Friday, July 31, 2015

Toronto Segway Tour Was Awesome

The family vacation to Canada was a huge success.  Quebec City, Montreal, Niagra Falls, and Toronto over 10 days was fast paced and we covered a lot of ground.  We recommend a Canadian adventure to everyone: Amazing cities, nice people, great food, and lots of things to see and do.

A highlight of the trip was Segway Ontario (Oh yes, we are "those" tourists who did the Segway Tour!!!). Most of the family had been on Segways in the past, but our youngest daughter had never had the opportunity.  You have to be at least 13 to ride Segways in most cities that have such tours, and before this year Kate was too young.  When we heard about the tour of the historic Distillery District near Downtown Toronto, we singed up.

(***Tip:  Sign up in advance online.  We did three days in advance and found most of the time slots during our visit to already be filled).

The tour guides, Eric Bell (listed on his business card as "professional guide and longboarder") and Jill Sullivan (Listed on her business card as "book enthusiast") were both knowledgeable and fun.  They spent just over an hour teaching us to ride the silly machines, and then educating us on the Distillery District.  Turns out this area and the 150+ year old buildings have a colorful history.  We heard things we never would have known had we just roamed around this destination shopping and restaurant area.  Heck, we even stopped for samples of locally made chocolate and local craft beers (who doesn't love beer and chocolate?).

We did one-hour tour and my only complaint was it was too short, so I am not sure if the 30 minute tour would as good of an option. Go for the longer version and enjoy the ride. 

If you are going to Toronto, you gotta check out Segway Ontario as you will learn more about the history of the city (yes history of booze, death, cholera breakouts, child labor, etc...) and have a lot of fun. While expensive for a family of four, everyone agreed it was one of the best parts of our time in Toronto (which was all great). 

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Self-Improvement Is Not Easy, But Can Set You Free

40 Tips To Re-Invent and Re-Launch at Age 40, 50, or Beyond. (Tip #14)

Reinventing is not for the faint of heart.  Once you are focused on the areas to improve, and you become aware of owning your mistakes, more flaws seem to appear.  Sometimes I think it would be easier to just live in denial and not work on creating a better self.

People are subtle. They do not bluntly show their disapproval of others. However, if you are paying attention, you will hear from others who you fail.  When you are open to self-awareness you are going to discover that you say and do things that do not always bring pleasure to co-workers, clients, family members, friends, etc...  It can be surprising how often we are selfish, say the wrong thing, are not tuned into the feelings of others, and react negatively to all sorts of issues.

It can be painful to become conscious of how you are not living up to your full potential and your personal views of your own being.  But it can also be great to find your short-comings.  It is important to realize that these negative areas (or failures) are not unique to you.  Everyone has faults and it is common for people to have areas that need to be fixed in their life.  If we think others are perfect (or at least close to perfect), then our own issues become a painful burden.  

This is why I spent much of my life ignoring my mistakes.  It was too hard to admit I missed the mark at in my professional and personal life.  Yet these days I find it fun to find a new way to improve.  If I am honest with myself, it is just part of the journey to fail, but the key for my re-launching of myself is that I have to learn from the past errors and not repeat them (or at least not repeat them too often).

This takes time.  Declaring a new direction does not make it happen.  Recreating patterns takes a massive commitment and repeated actions. Self Improvement is never easy, but it is both fun and freeing.  Understanding that you are a work in progress makes the weight of mistakes much lighter, and knowing you are not repeating the bad things can create a sense of anticipation for the future.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cool Things My Friends Do (Week #133) - 51 Professional Speakers Earn The CSP

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

The National Speakers Association 
Certifies 51 Speaking Professionals

The National Speakers Association (NSA), the leading organization for the professional speaking industry, is proud to announce 51 professional speakers have earned the Certified Speaking Professional® (CSP) designation in 2015.  

And the cool part.... Many of these people are my personal friends!!!

Established in 1980, the CSP is the speaking profession’s international measure of speaking experience and skill. Little more than 12 percent of the speakers worldwide hold this professional designation.  I earned this designation in 2014 and am very proud of this achievement.... which makes it more fun to welcome other committed speakers into the club.

