Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

The Climb to Becoming a Motivational Speaker: Filled with Challenges Not Expected

Filed under: Motivation — by at 7:08 pm on Monday, March 24, 2014

Glenda zipping above the downtown traffic

Four years ago, on a beautiful spring day much like today, I stepped way beyond my comfort zone and ziplined above downtown Vancouver traffic. That moment has since had a ripple effect in my life.

Most unexpectedly (or, perhaps not so much if I am truly honest about it), that “stare fear in the face” moment led me to shift from consulting on web accessibility – a safe, almost expected career choice given my set of circumstances – to embracing “My Second Most Unlikely Career Choice”, that being a motivational speaker.

However, not only has the scared spitless moment had an effect, but the tower of stairs and the necessary climb have also become symbolic. Much like speaking to an audience, much effort and sweat was needed to get to that “fun, exhilarating” moment.

The tower of stairs up to the zip line

Since making the decision to become a motivational speaker, I have faced the toughest – emotionally and health wise – year (so far) of my adult life.

I have dealt with the illness and subsequent loss of my furbaby Faith. The gut-wrenching decision that I had to make and be present for, back on May 22nd, still haunts me. I have since discovered that grief is an extremely lonely place and needing to defend my grief, on occasion, only adds to my pain. In all honesty, I have faced several dark moments in which I felt like I was barely hanging on. I’d begin trying to claw my way back, only to lose my grip again.

Then came my Buddy boy. i can’t say for sure if I was completely ready for another furbaby at that point, but it was what the Universe had in store for me. I must have had selective amnesia from having Faith since she was 5-6 weeks old because I had totally forgotten how much work young kitties are. I have never seen a kitty decimate plants the way the Budmeister went after my spider plants and ficus tree. Darrell and I were constantly up righting the six-foot Robert Plant and cleaning up potting soil. How can one cute, adorable, affectionate kitty wreak such havoc, I do not know.

The third blow was when I went back to bed on December 14th, sick. At some point the bronchitis morphed into sinusitis. I am still not fully back to myself, even after three rounds of antibiotics and two rounds with the nebulizer, in which I was forced to face my lingering fear of the mask – a fear instilled as a child when facing the black rubber gas mask in the operating rooms. With the nebulizer, it was difficult to breathe normally while I was in panicked tears. After two rounds of three times a day for ten days, I eventually conquered my fear of that clear plastic mask, but I hope I never need to don another medicinal mask again.

I have never been sick for this long. My ears are still plugged and I am having trouble hearing. I have no energy, even with the iron pills that I started taking a  year ago.

It is difficult to be motivational when one doesn’t even feel motivated.

Back when I was discussing my career shift with business consultant and coach Charlie Gilkey, he did say that there would be challenges along the way. What an understatement that has proven to be! I did not expect these kinds of challenges. The metaphorical tower of stairs to becoming a professional speaker feels way, way taller and far more difficult than the 81 stairs I climbed four years ago.

After the last fifteen months, which ranks way up there on the “This Sucks the Big One” Scale with the year my parents separated and divorced, challenges like explaining to event organizers how someone with a significant speech impairment can deliver a presentation of high value, getting to the venues and up on stage, and having the right words to deliver the best message that I can will be a cakewalk.

Looking back, climbing those 81 stairs with support from my lifelong friend Karen and my cousin Craig, yet another realization came to mind: as a young child, I became known as the “I’ll do it myself” girl, always preferring to do things myself, in the name of independence, rather than have others help me. Somewhere along the line that independence became perceived or interpreted as a preference for working alone. Perhaps, there was some truth in that. I always dreaded group projects in school for fear I would end up doing more than my share of the work; and, that often proved to be the case.

Karen, Glenda and Craig climbing the tower together

However, now I am feeling an urge to change that. Without Karen and Craig, I wouldn’t have stepped out of my comfort zone to have experienced the zipline. It saddens me that I could be missing out on those experiences in my work life. 

i am looking around and witnessing other people, other friends, collaborating on exciting projects with others. I would like to experience that, too; working together, each contributing our own abilities and talents, n order to reach new, exhilarating heights together.

Perhaps it is now time to find opportunities to work together, to face my fears in the face and to go for it anyway. By doing so, I wonder where I might find myself four years hence.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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Celebrating Buddy: Four Months in His Forever Home

Filed under: Motivation — by at 4:27 pm on Monday, January 27, 2014

Glenda and Buddy looking directly into the camera and smiling

Four months ago today, Darrell and I welcomed a grey ball of energy into our home. It was love at first sight (of course!)

