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Month: August 2016

Army Major Lisa Jaster

Army Major Lisa Jaster

Inspirational speaking tends to feel like a male-dominated forum. That’s why when I find a female speaker, it’s refreshing. For every soft-spoken male telling you how to navigate difficulties with a positive attitude, there’s an Alpha Male who climbs on stage to beat his chest.

Lisa isn’t your typical extreme sports enthusiast-turned speaker. She’s one of only three women in history to complete the Army Ranger program. For years the program has been seen as “too intense” for women; in fact, when the first two females graduated last year, they still weren’t able to join the 75th Ranger Requirement.

The Army Ranger program is so difficult that 36% of entrants quit after only four days. The absolute minimum amount of time it takes to complete the training course is 61 20-hour days. To say that Rangers are cut from a different cloth than the rest of us, even from other soldiers, is an understatement. Oh; she also graduated the program at 37, when the average age is 23. No big deal.

Most speakers have a background in business; either they’re self-made millionaires or they left behind a CEO position somewhere. But here’s the kicker; Jaster was an engineer with both the Army Reserves and Shell Oil. As far as speakers go, she’s the best of both worlds: the background of both a soldier overcoming odds and someone with a corporate background from one of the biggest companies out there.

She also has that sweet Southern Mama quality. She’s a wife and a mother from Texas, with her husband also serving. She’s patriotic and a family woman and this really makes her well-rounded for any group.

Jaster was beat by two other women for the title of first female Rangers because she had to repeat several stretches of her training. This has become the basis for her speeches; never giving up. She could have quit the world’s hardest training course at any point. She wanted to. But by persevering she went on to make history, and hopefully inspired other women to go forth and complete the course as well.

Women are still prohibited from serving in most of the Army’s combat roles, but as long as women like Jaster continue to overcome these obstacles, there’s hope for women to serve anywhere that they want. Because of women like Jaster, we may very well see policy changes in our lifetime.

If Jaster can spend half of an entire year completing the impossible away from her child and husband, surely anything can be possible. Jaster shares how she took strength from the support of her family to go on and do the impossible. Seeing Jaster speak is truly inspirational, and it’s refreshing to have a female perspective on impossible odds.

It’s hard to find a speaker with so many hats. Usually they have a background in only one area; but when you see Jaster, you’re getting someone with a family, a corporate background, and military experience. She’s the best of three worlds and I would highly recommend her.

Conquering your Everest with Ben Saunders

Conquering your Everest with Ben Saunders

When you think “positive” speaker, it’s easy to go with the big names in speaking: your Tony Robbins or your Zig Ziglers. But I enjoy listening to what those who don’t have the huge fan bases, yet, have to say. It’s easier to listen to someone when I know they aren’t necessarily going to try and sell me something once they reach the end. That’s why, with this post, I want to discuss Ben Saunders.

On the surface, Ben is just another adrenaline-junkie-turned story teller. But damn if he isn’t one of the best story tellers you’ve ever heard. He’s actually been on the scene at least a decade now, having spoken at TED conferences beginning back in 2002. And they call him a “master story teller”, so you know I’m not just saying it. The man takes one of his once-in-a-lifetime adventures and spins a captivating yarn, taking it from snow peaks and Sherpas to finding success in the mundane. How he makes that leap look so easy is beyond me, but it’s always fun to hear him speak.

First of all, he has an English accent, which always makes it easier to hear someone ramble for extended periods of time. Secondly, he has some of the best self-deprecating lines I’ve heard, and I watched Conan nightly when he was on NBC. Back in 2012, when he started his TED talk, rather than say he is going on a lot of dog sledding or mountain climbing expeditions, he starts out with “I essentially drag sledges for a living, so it doesn’t take an awful lot to flummox me intellectually”. I feel like that’s something a comedy writer from BBC would come up with, and he has me hooked from the very beginning.

What’s refreshing about Saunders is yes, he bases most, if not all, of his speeches around climbing mountains. He talks about men achieving ridiculous climbs, even in the early 1900s. But his talks lack the alpha male chest puffing that so many speakers have when using this subject as a leaping off point. The way he addresses the audience is that he’s somehow just a regular guy; he just happens to be a regular guy who’s been several miles off the ground on a mountain somewhere. He never comes off preachy or switches into drill sergeant mode; rather, he prefers to describe an impressive feat, and then empowers you.

Saunders isn’t about getting you to go out and conquer Everest. He just wants you to conquer your Everest. And he does it by being soft-spoken and relatable. For as exciting as his life is, he remains relaxed and approachable, and not the typical Human-Mountain Dew can so many other extreme sports athletes are.

My favorite thing he’s ever spoken about is how we have such easy access to information that it almost makes leaving the house irrelevant. About how we don’t have explorers anymore because we already know everything. But he leaves us with the thought that if we stop going out there, we lose our courage; we lose our exploratory wonder. And with that, I feel like I can go out there and conquer anything.

Learning from a Sales Master

Learning from a Sales Master

Grant Cardone, a Cut Above

Grant Cardone is an author and entrepreneur, as well as, a business and online sales training expert. His approach to sales is often considered aggressive and for that, he makes no apologies but rather convinces his followers that they should emulate him. In his book, “Sell or Be Sold” he points out that whether your official career title has the word sales in it or not, everyone sells in one way or another each and every day. The Doctors and Lawyers, while not having sales in their title sell themselves and their abilities each and every day. This makes perfect sense because confidence in ones skills and abilities is crucial to success and in obtaining clients to hire them. So this is indeed selling and persuading in its most raw form.

Cardone also mentions that it amazing that while sales permeates every field and every facet of living life, in general, it is not taught in schools and sadly has received a negative connotation. No one likes to feel as if they are being “sold” and yet, in nearly every situation, you are either selling or being sold, hence the title of the book. It is really not all that surprising when one thinks about it. Is there ever a time when you are not faced with having to persuade someone to your line of thinking in order to achieve what you want or obtain what you desire? This is, of course, rhetorical. From a baby crying to have their needs met to the toddler bargaining for a later bedtime, it is all about desires and the art and skill of acquisition. What challenges one may face in getting one’s desires and how to handle those are just another skill, according to Cardone.

Cardone speaks of fear as being one of the biggest challenges effecting one’s success or failure at sales. The fear of dialing the phone to present a product or service, the fear of rejection and well, the list of fears are endless. The solution sounds so simplistic because it is merely taking imperfect action. Understanding that it will be uncomfortable but as long as you believe in yourself and in your product or service and are completely passionate about what you have to offer, you will succeed. Although, some of this information is not new to people that have enjoyed motivational and or sales training via talks or books, his presentation is compelling as his demeanor is excited and his passion is palpable. There are many speakers and authors you can choose to enjoy when looking for inspiration, however, I believe Grant Cardone is one that you definitely should add to your top five list.