Friday, January 23, 2015

Cool Things My Friends Do (Week #123) - Ctri+Alt+Believe: Holly Duckworth Releases New Book!!!

Each week on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their personal and professional lives.

Congratulations to my friend Holly Duckworth on the release of her new book "Ctrl+Alt+Believe: Reboot Your Association for Success".  I have known Holly for several years through the National Speakers Association, and she has worked hard to complete this important book for the world of professional associations.

These day associations face many challenges.  With all the changes in learning, technology, networking, communications, etc... this book helps moves leaders of these important organizations through a process of attaining clarity:

  • Evaluate what is controlling and holding back your association
  • Expand your ability to embrace and implement alternative solutions
  • Use the power of individual and collective belief to believe in a new day for you organization
  • Attract and inspire the right staff and volunteers from the heart
  • Envision success - live from that place now
  • Affirm success in your association and allow it to be
Holly has years of experience in the association industry and holds both her CAE and CMP certifications.  She has taken her life experiences and created this great book as a tool to serve others in the industry.

I spend a lot of time working with association executives, and know first hand that these are some of the most creative and hard-working people on earth.  As the business climate changes, the ways professionals gather information and engage socially are morphing in unknown directions.  However, trade and industry associations are still remaining relevant.  The most entrepreneurial and forward thinking groups are thriving. It is fun to work with these clients and see who they are overcoming challenges and preparing for the future.

It is fun to see my friends do cool things like write a book, and I am proud to feature Holly as week #123 in "Cool Things My Friends Do".

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Cool Things My Friends Do (Week #122) - Kim Trumbo To Write Children's Book

Each week on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their personal and professional lives.

My friend Kim Trumbo is writing a children's book about generosity, and has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money to produce the book.  

***I met Kim through my podcasting adventure (there are so many cool people in the podcast community).  She has a great soul and I am happy to feature her project as week #122 of "Cool Things My Friends Do".

This story is about a generous giraffe named "George" who is very generous and teaches kids about generosity. Kim's passion in the past year has been hosting a podcast called, "Generosity Philosophy." With the podcast she highlight stories of people who are out in our world doing generous acts and deeds. It's very encouraging and inspiring to hear these stories. With the podcast she has been encouraging the adults and teens who listen to give back to others and be a bit more generous in their lives. 


While, encouraging adults and teens is all good and dandy, she wanted to write a children's book to promote generosity to younger kids as well. 

With this book Kim hopes children all over the world will smile, giggle, and be inspired by George and his animal friends. Additionally, she wants to encourage them to begin thinking about generosity and how they can help others in need.

Check out her project and donate a few dollars (I did).

Have A Great Day


Sunday, January 04, 2015

Ten Tips for Having Enthusiasm in Business (and Life)

Enthusiasm is a funny word.  Some roll their eyes at the topic, while others see it as the secret weapon that separates achievers everyone else.

When working with corporate and association conferences some organizers are wary of the topic of "enthusiasm".  If misunderstood it conjures up images of fluffy motivational rah-rah stuff, but that is not always the case.  Audiences get excited at events when there is a feeling of enthusiastic engagement from all participants. Everyone wants to be part of a community that has awesome connectivity (and I don't mean the wifi access).

In the planning stage of a conference it can seem "touchy-feely" to have a presenter covering a concept that cannot be measured on a spreadsheet, however when butts are in seats the people are longing for a spark of motivation that will get them fired up to take real actions. High level content alone cannot reach the soul.

Enthusiasm is hard to pin down, but those who have it are usually more likely to be recruited for new jobs, receive funding for their companies, or create a movement. The word translates from the Greek "enthousiasmos", ‘possessed by a god, inspired’.  

Inspiration and enthusiasm are in short supply, but when present you know it (because things begin to happen).  I enjoy being around those who live with a higher level of excitement.  What they find inspiring has a way of reaching others.

The word has become my mantra, and clients praise me for "bringing enthusiasm and high energy" to the events where I am a speaker or the master of ceremonies.  I am focused on helping others find their own enthusiasm, as it is paramount to success in our highly competitive world.  I never roll my eyes at people who are enthusiastic.... I reach out to know more about them.

The person who is outwardly enthusiastic has an advantage over their competition, as enthusiasm is contagious and decision makers want to work with people who show their excitement for any project. 

10 Tips for Being Enthusiastic

1. Have a clear goal.  

2. Surround yourself with supportive people.

3. Know what you contribute to your company and clients.

4. Include other people in your activities.

5.  Read, listen and learn.

6.  Remind yourself of your enthusiasm.

7.  Share your excitement with others

8.  Find the good in each person and situation. 

9. Take risks. 

10. Trust your feelings.  Do not over-think every situation. 

Those who have genuine enthusiasm increase the level of excitement in the people around them. Sure, some people are annoyed by those with such conviction and commitment, but those people are the ones who always find the negative.  Do not get distracted by they naysayers.  Connect to your passion and share it with the world.

Make 2015 the year you live with more enthusiasm and see where it takes you in the pursuit of your goals.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Cool Things My Friends Do (Week #121) - Bowie High School Band Marches in London Parade

Each week on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their personal and professional lives.

The James Bowie High School Band (from Austin, Texas) spent New Years Day marching in the London New Years Day Parade.  The members of the band have spent this week practicing and seeing the sights of London.

My niece, Summer, is a drummer in the band, and she and her friends have spent more than a year preparing to make this once in a lifetime trip to the UK to appear in the parade.  This is very cool for a high school senior and have the opportunity to take a trip like this with many of her closest friends. Wow.... this is one of those life events you never forget.

In the age of Facebook it has been fun to watch the whole trip as they post photos online. My brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and niece are having a great time, and while the weather is cold, the pictures of London look amazing.  The smiles on all their faces tell the whole story.  

Congratulations to the Bowie Band, and to my niece, for making Austin proud as they marched on the streets of London.  This is a perfect example of "Cool Things" and I am thrilled to have this as week #121 of "Cool Things My Friends Do".

(Links to local news coverage of the band in London.  If they post a video I will add it here later)



Have A Great Day

thom singer

**Pictures from my sister-in-law's Facebook page and from KXAN.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Recipe for Referrals - Grant Baldwin

Each week in 2015 I will be trying to refer someone.  I am struggling to know how to make this "Recipe for Referrals" meaningful, as simply posting here on my blog is not enough.  I want to make a difference, but have not figured out what that looks like.  While I have lots of regular readers on the blog, most are living (as we all are) in "information overload", and thus I am not sure I have enough impact.

But for now I am starting here on my blog.  The first few weeks seem to be referrals to interesting podcasts and the podcasters who host shows that I think people should know about.  I have conversations with daily with people who are discovering the great information provided via this medium of podcasting, and it is fun to share shows I think matter.

Today I am referring Grant Baldwin.  He is one of the most impressive people I have met this year, and he hosts a great show called "How Did You Get Into That?".  On his show he interviews interesting people who have jobs that make you wonder, how did they get into that???

Grant is a professional speaker, coach, and is launching a new online course on clarity.  He is also a father of three kids and an all-around nice guy.  We have a few mutual friends, but met in-person at a conference this summer, and I was instantly his fan.

Unlike many podcasters, Grant is not some self-appointed guru who is trying to separate people from their money.  He is a normal guy trying to build his business and wants to share and serve others along the way.

His slogan is "Giving you confidence to find the work you love"... and that is important stuff.  In talking with Grant when I met him, he clearly loves his career.  Too few people are blessed with that level of excitement (I understand... because I am uber-enthusiastic about my work, too).

Jump over to to learn more.  He has a blog, info on his speaking and coaching, and links to his podcast. 

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Enthusiasm 2015

In recapping 2014 the word "Fortunate" kept showing up.  I am fortunate, and 2014 was proof of that reality.  

As I prepare for 2015 I was seeking words that could be part of my theme for the new year.  For several years (not 2014) I created a list of three words that encompassed my goals for the year. Having this list of words would keep me tuned into what is important.

This time I only have one word that keeps rising to the top, and it alone captures a key component to all the goals I am setting in my personal and professional life.  It has the feeling that engulfs how I want to behave in 2015.  This word is...


A client recently told me that I "bring enthusiasm" to a conference when I am the keynote speaker.  I enjoyed this compliment, and I think that is what I want to do as a speaker, trainer and Master of Ceremonies each time I deliver a presentation.

I want to be enthusiastic about everything I commit to over the next 12 months.  If I cannot be enthusiastic, then I do not want to make the commitment.  I want my clients and their audiences to feel an electric charge of motivation to "do more" after participating in one of my seminars.  I want my family and friends to feel the passion I have for the activities we share.

Experience has shown me that I can be held back from being 100% committed.  If distracted my enthusiasm can dwindle.  This happens when self-doubt, fear, laziness or the unknown take hold of my consciousness. I am a human, and we are easily detoured from our best efforts by a wandering mind.  In 2015 there is going to be a new focus on letting my enthusiasm run out ahead of me.  I am fortunate (and I know it), so why not celebrate that and be positively engaged in all actions.  It is time to think bigger.

