Ep 089 -- A Wonderful Stroke of Luck with Jan Douglas

A lot of stroke survivors I talk with describe themselves as "Lucky." I don't want to minimize the trauma or struggles that many survivors face. There are real challenges, and I don't recommend anyone go out and acquire a stroke, but luck is still a common theme.

In my experience, I say I'm lucky because I have a great partner who has stuck with me. I got great care at the hospital. My stroke left me with physical disabilities, but no significant cognitive or language issues. And it opened my eyes to this whole fascinating world and community.

I've talked with other folks who feel lucky because they have some cognitive challenges but no physical deficits.

In episode 65, Joe Borges described his stroke as a blessing because of the way it rebooted his life.

Book cover of A Wonderful Stroke of Luck featuring Janet Douglas's brain MRI with a hemorrhage on the right side.For former OT and corporate consultant, Janet Douglas, stroke was A Wonderful Stroke of Luck. And she wrote the book on it.

Jan started her career working in OT in her native England. She would go on traveling the world with the World Health Organization, meet her future husband, become a Director at the Rehab Institute of Chicago, transition the world of corporate HR consulting, and in September of 2002, have a massive stroke.

I find the pats people take to be fascinating. It seems completely random to go from OT into consulting at first glance. Take a deeper look, though, and it makes sense. Jan tells us in this interview how the transition was really just another type of OT, just on a larger scale.


Jan Douglas looks directly at the camera in her professional headshot.Jan Douglas trained as an occupational therapist in her native England in the 1960s. The patients she least enjoyed working with were those who had suffered strokes. She found them slow, lacking in motivation and emotionally unstable. She specialized in the treatment of hand injuries, working at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in London and then served with the World Health Organization in its Africa and Southeast Asia regions. While working in Thailand, she met her American husband, an oral surgeon.

After moving to the United States, Douglas became Director of Occupational Therapy Education at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and pursued a master’s degree in public health. After graduating, she worked at Grant Hospital of Chicago, first as Director of Occupational Therapy and then as the leader of a hospital- based occupational health program, providing services to industry, local government and universities. From there she joined the world’s largest human resources and risk management consulting firm. As a global business leader, she worked with public and private employers, government agencies and healthcare systems, to improve their human capital management. She currently provides human resources support to a refugee resettlement agency.

Survivor Gift Shops

Are you or do you know a Stroke survivor with an Etsy or similar online gift shop? Let me know. As we get closer to the Christmas season, I'm planning to feature survivor shops on a future episode so folks can buy gifts and support the community.

Just email Bill@Strokecast.com.


We're giving away a copy of Jan's book to one listener. Share this episode on your social media with the link http://Strokecast.com/AWonderfulStrokeOfLuck and use the hashtag #Strokecast by the end of October.

I'll search the hashtag at the beginning of November and pick one winner at random.

Good luck talking about luck!

Hack of the week

If your doctor says you can drink wine, then YAY! Now you have to open the bottle.

Jan discovered that a wine bottle fits in the garbage disposal in her sink securely. Now she puts a bottle in there and can use a corkscrew one handed to open the bottle.


A Wonderful Stroke of Luck Website


Publicist Tom


Jan's email


A Wonderful Stroke of Luck on Amazon


Jan on 9&10 News


Refugee One


Refugee One on Facebook


Refugee One on Twitter


Refugee One on Instagram


Shirley Ryan Ability Lab (formerly RIC)


My Year Off on Amazon


Iowa Writer's Workshop


Homonymous Quadrantanopsia





Julie Halpern Reviews A Wonderful Stroke of Luck


Where do we go from here?

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast


Ep 133 -- Process with Technology Coach for non-Tech Entrepreneurs Charles White

2-Minute Tip: Be Vulnerable


We often talk about the importance of authenticity as a speaker. Another way to think about it, though, is vulnerability.


The benefit of vulnerability as a speaker is that the audience can feel where you are coming from. It’s easier for them to connect with you.


And if they feel that stronger sense of connection, they are more likely to pursue the action you are calling them to pursue.


Post Tip Discussion: Meet Charles White


When I put together an episode, I don’t always know what it’s about. I do my core edit of the conversation where I listen to the whole thing, cut some stuff , and clean up the audio Wile I take notes.


Then I look over my notes. Sometimes I sit with it for a day. It’s only then that I realize what my guest and I talked about. Then I can write up my intro and outro comments and start work on the show notes for an episode. That’s my process.


And that’s how I came to realize that this week’s episode is all about process. Charles focuses on process in his life.  Process can be quite freeing. Once you have a structure and a way of doing things, suddenly those tasks get a whole lot quicker.


Often when we talk about public speaking we don’t think about the process. We think about standing in front of the crowd with some slides.


But 90% of the success of a talk is determined before you ever open your mouth. It’s in your preparation and planning. And when your preparation becomes repeatable and duplicatable, you have a process.


It’s not as sexy as the roar of the crowd, but the right process can make your life so much easier.




Charles White wearing a beret and looking at the camera

Charles helps business owners who need their operations to run more efficiently. As businesses get more clients, more work orders, and hire more people the processes they built become stressed. Charles is there when you are looking to find that new tool, improve your old process, and increase your workforce’s output.


