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The Mashup Revised History of the American Revolution

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Last Friday, October 5, 2012, I was asked to be the “target” speaker for the Toastmasters State of Georgia Fall Conference Evaluation Contest.  In other words, I was the speaker that the five Evaluation contestants would listen to, and then prepare their evaluation of my speech, each trying to be known as the “Best Evaluator” in the State of Georgia.  Since it was an after dinner speech, I decided to have a little fun, and create a light but hopefully humorous speech for entertainment.  I hope you can see the humor and the over the top absurdity to this speech.  It received a lot of laughter and nice comments from the evaluators, but I also learned where I could improve my speech content, pacing, physical movement and the use of pauses.

So, I learned something, the audience enjoyed the speech and the evaluators all had to have their “A” game in order to win!   If you would like to learn more about my Toastmasters club, Peachtree Toastmasters, check us out at www.peachtreetm.org.  One of the main things I have learned from Toastmasters is that a standard 5-7 minute speech, for me, is about 900 words.  This speech had 902 words.  I have learned that less is better, give the audience time to breathe and think about what you are saying, visualize your stories and words.  I still struggle with giving enough “space” to my speeches, but, thanks to Toastmasters, I am improving!

I hope you enjoy this.

The  Mashup Revised History of the American Revolution

Marty Mercer, Target Evaluation Contest Speaker

Georgia Toastmasters Fall Conference, Augusta, GA, October 5, 2012

Thank you Madam Contest Master.

My fellow Toastmasters, guests and contestants, two weeks ago my wife and I spent two days touring the great city of Boston.   Everywhere I went I used a social media tool called Foursquare to “check in” to all the famous sites and posted witty sayings and photo’s, all of which were tweeted for the world to see.  Foursquare gives you points for various check-in’s and you can earn virtual badges, like the Back to School badge when I checked into the Harvard campus.

After our trip I began to think about how funny it would have been if Paul Revere had today’s social media tools in  1775.  A “mashup” of Paul Revere using social media during his midnight ride!  Like the Aerosmith and Run-DMC song that was played after my introduction, two completely different ideas, or songs, mashed together.  I think it would have played out like this……..

On the morning of April 18, 1775, Paul Revere checked his email and noticed that he had received a LinkedIn invite from a group called The Midnight Riders.  Paul loved riding his horse in the evening and he thought this would be a great networking group for his business!  He accepted the invite and noticed that they met for lunch that day at O’Leary’s tavern.

During lunch he was told the Midnight Riders were really disloyal Colonists who wanted to overthrow King George.  And they were looking for a man to ride to Concord that night.  Paul immediately volunteered.  The leader told him to follow the Twitter handle @notaxationwithoutrepresentation, and await further instructions.

Later that day Paul got a tweet that said “go to the Charles River and look for boat by bridge.  Send your teenaged son to Old North Church to be messenger. 1 by land, 2 by sea #wehatebritishtea”  Paul was so excited!  He sent his son to the church and told him to wait for a text that would either say “land” or “sea”.

As 9 pm approached Paul was having trouble finding the boat by the river.  Luckily for him, he was still using the iPhone 4s and so his Google maps worked great, thank goodness he decided not to upgrade!  Paul jumped in the boat and began to paddle across the Charles River to where his horse would be waiting.  He looked up at the Church, but didn’t see any lights.  Just then he got a text from his son, “Dad, was it 1 by land and 2 by sea or 1 by sea and 2 by land?”  Argh, Paul skyped  his son and got the right message face to face… by land it was!

On the way to Concord, the first town Paul hit was Somerville.  By now he was hungry and thirsty.  So he pulled out his phone and used Yelp to find a good pub.  Smith’s Bar got 4 stars, so he stopped there.  He used Foursquare to check into Smith’s and he earned a free 5 shilling off coupon for the mutton pie!  Great, the Midnight Riders will love his thriftiness!  Before he left Smith’s he changed his Facebook status to, “on a midnight ride!”

As he approached the next town of Medford, he noticed how beautiful the night sky and moon was looking.  So he tweeted “beautiful night view in Medford tonight #downwithkinggeorge” and he sent a photo out with Instagram.

