Monday, January 17, 2011

Tom Matlock - Reading Dr. Seuss Aloud

Cool post from last week by Tom Matlock over at The Good Men Project. Most of us have struggled with public speaking - it's the number one fear of Americans - so this is a cool way to begin dealing with it - AND reading to our children is a great way to spend quality time with them and build a relationship.

When I was a kid, my favorite part of the day was when my mother or father would read to me at bedtime. No matter what else happened in our house, we were surrounded by books and encouraged to read them. I still have one of the books of bedtime stories, The Twilight Hour - love that book.

Reading Dr. Seuss Aloud

When Tom Matlack needed to improve his public speaking, he started small—really small.

I was announced as the new Chief Financial Officer of the Providence Journal with operations all over the country and over 3,000 employees. I was 30 years old and had proven myself gifted in behind-the-scenes manipulation. However, as the public face of perhaps the most important company in the state, my new role would place me in full view.

I panicked.

A week after the announcement, I stood at a lectern in an empty Brown classroom on the east side of Providence. A middle-aged woman, the head of Brown’s drama department, sat in the front row. She had a smile as big as the great outdoors; a large pair of reading glasses dominated her beady eyes. “Go ahead,” she said. “Read your financial report like you were presenting to a bunch of Wall Street analysts.” I didn’t bother to explain that we were a private company. My heart felt like it was going to bungee-jump out of my chest. I couldn’t breathe. When I opened my mouth, I simply spat out a few words, hyperventilated, then mumbled a few more. I was about to be exposed.

“Okay, that’s enough,” she said, walking to the lectern where I was sweating profusely. “You can’t speak and hold your breath at the same time, Tom.”

For the rest of the session, she had me do nothing but breathe in and out.

“Do you read to your kids at night?” she asked when the session finally ended. The question stung me. I worked and I drank. I had more important things to do than read to my kids. Yet, in that moment, with that simple question, I realized who I had become. I looked her straight in the eye and lied: “Of course.”

Read the whole article.

No comments: