Dan Weedin quoted in Toastmaster Magazine this month

I am pleased to announce that I’ve been quoted in a featured article in the June, 2009 Toastmaster Magazine.  The article is written by Lin Grensing-Prophal and details strategies and tips to networking in “Here’s How to Work a Room.”

Toastmaster Magazine only provides an online web link to current members with a password. If you’re a member please check out your hard copy magazine which you should have just received.  I’d love to hear your comments.

For those that aren’t Toastmasters, here is the quote…

Personal stories can provide excellent opportunities to connect with people, says Weedin.  If you have a chance to relate a personal story, do it, he says. Fun stories are well received, especially when humor is involved.  Use your best story – especially if a little self-deprecating – to connect with your audience.

My thanks to Lin for an excellent article and for using my words.  I hope you find the piece valuable to your business.


Putting It Into Practice

Two months ago I spoke to a networking group of women business professionals on effective business communications.  The emphasis was on public speaking and networking and we focused on the simple use of presenting your value proposition as opposed to a contrived elevator speech.  I adhere to a networking technique I learned from my pal Doug Petch.  The technique is for when someone asks what you do is, “I help ________ who want to ________.”

Examples – “I help insurance buyers who want to reduce their total cost of insurance.”  “I help business professionals who want to become more dynamic presenters.”  “I help insurance agents who want to advance their careers.”

What’s the common response back?


Thus starts a conversation where you can begin to build relationships.

I was invited back to this wonderful group today to speak on a separate subject.  They started their meeting by introducing themselves and every one of them started with their value proposition.  In fact, after each presentation, the rest of the group would in unison ask, “HOW?”  Then the member would tell how.  What a great way to practice.

The bottom line is that this particular group of business professionals decided to take what a speaker taught them, make it an emphasis, teach it to those who weren’t even at the meeting, and expand on it to make it relavent to all.  That’s what I call putting it into practice!

Do you put what you learn into practice?  How many workshops or seminars have you attended and then left the great strategies buried in a pile somewhere?  I admit I’ve been guilty of that.  Here is a great example of building on what you learn and making it a part of your strategy.  It’s getting the most out of your investment.


Happy Birthday Ralph Waldo Emerson

“By the rude bridge that arched the flood,

Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled;

Here once the embattled farmers stood;

And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;

Alike the conqueror silent sleeps,

And Time the ruined bridge has swept,

Down the dark stream that seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,

We place with joy a votive stone,

That memory may their deeds redeem,

When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

O Thou who made those heroes dare,

To die, and leave their children free,

-Bid Time and Nature gently spare,

The shaft we raised to them and Thee.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson – born May 25, 1803


Dan and DadIt was February 11, 1942.  A young man packed his bags for a trip from his home in Bremerton, WA for the Naval Recruiting Station in Seattle.  He had just turned 17 years old the day before.  That was the minimum age required to sign up for the Navy.  He had that date circled on his calendar since the previous December 7th.  His mother, who along with his father would have to sign off on his decision because he was a minor, told him he would stay and celebrate his birthday at home before he left.  A different set of orders to be obeyed.

My father ended up quitting school his junior year to do what many other young men did.  Go defend their country by joining the military and going to war.  In Dad’s mind, this wouldn’t take long. We were the United States of America.  He would be home soon.  Youthful exuberance, but no lack of courage.

My grandmother was certain she would never see her two oldest sons return from the war.  She ended up being wrong.  Both my Uncle Max and Dad spent the remainder of the war serving the Navy and the country.  Ironically, the son she did lose was Dad’s younger brother who died from pneumonia while he was gone.

Dad served 30 years in the Navy.  The good news for me was that during part of that time, he was stationed in Bogota, Colombia where he met and married my mom.

This is what Memorial Day is all about.

Funny, that as a kid growing up in the 1970’s and early 80’s, the same type of reverence for the military wasn’t there.  I was on the back end of an unpopular war in Vietnam.  Even though I grew up in a Navy town, the thought of serving my country never intrigued me.  That was for other people.  Not for me, or people I hung out with.  Turns out many of my friends ended up with fine careers in the military and still serve today.

Dad grew up during the Depression and because of the 40-year age difference; we were almost two generations different.  My hair was long, my music loud, and my taste in clothes awful (on that he was right).  I really didn’t come to respect what he and his generation, as well as earlier generations, did.