Buddy (aka Bud, Budmeister and Budweiser) has grown way too fast. He’d awake from a nap and seemed like he had grown yet again. He’s now a sturdy 9-10lb kitty; our stocky, muscular linebacker who is continually into everything, except when he is asleep.

There have been plant mishaps. Except for one spider baby that remains in ICU, all of the spider plants have been annihilated with potting soil scattered everywhere.

Buddy sprawled out on my desk amidst the potting soil mess.

The 6-foot fig tree Robert Plant received an unplanned pot upgrade when he and Buddy tangoed and his terra cotta pot smashed. His new pot is plastic with a layer of pie plates and sticky tape to keep the Budmeister from digging in the soil.

The fig tree Robert Plant

(That space atop the wall above Robert…yeah, Buddy gets up there too, particularly when Darrell and I are in the kitchen and he has been removed from the counter too many times. Bud just likes being wherever his people are.)

In addition to being part Russian Blue, he is also part Maine Coon – indicated by his large paws and his love of water. Keeping him off of the kitchen counter would be much easier if there wasn’t a sink.

Buddy  playing in the kitchen sink.

At times I am convinced Buddy is channelling his big sister Faith, who I dearly miss every day.

Two photos side-by-side: the first of me cuddling Faith, the second of me cuddling Buddy in a somewhat similar pose

Buddy has not replaced Faith; no one ever will and she will remain in my heart. My baby forever.

I am beginning to learn Buddy-ese and how he communicates (a little less with his sharp teeth would be great). We have fun playing with his wand toy in the living room and the mice in the bed. When I am working, he is either on my desk or atop my bookcase; never too far. He still sleeps at the foot of the bed; hopefully that will change and he will cuddle more. He definitely knows how, particularly when he is hungry in the morning and he works his cuddly, affectionate self.

I am grateful that Buddy found his way to Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue (VOKRA) and then to me. I am convinced the Universe was holding onto him for me until his forever home was ready.

I am looking forward to getting to know you better and to enjoying our time together. I am glad you are home, forever, Buddy!

A close up of Buddy's face while he sleeps.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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From Speech Impairment to Motivational Speaker: How I Create My Talking PowerPoint Presentations

Filed under: Motivation — by at 3:16 pm on Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Glenda presenting at the Cerebral Palsy Association's AGM

People are often puzzled by how I can be a motivational speaker when I have such a pronounced speech impairment. A fair puzzlement, indeed.

My career choice is largely thanks to technology. Because of technology, I am able to convert text into synthesized speech, which I then embed into my PowerPoint presentation that also has scrolling captions and images.

However, the process is not for the faint of heart or technophobe. For the technophile who likes an ingenious mashup, here is a behind-the-scene-look at how I created my most recent PowerPoint presentation “Go Beyond: Stare Your Fear in the Face and Go for It!”

Writing and Editing

The process begins with writing my presentation in Microsoft Word. Typing with only my left thumb is slow; using the WordQ software for word prediction and completion saves me keystrokes.

However, when I am in my writing groove, I either keep typing and lose the benefit of having word prediction or I constantly look up at the word prediction box on my computer screen and lose the flow of words.

Here’s where using my original iPad with the free (yet no longer available) DisplayLink app as a second computer screen comes in handy. I drag the word prediction box over to the second screen and place the iPad on my lap, within the same view as my keyboard, which makes writing a little more comfortable.

Word prediction box on iPad on my lap

Time: 20.75 hours

Chunking Text

The scrolling captions, for the benefit of audience members who are hearing impaired, are actually text boxes stacked above each PowerPoint slide. Motion paths (the green and red arrows in the image below) move the captions down to along the top of the slide when I hit the Space Bar while presenting. Each slide has 15 captions; an arbitrary number that can easily be decreased on a slide, but not easily increased.

A PowerPoint slide with caption boxes stacked above

Each caption holds approximately a line and a half of text from Microsoft Word.

Once I have written my presentation, I break the text into slides and captions. Captions become identified by the format Slide X-Y – where X is the slide number and Y the caption number – which is important in later steps.

My written script divided into slides and captions

Some slides end up having less than 15 captions and some captions are short depending on natural breaks in the content and where I want slightly longer pauses. This is one of the few ways I can control the speed of delivery.

Time: 2.5 hours

Copying the Captions

At this point, my ever-patient husband Darrell copies the captions from Word and pastes into the corresponding the caption box in PowerPoint. He also saves each caption as a separate text file, using the structure Slide X-Y as the filename.

Time: 4.33 hours

Kate-izing the Text

Next comes converting the text into speech with the software TextAloud and the synthesized voice known as Kate. One by one, I open each text file and listen to how Kate reads it. Sometimes some tweaking of the pronunciation is necessary; for example, is “read” meant to be spoken as “reed” or “red” in that instance?

