Conversations and a Gathering of Great Minds

Bag and hands by Alejandro Escamilla

Image by Alejandro Escamilla

I recently had breakfast with an old friend at a restaurant. He told me he meets there with a group of men regularly, and they talk about education, kids, curriculum, and the world. They even had a little brass plaque on wall with their initials engraved on it.  It was early, but the conversation put my mind in the right mode of thinking for the entire day. New perspectives were shared. I saw topics in a new light, and, well, I shared some of my ideas too.

Today, I was listening to a few minutes of a show titled GPS on CNN. I caught it just by chance. Just one of those moments where I was getting a snack when I shouldn’t have, and the TV was on in the kitchen.  What a great show! I’m not sure I am intelligent enough to grasp everything it covered, but I enjoyed the variety and richness of discussion. The show focused on solutions and big ideas.

I was inspired by the host’s guest too, “Homeless Billionaire” Nicolas Berggruen, who has recently  started a ‘think tank” where the top minds of the world will gather and well… think. He is building an institute that focuses on free speech, curiosity, and diversity. Nicholas calls this institute a “secular monestary” where scholars will live, work, host meetings, and talk about a range of topics from technology, philosophy to government, and more! He says he wants to give the world a place where people can have conversations.

These two events, my friend’s gathering at breakfast and the CNN story, are the same concept at different levels. Both groups, one big and one small, are focused on getting great minds together and having a conversation.

Are we doing this? Are we having discussions? This is more than liking pictures and status updates. These are face-to-face conversations in real time. This is setting aside a time to meet in person, spend time together, talk and then collaborate on solutions.

I was fortunate to have been invited to Berlin, Germany this summer to do just that with amazing educators from all around the world at the Apple Distinguished Educator Global Institute 2016. It was amazing and beneficial. This was thinking big on a big scale. This should happen often and so should smaller discussions too, at smaller levels.

How can we do more of this?  How can you or I get a group of thinkers together to talk and collaborate?

I challenge you this week to do just that. Start something. Join something. If you accomplish it online, well, I guess that is okay,  but if you can find a way to meet in person I think you will see many added benefits.

As an English teacher I am reminded of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and G. K. Chester meeting at a pub regularly for a talk. They called themselves The Inlkings. What came from these “talks” is some of my favorite literature and essays.

On my podcast I recently interviewed two authors about a trip they took home after a conference. They rode together in a car and talked. From this conversation sprang forth the idea for a book which was recently published on a very important topic.

These ‘think tanks’ or conversations are important. While they of course can “just happen” from time to time, imagine the results if we actually planned a few.

Kelly Croy  • Speaker, Artist and Educator • Invite Kelly to speak at your event!  •  •  1-800-831-4825 

Five Steps to Building Leadership in Your Organization

Fill in the moat KC speaker motivate team

Low productivity and morale can surface within any organization, and it’s really not that difficult to get everyone back on track. Every workplace is different, and there isn’t always a one-method-fixes-all solution. In this post I’m offering five great techniques to implement to get your organization from complaining to leading.

1) Show You Care: If you want to end morale issues in your organization and build leaders, then you need to build a rapport with your team. When you show your team kindness, that you care, and develop a genuine and consistent rapport, morale issues will fade. In its place, you will find team members looking out for one another, representing your agency with pride, and leadership at every transaction. Show you care.

2) Provide Leadership Opportunities: A lot of people read leadership books, watch clips on leadership, and talk about leadership, however, they don’t always put to action what they’ve read, heard, or discussed. If you want your organization to be full of solid leaders, you have to provide team members with leadership opportunities.  That’s right, you have to give them the authority to lead. You can’t expect a perfect outcome either, and I suppose that’s why a lot of people are afraid to let others take the lead on a project, but that is what it takes to build leaders, genuine opportunities and responsibilities. You can always sit a distant second-chair or check-in and let them know you can mentor and counsel, but you have to allow real opportunities with real consequences. You will be happy with the short term results, and you will be elated with the long-term impact on your organization. Provide leadership opportunities.

