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Posted on February 24, 2017 | CapCitySpeakers | General

A big THANK YOU to our Farmers and all those involved in Agri-business!


2017 National Ag Day

Agriculture Council of America Announces 2017 National Ag Day Date & Theme

The Agriculture Council of America (ACA) will host National Agriculture Day on March 21, 2017. This will mark the 44th anniversary of National Ag Day which is celebrated in classrooms and communities across the country. The theme for National Ag Day 2017 is "Agriculture: Food For Life."

On March 21, 2017, ACA will host major events in the nation's capital including a breakfast event at the National Press Club as well as a Taste of Agriculture Celebration on the Hill. Additionally, the ACA will bring approximately 100 college students to Washington to deliver the message of Ag Day.

These events honor National Agriculture Day and mark a nationwide effort to tell the true story of American agriculture and remind citizens that agriculture is a part of all of us. A number of producers, agricultural associations, corporations, students and government organizations involved in agriculture are expected to participate.

National Ag Day is organized by the Agriculture Council of America. ACA is a nonprofit organization composed of leaders in the agricultural, food and fiber community, dedicating its efforts to increasing the public's awareness of agriculture's role in modern society.

The National Ag Day program encourages every American to:
  • Understand how food and fiber products are produced.
  • Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.
  • Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.
  • Acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food and fiber industry.

In addition to the events in Washington, DC on March 21, the ACA will once again feature the Ag Day Essay Contest in addition to an Ag Day Photography Contest. The winning photograph will be part of the 2017 National Ag Day Poster.

Visit www.agday.org for more information on National Ag Day in 2017.


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Posted on December 1, 2016 | CapCitySpeakers | General

Happy Holidays

 
Posted on November 1, 2016 | CapCitySpeakers | General

Veterans Day

Veteran's Day is our opportunity to honor our veterans and to show appreciation for the courage and patriotism of all the men and women who have served in the military. They have given the ultimate sacrifice: complete, unwavering, and totally selfless. We honor you, your families and your service to this country. Thank you for your unwavering service, here in this nation...and throughout the world!

 
Posted on October 27, 2016 | CapCitySpeakers | General

Happy Halloween!

We aren't frightful to work with! Capitol City Speakers Bureau makes planning a speaker for your next event as easy as possible. From start to finish, our bureau will help you find the perfect speaker to meet the goals and objectives of your meeting. We look forward to helping you THRILL Your Audience!

 
Posted on August 12, 2016 | CapCitySpeakers | General

2016 Olympic Gold Medal Relay Team

We are so proud of our Hometown Hero, Ryan Held, who earned a Gold medal Sunday evening in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Ryan, who is a 2014 Sacred-Heart Griffin graduate, took gold in the 400-meter-freestyle-relay along with teammates, Michael Phelps, Caeleb Dressel and Nathan Adrian.

Caeleb Dressel swam the first leg, finishing just behind France at the wall. Ryan, who will be a junior at North Carolina State University, kept the Americans in front during the third leg of the 4x100-meter freestyle relay Sunday night, following on the lead provided by Michael Phelps. Nathan Adrian sealed the gold with a strong anchor leg.

Ryan's tears of joy during the Medal ceremony have touched the hearts of our nation and represent all that is good about the Olympics. Standing between Adrian and Phelps, Ryan bent his head and tears rolled down his face as the anthem blared. Phelps saw what was happening and draped his arm around Ryan's neck.

Thank you, Ryan Held-all your dedication and hard work has paid off, and your hometown could not be any prouder!

 
Posted on July 18, 2016 | CapCitySpeakers | General

Great Teams by Don Yaeger

Don Yaeger's highly anticipated new book, Great Teams 16 Things High Performing Organizations Do Differently, will be released July 19th. Here's a glimpse of what you can expect!

"There is nothing more magical than watching a team come together, to manage adversity as a group, selflessly give to others, to find common purpose. Inspiring that to happen year-in and year-out is what keeps us in leadership. Don Yaeger has studied the best of the best. Now it is our turn to study this book." --Mike Krzyzewski, five-time NCAA Tournament Champion, two-time Olympic Gold Medal Winning Basketball coach, Duke University Men's Basketball

What makes a team great? Not just good. Not just functional. But great?

Over the last six years, long-time Sports Illustrated associate editor Don Yaeger has been invited by some of the greatest companies in the world to speak about the habits of high-performing individuals. Delivering an average of 80 keynote speeches per year, Don was approached by his most consistent client, Microsoft, to develop a talk on what allowed some teams to play at a championship level year after year. From Microsoft and Starbucks to the New England Patriots and San Antonio Spurs, what do some organizations do seemingly better than most all of their opponents?

Don took the challenge. He began building into his travel schedule opportunities to interview our generation's greatest team builders from the sports and business worlds. During this process, he has conducted more than 100 interviews with some of the most successful teams and organizations in the country. From those interviews, Don has identified 16 habits that drive these high-performing teams.

Building on the stories, examples, and first-hand accounts, each chapter in Great Teams comes with applicable examples on how to apply these characteristics in any organization. Great Teams is the ultimate intersection of the sports and business worlds and a powerful companion for thought leaders, teams, managers, and organizations that seek to perform similarly. The insight shared in this book is sure to enhance any team in its pursuit of excellence.
  • Great Teams Understand the "Why"
  • Great Teams Allow Culture to Shape Who They Recruit
  • Great Teams Run Successful Huddles
  • Great Teams Manage Dysfunction, Friction, and Strong Personalities
  • Great Teams See Value Others Miss
  • Great Teams Know How to Win in Critical Situations
  • Great Teams Embrace Change
  • Great Teams Build a Mentoring Culture
  • Great Teams Have a Rallying Cry
"IT TAKES A SPECIAL FORMULA TO CONSTRUCT CHAMPIONSHIP QUALITY TEAMS AND IN THIS BOOK BY DON YAEGER YOU WILL BE ABLE TO SEE HOW GREAT TEAMS ARE FORMULATED. DON YAEGER IS AWESOME, BABY, WITH A CAPITAL 'A'!" -Dick Vitale, Hall of Fame broadcaster, ESPN

 
Posted on July 1, 2016 | CapCitySpeakers | General

Happy Fourth of July!

 
Posted on June 6 , 2016 | CapCitySpeakers | General

Happy Summer! Happy Summer!

No matter what your plans, summer time brings thoughts of a little more fun in the sun, a little more relaxation, and a little more time with family and friends. We should all relish these thoughts and enjoy this season! Summer is also a great time to initiate planning for your next event with speakers. We at Capitol City Speakers Bureau continue to work hard on your behalf; always adding new and energetic speakers to our roster while keeping up to date with those we have developed such great relationships with over the years. We look forward to Helping You Thrill Your Audience!

 
Posted on May 26, 2016 | CapCitySpeakers | General

Rio 2016

 
Posted on March 21, 2016 | CapCitySpeakers | General

Rio 2016 Happy Olympics 2016!

The Summer Olympics 2016 are coming up quickly. They are being held in Rio De Janeiro August 5th - 21st. This is a great opportunity to review and book a talented Olympic speaker for your next event. You might want to consider an Olympic or USA themed event this year! Two sports have been added to the Olympic program, golf and rugby sevens, in addition to all your favorites in the summer games. For additional excitement, Michael Phelps is coming out of retirement at age 30 years in an endeavor to add to his sensational medal record.

Click on the link below to view Olympians who will create a substantial interest and enthusiasm at your next conference or event: http://www.speakingofsports.com/Categories/Olympics.htm

 
Posted on March 15, 2016 | CapCitySpeakers | General

Today, we celebrate and recognize the contributions of agriculture in our nation and around the world. Ag Day is being celebrated on March 15th and the theme for National Ag Day 2016 is "Agriculture: Stewards of a Healthy Planet." Why is it important to celebrate agriculture? Quite simply, if you eat it, use it and wear it, agriculture provided it. We take this contribution for granted and few people truly understand this valuable connection in our everyday lives. This is particularly true in schools where children have little exposure to agriculture.

The goal of National Ag Day is that Americans learn to:

  • Understand how food and fiber products are produced.
  • Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.
  • Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.

Each American farmer feeds more than 144 people ... a dramatic increase from 25 people in the 1960s. So, on this day to recognize the vital role of agriculture in our society, a big THANK YOU to our farmers and those involved in the business of agriculture.

 
Posted on January 13, 2016 | CapCitySpeakers | General

Did you know that January is National Thank You Month?

Thank You! What a wonderful opportunity to thank all of our clients, the speakers with whom we work, and our staff for the passion and commitment they bring to our work!

As I write this, I realize just how much the joy in our work comes down to the relationships that we have developed over the years.

We have learned so much from each of you! It is these positive relationships that encourage and inspire us and make our business so rewarding.

 
Posted on December 14, 2015 | CapCitySpeakers | General

Happy Holidays!

 
 
Posted on November 18, 2015 | CapCitySpeakers | General

Happy Thanksgiving!

 
 
Posted on November 11, 2015 | CapCitySpeakers | General

We live in the greatest nation in our world, and on this day to honor our Veterans, Capitol City Speakers Bureau would like to share our sincerest respect, thanks, and admiration to those courageous Americans who served and continue to serve in our armed forces. We honor you, your families and your service to this country. Veterans Day is a day to recognize the ultimate sacrifices of men and women that have served our nation to protect the freedom that all Americans enjoy. We honor those heroes among us who fought and many who died to preserve our nation's freedom.

Veteran's Day Veteran's Day

So, on November 11, let us take a moment to thank and honor the heroes among us--the veterans of the United States military. To make life a little easier for our veterans, consider sharing your time and resources with an organization helping veterans. The following organizations are just a few of those available (and this listing should not be considered an endorsement of their work).

On Behalf
Our military men and women head into battle as a team, but all too often come home to deal with their injuries, PTS and a crushing VA bureaucracy alone. Don't let that happen. Work with us -- as a volunteer, an advocate, or donor -- and make life a little easier for some of America's finest. Founded for vets by vets in 2005, OnBehalf.org is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that aims to raise cash and professional services for combat wounded veterans of Iraq & Afghanistan. For more information:
https://www.onbehalf.org/

Veterans Support Organization
Veterans Support Organization is a vital resource in helping veterans transition from the Armed Forces to civilian life. We are a nonprofit that provides employment and financial assistance to leading veterans support agencies. Our programs have improved the lives of thousands of veterans.
http://theveteranssupport.org/

Wounded Warrior Project
Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) takes a holistic approach when serving warriors and their families to nurture the mind and body, and encourage economic empowerment and engagement. Through a high-touch and interactive approach, WWP hopes to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation's history.
http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/

National Military Family Association
National Military Family Association is the voice of military families because, for 46 years, we have proven that we stand behind service members, their spouses, and their children. Our Association is the "go to" source for Administration Officials, Members of Congress, and key decision makers when they want to understand the issues facing our families. They know we have "boots on the ground" with military families and understand better than anyone that "military families serve, too." Through the support and programs we provide, and our respected voice on Capitol Hill, at the Pentagon and Veterans Administration, our Association always looks out for the families who stand behind the uniform and for those who serve. For more information, go to:
www.militaryfamily.org.

