Episode 124 — Nutrition and Public Speaking with Mary Sheila Gonnella

2-Minute Tip: Fuel your body properly


Our bodies react differently to different foods, and to maximize our performance, we need to consume the appropriate fuel for the results we want.


That means, first of all, hydrate. That was also the very first tip in the very first episode of 2-Minute Talk Tips. But it goes beyond that.


Avoid dairy before speaking. It drives mucous production which leads to throat clearing and generally results in less clear speech.


Managing blood sugar is also important to prevent energy crashes and to reduce the stress on our systems.


So what should you consume if you’re planning to speak? Focus on proteins and fats. Think savory instead of sweet. And drink more water than you think you need.


Post Tip Discussion: Meet Nutrition Expert Mary Sheila Gonella


Mary Sheila Gonnela  is a speaker, teacher, and nutrition expert. And in this episode we cover all those different areas.


We don’t often think about the fuel we need before speaking when we hit the snack buffet at a meeting. But it does make a difference. It’s among the things we explore this week.


But that’s not the only thing about effectiveness that we explore. Working with an assistant and being transparent with your audience are all ways to be more effective while speaking.




Mary Sheila Gonnella Headshot

Having served clients for over a decade as a Board Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant and Ayurvedic Practitioner, Mary Sheila Gonnella teaches clients how to honor their unique physiology, move self-care to the front burner, and achieve and maintain radiant health.


Mary Sheila’s classes and public talks fill up with students who keep coming back for more .


“Your breadth of understanding and your enthusiasm to share this knowledge, is so palpable. I learn many things from you every time!”


Andrew Goldstein, MS


Mary Sheila’s students at Bauman College Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts, where she taught for 7 years, say she is “One of Bauman’s greatest assets. She is brilliant and communicates her brilliance well. I am in awe of her knowledge level. She was a Godsend and a wealth of knowledge.” Jill Brogan, NC


In addition Mary Sheila’s private practice, Occidental Nutrition, Mary Sheila consults and teaches classes through doctor referrals in a clinical medical setting, where her approach has helped people have complete health transformations.


“My husband has been able to cut out nearly all his medications, as well as his sleep apnea machine, and both of us have greatly improved our sleep, and collectively we have lost 250 pounds. We can’t thank

Mary Sheila enough for her knowledge, energy, dedication and wonderful sense of humor.”

Nancy Palandati, CA


Her online courses include Your Roadmap to Bone Health, Blood Sugar Reset, Adrenal Vitality Blueprint, Winter Vitality Cleanse, Deeper Than Weight Loss, and Food Mood & Fermentation.


One of Mary Sheila’s favorite ways to connect with her students is by rolling up her sleeves, putting on an apron, and teaching cooking classes, reconnecting people to their ability to create delicious healing food in their own kitchen. Her classes include Fermentation, Eating for Immunity, and Everyday Superfoods, to name a few. Mary Sheila’s wealth of knowledge has led her to be included as a featured speaker and teacher on various online summits and stages around the San Francisco Bay Area.


Stay connected by visiting www.occidentalnutrition.com and sign up to receive “The Breakfast Report” Mary Sheila’s free guide to determining the right breakfast for you, your hormonal balance and your blood sugar regulation.


Personal Stories


Mary Sheila talks about how she was able to connect with a group of young students by sharing the personal story of her mother’s cancer. As a result, she was able to engage the students.


It’s similar to the experience the Ari Gunzburg talked about a few weeks ago. In that episode he talked about throwing out the talk he planned to give to instead share his personal story with a group of students in juvenile detention. They really appreciated that and made his talk more effective.


One of the things that helps makes us more effective as speakers is when we can connect more deeply with our audience. That’s easier when we have more things in common with them. When we speak with other adults in our companies or industries we already have some key things in common — especially being adults.


Telling those personal stories helps the young audience see this “adult” is more like them than they might have expected.





Call To Action


  • To learn more about Mary Sheila’s approach to nutrition, check out www.occidentalnutrition.com.
  • What foods to find make you a more or less effective speaker? Let us know in the comments below.
  • Subscribe to 2-Minute Talk Tips for free in your favorite podcast app so you never miss an episode.
  • Don’t get best…get better


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!


Episode 079 -- Wheelchair Life and a Google Give Away with Garrison Redd

This week I talk with Garrison Red. Garrison is one of our neuro cousins. His spinal cord was severed in a random shooting 14 years ago, and he's lived life since then in a wheel chair. It's been quite a life since then and the big adventures are only beginning.