3) Take Action: The biggest morale buster in any organization is when committees are formed, meetings are held, and surveys are taken and then there is no follow-up or action.  It’s frustrating.  You might as well send a handwritten note to each member saying, “I don’t care what you think.”  Yep, it’s that bad.  If you ask for someone’s feedback, honor it.  Even if you can’t provide what they’ve requested, let them know that the feedback was important and it helped shape the outcome. Let them know they are important. When they offer feedback that you don’t like, don’t go to their supervisor trying to “get to the bottom of it” and smear some make-up over the blemish. Be thankful that they were honest and upfront. Don’t surround yourself with people who only tell you what you want to hear.  Leaders take action.

4) Reward Solutions: You will find what you look for, and when you reward it, it will grow. If you look for team members leading and making solutions to problems you will find them, and when you reward them with praise and recognition you will see this type of behavior grow and spread. Recognizing others is one of the most important actions of a leader, and recognition is also one of the most fun. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to recognize either. A small personal touch can go a long way and screams, “You are awesome! We are so lucky to have you!” Others will notice and lead similarly. Reward solutions.

5) Fill-in the Moat: There cannot be a moat between administration and staff. There is no them. If your organization feels that there is a separation of employees, there will always be complaining and morale issues. Just because you say there is no separation, doesn’t mean there isn’t a separation. Get to know your team. Listen to them. Your organization needs to adopt a team leadership model that clearly outlines what everyone’s job is to benefit the team, not themselves. When everyone understands they are a contributor and feels like they are a contributor, and especially when they are recognized as a contributor, morale begins its upward swing and all areas begin to shine again. Shrink the separation between team members.

When you work with a team, and when you make building leadership a priority, you will see morale improve, productivity rise, and problems decrease. In times of accomplishment, leadership made the difference. In times of strife, a lack of leaders is the culprit. Always work on building a culture of leadership.

Kelly Croy 

Inspirational Speaker & Performance Artist



A List of The Most Influential Books to Read

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I love to read.  I’m one of those people that has more books than I have time, yet I always reserve a portion of my day for reading. Reading is my workout for my brain. 

I have a stack of books that I am looking forward to reading later, a list I am reading now, a wish-list of books to checkout and I am always adding to my “books to read” list in my journal from the recommendations of friends and people I admire.

I am thankful for my middle school English teacher, Mrs. Romick for providing me with a list of books that made me fall in love with reading. I am thankful for my mother for being a great model of the importance of reading. I am thankful for my father for surrounding me with good books. Books change lives.

I wanted to share with you a list of books that I believe are life-changers. I have read every one and recommended them to others many, many times. Perhaps you can add them to your list or order a copy as a gift for a friend. Books are wonderful.

I also hope you will consider adding my book, Along Came a Leader, to your list too. Maybe you can add it to your “cart” the next time you are shopping on Amazon.

Here is a list of some of the most influential books in my life:

1) The Bible

2) The Boy Scout Handbook (Yep, I’m serious.)

3) Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins

4) The Rhythm of Life by Matthew Kelly

5) The Last Lecture by David Pausch

6) The Noticer by Andy Andrews

7) The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn

8) Linchpin by Seth Godin

9) The New Toughness Training for Sports: Mental Emotional Physical Conditioning by James Loehr

10) Financial Peace and EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey

11) The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley

12) The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

13) The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund morris

14) Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey

15) Blog by Hugh Hewitt

16) The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman

17) The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene

18) Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris

19) The Autobiography of Ben Franklin

I also hope you will consider adding my book, Along Came a Leader, to your list too. Maybe you can add it to your “cart” the next time you are shopping on Amazon.

Kelly Croy 

Inspirational Speaker & Performance Artist


How to Introduce Someone: Make it Memorable


I’ve been in awkward situations when someone didn’t properly introduce me to someone in the room. It happens. I’m not shy, so I stick my hand out and introduce myself.

Introductions don’t have to be complicated, but there are some tricks to giving a good one. 

When it’s our turn to introduce someone, let’s agree to do it the right way. In fact, let’s create a memorable introduction.