 
 
Posted on October 29, 2015 | CapCitySpeakers | General

What happens when you schedule 14 professional speakers together in one room on one day? You get a fantastic day of inspiration, education, motivation, and laughter. Our 20th Showcase of Speakers and Trainers was held on October 22nd at the Crowne Plaza in Springfield. Steve Gilliland, CSP, CPAE, was the master of ceremonies for the day, and his energy, humor, and enthusiasm set the tone for the day. The speakers had the opportunity to showcase their skills and talents for an enthusiastic group of meeting planners. Each of the 14 speakers presented a 20-minute mini keynote on a variety of topics. (Click on each speaker's name to read more about them).

Some of the feedback from the day...

      "Excellent variety - look forward to next time - I laughed and cried all day!"

      "This was delightful-speakers were excellent, engaging, different."

We want to thank all of the speakers and attendees for sharing their day with us to make this Showcase so successful!"

Steve Gilliland Dave Davlin
Richard Hight   Chuck Gallagher
Calvin, DeDe, Ray, Kay   Ray McElroy

 
 
Posted on October 29, 2015 | CapCitySpeakers | General

What happens when you schedule 14 professional speakers together in one room on one day? You get a fantastic day of inspiration, education, motivation, and laughter. Our 20th Showcase of Speakers and Trainers was held on October 22nd at the Crowne Plaza in Springfield. Steve Gilliland, CSP, CPAE, was the master of ceremonies for the day, and his energy, humor, and enthusiasm set the tone for the day. The speakers had the opportunity to showcase their skills and talents for an enthusiastic group of meeting planners. Each of the 14 speakers presented a 20-minute mini keynote on a variety of topics. (Click on each speaker's name to read more about them).

Some of the feedback from the day...

      "Excellent variety - look forward to next time - I laughed and cried all day!"

      "This was delightful-speakers were excellent, engaging, different."

We want to thank all of the speakers and attendees for sharing their day with us to make this Showcase so successful!"

Steve Gilliland Dave Davlin
Richard Hight   Chuck Gallagher
Calvin, DeDe, Ray, Kay   Ray McElroy

 
 
Posted on September 29, 2015 | CapCitySpeakers | General

Shannon Miller
These days, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who has not been touched by breast cancer in some way, either a family member, co-worker or friend. Just to provide you with a few statistics, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancers. In 2015, invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in approximately 231,840 women. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, second only to lung cancer. The death rate from breast cancer is about 3%, and this rate has been declining since about 1989, particularly in women under age 50.

The best news...at this time, there are more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. Earlier detection through screening and increased awareness, as well as improved treatment has contributed to the ongoing improvement in outcomes.

At Capitol City Speakers Bureau, we have a number of wonderful and inspiring speakers that address this topic along with motivation and other women's healthcare issues. Please check out our Healthcare speakers at: http://www.speakersfornurses.com

 
 
Posted on September 1, 2015 | CapCitySpeakers | General

Shannon Miller
Shannon Miller stole the hearts of Americans in 1992, when she won five Olympic Medals in gymnastics. She then delighted the country when she led the "Magnificent 7" to gold in the 1996 Olympics and following up with the first US gold medal on the balance beam, making her the most decorated gymnast in American history. However, her biggest challenge yet may have been the diagnosis of a rare form of ovarian cancer in January 2011. Shannon describes her move from Olympic athlete to advocate for the health and wellness of women and children as we asked her a few questions recently.

CCSB Question: You were only 32 years of age when diagnosed with ovarian cancer. What were you thoughts when hearing that news?

Shannon Miller: It was certainly a shock, as a cancer diagnosis always is. My company, which is focused on women's health and wellness had launched the previous year. I was interviewing physicians regarding health issues on a weekly basis as host of a radio show and was involved with different organizations that raised funds for cancer research. In fact, my mother is a cancer survivor. But nothing prepares you for that moment. I was stunned, upset, resolute, and confused all within seconds of the diagnosis. My son was just over a year old and my thoughts kept coming back to one thing...My son needs his mommy. As others around me went through denial, I began to feel isolated. For several weeks, I floundered until one day I decided I did not want to be the victim...I was going to fight. I relied on my faith and many of the lessons I had learned through sport to give me strength during my battle.

CCSB Question: What have you learned about ovarian cancer since beginning this journey?

Shannon Miller: I had little knowledge of ovarian cancer at the time I was diagnosed. In fact, I had no idea I was having three of the main symptoms in the weeks before my doctor's appointment. I was going in for a post baby appointment and gearing up to try for baby #2. I think many of us have this perception that ovarian cancer only happens to "older" women. That's simply not the case. It's also true that there are different types of ovarian cancer. The form I had which is a germ cell tumor, and very rare, often happens with women in their late teens and early 20's. I learned the primary symptoms such as bloating, stomach aches, weight loss and frequent urination. I also learned that there is no specific test for ovarian cancer. That's why it is critical that women know the symptoms and communicate them clearly with their physician. It's also one of the reasons I am such a big advocate of yearly exams. These yearly visits create a base line so that both we and our physician can see when changes occur. We can't prevent a cancer diagnosis, but the earlier we catch it the more options we'll have. In addition, you may catch other issues such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes. What I learned was that I am not invincible. I have to make my health a priority.

CCSB Question: What would you like to share with other women about your experience?