There's a lot of overlap in the stoke, spinal injury, MS, CP, ALS, and other communities. While the cause of our deficits may be different, we all face similar challenges living life in society not optimized for accessibility. And we can rely on similar tools for navigating that world.


Garrison Redd laying on his back and lifting weightsAt 17 years old, Garrison Redd was a dedicated student and a standout running back on his high school football team before his life catastrophically changed one summer night in Brooklyn. A victim of random gun violence, Garrison was shot in the back and instantly paralyzed from the waist down. But instead of feeling sorry for himself, Garrison pushed forward. He is currently training as a powerlifter for the upcoming Paralympic Games, serves as a motivational speaker and mentors at-risk youth living with paralysis.

Now, for the first time in 14 years, Garrison Redd can turn on the lights, TV and music in his NYC apartment without assistance. He can see who rings the doorbell and adjust the temperature. Voice activated technology is giving him the independence many take for granted. And for the next two weeks, the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is providing access for 100,000 people with paralysis and their caregivers to receive a free Google Home Mini device (July 26-Aug. 13).

All members of the Reeve Foundation community living with paralysis and their caregivers are able to receive a free Google Home Mini while supplies last. To join the Reeve community and confirm eligibility, visit Googlenest.reevefoundation.org. The offer to redeem the device expires on August 13, 2019, and is available to U.S. residents only.

Garrison’s website is thegarrisonreddproject.org and he can also be found on YouTube (Garrison Redd) and Instagram (@GarrisonRedd). Additionally, he moderates a powerlifting group on Reeve Connect where he shares fitness tips and workouts with members of the paralysis community.

Power Lifting with Garrison



Google Home Mini and Accessibility




Here are the eligibility requirement for the Google Home Mini Give Away through the Reeve Foundation:

  1. You are living with a physical disability, mobility challenge, or paralysis you are eligible for a free Google Home Mini
  2. You are a caregiver and providing care to an individual living with a physical disability, mobility challenge, or paralysis you are eligible for a free Google Home Mini
  3. You are living in the U.S.
  4. You have not already submitted for a free Google Home Mini

If you meet the requirements, head on over to GoogleNest.ReeveFoundation.Org and fill out the form by August 13.

This is not a sponsored post or an ad; I just want to share this program and Garrison's story with you. And I'd encourage you to share it with others in the Stroke Community, as well. It runs until August 13, 2019.

And once you have your Google Home Mini and set it up, one of the first things to with it is say, "Hey, Google. Play the Strokecast Podcast."

Unemployment and Disability

Here is some data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:

In 2018, the unemployment rate for men with a disability (7.9 percent) was
about the same as the rate for women (8.1 percent). The unemployment rates
for both men and women declined from 2017 to 2018. Jobless rates declined
among Whites and Blacks with a disability in 2018, while the rates for Hispanics
and Asians showed little change. For persons with a disability, Blacks (11.2
percent) and Hispanics (9.8 percent) had higher unemployment rates than Whites
(7.3 percent), and Asians (7.1 percent) in 2018. (See table 1.)

Persons who are neither employed nor unemployed are not in the labor force. A
large proportion of persons with a disability--about 8 in 10--were not in the
labor force in 2018, compared with about 3 in 10 of those with no disability.

You can find the full report here.

Hack of the Week

Wheelchair maintenance is important. Repairs can be expensive and not always covered by insurance. Plus there's the time and hassle of not having use while a chair is being repaired. And there's the extra spoons it takes to drive a chair that's not in top condition.

The wheelchairs bearings can pick up a lot of junk. Over time that can make them wear out and fail.

Garrison uses nail clippers to clean them out. It's a simple tool that makes it easier to get into small spaces at awkward angles. It's made it a lot easier to keep his chair working properly.


Google Home Mini Giveaway


Garrison Redd Project


Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation


Garrison on Twitter


Garrison on Instagram


Garrison on YouTube


Garrison on LinkedIn


Garrison Redd Newsletter


Garrison's Power Lifting Forum with the Reeve Foundation


Rusk Rehab at NYU


Garrison on MILFDAD


Ti Lite Wheelchairs


Wheelchair Sports Federation


NJ Navigators Wheelchair Racing


Gaglione Strength


Heidi Latskey Dance


Unemployment and Disability


Where do we go from here?

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast


Episode 123 -- Spoken Word and Public Speaking with Huwa

2-Minute Tip: Just put yourself out there


Getting past intense nerves can be challenging, but there comes a point where you just have to do it. Just acknowledge your nerves and stage fright and do it anyway. If things don’t go well, the world won’t end, and (for most of us) no one will die. So just get up on stage, nerves and all, and just do it.


