Aug. 13, 2012, Vol. 10, Issue 15
Everyone loves a good story, especially when it’s about overcoming adversity, and it inspires others to greatness. Me too. But from creating one to sharing it effectively lie many obstacles that separate the great speaker from the tedious ones.
“Oh my goodness, I’m reading the sports pages – again!” I declared for the second time in a week. What had my attention? Not football or baseball scores, I guarantee you. Actually, it was the stories, not the scores . . . the stories of Olympic athletes, and their journeys to Olympic stardom — their trials, sacrifices and triumphs. I find reading their stories much more interesting than watching swimming or track lanes on television.
Some of these stars will most definitely show up on the rosters of sports and celebrity speakers bureaus. Some will be great, but some may disappoint as keynote speakers. On the other hand, these heroes are well-versed in being coached, so perhaps if being behind a microphone is not a natural talent, they’ll get some coaching. Certainly, by the time they leave London, they will be accustomed to media attention.
My point here is that sharing a good story, setting an example of doing something outstanding, overcoming adversity and inspiring others to reach their own greatness – that’s what inspirational and motivational speakers do. So, today, I’ve chosen to feature someone who inspires me in exactly that way. I ran across Allison Massari last year when I was researching speakers on adversity for a client. Her story is heart-wrenching. Her courage and insights are inspiring. Her spirit, tenacity and talent ring true with every audience she addresses.
Allison Massari: Compassion Heals the Places that Medicine Cannot Touch
Allison Massari has credibility in spades –
- rising from the ashes of tragedy,
- transforming challenge into opportunity,
- perfecting the art and skill of telling her story to your audience.
She can mesmerize an audience with her story and electrify them with the lessons she learned
In 1998, she survived a 60 mph car crash where she was trapped and burned alive, conscious the entire time. With fifty percent of her body in second and third degree burns, she recalls, the agony was inescapable. She yearned for just 2 minutes of freedom from the pain, but for months, there was no relief. After two years of difficult recovery, she had the misfortune to be in another serious car crash, this time suffering a severe closed-head brain injury. Her doctors gave her no hope of recovery. Her family was told that the Allison they knew was gone, that she would never recover. They had their own lessons to learn, though, because this young lady was not giving up.
If fate was looking for a victim in Allison Massari, she picked the wrong person. Allison has always believed in miracles but, as you’ll hear in her talks, the miracles had to be combined with her passionate determination and the love of family and friends to bring her to full recovery. She looked down every rabbit hole seeking solutions.
“I didn’t want just to heal,” she says, “I wanted to feel peaceful. I became relentless in my pursuit to find the answers to life and to master it in totality.”
This kind of clarity comes through in her keynote presentations. Having overcome the tremendous physical and psychological obstacles her injuries presented, she shows up today with a sense of joy, playfulness, and a gratitude for being alive. Her attitude is disarming, profound and contagious. She communicates from a point of deep understanding, demonstrating the power of determination and her fierce intention to overcome obstacles, even understanding the effectiveness of silly pretend games she used to play with her father. Her message focuses on the power of the whole range of human connections to go deeper than ordinary treatment can. “Compassion,” she teaches, “heals the places that medicine cannot touch.”
Her programs are especially effective for healing burnout in medical workers and enhancing patient-centered care. She achieves her impact in healthcare by bringing healing to the healers and letting it ripple out from there. Healthcare professionals have expressed great gratitude for her message reviving their passion for their work.
Before tragedy struck, Allison had been a successful artist with a growing international fine arts business. Her passion as an artist was rooted in her innate ability to express her experiences through her art, as well as her commitment to support humanity and her feisty entrepreneurial spirit. So upon her full recovery, she revived her art business, increased her sales by 100 percent, and earned placement in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Florida.
But in the summer of 2009, she found herself yearning for something more. She wanted to share all she had learned through adversity, and to help others find deeper purpose and happiness in their lives. In a moment of complete clarity, she realized her mission was to share those life-changing secrets with others, and she moved confidently into her new career as a private coach and professional speaker. Within two years, she was voted the “Rising Star” of 2011 by the National Speakers Association.
In November 2011, Allison was asked to deliver a TEDx Talk in Spain on “The Future of Happiness.” In that talk, she used her own experience of injury and long, painful recovery to penetrate to deep, unexpected knowledge that marks the lives of extraordinary people: “In order to be truly happy, we must be very brave,” she warns. “Instead of resisting our pain, we need to pour our compassion into it. Once we stop judging our faults or our suffering, the mind becomes quiet: We create space for happiness. This foundation of willingness and acceptance causes real transformation to be exponentially powerful.”
To learn more about this extraordinary woman or to engage her as a speaker for healing at your event, call me at 503-699-5031 or read more about her and view that TEDx talk on our website.
Summertime Food Memories
For me food can be a trigger to take me back to summers long ago. The memories of tastes and tables – and beloved people – from my childhood waft through my present experiences like wonderful aromas. They flavor my life today when I bring into my daily life the memories of that little girl who was me.
I can’t bring home a batch of fresh green beans, for example, from our local fruit stand without thinking of cleaning green beans at Grandma Grace’s house in Prairie Farm,Wisconsin. When I was a kid, I never liked the job of snapping those ends off — boring — but, of course, I had to do my job if I wanted my dinner. Now I enjoy those memories while cleaning the beans, and I love the fresh beans – though I’ll admit it’s still not my favorite food prep job . . .
A lovely, ripe cantaloupe quarter reminds me of breakfast at Great Aunt Mary’s formal dining room table, in Waukegan, Illinois. There, the quarter melon slice was cut both crosswise and lengthwise into nifty little squares, to be delicately scooped out of the rind. Today, although I add a dollop of Greek Yogurt and a splash of blueberries to my cantaloupe quarter, I still scoop it out the same way with my spoon, and that cantaloupe brings back memories of the neat little squares and breakfast at Aunt Mary’s table before the day got hot. Sweet.
The best memory of all was the homemade ice cream — hand cranked, not electric. That was the summer treat we savored at Grandma Grace’s house. Cream, rock salt, ice, cranking – and anticipation. The flavor I remember best is peach. So now, when I cut up ripe, yummy peaches, that’s the memory I savor most of all. What’s yours?
Until next time, I hope you’re making new summer memories while savoring the ones that nurture you. Take care of yourself for your well being and those you love.
For Your Well Being is published bi-weekly. We bring you insider speaker reports, exclusive stories about special events around the country, meeting planner tips, and fun stuff from the worlds of health and well being. Be well and be in the know!
The Speak Well Being Group is a specialized speakers bureau, focusing on speakers for hospital-sponsored community events, healthcare organizations, conferences and women’s groups. Our speakers are hand-selected. They are not only experts in their fields, they know how to connect with women and give them life-changing information served on a silver platter of joy, camaraderie, with a side of sauce (spicy, of course).
Finding the perfect keynote speaker for your special event or conference is my personal passion, not just once, but year after year. It brings me endless joy to know that your audience was delighted and moved by the speaker we selected together. I’m committed to making the process easy, pleasant and fun.