Shannon Miller: Mostly I want women to know that there is hope. A diagnosis of ovarian cancer, or any kind of cancer, can be devastating. It's critical for positive stories to be out there. Women need to know that there are new ways of battling this disease. Hearing stories of women who survived and thrived was an important part of my journey. These stories gave me hope on the most difficult days. I needed to know that I was not alone.

If you would like to learn more about Shannon's courageous story, please check out her bio at www.capcityspeakers.com/speakers/MillerS.htm. She also recently released her new book, It's Not About Perfect: Competing for My Country and Fighting for My Life.

You can help raise awareness of Ovarian Cancer, too, by wearing a teal ribbon, the symbol of ovarian cancer awareness. Did you know that approximately 22,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year, and the survival rate is only about 30%? If detected early (Stage 1), the five-year survival rate is more than 93%. However, there is no screening test to detect ovarian cancer, which is why this cancer is often discovered in later stages. The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often subtle and easily confused with other ailments.

Symptoms may include:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or Abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary urgency or frequency

Other symptoms may include:

  • Nausea, indigestion, gas, constipation or diarrhea
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Backaches
  • Weight Gain

Talk to your doctor if symptoms last more than 2-3 weeks. You are your best advocate.

 
 
Posted on August 26, 2015 | CapCitySpeakers | General

Jeff Civillico and friends I just returned from a short getaway to Las Vegas where I had the privilege of seeing Jeff Civillico perform at the Flamingo-what fun!

How to describe Jeff?!! Hmmm...he is a combination of wild energy, crazy, silly fun (channel Jim Carrey) and talented juggler! We laughed throughout his show! Jeff will be doing 2 shows daily (Sunday - Thursday) at 2 pm and 4 pm at the Flamingo through Labor Day and will be returning September 20th to do a 5:30 pm show. If you are going to Las Vegas, please stop in to see Jeff: www.jeffcivillico.com. You will not be disappointed--and his show is family-friendly!

Jeff's unique talents and spontaneous audience interaction easily transfer to corporate events and fundraisers either as an ideal emcee or unforgettable entertainment. Please contact Capitol City Speakers Bureau for more information about Jeff: capcityspeakers.com/JeffCivillico

Yes, I had to get a photo of the flamingos at the Flamingo!

Famous Flamingos

 
 
Posted on August 19, 2015 | CapCitySpeakers | General

A recent study out of Carroll University in Wisconsin found there are distinct differences between "dog people" and "cat people". Hmm…which category would you be in?

According to the study, "dog people" are generally more energetic and outgoing. They tend to follow the rules and are seeking companionship. That seems logical as dogs are livelier, more sociable and interested in playing outside.

On the other hand, just like their cats who like to stay inside, "cat people" are more likely to be introverts, non-conformists, want affection, and be sensitive home bodies.

Cats and DogsThis illustrates just a small microcosm of the differences in people throughout our world. As a meeting planner, you are called upon to find speakers to meet the needs of many different people, not just "dog people" and "cat people." ☺

At Capitol City Speakers Bureau, we help you find speakers who will address the unique needs of your audience. What do you hope to accomplish with this meeting? Do you want to encourage and motivate your employees? Do you need to address specific concerns or challenges in your business? Whatever your need, we will listen carefully to you and work in partnership to identify the right speaker. The Capitol City Speakers Bureau is proud to have worked with hundreds and hundreds of organizations over the past 22 years, and we are honored to use our personal expertise to make your event a success.

We Help You Thrill Your Audience!


I'm not sure we should even mention this, but the study also suggests cat lovers are more intelligent than dog lovers.

 
Posted on July 21, 2015 | CapCitySpeakers | General

So often you hear about volunteering around holiday time. But volunteers are really needed all year long. Did you know that helping others has benefits for you, your family and your community? Studies consistently show that helping others boosts our happiness, is good for our mental and physical health, and promotes social connections. Additionally, researchers have found that helping others enhances education, may result in unexpected financial benefits, and spurs others to acts of kindness and generosity.

With our busy lives, it can be difficult to find time to volunteer, but our staff have been excited to help out their favorite charities. Ronald McDonald House sponsors a local golf outing which we wholeheartedly support, and local food pantries have been the recipients of employee generosity. Before being moved from Springfield, our staff volunteered countless hours with the LPGA golf tournament which supported many Springfield charities. We have enjoyed our experiences and have learned that doing even small things can have a big impact on others.

Children's Miracle Network Golf Outing  Salvation Army

Central Illinois Community Bloodbank  Friend in Deed

Ronald McDonald House 

Our employees are honored to have the opportunity to contribute to the community!

"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another." --Charles Dickens

 
Posted on July 15, 2015 | CapCitySpeakers | General

Did you know that the average employee stays with a company less than five years?

We are celebrating at Capitol City Speakers Bureau (CCSB) this year! Two of our employees are celebrating milestone anniversaries with our company. Patti Sauer and Teresa Considine have been a committed part of our team for 15 years and 10 years, respectively! We are grateful for the hard work and dedication of these two employees!

Patti Sauer, Event Coordinator - 15 Year Anniversary!

Patti is Event Coordinator at CCSB. She is our "detail person." Once a speaker is booked for an event, Patti will coordinate all the details. She serves as the client's main contact and liaison to the speaker for materials needed, travel arrangements, audio visual requirements and any other event details. You will often hear her cheerful voice when you call our office. Outside of work, Patti enjoys golfing, biking and reading.

Teresa Considine - 10 Year Anniversary!
Teresa Considine, Executive Assistant/Webmaster, juggles a number of responsibilities. She is in charge of Accounts Receivable and Payables, but also maintains and updates the company websites (a challenging job!) Teresa is our go-to person for IT issues as well and assists staff with special projects. When she is not working, you will most likely find Teresa outside hiking, fishing, camping, boating, gardening and riding four-wheelers.

Thank you Patti and Teresa--we appreciate your commitment to making the experience of our clients and speakers the best it can possibly be!

 
 
Posted on October 1, 2013 | CapCitySpeakers | General

My daughter, Courtney, gave the following talk at the Illinois Women in Leadership Conference. Courtney and her husband Evan have a daughter, Brenna, who was born in December 2011. Brenna has a very rare, very severe skin disorder, and her speech focuses on their journey and the lessons they have learned. -- Mike Klemm

[FIRST SLIDE - first photo of Roger Crawford]

Some of you may have heard of him before, but if you don't recognize him, this is Roger Crawford. Roger was born with only two fingers on one hand and a thumb on the other hand. One of his feet has three toes, and the other leg was so underdeveloped, it was amputated below his knee.

But instead of growing up "accepting" that his future would likely not include sports, he trained and pushed and challenged himself to pursue his dreams of playing tennis. He adapted to his limited hand capabilities by holding the racket in the middle opening instead of the handle, and he learned to move quickly on his feet with a prosthetic.

[NEW SLIDE - Roger playing tennis]

Roger went on to play tennis in college, becoming the first person with a physical challenge affecting two or more limbs to play NCAA division 1 athletics, and is now a highly acclaimed speaker and author.

I was in 5th grade when I got to meet Roger for the first time, at the very beginning of his speaking career. As a 10 year old, I was nervous about shaking his hand. What would it feel like? How would I accommodate his missing fingers? When it came time for the handshake, I barely noticed his fingers. Because his bright smile, warm eyes and spectacular personality completely erased what Roger lacked - fingers - and gave way to what he COULD do.

Meeting someone with a visual difference and physical handicaps who had overcome all of his physical challenges to achieve success that others only dream of was so cool to me, as a 5th grader. But it was not only his determination that left a lasting impact on me - it was his positive attitude as he met all of these challenges.

The reason I got to meet Roger was that my dad had just started up a new company - a speakers bureau, where he works with sports personalities and internationally known speakers to connect them with conferences, symposiums and other events that want a keynote speaker. I grew up with names like Zig Ziglar, Larry Winget, and Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, who co-authored the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

And when my dad began to coach my basketball team around the same time that he started his company, I would come home from school to stacks of books about goal setting, empowerment, leadership and achieving success.

I would walk into the bathroom to see things like this taped to my bathroom mirror:

[NEW SLIDE - "GOOD BETTER BEST, Never let it rest, Until your good is better, and your better is best!"] (are you all as inspired as I was back then? )

However annoying it was at the time, I finally realized something in adulthood: when you hear it and read it and think it often enough, you believe it and you start living it.

I can say the same thing for the lessons my mother taught me, though her lessons were more by example.

My mom is a social worker, and you don't become a social worker without a huge amount of compassion in your heart. That compassion was passed on to me with every conversation -both short and long- about how much we have and how little some other people have. That compassion was passed on to me with every volunteer project our family took on, with every Thanksgiving basket we filled, with all of the Christmas presents we purchased for our "angels" on the Angel Tree at church.

My parents both grew up in very modest households, but they worked very hard and took calculated risks to be able to give my brother and me a life where we didn't have to think about money. However, they wanted to keep our eyes open to this fact. They instilled in us the value of hard work in life, and I will say that I didn't always have the same attitude of gratitude that I do now, but my dad especially really pushed us to excellence. Between my dad's lessons in overcoming obstacles in life and achieving my dreams, and my mom's lessons in compassion and kindness, I had a fantastic foundation for success as a child.

[NEW SLIDE - basketball pic]

Now as I mentioned earlier, I played basketball growing up - though I'm sure you could have all guessed that by my impressive height! It was through the game of basketball that reinforced some of the things I was learning about working hard and pushing myself...but much more importantly, it taught me early on about being part of a community and about forming lasting friendships.

I grew up with most of the same women I am still best friends with today. We have gone to the same schools, participated in the same activities and played on many of the same sports teams, including basketball all through high school. It was through this team that I really came to understand and value strong communication, encouraging others, and the support that comes with true friendship. Just as in real life, you can't win alone - you need a strong team who really cares to help you.

Now with all of these early lessons, these valuable friendships I had formed, the success I had achieved in the classroom as I graduated with a great degree from a leading university...I really felt like I was at the top. It seemed as close to perfect as you could get.

[NEW SLIDE - collage of friends and family]

During college I had met a guy who I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. He had so many of the same ideals that I had regarding not only hard work, goal setting, and success, but also the same ideals about giving back to our community.

Evan and I got married when he was right out of college - I went for the younger man - and we were so excited to welcome a baby boy two years later.

[NEW SLIDE - photo of Connor]

We were crazy obsessed with our kid!

I had baby fever and I wanted a million of them. Evan, being the fiscally responsible banker that he is, was more reluctant to produce these money-sucking machines. But we knew at least one more was in the cards, and after a little time, we were living on cloud nine to find out we were pregnant with a baby girl.

[NEW SLIDE - family photo]

We envisioned what we then considered the perfect family: one boy, one girl---two little blond-headed kids running around, playing sports and exceling in the classroom. Evan was in a thriving banking career, and I was running a successful photography studio with big dreams of growth and expansion and soaring sales. We might as well have thrown a perfectly manicured lawn and white picket fence in there.