How can you give yourself the best chance for success? It’s no secret — practice. Prepare and practice. The more you do that, the better you’ll be able to focus on what matters — the audience and the message.


Afterall, it’s not about you.


Post Tip Discussion: Meet Okoyomoh Egbekhuwa — or simply Huwa


“You know what’s great about hitting rock bottom? There’s only one way to go, and that’s up!”

— Buster Moon, Sing


Okoyomoh Egbekhuwa — or simply Huwa — is a Chemistry student, spoken word artist, and podcaster living in Nigeria. We live in an amazing time where technology let’s us have conversations like this across the world.


Spoken Word is a performance genre where poetry meets public speaking meets story telling. Rhythm and timing are critical to success. A lot of the lessons Huwa learned as she grew as a performer will likely resonate with other speakers today.


And I have to confess my own ignorance here, This is a genre I wasn’t really familiar with before this conversation. I love getting to learn stuff on the show.




Huwa selfie in a car

Okoyomoh Egbekhuwa, or just Huwa is a performance poet and podcaster from Nigeria, West Africa. She’s been speaking since she was eleven years old at debates and in church. She started performing as a spoken word artiste three years ago and realized how underrated it is as an art so she started up a podcast, called The Spoken World, inviting performance poets, authors and enthusiasts from around the world to share their stories as expressed in literary arts.


Recently, she’s learnt that the podcast can be so much more as it involves stories that reveal the culture, traditions and politics of individuals across the globe.




Huwa quoted the movie Sing in our conversation. It’s an animated film about animals performing in a singing competition. A lot of the stories are about dealing with nerves, being true to yourself, and getting out there to share your art.


Here’s the trailer:



The Danger of the Single Story


The Danger of the Single Story is the risk we have of falling into ignorance. In the context of our discussion, we touched on how many folks in the US and elsewhere have a limited perception of life in Africa. One narrative about the continent often dominates our perception.


Storytelling is a great way to connect with an audience. As an audience member its also important to seek out more stories from speakers and artists who have a different background. It’s not about creating an artificial debate between 2 view points — 2 or more viewpoints and be different without being in opposition to one another.


Even with my relative ignorance I think it’s safe to say that life in Nigeria is very different from life in Egypt or life in Lesotho. And it’s fair to say that life in Lagos is probably very different from life in Yola (and yes, I did have to pull up a map).


And that’s the danger of the single story or narrative. It makes it way too easy to make assumptions about a wide swath of the Earth and its people.


It’s not just about geopolitics and cultural diversity, though. As speakers, how many of us have gone into a company, or even a department within our own company, with a narrative in mind about the people there? What do you think you know about the internal culture of Amazon or Microsoft or Starbucks? These are organizations with tens of thousands of employees and contractors. The single story in our minds about organizations will impact how we prepare and speak with them, even though that story may only apply to a part of the group.


And even if it applies to most of the organization, is your audience within that organization the group that story applies to? And do you think the same story you have about a company as a whole applies equally to the legal department, the marketing department, and the C-Suite? Probably not.


And let’s talk about individuals. What is the single story you have about someone who’s had a stroke? Is it the 86 year old retiree in the nursing home? Or is it someone like Luke Perry or Sharon Stone? Or do you think about the freelance blogger and podcaster helping folks become more effective speakers in as little as 2 minutes a week?


Stories help us understand the world. They help us connect with one another and pass along history, values, lessons, inspiration and community. There’s nothing wrong with stories.


The danger is in letting a single story about our audience or millions and billions of people become the sole way we see that aspect of the world.


So seek out and listen to more stories.




When Huwa and I were setting up the interview, she also emailed me an MP3 of her pronouncing her full name ( Okoyomoh Egbekhuwa) for me. This was great because it gave me an opportunity to practice listen to the correct version again and again.


If you have a name that is difficult to pronounce — or than might be difficult for someone from a different culture to pronounce, consider send a recording of it in advance to whomever may be introducing you at an event.


And if you’re the person doing the introduction, make an effort to learn to pronounce what may be for you a challenging name. You want to get it right because names are so important and they tie into so much emotional stuff. Getting a person’s name right is a sign of respect. And so I hope I did well by Huwa’s name.