He provide a full service solution to improving your daily, weekly and monthly workload. Together he helps you identify areas of your business that can most benefit from immediate intervention. Then he provides a solution through new software implementation and personalized training documentation, videos and in person classes.


Charles’ TEDx Talk






Call To Action


  • Visit the links above to learn more about and connect with Charles White.
  • Share this episode with a friend, colleague, or relative by giving them the link http://2MinuteTalkTips.com/Charles
  • Don’t get best…get better.


2-Minute Talk Tips is the public speaking podcast that helps you become a more effective speaker in as little as 2 minutes a week.

Check out this episode!


Ep 088 -- Never Give Up with Ms. Wheelchair USA

Marsha Schmid is a stroke survivor and she's this year's Ms. Wheelchair USA. In other news, there's a growing Ms. Wheelchair USA pageant.

Marsha's had quite a journey to get there. She excelled in school, became the top salesperson in her company and she was a nationally ranked body builder. All that was before the fateful day she went to her chiropractor. The chiropractor manipulated her neck, caused a vertebral artery dissection, and that led to her massive stroke. This week Marsha share her story of recovery, the pageant, and the future she now has. She lives theme of Never Give Up.


Marsha Schmid sitting while holding her crown and wearing her Ms. Wheelchair USA sash.Marsha Schmid competed as Ms. Wheelchair Georgia USA and lives in Fayetteville, Georgia. She has a Bachelor’s in English with concentrations in Political Science and Japanese. She served as an intern to Congressman Bob Barr when he was in office, and hopes to become an international motivational speaker.

At the time of her massive brainstem stroke in 2011, Marsha was on top of the world. She was the number 1 in medical salesperson for her company. She was also a nationally ranked fitness/figure competitor about to turn pro, newly wed to Georgia's Strongest Man( Masters Division), mom to a five year old son, and recently rebaptized.

Marsha wasn't supposed to live through the night of her stroke. She did, and was paralyzed from the neck down, could not speak for a year, couldn't swallow, could not breathe on her own, and was unable to open her eyes.

Marsha took my very first completely independent step a few weeks ago, 8 years after the stroke that changed her life. In September of 2019, Marsha became Ms. Wheelchair USA. She aspires to become a motivational speaker to continue spreading the message of, "Never Give Up.".

What is a Vertebral Artery Dissection?

There are four arteries that bring blood to the brain. Two are the carotid arteries and 2 are the vertebral arteries. The left and the right side of the body have one of each.

The carotid arteries are towards the fronts of the neck. When you see someone check a pulse by putting 2 fingers on the neck, they are feeling for the pulse in the carotid artery.

The vertebral arteries are towards the back. In fact, they travel through the bones of the spinal column to get to the brain. The go through the vertebrae, hence the name vertebral.

Our arteries aren't a solid piece of artery tissue; they're made of layers of muscle, connective tissue, and other materials, kind of like the tire of a car that has hard outer rubber, and interior steel belt, and other materials holding it together so it works.

In a vertebral artery dissection, the inner lining of an artery -- the part the blood actual touches, tears a bit. The artery itself holds together. And it can hold together for months or years. But now you have high pressure blood surging past that torn or disrupted surface. That area is no longer smooth.

In that rough area, where blood flow is disrupted, bits and pieces can get stopped. When that happens, they can turn into clots. When that clot breaks free from the dissected area, it flows on into the brain until the blood vessels are too narrow for it to go any further and it stops. When it stops and blocks blood from getting past it, you have an ischemic stroke.

It's not the clot itself that damages tissue in a stroke, it's that the clot blocks blood from getting past it and tissue downstream suffocates and dies.

So how does the dissection happen? Often it's because of trauma. A sudden movement of the head beyond its normal range of motion puts stress on those arteries, and that stress can cause the internal surfaces to tear.

This happens more often to the vertebral arteries than the carotids because the carotids go through soft tissue in the neck. There's more room for them to move and shift and dissipate stress.

The vertebrals on the other hand are restricted by the bones they go through. The don't have as much flexibility to deal with stress and are more likely to tear.

That trauma can be anything that injures the neck or head. It's certainly possible in a car accident. One survivor I talked to was boogie boarding and hit the beach hard in a way that injured his neck and caused his stroke.

And I've talked with others, like Marsha, who received their vertebral artery dissection at the hands of a chiropractor doing a neck adjustment.

So don't let folks snap, pop, or twist your neck. It's just not worth it.

What is Ms. Wheelchair USA?

From the organization's website:

The Ms. Wheelchair USA program has been in existence for more than 22 years. It began as a state program, selecting winners in the state of Ohio to do a national service platform. As the program grew in popularity and was televised live, potential candidates began coming from all over the country asking to compete in the outstanding program. The program became a national competition 14 years ago and has been going and growing strong!

Contestants in the Ms. Wheelchair USA program must be 18 years of age with no maximum age! Contestants must have a mobility issue, but may have use of their legs. Our program does not discourage ability, but instead celebrates the individuality of the women in the program. State and regional representatives are selected based on a judged, application process. The national titleholder is crowned following a week of activities, programs, learning sessions, press appearances, and three nights of live stage competitions. Contestants compete in private interview, round-robin interviews, evening wear, on-stage interview, platform presentation, and marketing statement competitions. The winners spend their year on a state, regional and national level representing The Dane Foundation, Ms. Wheelchair USA, and their own platform issue or activity.