This is what Memorial Day is all about.

For the past decade, Dad has been a detective.  Genealogy is a passion for him.  He has researched our family back hundreds of years.  In fact, between him and my brother, they found we actually were able to join an elite group called the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR).  My great-great-great-great-great Grandfather, James McClelland was in the Pennsylvania militia during the Revolutionary War.  Because of the direct line of grandfathers down, this made us eligible for the SAR.  Dad did all the hard work in researching and completing the rigorous application to join.  All I had to do was prove he was my father (which he provided me the documentation) and write a check.  As has been the case most of my life, Dad made it easy for me.  Seems to have run in the family dating back 230 years.

This is what Memorial Day is all about.

Dad’s grandfather John Finis Weedin was a Seattle police officer in the early part of the turn of the 20th century.  We often forget that law enforcement is just as dangerous a job.  Even though it doesn’t involve shipping out to foreign lands, it still means protecting American citizens and keeping our country safe.  My great-grandfather served many years on the police force until DATE when he was killed in a gun battle in Seattle.  He was honored by the city with a street name, Weedin Place NE, in North Seattle.  My oldest daughter Mindy did a report on him for school and we took a picture by the sign.  My wife has not allowed me to go back and “borrow” the sign.  She thinks it might end me up in the opposite end of the law that Great-Granddad.  Of course she’s right, but I really want it!

This is what Memorial Day is all about.

One final thought on someone who I’m not related to but still consider a hero.  As my year as Rotary president draws to a close, the guy replacing me got in under somewhat humorous circumstances.  We voted him in as President-Elect when he wasn’t even at the meeting!  Remember, this is Rotary, not the President of the United States.  Not many candidates dueling with each other to get in.

Turns out my pal Roger Ludwig, had already volunteered for the job.  He just couldn’t be there to be voted on because he was in Iraq.  Roger is a local physician who also is a pilot in the National Guard.  He was dispatched to Iraq for many months as part of the duty he signed up for.  He left his practice, his wife, his two children, and his Rotary Club to serve his nation.  Now what’s his reward?  A bunch of unruly Rotarians every Friday morning!

What Memorial Day is all about are brave men and women who volunteered to put themselves in harm’s way for a greater good.  Democracy, patriotism, and security of our people are among those reasons.  I never had the guts to do it.  The bravest thing I’ve probably done is coach high school girls basketball!  I’m awfully glad there have been others who have – James McClelland, John Finis Weedin, Roger Ludwig, and Dad.

Those are some of my heroes.  Undoubtedly, you have stories just like mine.  That’s what makes our country so great.  It’s that we have, and do, have people bravely step up and protect our freedom.  Now is the time for me to say “thank you.”

This is what Memorial Day is all about.


(c) 2009 Dan Weedin – All Rights Reserved

Handling Adversity

Last night, I watched the second half of Game 1 in the Cleveland – Orlando NBA Eastern Conference finals.  At the end of the first half, a Cleveland player drained a 70-foot shot at the buzzer propelling the Cavaliers to a 15-point halftime lead at home.  They lost one time in that building all year, and hadn’t lost in the playoffs yet.  In fact, all their wins in the post-season were by double digits.  This game was over.

But, the Orlando Magic didn’t get the memo.  By the end of the 3rd quarter, they cut the lead down to 4 points.  Halfway through the 4th, they took their first lead.  At the ensuing timeout, you could hear Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy say, “They’ve won easy all year.  They’ve never faced adversity.  We have.  We know how to win this game!”

In the end, after a back and forth battle where All-Planet player LeBron James scored 49 points, the Magic won on a 3-point shot by Rashard Lewis.  An improbable victory.

How do you respond to adversity?

The Magic showed how having fought through tough times in the past (like being down 3-2 to the defending world champs just last week) can lead to a mental toughness that leads to improbable wins.  The same is true in business.

These are tough times for many.  Those who battle through, persevere, and survive will be better for it because they will be mentally tougher.  This too will pass, but it also may come again.  If you’ve seen it, played through it, and won, you have the confidence and the toughness to do it again.

Business is a competitive sport.  The “athletes” in this arena that are willing to be tough, get up when knocked down, and battle to the end will be the winners both now and in the future.

