like.

    4.  Create a flier on you and your presentation. Don’t spend a bunch of money on this.  Create it in Word, because you’re going to want to make changes to it.  Once you are satisfied with your flier, do a Google search for organizations in your town that might want a speaker.  Send them the flier and follow up with a call or email.  The best time to do this is in the Fall when organizations start to panic about who they will have as speakers the following year.

    5.  Practice, practice, practice.  If you’re completely new to speaking, Toastmasters is a great organization to learn the basics.  There should be several in your city.  You can find them on  Speak anywhere they want you.  Organizations like Rotary Clubs are always looking for interesting presentations and they aren’t critical.

    6. Get a professional photo taken of yourself.  DO NOT use snapshots, amateur photos, a cropped head shot from your wedding or anything other than a professional portrait.  In fact, a head shot is somewhat limited.  Research speakers on the web and you will see that many of them use full body shots.  If you’re going to speak, you need to look larger than life.

    7.  Plan on this taking a couple of years. It takes time to become a good speaker, unless you have a very outgoing, confident personality.  Over time, you will get better at it.  Don’t reach out to paying opportunities until you feel you are totally confident on your feet.  If you start too soon, and you’re not ready, the word will spread and you won’t pick up any assignments.

    8.  Add the fact that you speak to your website.  Let people know you are interested in speaking.  When you are at a networking event, find out who books the speaker.  Most organizations are hungry for interesting speakers.  They probably will be visibly relieved that you approached them. 

    Just remember, all this will pay off.  Most people are terrified of speaking, so with a moderate amount of effort you can stand out from the crowd and maybe even increase your revenues.


  • 24 Sep 2013 1:21 PM | Vicki Garcia
    This is from Chris Lema at

    The Context: WordCamp Los Angeles 2013

    This past weekend I spoke at WordCamp Los Angeles in front of 350 people right after lunch. My goal was to keep them awake. It was to share an insight, a single one, that I wanted them to remember at least 2 hours after I was done. And I wanted them engaged for the entire 30-40 minutes I spoke.

    Here’s why that’s often an impossibility.

    The Challenge: Audience Engagement

    Here’s the first thing I know.

    Our brains are wired to pay attention when they really need to. Another way of saying that is that our brains are wired to protect us and when no threat is imminent, they shut off. Which is another way of saying people won’t pay attention for 30-40 minutes straight.

    Which is another way of saying my goals were ridiculous.

    Another thing to note is that our brains are wired to be huge filters. In that effort to protect us, they save really critical things. What you ate last week for dinner doesn’t get saved. It’s filtered out. So are the six talks you’ll hear in a day at a WordCamp. Which is another way of saying that it’s not a person’s fault that they don’t remember what I said. It’s their brains fault.

    Which is another way of saying my goals were ridiculous.

    The Solution in Three Parts

    Starts and Stops

    I told you that people’s brains are working hard to keep them alive. They’re paying attention to evaluate threats. Well, here’s the good news. You know that now. And because you know that, you can leverage it.

    We know that brains pay attention at the start of things (evaluating a new context) and at the end of things (preparing for a shift in context). So starts and stops are key.

    What does that tell you?

    What it tells me is that I can’t prepare 1 30-minute talk. Instead, I should prepare 10 3-minute talks. Each with a start and an end. And if I do that, then I know that every time I start or stop, I’m giving the cue to all the brains in the room to pay attention.

    It’s exactly what I did. I created a lot of short stories rather than a couple of long ones. This allowed me to have a lot of breaks. And with each break, I would bring the audience back to attention.


    Even when I was in the middle of a story, I would use contrast to my advance. Contrast, to a brain, is like a mini-start/stop. It’s not a complete stop, but if it’s a big enough change, a brain will perk up.

    At one point I got really quite and said, “Can I tell you a secret?” almost in a whisper. It signaled to every brain in the room that they should pay attention. Something was different. The volume had changed. They better look up. And so all the eyes were back up to the front of the stage.

    Repetition and engagement

    Want to keep people engaged? Engage them. (I know, duh).

