Tag Archives: Charisma

Validation (Part 2)

Share Button

In the first part of this article we discussed my parents visit, and how great it felt to get some recognition and approval on my life from my family. Watching my folks and uncle enjoy and comment on the wonderful meal that I had worked hard to prepare for them gave me a wonderful sense of validation that had an enormous impact on me. Even though I already knew that my parents were proud of me and was not looking for their praise, this powerful feeling of accomplishment was a pleasant surprise that nearly overwhelmed me with its warm, comforting glow of euphoria. I would have been more than happy if that was the end of this energizing, emotional experience, but life was being very generous to me, and it turns out that my feelings of bliss were only beginning to fill my life with happiness. Because while my parent’s visiting gave me validation in my personal life, after they left and I got back to work, I was given another great sense of achievement in my professional life.

Scott Drotar Business Logo
We all want to feel like we made good career choices and are good at what we do.

I am fortunate enough to have the greatest job in the world and get to pay my bills doing something that I love, but up until about a year ago, I had spent my entire, adult life learning to be a statistical analyst. Even though I would never stop speaking through Roll Models and have found my calling in life, I do sometimes feel like I am wasting my knowledge and experience with statistics by not putting my numerical skills to use somehow (especially when those student loan bills come in). This is why I still do a minimal amount of advertising myself as a freelance statistical consultant to try to share my array of mathematical knowledge with the world. With the economy being the way it is though, there are not a lot of companies out there looking to spend money on statistical consulting, so I have not gotten many opportunities to use my skills. At least until recently that is, as last week I received inquiries about statistical help from two different organizations. Even though neither of these requests resulted in a consulting contract, by meeting with these companies to discuss their projects I received something much more valuable than any partnership would have paid me.

As I was reading about these companies’ projects, going over their data, and speaking with them about their statistical needs, I felt a great sense of accomplishment wash over me. Even though I had not done hardly any statistical work in over a year, it felt really good knowing that I could still easily and effectively understand their questions and knew how to respond to them. It was so reassuring to know that all of the time and energy I had put into my eight years of college education was not a complete waste, and that I still had at least most of the knowledge that I had worked so hard to attain. Having these initial meetings with both of these companies gave me a sense of validation about my career choices, as I was able to utilize my academic training while still developing Roll Models and pursuing my mission to help others with my story. This gave me a feeling of validation that has given me a renewed sense of drive and focus in my work. One of those feelings that makes you feel confident and knowledgeable and gives you this intensity towards your work, while at the same time relaxing you, slowing your thought process, and helping you concentrate on the most minute details. You are in “the zone,” or a flow state, and this makes you both more efficient and productive, as well as filling you with a wonderful, “on top of the world” feeling.

In addition to getting this sense of approval with respect to my career choices, I got yet another powerful dose of validation in my professional life through Roll Models. Last week, I received an email about a possible speaking engagement from the National Parkinson Foundation. They are working with the Saint Luke’s Marion Bloch Neuroscience Institute and Johnson County Community College to hold a symposium called “Caring for the Long-Term Caregiver” on April 25th. Someone on the board of directors for their organization had heard me speak last Spring, thought that I would be a good fit as a speaker for their event, and gave them my contact information. After exchanging a few emails and speaking with them about the symposium and Roll Models, I am happy to announce that we were able to work everything out, and I will be the closing speaker for their event. This will be a great opportunity for me to help others, a terrific chance for me to network and market Roll Models, and a huge honor to wrap up their symposium that I am really excited to experience. On top of all of these benefits to my career though, getting this speaking engagement also gave me another valuable gift that has improved my life.

Scott Drotar National Parkinson Foundation
I am going to be the closing speaker for a symposium sponsored by the National Parkinson Foundation.

Having no prior experience as a professional speaker or writer until I started Roll Models, I have a difficult time feeling confident about my articles and talks that I write. I went to school for mathematics and statistics, and throughout my eight year academic career I did my best to avoid any classes that involved a lot of writing, so I have not had any official training to prepare me for this line of work. Now, I have worked extremely hard, read dozens of books on writing and speaking, and spent countless hours studying many great speakers on my own to develop my craft, but while I have definitely come a long way, I still do not feel comfortable calling myself a writer or professional speaker. I sometimes feel like I am just fooling people into thinking I am this gifted writer, and it is only a matter of time until everyone realizes that my talks are boring and my posts are terrible. That is why getting this request to speak for the symposium was so special to me. Knowing that I had made a big enough impression on someone with my words that they still remembered me over a year later gave me a sense of reassurance about my abilities as a storyteller. And not only had they remembered me, but they also thought highly enough of my message and performance that they recommended my services to someone else. This incredible honor has helped me to realize that I do know what I am doing and have at least a moderate amount of skill as a writer, which has filled me with a sense of validation, a renewed confidence about my craft, and a lot of happiness.