On the afternoon of December 19, 2011, our baby girl came into our lives...and completely destroyed our perfect picket fence.

[NEW SLIDE - photo of Brenna]

Brenna was rushed to the NICU at St. John's Hospital and was diagnosed with a very rare, very severe genetic skin condition called Harlequin Ichthyosis.

What this means is that there is a mutation in her gene that makes the top layer of skin. Her body recognizes this error and tries to make up for it by over-producing skin. She makes skin 10 times faster than we do, and she can't shed it quickly enough, so she has thick, dry, peeling skin and we coat her in Aquaphor lotion about 5 times a day just to keep her comfortable. And basically her top layer of skin doesn't work - it doesn't keep moisture in her body, it doesn't keep bacteria out - which means she can get skin infections really easily - and it doesn't regulate her body temperature. She isn't even able to sweat, so she overheats easily.

It took a couple of days for the severity of her condition to really sink in to me. Before this, I had NO idea how critical the skin is to our bodies. At first, I thought she would simply look different, and I began preparing myself to accept this.

[NEW SLIDE - Connor touching incubator]

But on day two, as we gathered at a meeting with at least half of the neonatology team, I fully realized how critical she was. She was kept in a tiny incubator so warm and humid that it was fogged up most of the time, and we weren't allowed to hold her. Her appearance was so shocking that we would break down into tears almost every time we would look at her. And she was kept on morphine to help with the pain she was in because of her raw and restrictive skin.

As our doctors discussed pain management instead of going home, I quickly realized that it was very likely Brenna would die.

[NEW SLIDE - Brenna held by Evan's glove]

And so, when she contracted an aggressive blood infection on Christmas Eve, I thought "this is it. My daughter is going to die on Christmas." We had her baptized at 1 a.m. on Christmas Day, and we were told that if her health deteriorated anymore, we could probably do nothing more than "make her comfortable." We sat, anguished, by her bedside all night wondering when we would have to say goodbye, wondering if we would even get a chance to hold her in our arms before she went to heaven.

But as many of you know, Brenna fought through that night. And she has fought for the last 21 months, as she has battled skin infections and surgeries and severe feeding issues. And because of her, I have pulled up every lesson I have ever learned about resiliency and hard work and positive attitude.

[NEW SLIDE - me holding Brenna]

We have never questioned why during this journey. We know exactly why Brenna was given to our family. To teach us about unconditional love, about the true meaning of beauty and to strengthen our relationships with each other and with God. And we also believe that God wants to use our family to teach others about these things, and about celebrating differences.

So although I've always known why, I have never considered HOW until I was asked to do this speech. How we have coped these past two years and how you not only survive but learn to thrive when faced with such a challenge.

[NEW SLIDE - me and Brenna b/w pic]

I think, as I said in the beginning, when you are constantly hearing it and reading it and thinking about it, you believe it and you start living it. While that applies to goal setting and pursuing your dreams and the power of positive attitude, the same is also true for happiness. This is definitely not what I had planned for my life - putting many of my dreams on hold to care for a child with very special needs. But rarely does life hand you exactly what you want or what you expect.

If you look at your life, I'm sure you can name dozens of negatives. The stress of your job, drama with coworkers, huge responsibility of raising children. It can wear on you. It can be so easy to get caught up in the negative. To ask "what if?" or " why me?" But that will only lead to a downward spiral of sadness, disappointment, anger and resentment that leaves you with nothing. No productivity, no hope, no fulfillment.

[NEW SLIDE - Opportunity for good]

Everyone has negative in their lives, everyone has challenges to overcome, trials and stress. Perfect does not exist. Normal does not exist. But good exists and is everywhere. There is always opportunity for joy and for good in every challenge we face. It's a constant decision we make to find those opportunities.

I was thinking the other day about happiness when it occurred to me that right smack in the middle of the word is the letter I. Four letters in front of it, four letters behind it, to make up the word happiness.

[NEW SLIDE - Happiness]

I realized how perfect this is, because at the very core of true happiness, the very center of contentment, is ourselves. My happiness starts in the middle with myself, I, and radiates outward to all of the different aspects of my life to make up my total happiness. I began a blog when Brenna was born called Blessed by Brenna to educate others about her condition. At first, I looked at it as a way to update our family and friends about her health status each day.

[NEW SLIDE - blog header]

As I continued to write week after week, I began to gain thousands of followers, and I realized I had found a unique platform to not only share our family's story, but to share the perspectives we had gained as parents to a child who was very visually different and to educate others about Brenna's skin condition and to encourage other parents in this difficult journey.

So I look for the positive as often as I can. Instead of focusing on the fact that we can't spend all afternoon at the pool on a hot day because Brenna can't be in the sun or heat, I savor the little moments with my kids and we have picnic lunches in the living room and watch movies on hot days.

Instead of being discouraged by how much our doctors and therapy appointments eat up our schedule, I have built a medical team that I enjoy and I trust, and it often makes doctors appointments like visiting with a friend.

And I have learned to hold back the tears when I notice the Aquaphor stains on my nice clothes (and it gets EVERYWHERE!), because that's just life. It's far from positive in our house every day - we still battle severe feeding issues along with the intense skin care that is never-ending. But I really try to focus on the positive.

On my blog, I write about the positive aspects of our lives as often as I can. I constantly evaluate what makes me happy with this life I'm living right now and focus on the best parts. I indulge in little treats when I need a pick-me-up. (It's amazing what a white chocolate mocha from Starbucks can do for your mental health!)

All of this effort does actually make me FEEL happy.

I've discovered in these last two years that there are three ways to respond to negative.