The Ms. Wheelchair USA organization promotes glamour, self-confidence, and community service; celebrating the accomplishments of women with disabilities!

Hilary Billings on 2-Minute Talk Tips

Interestingly enough, Marsha is not the first pageant winner I've interviewed. I talked with Miss Nevada, Hilary Billings on my other show, 2-Minute Talk Tips. Hilary entered her first pageant after a fireworks injury. You can hear that interview at http://2MinuteTalkTips.com/hilary.

One of the things both Marsha and Hilary talked about is how the pageants are empowering and are about so much more than just beauty.


Heart and Stroke Walk

I am Participating in Puget Sound Heart and Stroke Walk on October 12.

If you'd like to support my efforts and donate to the American Heart Association, please do. This will help the American Heart Association continue its work to help reduce stroke through research and medical standards on the white coat side and through helping folks reduce their blood pressure on the general population side.

If you'd like to contribute $10 or more, just visit http://Strokecast.com/Donate/AHA. That will take you right to the donation page on the AHA website. None of it goes to my pocket.


Hack of the Week

You can put in contact lenses with one hand.

  1. Put the lens on your middle finger.
  2. Raise your eyelid with your index finger.
  3. Place the lens close to the corner of your eye to maximize the odds of it going in as it should.

This may take a bit of practice, but it can be done. The first time you learned to put in contact lenses probably wasn't easy either.

Good vision is important for more than watching Netflix. Depending on your stroke, sharp vision can impact sensory processing, balance, and safety.

One contributing factor to delirium in the hospital is patients not having their glasses or contacts available.

Of course, before returning to contacts, be sure to check with your optometrist, ophthalmologist, or neuro-ophthalmologist.

What's that? You haven't heard of a neuro-ophthalmologist? You can learn more about the field in episode 85, where I spoke with Dr. Eugene May.


Ms. Wheelchair USA


The Dane Foundation


Enter the Pageant


Contact the Pageant


Ms. Wheelchair USA on Facebook


Ms. Wheelchair USA on Twitter


Ms. Wheelchair USA on Instagram


Ms. Wheelchair USA on YouTube


Marsha on Instagram


Marsha's Pre-Stroke  Body Building


Wes Varda and the Shephard Center


Hilary Billings on 2-Minute Talk Tips


Heart and Stroke Walk


Donate to AHA


Dr. Eugene May on Strokecast


Where do we go from here?

  • Check out Marsha's journey as Ms. Wheelchair USA by following her on social media or reaching out to the Ms. Wheelchair USA program. You can find all those links above.
  • Share this episode with someone you know -- survivor, caregiver, or medical professional by giving them the link http://Strokecast.com/MsWheelchairUSA
  • Support the Puget Sound AHA Heart and stroke walk by visiting the donation link at http://Strokecast.com/Donate/AHA
  • Don't get best…get better

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast


Ep 132 -- Find your Story with Zack Hudson

2-Minute Tip: Know 3 Stories


While it’s helpful to have lots of stories at your disposal, there are three types that will help you in speeches, job interviews and client interactions.  They are Underdog, Authority, and Fixer.


The Underdog story is the story of where you came from. It’s the obstacles life put in your path and how you got over, around, under, or through them to get where you are today.


The Authority is the story about your expertise. How do you know what you know? Why should people listen to you? What makes you different from other folks they could be listening to right now?


The Fixer story is about what you do to help others. How can you help this audience? What will you do or what will you enable them to do?


With those three stories in your pocket you can are better prepared for any audience.


When we talk about pathos, ethos, and logos as being crucial to persuasive success, these three stories support the often neglected ethos side of the pyramid.


Post Tip Discussion: Meet Zack Hudson


I and my guests talk a lot about Storytelling in public speaking. And I talk about it more with Zack today. One thing that makes today’s conversation a little different is that we get a little bit deeper into the process of finding your stories. Because that is what Zack does with his clients — he helps them find and tell their stories.


The fact is everyone has stories to tell, even if we don’t realize it.




Today Zack not only speaks and consults with organizations. He also live the corporate executive life with more than 500 people in his organization across the southern US.


From Zack’s website:


Zack Hudson stands outside in front of a body of water facing the camera.

I grew up in Louisiana and never saw a swamp until I was a teenager. I loved my town and the dream was to never leave and become mayor. That plan was dramatically altered when I met a certain redhead. She captured my heart and after getting married, we moved off to start our own adventure.


We relocated all over the South and started a family along the way. During the journey, I had a hunger to grow as a leader and discovered there were many others out there that had that same fire.


Since then, I’ve developed many leaders to become more than what they thought they could be. Many have gotten the job they’ve always wanted or ended up at their dream locations. One of my greatest joys is seeing others hit their personal goals.


Today, I lead about 500 employees across six states and spend much of my time developing them to be the leaders that they are called to be. I also help others across the globe reach their potential through the Passing the Baton Leadership Podcast and it’s resources.


What you may not know:

  • I’ve made it to 38 of the 50 states so far.
  • I minored in jazz bass in college.
  • I’ve chest-bumped a whale shark.
  • My daughter lived in 5 cities by the time she was 5.
  • Sharon and I love Disney more than just about anything.
  • I jumped out of a plane…with my mom.
  • I served in the military.
  • Pies are my weakness.
  • I’ve survived running with the bulls and hang gliding.
  • I’ve been in movies and TV shows.