Getting the opportunity to put my statistical knowledge to good use and being bestowed the honor of being the final speaker for the symposium, each gave me an immense feeling of validation about my professional life. These separate, unexpected events all improved my life by providing me with reassurance that my career choices were good ones, and that I belong in this field. No matter how long or how well you do something, you always want to feel like others think that you are good at what you do. We all want to get the sense that our clients and others in our field are impressed by our work, to reassure us that we were wise in choosing the career we have. While this does not in any way change your abilities or skill in your work objectively, it does improve your confidence, which in turn positively impacts your job, as well as your life in general. It is important to be open to and aware of these moments of validation that emerge out of the blue every now and then, in order to take advantage of their power. Be open to compliments and graciously receive them, no matter where they come from or what form they are in. The enormous amount of confidence and reassurance that they will bring you will penetrate and improve nearly every part of your world. With your renewed sense of validation and accomplishment, you will not only feel better about your life choices and do better work, but you will also experience a new level of happiness that will greatly improve your life.

Did this article leave you wondering something? Are you curious about a certain aspect of my life? Do you want to know my favorite color? Submit your question to “Roll Models Mail Call,” and I will do my best to answer it in a post.

Share Button

A New Roll Models Service

Share Button

While this is not exactly a new post, I do have an exciting announcement to make about a new service I am offering through Roll Models.

Scott Drotar KU PPT Club
The students in the University of Kansas Pre-Physical Therapy Club were a great audience, and I thoroughly enjoyed speaking for them.

Whether it is a toast at a wedding, a presentation to your superiors at work, or giving a speech for a volunteer group to raise funds, we all have to speak in front of people at some point in our lives. Unfortunately, fear of public speaking, or glossophobia, is one of the most common fears people have, with nearly 75% of people reporting having some anxiety/nervousness before taking the microphone. Surveys even show that the majority of people fear speaking in public more than death! It does not have to be this way however, since studies have also consistently shown that receiving some training or advice on how to deliver a great speech can drastically reduce your anxiety.

After reading this information and letting it percolate for a few days, I saw both an opportunity to help others and create a new service I could offer through Roll Models. Over the last year, between reading every book on speaking I could find, watching countless hours of great speeches online, and of course delivering numerous Roll Models talks of my own, I have accumulated an enormous amount of knowledge about how to give a great speech and feel comfortable while doing it. Everything from where to stand, what to wear, how to position your hands, and a thousand other things need to be addressed before getting on stage in order to speak effectively. By sharing my knowledge of public speaking with others, I can help them to overcome their pre-talk nerves and give a speech they can be proud of.

Thanks to some fantastic advice from my brother, I also had access to an efficient, yet effective, tool to offer this service quite quickly. This amazing tool is the website, www.fiverr.com. This website is an online marketplace with a twist, you have to offer your service for $5. You are free to offer pretty much any service you like, just as long as you charge a “fiverr.” I highly recommend that you check it out, and while you are there, stop by my profile at www.fiverr.com/sdrotar. I currently only offer two services, statistical analysis help and speech preparation advice, but I have many more coming soon.

I hope you will check it out and consider my services for your own public speaking anxiety issues should they arise. Also, if you know of anyone with an upcoming toast, speech, or presentation coming up, please let them know about my new service.

Share Button

Book Review: “See You at the Top” by Zig Ziglar

Share Button
Scott Drotar Zig Ziglar
Motivational speakers may be cliche now, but 35 years ago Zig Ziglar was one of the pioneers of motivational speaking.

I am always careful with calling myself a motivational speaker when people ask me what I do for a living, because this term has gained a certain connotation over the last few decades. When people think of motivational speakers they often conjure up an image of a guy with a headset microphone drenched in sweat with his shirt sleeves rolled up, as he runs around the stage spouting platitudes like “be the best you you can be.” Since this is not what I do, nor is it something I want to be associated with, I usually call myself a professional speaker or, my favorite, a professional storyteller. This negative image of motivational speakers has not always been the case however, and today for Scott Drotar Literary Review Day I am going to be reviewing a book written by one of the pioneers of motivational speaking, Zig Ziglar. As a businessman turned self-help guru, he helped thousands of people through his motivational speaking and books. Today I discuss his first book that changed so many lives, “See You at the Top.”

Ziglar’s masterpiece on self-improvement may have been written over 35 years ago, but it is still considered one of the best self-help books on the market. This book’s timeless, universal appeal is obvious considering the fact that it has been translated into over a dozen languages, has been printed more than 50 times, and has sold almost 2 million copies. The book’s title, “See You at the Top,” is both a declaration that you will succeed and “reach the top” by applying the information in his book, as well as a clever way of breaking down this self-improvement method. Ziglar uses the analogy of climbing a staircase to represent the path to success. He identifies six different steps (get it? Stairs…steps…) that you have to ascend in order to make it to the top, achieve your goals, and recognize your full potential. These steps include things like setting goals, strengthening your relationships with others, and creating a healthy self-image. By mastering each of these six steps to success and applying them to your own situation you can make incredible positive changes in your life.

Scott Drotar See You at the Top
“See You at the Top” has been one of the leading self-improvement books for over three decades.

