“Why Did You Start Speak Up for Success?“
This is one of my favorite questions!
I started Speak Up for Success because I wanted to use my communications skills to help people from all backgrounds and industries succeed.
Where’d I get those skills?
Mostly, as a stand-up jazz singer and corporate speechwriter.
Public Speaking Is Like Jazz: “It Don’t Mean a Thing if It Ain’t Got that Swing!”
I learned about swing (think of “swing” as using your own rhythm to get your point across) as a performing vocalist from the age of 16.
For more than 18 years, I worked with jazz bands, jug bands, society orchestras, Latin bands, and Top 40 groups in Boston and San Francisco before moving to New York City for an inglorious stint as a pianist and lounge singer in NYC’s better Mafia restaurants and airport hotel bars.
I also studied improvisation, voice, and piano for more than a dozen years, and proudly hold a Bachelors degree in Contemporary Improvisation from my alma mater, the respected and kick-ass New England Conservatory of Music.
Teaching Stagecraft to Executives
Following my move to New York and the aforementioned piano bar debacle, I shifted from music to my other love, writing.
In the early 1990s, I became a marketing communications expert and corporate speechwriter. (And yes, that’s a long, involved story that’s helped me understand what job seekers of all kinds go through!)
In that role, I assembled and led teams that wrote speeches, videos, training materials, and more for Fortune 500 clients including Pfizer, Novartis, Astra-Zeneca, AT&T, M&M Mars, K-Mart, Aramark, Roche Laboratories, Mastercard, Lucent Technologies, and more. I also coached C-suite executives, marketing and sales VPs, medical directors, brand managers, and others on presentation skills and stagecraft.
Launching Speak Up for Success
In 2006, I launched my own company, Speak Up for Success. My goal was to work with a broad range of people, and to use public speaking skills to empower them to speak their minds.
- Speak Like Yourself… No, Really! Follow Your Strengths and Skills to Great Public Speaking — a public speaking workbook that’s like having your own speaker coach between two covers;
- Interview Like Yourself… No, Really! Follow Your Strengths and Skills to GET THE JOB — comprehensive advice on how to ace the interview by preparing, practicing, and connecting with your interviewer;
- 100 Top Public Speaking Tips: The Book — just what it says. It’s beautiful, searchable, and coded by five important areas of public speaking: Mind, Body, Skill, Audience, and Career.
- Managing the Unmanageable: How to Motivate Even the Most Unruly Employee, written with generations expert Anne Loehr — actionable advice for helping tough employees see the light, and holding them accountable;
- Asking Styles: Harness Your Personal Fundraising Power. A personality-based model for fundraising professionals — ghost co-authored with fundraising guru Andrea Kihlstedt, this book will show you how to comfortably ask for money, whatever your personality type.
- How to Raise $1 Million (or More!) in 10 Bite-Sized Steps: A Fail-Proof Guide for Board Members, Volunteers and Staff — ghost co-authored with Andrea Kihlstedt, this guide is for anyone who wants to raise money for a cause.
I’m also the author of an out-of-print Civil War romance novelette, Rebel Heart, and a book of not-bad poetry, Kicking: Love Poems.
And I achieved every writer’s dream when I published my novel, The Tattooed Heart.
On the personal side, I’m married to celebrated jazz guitarist and bass guitarist Jerome Harris. We live in Brooklyn, New York, and have one adult daughter who lives in Oakland.
My hobbies are baking, reading romance novels, getting ticked off about inequality, and working.
Want to Book a Speaker Coaching Session or Speak Up for Success Workshop?
Whatever your interest, challenge, or goal — if it involves public speaking, I can help.
But don’t take my word for it!
Contact me and see your yourself…