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



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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



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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.






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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!