In spending time with successful entrepreneurs I see the pattern that those who are achieving the most success are also the people who are genuinely enthusiastic about their chosen path.  They bury the distractions and plow forward toward success with glee.

Part of this means getting away from those who are negative and suck the energy out of the room.  Too many people are naysayers, and they kill dreams.  The critics are everywhere these days, and they are happy to undermine goals of others, while living lives without goals of their own.  Too many people pretend to be supportive while secretly undermining others or stirring up trouble, doubt, and ill-will.  These people are out in 2015.  I am going to work to surround myself with friends who are "do-ers" and that have ambition to succeed and help others succeed.  Drama is so 2014. 

My thought is that those who are the most influential are the ones that find ways to let their enthusiasm flow out to the world. I happily follow those who have passion and are not afraid to show it. These people are givers and do not think life is a zero sum game.  These are the people who enthusiastically refer other people, and I plan to do this more than ever (and with great enthusiasm) in the new year.  

To accomplish this theme of "Enthusiasm" I need help from others who embrace the idea of living life at a higher speed.  Finding new friends is difficult as you get older.  Responsibility, geography, generation, and the "What's in it for me attitude".. all put up walls that limit the birth of new friendships.  But in our digital world there are also ways to tear down barriers and construct connections with the right people who want to expand the success of everyone they encounter.  

I believe enthusiasm is like a magnet that draw people together.  This is my power-source in 2015, and I hope someone reads this post who feels a kinship to my quest.  Let's do this together.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Live Conference as Art

A live meeting is a work of art.  Like a painting, dance performance, piece of music, etc.... the conference, when done right, is an experience.

The best meeting professionals are artists: planners, caterers, hoteliers, entertainers, transportation experts, speakers, florists, printers, website creators, set designers, etc.... all have their stoke of the brush, their solo, and their notes to hit in order to make a conference a lasting success.  When they all work together they change the world for those who are in audience.

Do attendees arrive at the event knowing they are about to experience art?  I do not think so, but when the event is amazingly unique, they know it when they see it.  A live meeting can move people in incredible ways.  Education, inspiration, motivation, fun, and thought are all meshed together to create action of the mind and soul.

Humans are experiential beings.  While we spend a lot of time focused on content (and content is important), we need more than facts, figures, research and spread sheets to curate a convention.  A meeting room, presentations, and meals are not the whole of the conference, and the best planners know that they must stretch our of the norms to engage today's conference attendees.  

It is delightful working with other meeting professionals who want to try new things and are willing to take some risks.  Over-thinking how 100% of an audience will react is a sure way to create vanilla. While vanilla is delicious, it is rarely the flavor that is remembered as bold and unique.  Because there are so many pieces to a multi-day conference it is important to remember that there are a variety of ways to impact the experience.  

I get excited by thinking of meetings as an art form.  Sharing this concept gets some to roll their eyes while others scream "YES".  Conference planning is more than paint by the numbers. To transform people and give them an experience you need to stick your hands in the paint and squish some stuff around.  Add new pieces and take away what some may have come to expect.

Art is messy, but it is also fun.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

David Ralph and the "Join Up Dots" Podcast - Recipe for Real Referrals (Referral #2)

Referring people to others has many positive impacts.  

If I connect two people who do business together, someone finds a product or service while the other gets a new client.  Boom.  

If I suggest a book or podcast that inspires someone.  Pow.

If I have knowledge that helps somebody in their own journey.  Bang.

It is good to be that connector. When others win in some way, I win, too (being a person who assists should make you feel good. The world is not a zero sum game).

In 2015 I want to raise my efforts to make real referrals.  I am still trying to figure out what this means.  It has to be more than writing up cool things on my blog or sharing awesome souls with the world  via the podcast.  I want to make referrals where actions happen, and I am not sure that just writing here it is enough.  But I am starting here under the title of "Recipe for Referrals", as with each ingredient I get closer to the final product.  

For now I am blogging things I want the world to know about.  But I am aware this does not go far enough, as few people share out the blog posts they read (and not enough people read my blog).  In 2005 when I launched this blog it was common that others would forward all sorts of information. Shares and trackbacks were very common and important in the Blogosphere. Yet the world has changed and sharing has slowed.  Maybe that is because there is more information (too much information) on the internet.  Or perhaps it is the hyper-focused pursuit of self-promotion.