Part of what has made this book a classic in the self-improvement genre is the accessible, conversational writing style Ziglar uses to present the information. As you are reading it is almost as if you are listening to the advice of a close friend as opposed to reading a self-help book. He uses examples and anecdotes that really stick with you after reading them, and they are extremely helpful as you are trying to remember what you read and apply it during your day. He also is not afraid to talk about his own life and how the methods he is presenting have helped him achieve his goals. While a lot of writers do this and come across as egotistical or self aggrandizing, Ziglar does this in a way that is both humble and sincere, which only adds to the worth of the information he is sharing. Even though he does use his share of little quips and one-liners throughout, they do not take away from the lesson being discussed. Plus, since he was one of the first people to use platitudes like this, it seems like less of a cliche. So although I could have done without the catch phrases, it is not a major issue. The only other aspect of this handbook on success that may be problematic for some is his frequent references to his faith and Christianity. While I did not have a problem with this, it could be a deterrent to readers with different beliefs.

Despite the fact that he spawned a horde of platitude spouting copycats, Zig Ziglar is without a doubt one of the founding fathers of motivational speaking. The reason he was able to help so many people realize their full potential is readily apparent after you read just a single chapter of his first book, “See You at the Top.” The information that this book provides is something that everyone can benefit from. I have no doubts that it will still be considered one of the best self-improvement titles on the market in another 35 years thanks to its universally applicable advice. That is why this classic gets a 5 out of 5 on the Roll Models Review Scale.

Roll Models 5 Chair Rating

Share Button

Book Review: “The Psychopath Test” by Jon Ronson

Share Button
Scott Drotar Psychopath Test
In his book “The Psychopath Test,” Jon Ronson examines the idea of what it means to be sane.

It feels like it has been forever since I last made an entry into the Scott Drotar Literary Review. This week’s book, like many of the works I have reviewed, was something that I read as a result of my ever-growing TED talk addiction. I watched a talk by the best-selling author of “The Men Who Stare at Goats,” Jon Ronson, about psychopathy, and I was so intrigued by what he had to say that I quickly went to www.Amazon.com and purchased the book that spawned his talk, “The Psychopath Test.” The text version was even more interesting than Ronson’s talk had been, to the point that I had a hard time putting it down. This book is so thought provoking because it examines the pivotal question, and one that as a psychologist I have spent countless hours pondering, “How do you know you are sane?”

In “The Psychopath Test” Ronson takes you with him on his journey to examine the idea of sanity. He does this by looking more specifically at the mental disorder, psychopathy (sometimes called sociopathy). While technically psychopathy is not found in the DSM-5, the handbook containing all diagnosed psychological disorders, it is often lumped in under anti-social personality disorder. It is generally described as having a complete lack of empathy and conscience that allow individuals to function “normally” in society. These individuals are the epitome of “looking out for number one,” and they are often masterful social chameleons who can be deceptively charming, charismatic, and intriguing to achieve their goals. Since these people are incapable of conscience, they feel no remorse for their actions, and this means they will do anything and everything to get what they want. It is believed that psychopathy is untreatable, which means that once you are labeled a psychopath (which is done by taking a mere 20 question checklist), you will be treated as one for life. If the facts that psychopathy is not defined as a mental disorder and that a one-time, 20 question survey can give you this label forever doesn’t raise some red flags about the nature of this disease, and determining sanity in general, I don’t know what will.

While I don’t want to give away too much, Ronson uses these vague definitions and at best mediocre diagnostic criteria, as a jumping off point for his investigation into the world of insanity. He interviews a diagnosed psychopath who allegedly faked having a mental disorder to use the insanity defense to get out of a lengthy prison sentence, but ended up being diagnosed as a psychopath, which is lifelong and untreatable, and served over a decade in a maximum security hospital for the insane. He meets with a hugely successful former Fortune 500 CEO who, although never diagnosed with psychopathy, scored well above the threshold on the diagnostic test. It is actually believed by many that while in the general population the rate of psychopathy is about 1%, in the cut throat world of CEOs and hot-shot Wall Street brokers, where a lack of conscience is often an asset, the rate is as high as 4%. Ronson even meets with a convicted murderer, drug kingpin, and diagnosed psychopath for a polite lunch interview during his quest for the truth. These individuals are just the tip of the iceberg however (can you say scientologists?), as he leaves no stone unturned on his pursuit of uncovering the truth about what it means to be sane.

If the subject matter and the ramifications of the possible results of this journey through the world of psychology are not enough, the writing style of “The Psychopath Test” is also worth the price of the book. Ronson uses his unique, conversational style to put the reader inside his head to hear his thought process throughout the book. This is both entertaining and informative as you get to share in his inner dialogue as he converses with these criminally insane individuals over coffee. This style also does a great job of complementing the frequent dialogue depicting the many intriguing interviews he conducts with psychopaths and psychologists alike throughout the entirety of the book. I cannot think of much of anything that I would change about this look into our minds and what makes us the sane, normal people we think we are.

