Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The real motivational speaker in the family

As many of you know, one of the things that I do is professional speaking on IT-related topics. I thought you would enjoy hearing from my sister's perspective about a part of the speaking business that I didn't even think about before now. My sister was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002 and has been healthy since her treatment. Since then we have both become advocates for various charity fundraisers that we have done annually. We were part of one of the two-day Avon events last weekend. (She walked, I served dinner and breakfast to about 5,000 people involved in the event.) We were part of a team that she had assembled of 18 people that were connected to her husband's family and friends. Most were walking the route for the first time, and at the end of the first day the majority of the walkers on our team had finished the entire 26-mile route. It was an inspiring moment, especially since most of the team were first-timers. I am very proud of Carrie: she got the team together, got them excited about the event, even got one of them to drop 50 pounds! As a friend of mine said, this would be the equivalent of me climbing to the top of K2. So here are some of her thoughts about the weekend:

This year the Avon Walk was different. It was much more of an emotional challenge and not so much of a physical challenge.

I have always thought that I wanted to be a motivational speaker. Their life seems so idyllic – they speak about their passions and encourage others to be the best they can be. Many of them have a shtick, a 45-minute formulaic talk and a three-hour workshop. Their life is organized into packets of conversation.

I tested out this career change this weekend.

Because I never do anything in a small way, I did it my usual big way. This weekend I walked with two of my sister-in-laws who have never walked more than five miles. For the twelve hours it took us to walk the entire 26-mile course, I delivered a continuous motivational speech. I drew from every workshop and speaker I have heard in the past three years. We tried chanting and visualizations, I recounted the inspiration and guides from The Spirited Walker (Carolyn Kortge) . I encouraged them that they could do anything they put their mind to, they could do so much more that they believed they could do, that when they legs grew tired, they should rely on their heart to carry them through, that passion would fuel them another mile., I recited poetry of the greatest Sufi mystic, Rumi, "Passion burns downs branch of exhaustion." I quoted Carolyn Myss, I Can Do It, creating a field of grace.

Well, we all made it to the finish line for the first day, and arrived at the camp area in time for dinner.

It feels good to make a difference, not in my completion of the 26 miles, but in showing them that they had the power, and the passion to do it too.

After twelve continuous hours of motivational speaking, I'm glad I have a job where I can sit behind a desk, type on my PC, and don't have to talk to anyone if I don't want to.

Thanks Carrie for being such an inspiration! And check out her website at

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About Me

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David Strom has looked at hundreds of computer products over a more than 20 year career in IT and computer journalism. He was the founding editor-in-chief of Network Computing magazine, and now writes for Baseline, Information Security, Tom's Hardware, and the New York Times.