5 Tips for Finding you Story


  1. Do some free writing while you think about incidents from the past couple of weeks
  2. Use a text app or speak into a voice recorder if writing is not your thing
  3. Focus on authentic personal stories; don’t try to fake it.
  4. Prepare your story before you tell it. Practice it; don’t improvise it.
  5. Get feedback from friends and colleagues before delivering it in front of a “real” audience


Heart and Stroke Walk 2019


Regular listeners may know that I had a stroke on June 3, 2017. I looked for stroke related podcasts at the time to learn more. When I didn’t find enough existing shows, I started my own. You can learn more about that show at http://Strokecast.com


This year I am once again participating the Puget Sound Heart and Stroke Walk here in Seattle in October 2019. Please donate to the American Heart Association to help promote their work to reduce stroke through research and medical standards on the white coat side and through help folks reduce their blood pressure on the general population side.


If you’d like to contribute $10 or more, just visit http://2MinuteTalkTips.com/HeartWalk. That will take you right to the donation page on the AHA website. None of it goes to my pocket.


If you are interested in hiring me to speak at your event, we can have that conversation, too. Just reach out to me at bill@2minuteTalkTips.com





Zack’s Website


Zack on Facebook


Zack on LinkedIn


Zack on Instagram


Passing the Baton Podcast


Passing the Baton on Twitter


Pathos, Logos, and Ethos on 2-Minute Talk Tips


Support the AHA through Bill and the Puget Sound Heart and Stroke Walk



Call To Action


Check out this episode!


Ep 087 -- Keep Trying

As stroke survivors, we have to find the #StrokePerks where we can.

My GF recently hurt her ankle on the way to work. Fortunately, I have an assortment of canes that she can choose from to get around the apartment safely while she recovers.

Keep Trying

Getting from the car to the apartment, though, meant she had to use the can I had brought with me. Fortunately, I was able to walk a bit without it.

As I walked down the hall, I reflected on my early days of recovery. I spent time going up and down that same hall with Elissa, my PT from Rehab Without Walls. It took a lot longer to cover that distance back then. And trying it without the can worked for only a few feet.

Even a year ago, it took longer.

Today, I need the cane to walk longer, faster, safer, with a better gait, and with less fatigue.

The point is that I continue to get better. It's just a little bit at a time. And sometimes it's hard to notice. But it's happening. 28 months later.

Anyone who tells you recovery stops at 6 months or 12 months is WRONG. That's utter nonsense. Recovery may be fastest early on, but recovery continues for years.

But you cannot get better if you don't do the work or if you don't believe you can. The right, action-oriented attitude is essential to long term continued recovery.

Focus on getting just a little bit better every day.

Walking Predicts Return to Work

A study recently published in the AHA Journal reports that post-stroke walking speed is an accurate indicator of whether a survivor will return to work:

This study is the first to capture walking performance parameters of young adults who have had a stroke and identifies slower and less efficient walking. Walking speed emerged as the strongest predictor for return to employment. It is recommended that walking speed be used as a simple but sensitive clinical indicator of functional performance to guide rehabilitation and inform readiness for return to work post-stroke.

You can read the full details here https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1161/STROKEAHA.119.025614

It's an interesting article, and the story has been popping up in various news feeds that I follow. I'm not sure how actionable this is, though.

First, it doesn't appear to draw a distinction between knowledge work and physical work. It also doesn't appear to address the concerns of stroke survivors living with aphasia or other cognitive challenges who have no trouble walking.

Really what they seem to be looking at is the cognitive load involved in walking and extrapolating from there.

So this may be slightly useful early indicator in the early post stroke days, but when reading articles like this, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Correlation does not equal causation.
  2. Headlines do not tell the whole story.

Look at this stuff critically. Nuance does not fit nicely into bullet points.

Eat More Bananas!

A new study says eating more bananas will prevent stroke!

Actually, it doesn't say that. But that's a headline you are likely to see.

A study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham demonstrated that a lack of dietary potassium in mice led to hardening and calcification of arteries. Such damage to the arteries in humans can lead to stroke and heart disease. Here's what the article says:

University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers have shown, for the first time, that reduced dietary potassium promotes elevated aortic stiffness in a mouse model, as compared with normal-potassium-fed mice. Such arterial stiffness in humans is predictive of heart disease and death from heart disease, and it represents an important health problem for the nation as a whole.

The UAB researchers also found that increased dietary potassium levels lessened vascular calcification and aortic stiffness. Furthermore, they unraveled the molecular mechanism underlying the effects of low or high dietary potassium.

So how do we get to the conclusion?

  • We assume the mice model applies to humans.
  • We assume we can get more dietary potassium by eating more bananas.
  • We assume that more dietary potassium in humans results in less hardening of the arteries.
  • We assume that less hardening of the arteries will lead to reduced risk of stroke in humans.
  • Therefore eating more bananas leads to fewer strokes.

Those facts may all be independently true. But at any point, that chain could break down and the results would not follow.

So what do you do with this information? As a researcher, you might try more direct research to get to fewer links in the chain.

As a consumer, look at what you can learn from. What is the benefit and risk of adopting this behavior?