The question of what it means to be sane, as well as who and how we make this determination, is something that can drive you crazy (pun intended). Ronson does a magnificent job of shedding light on this quandary in a way that is entertaining and insightful. If nothing else, this book will make you start wondering which people in your own life would qualify as psychopaths, which is reason enough to pick it up. That is why “The Psychopath Test” gets a 5 out of 5 on the Roll Models Review Scale.

Roll Models 5 Chair Rating

Share Button

Book Review: “Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln” by James C. Humes

Share Button
Scott Drotar Speak Like Churchill Stand Like Lincoln
“Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln” is a great collection of speaking techniques with examples from some of the greatest speakers of all time.

It is Thursday again already, and that means it is time to make another entry into the Scott Drotar Literary Review. This week I discuss a text that presents itself as a handbook on presentation and speaking techniques, but it is much more than that. While it is one of the better books on public speaking strategies that I have read, I think that its real value is as a collection of anecdotes, speeches, and quotes from some of the greatest speakers of all time. By combining these historical examples with the numerous speaking skills it introduces, this work gives the reader an enormous amount of priceless advice on public speaking to apply to their own presentations. This week I present the book, “Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln,” by James C. Humes.

In his guide to becoming a great public speaker, Humes discusses 21 tools and strategies to improve your charisma and presentation skills. Although he writes from a perspective of presenting in corporate settings like client meetings, presenting to the board of directors, and motivating employees, the techniques he introduces are readily applicable to almost any public speaking event. Nearly every aspect of speaking is covered from developing your material to working on your verbal delivery to what you wear and your body language on stage. In addition to all of this great information and advice on the technical aspects of speaking, “Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln” also gives you numerous examples from some of the most influential orators ever, such as John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Winston Churchill, and Shakespeare, to illustrate how to apply each skill. The stories and speeches selected come from a diverse range of professional and historical contexts also, which helps to show how these techniques are useful in lots of different situations. This incredible combination of technical, rhetorical advice and amazing, historical examples makes the information presented in this masterpiece easy to understand and apply to your own presentations.

Scott Drotar Winston Churchill
Churchill had the ability to touch the hearts and minds of millions with his words.

As you would expect from an author who has worked as a professional speech writer, presentation consultant, and keynote speaker, the writing style of Humes is both enjoyable and effective. He does a great job of keeping his examples of each skill short and on topic by skillfully setting the scene for each quote and anecdote. This is an improvement over many books in the genre that make the reader digest pages of a lengthy speech where only one paragraph is pertinent to the current concept being discussed. I also felt like this text did better than most other books on the subject of speaking when it comes to breaking up the material into digestible sections. Each chapter is relatively straightforward and to the point while still giving you a host of information. The only thing that I took issue with in this book was the way the techniques are presented as equally applicable to all types of presentations. I felt like some discussion about how certain rhetorical tools are more appropriate in certain types of situations more than others would have been useful. For example, in the type of speaking I do, that aims to motivate and inspire people with stories, visual aids and slideshow presentations often do more harm than good, because they take the audience’s attention away from what I am saying. In the boardroom however, using PowerPoint to provide charts, graphs, and other supporting information is a useful tool to make your point. Providing these types of distinctions for each lesson would help the reader best apply all of the powerful techniques that are provided to their own work.

Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln” is without a doubt one of the top three books on public speaking skills that I have come across (and my “ebookshelf” is filled with books on this topic). I guess when the title includes two of the greatest orators of all time, you should expect nothing less. Whether you are an up and coming professional speaker or wanting to improve your presentation skills to climb the corporate ladder, this handbook will provide you with countless insights and examples to improve your craft. Although it could have included more information about situations in which each technique is most effective, there is nothing really bad to say about this masterpiece. Even if you are only looking for powerful examples of rhetorical tools throughout history, this is well worth reading. That is why I give “Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln” a 5 out of 5 on the Roll Models Review Scale.

Roll Models 5 Chair Rating

Share Button

Wasted Potential

Share Button
Scott Drotar Nate Newton
Nate Newton, one of the greatest offensive lineman of the 90s and one of my favorite childhood players, has every physical gift imaginable. He has been caught not once, but twice, with over 150 pounds of marijuana.

It seems like every time I turn on Sports Center (which is almost every day), I hear about another athlete who is being fined, suspended, or even arrested for using banned substances. Not only does this anger me as a sports fan, who cares about the purity and sanctity of the game, but it is also extremely difficult to stomach the actions of these individuals as a disabled person. I am forced, due to random chance, to spend my entire life trapped in this flesh prison without the ability to walk, feed myself, or even hug the ones I love. Also due to random chance, these athletes, these freaks of nature, have been blessed with the physical gifts of near superhuman strength, speed, and agility. This is just a fact of life, and I have no anger or resentment about it, because we all must play the hand we are dealt. What does infuriate me though, is how these physical specimens with so much potential can just piss it away by polluting their bodies. The way they waste this incredible gift they have, and that I would give almost anything to have even a fraction of, is something that is very hard for me to deal with.