Here’s a short excerpt from my book, Along Came a Leader: A Guide to Personal and Professional Leadership at Any Age:

How to Introduce Someone: There are three types of introductions: good, bad, and memorable. In order to create a memorable introduction you must complete six important steps:

1) Say their name and often. Say their whole name clearly and slowly. Say it several times in conversation.

2) Put your hand on the shoulder of the person you are talking about.

3) Look into the eyes of the person you are speaking to, not about.

4) State how you know the person.

5) State something they do incredibly well professionally.

6) State something else about the person that is positive and engaging.

Then you do the same for the other person.

The result is amazing. The two will learn each other’s name, have some admiration for each other, realize how they can network, and have something to talk about. Also, each will admire you for speaking so highly of them. That’s a memorable introduction.

Ideally your introduction looks like you are showcasing a dear friend and presenting them to someone else to have in their life. The hand on the shoulder, the eye contact, the three statements you make about the person, all combine into a memorable introduction. You can now walk away and rest assured the two will be able continue on without you.

Example: “Tom, this is my good friend Mark. Mark and I met when I worked in Watertown, Massachusetts at Perkins School for the blind. Mark is an amazing physical therapist. He works with physically challenged children and helps them better engage with their world. Amazing guy. Mark also plays a guitar pretty well too.”

When you are introduced, you extend your hand and say your name, and something nice like, “A pleasure to meet you, Mark.”  Yes, say their name.

Also note in the example how many times I said “Mark” so that the listener would ‘get’ the name.  Once is never enough.

If you are going to speak somewhere it is always best to write out an introduction. You can’t imagine how important this is for speaking in front of an audience of any size. If you have asked someone to speak, remember to ask them for a short introduction. It really matters.

Keep your introductions short, but memorable.

Kelly Croy is a professional speaker and speed artist.

He has entertained and amazed audiences across the nation

with his art and words. 

 Please consider booking Kelly for your next event.


How to Advertise… to Yourself!

Self talk

You may not be aware of it but you are advertising to yourself every minute of the day. I’m talking about those little comments that you say to yourself. Everyone engages in self talk, whether it is audible or just thoughts inside our head. We need to be careful about what we say, because it is more powerful than the billions spent each year on commercial advertising.

The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book:

I read a wonderful book years ago on sports’ psychology titled Toughness Training for Sports by James E. Loher. In it, I learned that the majority of our self-talk is negative.  The author emphasizes that negative self-talk is damaging and that positive self-talk improves the success of Olympic and professional athletes.  This is huge, because we can change our self-talk and practice giving ourselves a great advantage.


What we say to ourselves is far more damaging than any criticism from others. Be intentional about how you talk to yourself and 

about yourself. 


Sometimes this negative self-talk is picked up by others.  They hear us talk to ourselves.  They hear the “I blew that one!”, “I suck!”, and the occasionally “I’m an idiot!”.  Some people are even posting their failures on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. 

You don’t have to go around bragging all of the time, but why advertise failures?  Turn that loss into a lesson and post what you learned.  Work at making the majority of your self talk positive.  


The expert suggests replacing, “Crap! I always miss that shot!” with “Next time I’m going to nail that shot!” 


You must learn to make positive statements about yourself and when talking to others. 

You might be surprised by who is actually listening to the comments you think you are only making to yourself, and even if they can’t our bodies do indeed project what we say to it. I can see “Crap! I always miss that shot!” on a person’s face as easily as I can hear it. 

Feed yourself doses of positive self talk and begin to be amazed at your results. Talking positive and creating some default positive mantras has been a major source of productivity and success for me personally. I also attest that doing so has helped me to create a winning attitude. People will always choose to follow and spend time with someone positive over someone negative any day of the week. 


You have to discipline yourself and work at how you communicate with yourself. Make a challenge or game out of it.  Positive self talk will directly impact your dealing with others, your attitude, your tenacity, and most importantly how you think, especially when confronting a challenge.  