In this case:

  • Bananas are tasty.
  • Bananas are cheap.
  • Bananas have minimal to no health risks for most people.
  • Bananas may increase dietary potassium and that may reduce the risk of stroke.
  • And have I mentioned that bananas are tasty?

So eat more bananas.

And have I mentioned you can eel them with one hand?


For World Stroke Day, Joe Borges (@JoseSoRocks) and Nefre (@StrokeLifeAlive) are doing a campaign to raise awareness. And you can participate


View this post on Instagram


My friends @joesorocks and @strokelifealive are working on an Awareness Campaign for Young Stroke Survivors for World Stroke Day in October.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Are you a #youngstrokesurvivor? ⁣⁣ You can take part in the campaign? ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Here are a few simple things you will need to do: ☑️Take a Black & White photo of you wearing a black or white shirt 👕;⁣⁣ ☑️Take it with a 😐 or 🙂 face;⁣⁣ ☑️Send them to Joe (joesorocks@gmail.com) or Nefre (strokelifealive@gmail.com);⁣⁣ ☑️The photos news to be sent by September 30th!⁣⁣ We want pictures from people around the world! 🌍⁣⁣ . . . Join us! Please comment or if you know of a stroke survivor, tag them below!🧠 . . . #wespeakupagainststroke #youngstrokesurvivor

A post shared by sᴛʀᴏᴋᴇ ʀᴇᴄᴏᴠᴇʀʏ 🎆 ᴘᴏsɪᴛɪᴠɪᴛʏ (@vince.856) on Sep 26, 2019 at 3:20pm PDT


You may be seeing this after the 30th, but You should still be good to submit photos by the 5th of October or so.

And if we're pas that, go ahead and share them online, anyway. Show the world you are part of the community and help even more folks learn the signs of stroke, how to reduce their chances of stroke, and that stroke can strike at any age.

Joe was on the Strokecast a few months back. You can listen to that conversation here. You can also hear from Joe every week on the Neuro Nerds Podcast.


Robyn Weiss of Rehab Without Walls on Strokecast


Return to Employment After Stroke in Young Adults


A need for bananas? Dietary potassium regulates calcification of arteries


World Stroke Day




Joe Borges on Strokecast


Joe on Instagram


Peel a banana with one hand


Where do we go from here?

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast


Ep 131 -- Core Confidence with Dennis Sumlin

2-Minute Tip: Reframe your Anxiety


Anxiety and excitement are closely related so if you’re nervous before speaking, reframe it in your has as excitement. Tell yourself how excited you are at this opportunity. The physical symptoms — jitters, racing heart, etc. are very similar so give your brain a different interpretation of them


Post Tip Discussion: Core Confidence


Authenticity is something a lot of my guests talk about because it matters. You can take inspiration and learn best practices from other speakers, but don’t try to be other speakers. Be yourself. It’s a heck of a lot easier.


Today’s guest coaches folks to do just that through his Core Confidence and AMP programs, with a special emphasis on understanding masculinity in the modern era.




Dennis Sumlin headshot in a suit and tie with sunglasses

Dennis Sumlin is a certified life coach, speaking coach, speaker, podcaster, and Distinguished Toastmaster.


From Dennis’s website:


I have a long background in performing arts, speaking/broadcasting, talent recruitment, and other related promotional and administrative experience. I am both a certified communication and confidence coach as well as a Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) from Toastmasters International.


The company that would become Core Confidence Life started out as a men’s development coaching service. Lack of confidence is far too common, and many people have a hard time both knowing and using all of their talents.


Along with promoting and developing artists with a pro-growth message, CCL, through the main podcast, helps you gain core self-confidence and a healthy self-esteem. Guests share their story and we give you actionable tips to support your development.


Core Confidence Life is not just a promotion company, we support your development as an artist and a person, and we work to both make you more confident in your message and craft, and to promote a healthy authentic soul centered lifestyle.


Gillette: The Best a Man Can Be





Dennis Sumlin Website


Dennis on LinkedIn


Dennis  on Instagram


Dennis on YouTube


Dennis on Facebook


Dennis on Twitter


Core Confidence Podcast


Iron John by Robert Bly on Amazon



Call To Action



2-Minute Talk Tips is the public speaking podcast that help you become a more effective speaker in as little as 2 minutes a week.

Check out this episode!


Ep 086 -- SMART Goals

At an event I recently attended, there was a presentation on creating SMART goals, assigning roles/responsibilities, and balancing concepts of urgent vs important, among other things.

With a background in corporate life, and especially in the marketing field, I thought, "Why are we spending time on such basic and 'obvious' concepts?" And yet, the hundred+ folks in attendance were enthusiastic and soaking it all up as they could see how these new concepts could transform their working lives.

I took a couple things from the experience.

First, it's an ongoing reminder that not everyone has the same experience that I do. Smart people have different backgrounds. Things obvious to me are not obvious to others, and things that are obvious to others are not obvious to me. And sharing basic knowledge across areas of experience is valuable for everyone -- especially in the stroke space.

In fact, it's one reason I started this show -- to share not only stories but to also breakdown some the barriers to sharing knowledge across silos of neurology, physiatry, rehab, care givers, industry professionals, and survivors. Still, it's a lesson I (and many other) need to frequently relearn.

Second, there's value in talking about SMART goals. While we talk about them a lot in the corporate world, they also make a lot of sense in the rehab world.