The first time I had this feeling of anger at witnessing someone with physical gifts just wasting all of their potential, I was in the Fall of my sophomore year in high school. I had just gone through probably the toughest year of my life (got pneumonia, tracheostomy, back injury, etc.), and I was finally feeling like myself again. A classmate and acquaintance of mine, who was six foot five inches tall, 250 pounds with a monster frame, was a lineman on the varsity football team. One day at lunch, I was next to him in line, so I started talking to him about the upcoming game that week, when he stopped me and said he wasn’t on the team anymore. I was puzzled by this, because he was one of my high school’s better players, and he even had the potential to play football at a smaller college eventually. I will never forget how shocked I was by his answer when I asked him why he wasn’t playing. He told me that he had failed a random drug test and had been kicked off of the team. He also said that he was kind of happy about it anyway, because football was so much work and was taking up a lot of time, and he would rather hang out with his friends. Although I did my best to hide it, I was surprised at how angry this made me. I quickly found a reason to excuse myself, as I tried to get my emotions under control.

Scott Drotar Watson and Crick
What if Watson and Crick had wasted their talents by partying and chasing coeds like regular college guys instead of nerding it up every weekend in the lab?

I was so disgusted and appalled at how someone with such an amazing, genetic gift could just waste it without a second thought. I am not saying that just because you are big and strong that you have to play sports, but I do think that if you are lucky enough to have an innate ability, that you should put it to use. What if Einstein had decided that he would rather huff glue than study physics? What if Watson and Crick had decided to go party every weekend instead of nerding it up on Friday night discovering the blueprint for human life? If you have a talent that has the ability to improve your life, and even more importantly the lives of others, I feel you have an obligation to not waste that potential. At the very least, if you are not going to capitalize on your genetic ability, it should be to pursue something productive that can benefit people. If my classmate had decided to not play football to focus on academics or start volunteering somewhere, I would have completely supported that. What is not acceptable is choosing not to play so that you can get drunk, do drugs, and just let yourself waste away. This is not only doing a disservice to yourself, but it is also an insult to those who are not blessed with the gifts you take for granted.

Scott Drotar Wasted Potential
I could choose to just sit around playing video games all day while the government pays my bills, but I refuse to squander the gifts I have that can help people.

As someone who has spent their entire life longing to have a healthy body, it is a slap in the face every time I witness someone squander their god given ability. That is part of what motivates me to work as hard as I do. Any time I choose, I can quit my jobs (notice the plural) and sit back and let Uncle Sam send me my disability check, subsidize my rent and food, and just be lazy all the time. I could watch Netflix all day, eat my government supplied Cheetos (crunchy not puffed), and not have a care in the world. But, I don’t. I choose to work 60 hours a week, because I am fortunate enough to have a gifted mind and the ability to communicate and connect with people, and I refuse to waste my gifts. I have the potential to make people’s lives better in a way that only few people can, and it would be selfish of me to squander that unique talent. It is our jobs as humans, to help one another by sharing our special skills with the world and each other.

I know that there will always be those self-centered, egotistical individuals who would rather pollute their bodies and party all the time, even though they are endowed with amazing gifts of strength, speed, or intelligence that could help mankind in any number of ways. Likewise, I am certain that I will still get upset and fail to understand their selfish decisions, no matter how many times it happens. Just like I am always reminded by my high school classmate of how it’s my duty as a member of society to use my genetic gifts of brains and charisma, I want you to remember my story. The next time you feel like letting your unique, innate talents go to waste, remember how I choose to work to share my gifts despite my obstacles. Let this inspire you to keep working and change people’s lives in a way only you and few others can. Don’t let your skills fizzle away like some abandoned campfire. Instead, build them up and let them leave their mark on the world.

Share Button

Book Review: “Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard” by Chip and Dan Heath

Share Button
Scott Drotar Switch
In “Switch,” authors, Chip and Dan Heath, introduce a three part method for creating change.

As you may have noticed as of late, recently I have been thinking and writing a lot about the idea of change. Although my current focus probably stems from all of the new, exciting events that have been going on in my life, change is an inevitable and essential part of life, and it is something that should be studied and understood. In keeping with this theme, this week’s entry into the Scott Drotar Literary Review is a how-to guide on creating change in difficult situations. This week I present the intriguing book by brothers, Chip and Dan Heath, “Switch:How to Change Things When Change Is Hard.”

Chip and Dan Heath wrote this book in an attempt to help people understand how to create change in almost any situation. They break their method down into three parts and use the analogy of riding through the jungle on an elephant to illustrate each component. First, you must “direct the rider.” This involves giving clear and accurate information to those you want to make the change. This is when you are speaking to their logical, thinking brain. Second, you have to “motivate the elephant.” This involves getting in touch with people’s emotions and feelings to make them want to change. Here you are speaking to their hearts. Third, you need to “shape the path.” This involves framing the change you want them to make in the most effective way possible. This involves creating the best environment and atmosphere to make the transformation. If you point the rider in the right direction, get the elephant moving, and make sure the path is clear, you will have no problem getting through the jungle. Likewise, by giving people direction, making them feel like they want to change, and creating an environment that promotes change, you will be much more likely to succeed in altering people’s behaviors.

Scott Drotar Elephant Rider
In order to create change, you must “direct the rider,” “motivate the elephant,” and “shape the path.”