Screenshot of TextAloud software

Once saving it as a WAV file (the only option compatible with PowerPoint), I link the audio file with the appropriate caption via the Animation Panel in PowerPoint. Here’s where the filename structure Slide X-Y comes in handy.

Animation Effects dialog box in PowerPoint

Time: 5.25 hours

Creating, Adding and Layering images

For the most part, I use my own images rather than stock ones in my presentations. Finding them and then cropping and adding arrows or such (as needed) takes time, albeit fun.

The tricky part is the layering of the images. The slide below has four images layered upon one another, plus text boxes and arrows to highlight details. All of these are inserted between the appearance of the captions via the Animation Pane on the right.

Slide with captions and open Animation Pane

Getting the order and the timing right for all of these moving bits is when I reach for the chocolate; the darker, the better.

Time: 17.25 hours

Testing, Tweaking and Practicing

Now that the presentation is built, I can see how it looks and sounds as a whole. I make revisions, adjustments and corrections as needed. Changing one word means redoing the audio file, editing the caption and re-linking the audio file to the caption. It all takes time, but it is worth it in the end.

With this one presentation, I ran out of time before I was 100% happy with the end product. No one knew except me.

Time: 3 hours

After 53.08 hours, 16 slides, 163 audio files, 163 captions, 163 motion paths, 38 images and numerous arrows, text boxes and accessories, I have a 30 minute presentation. Whatever it takes to get the job done!

Here is a brief clip from “Go Beyond: Stare Your Fear in the Face and Go for It!”:

(Transcript is available here.)

To have me share the entire presentation with your group, your organization or at your event, please contact me.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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Every Life Should Be Blessed with a Little Buddy

Filed under: Motivation — by at 9:32 pm on Thursday, October 3, 2013

My new kitty BuddyWith a mix of happy and sad tears, I would like to introduce Faith’s successor: Buddy!

The Kitty Stork (aka foster mom Wendy) delivered Buddy to us Friday evening after I had a successful adoption interview that morning, which really wasn’t much of an interview at all. I think emailing a list of blog posts about Faith to the Application Manager helped to demonstrate my capacity to be a loving kitty mommy. Winking smile

Darrell and I then made a quick trip to the pet supply store for the essentials and not-so-essentials in preparation for the Kitty Stork’s arrival:

The spoils of the first shopping trip for Buddy

That shopping trip was fun! Obviously, he will be loved lots.

Buddy sleeping on the couchOnly a little is known about Buddy’s background: his family could not afford him and chose to surrender him a few weeks ago. Because he is so cuddly and affectionate, I have no doubt that was a heartbreaking decision for them. But surrendering him to a lady who assists people on low incomes with their pets, who in turn handed him over to Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue (VOKRA), was the best decision for this little guy. He will be well cared for and neutered; he won’t be contributing to the unwanted cat population.

Because VOKRA fosters all of their kitties in homes, I was concerned about getting to various homes to view the kitties. Yet, once again the Universe came through: Wendy had her first husband- and daughter-free weekend in years. She brought the kitty, formerly known as Sterling, to me on the agreement that I would be honest and tell her if he wasn’t the right kitty for me. As if! It was instant love.

Buddy is likely a Russian Blue, at least in part. His guessimated birth date is June 1st, making him now four months old. He is full of energy, as well as affection and purrs.

Buddy on Darrell's lapFor seventeen year, Darrell claimed that he is not a cat person. Within twenty-four hours, Buddy had blown hubby’s cover! Buddy jumps up on his lap for cuddles, pats and purrs. Darrell might not be a cat person, but he is definitely a Buddy person. Who knew! Smile

Buddy on Glenda's lapWhy Buddy?

The non-cat person started calling him Buddy until I could come up with a more suitable name. I didn’t have any potential names in mind when he arrived; I wanted to wait for the little guy to tell me who he is.

After a name like Faith, I kept thinking this little one needed a more significant name than Buddy. Upon further thought, I realized that everyone should be a blessed with a good, reliable friend who is there through the happy and sad times, the good and bad. A buddy. What is more significant than that! 

Welcome Buddy!

Buddy working it for the camera!

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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Life: Living It As It Comes, All Connected

Filed under: Motivation — by at 5:33 pm on Thursday, September 26, 2013

Faith sleeping upside down on the couchMy Faith kitty came to me while I was still pretty much seen (and behaved) as “non-verbal”. Over the years, she was by my side to witness me emerging from the silence. First, as I found my voice online with blogging and subsequent social networking platforms. She slept on the couch too many late nights, patiently waiting for me to go to bed, while I was exploring, learning and experimenting in this new world title was opening up to me.

