KK: It’s nice to know that the AMA has taken a specific, fairly hard line on this and is really focused on supporting its membership. Steve, it always amazes me how well-thought-out your responses are. You deliver a message with a significant amount of intellectual detail even when you have a limited amount of background information. How were you able to become such a great orator, such a great speaker, and deliver an award-winning message every time?
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 34 – No 09 – September 2015
SS: When I was in eighth grade, I got the opportunity to participate in a community outreach program by Toastmasters International, which is a nonprofit organization committed to advancing people’s public speaking and leadership skills. I guess I’ve always been precocious, and I asked, “Hey, I like this. Can I be involved more? Can I do more?” One thing lead to the next, and the chapter sponsored me when I was in high school for all four years to be part of the chapter. They had to do it that way because the bylaws said I was not allowed to be a member until I was 18, and so they had to sneak me in at the age of 14. Because the application didn’t ask for a date of birth, they just signed me up. By the end of my four years, they had already made me secretary of the chapter before I was even 18 and technically allowed to be a member of the Toastmasters. Due to an illness, the district president invited me to step in as the district secretary in northeastern Ohio. By doing that, I went every other week and associated with people multiple decades older than me who did public speaking on a regular basis.
It’s very kind of you to be complimentary of the way I communicate. I would like to be better at what I do, but if it’s effective in some small measure, I owe a lot of that to the Boros sisters, Nicolette and Victoria, who got me involved in Cleveland years ago. Of course, then I kept using those skills. I believe in the concept of “10,000 hours to mastery,” where you have to have a certain core amount of ability but the difference between an exceptional performance and just excellent or really good performance comes with lots and lots of practice. I owe a lot to the AMA and ACEP and my involvement in professional societies because the people who I have met have been exceptional mentors and friends over the years and have been supportive.