The CSP designation is conferred by NSA on accomplished professional speakers who have earned it by meeting strict criteria. CSPs must document a proven track record of continuing speaking experience and expertise, as well as a commitment to ongoing education, outstanding client service, and ethical behavior. The 2015 class of CSPs was honored during a ceremony on July 18 at the annual NSA Convention in Washington, D.C.

"The Certified Speaking Professional® (CSP) is the highest designation that can be earned by a member of the National Speakers Association or another association of the Global Speakers Federation,” says 2014-2015 NSA President Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE. “CSP is earned as a result of experience, education and competency in the speaking industry, which also includes input from clients and a CSP Review Panel process.  When clients hire a professional speaker who has earned the CSP designation, they can be assured the speaker brings to the table a high level of experience and professionalism.”

Yep, it is a big deal, and it is so cool to honor all the recipients and some of my dear friends on week #133 of "Cool Things My Friends Do".

Introducing the 2015 Class of Certified Speaking Professionals
(my friends are highlighted... but congratulations to all):

Ulrike Aichhorn, CSP, Salzburg, Austria
Diane Amundson, CSP, Winona, Minn.
Paul Burton, CSP, Hood River, Ore.
Christian Chua, CSP, Singapore
Todd Cohen, CSP, Philadelphia, Penn.
Sharon Connolly, CSP, Sydney, Australia
Rick Davis, CSP, Chicago, Ill.
Shirley Davis, CSP, Washington, District of Columbia
Mike Dilbeck, CSP, Fort Worth, Texas
Diane DiResta, CSP, New York, N.Y.
David Dow, CSP, Memphis, Tenn.
Helen Dyrkacz, CSP, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Marcus Engel, CSP, Orlando, Fla.
Candace Fitzpatrick, CSP, Plano, Texas
Jennifer FitzPatrick, CSP, Kent Island, Md.
Anne Guignon, CSP, Houston, Texas
Steven Iwersen, CSP, Lenexa, Kan.
Randy Keirn, CSP, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Shawn Kershaw, CSP, Chalfont, Penn.
Susan Leahy, CSP, Los Angeles, Calif.
Jennifer Ledet, CSP, Thibodaux, La.
James Lindell, CSP, Dousman, Wis.
Steve Lowell, CSP, Ottawa, Canada
Charles “Chip” Lutz, CSP, Sturtevant, Wis.
Wayne Messmer, CSP, Chicago, Ill.
Joseph Michelli, CSP, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Mike Moran, CSP, Ridgewood, N.J.
Paula Morand, CSP, London, Ontario, Canada
Cory Mosley, CSP, Henrico, Va.
Larry Ohlhauser, CSP, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Meredith Oliver, CSP, Raleigh, N.C.
Lethia Owens, CSP, O’Fallon, Mo.
Elaine Pasqua, CSP, Doylestown, Penn.
Eileen Pease, CSP, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Gil Penalosa, CSP, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Kathy Peterson, CSP, Storm Lake, Iowa
Bart Queen, CSP, Oxford, N.C.
Rochelle Rice, CSP, New York, N.Y.
Gary Rifkin, CSP, Dallas, Texas
Rhonda Savage, CSP, Gig Harbor, Wash.
Lauren Schieffer, CSP, Olathe, Kan.
Michael Schmidtmann, CSP, Warrenton, Va.
Robert Siciliano, CSP, Revere, Mass.
Sami Jo Small, CSP, Winnipeg, Canada
Marty Stanley, CSP, Kansas City, Mo.
Barbara Teicher, CSP, Lenexa, Kan.
Jess Todtfeld, CSP, Massapequa, N.Y.
Ricardo Vargas, CSP, Lisbon, Portugal, Spain
Sharon M. Weinstein, CSP, Chicago, Ill.
Lewin Williams, Sr., CSP, Las Vegas, Nev.
Dirk Zeller, CSP, Bend, Ore.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Monday, July 27, 2015

Diligence Is Key To Re-invention

40 Tips To Re-Invent and Re-Launch at Age 40, 50, or Beyond. (Tip #13)

When seeking to re-invent yourself you have to be diligent in your transformational work. Life gets busy and we can easily fall into our old patterns.  Simply declaring change does not make it real.  You have to take consistent actions.

I am working on this in my own life.  I am trying to get past my previous short comings and learn from my mistakes, but it is hard to get away from the scripts that we have lived by in the past, and the expectations that others have for us.  When my schedule become crazy-busy I can see myself not living up to the plans for self-improvement.

Change can be lonely.  Those around us are either indifferent, unaware, or secretly skeptical of our efforts.  This is where personal spirituality can be important.  Regardless of if you are religious, many identify as "spiritual", and this can be key.  Your higher-power or connection to nature can be very helpful in these times of doubt and struggle in your re-invention.

Meditation, prayer, or quiet time in a peaceful place on a regular basis will help you get in touch with your own motivation for the new directions you seek.  Remind yourself of the reason you want to re-launch and assess your progress often. 

Journaling is an activity that seems to be cathartic.  I am not one to do this regularly, but this blog and my podcast fill this role.  Getting your thoughts and goals on paper or recorded can help you view them as tangible.

Schedule time to review your progress.  If you slip back into your former self and are not calendared to take stock of your changes then too much time can pass before you realize you are off your path.  A weekly appointment with your self is a great way to take stock of how you are doing.  More often might be better.

Being diligent is something I struggle with in my own journey.  I am often taking two steps forward and one step back.  The good news is that still means I am making progress.  

As I approach my 50th birthday I am feeling the need for proof that my life is improving and that I am living a more impactful existence. I know how isolating this can be, which is why I invite other pilgrims on a similar journey to reach out to me and share your own story.  If you email me, I will write you back (thom at  I am confident that when we know others share our desires, it makes it easier to go for it.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Cool Things My Friends Do (Week #132) - Gary Rifkin wins the Cavett Award

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

The sealed envelope was opened and a name was read. The moment of anticipation and silence was broken with a huge cheer from the crowd of 1700 members of the National Speakers Association. Everyone in the Marriott ballroom jumped to their feet in applause and fits pumps. 

Gary Rifkin had been  named the recipient of the 2015 Cavett Award, and nobody could think of a more deserving person to have this moment.

The Cavett Award is the highest honor the National Speakers Association bestows on its members. It is presented annually to a professional speaker whose accomplishments over the years have reflected outstanding credit, respect, honor and admiration on NSA and the speaking profession.

Gary Rifkin has been involved in the training and speaking business since 1987, when he began as a popular speaker at major colleges and universities. He has since catapulted into some of the most recognized and respected organizations in the world.  Gary is one of those people who showers love on the people around him.  He works hard behind the scenes to make others look awesome, and in my time as a member of NSA he has become one of those people who you always want to see at convention, because he makes you feel better just by being in the room.

Congratulations to Gary for receiving this honor, and I am thrilled to feature him on week #132 of Cool Things My Friends Do.  

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Monday, July 13, 2015

Be A Resource and Help Others Succeed

40 Tips To Re-Invent and Re-Launch at Age 40, 50, or Beyond. (Tip #12)

In an effort to re-start your journey, it is a good idea to be a resource and to help others who are trying to find their own success.  Being self-focused with your time might seem like the best way to achieve the fast path to your new career or life, but often the opposite is true.  Those who put their own needs in front of everything and everyone else tend to be the most frustrated.

Zig Ziglar said "you can have everything you want in life if you just help others get what they want".  And he was right.  Those who are givers tend to get more than they ever imagined.  Over time the more I actively worked to promote others, the more people came out of the wood work and did things to help me grow my business.  Sometimes it was the people I helped, but more often it was someone else.  The real givers are tired of takers, so they are always watching and observing who they can assist that is a proven giver.

Our social media crazy world has led to a society of narcissistic behaviors, and it often appears that those getting all the attention, opportunities, money, and success are the most avid promoters of personal interests.  While this might seem true, we do not always get to see the whole picture.  Those who are really finding the highest levels of success; professionally, personally, and spiritually are the people not just in it for their own victories.  While some people are selfish jerks, my experience is the real winners are often the first to help others, often before they reach the top of their own mountains.

It can be hard to get past the obsession with self when you are working to grow a career and build a life.  But serving others takes a lot less time than you think.  Sometimes it is as simple as a few kind words that make another person feel they are significant in their work.  In less than six seconds you can make another person's whole day brighter by complimenting their work and telling others about their efforts.  

If your social media stream is only information about you, your business, and promoting things that are personal for your success, then you can rest assured that this is how you are most likely living your life.  Take the time to re-tweet others, promote their cause, and you will find yourself receiving more help in your own journey.

Be a resource to others, and you will find you are not alone in your own path.  People want to do business with people they know, like and trust.  The fastest way to being known is to help them with what is most important to them. Like and trust will come along, but getting noticed is best done by serving others. 

Additionally, when you are having a rough day in your own business, it feels good to help another person succeed in theirs.  It takes so little to share your spotlight with others by promoting them.  And the by-product is they might just promote you in return (and we all want that).

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Being a Hybrid Event Host

The National Speakers Association Annual Convention, "Influence 2015", is July 18-22, 2015 in Washington DC.  This year the event will be a Hybrid Meeting, meaning those who cannot make the trip to our nation's capital can view the whole conference remotely through an online simulcast.

I have the honor of being one of the co-hosts / master of ceremonies for the online version of the conference, along with the amazing Eliz Greene.  Last year Eliz hosted the broadcast of the convention, and did an awesome job in sharing information with the remote audience, interviewing the speakers and other VIPs, and keeping the online experience engaging.  I am excited to join her this year as a Hybrid Event Emcee and to work with the team at Digitell, who is producing the simulcast.

(Check out this article on the Digitell website about Eliz).

Move over Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie - there is a new anchor team in town that will rock the NSA Convention.

If you are a speaker, or someone interested in the speaking business, and will not be in Washington DC for the event, I encourage you to sign up for the LiveStream (only $199 for more than 20 hours of content, including many of the main stage keynotes, selected breakouts, and compelling interviews -- worth every penny, as there will be awesome learning opportunities).

The excitement level for me is high. As a speaker, professional master of ceremonies and podcast host I get to combine all my talents into this role of being the Hybrid Event EmCee.  

This is a role I am adding to my "Conference Catalyst" program, as many more of my clients are simulcasting their conferences.  The key is get the remote audience engaged, as too often people viewing a conference at home feel like outsiders to the live event.  The key job for Eliz and myself is to make this experience special for those watching on their digital devices.  And we will.

*** Side note (with a smile) -- This takes me back to my high school days when I was an anchor man on the Arcadia High School Apache News my senior year (our twice a week homeroom television news program).  Who knew that was just training me for the internet world of the future and conference simulcasts!!!

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Monday, July 06, 2015

Failure Is Part of the Journey

40 Tips To Re-Invent and Re-Launch at Age 40, 50, or Beyond. (Tip #11)

The world is ready for you to start fresh.  But are you?  Some people get scared of failure, and thus they fail to take the actions needed to start the process to re-invent.  Change is possible, but it might come with some mistakes made along the way.

In fact you can count on stumbles. The most successful people I know have all blown it on occasion.  But they did not define themselves by the mistakes, instead they got up and tried again (and again, and again, etc...)

My advice is to not be scared of failing.  Expect it and embrace the bumbles as learning experiences.  As I review the past 6+ years of working for myself I experienced some great business successes, but I have also flubbed up more times than I care to admit. Yet without saying or doing the wrong things from time to time I could not learn how to behave in successful ways that will bring me to the next level.

Failure is part of the journey.  I have some entrepreneur friends who will sit around over a glass of wine and talk about their biggest bombs.  While it is hard to tell your friends where you came up short, once you say it out loud it is no longer haunting you in your soul. Having a safe nest of friends who will not only listen but help you find the lessons in screwing up can be a great way to double the knowledge you can gain (from your failures and theirs).

When was the last time you made a big blunder?  Have you buried it away or have you learned from it?  Does it cause shame or pride when you think about it?  I challenge you to move the mistake to the pride column (as long as you have made the adjustments necessary not to repeat it).

Honestly, this is easier said than done, as our society is full of those who are judgmental and who seek to make less of those who fail.  Get away from these thoughts and seek out stories of those who failed along the way toward success.  Harvey Mackay (one of my favorite business writers) wrote a New York Times Best Selling book in 2004 called "We Got Fired...and it's the best thing that ever happened to us".  In this book he profiled some awesome examples of success and highlighted the failures that had occurred that led them to later being ready to achieve.  Muhammad Ali, Bill Belichick, Michael Bloomberg, Lou Holtz, Larry King, Joe Torre, Jesse Ventura, and others are all profiled in the book.  

Get over yourself and realize that we all are human.  

Wanna talk about failure?  Email me anytime.

Have A Great Day

thom singer