SMART Goals are Simple, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timebound.


The goal needs to be simple to explain. If it's too tough to explain quickly and easily, developing the plan to achieve it, and then executing that plan is even harder.

Note: some definitions say the "S" should stand for "specific" rather than "simple." I've heard it both ways, and there's value in either approach. Personally, I think the other elements of the SMART goals framework encompass the elements of specificity.


A quantifiable metric is important to evaluating whether or not you accomplish a goal. "Feeling better" may be something we want. It may be a direction we go. But it's not really a goal. There's not a concrete measure of whether or not we've accomplished it. While there's value in pursuing objectives purely for ourselves, developing one with outside, specific measurement helps with accountability to ourselves and others. It also makes it easier for others to help us pursue our goals.

Additionally, measurable goals can be important to continue to be eligible to have insurance pay for therapy in the US or to remain in therapy elsewhere. Measurable goals are how we evaluate progress.


The goal doesn't need to be easy to achieve. It can be a stretch. It can seem to be impossible at first. But it still needs to be achievable. It needs to be something that makes sense. If there's no conceivable plan to get there, then It's not really a goal we'll be able to develop a plan to achieve. And if we can't develop the plan, then it's a lot harder to work to achieve it.


The goal should be part of your life. I could set a goal to do ballet moves as part of my recovery. But for the most part that has nothing to do with my life. It's not relevant. It's not something I care about. And if I don't care, I'm really not going to be motivated to pursue it. There are only so many hours in the day, and living with disabilities means our time is even more limited. Spending precious time on irrelevant goals is not likely to lead to success.


Goals without deadlines are dreams. And that's fine, but let's not mix the two up. A SMART goal has a deadline -- a date at which you can define whether or not you have achieved the goal. It also means you can build a work back schedule. That's a plan based in the individual steps you need to complete in order to complete the larger goal within the schedule.

If we don't have a schedule and a deadline, we'll keep pushing it out as other things come up.

An example of a SMART goal would be:

I will run 100 meters in 60 second by the end of July 2020.

It's easy to understand, it has a concrete measurement, It's something that I can accomplish (I think) with enough work, it's related to recovery mobility, and it has a deadline.

So work on making your goals SMART Goals.

Hack of the week

When I spoke with Debra Myerson and husband Steve a couple weeks ago, they shared the idea of leaving the "Dis" off of "Disability."

Focus less on what you can't do yet and more one what you can do. Sure that's hard to sometimes, but the more we focus on the things we are able to do, the more we can accomplish today.

You can hear more from Debra and Steve here.

Where do we go from here?

Strokecast is the stroke podcast where a Gen X stroke survivor explores rehab, recovery, the frontiers of neuroscience and one-handed banana peeling by helping stroke survivors, caregivers, medical providers and stroke industry affiliates connect and share their stories.

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast


Ep 130 -- Fire Stories with Jason Jordan

2-Minute Tip: Don’t Apologize


Or more specifically, don’t start your talk by apologizing to the audience for the talk they are about to hear. It comes across as an appeal for pity. When you do that it means you are starting from a position of weakness rather than one of strength.


The opening few moments of your speech are where you can have a tremendous impact. Engage your audience with something compelling. Don’t waste it apologizing about how you were up late the night before and don’t feel prepared to deliver your material well. Don’t start by telling the audience they made a mistake coming out to see you.


Post Tip Discussion: Fire Stories with Jason Jordan


I often talk about the why of your talk. Why are you delivering it? WBTU — Why bring that up? Why should your audience care? If there’s no reason for something to be in your speech or on your slides, cut it out. It’s just wasting your time.


Jason Jordan thinks about Why a lot, too, but it’s on a bigger scale. He helps organizations and individuals craft their Fire Story — the story of what drives them. It can be a cause close to their hearts or based around a moment in time that irrevocably altered their future for better and worse all at once.


My Fire Story, of course centers around the morning of June 3, 2017 when I found myself whisked away to the hospital I would live in for the next month, and the changes that have happened in my life since then — the things I’ve learned and the passion I was able to focus on helping others share their stories.


This week, Jason shares his story and talks about shaping those Fire Stories we all have. He talks about his approach to crafting a speech that will utterly terrify novice speakers, about the impact of forensics on his life, and just why Fire Stories matter.




From Jason’s website:


I completed my MBA in 2004 at Texas A&M, with a focus in Entrepreneurship. I found competing in case competitions (before the rise of “Shark Tank”) to be especially exciting! I remember noticing, at the time, that the teams that usually won were expert storytellers, and always had a compelling narrative for the inspiration for their business idea. I would watch as their stories connected with the judges, and their faces would crack into beaming smiles. That was when I first realized how storytelling could impact business.


In 2009, I launched my dream career as a professional speaker and coach, primarily focused on the interaction of the Generations (Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials). I developed programs on Intergenerational Sales Tactics, Leadership Development, and Communications, which were delivered at corporations and events around the country. Giving people tools to help them connect with others outside their generation was immensely satisfying, but the more business leaders, entrepreneurs, and influencers I worked with, the more I pushed them toward sharing their story.


This inevitably led me to the stories that matter most: The FireStories!