Either way, each week I want to make sure I am referring someone or something.  If nobody cares, that is okay too.  I want to be one who tries to connect.

Today I am going to refer another podcast that I think you will find amazing.  Last week I highlighted a person I met via my podcasting efforts.  As a podcaster I have begun to listen and learn from those who are blazing podcasting trails.  In a world with millions of podcasts I am quickly identifying the ones that are not "icky".  Too many are "Guru's" with agendas.... yet many are hosted by caring souls who want to share.  Thus this referral is also about a podcast you should be consuming regularly.

Have you ever heard of the"Join Up Dots" podcast?  If not, I suggest you go to iTunes or Stitcher and download several episodes.  Spend your next few workouts listening to host David Ralph (a nice man who clearly has a givers soul) interview a cornucopia of guests from a wide variety of backgrounds.  He lives in England (so he has that cool accent) and possesses a unique way to get guests to open up their hearts and share things they might not usually tell people about how they tackle life and success.

Several of my friends (and myself) have been interviewed on this podcast.  With over 230 episodes you might be overwhelmed as to where to start... so let me refer you to some shows with people I admire (and my own Join Up Dots interview).

Episode 237 - Jessica Pettitt
Episode 231 - Sean Ackerman
Episode 214 - Thom Singer
Episode 199 - Mike Domitrz
Episode 182 - Thomas Umstattd
Episode 175 - Ryan Avery
Episode 169 - Greg Barth
Episode 125 - Honoree Corder
Episode 100 - Michael O'Neal

If you invested the time to listen to just these episodes, I think you would find yourself positively moved for knowing about these people, and for leaning about David Ralph.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Austin NSA Chapter - A Home for Professional Speakers in Central Texas to Learn, Grow, and Share

NSA Austin Chapter Board and Advisors

A whole day was invested in planning for 2015 with the board of the Austin Chapter of the National Speakers Association.  Our local board gathered to brainstorm ideas to improve the chapter and better serve our members (and guests).  I have been active on this board for five years, in addition to my role on the "board" of NSA XY (a generational "sub-group" that exists inside the NSA).  

I am often asked why I volunteer time to this organization, when I have so much going with my family, running a business, etc...  Some people avoid their industry associations because of it being made up of "competitors".. but I don't see NSA in that light.  I am active because I get so much from my membership than I ever spend in time (or the money).  In addition to being on these boards, I always attend one or two conferences each year.  My ROI is huge and I would never have succeeded as a speaker without this organization.

Often speakers show up at NSA (locally or nationally) assuming it is a leads group.  They mistakenly believe that their presence will lead to new business. That is not what the organization is about (although there are lots of leads shared between speakers after they have established long-term and mutually beneficial relationships).  These people are quickly disillusioned and leave long before they see the real value

Being a professional speaker is a weird profession.  If you randomly selected ten speakers you would find ten unique businesses.  From outside this industry looks like one thing, but those on the inside quickly learn it is very different from the perceptions.  Being part of NSA has allowed me to learn by observation, and to directly share best-practices with others who choose to live in this nutty world of presenting for a living.

(Of course, I always find value in people. If I was a locksmith, I would be a member of the National Locksmith Association).

Several years ago I was approached by a new speaker who was seeking 
career advice. I told her that my involvement in NSA was key in helping me grow my career. I stated the power in having peers and friends who were working in this business.  It is not just about information or buying coaching from a "guru", but instead the real clarity that comes from seeing your peers find success. She pooh-poohed the idea of joining and shared that her "mentors" told her that NSA was populated by amateurs who made no money (not true).  She was convinced she did not need to join because she was already "above" the members of the association.

I recently ran into this person, and she is no longer pursuing a speaking career.  I asked her why not and she replied, "there is no money in it if you are not famous". I mentioned I am earning a living, and still growing my business.  She rolled her eyes in disbelief.  It stuck in my mind how she ignored the value of having "speaker buddies" and was now out of the industry.  This conversation made me appreciate my affiliation with the NSA even more.  

In our Austin Chapter 2015 planning meeting the local board discussed the good, the bad, and the ugly of our group.  We have had many successful programs over the past 5 years, but we still are seeking more ways in which we can provide value to the local community of professional speakers in our region.  Our team walked away with some real "To Do" items for the next year (I am excited), but I also was inspired with a few ideas for my own business.  I showed up to volunteer, and ended up with new ideas that can impact my own bottom line.  

It is nice to have a warm home of friends who help each other learn, grow and share.

Have A Great Day

thom singer