Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I have a speaking engagement coming-up and the organization has requested a bio. My normal line is to say that I am the proud father of three boys and a community activist. Introduction enough!

That is not going to cut it this time. As much as I have been engaged in community, school, parish and the occasional political the focus has always been on an issue. 

Over the years I have penned dozens of bios for candidates, speakers, officials and politicians. Writing something in the third person, in essence branding myself, is a rare occurrence.

A bio should provide the reader, or listener, some insight into what makes you tick, what impact you have had on other organizations and your values. The focus of the talk will be on volunteering and community involvement. 

At Toastmasters, we encourage speakers to provide a brief summary of their education, work history and experience that is relevant to your speaking topic. We tell speakers to keep their biography brief—no more than 75 to 100 words. Any longer than that and you run the risk of the organization summarizing your bio in a way that you don't like. Include your current position and a brief mention of work history and experience that is relevant to your speaking topic and audience. Include academic qualifications, awards, and a reference to published work, but only if applicable to the material you are presenting.
Encapsulating my bio into a tidy one or two paragraphs is turning out to be much harder than I thought. Relating my  life experience and knowledge to assist others in achieving success. Yes, I possess engaging "conversational" writing skills but this is a much different forum than my blog, or a media interview about an issue that I am passionate about.

I have never been a particularly good net-worker.  Maintaining relationships takes too much time and energy. Refusing to tow the party line or drink the Kool Aid apparently is tantamount to burning bridges and limiting career options 

Frankly, I have found it much more draining to do nothing. Burying your concerns, swallowing whatever I am handed and accepting I am powerless to bring about change leads leads to frustration and resentment.  The few times that I've compromised my integrity and accepted something I shouldn’t have haunt me. I prefer to make my life count and  get involved in something meaningful.

Hence the paradox of a person who seen by some to be a  "pharisee" looking to build a profile for a future political run.

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