Are you able to handle adversity?  Now is the time to start.  Game on!



(c) 2009 Dan Weedin – All Rights Reserved

Three Things You Didn’t Learn in School

I recently met a fellow consultant that I’ve become acquainted with through my association with Alan Weiss’ community.  Aviv Shahar coaches CEO’s in leadership, executive strategy, innovation, and finding top talent.  During our lunch yesterday, Aviv shared with me an article he wrote regarding the three things you didn’t learn in school.  Not surprisingly, they are still lessons we all can gain value from as adults and business professionals.

To read the article, click here.



The Captains Chair

My family spent most of Sunday re-arranging our house. My wife Barb, for reasons I still don’t understand and probably shouldn’t, changed our living room and dining rooms around. This arrangement has created a problem for Captain Jack, our Jack Russell terrorist. You see, Jack loved staring out the window into the front yard. His duty is to protect our house from the crazy rabbits and he does a fine job. Now that the sofa is no longer there, this has become an issue.

Today, I find that Barb has placed a chair right at the middle window. This has now become the “Captain’s Chair.” Life is again good for Captain Jack and rabbits be warned. Ah, to be a dog. Free rent, free food, free health care, and now his own chair at the window.

I’m not sure how yet, but this will at some point turn into a story I will use in a speech somewhere. I don’t know what the message will be, or who will be the audience. I do know I like the story and can make it humorous.

What about you? What personal stories pop up in your everyday life? The audiences you speak to – employees, prospects, Toastmasters, service clubs, associations – all prefer hearing a personal story that becomes a metaphor for a message. It sure beats PowerPoint, handouts, and bad jokes. If you want to transform your speech or presentation, create a story file where you can pull out your best personal stories to include in your speech. They will add humor and become memorable to your audience.

You will undoubtedly have your audience as enthralled with you as Captain Jack is with rabbits. And THAT is a good thing!


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(c) 2009 Dan Weedin – All Rights Reserved

Controversial Can Make You Memorable

This past week, my daughter Kelli gave a speech at our Toastmasters club.  Her objective was to present a persuasive speech.  Kelli decided to give a presentation arguing that her generation, Generation Y, was the “best.”  She labeled three “myths” or misconceptions about Generation Y (born between 1979-94) and de-bunked them by giving solid examples to her point.  She worked hard on her delivery and gave a fine speech.  You could say I was a very proud dad.

What followed during the rest of the meeting was even more impressive than Kelli’s speech.  Several members commented about her topic and her views during their opportunity to speak.  They all enjoyed her speech, but more importantly they were moved in some way.  They may have agreed or disagreed; revealed what generation they belonged to; or even felt “called out” a little bit and defended themselves.

Being a “Yes” person is rarely a way to become memorable.  As a presenter, you become memorable when you are provocative, insightful, and challenge widely held norms or paradigms.  Kelli made each person at the meeting check in on their personal generation and how they are perceived.  When people are still talking about your speech an hour later, that’s when you know you’ve made an impact.

Do people talk about your speech or presentation after you walk off the stage?  Are they still challenged days after the meeting has ended?  Will they see you and bring up your message again?

If the answer is “NO,” then you might need to find some ways to become more memorable.  Do you have an opinion on an issue that bucks the trend?  Do you have a strategy that might be considered “risky?”  What wild idea do you have that can change the world – or at least your audience?

You don’t have to be arrogant or brash.  Being influential means that you can calmly, but persuasively, deliver an opinion that challenges your audiences thinking and helps them to become better educated, introspective, or renewed.

My mentor, Dr. Alan Weiss always says that you must become an “object of interest.”  One way to accomplish this is to not be afraid to ruffle a few feathers with your message.  This isn’t about getting 10’s on your evaluation or high marks from judges.  This is about offering sincere methods and ideas to help improve the lives and condition of your audience.  They may not agree with you and that’s okay.  If they are still talking about you days, months, and years later, then you were successful.  The next time you have the opportunity to be controversial or contrarian; don’t be afraid to seize the opportunity.  The spoils generally go to those who are brave enough to speak out against the tide.

The jury may still be out on Kelli’s thesis about Generation Y.  However, my guess is we will still be talking about it for years to come.

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(c) 2009 Dan Weedin – All Rights Reserved