Halfway between Medford and Arlington Paul’s PayPal app suddenly began to buzz about every 30 seconds.  He stopped to check paulreveresilversmith.com and saw that one of the local rugby teams had purchased 10 silver cups for their annual awards banquet.  Kaching!  Mrs. Revere will love to hear his website was producing revenue!

As Paul eased his way into Concord, he sent a group text to all the families to tell them, “change your Facebook status to ‘fast asleep’ “.  He sent a private tweet to John Hancock and Sam Adams telling them to get out of town, the Brits were on their way, looking for them!  Mission accomplished for Paul!  He was sure that by morning @paulreveremidnightrider would be trending high in Twitter-land!

Now, I know some of you are saying, Marty, this story makes no sense!  Surely the British would be following Paul and monitoring his tweets and social media activity, right.  Well, you see King George made two big mistakes.  One, misunderstood the whole taxing the tea thing.  And secondly, he put all his money in Droids and MySpace!

Near the end of our trip in Boston, I FourSquared at one more spot and I earned the “Oversharing” badge, more than 12 check-in’s in ten hours.  Oversharing, hah!  What if Paul Revere had been worried about oversharing his social media?  He never would have gotten the message to ride.  And he would never have been able to tweet to Hancock and Adams to leave Concord.  Why, without Paul and social media, the British would have captured two key men and eventually won the war, and we would all be British citizens!

We would all be speaking with British accents…… getting ready for the big soccer match between UGA and South Carolina tomorrow……looking at photo’s of a naked Princess Kate in the Augusta Chronicle…..and not having to listen to Obama and Romney go after each other for the next 5 weeks……hmmm, maybe being a British citizen is not such a bad idea after all……..God Save the Queen!

Madam Contest Master!

Copyright All Rights Reserved Marty Mercer, Inc. 2012

Get Intentional With Our Hands

Friday, April 30th, 2010

I recently had the distinct honor and pleasure of working with a young man, Ryan Jenkins, on one of his Toastmasters speeches.  This was no ordinary speech.  First, it was his 10th speech, which meant he had earned his Competent Communicator certificate.  Secondly, it was his 25th birthday when he delivered the speech.

But more importantly, it was the anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre.  Ryan used that story and the specific story of one of the young women who was murdered, Rachel, to inspire us.

At the very young age of 13 Rachel wrote down that one day her thoughts and ideas and actions would inspire others to acts of compassion.  At 17, she was murdered in the Columbine High School cafteria.  But the memory of Rachel and her ideas have been transformed into Rachel’s Challenge.

Ryan asked us to look at our hands.  Were we using our hands intentionally to do good, to help others, to try and make the small space that we live in, better?   He closed by challenging us to do something different.  To use our hands intentionally and consistently to help someone in need, rather than being idle.

At the end of the speech, the room was intensely quiet, except for the sounds of sniffles and tears falling down our cheeks.  You did it Ryan, you impacted us and your inspired us with your words and passion.

So, in my own small way, I am using my hands to help communicate your message and Rachel’s Challenge.  Watch Ryan’s speech and then do something.  Use your hands to make a difference.

Thanks Ryan!

In Memory of Mac the Macnificent!

Monday, July 28th, 2008

This past Saturday I was cutting my yard (yes, I am one of the few who still cuts their own grass!) and a part on my lawnmower broke.  I could still use the lawnmower, so when I got done I took it into my lawnmower repair guy Mac.  His shop is right next door to an equipment rental store, and so when his door wouldn’t open, I popped into the rental store to find out when Mac would be back.

The guy at the counter gave me some terrible news, Mac had passed away!  He died back in June of this year from a blood clot.  He was probably in his late 60’s or early 70’s.

Mac was the kind of guy who could fix anything, especially if it had a motor.  His shop was full of old lawnmowers, blowers, edgers, pressure washers, mixers, saws.  When you took your lawnmower in, Mac would eyeball it, mumble in his low gruff voice, “I can fix that, come back in a week.”  No paperwork, no minimum fees, no credit cards. 

