Our stories navigate our reality. They teach us, heal us, and inspire us. That’s is why I started doing my Door to Door Series.
As you may know, I was honored to have been chosen to give a Tedx Talk in Paris. When I finally met my fellow speakers, I was humbled by their wide breadth of experiences and accomplishments
My new friend Sara Safari was climbing Mt Everest when the 2015 earthquake in Napal happened. She was hanging from a rope on the side of a mountain that was shaking and dropping ice blocks all around her. Miraculously, she survived. Since then, she has written a book, titled Follow My Footsteps: A Journey of Adventure, Disaster, and Redemption inspired by the Plight of At-Risk Girls, and now travels all over speaking and raising money and awareness for the young girls of Napal.
My friend Mohamed Jamal Dean raises awareness for refugees and, perhaps most importantly, helps create schools for them. While he’s currently a nurse anesthesia resident in Northern California, he has served in intensive care units in Chicago, worked in EMS in the pre-hospital setting, and gained experience on projects in West Africa. With extensive experience, he is heading to Europe to work with Syrian Refugees and produce a film called “No Place like HOPE,” which illuminates the struggles of Syrian Refugees in northern Greece.
John Isaac worked as a photojournalist for the united Nations for over 25 years and boy does he have stories! Having grown up in Irungalur, India (a village without electricity), he was brought into a UN choir after a woman heard him singing on the street. He then acquired a job in the UN mailroom where began working his way up to the photography department. During his UN tenure, he traveled to 120 different countries to document major events like the 1983 Ethiopian famine and the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. Now, he focuses his efforst on saving the tigers of India.
Neil Davey, a third-year undergrad at Harvard, is only 22 and already coming up with improved cures and procedures for cancer patients and serious diseases all over the world. He has researched oncology and infectious disease and co-founded two tech start ups, one of which seeks to reduce female feticide in India.
And then there’s me, but you guys already know what I do!
It was truly an awe-inspiring experience to be included in this great group of individuals full of great intentions.
In the world of TedX, there are no cue cards allowed.
Instead, you have to memorize your speech in its entirety. I used two methods in particular to do so. First, I wrote the speech by hand over and over and over…and over again. Second, I memorized it by working backwards, from end to start. I was taught the latter methodology when memorizing sheet music over the the course of 13 years of piano lessons. A strange, but effective technique.
I divided the speech into the following 6 sections: Introduction, personal history, my methodology, my workshops, my experiments, and the end. By compartmentalizing each part of the speech, I was able to memorize tidbits at a time, thereby ensuring that I wouldn’t get overwhelmed by the enormity of a 15:00 monologue!
At the beginning of May, three weeks before my Tedx Talk, I gave my first run through in front of my mother. She was in the hospital for a little spill she had taken, so she was kind of forced to give me her full attention. I got it through it better than I had hoped…and so did she.
And, in the following weeks, I started to become my words. The speech was on continuous repeat in my head. If I tried to carry on long conversations with people, my speech would slowly creep in. That really made me feel confident for the big day.
I arrived in Paris on a Monday night, the week before my Saturday, May 20 performance. I purposely took Tuesday off, spending the day at a spa and catching up on sleep. By Wednesday, however, it was back to the grindstone of rehearing, rehearsing, rehearsing.
On Thursday, the producers of Tedx hired an acting coach for all 11 speakers in order to help us bond through the practice of heart opening exercises. We rehearsed the beginning and end of our speeches in front of each, which genuinely put us at ease.
It was at this time that I was very grateful to have taken 2 voice over classes and acting lessons, which prepared me to present my speech in the best possible light; heartfelt and with a dash of conviction.
On the day before everything unfolded, we had technical rehearsal at the theater and practiced on stage with microphones and visual aids.
The Madeleine Theater was exquisite. We filled it to the brim on Saturday, easily reaching its 800 person capacity. Sitting in my cheering section were my husband and champion, Brian Murphy, my Event Manager Luke Yates, and my Coach, Ginny Slocum, plus a few writers from my workshops and retreats.
I took the stage on Saturday May 20, 2017 at 4pm and gave the speech of my life.
I can’t quite explain the feeling with words. I was looking forward to a sigh of relief, a breath that I could finally exhale now that it was over. However, my high was so high that it has taken weeks to come down.
Not surprisingly, I woke up both Sunday and Monday morning with my speech playing in my head, still rehearsing over, and over again.
One thing that really resonated with me about doing a TedTalk was their process of assigning mentors to it’s speakers to aid in the process of developing our speech. In addition, they also arranged a monthly hang out with a special guest to educate and inspire us. My mentor was the amazing Virginia “Ginny” Slocum, a leading speech coach and member of Toastmasters.
Being that Ginny lives in Paris, we met over Skype every Monday at noon for an hour.
On January 2, I started to write my speech. Nervously, I sent her the first draft and waited patiently for initial comments.
The first thing she asked me was how long my speech was. “Roughly 15 minutes” I naïvely replied.
Apparently, I was wrong, for she chuckled and said, “This draft is more like 45 minutes”
…Okay I had some trimming to do. But I had so much to say!
That was the learning curve. I had never written a speech before. Talk in front of people? That has never been problem. I can ramble on with the best of them. But a speech? This was a whole new animal.
And boy, was I up for the challenge.
I trimmed and trimmed and then I trimmed some more, but still it was too long and too much.
During the first week of April, I went to France for one of my songwriting retreats, which meant I finally got to meet with Ginny in person, as well as Ben Sabry and Evelina Judeikyte, who run Ted Talk Paris. I finally I got to rehearse my speech for them, which was a true blessing.
Having 3 mirrors, reflecting my performance and words back to me was an eye opening. It was their experience, and constructive criticism that propelled me to truly refine and define my dream. That’s when my speech really took shape.
When I got back home, I edited my speech for what would be the last time.
I got this.
My next hour long Skype with Ginny was a relief. My mirrors agreed with me. I got this.
Now on to memorizing it…without cue cards.
*takes a deep breath*
I got this.
TED Talks are influential videos from expert speakers on education, business, science, tech and creativity.
I gave my first Ted Talk on May 20, 2017
And this is how it happened.
On September 21, 2016 my event manager, Luke Yates, sent me information about sending in an audition tape for Tedx Paris on the subject “One Life”
Two days later on Sept 23, I had my right hip replaced and was out of commission for a few weeks.
The 3 minute audition video plus application were due on Oct 20.
You can see where this is going. On Monday Oct 17, I finally pulled myself together, body, mind and soul to complete the task.
My new intern, Dia Morgan, had not even started yet, but since she was also a videographer, she was tasked with her first assignment: make me look and sound good!
Well, 2 weeks later, Ben Sabry, the head of Tedx Paris, called, curious to who I was. He was fascinated by my idea (what specifically is the idea) and wanted to know more about me and how it came about. After an hour long Skype call, I satisfied his curiosity and he left me to hope I would be chosen.
The next morning he reached out for a quick call...to tell me that I had been chosen.
They usually only have 10 speakers, but they decided to buck tradition and make me the 11th.
They made room for me!
I am still in awe, of me.
My idea is for songwriting to become a staple in our education system; to empower children and help create a generation that will use their words to change the world.
Written February 2016.
I watched my husband, Brian Murphy, recently being interviewed by Steve Rennie on his web show, Renman Live. Brian gave Steve his start in the business and it was so cool to hear them talk about the business and share stories.
Brian is a concert promoter- it’s in his blood. He can walk into an empty room , turn on his spacial reasoning button and fully visualize the finished sets down to to a tee.
He has risked his own money and even mortgaged his own house for a show! In the back of my mind, I always knew this was part of his story, but I did not realize what a huge deal it was until now, after watching this interview. I have a very different perspective being in Corporate America and spending someone else’s money.
Brian made a comment about he always had the most expensive seat in the building, and it made me remember back to when we first started dating. Jewel was playing Irvine Amphitheater (now Verizon), which was Brian’s venue, and he called me to see if I was all set for the show: tickets, backstage, parking? I said yes, too fast, and corrected myself and said I did not have parking. He said he would take care of it and that was that. The perks of having a boyfriend as a concert promoter!
I showed up that Sunday evening and gave my name at the podium for parking. The girl pointed to go down a dirt road in front of me. I looked to my right and saw parking lots and wondered why she was pointing a different way. I motioned to her like, “really, this way?” ... but she urged me on.
I drove straight for about a quarter mile. Then, with help from the parking patrol, I took a left and proceeded to follow it around until I was shown a space behind the stage. Yup, behind the stage. Brian came out to meet me, grinning from ear to ear. ‘Bet you don’t ever get this close, do you?”
“This is a first” I replied. He’s a keeper!
Great interview with great insights. I think everyone should watch it- but clearly, it held extra sentimental value for me.
On March 16, I blogged about what my platform would be if I were running to be the President of the United States. I put forth that I would emphasize the responsibility of raising a child and that one would have to grow a single crop in return for their life on this earth.
And now, I would like to add another.
I believe that when a child turns 6, her parents should take her down to the local pound to save a dog’s life. She will walk, feed, train, and love that puppy into a dog. The blessing of this caregiving act will teach our young people to be more compassionate and caring human beings.
On the Purina Petcentric Website, there are 5 beneficial reasons listed that show why this is good idea:
1. Constant Companionship
Although childhood isn't always easy, having a pet provides constant companionship through the ups and downs. Dogs can be a great source of comfort for kids — even when they're coming to grips with difficult life lessons. Whenever kids feel sad, angry, or afraid, they can always turn to their pet. Petting and cuddling dogs has also been shown to relieve stress and help people relax.