The Spoken World Website


The Spoken World on Twitter


Huwa on Instagram


Spoken Word on Wikipedia


Huwa’s Email Newsletter


Spoken World Podcast on RadioPublic


Spoken World Podcast on PocketCasts


Spoken World Podcast on Apple Podcasts


Spoken World Podcast on Google Podcasts


Spoken World Podcast on Spotify


Spoken World Podcast on CastBox


Spoken World Podcast on Overcast


Spoken World Podcast on Stitcher


Spoken World Podcast on Breaker


Spoken World Podcast on Podbean


Kerri Ruttenberg on 2-Minute Talk Tips


Denise Vaughan on 2-Minute Talk Tips


Hilary Billings on 2-Minute Talk Tips


Tim Garber on 2-Minute Talk Tips (Part 1)


Tim Garber on 2-Minute Talk Tips (Part 2)


Jon Clarke on 2-Minute Talk Tips (Running a Panel)


Jon Clarke on 2-Minute Talk Tips (Comedy, Advertising, and rock)



Call to Action


  • Check out the links to Huwa’s podcast and Instagram above.
  • Subscribe to the Spoken World Podcast and 2-Minute Talk Tips for free in your favorite podcast app so you never miss an episode.
  • Don’t get best…get better.


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!


Episode 078 -- Educating the Nurses with Bronwyn Rogers

Last year, I started attending the CVA Support Group at Swedish. I talked about it a couple weeks ago in my interview with Seth since that's where we met.

It's also where I started connecting with Bronwyn Rogers. I had actually met her a couple months earlier when I reached out to the hospital administration to explore ways we could work together as I launched this podcast.

This week we sat down at Cherry Street Espresso in Seattle's First Hill Neighborhood, right across the street from Seattle University. A very large and well behaved dog napped on the floor next to us. This is the kind of neighborhood where no one even notices when you set up your portable studio in the middle of the shop.

We talked about Bronwyn's career trajectory and just what it is that a Stroke Clinical Operations Coordinator does with her day.


Bronwyn Rogers HeadshotBronwyn is the Stroke Clinical Operations Coordinator for the Swedish Medical Center First Hill and Cheery Hill campuses.

Bronwyn was born into a family of medical professionals in Australia. Her own decision to enter the nursing field came during her senior year of high school. A close friend was hit by a motorcycle and spent 3 months in the hospital. As a regular visitor, Bronwyn grew to respect the care and attention the nurse gave her friend. That was Her inspiration to become a nurse.

Bronwyn worked as a cardiac nurse learning everything she could. Eventually she wanted to stretch herself in new areas and moved up the body to stroke care. The rapid changes in the stroke field over the last 15 years have opened all sorts of new opportunities to help patients recover more and faster while at the same time, there's a tremendous opportunity to reduce the number of strokes that happen.

Hack of the week

Acknowledge that you've had a brain injury and that things are going to suck. You're going to feel bad. Especially in the early days, you'll be hearing and receiving a lot of information that you may not retain because, well, you've just had a brain injury.

A personal advocate can be extremely important during your hospital stay. That may be a spouse, partner, relative, friend, etc. who can be there with you, retain more information than you can on your own and advocate on your behalf to the various hospital teams.


Where do we go from here?

  • Do you have experience with the non-US medical system as a professional? What are your thoughts on the autonomy vs hierarchical relationships in your system? Let us know in the comments at below or in the Facebook community at strokecast.com/FacebookGroup
  • Subscribe to Strokecast for free in your favorite podcast app so you never miss an episode.
  • Don't get best…get better.

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast


Episode 122 -- Courtroom Graphics with Kerri Ruttenberg

2-Minute Tip: Slides must help the audience, not the presenter


One reason folks audibly groan when they think about PowerPoint is that too many speakers use the slides to help them get through their presentation rather than to help the audience understand what’s happening.


We use them too often to:


  • Help us remember
  • To keep our place
  • To just generally put too much stuff on screen


Ultimately there are 3 purposes behind our visual aids


  1. Help the audience understand
  2. Help the audience believe
  3. Help the audience remember


When it comes to improving our visuals, we need to eliminate any extraneous text, and limit ourselves to just one concept per slide.


When designing slides or other visuals ask yourself, “Who does this help more: the audience or the presenter?”


If it’s the presenter, cut it or change it.


Post Tip Discussion


Slides and visual aides are an important part of public presentations and not always in a good way. Slides dominate most stages these days, and reviewing a presentation for most folks means looking at the slides.


This trend isn’t limited to the conference room; it extends into the courtroom. PowerPoint slide decks, foam core boards, and animations now help juries make decisions in courts around the United States.


This week’s guest literally wrote the book on courtroom graphics. Kerri Ruttenburg, the Senior VP and General Counsel for Litigation at Walmart, is the author of Images with Impact: Design and Use of Winning Trial Visuals. She wrote the book to help lawyers and non-lawyers both make more effective use of visual aids in presentations.