The method presented in “Switch” does a good job of breaking down the complicated topic of creating change. The writers have a smooth, enjoyable style that is easy to read and engaging, while also being informative. They use examples throughout the book to illustrate specific ideas within each of the three parts of the method. They also do a good job of citing and discussing the studies that provided the support for the concepts they discuss without boring you with pages of results. Overall, they found a great balance between writing a popular press type piece for the average reader and an advanced text for the academic. Regardless of your level of familiarity with the topic of change, you will find value in this book.

There were a few things that could be improved upon in this handbook on creating change. There were a few times where I felt like the idea they were trying to illustrate didn’t match up well with their example. I found myself having to reread and try to connect the dots, which was often difficult. I also felt like they would get ahead of themselves occasionally, and talk about a topic that they don’t explain until later in the book. The biggest problem I have though is that, while they give lots of information to explain their method, they do not provide much guidance on implementing it. I found myself wanting more information on how to apply their ideas in different contexts.

Chip and Dan do a good job of introducing a method for instituting change in various areas of your life. They break their method down into three distinct parts. You have to reach the minds, the hearts, and the environment of your target audience to have the best chance of successfully creating change. They do a wonderful job of presenting the information in a clear, concise way, but they were lacking in examples of how to apply their ideas, which is not good for a how-to guide. They also have issues with the order in which they introduce their topics, which was confusing at times. Despite the flaws, “Switch” is a great introduction to the concept of creating change, and it is definitely worth reading. This book gets a 3 out of 5 on the Roll Models Review Scale.

Roll Models 3 Chair Rating

Share Button

Cost of Being Great

Share Button

One of the things that a lot of successful people do is read and learn about other successful individuals who possess certain traits they wish to attain, in an effort to model their behavior to some degree. For example, President Ronald Reagan was a big admirer of Thomas Paine. You can find many quotes from Paine, as well as some of the same ideals, throughout Reagan’s presidency. When I first learned that this is a common habit of successful people, it made sense to me, so I started thinking about what traits I wanted to develop, and who embodied them. One of the most important factors to success, in my opinion, is your passion and undying dedication to your goal. You have to be able to set your sights on your target objective, and then do whatever you have to do to make it happen. The person who I thought was almost the perfect example of this skill was Steve Jobs. So, I downloaded his biography on my Kindle, and I got to reading.

Scott Drotar Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs revolutionized the computer industry and achieved great success, but at what cost?

I want to start by saying that I am still an admirer of Jobs, and he is without a doubt one of the most influential people of the last 50 years. After reading his biography though, and subsequently watching the movie “Jobs,” (which is actually fairly accurate and gives you the broad strokes of his life, but as usual the book was better) I have come to realize that the passion, unyielding dedication, and perfectionism that he possessed, and which I greatly admire, comes with a price. The price for his greatness, to put it frankly, was that he was seen as a selfish asshole. Jobs was so fixated on his vision, his dream, that he was unable to see how his decisions impacted the lives of those around him, and at times, he even failed to see how his actions would effect himself. After finishing his biography, although I still think about how he would go about achieving a goal, how he would always think about his target audience, and how he would dream big, I also use his life as a cautionary tale of having tunnel vision. My hope is that I can manage to model his positive qualities without losing my perspective, but I fear it may be necessary to make this enormous sacrifice if you want to be as great as someone like Jobs.

Jobs possessed many qualities that I am trying to cultivate in my own life in order to make Roll Models as successful as possible. The most important factor in his success was his ability to see things from the point of view of his target audience. Computers were a luxury device for businesses and universities up until the mid-70s when Steve came along with a new vision. He wanted to make an inexpensive, user-friendly computer for the “average Joe,” and he always kept this in mind as he developed his products. As a speaker, this is a skill I must develop if I want my message to be well received by my audience. For instance, if I am speaking to high school students, I would want to structure my talk differently than if I was speaking to a group of adults or children, because they have differing life experiences. This is a skill I have really been working on over the last few months, and it is already yielding positive results.

Scott Drotar Greatness
I will spend hours dissecting and editing my Roll Models talks until they are not good, but great.

Another key component to the success of Jobs was his undying dedication to perfection and achieving his goal. He was unwilling to make concessions to his vision for the sake of saving time or money. Creating an ok or good product was not enough for him. He had a vision of creating something great and different, and he was not going to settle for anything less. I try to embody this same mentality when I am preparing my Roll Models talks. I will continue to edit and revise my material and change my delivery until I get that feeling in my belly that says, “Yes! That’s a powerful message.” Even coming up with the correct title for my talks is something I devote a lot of time and energy to, and I will go through probably a dozen titles before finding the “right” one. I am only willing to present something great to my audience. I don’t want to settle for merely being a good speaker, because no one remembers them. The speakers that are remembered, the ones who change people’s lives forever, aren’t just good, they are great.

Scott Drotar Distortion Field
Leave it to a bunch of computer geeks to name the amazing charisma of Jobs after something from Star Trek.

The trait that Jobs may be most known for, and that was a vital piece in his success, was his charisma. In his biography, they refer to his ability to get people excited to follow his vision the “reality distortion field.” This phrase, born from the sci-fi series, “Star Trek,” referred to Steve’s ability to alter your reality and the way you see things. He would be so charismatic, passionate, and energetic about an idea that seemed impossible, that he was able to get people to share his vision and actually do the impossible. Although this often meant that those working with him had to work long and hard to create the reality he envisioned, but it also meant that they got to be part of something truly great. As a speaker who is trying to get people to make positive changes in their lives, I need to develop this ability to get others to believe in my message. I am working on becoming more charismatic and exuding more sincerity, passion, and confidence, in order to build a stronger rapport with my listeners. By creating a connection with my audience, I can create my own “distortion field” to help people get around the excuses and mental roadblocks preventing them from making the necessary changes they need to lead a happy, successful life.

Along with these positive, powerful attributes that I admire, Steve Jobs also had many negative qualities. A couple byproducts of his immense passion for his vision were his unwillingness to compromise and unhealthy level of perfectionism. He would get so fixated on what most would consider minute details and trivialities, that he would make people redo the same thing again and again until it was exactly how he envisioned it. This not only exhausted and alienated his coworkers, but it also caused him to frequently come in over budget and miss deadlines. Another negative trait of his was his willingness to sacrifice anyone and anything to achieve his dream. This is what eventually led to his being ousted from Apple, and it is a big part of why he had very few, if any, lasting, healthy relationships during his life. His unparalleled devotion to his goals that made him such a revolutionary figure in technology and computing is also what made him a selfish, uncaring social pariah in his personal life. This is what led me to ask, “Is it possible to be one and not the other?

It seems reasonable that achieving the level of success of someone like Steve Jobs will require some sacrifices. If you devote the time and energy necessary to create something great and revolutionary, you will not have the resources to also maintain all of the other areas of your life. This is just a fact of life that I doubt surprises anyone. I think that making some sacrifices to create something new and great to help people is the cost of admission for having the incredible success of someone like Jobs. The question becomes then, “At what point is the cost of greatness too high?” Is having your name in textbooks and being remembered as a genius who changed the world for years after you are dead, worth your happiness and relationships while you are alive? You have to decide how far you are willing to go to reach your goals, and what you are willing to sacrifice to get there. Like everything in this world, you have to find the right balance between your legacy and living a fulfilling life, and only you can decide what that balance is. As you find yourself putting more and more of your time and effort into a certain part of your life, make sure you aren’t wearing blinders. Step back and take stock of the cost of your goal, and ask yourself if you are willing to pay that price. Although you and I may never be as great as Steve Jobs, we can still achieve great things by modeling his positive traits to a lesser extent, and we will not have to make the huge sacrifices he did. If you manage to maintain this balance between achieving your dreams and living your life, you will not just be remembered as great, but also happy. I can’t think of anything more successful than that.

Share Button

Book Review: “Story Theater Method” by Doug Stevenson

Share Button
Scott Drotar Story Theater Method
Doug Stevenson’s “Story Theater Method” is a great introduction to developing your storytelling skills.

Up to this point I have not reviewed any works about writing or delivering a speech or presentation, because I felt it was too specific a topic that would only interest a handful of readers. However, after reading this week’s edition of the “Scott Drotar Literary Review,” and thanks to a conversation with my father, I have decided that some, if not most, of the skills I use to get ready for a Roll Models talk are applicable to numerous professions and life in general. Whether it be telling a funny anecdote at a party or giving a board room presentation, you will benefit from having a basic understanding of how to tell a captivating story. To help you along, this week I have reviewed one of the best books I have read on how to become a better storyteller. This week I present Doug Stevenson’s, “Story Theater Method.”

In this handbook on improving your presentation skills through storytelling, Doug covers every aspect of crafting, preparing, and delivering a story that will capture the attention of your audience. He walks you through the entire process from picking a message, coming up with the right story for that message, developing that story with humor, dialogue, and such, and then cultivating your presentation skills to best deliver your story. He teaches you all of these skills from the perspective of an actor on a stage, which I found to be very effective and different from most books on this topic. I also really liked that he focuses on short, simple stories with a single message, instead of developing these long, complicated talks with lots of fancy rhetorical components. You will be able to develop and deliver a memorable story with a message that sticks once you learn to apply the techniques in this book. He also tries to give a diverse set of examples of different professions that have used his method with success.

I found the author’s writing style to be very accessible and effective in conveying his point. The examples he uses are very informative, and he doesn’t reuse them throughout the book, so you end up with lots of good examples to refer to. The only thing that would have improved it, and I read the ebook version, would have been supplemental links to audio or video of him presenting his stories. It’s one thing to read about it, but quite another to see or hear it. At that point it is not just a book any more though, so I can hardly hold that against the quality of this work.