Faith on a pile of clothes on the bedNext, she was patient with me as my husband Darrell and I experimented and mashed together various technologies so that I could give presentations. She gave me “the look” every time I packed my bag to go on a trip.

She was with me when I finally decided (and declared to myself) that I wanted to be a motivational speaker; apparently many other people already saw me as such but I hadn’t yet caught up with myself.

Faith was with me through negotiating my first gig as a motivational speaker, which the fee turned out being an honorarium – it’s a start!

Sadly, she was not with me, in the physical sense, when I gave my first official motivational speech two weeks ago.

Glenda presenting at the Cerebral Palsy Association's AGM

But I did wear my “Faith socks” – black socks with a cat appliqué that I had received in my Christmas stocking several years and that I have worn while delivering nearly every presentation. At some point while I was presenting “Go Beyond: Stare Your Fear in the Face and Go for It!” the word FAITH in white text briefly flashed in my mind’s eye.

This also happened a few days earlier while I was dancing in the Kickstart Festival’s Final Procession.

As I was about to head out the doors at the Roadhouse, totally in the moment and focused on what I was doing, the word FAITH in large white text, in a font slightly fancier than Times New Roman, quickly appeared in my mind. I was startled and somewhat perplexed. What? Now? I can’t really let the tears flow in this moment. I guess it was the little monkey’s way of letting me know she was with me.

For the last few weeks I had been itching to wheel down a few extra blocks to the pet supply store – where I used to buy Faith’s litter and food – to see if there were any notices of available kitties posted in the window. I finally felt brave enough to make the trek last Wednesday afternoon, which appears to be Faith’s time. I discovered the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue (VOKRA) and I rushed home to check out the website. They are a no-kill rescue and all of the kitties are fostered in homes, which really appeals to me. I don’t think I have it within me, at least not right now, to deal with the drama and trauma of adopting from a shelter.

After exploring the gallery of adorable kitties available for adoption and pondering it overnight, I realized that a new kitty would be Faith’s successor, NOT her replacement! It seems fitting that my honorarium from my first official motivational speech goes toward the adoption fee (and perhaps one bag of food) for her successor who will, hopefully, see me through the next stages of my speaking career and the next chapters in my life.

But. first, I had to finish something; something that I was scared to finish because it might make losing Faith feel all too final – that something was my tribute to her. I had drafted and chosen the photos a few weeks earlier, but I couldn’t bear to do the final edits. Not until Saturday night when I finished editing and then sent it off to Eve at Until We Meet Again.

I was then drawn back to the VOKRA gallery of kitties and lured to tentatively start completing the adoption application. I hit the submit at 12:05am on the 22nd, the four-month mark of Faith’s leaving. The guilt.

Not expecting a response over the weekend, particularly since Sunday was VOKRA’s fundraiser, I was surprisingly excited and antsy to hear back regarding the next step in the adoption process: the interview. Do the feelings mean I am ready? I am not sure. It is what it is.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, my business friend Becky McCray forwarded me an email that reminded me about Business Leadership Networks (BLNs) – networks of corporations committed to hiring people with disabilities. Since they hire employees with disabilities, they might also be amenable to booking a motivational speaker with a disability. It was worth exploring.

While doing some online research on Tuesday afternoon, one thing led to another – as they often do while online – and I discovered Dameon Brooks Associates: “the only speaker and performing arts bureau that represents those with a disability.” Scrolling through the list of speakers, one name jumped off the screen. I had seen him at the Kicksart Festival at the Roundhouse two weeks earlier; however I hadn’t been brave enough to introduce myself.

Avril and Glenda enjoying a beautiful afternoon along False CreekFinding his Facebook page, I discovered we have six mutual friends, including my good friend Avril Orloff. What are the chances! I had no hesitation in emailing Avril to request an introduction this seasoned speaker with a disability.

I start composing an email to her when I get a notification from Dropbox that the raw video from my presentation from two week ago is ready for download AND an email with possible interview times for the kitty adoption process. In the time it took me to begin downloading the video and reply to the VOKRA Applications Manager, I receive a response from Eve – Faith’s tribute would up be up on their memorial site the following day, which perhaps not so coincidentally, ended up being late Wednesday afternoon: Faith’s time.

I finally get back to emailing Avril, who has kindly introduced me to her friend.

Holy guacamole!

Everything IS connected! Business, personal, excitement, sadness and a tinge of guilt are all mashed together. That is life! This is my life; I am living and experiencing it the best I can because it is the only one I get.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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