[NEW SLIDE - 3 ways to respond to negative]
  1. You can wallow. This should not be confused with true grief during a tragedy, because everyone must grieve and it's part of the healing process. I still grieve sometimes.

    I would be lying if I didn't admit that I have had very very low times. Of crying and sadness and negative thoughts that I will never repeat. We have wondered and worried about what Brenna's life would be like, living with this condition, and about what our lives would be like, what we would have to give up.

    But wallowing is not healing like grieving is. Wallowing is letting yourself be sucked into the negative, moping about the negative and feeding the negative mentally and emotionally. It is not productive and it only makes you feel worse about yourself.

    The good news is that you can pick yourself up. You don't have to wallow...

  2. You can change what is making you unhappy. Take the time to figure out what would make you happier or more fulfilled, and then do it. It's always easier said than done. But if your job doesn't make you happy, find a job that does. If your junk-filled garage is bogging you down, get it organized. Put a lot of effort into a relationship with a friend or family members that needs work. If your social calendar is a point of complete stress, say no. (Saying no can be so freeing, can't it?!)

  3. However, you can't always change everything that is negative in your life. So you must change how you react to it. You must make it a positive through your own perspectives or response to it. This is the case where the I in the middle of happiness really stands out.
Some things in life just are. My daughter has a severe skin condition, and that's not going to change. But by working on my attitude about it every day, every week, I can choose to be happy in spite of that. I can even choose to see the good that has come from that instead of the bad and be happy because of that.

Evan and I try to find humor in so many situations that others might cry about, because if you can't laugh about things, you'll go crazy, or drink heavily, or both. (One afternoon I was at the grocery store, which was packed and my bright red, scaly baby tends to elicit a lot of stares in that sort of situation. We had finished our trip and were nearing the checkout when Brenna became especially feisty, squealing and giggling loudly as we shopped. We'd been stared at the whole time we were shopping, but I just laughed it off. I leaned over to her and exclaimed "Brenna, if you get any louder, everyone's going to start staring at you!")

[NEW SLIDE - Resiliency is a choice]

Resiliency and happiness go hand-in-hand. The ability to be optimistic and to find good in the face of the negative greatly impacts your happiness across every part of your life.

I think resiliency in the wake of setbacks is a choice. Not only a choice we make every day with our attitudes, but in who we choose to surround ourselves with, what we choose to read and watch and look at online, and what we choose to believe as part of our faith. Because all of this impacts how we are able to handle and respond to negative situations - from devastating illnesses to just the everyday stress of life. I have been so blessed to see many of these choices that I've made come full circle again. The incredible friends that I found when I was young rallied around our family during the lowest point in our lives. The community that I've been striving to give back to over the years came together to provide for our family. I held onto my faith in God during the dark days and I have a renewed strength in my relationship with God. And all of these have been resources to draw happiness and strength from when I need it most, in order to bounce back when life has pushed me down.

[NEW SLIDE - Brenna smiling]

Finding the good in a situation when your world has been turned upside is not easy. But it can start small. And I can tell you firsthand that it will build.

After months of clinging to the positive and writing about the positive on my blog, I began to realize that I was witnessing a ripple effect from my actions. The more that I strive to make the most of what I have been given in life, and the more that I write about how I am doing this, the ripples are spreading bigger and bigger.

People seem to be drawing inspiration from my positivity, and awareness of Brenna's condition is spreading. People are evaluating their own perspectives of interacting with those who have visual differences after reading our story. Groups and individuals are making donations to the Children's Hospital and to the Foundation for Ichthyosis so that other families like ours can be helped. And maybe what makes me the most excited is that parents are taking the time and effort to teach their children about kindness and acceptance.

[NEW SLIDE - Tinysuperheroes]

And a blog reader was even inspired to start a nonprofit called Tiny Superheroes after reading about Brenna. In Seattle, Robyn hand-makes superhero capes to gift to children fighting illnesses, and she has now empowered more than 1,700 children around the world...1,700 families who have been directly impacted by receiving a cape and thousands of other people who have been inspired to give and to learn about these children after seeing the TinySuperheroes' story on media like ABC World News with Diane Sawyer and People Magazine - all because of Brenna.

This continues to fuel my momentum and my happiness. What I first thought was the worst thing that could ever happen has turned into more good than I could have ever believed.

[NEW SLIDE - family pics]

Instead of thinking about what Brenna can't do because of her skin, I focus on all of the things she will get to do, and all of the things we will still get to do as a family. The possibilities really are endless. I can honestly say that I am so excited about the future. I'm continuing to see how much opportunity there is for good and for happiness even without the so-called perfect life that I originally envisioned for myself and my family.

[NEW SLIDE - Brenna in yellow]

After all, as Roger Crawford showed me at a very young age, it is up to only Brenna what she can't do. And as I strive to pass on the lessons of hard work, compassion and resiliency that were taught to me, I know that while her life will not be without challenges and will be far from perfect, she has the opportunity to impact the world and do so many great things with her life.

 
 
Posted on July 30, 2013 | CapCitySpeakers | General

We have created a short, 2-minute video about our business and how we help people who hire speakers. We would be honored to discuss your events, offer innovative, fresh ideas and save you valuable time. The Capitol City Speakers Bureau has been helping meeting planners for more than 20 years!

 
 
 
Posted on April 10, 2013 | CapCitySpeakers | General

When things in your lives seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once again if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous "yes."

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

"Now," said the professor as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life."

The golf balls are the important things-your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions-and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else-the small stuff. "If you put the sand in the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls . The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you. "Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to lunch or dinner. Play another 18. Take that vacation you've been thinking about for years. Visit your parents if you 're lucky enough to still have them. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first-the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."

