Weird St. Patrick’s Day

This is weird.

As we get set to lather on the green face paint, imbibe all things green, and dance a wee jig in honor of the great Patricius…here are a few strange St. Paddy’s Day facts:

*The original colour worn by Patrick and to mark St. Patrick’s Day…was blue.  It became green the more the party went global – ostensibly due to the Emerald Isle’s greenness, shamrocks, leprechauns, every Irish national sporting uniform ever, and the green in the Irish flag.

*Patrick’s real name was Maewyn.

Very Lord of The Rings.

*Herpetologists – i.e. folks who study reptiles agree that there probably never were snakes in Ireland for Patrick to drive out.  Too cold.  So the snakes of legend are thought to be metaphorical.  At least they weren’t the ironic kind – those smug bastards.

*Once upon a time, in the ol’ U.S. of A. the Irish were considered a migrant crisis.

Good one to remember.

As they poured in to the states on the Eastern seaboard, they were discriminated against harshly.  Now they’re a force in American culture and politics.

#Truth

*The world’s shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade takes place in Hot Springs, Arkansas and is just 98-feet (or 49 leprechauns) long.

Crucially, this allows for more pub time.

*In the town of O’Neill, Nebraska (named for its Irish founder) residents wear green not only on St. Patrick’s, but on the 17th of every month.  That’s dedication.

*On the tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat, St. Paddy’s Day is a national holiday.  Montserrat boasts a rich Irish and African heritage.

Like me.

(The Conz began in The Ivory Coast.)

*Finally, here’s a clip of one of my fave Conor Kelly productions.  It’s a workout routine I shot while vacationing in Ireland, with just about the most scenic backdrops of any workout video I ever done seen:

Olivia was so inspired she insisted I film her very first Yoga instructional video…

Well that’s all for the weird and the wonderful of the day.

In the words of my ‘bredren’…

May love and laughter light your days

And warm your heart and home.

May good and faithful friends be yours

Wherever you may roam.

May peace and plenty bless your world

With joy that long endures

May all life’s passing seasons

Bring the best to you and yours

Happy St. Patrick’s Day,

Conor Kelly

The amazing true story of Whitney Houston’s epic superbowl performance

On Monday it will be 7 years since Whitney Houston’s death.

And since I just watched Whitney, the Kevin MacDonald documentary of her life on Netflix, here’s a story I think you’ll find interesting.

First, a little context.

I was never a fan of her music.

And I’ve never had any particular fondness for the U.S. national anthem either.  When well sung it’s rousing, to be sure.  What I’m less about is its war imagery and vague undertones of neo-imperialism.

That said there’s one clip of Whitney Houston I’ve watched at least 50 times…her singing of The Star Spangled Banner at the 1991 Superbowl.  I think it’s one of the most insane vocal performances mine ears doth heard.

I get chills every time.

I never knew the story behind it, though.

To hear her music manager tell it, they gave her rendition some serious thought.  You see, African Americans have also had an iffy relationship to the anthem because it’s about some of the state organs of violence that – at times – have been targeted toward black people.

The song is typically a waltz performed in 3/4 time.

So what they decided to do was adapt it to 4/4 time.

They reasoned this would give Whitney more space to hold out the big notes.

Plus, all black music is in 4/4.

He redid the arrangements.  Had the orchestra rehearse it.  And they hated it.  Nevertheless, he sent Whitney the recording, “what do you think”?  But never heard back.  It wasn’t until a week before the big game that he saw her and she admitted she hadn’t heard it.

She said, “play it.”

Then leaned back, closed her eyes, and listened intently.

When it was over, all she murmured was, “got it.”

What the world heard that day was the unrehearsed first take. 

 Watch it here:

 

 

 

For anyone who knows anything about music, let alone performing, that is…CRAZY.  It’s genius on another level.  Here she was this young woman with a big voice, on the world’s greatest stage, letting it all hang loose.

Uninhibited.

Free.

Indeed, freedom is ultimately what the lyric is meant to convey.

And it’s what you feel as she sings it.

I don’t think it’s possible to overestimate the power of this moment.  I may not be her #1 fan.  But for that alone, damn if she wasn’t one of the most badass singers to ever walk this planet.

Hats off, Ms. Houston.

R.I.P.

One more thing…

Genius and talent played a role.

But that level of command, both musically and over her performance, would never have happened if her mother Cissy – herself an accomplished vocalist – hadn’t drilled them into her from a young age.

What if she hadn’t?

