success

There Are Such Things as Dumb Questions and People Ask Them All the Time

When I was an instructor in graduate school, the syllabus I handed out to my students had a part that said “there’s no such thing as a dumb question. The only dumb question is the one you didn’t ask.” Having just finished my undergraduate studies, I knew this statement was garbage. I explained my thoughts to the person who insisted we put it in the syllabus, but she insisted that I was wrong. It wasn’t long before my point was proven.

In one of my classes, I was explaining how we’d be learning to use the internet – a relatively new concept back in 1996. One student raised his hand and asked “are we going to look at porn?” I replied by pointing out the dumb question quote in the syllabus and thanked him for helping me prove my point.

To Do Lists Are Useless

To do lists really are useless. The remind me of the pile of junk mail on my desk – they keep growing and growing until I finally get frustrated and just wipe it out. Throughout the years I’ve experimented with various type of to do lists: paper based, electronic and I even created several types of my own. But I’ve found a tool that’s been around a lot longer that works much more effectively: the calendar.

Nighttime Courage

I couldn’t sleep one night last week so to be productive, I decided to follow up on some emails. Many of these emails were things that I had put off because I wanted to word them the right way. For example, I had to nudge a few people who I was awaiting a response from. But that night, I didn’t seem to care; no more beating around the bush – I was direct and to the point.

After that, I logged into the various social media sites to see what my friends were up to and saw some posts from friends from high school. I immediately thought about how life would have been different at that stage of my life had I had social media. No more waiting until school the next day for communicating – I could just send an email whenever. And that got me thinking about how today’s technology could have certainly made things interesting back then.

A Toastmasters Primer

Okay, so you want to learn about Toastmasters but feel overwhelmed with all the information out there. Well, here’s a cheat sheet to help you learn what you need to know about this member-run organization.


History:

Clubs:

  • Clubs are local chapters of Toastmasters. Each club elects officers, sets dues and decides on meeting times and locations.
  • You can belong to as many clubs as you’d like to join.

Judging Others

Have you ever been in a situation where someone is unexpectedly rude to you? Of course you have. And you know that rotten feeling that you get when it happens. You did nothing to provoke it, so why you? Should you be rude back? Is it worth a conflict? Sometimes it’s tempting to lash out in return, but that’s not always a good idea.

A wise older friend once shared with me after such an incident that most of the time when someone blows up at you for seemingly no reason, it’s almost always someone else (including themselves) that they’re mad at. We all handle stress differently. While I do my best to never take out my anger on someone who isn’t responsible, I’d be lying to you if I said I’ve never done that. We all try our best, but sometimes the moment gets the best of us.

Should a Gentleman Hold the Door for a Lesbian?

I had my first experience in training in 1996 when I was an instructor at what’s now Bentley University while earning my Masters Degree. In the brief training I had before getting unleashed upon five groups of mostly first semester freshmen, something stuck out in my mind. The syllabus that I was to hand out to my students noted that the only dumb questions were the ones that were never asked. The point of it was that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask a question out of fear that you’ll look dumb. I get it – and even bought it, for a little bit. But then after fielding some of these questions, I realized that some questions were better off not being asked.

I was reminded of this recently when someone asked me the very question that is the title of this post. It was in response to my review of the book “How to Be a Gentleman.” At first, I thought it was a dumb question. Phrases like “being open minded” popped in my head and I decided to be open minded about the question and my answer. And guess what? It’s actually an interesting question that warrants a legitimate answer.

How I Got Interested in Public Speaking

When I tell people that one of the things I teach is public speaking, the first thing they typically ask is why. Most of the time, they really mean that they wonder why someone would get interested in that particular topic. So as I explain that I actually get a rush from doing something that most people avoid like the plague, the questions become more serious and I’m asked what interested me in public speaking to begin with and how I got to where I am today.

As a kid, I always enjoyed making people smile and I still feel the same way today. In fact, I’ll often go out of my way to get a laugh out of someone, even if I have to make myself look foolish in the process. When I was in my pre-teen years, I had dreamed of becoming an actor. I tried to convince my parents to move across the country to California so I could become one. That didn’t quite work out so I found other outlets for my creativity. In high school, it was sports.

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