In 2004 Hurrican Ivan blew through Pensacola, came up the Chattahoochee river and blasted Atlanta.  It flooded Peachtree Creek in our neighborhood.  We were the last house in our neighborhood to get flooded.  All of my gas powered lawn equipment got flooded and covered with layers of Georgia red clay silt and muck.  I took them all into Mac.  When he looked at them, it seemed as if he had a gleam in his eye.  I thought all of them were totalled.  He looked at me, ran his hands over the equipment, and for the first time ever, I saw him smile.  He said, “Don’t worry, I can bring these babies back to life!”  I thought he was crazy, but I left them.  Two weeks later, I went to pick them up, and they all looked brand new!  I think he charged me $125 for four pieces of equipment.

No paperwork, no cash register, you just wrote him a check.  He did have a business card however.  All it said was Mac, Small Engine Repair, showed his phone number and his email.  His email said it all…..Macnificent2003!  When I saw that, I laughed out loud….in my car of course, not in front of Mac.  Mac was not a computer guy, I figured someone told him he should have an email address.  But Macnificent he was!

I figure that with all the golf courses in heaven, there are plenty of lawnmowers and other gas powered equipment needed to keep them as pristine as I have heard they are in heaven.  Right now, Mac is literally in small engine heaven, keeping those engines running…..he never met an engine he couldn’t fix!

What I Am Thankful For!

Friday, December 21st, 2007

I know this title might sound like something you are supposed to think about or write about around Thanksgiving.  Well, I was busy during Thanksgiving, we went down to Tampa that week to visit family, and the week ended with the usual loss by Georgia Tech to Georgia!  (Is Chan Gailey thankful now?!)  So, I didn’t get around to writing the typical Thanksgiving blog.

But as we steam into Christmas and the end of the year and get ready to launch into 2008, I thought I would take a look back at my last year and hand out some thank you’s!

My year began on an awesome trip to Paris, with my wife Karen, for our 25th wedding anniversary.  We went to London for our 20th, so Paris was next.  We had a fabulous time and got bumped to first class on the flight back home!  So, a huge thank you to my beautiful wife of 25 years…….and to Delta!

My next thanks goes to my former company, Misys Healthcare, who handed me a great gift the Tuesday after I got back from Paris…..they fired me, whacked me, eliminated my job, pick your favorite phrase.  I like whacked!  Best thing that ever happened to me!  So, thank you to Richard and Kelly and Rob and whoever else decided they didn’t need me anymore!  Life is better on this side of the fence!

I spent some time after that deciding what to do with the rest of my life.  I decided to leap into something I had been considering, but had pushed into the off site storage device in my brain, and jumped into the deep end of the Professional Speaking pool!

So, a gigantic thank you again to my wife Karen.  She never once hesitated to say yes to me on this idea.  In fact, she just smiles and chuckles and says, “Don’t worry about it, it’s just our retirement money you are spending!”  Every man should have a wife as loyal and committed as Karen.  And thanks to my kids, who I know are still scratching their head about what to say when people ask them, “So, what does your Dad do for a living?”  I used to travel 50% of the time, so since I have been home a lot this year, they have all had to get used to me being around, perhaps for the first time in their life!

Thank you to all my friends, family and former co-workers who have amazed me with their kind and generous words of encouragement.  And to those of you who have hired me to speak or who have bought my first CD, an extra special thank you!  To those of you who have not bought my CD, stop right now, and click here and get your credit card out!  http://www.martymercer.com/products.html

I have missed the friends and co-workers that I developed over the years at my former companies.  But I have found a new and wonderful network within the Georgia Speakers Association (Scott!), the National Speakers Assocation (David, Eric!), and the Peachtree Toastmasters Club.  I am learning new things every day from all of you, all of which I hope to use somehow in my new business.  I hope some of the things I have shared with you are helpful as well.  Also, thank you to the experts who helped me build my web site, create my video, photo’s, graphics and CD. 

I want to give a special thanks to my unofficial Board of Directors, or Incubators, as one of them called themselves.  Patty, Bob, Liddy and Ann, thank you all for your help and support.

One year ago today I was thinking about baking Christmas cookies with my children, looking forward to Christmas day with my family, and listening to Karen read me all of the 50 books she had gotten from the library on Paris!  I worked for a $500M healthcare software company, a market I had spent 25 years selling into.

Today, I work for myself, in a market and space that is totally brand new to me, working to get back to an income level that I was used to.  But this afternoon, I will still bake cookies with my children, I still look forward to Christmas, and I plan to have a fantastic revenue year in 2008. 