Practice makes perfect! What you say while playing a game will later on impact what you say at the office or on the field. Identify some key phrases you know you make and shouldn’t as well as some situations in which you make them. It might sound easy to but it takes some focused effort and discipline. 


Please know that when I am talking about self-talk, I am not just referring to what you say out loud.  I also mean those little negative comments you make to yourself in your head. Those count just as much as what you say out loud. When you catch yourself feeding your mind junk, replace it with a positive thought and statement. It works!


You need to work on positive self talk and eliminate negative self-talk entirely.  Be your own public relations worker.  Get the message out there that you are confident, successful, and have a winning attitude.  You need to sound like a leader. 


Mantras, Slogans, and Mottos


Positive self talk is used by top executives, professional and Olympic Sports athletes, and by corporations. We can use it too. Create a mantra, slogan, motto, or creed to live by, or adopt someone else’s you admire until you do.

I believe every organization should have a slogan and most importantly they should live up to it. There is nothing worse than having something arrive late from someone proclaiming to be fast and on time. You know what I mean. Live by the words you use as your motto. 

I cannot help but think that much of my success stems from my Tuesday night Boy Scout meetings. Every Tuesday at seven o’clock I pledged to keep myself physically fit, mentally awake, and morally straight.  Furthermore, I took a weekly Oath and recited the twelve points of the Scout Law. 


Every Sunday I recited my Christian Creed aloud with my fellow Parishioners, as well as each night and morning. 


The words we use matter, whether we are using them to describe others or ourselves. We need to communicate these meanings very carefully and intentionally. Write and recite your creed regularly. We become what we envision. We become what we say.


Kelly Croy is a professional speaker and speed artist.

He has entertained and amazed audiences across the nation

with his art and words. 

 Please consider booking Kelly for your next event.



Shoot for the Moon


Moon Landing: July 20, 1969. This marvelous accomplishment of human exploration encourages all of us to take one small step toward some big goal today. Today. A reminder that anything is possible. 

Still doubting yourself? Consider this, you have more resources in your hand right now and at your disposal, than NASA did then, and I imagine your goal is somewhat less challenging than a moonshot. Get after it.

Here’s How to Launch Your Dream:

  • Define The Mission: What is it that you want to accomplish? What is your vision? Keep it short. Write it down. I recommend writing a sentence or two about what you want to accomplish and what it will mean to you and others if you succeed. Set a completion date. Don’t alter it. Keep moving forward. 

  • Outline the Plan: Define what steps need to be accomplished and by when. Outline all the resources you have at your disposal. Do everything you can not to create a list of resources you need as this is a trap and will delay you from your goal.
  • Build Your Team: Figure out who you have at your disposal that can help you. Reach out to them in a very brief email or phone call.  Explain what you want to do and ask them for their small contribution. 
  • Fuel Up: You need some rocket fuel. Become absolutely decided in this venture and create emotional leverage of what accomplishing this will mean for you and others. Don’t make this a hobby, make this a destination that you will travel to with daily intention and work.  Gather whatever you can immediately and begin knowing you will finish. 
  • Countdown: Have your date to be completed firmly established. Nothing will stand in the way of the launch. There will be no delays or setbacks. You need no funds or resources. Move forward. If you can set a countdown timer on your phone so you know the due date.  I have a countdown app for this. Work every single day regardless of location or circumstance. 
  • Launch: Begin the work. Work every day. Do not stop. Whatever you have when the due date is finished, ship and announce it. Publish, post, share, whatever you can when you hit your deadline. Be proud of your progress. 
  • Celebrate: You really must celebrate what you have accomplished. Do something for yourself with someone you love to celebrate the accomplishment. 
  • Reflect: You need time to think about all that went well, what didn’t, and all you learned. Apply these lessons to your next project. 
  • Set a new Goal: Do it all again. Begin a new project. 


Kelly Croy is a professional speaker and speed artist.


He has entertained and amazed audiences across the nation


with his art and words. 


Please consider booking Kelly for your next event.



Declaring Your Independence!