Happy Inspiration,

Conor Kelly

Mission 2045: Immortality

“I’ll tell you a secret…something they don’t teach you in your temple.  The Gods envy us.  They envy us because we’re mortal.  Because any moment might be our last, everything’s more beautiful.” –Achilles, to a captive Briseis in Troy

Author Ray Kurzweil, in his best-selling 2006 book The Singularity Is Near, predicted that thanks to advances in genetics, nanotechnology (such as tiny robots that will repair our cells from the inside), and artificial intelligence, anyone who makes it to 2045 will basically live forever.

The race is on.

There is of course the issue of whether or not we should want to live forever.

Hence my lovely, thought-provoking quote today.

Questions, questions…

***

In other longevity news, according to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency a 90-year-old American cyclist was stripped of his medal for testing positive for a banned substance.

That’s not a typo.

The man is 90 years old.

Not only is he able to get on a bike at his age…he’s still racing.

I don’t care what he’s on, unless his name is Robocop, let the guy keep his medal.

Who’s with me?

***

Our high-test nonagenarian ain’t got nothing on this guy:

French cyclist Robert Marchand announced he’s hanging up his bicycle shorts at a seasoned 106 years of age.

(That’s a lot of seasons.)

Last year, he broke the world record in the 105+ age category (a category that had to be created for him) by riding over 22KM in one hour:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UHw6MTbY3U

He’s retiring from record attempts, but says he’ll keep peddling his stationary bike at home.

Well, there you have it.

Thought I’d lay down a little inspiration for the Drive To 2045.

Effective, n’est ce pas?

Live Long & Prosper,

Conor Kelly

P.S.  Are you on LinkedIN?  If we’re not already contacts, please send me an invitation to connect here:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/conorkelly/

5 Tips for how to be a more confident speaker

I’ll never forget the first public talk I ever gave.  It was right after I’d started my personal training business.  Someone said I should do public speaking to promote myself, and even though the idea terrified me, I decided to give it a try.

I scripted out a 45 minute presentation, and memorized the entire thing.  On the day, a grand total of 13 people showed up.  About 10 minutes into it, there’s a guy right in front row who starts dozing off.  But I got through it.  I can’t imagine it was a great talk, but the feedback was very positive.

A couple of month later, I did another one, and then another one, and pretty soon it turned out that it was something I have a talent for, and really enjoy doing.

Here are a few suggestions to help you become a more confident speaker:

(1) Don’t memorize.  I don’t recommend you memorize your speech like I did that first time.  Trying to remember lines can make you nervous and distract you from what you should be focused on, which is communicating your ideas.  However, I suggest you script and practice key parts like your intro, or any essential stories.  The intro in particular should be well planned, because your nerves will be the highest at the beginning.  Once you get past the first 5-10 minutes or so, you’ll start to settle in.

(2) Embrace your feelings.  Don’t try to fake being confident if you’re not.  It takes too much energy, and feels less authentic.  Remember, your audience is rooting for you to do well.  If you’re nervous, acknowledge it.  Fear and excitement are made of the same stuff.  So call it excitement.  For me, when I feel those butterflies, I know I’m ready.  It energizes me.  It raises my awareness, so I’m sharper.  So if you’re nervous, embrace the feeling.  Tell yourself, “perfect…that means I’m ready”.

(3) Honor your topic.  Once upon a time I’d organized a talk and registration was very low.  I was debating cancelling it.  So I went for a walk to clear my head, and when I came home, I picked a book from the shelf and opened it to a random page.  On that page was this line,

“A great speaker is someone with knowledge of a topic, and a burning desire to share it.”

I thought, I have so much knowledge on this topic, and I want to share it.  So I went ahead.

Since then, I make it a point to remind myself before each talk how excited I am about what I have to say.  Nerves come partly from focusing on the wrong thing: yourself.  Give your topic center stage.  Remember that you have valuable information to give.  Focus on that.

(4) Embody the experience.  On a recent episode of the voice, someone asked Pharrell Williams what he thinks about right before going on stage, and he said without hesitation, “how much fun I’m gonna have.”  As a general rule, if you’re not having fun, the audience isn’t either!  Audiences love to feel like the speaker is enjoying him or herself.  Your goal should be to embody whatever experience you want to convey.  If you want to inspire, YOU should be inspired!  If you want them to have fun, you should be having fun.

(5) Learn by DOING.  There aren’t short cuts.  If you want to be good, let alone great at speaking, you have to take every opportunity you can to SPEAK.  Joining a group like Toastmasters is good, mostly because it gets you up in front of people each week.

You learn through doing.

Finally, I’d just say, do your best to prepare, but when it’s your time to take to the front of the room, dismiss any care you might have about the outcome.  Have fun!  If you do that, and you learn from every experience, it won’t be long before you are a much more confident speaker.

Happy Speaking,

Conor Kelly

 

How to get more AC/DC into your nutrition program

Before I got into lifting weights, my one big obsession was playing guitar.