I am committed, for the rest of my career, to helping people discover and share their FireStories. In a world that is overrun with information and people trying to be heard, what we truly need is UNDERSTANDING. We don’t need to know what you do or how you do it. We need to know your WHY. Your FireStory provides your WHY.


Simon Sinek’s TED Talk on finding your Why



Thoughts on Forensics


Now that the new school year has begun in the US, Speech and Debate is picking up again. It gave me my early training as a speaker. It helped Jason get started.


Many of our previous guests got their start competing in Forensics, including Spoken Word Artist Huwa from Nigeria, Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Litigation at Walmart and Courtroom Graphics specialists Kerri Ruttenberg, and Dr. Denise Vaughan from the UW-Bothell Speech and Debate team.


If a student expresses interest in speech and debate, encourage them. It may be the most valuable educational experience of their life.




Jason’s Website


Jason on LinkedIn


Jason on Facebook


Jason on Twitter


Jason on Vimeo


Generation Jones on Wikipedia


Narrative Paradigm on Wikipedia


Simon Sinek’s TED Talk


Spoken Word artist Huwa on 2-Minute Talk Tips


Kerri Ruttenberg on 2-Minute Talk Tips


Dr. Denise Vaughan on 2-Minute Talk Tips



Call To Action



2-Minute Talk Tips is the public speaking podcast that help you become a more effective speaker in as little as 2 minutes a week.

Check out this episode!


Ep 085 -- Vision and Stroke with Dr. Eugene May

Vision happens where the brain meets the eyes. A stroke in a particular location can break that system. Even though the eyes may work perfectly, a survivor may not be able to see. Neuro-Ophthalmologists like Dr. Eugene May navigate this world and not only treat folks with neurological conditions but often discover neurological causes to mysterious vision ailments.


Dr. Eugene May HeadshotDr. May was born in New Orleans and completed his undergrad work at Tulane University. He later graduated from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and completed his post graduate training at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Since 1992, he's treated patients in Western Washington at Madigan Army Medical Center, The Polyclinic, Neuro-Opthalmic Consultants Northwest, and Swedish Medical System, where he currently practices.

He describes his Philosophy of Care as:

Neuro-ophthalmology is the field of medicine that bridges neurology and ophthalmology. I see patients whose visual symptoms are or may be due to neurologic problems. Many patients with multiple sclerosis have vision problems, so a big part of my practice is dedicated to helping them understand what is causing their vision problem and what can be done to address it. I also have a special interest in diagnosis and treatment of neurologic vestibular disorders. Patients with neurologic vestibular disorders have vertigo, dizziness and imbalance. They frequently have seen multiple providers before coming to me for an explanation of their symptoms. My goal is to diagnose and treat the condition so people feel and function better.

Hack of the week

Sometimes it's difficult to plug things into my computer or TV, or it's tough to find my glasses when they fall under the bed.

The camera on my phone makes it much easier, especially now that my balance and dexterity challenges make it more difficult to get my head into such spaces.

I reach around to take a picture of the awkward area. Then I have a better idea of where to reach my hand when I can't quite see.


Where do go from here?

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast


Ep 129 -- Medieval Times to CEO with Morgan Lopes

2-Minute Tip: Slow Down


Many speakers take the stage with their adrenaline pumping as the try to stifle their nerves or live in the exciting moment. Many times, they end up speaking to quickly. So try to slow down.


When we speak, we are often excited about, or at least familiar with, our topic. Our tendency is to go quickly over the basic stuff.


But the reason folks are in our audience is that they don’t know this stuff. They are likely hearing it for the first time. They are trying to digest and process this information as you speak. They are looking at your slides, too.


So slow down a bit. Give every word a chance to sink in. And use a varied pace to truly land your key points.


Post Tip Discussion: Meet Morgan Lopes

Morgan Lopes got his start in public speaking riding a horse and wearing a cape at dinner time.


He’s gone on to be CEO of one company and CTO of another — telling stories and working to change the world.


Some of the key things we talk about are managing his multiple roles, the importance of the niche, and the power of story.




Morgan Lopes headshot

As a software engineer and entrepreneur, Morgan Lopes pursues deliberate, consistent progress over time as life’s greatest growth strategy. Regardless of his job titles, leadership is a choice not a rank. Morgan strives to make that choice daily and challenges others to do the same.


Polar Notion. Cofounded in 2012


New Story (YS S15).


A human centered software from design to development and beyond.


Joined as Chief Technology Officer in 2016


Ending survival mode through home construction and global housing innovation.


3-Keys to Running Multiple Companies


  1. Disciple — Morgan keeps a tight schedule, gets up early and goes to bed early. He respects the importance of sleep, and refuses to let email take control of his day.
  2. Communication — Frequent and deliberate communication with team members is essential to keeping everyone on the same page. Just as important is inviting and accepting feedback — even when it’s not positive. It’s especially important for a C-level executive to be open and welcoming of criticism from other members of the team.
  3. Grace — Things don’t always go perfectly, and Morgan is grateful for the grace his family and team members extend to him when things don’t go well.


New Story 3D Printed Homes


I’ll just leave this here.






Call To Action



2-Minute Talk Tips is the public speaking podcast that help you become a more effective speaker in as little as 2 minutes a week.

Check out this episode!