Kerri L. Ruttenberg is the Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Litigation at Walmart, trial lawyer, and previously a partner at the law firm Jones Day in Washington, D.C., where she served as the Head of Litigation for the firm’s D.C. office.  She has tried cases in state and federal courts around the country. Kerri recently authored a book published by the American Bar Association, Images with Impact: Design and Use of Winning Trial Visuals, which has been praised as “groundbreaking” and “a must for the trial lawyer’s library.” Based on nearly 20 years of trial experience, working with graphic designers and interviewing jurors, Kerri frequently conducts seminars for lawyers, judges, expert consultants and marketing executives on the effective design and use of visuals for trials and other professional presentations.  


Kerri has been a successful public speaker for decades.  She paid for her college and law school education with competitive speaking scholarships, and her love of public speaking has continued through her career as she tries and wins cases, conducts seminars on presentation design and delivery, and even coaches others on how to improve their own effectiveness in public speaking. 


Thoughts on Speech and Debate


While my career took me in the direction of marketing, and Kerri’s took her in the direction of Law (which are pretty much complete opposites in most corporate environments). Our origin stories have a common touchpoint — Speech & Debate or Forensics in high School and college. We both partially paid for college with scholarship earned in competitive speech.


As kids start heading back to school next month, encourage or support their interest in Speech and Debate. And encourage schools to develop vigorous programs. The lessons from Speech and Debate extend well beyond how to speak before a judge.


A year ago, in July 2018, I spoke with Denise Vaughan, one of my former team mates in Speech and Debate from the Carroll College Talking Saints, and now coach of the Speech and Debate team at UW-Bothell about competition and her path. You can here that conversation here: http://2MinuteTalkTips.com/Denise




The other important lesson is one I talk about a lot — the importance of preparation. Kerri emphasizes the importance of showing up early to make sure everything works and the venue is setup as expected.


Preparation is also key for courtroom visuals. Kerri talks about the importance of using graphic designers for most of her trial graphics. We also talked about the unique review process for courtroom visuals. The opposing counsel needs to review graphics as does the court in many cases to make sure they are in compliance with appropriate legal standards.


The point is none of these graphics are put together at the last minute. They’re not assembling slides 10 minutes before using them. The stakes are just too high.




Kerri Ruttenberg on LinkedIn


Kerri’s book on Amazon


Kerri’s book on America Bar Association website


Rule 403


2-Minute Talk Tips with Denise Vaughan


@-Minute Talk Tips Review of “Storytelling with Data” by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic



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!


Episode 077 -- Starbucks and Jelly

Jelly Packets

Last week, the COO of Swedish Cherry Hill Medical Center invited me to speak at the hospital's leadership meeting to share a little bit about my experience as a stroke patient there.

Among the positive things I had to share, I also talked about a couple of the smaller negatives, including the jelly packets at breakfast.

A box of jelly packets spills its contentsThey use those little plastic packets that are common at dinners. You peel back the foil lid and then extract jelly with your knife to spread it on your bread. The problem is it takes two hands to do it. Give it a try with one hand sometime.

That means that I and the other hemiparetic stroke patients in the stroke unit couldn't do it.

And of course it's a small thing, and there are plenty of people available to help. But I feel silly paging someone to come to my room and spread my jelly.

At one level, it struck me as silly that a hospital hadn't thought of this. But there had to be more to it.

Later in the day, I realized why it stuck with me like this. It's because that means everyday started with a failure. And that is not a recipe for success in rehab.

Starbucks Framework for Recovery

Not: Starbucks is not a sponsor, but I'd be happy to change that. Hit me up, Starbucks! Bill@Strokecast.com.

Recovery is often talked about in terms of what an arm or leg can do, or how much vocabulary returns, or other metrics that are tied to what actions the patient can execute with their body. But the body is just a vehicle for our minds. Our legs, arms, voices, senses, memory backs, swallowing mechanism, etc. are all just tools for helping us get our minds from place to place, to connect with other minds, and to provide for the enjoyment of our lives.

One way I measured my recovery was, could I walk to Starbucks? And then could I enjoy my beverage and walk back?

Ted Baxter (http://Strokecast.com/Relentless) talked about how one goal for getting past his aphasia was to be able to order a beverage at Starbucks.

The podcast Aphasia Access Conversations recently talked with Speech Language Pathologist Maria L Muñoz and she described an Aha! Moment with a patient when she realized her approach was all wrong. The patient simply wanted to be able to complete an order at Starbucks.

