Episode 007 -- Meet Gerrit Barrere

This week, I talk with Gerrit Barrere about a huge number of topics. Gerrit survived 2 strokes in 2003. We discuss:

  • Gerrit's stroke story
  • How stroke affected his work
  • Emotional lability and pseudo bulbar affect
  • Stroke Recovery
  • Support Group benefits
  • Demographic shift in stroke
  • Power of stories
  • Tips for new survivors

Before we go further, I do want to give a little content warning. At about the 17 minute mark, we have some discussion of suicidal thoughts. If you find yourself experiencing such thoughts, please talk with your doctor, counselor or any of your therapists. They can help you get the help you need. Remember, your brain may not be giving you the best input after a stroke.

Depression is particularly common in folks post-stroke, and, as Wil Wheaton of Star Trek fame often says, "Depression Lies."

But back to Gerrit.

I met Gerrit through the Seattle Young Adult Gerrit Barrere ProfileStroke Survivors group. He's led it for many years and helped hundreds of people connect with one another in that time.

After 13 years at the helm, Gerrit is turning over the leadership of the YASS group to yours truly. If I can manage it half as well as Gerrit has, The group and stroke and caregiver communities of Seattle will have a great future. Wish me luck.

If you'd like to catch up with Gerrit, you can email him at this link. Or, if you're in the Seattle area, check out the YASS group. We're always welcoming new stroke survivors and care givers.

During the course of the interview, We talked about a lot of different resources. Here are those links (and a couple others):

Hack of the week

I finally figured out how to open a beer bottle with one hand.

The smart move would be to get a wall mounted bottle opener and mount that to the wall. Maybe someday…

For now I basically use the kitchen counter. I position the bottle opener in place. Then I hold it there with two fingers while I hold the neck of the bottle with the rest of my hand. I position the bottom of the bottle opener on the top of the counter which means I'm holding the bottle in front of the counter. Then I pull down and use the counter to apply pressure to the bottle opener and pop the lid off.

Where do we go from here?

  • How did you enjoy this episode? Let us know in the comments below.
  • Subscribe to Strokecast in your favorite podcast app so you never miss an episode.
  • If you know someone who might be interested in or benefit from Strokecast, let them know.
  • Don't get best…get better.

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast


Episode 055-- Slides are not Time and Talk Less, Say More


2-Minute Tip: Slides are not Time


How many slides should be in a 15-minute presentation?


How long is a 10-slide presentation?


I don't know because the number of slides is a poor proxy for presentation length. I would rather see a presenter add more slides than to use a small font. Splitting one slide into multiple slides doesn't lengthen your presentation. It just makes content more legible. Conversely, replacing 10 text heavy slides with 3 graphic slides doesn't shorten your presentation.


Let the content drive the number of slides in a deck -- not the clock.



Post Tip Discussion: Talk Less, Say More


My apologies to Lin-Manuel Miranda. His Aaron Burr gave the advice to, "Talk Less. Smile more," to make it easier to get along with everyone, avoid getting arrested by the British, and minimize political enemies. It didn't work out so well for him in Hamilton.


Instead, I suggest you talk less and say more.


Silence and repetition can be powerful tools as we saw in Emma Gonzalez's recent speech following the murder spree in a Florida high school.



As speakers, we may be tempted to throw as much stuff in a presentation as possible, and that's the wrong instinct. Volume of points won't help us achieve our goals; clarity will. When we try to focus on everything, we focus on nothing. When everything is the top priority, nothing is a priority.


Overwhelming our audience with facts, features, details, charts, slides, etc. doesn't drive our call to action. It doesn't support the point we want to make. Instead, it leaves our audience distracted and confused. They are more likely to forget stuff that we said because we obscured the important stuff with trivia. And that just wastes everyone's time.


To address the issue, go back to basics. Start your presentation prep by asking:

  1. Why will I conduct this presentation?
  2. What's the point?
  3. Why should the audience care?
  4. What do I want them to do?
  5. Why ought they do that?


Start with those questions and write down your answers. When you review your content, ask if it supports the goals outlined in those questions.  If a point does not move you towards your goal, cut it. It's a distraction, and we all have enough of those these days.


Call To Action:


  • Review an upcoming talk. Can you cut 25% of the material without detracting from your main point? If so, cut it.
  • Do you have any experience of how cutting something make a talk more effective? Have you talked less and said more? Tell us your story in the comments below.
  • Do you know someone who may benefit from this episode? Share it with them, and help them subscribe to 2-Minute Talk Tips in their favorite podcast app.
  • Don't equate the number of slides with the number of minutes in a presentation.
  • Don't get best...get better.