I had two electric guitars, a bass, and an acoustic. I was basically gonna be Slash from GNR, but without the top hat, or the cigarette dangling from my mouth.

My first guitar teacher, Jean-Marc, taught me the pentatonic scale, and many others, both minor and major. He made me practice each one hundreds of times until they were hardwired into my brain.

In the beginning, I really resisted. Running scales felt repetitive and boring, like homework.

I’d be like, ‘I don’t want to learn scales. When are we gonna play some AC/DC?’

I knew I could crank out a decent rendition of *Back in Black*. But I’d really hear it from Jean-Marc if I didn’t practice my scales. Because HE knew, if I nailed the basics, I could play anything. He was right. I went on to win awards for both rock and classical performances. I was voted Best in Music at my high school graduation.

When I started coaching people on nutrition, I found the process was very much the same.

The #1 complaint I’d get is ‘not enough variety’. But until you establish the habits that are the foundation for your success, narrowing it to 1-3 options for each meal is the way to go.

It simplifies everything. Meal prep. Grocery shopping. You learn to identify portion sizes. You discover what foods you like that also work best with your plan. You find a system that’s effective, and also easy to stick to.

People always want new or different. That’s what’s exciting. But the truth is, when you really break it down, success is routine and boring. It’s mechanical. It’s doing the right things well, and doing them repeatedly. In my experience, people who need a lot of variety from the word ‘go’ rarely develop the consistency to make the right nutrition a habit. But when you understand the basics, trying new things becomes second nature. You’re just expanding your repertoire.

Once I had every scale known to music at my fingertips, not only could I play AC/DC with more accuracy, but I could easily pull off new musical genres whenever I felt like it. If I’d never invested the time to “get my reps in” and play scales, I wouldn’t have accomplished most of what I did as a musician.

Get your reps in too. Learn the basics of whatever you want to be good at, and do it a thousand times over. Stick with simple, straightforward and repetitive until you get it right.

Once you master the basics, branching out is a logical next step you can enjoy without compromising your results.

Happy Transforming,

Conor Kelly

How To Put New Patterns On Auto-Pilot

Let’s talk a little bit more about context changes…

I’d mentioned how manipulating conditions in your present environment to “handicap” your future self is really key, because it takes willpower out of the equation to a large extent.

So for instance, if you want to lose weight or improve your fitness, you can skip buying your monthly metropass and take up the habit of walking to and from work instead.  You can prepare healthy meals to bring to work with you and limit your choices.  You can STOP keeping foods that you have a hard time being moderate with in your house.

I heard some other great examples recently…

These are from Harley Pasternak.  He’s encouraging people to move more, and said as a busy person, what he’s done is to get rid of his coffee machine at home, so he has to walk four blocks to get his morning coffee.  Also, when meeting with someone, instead of just meeting at his office, he’ll say let’s walk and talk; your mind is in more of a creative state anyway.

I’ve talked about public speaking

One of the best things you can do to get yourself going with that is join a group; something like toastmasters.  You’ll pick up a few tips.  But most importantly it gets you up in front of people each week.   And remember, DOING is the path to BEING.  If you want to be decent, let alone great at anything, you need to do it, and do it often.

So this year, when I decided to get back into the flow of speaking (as I emerge weary-eyed from behind my laptop where I spent the last few months of 2016) one of the things I did was sign up for a stand up comedy class.  Now, I have no ambitions of becoming a comic…

But doing the stand up thing is definitely different from the speaking I’ve done over the years.  It’s a little out of my comfort zone, and that’s the point.  It’s got me thinking about humour, and how to add more of that to my presentations.  Mostly, it keeps me in front of people each week and it’s an opportunity to continue to refine my communication skills.

The other thing I did was commit to a monthly interview on ThatChannel.com.  Same idea, forces me to really button up my content, as well as practice being interviewed.

Finally, doing these videos was the third context change.   Each one is like a mini talk, so it forces me to clarify my ideas, and I’m getting practice at communicating them as well.

That’s really it.  That’s how it’s done.  That’s how I’m doing it.  That’s how you can use my concept of context changes to effectively automate any good behavior you want more of.  As I’ve said before, put some thought into what you want to accomplish.  Be clear on your intention.  Then be ruthless about organizing your life in ways that make it a lot harder for you to NOT do the positive new patterns you’re creating for yourself. 

Edit your daily method of operation, and your environment, so it becomes second nature.

With a just little bit of thought, I’m sure you can find ways to do this.

For a lot more ideas, to help you along the road to being EVEN more, and accomplishing EVEN more, be sure to sign up for my email tips by clicking the graphic in the right column.

Thanks for watching, and happy transforming.

Conor Kelly