I know I can do all of this because I have my wife, my kids, my family, my old friends and co-workers, my new friends and co-workers, and my new customers all along for the ride.  I could not have created my new path this year without all of you.  I will not be successful next year without you either. 

I look forward to seeing and hearing from you all next year!  Remember, “If I Can Do It, So Can You!”

You Can Change….Just Try It!

Monday, October 29th, 2007

A few days ago, my wife and youngest daughter snuck over to Georgia Tech to watch my son’s fraternity pledge class play a rival fraternity’s pledge class in football. 

My son played all four years of high school football.  He had a great career culminating with his team losing a heartbreaker to the ultimate state champ in the Georgia Dome in the state semi’s.

His senior year he played the offensive line and special teams.  These are not high profile positions, and your name rarely gets called by the game announcer.

But in this fraternity game, which by the way was full contact with no pads or helmets, my son was playing Quarterback!  He had amazing speed and power.  Most plays he would take the snap in the shotgun and then run, he passed a few times.  But as they neared the goal line and the game was on the line, he got up to the center and took a traditional snap from center, and then just took off like a jet up the middle to score a toucdown!  The crowd was screaming and chanting his name!

Of course I was thrilled and yes he is my son, so it is easy to brag on him.  Later, after the game, I told him, “Geez, M.C., you looked so fast out there!”  He just smiled, only the way an 18 year old can smile at his old man and said, “That’s because I am fast, Dad!”

The kid who toiled anonymously for years on the line and on special teams, was now the winning quarterback of his fraternity football game.  He didn’t accept the fact that he was just a lineman.  He knew he had speed and power and he caught the attention of his teammates and coaches.  Four years in high school with one identity was immediately changed in one afternoon.

A great lesson for all of us.  If you don’t like where you are in your career or your skill set or with your perception of who you are…..Change It!  Do something about it!  During his junior and senior years of high school, my son joined the track team and ran the sprints.  He worked hard at getting faster.  He decided that even though he was a lineman, one of the lovable “Hawgs”, he could also develop his speed.   He didn’t accept the conventional wisdom that offensive lineman are slow.  He put a plan together, joined the track team, worked hard, and he did get fast.

Too often many of us let others define who we are.  We can get stuck in a rut.  If you are not happy with who you are, where you are, or how others perceive you,  you CAN change that, but you  have to believe in yourself first.  Just try it……take a hard look across that defensive line….you just might see a huge hole to the end zone!  And when you do…….SPRINT!

Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

I did three breakout sessions last week in San Francisco for an organization that provides insurance and risk management services to it’s member organizations/companies.  Most of the attendees are the Safety and Wellness/Health Directors for their employer.  The morning keynote was done by an awesome professional speaker, Bruce Wilkinson, out of New Orleans (http://www.wilkinsonspeaker.com).

Bruce said a lot of great things that got me and the audience thinking, but one that resonated the most for me was when he said, as business leaders, we have to get our employees “comfortable being uncomfortable”.  Before you do that, however, you, as a leader, must get “comfortable being uncomfortable”!

Easier said than done, I know.  A lot of things go into this concept.  You need to be confident.  You need to have the right skill set.  You need to develop a thicker skin than maybe you have right now.

For me, as I think back about what Bruce said, I think the most basic building block to achieve this is to know where you are going.  If you know where you are going, if you have a goal, if you can visualize and verbalize your goal, if you have a roadmap to achieve that goal, it becomes easier to get there when the uncomfortable events occur.  When you get sidetracked, when your team doesn’t act as a team, when your team pushes back on the plan, when nothing seems to be going right………those things sound pretty uncomfortable. 

But if every time these situations occur, if you can look at your roadmap, if you can re-state your goal and objective, it becomes just a bit easier to deal with the discomfort and determine a way around the current problem.

Last week after my presentations, many people asked me what help or advice I could offer them to help their employees jump onto the fitness and health bandwagon.  “Help me motivate my employees”, they were asking me.  That is the million dollar question isn’t it.  Bruce also said this last week, “You cannot motivate anyone to do anything, but you can inspire them to do things they didn’t think they could do.”