Check out this episode!


Episode 006 -- Meet AbiliTrek

In this week's episode, I talk with Daman Wandke, the founder and CEO of AbiliTrek, and Kyanne Flint, the CAO of AbiliTrek.  More than 19 million people with disabilities travel each year in the US. They are working to make that experience better. Here is some background on them from the AbiliTrek page.

Daman Wandke – Founder, CEO


Daman Wandke, MBA, is the Chief Executive Officer, as well as a technology consultant and national disability advocate. Daman is an avid traveler; traveling for both business and pleasure. “Seeing that travelers with disabilities need to be able to travel without having to worry about not having an appropriate hotel room when they arrive at their destination”, Daman set out to find a solution; hence, the birth of AbiliTrek. AbiliTrek’s goal is to empower the disability community with the Ability to Trek without boundaries.

Before working on AbiliTrek full time, he was an Accessibility Analyst at SSB BART Group, an IT accessibility consulting firm, where he performed audits of clients’ websites, mobile applications, and other IT products. He currently serves on two nonprofit Boards of Directors, the Northwest Access Fund and PolicyWorks. Daman brings to AbiliTrek his technology and business knowledge with his first-hand experience of traveling with a disability.

Kyann Flint – Chief Accessibility Officer
Kyann Flint, the Chief Accessibility Officer, is an alum of Western Washington University where she studied Political Science and graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Humanities and Social Sciences. A passionate disability advocate, Kyann’s motto is to Defy the Defined Disability – she blogs her insights at Life from a Lame Perspective where she shares her experiences as a person who is wheelchair mobile and the frustrations that come from society’s social barriers. Flint, loves writing, spending time with her fabulous friends and family, exploring the outdoors, drinking really good tea and coffee and of course, traveling!

Special thanks to my awesome OT Olivia for connecting us.

AbiliTrek is developing a crowdsourced and crowdfunded platform to develop a detailed review site for travel and restaurant services that focuses on the details of accessibility issues. Since accessibility is not a one-size-fits-all thing, simply saying something is accessible doesn't really give us enough information.  AbiliTrek aims to solve that problem.

You can learn more in this episode, and you can check out their Indiegogo for more information or to help fund it.  Here is a video about the project.


During the talk Daman and Kyanne shared a number of tips for travel and for business. Here are a few of them

  • Call ahead to your prospective hotel and ask detailed questions about accessible rooms. Just because it's accessible, doesn't mean it has a roll in shower.
  • Ask them to email you pictures of the room if you're not sure.
  • If you reserve an accessible room and they give it away before you check in, they need to find you one at another hotel.
  • Most complimentary hotel airport shuttles are not wheel chair compatible. In that case the hotel must pay for alternative transportation between the airport and hotel.
  • If your wheel chair has removable parts, take them off before checking your chair at the airport. If you don't they will get broken or lost.
  • Get multiple gate check tickets for the different parts of a wheel chair incase the get separated or lost.
  • Don't just reserve an accessible room. when you make the reservation contact the hotel and ask them to block that specific room for you.
  • When you fly with a wheelchair, you will likely be the first one on the plane and the last one off. This makes your flight longer.
  • Always plan on a long layover. Don't try to cut it close.
  • Have business cards for yourself and organization when you meet people.
  • Build, maintain, and rely on your network.
  • When you have an idea for a business, take some time to map it out in detail to think through challenges and opportunities.
  • If your interested in a project, find folks who've done it or something similar before and learn from them.
  • Volunteer leadership positions are a great way to gain experience and grow your network.
  • If you have a tech startup, know that you are likely to pivot, and be ready to do so before it's too late.

For me, the most important take-away is if you have a disability and an idea for a business or desire to travel -- go do it.

For more information about AbiliTrek, you can engage with them here:


Hack of the Week

Get a second cane (or other mobility aid).

Climbing stairs can be hard. It can be even harder when you're carrying a cane, too, right? After all, you are going to need that cane at the other end of the steps.

Unless, of course, you have another cane.

I have my main cane (s) for use downstairs and when I go out. I also have another cane that I keep upstairs. No need to bring one on the stairs with me.

Where do we go from here?