Thinking about how the patient's condition impacts their Starbucks experience is really about understanding their goals and the actual benefits therapy and recovery can have in their lives.

Of course it doesn't have to be Starbucks. The coffee chain stands in as a great analogy for understanding what recovery means to the survivor.

And check out the Aphasia Access Conversations podcast. It's target audience is speech therapists so it's a bit academic. Ultimately it's about the field of speech therapy rather than survivors or consumers of therapy, but it can help you understand more about the field.

Congratulations to Ted and Kim!

Author and Survivor Ted Baxter appeared on the show last October talking about his journey and his book, Relentless (http://Strokecast.com/Relentless). He was recently profiled in the New York Times talking about his remarkable recovery. You can read that article here.

His former wife Kelly was profiled in part 2 talking about her role as caregiver and the challenges associated with it. You can read that profile here.

Congratulations, Ted and Kelly.

The cover of Dr. Kimberly Brown's book It's an Emergency!ER Physician Dr. Kimberly Brown was on the show last November (http://Strokecast.com/Kim) talking about her road to medicine, how the ER handles stroke patients, and some of the challenges of dealing with stroke in the stroke belt of the United States.

Dr. Brown just released her own book -- It's an Emergency!: Understanding the What, How and Why of Your ER Visit.

You can find it on Amazon here:

Congratulations, Kim! I look forward to reading it.

Hack of the Week

Gianna Rojas (http://Strokecast.com/Golf) talked about the importance of adaptive clothing. Many of us are already familiar with those snazzy looking Velcro shoes familiar to those with hemiparesis, but it goes beyond that. Gianna is partial to skorts from BSkinz, which you can find here.


Aphasia Access


Aphasia Access Episode 031 Show Notes


Maria L Muñoz on Twitter


Bskinz Skorts


Ted Baxter on Strokecast


Ted Baxter in the New York Times


Kelly Renzoni in the New York Times


Ted Baxter’s Website


Ted on Twitter



Ted on Facebook



Ted on Instagram



Relentless on Amazon


Dr. Kimberly Brown on Strokecast


It's an Emergency! On Amazon


Dr. Kimberly Brown’s Website


Dr. Kimberly Brown’s Facebook


Dr. Kimberly Brown’s Instagram


Dr. Kimberly Brown’s Twitter


Where do we go from here?

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast


Episode 121 — Toastmasters and Vulnerability with Ari Gunzburg

2-Minute Tip: Be Vulnerable


When you open up and share your story with an audience, it gives them an opportunity to connect with you on a deeper, emotional level. When you establish that connection with them, they listen more closely, relate to you better, and are more likely to retain your message or execute your call to action.


It’s not something to fake though. Audience’s can generally sense when someone is being authentic, rather than being fake. And vice versa.


So on stage, you don’t need to pretend to be perfect. You can share failures and mistakes. You won’t chase away your audience. You’re more likely to inspire them to join you on the journey.


Post Tip Discussion: Meet Ari Gunzburg


Ari Gunzburg stand at a railing, presumably on a ship, with water in the background

Ari is now a motivational speaker, a podcast host, and a wilderness liaison. Once his two podcasts are launched, and his workload calms down slightly, Ari plans to start writing a book, outlining specific programs and ideas to help people build a more meaningful life.


Ari learned about death early in life. He experienced a traumatic moment when only 10 years old, when his teacher passed away while on a hiking trip. This would affect his life deeply and change his perspective forever.


Following the death of this teacher, there was trouble afoot at school for all of the traumatized kids. This created a domino effect of changes and decisions that all culminated in Ari getting his “PhD” from the school of hard knocks, through multiple bad decisions and the outcomes of those decisions.


Having to live through these decisions and consequences has taught Ari many important life lessons; all of which he passes on to others.


“Regret not, but learn from your mistakes,” says Ari, reminiscing the wild cycles he experienced during his misspent youth. “Any lesson gained from real life experiences is one you no longer need to learn in a formal educational setting.”


Ari has had many life-changing experiences, each of which shaped him; from dropping out of high school, to going to jail, to experimenting with drugs, to wild partying and more.


After more than a decade working in marketing, branding, graphic design and websites, Ari realized that his experiences can help others. That his mistakes don’t have to be lived over and over again, if he can just tell over his story, and help people understand.


Ari is now focused on helping others, all while taking care of four fantastic children and the most amazing wife.


He is building programs and workshops to help others, using his ability to speak. Ari is producing podcasts to help others find their path to success and greatness. Ari helps others experience the wilderness, and the calm that comes from being immersed in nature. And Ari is helping kids and teenagers make better decisions.