We all know Independence Day is July 4th.  Other than our birthday and our mom’s, it’s the most important birthday to know. While celebrating our country’s freedom during the month of July, I challenge you to free yourself from something that is taxing you and holding you back. 

While any day is a great day to make yourself better, July does offer us that halfway point of the year to reflect. It is a great opportunity to declare “halftime” and see what we have accomplished and what we need to get after before the year ends. 

Have you worked hard this year? With six months to go it is indeed halftime. Celebrate your accomplishments, make needed adjustments, and win.  Ask yourself my favorite three questions: What do I need to keep doing? What do I need to stop doing? What do I need to start doing?

Whether you decide to live a healthier lifestyle, be a little more frugal, or work on a dream or bucket list, the fourth can be a day you look forward to for your personal independence. Give yourself this gift. Give your future self this gift. Each year, look back and celebrate the freedoms you have given yourself. 

Freedom from financial worry, a health crisis, stagnation are all possible with action.  In life there is always someplace to go. There is no summit.  Keep moving forward.  Movement is life itself. 

Kelly Croy is a professional speaker and speed artist.

He has entertained and amazed audiences across the nation

with his art and words. 

Please consider booking Kelly for your next event.


The Perfect Day


What would your perfect day look like? What would it need to include?

It’s fun to think about a perfect day, but of course, we realize, a perfect day isn’t really possible. Still, how great would it be if your day included most of these qualities you listed? Half? Some?  It would still be an incredible day, right?

I wonder how many of us aren’t even hitting one of these per day?  Why is that?  I’m guessing it’s because we didn’t make time for it and plan it into our day. Sure, conflicts come up and there can always be urgent tasks to finish, but planning some of what we love will brighten anyone’s day. Right?  Let’s remember to schedule blocks of time for some of the activities we enjoy doing along with all those pesky to-do items from our daily rat race.

We cannot have a great day if we don’t even know what it would look like, right? Let’s plan for it.

What does your day look like now? What do you need to start including?

I had the good fortune a few year’s back of asking David Blaine any one question I wanted, so I chose, “What is the most influential book you have ever read?” His answer to me? The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.  I did a quick search on iBooks and found it was a free book.  I downloaded it and began reading.  What a treasure trove of applicable life lessons.

Benjamin Franklin tried to live a perfect day and deduced that while it wasn’t possible, we can do much to improve our day.

Here is a peek at Ben’s schedule from 1750:


I look at his day and I find some great advice that we can apply:

1) Begin Your Day With an Empowering Question: Franklin asks “What good shall I do this day?”  What questions are you asking yourself and are they empowering you? Create some great questions to help you get yourself moving in the direction you want.

2) Work is for Work: Franklin clearly establishes the need to focus and finish work while at work. He doesn’t bring anything home. Make the best use of your time when at work. Don’t bring work home. What a great philosophy. Make time for work and knock it out of the park, and when quitin’ time hits, well… enjoy yourself.

3) Make Time for Yourself: Franklin made time for himself each day. He balanced this in with his chores and work. He made time for himself. Too often I find if we don’t schedule what is meaningful it just doesn’t happen. To live without a schedule means leaving things to chance and that’s when we either don’t make time for things we enjoy, or we lose hours wandering the internet meaninglessly or watching way too much TV. Make time for yourself and balance it in your day.

4) Everything Has it’s Place: Rather than a huge spring cleaning, Franklin builds in time for organizing what he has. I will take the liberty to assume Franklin is somewhat of a minimalist and avoids clutter. Sure these could be chores around the house as well, but if so, it is not the all-encompassing chores many of us bury ourselves in each day.

5) Make Time for Reflection: I really like how Franklin ends his day in reflection, asking himself what good he has done. I think each of us needs to reflect at the end of the day and examine how we spent it. We should ask ourselves what we should keep doing, start doing, and stop doing. Reflection is key.

6) Rest is Important: For many, a good night’s sleep is negotiable, but not for Ben. he made it a priority and accounted for it. Rest is important to those who want to make the most of life. He didn’t over sleep. He kept to a schedule. He made sleep of equal importance in his day as all of his other activities.

7) Wake Early: We can see the Franklin woke up early and that this was important to him. When you look at his life it is amazing what all he accomplished. Waking early was clearly a key to his success.

Make your day great!

Kelly Croy is a professional speaker and artist.

He has entertained and amazed audiences across the nation

with his art and words. 

Please consider booking Kelly for your next event.


The Secret to a Successful Resolution: Fail Again and Again!

Kelly croy artist speaker educator

The starting point of anything can be a little intimidating, especially if it’s your first time.

If it’s a race, you might compare yourself to other runners, question the course, or start predicting what could go wrong. If it’s a financial goal, your initial deposit may look so minuscule in comparison to the total amount needed that you begin to second guess even starting.

Goals, resolutions, and habits are what transform us and bring out the best in us, but they really don’t need to be complex and stressful. They need to be fun and engaging.

Run your race, not the guy’s next to you. Plan your financial portfolio, not your coworkers’. Create your plan and personalize your goals with your life.

A new year, a birthday, the start of the month, even the first day of the week can provide us with an opportunity to begin something new, begin something needed, and chart a new course. It’s nice to have those clean-slate moments on the calendar.  Embrace them. Use them to your advantage!  It’s also important to remember, any time is a good time to start something worthwhile.

Most people abandon a resolution because they mess up and ruin a ‘perfect run’ of the habit they wanted to create. Well, don’t worry. You’re going to mess up, miss a day, and make a mistake.  That’s part of the success formula.

The secret to successful resolutions is what you do after you had a setback. You just start again. It really is that simple, but so many fail because they refuse to begin again.

Fail, fail, fail, your way to success. Edison’s 10,000 lightbulb filament failures, and Disney’s 300 failed attempts to find a financial backer, combined with every person who’s ever lost weight, quit an addiction, destroyed debt, or ran a race will remind of us that setbacks will occur and we must persist. Failure is a key ingredient.

When you fail give yourself a opportunity to adjust, make corrections, and set a new course. Perhaps you need to consult someone who has had some success in this area, but don’t wait. Keep failing. Keep collecting data. Keep trying. Never wait until you have the equipment, money or time, because you never will. Just start.


Many people, myself included, find great value in writing goals and resolutions down and keeping a journal of the progress. Maybe you will too. Try it.  There is no wrong way to begin anything.

I am firmly convinced that if you make 364 attempts at anything, by the 365th you’re going to be pretty darn good at it and see some major accomplishments.

Good luck.

Kelly Croy is a professional speaker and artist.

He has entertained and amazed audiences across the nation

with his art and words. 

Please consider booking Kelly for your next event.


Nothing More Important Than The Return

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Nothing is more important than the return.  Nothing.

There is a wonderful Japanese proverb that captures the importance of ‘the return’ quite simply: “Fall down seven times, get up eight.”

Going for a run is easily accomplished. Waking up the next day sore and tired and choosing to run again is a bit more of a challenge. The return. 

Sitting down and pounding the first several hundred words to a novel is simple. Sitting down day after day until it’s finished is a rarity. The return. 

Dieting for one day is fairly easy. Maintaing the diet long enough to see the results you want is an effort. The return. 

Returning is the key to success. The more often you return the better the results, and the more quickly they’ll be obtained.

Starting is essential. Start small. But returning regularly is the key. Focus on the return. It will pay off.

Returning also sends a message, “I’m serious about what I want to accomplish.” It lets everyone know you have just stepped away from dabbling and hobbies. It also sends a message to others about your character and mindset. People who return are the leaders, the visionaries, the few who accomplish much.

Making a return at any task or goal builds momentum and carries over to other ventures.

Where do you need to return?

It won’t be easy to return, especially if it’s been awhile, but it will be worth it.

Nothing is more important than the return.  Nothing.

Kelly Croy is a chalk artist and keynote speaker.

He has entertained and amazed audiences across the nation

including corporations, schools, churches, conferences,

and anywhere people come together to be entertained and inspired.

Please consider booking Kelly for your next event.