    So I created a simple call and response. A simple refrain that I asked my audience to repeat. But as I did it, I was doing two things at once. I was asking them to repeat the main point over and over again. And I was forcing them to be engaged – they had a part in the presentation.

    Even if they weren’t doing it, their neighbor was saying, “Say goodbye to know-how.” And they did this at the end of every story – which was another way of signaling to everyone (and their brains) that the story was ending. My way of telling their brain it needed to pay attention again.

    The Result

    My goal in breaking this down for you isn’t to suggest my talk was great. Or even good. Or that I’m good at leveraging these realities. Instead, my goal is simply to suggest a new way of thinking about your next talk.

    Don’t think about it as 1 talk. Think of it as 10. Mini presentations.

    And if you do, then I think you might enjoy, as I recently did, a room full of people that, for at least 30 minutes, weren’t staring at their cell phones but instead up at the stage.

    You can find this entire article at
  • 26 Aug 2013 2:07 PM | Vicki Garcia

    Since I've been concentrating on Linkedin, I notice something totally disconcerting.  So many people, even professionals, use snapshots rather than professional photos.  I see images where people look surprised they are being photographed, or worse, wacky.  Images of you with your kids, hugging your partner in front of the Grand Canyon, your dog, or no photo at all...what on earth do you think you are doing posting a photo of yourself like that?

    Photos are a language that speaks volumes.  Rule #1 of branding yourself as a successful what-ever-you-are is Increase Your Visibility.  All things being equal, the more visible competitor wins.

    Viewers read things into photos that you never even considered.  Here are some points to keep in mind:

    • Your photo says lots about you.  Do you look friendly, confident and capable?
    • If you have a professional photo, it implies you can afford to hire a professional.  If you don't you're either too cheap, unsuccessful, stupid, or don't care.
    • A professional photo can make you look active and engaged.
    • Your photo should imply you are a leader in your field.
    • A professional photo builds your credibility.
    • Perception is reality.   An amateur photo makes you look unprofessional and NOT what you say you are.
    • Logic loses out to emotion.  Photos speak to emotion.
    • No glamour shots or Olin Mills images with lots of light blown into your face.  (Thus showing my pre-Photoshop age history)
    • Use props that are relevant to what you do.  Or hold a pen or reading glasses in your hand. This makes you look active.
    • Nobody cares how old you are, what you weigh, or if you have a zit.  A professional photographer can make you look spectacular.
    • A professional photographer can pull out your personality and make the viewer feel they know you.
    • Wear something relaxed and appropriate.  Stiff, uncomfortable clothing will make you look stiff and uncomfortable.
    • Don't wear prints, jewelry, scarves or anything else that will distract from your face, or be dated in a few years.
    • Be who you are. A great photo of yourself should last you several years.  But, don't use your photo from when you were 22 and now you're 52.
    • Once you invest in a great photo, put it everywhere including on your business cards.
    • An excellent photo should cost you under $300.  If it is too inexpensive, you may not be working with an experienced photographer who can make you look great.

    There are a few things you need to invest in to be taken seriously as a business owner.  One of them is a professional photo.  I know not everyone is enthusiastic about having their photo taken.  I have actually seen people cry during a photo shoot.  But, I've also seen what appear to be shy people "bring it" to the party.  Here are a few of the many Personal Branding photos we have had taken of our clients.  Don't they look like people you want to do business with?



    This is one of my favorites.  Notice how he is dressed with a tie, but the tie is loosened up.  He has a roll of plans in his hand and a tool belt  on.  This implies he is a contractor, but a professional.  Mike says once this photo was on his materials, sales got a lot easier
  • 03 Jun 2013 4:15 PM | Vicki Garcia
    I'm always in search of speakers for quarterly All Staff Meetings, and was referred to the San Diego Speakers Guild..  When I search the site for my topic, conflict resolution, Debra's information came up.  She was a perfect match for my needs...She was engaging, had a good balance of audience interaction, and was extremely knowledgeable on the topic.   Staff are asking when we can have her back for continued training, and I would not hesitate to arrange further presentations with Debra.  Glenda - Director of Human Resources
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