I learned a great deal from Stevenson’s “Story Theater Method.” If you have a job where getting in front of a group of people and speaking is a large or important component, then you need to read this book. When surveyed, Fortune 500 CEOs rated communication and presentation skills as hands down the most important thing they look for in promoting and hiring employees. Growing your abilities as a presenter is fast becoming a necessary part of climbing the corporate ladder. Don’t wait until you have to give a big presentation to the board to learn these critical skills, when you could learn them now and get a leg up on your competition by reading this book. The results you will receive are what gets this work a 5 out of 5 on the Roll Models Review Scale.

Roll Models 5 Chair Rating

Share Button

KCRHCA Talk Take Two

Share Button
Scott Drotar KCRHCA
The KCRHCA does so much to improve the quality of care for homecare patients.

As you are probably aware, yesterday I gave my Roll Models talk, “Confessions of a Homecare Client: The Complexities of Trust in the Caregiver-Client Relationship,” at an event for the Kansas City Regional Home Care Association (KCRHCA). This was my second talk for the KCRHCA, and it was to an audience of nurses and CNAs who either already work in homecare or soon will. The talk itself went very well, and they were a fun, energetic group that interacted with me and had a good energy. They seemed to respond to my stories, and several individuals thanked me afterwards and said they had learned a lot, so I think my message got through. I even got a good result from the new material I was telling for the first time, which is always a great feeling. At a minimum, I am confident that I improved the life of at least one member of my audience, and that is the important thing. In addition to furthering my mission of helping people with my stories, I also got a new, enlightening experience and learned some valuable lessons from today’s talk. Prior to this afternoon, every Roll Models talk I have given has gone exactly as planned. Everything from getting to the venue on time, to being loud enough, to making sure I don’t run out of time, up until today had all been executed perfectly…up until today.

I woke up on time after a decent night’s sleep and felt good. I did my morning, pre-talk meditation, and then started getting dressed and such. Nothing really went wrong at this point, but my nurse and I were just not in sync, and we ended up running about 15 minutes behind schedule by the time I got in my wheelchair. This was alright though, because I always build in an extra half hour into my routine just in case something happens. I figure worst case scenario, I get 30 minutes to relax before heading out the door, and I have the peace of mind that if something does go awry, I won’t be late. I ate breakfast and warmed up my voice, and then it was time to leave. It was raining, so I needed to put on my rain gear to keep me dry and protect my wheelchair, so my nurse went to grab it. When she got to where I thought I had put it, it was nowhere to be found. We spent about 10 minutes searching all over (thank goodness my apartment is not that big) before we eventually found it, and we could finally get out the door. Now, when you are in a power wheelchair, any kind of precipitation makes things take much longer if you have any hope of staying somewhat dry. I had already burned through my built in extra time, so I was starting to worry that I wouldn’t make it to my talk on schedule, especially with noon traffic and the rain. I didn’t panic though, realizing that it would negatively effect my talk and wouldn’t get me there any faster, and we got on the road and made it to the building at 12:36pm. Since I didn’t go on until 12:45pm, I was rushed, but I thought I was fine.

Scott Drotar Poncho
This is what my rain gear looks like. A little awkward to get on and off, but at least I don’t end up looking like a drowned rat.

I get inside the main lobby of this building, which it turns out is a massive research hospital, and I don’t see any signs pointing me where to go, nor anyone to ask. Somehow, after 10 minutes of wandering around this labyrinth, we manage to stumble upon the correct room. It is now 12:48pm, and I was supposed to go on at 12:45pm. I shake the event organizer’s hand, take off my poncho, and the next thing I know I’m hearing her introduce me to speak. So, without even taking 2 minutes to compose my thoughts, I put on a smile and get on stage. Thankfully, I had given a similar version of this talk recently, so I had that experience to help me get going, but I won’t lie, I was a little frazzled for the first 5 minutes or so. After that I hit my stride, and the rest of the talk went smoothly.

Even though it was a tad stressful, I am actually kind of glad that I got the experience of giving a talk where everything doesn’t go exactly as planned. I know that it is easy to feel this way since the talk went so well, but regardless of the outcome, I needed this exposure. Now I know that even when I’m running late, have to rush on stage, and don’t get to put all of my ducks in a row before speaking, that I can still deliver a quality Roll Models talk. I know that I can trust my instincts, and the hours and hours of preparation I have put in, to help get me going and carry me through until I get in the groove with my talk. Also, I know now that when these stressful scenarios do occur, and I am sure that as I continue to speak that they will, that I have the tools and techniques to overcome them (see the things I write about actually do work). It’s nice to have this piece of mind, and it will help me keep my composure during those talks that throw me a curveball.

This is a lesson that can be applied to nearly every aspect of your life. As you encounter difficult or trying situations, whether they conclude successfully or not, they do have valuable information for you to learn from. As you build up your repository of life experiences and grow as a person, you will learn from your past hardships and be better equipped to handle similar situations in the future. You will eventually develop so much experience that things that you used to see as major obstacles, now are not such a big deal. Always take the time to reflect upon your mistakes and the adversity you have faced, so that you don’t miss out on the priceless information they can teach you. This will ensure that you don’t repeat the same mistakes again, and it will give you valuable knowledge that you can apply to similar events in the future.

Share Button