So, as leaders, to get anyone to do anything, we have to inspire them, not motivate them.   We have to inspire by example.  We have to show the behavior we want our teams to exhibit.  But none of us can go anywhere until we decide where we are going and how we are going to get there.

So, as we all work to inspire our co-workers or direct reports, or ourselves, to achieve our work goals or to achieve our personal health and fitness goals, make sure you have first answered the question of where you want to go and how you plan to get there.  Without that, no amount of clever sayings or cute motivational wall signs will work. 

Oh yeah, this isn’t easy.  If it was, everyone would be doing it already.  Write your goal and plan down, and then use it to help you and your teams stay comfortable while being uncomfortable.

Six Months is Too Long!

Monday, September 24th, 2007

Last Friday I visited a family friend whom I had not seen in about six months.  In the go go world that many of us live in, six months may not sound like a long time.  We all have friends who we don’t see a lot, but perhaps we talk to them, email with them, blog with them, text with them, and so it seems like we “see” them frequently.

However, this person does not do email, does not have easy access to a phone, and so my contact over the last few months had just been some pictures shared via email from other mutual friends and family.

Our visit Friday afternoon was wonderful.  We laughed and  chatted and caught each other up on what had been happening in our lives over the last few months.  My friend loves to read, so we took a small gift of a book, and of course she loved it! 

It was a wonderful way to end a busy week.  Spending some slow, one on one time in the late afternoon on the next to last day of summer.  But why I had I waited so long to get together face to face?  Bad decision on my part, because when I left, my spirits were higher, I was smiling, and promising to get back together sooner.  To not wait another six months.

We all have friends like this.  Don’t let six months go by.  Make a call, make a date, get in the car, go visit your friends, get face to face.  You can learn so much more when you are face to face than by trying to read between the lines of emails or the short cryptic letters in a text message.

The relationships we build, the friends we make and have, are the most important things in our lives.  Don’t let work or money or social events or whatever else has been getting in the way, get in the way.  Don’t be a stranger, you’ll be happier!

New Beginnings

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

This week and next week my wife and I are moving our first two kids into college apartments and dorms.  Our oldest, will be a junior at the University of Georgia, in Athens, and she is moving into her first apartment.  Our son will be moving into the dorms as a freshman at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.  We still have an 8th grader at home.

Many people, I think, view these kinds of events as endings, the “end of an era”, the end of high school, the end of kids “coming home during breaks”.

Of course, the two kids view things quite differently!  They see it as a beginning, the beginning of the rest of their life, the beginning of getting out from under Mom and Dad.  The beginning of freedom.  The beginning of creating something totally on their own. 

My daughter sees it as the first chance to finally get to decorate a place the way she wants to, not the way her mother or her two Aunts have always done things!

I view all of this as a new beginning as well, not the end of something, but the beginning of something exciting.  None of us know what will come next or what will happen over the next few years (I hope enough A’s and B’s happen to keep the Hope Scholarship!).  

I am embracing the “unknown” and looking forward to what hits us next.  If everything stayed the same, life would get pretty boring, so I look forward to the new changes in our lives.  Change is always here, it never stops, so why not embrace it and make it a part of our lives.

Meditation

Friday, July 27th, 2007

Meditation, toning, finding your quiet space, chanting…..more and more people seem to be searching for something to help them “get centered” or find themselves or relieve stress.  I have always looked at these activities with a skeptical eye.  However, yesterday, at the beach, around 5:30 pm, as the sun was getting lower, with the waves crashing and a nice warm wind running from the north to the south, I popped in my Ipod and put on some Miles Davis, the Kind of Blue album, released 1959.  After about five minutes of Miles, John Coltrane, Cannoball Adderly and Bill Evans I had found my own version of meditation.  So if chanting or toning does not appeal to you……try some Miles-Davis-ing…..I promise you your worries will disappear for a while!

Who Would You Have Dinner With?

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

My sister told me about her local paper in Minneapolis who asked the following question:  Would you rather have dinner with Michael Vick, Barry Bonds or Tim Donaghy the gambling NBA ref.  An alleged dog fighter and dog killer, an alleged steriod and performance enhancement user, or an alleged game better NBA ref?  Who is the least evil?  Great question!