Ep 084 -- Small things Matter

This is what my stroke looks like on the MRI. Or rather, this is what it looked like while it was happening. See that white curved, bulge-y line on the just to the left of the black thing in the middle? That's it. At one end of the line is a blood clot that's not letting blood through. Since blood flow and other thick tissue blocks the signal, the white line indicates that there is nothing there.

An MRI showing a right MCA thrombolic CVA

The image is essentially looking up my brain from the bottom. If the monitor you're looking at was 3D, my feet would be coming out the back of your head and the top of my head would be behind the screen. My face is at the very top of the image, and the back of my head at the bottom.

That mean the clot is in the middle of the right side of my brain -- specifically my right middle cerebral artery (MCA).

The MCA is pipe that is about an 1/8 of an inch wide (3.25-3.5 mm for the non-Americans). That's about the thickness of 3 and a half dimes (about 35¢). It takes very little material to block such a small space for a few hours, and yet that's all it took to change the course of my life. To result in the 84 episodes of this show that now exist. To cost an insurance company $200,000. To put me in the hospital for a month.

All the good and bad that has come from my stroke is due to that incredibly small thing.

Because small things make a big difference.

An update

Back in Episode 77 (http://Strokecast.com/StarbucksAndJelly) I talked about my experience with the jelly containers at breakfast and how they were incompatible with one-handed use. I shared this story with the hospital.

After that, they made changes. I talked about it on Instagram:



I recently spoke at another support group and found out the person running it listened to that episode, raised it with the team there, and they've now made changes to jelly distribution.

Will new stroke survivors know the difference this makes? No. But I do. It's a small thing. And by sharing my story I now know that hundreds of survivors a year will be able to start their days with one less failure or challenge.

And those little things matter.

Little Robots in the Future

This story has been making the rounds on Twitter:

MIT engineers have developed a magnetically steerable, thread-like robot that can actively glide through narrow, winding pathways, such as the labrynthine vasculature of the brain.

In the future, this robotic thread may be paired with existing endovascular technologies, enabling doctors to remotely guide the robot through a patient’s brain vessels to quickly treat blockages and lesions, such as those that occur in aneurysms and stroke.

-- http://news.mit.edu/2019/robot-brain-blood-vessels-0828

This tiny, slippery, flexible robot has the potential to revolutionize mechanical thrombectomy (the surgery where doctors use a groin or wrist based catheter to drag a clot out of the brain). It can do less damage to the arteries and expose doctors to less radiation over the course of their careers.

Plus, you could have a robot with a laser on its head running around your brain! How cool and terrifying is that?


Where do we go from here?

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast


Ep 128 -- From Quiet Girl to Empowering Leaders with Denise Ann Galloni

2-Minute Tip: Record Yourself and Watch it 3 Times


Recording yourself on video used to be hard. But that’s not the case anymore. Nearly everyone has a powerful video camera in their pocket. There’s no reason not to use this tool to make yourself a better speaker. Record a rehearsal or presentation, and then watch it back 3 times in 3 different ways.


First, close your eyes and just listen. Focus on pace, rhythm, and filler words (uhms, ahs, likes, etc.).


Second, turn the sound off and just watch the silent video. Look for physical pacing, repetitive gestures, and awkward motions.


Third, watch it as an audience member might and ask yourself, “Did I actually land my point? Do I feel inspired to do what I want my audience to do?


Post Tip Discussion: Meet Denise An Galloni


One thing I’ve seen over the past episodes is how childhood is not destiny. Some speakers started in grade school and couldn’t get enough stage time. Others were horrified early on, but were able to ultimately get past it and even learn to enjoy speaking.


Your approach to speaking as a child is not your destiny in life. Public speaking is a skill that can be acquired later in life. If you want to acquire it.


That’s how it was for Denise Ann Galloni.


Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half

John Wannamaker



Voted the quietest girl in her senior class, Denise Galloni started to come out of her shell and find her voice as a young adult. Today her mission is to help others find their voices and become better communicators through her company, DG Training Solutions Inc., which was founded in 2014.


In fact, Denise has delivered more than 500 presentations across the United States and Internationally. She is a Toastmasters award winner. Denise was inspired by so many women who helped her make her business more successful in 2017, she expanded her reach to help women live their dreams by creating, producing and hosting an award-winning TV show called Empowering Women. 


n 2018, she was a nominee for the Inspiring Lives Magazine International Empowerment Award.  Denise’s show Empowering Women was a 2018 nominee in the categories for Best Talk Show and Best Series for The Greater Pittsburgh Community Media Awards.


5-Tips for Better Training videos


  1. Keep them short. Folks don’t want to watch a 40-minute video. You may feel you need that much time to cover all the material, but if folks don’t retain it, does it really matter if you covered it all? 4, 10-minute videos will always be better than 1, 40-minute video .
  2. Don’t talk to the whole audience. Your learner is probably watching it by themselves. Address them as an individual.
  3. Make sure your message is clear and concise. Plan that message before you start anything else. That simple message should be supported by the rest of your content.
  4. Edit tightly. If you have any question about whether something belong in the video, cut it.
  5. Keep the bottom line up front. Get to the point first. This way your learners have the full context for everything else they are about to hear. Plus, they can enjoy the instant gratification you are offering.





Call To Action


2-Minute Talk Tips is the public speaking podcast that help you become a more effective speaker in as little as 2 minutes a week.

Check out this episode!