 
 
Posted on March 20, 2013 | CapCitySpeakers | General

A few years out of college, I started listening to business speakers and motivational speakers. I would pop in a cassette tape (yes, not a misprint, it was a cassette tape) and listen away, trying to glean a few nuggets. I told a college buddy I was listening to Earl Nightingale and he said, "Earl is good but Zig Ziglar is great." Hmmm, never heard of this motivational speaker with the interesting name! My friend sent me a tape series and I listened to the fast talking southerner tell story after story and describe the importance of goal setting, attitude and commitment as only Zig could. He kept your attention, that's for sure!

I was a relatively self-motivated person back in those days, but I had a tendency to begin something and maybe complete it, and maybe not. Looking back, I could have been a little ADD. One day, I started listening to the audio on goal setting. Zig told the story about setting and achieving the goal to implement a running program and lose a significant amount of weight.

As I recall, he ran 1/2 a block the first day and worked to run completely around the block. He was so excited about this accomplishment, he woke his wife to give her the news! Then he ran ½ mile, 1 mile and then several miles. He started slowly, didn't miss a day even when he was travelling for speeches, and the weight came off. He looked a lot better, felt a lot better and achieved a goal many of us struggle with.

I wanted to run a 10K (6.2 miles). I was playing racquetball and basketball, but not running. "I will structure my plan like Zig," I thought, so I broke down what I would do every week. I ran every other day, rain or shine, cool or extremely hot and humid. Soon, I was running 7 miles and felt great. And I could eat something known in Springfield, IL as a Horseshoe, a sandwich with approximately 3,000 calories and roughly 70 fat grams - and not gain weight!!

Like many, I feared failure, so I would not attempt certain things. I still remember Zig saying over and over "Failure is an event, not a person." Zig helped change my attitude and boost my confidence. I started a business at age 28, continued to listen to business tapes and learn from the lessons. One day a flyer arrived promoting a live, 3-hour Zig seminar in St. Louis. My wife and I attended, and Zig gave a great performance. The business person in me wondered if I could bring Zig to Springfield for a live seminar. Just a few years earlier, I would not have thought I could pull off something like this and would have thought more about failing than succeeding.

Original Program Cover from Zig Ziglar Seminar

So, I approached the Zig Ziglar Company with my proposal. They politely declined. I persisted. I know what they were thinking, this guy owns and operates a printing company and had never organized and promoted a seminar. Yep, this is a potential recipe for failure. But, I kept asking, and they finally said yes. 1,500 people packed a hotel ballroom to hear Zig. A lot of work? You bet, but a thrill and big confidence booster.

Two years later, we brought Zig back to town before an even larger crowd. This time, some circumstances were different. My wife, at age 37, was diagnosed with breast cancer and was scheduled for a mastectomy one week after the event. I chatted about the situation with Zig at the conclusion of his talk, and he gave me his full attention and understanding. A few days after the surgery, I received a call at work and I was told Zig was on the line. Now, I have friends who call and make up names, so I was pretty sure it was a friend. Nope, it was Zig, and he wanted to know how my wife was doing. We had a great conversation. He was busy with events and running a corporation, but he made a point to give me 10 minutes of his time.

Book Cover and Inscription by Zig Ziglar

Zig was the teacher I needed, and I only wish I had him in my life during my teenage years. Sometimes it is about learning math, history, sociology and economics. But, sometimes it is learning goal setting, perseverance, improving attitude, overcoming adversity and peak performance and what these traits mean to your overall success and happiness. There is an old saying that knowledge is power, which is actually incorrect. Knowledge is power...IF you use it.

Zig passed away on November 28 at the age of 86. I am sure there are many people who have stories similar to mine. I was very, very fortunate to know him and learn from him.

-- Mike Klemm

 
 
Posted on January 8, 2013 | CapCitySpeakers | General

In 2013, our bureau celebrates 20 years in business. We have progressed from booking low fee trainers for local organizations to booking some of the very best business leaders and authors, sports personalities, celebrities and healthcare experts for clients across the country.

We have weathered recessions, deeper recessions and the ups and downs nearly all businesses experience. As a start-up business in 1993, we rolled up our sleeves and "got after it." We made mistakes, we did things right, we learned. We have always tried to exceed the expectations of our clients. The bureau held our first Speakers Showcase in 1994, not really understanding what exactly we were doing-----and it turned out fine. Some 20 Showcases later, we have the process down to a science. When we held our first Showcase, we were younger than most of the speakers. Today, we are older than most of them!

A few years after our inception, specifically 1997, we had a website built at a time when many businesses did not have one. Today, 10 year old kids have their own website. We worked hard to have our site rank high on search engines such as Lycos, Altavista and Dogpile. I know, you are scratching your head, asking what search engines???? In 1997, two guys in a college dorm room registered Google.com and started work on a better search engine. Google has now captured 2/3's of worldwide Internet searches.

Printed items like catalogs, postcards, newsletters, invoices and letters have given way to marketing via Constant Contact, twitter, Facebook and Yelp and Google Adwords and communication via text messages, emails with downloads and smart phones.

Through it all, we have had the opportunity to work with many wonderful meeting planners and business executives and great speakers and entertainers. Many organizations in our Central Illinois home area have been incredibly loyal to us as have meeting planners across the continent. We consider ourselves very fortunate to be your meeting partner and provide fresh, innovative ideas. As our tagline says, "We Help You Thrill Your Audience!"

THANK YOU for your support---It is deeply appreciated.

 
 

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