2. A More Active Lifestyle
Caring for a dog also encourages a more active lifestyle. In fact, a recent study showed that kids with dogs exercise eleven minutes a day more than their non-dog owning peers. That might not sound like a lot, but over a week or month, it really adds up. Many dogs require daily walks or runs and plenty of play time. Those adorable puppy eyes they give you are sure to motivate you — even when you're not feeling up to it.
3. Learning Responsibility
Having a pet is a great way to teach responsibility to kids. Making sure that the family dog has food and water gives children a first glimpse of accountability and obligation. Children also learn empathy and compassion by caring for their pet, while developing a higher level of self-esteem by taking care of their pet-owning responsibilities.
4. Health Is Wealth
Recent studies have found that babies raised in close contact with a pet get sick less often in their first year of life, meaning fewer visits to the doctor's office. Exposure to pet dander and the microbes that pets carry into the home from the outdoors is suggested to improve babies' developing immune systems. Research has also found that children who grow up with dogs experience a reduced risk of allergies.
5. Don't Worry, Be Happy!
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of dogs in early childhood is simply that they make children happy! Interaction with animals has been proven to raise levels of serotonin and dopamine, which are the chemical building blocks of positive feelings. All science aside, playing and interacting with dogs is just plain fun — and it's bound to brighten any kid's day.
Well, it will probably be a while before this becomes law, but that does not mean you can’t put it into place right away!
Adopt a pet, save a life, fall in love.
In 2003, I took 15 Warner Chappell writers from all over the world to Lake Arrowhead for my annual Writing “Summer Camp. That year I would meet Stephony Smith from our Nashville office.
Immediately, I felt connected to this woman. She was smart, kind, funny and oh yeah, she had written a little song called “It’s your Love” for Tim McGraw featuring Faith Hill.
Her other songwriting credits include Heidi Newfield’s “Johnny And June,” Trisha Yearwood’s “Perfect Love,” Reba McEntire’s “How Was I To Know,” Chad Brock’s “Yes,” Tim McGraw’s “Back When,” Kenny Chesney’s “Big Star,” Ricochet’s “What Do I Know” and Lorrie Morgan’s “Go Away.” She was BMI’s 1998 Songwriter of the Year and has more than 100 cuts by artists such as Shania Twain, SHeDAISY, Barbara Streisand, the Dixie Chicks, Lonestar, and Diamond Rio.
On the first day of camp, I paired her with her roommates: Jodi Marr who is a successful Pop/Latin writer and Rosey, an artist/writer signed to Polygram at the time. That day, they wrote one of my favorite songs that has never been cut, “Someone Says Your Name.”
I can’t tell you how many songs sit in the vaults of publishers that are forgotten. Honestly, I should make a playlist! I was at Warner Chappell for 20 years and got pretty familiar with thousands upon thousands of songs that will never be heard again. They will never get the attention they deserve because it takes too much man power to look through them and see if there are any gems. It’s a full time job.
Luckily for you guys, I’ve dug this one out! Enjoy this song written by 3 girls who had just met and are still friends to this day.
“Someone Says Your Name” by Jodi Marr/Rosey/Stephony Smith
“I think I’m fine and then...
Then someone says your name
then all of a sudden my tears come down like rain
I thought it was over
but it’s like nothings changed
cause I still feel the same when someone says your name”
This is an excerpt from my book “The Songwriters Survival Guide”, Chapter 8:
You are the CEO, Become The Leader Of Your Career
True story: I worked closely with songwriter, producer, and musician Jamie Houston for over nine years. I met him in Nashville right before he moved to LA in 1992. He had been waiting tables, writing songs, and making connections, and had decided to move to LA to pursue songwriting. A year later, I signed him to his first publishing deal.
From the beginning, I could tell that Jamie was a very quick learner who was inherently good at business and also really great at predicting the future. When he started to earn money from songwriting, he treated every cut as if it could be his last, saving and investing wisely. On my suggestion, he hired a business manager immediately to make sure that, from the very start, he was pointing himself in the right direction.
The music business can be so up and down: you can make $1 on one song and $1,000,000 on the next, so saving up for a rainy day is key.
Jamie brings consciousness to his business practices so that he is protected and isn't caught off-guard when things don’t work out. He asks the right questions sothat he understands the choices he needs to make.
He also carries all of these skill sets over when he is developing artists, teaching them not only about the creative side but making sure they understand the business. He is paying it forward!
When it came time to hire a lawyer, a business accountant, and a manager, Jamie hired wisely and has the same team in place to this day. I have watched him balance his career and personal life as he has grown from a young man with aspirations to be a part of the music business, to a successful songwriter/producer, husband, and father.
Jamie is a great leader by the example he sets in his creative, business and personal life.