Ari is now building lives of meaning.




This week, we get to learn a lot more about the competitive aspect of Toastmasters. Toastmasters is a well-known international organization with thousands of chapters around the world. It’s a fantastic resource for folks who want to improve their public speaking skill, practice, and get feedback.


While we do talk about competition in Toastmasters this week, keep in mind that is only part of the program. If you don’t want to compete, that’s perfectly fine. Most Toastmaster folks don’t.


But for those who do want to explore competitive speaking, though, Toastmasters can be a great option.


Vulnerability and Rebranding

Ari’s tip about vulnerability is important, and you hear it come out a few times, including the last segment where Ari talks through his rebranding, refocusing, and redesign of his website. His new website is  now live. If you’d like to see how it changed, you can check out the old version in the Internet Wayback Machine.





Call To Action

  • Check out Ari’s new website at AriGunzburg.com, and Ari’s other inks above.
  • If you want to try your hand, or mouth, at competitive speaking, or just want more experience while you improve your speaking, check out a local Toastmasters chapter.
  • Subscribe to 2-Minute Talk Tips for free in your favorite podcast app so you never miss an episode.
  • Don’t get best…get better.


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!


Episode 076 -- Identity, Isolation, and Art with Seth Shearer

Each month I go back to the hospital that treated my stroke to attend the support group they host. It's there that I met Seth Shearer. The more I learned about Seth's story, the more I wanted him on the show.


A selfie of Seth Ian Shearer leans against tile in a tank top with a blue tint over the imageSeth Shearer is a Seattle-based artist and designer. In September 2018, he suffered an acute ischemic stroke. Through rehabilitation he was able to regain use of the right side of his body. His painting practice helped to re-strengthen his arm and to begin the process of integrating his post-stroke experience with his with his former life. The transformation in his work led him to paint under his middle name, Ian, in recognition of his new life.

Neurological differences, such as a newfound hypersensitivity to light and sound drew him out to the "nighttime" world. Ian Shearer's paintings explore this post-stroke landscape. These urban vistas invite the viewer into a dreamlike world, woven together with light and shadow and possibilities.

Stroke Treatment is an Emergency

Most folks think a stroke happens, and that's it. All the damage hits at once, but that's not the case. It's actually progressive damage over the course of hours. And it's not a straight line of damage.

When I had my stroke, I woke up with symptoms, and over the next hour my arm, leg, and face declined significantly. The loss sort of leveled off for a while and then continued until 3:00 PM that afternoon. Because I woke up with my symptoms in June of 2017, I was well outside the 3 hour window for an intervention.

Since then, the standards have changed and the window for treatment has expanded.

In Seth's case, he also woke up with symptoms and even realized he was having a stroke. He was able to rally to take care of the pets before taking care of himself. He was also under the impression that once the stroke happened, there was nothing he could do and didn't rush getting to the hospital. It's impossible to know if faster treatment would have made a difference.

But maybe it could have.

Over the past year, we've seen the treatment window for stroke interventions expand. There are more and more opportunities to treat stroke survivors and prevent some disability. And that situation will continue to improve.

So in any possibility of stroke, get to an ambulance ASAP. Give yourself the best chance of the fullest recovery possible.

Ask and Answer the Right Questions

Seth talked about when doctors asked about memory, he assumed they were asking about long-term memory and not short-term memory. It took time for him to get treatment related to his audio processing challenges and memory issues because of this misunderstanding.

This is a common issue for experts when talking to nonexperts. And this happens in all sorts of context -- medical, legal, financial, marketing, operations, sales, etc. The more significant our expertise in an area, the more likely we are to make assumptions about things we think are basic and obvious, but folks outside our field will misunderstand.

During conversations with our medical teams or our loved ones medical team, we can keep in mind that we may not always be speaking the exact same language. Ask more questions. Clarify questions you get asked. Provide more information than you think might be needed.


Seth talked about feeling isolated following his and this is something I hear from lots of survivors. Sometimes it's because friends and family may be uncomfortable around survivors for a variety of reasons.

Various deficits -- like aphasia can also make socializing and connecting with people can be harder.

And then there's the challenge of other folks not quite understanding when we talk about our conditions. They can try to sympathize, but the experience of a brain injury is something you can't really understand until you have one.

How can you address the isolation?

Find other stroke survivors to speak with. Support groups are a great place to start. Or seek out the stories of other survivors on line or in books. And when other people try to sympathize, be patient with them. They're trying.


If the core of our identity is in our minds -- in our brains, what happens to it when our brain gets damaged? What happens when the defining balance between left and right -- between logical and ephemeral is thrown off? If you've read Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor's book, My Stoke of Insight, you know that for her it meant an entirely new world view and perception of time.

In Seth's case, it manifested in an entirely new artistic identity -- one that's significant enough that he changed his name.

Many stroke survivors feel like they are different people after their stroke. They mourn their prior lives as they move forward with their new lives. Recovery isn't just about doing bridges, shoulder rolls, swallowing exercises, and vocabulary quizzes. It's also about meeting the new you and understanding who you now are. It's about meeting and getting to know the Ian inside you.


Hack of the Week

Managing light sensitivity at home can be simple. Instead of just putting up with lamps and overhead lights, simply string Christmas lights up in your home. They're not as bright or glaring, yet the can still provide enough illumination so you can safely get around without assaulting you with lumens.

Plus they are super cheap.

A similar option is LED strip lighting that adheres to your wall. This is what I use in my office. Of course, it's more expensive, and it does require more work to get them set up just the way you like them. If you can't stand the thought of Christmas stuff up in the summer, though, they're a great alternative.


Where do we go from here?

  • So check out Seth's website and IanShearerStuduios.com. Check out his work and if you are looking for art for your home or office, consider a purchase.
  • Who do you think might find Seth's story interesting? Share this link with them and ask their thoughts: http://Strokecast.com/Seth 
  • Discuss this episode in the Strokecast community forum on Facebook at  http://Strokecast.com/FacebookGroup
  • Don't get best...get better.

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast


Episode 120 -- Motivation, Mistakes, and Speaking Your Truth with Mel Andre

2-Minute Tip: Tell Your Personal Truth


To be effective as a speaker on the big stage, you have to be able to tell your truth. That means you have to know what it is. This may take some personal work to understand what you are passionate about — what you truly believe.


Where it really pays off is in the connection to your audience. They can sense the authenticity. More importantly, they can sense artifice.


Ultimately it goes back to the words of Maya Angelou:


“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”


Post Tip Discussion: Meet Mel Andre


In the conversation I had with Mel, we covered the big picture stuff, but also some of the nitty gritty stuff about developing talk. There’s a nice mix of practical, individualistic, and conceptual material here.


And like any good motivational speaker, Mell brings some great enthusiasm to our talk.




Mel M Andre on the beach wearing a knit cap smiles and takes a selfie

Mel M. Andre is an Entrepreneur, Life Coach, Motivational Speaker, CEO of Skill and Will Fitness and former lead consultant at Andre Consultant. Mel’s passion in life is to help people realize their greatness and help people accomplish their goals.


Mel knows that in order to change your life, you must first change yourself and your mindset. Mel’s program focuses on helping you have a paradigm shift while also helping you make a plan to accomplish your dreams and goals. 


Several years ago Mel hit rock bottom and lost everything she had worked so hard to obtain. Mel decided that she would no longer be the victim and decided to completely change her life around. 


Through the power of motivations, dedication, discipline & positive affirmations Mel was able to turn her life around in a few months. During those few months, Mel decided to work on her business full time while also working on herself. She knew in order to become successful and stay successful she would have to make drastic lifestyle changes. These changes allowed her company, Skill and Will Fitness, to take off in ways she could only imagine. 


While Mel’s success grew she started mentoring her friends and family. This led Mel to discover her new passion, which is motivating and inspiring people to accomplish their goals and dreams.


Keys to Success and Happiness Conference


On May 11, 2019, Mel, along with Barbara Pando-Benke and Melanee Williams spoke at the Keys to Success and Happiness conference. At that conference they not only discussed how to become successful, but also  how to find happiness during your journey and  stay happy during the ups and downs that come with chasing your dreams and accomplishing your goals.


You can watch the entire conference for free at http://KeysToSuccessAndHappiness.com.

Five Mistakes Speakers Make

Mel outlined 5 important mistakes new speakers make.


  1. They don’t speak their truth.
  2. They rely too much on their notes and slide decks.
  3. They fail to Practice.
  4. They focus on landing big gigs at the expense of learning and growing at smaller ones.
  5. They turn down opportunities that they are afraid are too big.


To learn more about these mistakes, listen to the clip below, or just listen to the whole episode.



If you’d like to share this video, you can use  this link: http://2MinuteTalkTips.com/MelTalksMistakes





Call To Action


  • You can find Mel on Instagram, where she is Mel_Andre911. Just search there or follow this link.
  • Share this episode with 2 colleagues by using the link http://2MinuteTalkTips.com/Mel
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  • Don’t get best…get better.


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!