  1. Check out AbiliTrek's Indiegogo Campaign
  2. Follow AbiliTrek on their assorted social media channels
  3. Do you travel with a disability? What are your thoughts and experiences? Tell us in the comments below.
  4. Subscribe to Strokecast in your favorite podcast app.
  5. Don't get best...get better.


Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast


Episode 054 -- Nose Contact and Slow is Smooth Smooth is Fast



2-Minute Tip: Use Nose Contact


Using eye contact effectively is an important skill for speakers to master. It helps the audience feel that the speaker cares. It emphasizes how the speaker and audience members are all participating in a shared experience.  Looking at audience members' eyes can be unnerving for some speakers, though.


The solution is nose contact. Instead of looking at the eyes of the audience, try looking at the bridge of the nose. The audience members will still think the speaker is making eye contact, but it can be more comfortable for the speaker.


Post Tip Discussion: Slow is Smooth and Smooth is Fast


Rushing gets us into trouble. Whether it's while hunting for a job, meeting folks at a conference, relearning how to walk, persuading a crowd, or training learners, there's a temptation to take the fast way to save time. Unfortunately, it doesn't actually save time. 


To really be efficient, its often more important to slow down and get it right. By focusing on the basic elements and going slowly, we can master the fundamentals. That's how you get to a smooth process, where execution is clean and simple. And once we have that level of skill, prep, or competence, then things go faster.


In this section, I included about a minute of audio from the Cliff Ravenscraft show, Episode 520.  By slowing down, Cliff was able to make his participation in a conference even more valuable by building deeper relationships now and in the future with folks he met there.  You can find Cliff's whole episode here.


Call To Action:


  • How doe Slow is Smooth/Smooth is Fast apply to your own life or public speaking? Let us know in the comments below.
  • If you haven't already done so, please subscribe to 2-Minute Talk Tips in your favorite podcast app.
  • Try some nose contact at your next talk.
  • Don't get best; get better.

Check out this episode!


Episode 005 -- Prevent Shoulder Subluxation



Welcome to Week 5 of the Strokecast. What do you think so far? Let me know in the comments below, or email me at Bill@strokecast.com

You may have noticed the "Bill Suggests" menu at the top of the page. That's a collection of books and tools related to stroke recovery or public speaking that I find useful. They are also affiliate links. That means that if you click on them Amazon will send me a portion of the sales for the next 24 hours. It doesn't change your pricing or impact you in anyway. If you see a link to a product on Amazon on this site, you can assume it's an affiliate link.

In Episode 004 last week, I talked about my experience on the JoCo cruise with a focus on disabilities. I actually travelled with my friend Jon Clarke this year and we recorded an episode of his podcast over the course of several days. In it, he tries to figure out just what this whole cruise thing is. You can hear this discussion here, or subscribe to Caffeinated Comics in your favorite podcast app.

Shoulder Subluxation

The shoulder is a mess of a joint. When hemiparesis sets in, as happened after my stroke, it means the arm (and leg) on that side of the body stop working. Since the shoulder is such a complicated amalgam of muscle, bone, tendon, and ligament, it has to work right to stay together. Subluxation is basically what happens when the shoulder starts to pull itself apart.

When this happens, it's difficult to exercise, it's difficult to get the rest of the arm back on line, and it can hurt.

There are two main ways to prevent shoulder subluxation and to minimize it -- support and exercise.

[Bill wearing the GivMohr sling Bill wearing the GivMohr sling


Support is about minimizing gravity's insidious effects. It can include:

Ultimately the way to address it for most folks is exercise. It's why I do things like:

  • Shoulder shrugs
  • Shoulder rolls
  • Shoulder blade pinches
  • Cross body reaching
  • ...and more

Long term, strength is key. To get the strength,

  1. Get the exercise
  2. Get the fuel
  3. Get the support
  4. Get the rest

Hack of the week

"]Cane in a mop holder Mermaid cane in a mop holder 

Mop Holders are great tools for holding my cane. I have about 6 of them stuck up around my apartment in the living room, the bedroom, the bathroom, and near the dining table. I can easily clip my cane to the wall so no one trips on it, and I can still grab it easily and quickly when I want it. I also lose it less often since I know where to look.

Where do we go from here?

  • Do you have a story you'd like to share on Strokecast? Email me at Bill@strokecast.com.
  • How do you deal with sublux? Let us know in the comments below.
  • If you enjoy Strokecast, please subscribe to the show in your favorite Podcast app.
  • If you use a cane, check out the mop holders you can mount around your home or office.
  • Don't get best...get better.


Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast