Monday, July 1, 2013

#100stutterProject and #NSAinAZ13

The Westin Kierland in Scotsdale, AZ. The site of NSA 2013.

This week I leave for the National Stuttering Association Annual Conference in Scottsdale, AZ. Not only will I be presenting a workshop on #100stutterProject, but I’ll have the opportunity to experience workshops myself, meet and learn from incredible people and spend a week dodging record high’s in temperature and the inevitable sunburn. I wanted to try and paint a picture for my friends and family of just how powerful these couple days are for myself those who attend.
I wish that everyone could experience the NSA conference.

Imagine a place where all insecurities, all fears and all hesitancy to be completely you are gone. Completely gone.

 Hard to imagine, I know. I didn’t know this type of environment existed until I drove the 3 hours from Detroit to Cleveland four years ago for my first conference.  People of all types gather here with only one goal in mind, to offer each other support. It doesn’t matter if one is a person who stutters, a sibling, spouse, student or a curious wanderer who stops in, the reach of support and welcoming extend far beyond only those with fluency challenges. For these few days, the subliminal pressures to be “normal” or “cool” are gone, and everyone is encouraged to be themselves, share and learn from each other and have an incredible week. It really isn’t only a conference for those who stutter, but a conference for all.

On Thursday afternoon, the 4th of July, I’ll have an opportunity to present the #100stutterProject and share my experiences throughout this process. I plan on emphasizing just how incredible the support was from friends, family, co-workers and media. I still can’t thank you all enough for everything along the way. The #100stutterProject grew larger than I ever imagined, and I’m grateful to have a chance to share my thoughts and ideas with others.

I’ll be sure to recap my experiences this week along with the time since the 100 days has commenced. If I won’t be seeing you this week in Arizona, I urge you to spend this week supporting each other, being completely yourself and having a great holiday with family and friends.

 I know I will. #NSAinAZ13

Monday, May 20, 2013

Check out my friends at StutterTalk!

I had a great time sharing my experiences and chatting about stuttering. StutterTalk is a great resource full of awesome podcasts covering all kinds of topics related to stuttering. Highly recommend!
National Stuttering Awareness Week

Thursday, May 2, 2013

My Free Press Experience

Last week I was lucky enough to have The Detroit Free Press run a column about the #100stutterProject as well as my personal story.

First and foremost, I want to thank John Carlisle and Kimberly Mitchell for putting the story and video together in such a tremendous way. Initially, I had reservations about sharing so much and letting people in on such a large platform. Stuttering is an important part of my life and I wanted to be sure that it was portrayed in a positive light, as it should be. I was extremely pleased with the job John and Kimberly did and the way the piece was put together. Many thanks to you both.

A little background, I had spoken with John briefly about my project, a little about my personal story and stuttering before we met. I knew that he wanted to “experience” the project for himself, and we agreed to meet on the campus of Wayne State University.  John was there with his video counterpart, Kimberly. Both were very nice and interested.

Shortly after we met I was mic’d up and the camera was turned on. It was “go time”.  This was definitely a heightened situation and I immediately began to feel the angst and nerves creep in. When the time came to approach people on campus, I subconsciously started to rehearse my “tools”, such as easy-onset, prolongations, or any sort of trick I have to increase fluency. As soon as I struggled with the first “hello”, I knew fluency would be hard to come by. 

Walking around campus, in the library, next to the food trucks and then in the classroom, I encountered a lot of people. I ended up speaking with around 15 people on campus and in front of 40 or so grad students. All interactions were different, all positive and all dysfluent. Honestly, I began to feel like I was at the NSA conference. I could approach anyone I wanted to, speak freely, and it felt incredible.

During these few hours, I had a moment. It hit me just how powerful this project was and the magnitude of effect it has had on me.

I knew that fluency would be hard to come by. I knew I’d be stuttering a great deal in front of strangers. I knew I was on camera and many people would see. And that was okay. In fact, it was better.  

The fact that I stuttered and grinded so mightily that morning, was a good thing. It gave people a honest look into what stuttering can be like. Some days no matter how much I “relax”, “slow down” or implement tools it still takes a great deal of effort to get most words out. And on that day, that was the case.

In the past, bouts with stuttering often meant shame, embarrassment and disappointment. Not that day and not again.

I want sincerely thank everyone for all the support throughout these 91 days and after the story came out. The story was ran in the Detroit Free Press, online at USA Today, and via publications in Louisiana, Virginia and Florida.  I’ve received a number of e-mails, endless amounts of “likes”, shout outs from people in my community, and extra comments on my blog. They have all been positive and all much appreciated. This experience has been extremely humbling and has cemented my belief that people are good, and  I’m lucky to be surrounded by the best.

Thank you all again. 9 days left, let’s finish strong.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Day 89: Sharing my experiences with SLP's

     I want to extend a big thank you to the Speech Pathologist's of the Birmingham, MI school district for inviting me to come share and discuss my experiences with stuttering, school and speech therapy among many different topics.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Day 76: Speech Therapy

Today I conclude another spring term of speech therapy at Wayne State University. As I grow older, and even with a degree in Communicative Sciences and Disorders, I continue to learn just how valuable these 45 minute sessions are. Every week, I am able to refocus, think about goals and discuss situations, attitudes and stuttering with interested students and SLP's. I work on easy onset, bounces and prolongations in an effort to stengthen my stuttering toolbox for implementation in daily interaction. I practice skills like eye contact, tone, rate of speech and posture,  all that have helped me become an effective communicator, even when fluency is hard to find. As a young adult, I can't emphasize enough just how valuable speech therapy is, and if you're a PWS, I urge you to continue with, return to, or just talk about speech therapy and how you may benefit.

I'd like to thank Erik Raj, Derek Daniels, Christelle and the rest of the WSU Speech Clinic for their continued support, effort and interest in providing speech therapy for those who stutter.

Below is a piece I wrote for the NSA website regarding speech therapy as a young adult.

Should I attend speech therapy?

Whether you have years of experience or are considering attending for the first time, speech therapy as a young adult has a number of benefits. Speech Therapy offers a platform to:
  • Discuss situations such as job interviews, oral presentations or socialinteractions and devise strategies to best help reach your goals.
  • Improve effective communication skills that can be applied in the real world.
  • Refresh and learn new tools (fluency modification, shaping, etc.) that help to offer control and improve confidence in regards to stuttering.
  • Analyze attitudes and behaviors in an effort to best handle stuttering as a young adult.
  • Retain accountability and stay proactive in pursuit of communication goals.

Life for any young adult brings on many different challenges. Speech therapy is a worthwhile option for those who stutter to help approach these challenges in the best way possible.

What sort of speech therapy is best for me and where do I find it?

With continued improvement in the Speech and Language Pathology field, professionals have a greater understanding of stuttering and how to treat it. Stuttering is so complex and different for each individual; a Speech Pathologist will be able to devise the right plan for you. Speech Therapy is offered at:
  • High School
  • College or University
  • Hospitals
  • Private Clinics
  • Intensive Programs
There are many options for speech therapy, it is best to consult with a professional and find the best option for you.

Speech Therapy just isn't for me.

If you are unable to attend speech therapy, a great option is to find your local NSA support group. At NSA support group meetings, people who stutter, their friends and family, and all who are interested meet to discuss issues and offer each other support as it relates to stuttering. It is a great place to meet other people who stutter, practice techniques, and seek advice or just converse with different people.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Day 69: Spreading Awareness at Oakland University

Read the article here:

Friday, March 29, 2013

Day 56: NSA Radio.

I was fortunate enough to be asked to share my story on NSA Family Radio with hosts Miranda Smith and Steve Ernst. What an incredible experience. Miranda and Steve are awesome young people who stutter and I was so glad to be able to speak with them about my project and experiences.

 A big thanks for all of you who tuned in, especially my friends here in Michigan and those who called into the program. Here is a recording of my time on NSA family radio:

Enjoy! Feel free to comment and ask any questions you may have!

Monday, March 25, 2013

#100stutterProject: 50 for Day 50

Signatures of the 50 people I advertised to on Day 50.

#100stutterProject: 50 for Day 50

A big reason why I started #100stutterProject (and still attend speech therapy) is to both ensure that my stuttering doesn’t turn me into someone I am not, and to work become the person I want to be.  I love to interact with others, I love to converse with people, I love to learn through conversation and I love to talk. In the past when people have described me as “quiet” or “shy”, it would bother me on a very deep level.

Advertising at work.
When stuttering becomes a real grind, it’s easy to close down, go through the motions and find comfort in silence. In the past, I had conditioned myself to only seek out conversation when absolutely necessary and then act apathetically when I’d avoid a chance to interject, compliment someone, introduce myself, etc. As a person who stutters, I believed that the risk outweighed the reward, and the fear of a rough period of fluency made speaking in those situations just not worth it. I became far too comfortable in this way of social living and I’m glad this project has offered me a change of perspective.

This project has challenged me to be socially proactive and in turn, I find myself talking/engaging with so many more people. More than 50 days in, I’m so much more willing to make small talk with a stranger, ask someone how their day is, or introduce myself to others. Not only is advertising a tremendous “ice breaker” but it sets the tone for all other interactions, everyday. I find myself worrying so much less about fluency, secondaries, listener reaction and everything else I often worry about. Even when speaking is tough, I’ve begun to find comfort in communication.

Approaching the halfway point of my project, I wanted to do something challenging for Day 50. During this process I’ve realized just how many opportunities there are, everyday, to engage in conversation with all sorts of people.  At the office, gym, class, a restaurant, bar or wherever, I was curious to see just how many people I came in contact with on an average day.  
Michigan State Basketball

On Day 50, I decided to advertise to 50 people. I had to work, train and watch Michigan State basketball on this day, so I wasn’t able to speak to a large group of people at once. I wanted the 50 people to be people I had an opportunity to speak with on a daily basis. This includes friends, family, coworkers, people at the gym, the bar, or wherever.

Advertising at the gym.
I was amazed just how receptive everyone was that I talked with, both willing to listen and also share. Advertising on Day 50, offered me the chance to get closer with my coworkers, catch up with family and neighbors, learn more about my friends, educate others about stuttering and what it means to me. I could have gone through the day like any other and but this was much, much more rewarding.

I urge you to think about people close to you, or those who you run into everyday.
·      Do you avoid interaction?
·      Do they know what stuttering means to you?
·      What could you learn from them?

Be proactive in your communication, and be the speaker and person you see yourself as.

It isn’t always easy, but nothing worth it ever is.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Day 43: Do Something You Fear.

Day 43: Do Something You Fear.

While approaching people and advertising my stuttering is a fearful in it’s own right, I really wanted to this project to be an opportunity to take on those A+, prime, top of the heap feared situations. More so, I wanted to do things I had always wanted to but had avoided due to insecurity, fear of stuttering, judgment or whatever the excuse may be. 

At this point in my project, what I’m beginning to find is a significant change in perspective as it pertains to my speech and how I judge success and failure. I’ve learned, in absolute terms, is that the only way I can fail is if I don’t try. No matter how fluent or how well I keep eye contact or how my listener responds, success is inevitable as long as I take the chance. This shift in personal evaluation has been very positive and more empowering than I thought possible.

On Day 43, Friday March 15th I decided to take on one of my super fears and something I’d always wanted to do: Call into sports talk radio.

I have long been a huge Detroit sports fan, always with an opinion about our pro sport teams (usually negative Re: Detroit Lions) or Michigan State sports (fairly positive). However, I had never even considered calling in and voicing my thoughts. Today was going to be different.

Like I had said earlier, I had always really wanted to call in to our sports talk station, but had never considered it. Some of the reasons include:
·      Too much time pressure.
·      Importance of perfect fluency.
·      Hosts would be far too critical.
·      Just not worth it.

Today my reason for calling was:
·      I wanted to.

I dialed in to one of the most influential Detroit stations this morning with, what I thought, was a pretty good take on why Pavel Datsyuk should be traded. I introduced myself to the call screener, told him where I was from and that I was a person who stuttered. I proceeded to give my opinion on the issue and the screener responded “Thanks Cameron, we’ll pass on your thoughts, appreciate the call”, and he hung up.

So, a couple takeaways:
1.     After all that, I wasn’t put on the air because I stuttered, I wasn’t put on because my content either wasn’t strong enough or had already been suggested. Notice that content was never a previous concern.
2.     I didn’t make it on the show, so one might say I failed. However, that couldn’t be father from the truth.
3.     The adrenaline rush I had from dialing the number alone was incredible. It makes me want to do more things like this.
4.     I survived.

It’s wild to think back and think of all the situations I had avoided or stressed about due solely to stuttering. However, there are so many instances when it isn’t even close to a factor. I urge you take think about something you fear, something you’ve always wanted to do and take it on. Focus on the content of the interaction and the purpose of the action rather than whether or not you’ll stutter.

 Regardless, if you do it, you succeed. Go for it.

Happy St. Patrick's Day from Chicago!

Friday, March 8, 2013

What Do You Want To Do Before You Die?

What Do You Want To Do Before You Die?

On a normal Thursday I am at work, but on Day 35 I had taken a half-day in order to prepare for a couple of midterms. Walking into the library, I noticed a poster advertising the cast of “The Buried Life” speaking on campus, that night. Not only did it give me a reason to stay at the library for another 8 hours but what an opportunity to learn about an incredible project.

For those of you not familiar with “The Buried Life”, it is in reference to four friends who set out to cross off 100 items on their bucket list, their life dreams. #53 on their list was “Make a TV show”, which they did. MTV followed Jonnie Penn, Ben Nemtin, Duncan Penn and Dave Lingwood around North America documenting their project, witnessing them accomplish their goals all while helping and inspiring others to do the same. The premise behind their journey is the question: “What do you want to do before you die?”

To learn more about their project visit (
A tweet sent to 182,000 followers with my card.

A Few Things I Took Away
  •     Great things often come as a result of trying times.
    • All four guys felt drawn to their project for different reasons, but it was clear that they all were looking for a positive change. Very similar to the terms on which I started my project. 
    •  All people are fighting some sort of battle, they stressed how “you are not alone”, which is a pillar of the National Stuttering Association and the words we close every support group with. Pretty cool.
  •   “Today is the youngest you will ever be”
    • Take action. Don’t wait. If there is something you want to do, do it. Pursue your dreams vigorously and never give up. Don’t look back 10, 15 or 30 years from now with regret.
  •  Help others.
    • For every thing they cross off their list, they help a different people cross off one of theirs. Take action to help others, pay it forward. 
  •  “Happiness is only real when shared.” 
    •   It was tremendous to see and hear what can happen and how many people’s lives can be changed, only as a result of a couple of guys taking action, showing courage and looking to help others. Fascinating stuff, I encourage you all to check out their story and new best-selling book.
After the presentation had ended, I was fortunate enough to have about a 30-second window to introduce myself to Jonnie, advertise, tell him a little about my project and what I what I was trying to do. Even though rushed and dysfluent, after speaking with Jonnie I felt accomplished. I know that 35 days ago I never would have attempted to do something like that. I had become far too comfortable in my routine interactions, afraid to step out of my comfort zone in fear that I would fail.  Finally taking action, taking chances and learning from people like the guys from “The Buried Life”, I'm beginning to realize that anything is possible. I’d like to thank them again for doing what they do and inspiring me to continue forward.

So, what do I want to do before I die?
  I want to make the world a better place for all people, especially those who stutter.



“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain


I challenge you to ask yourself what it is you want to do before you die? And do it.

Day 35

Can't thank the guys of "The Buried Life" enough for sharing their stories and inspiration.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Day 27

#100stutterProject Day 27: Advertising at a Job Interview

Thursday, February 21, 2013

21 Days In

21 days in to #100stutterProject. I have advertised to 36 people total, at least one per day.

I am still alive.

Here are some highlights:

Most Challenging - Day 1: Oakland University
     Bar none, the first day of this project was the most challenging. On February 1st,  I was in and out of class all day, and was determined to advertise at to someone at school. I was extremely stressed and extremely anxious, a real reminder of how much I need to improve in these type of situations. I ended up waiting until classes had ended, my work was all done, I had thoroughly (repeatedly) checked every social media site, and only a few people were left at library.
Kresge Library, where it all began.
     I finally approached a student research aide, introduced myself, added I that I was a person who stuttered and explained the project that I was taking on. I was very rushed, extremely dysfluent, kept poor eye-contact and definitely didn't communicate the way I am capable of. He let me know that he had a good friend from high school who was challenged with stuttering and appreciated me doing this for someone like his friend.
     Walking back to my car, I hadn't felt that sort of bliss, or joy in a very long time. The fact that it came after such a dysfluent and stressful situation is something I truly will never forget. Struggling so bad that first day not only allowed to me to target areas where I'd like to improve, but more importantly proved that no matter how hard it may be, I survived, and damn, did it feel good.

Best - Day 7: Advertising At Work
     One place where I really looked forward to advertising was work. I know there are many different opinions regarding disclosure at the office, I've always tried to be open and this would be no different. I called a meeting for our team where I explained that I was a person who stuttered, gave a little background about my therapy, certain challenges, my project and where I'd like to go from there. I had nothing but positive feedback and many of my coworkers have stopped by desk to ask about my project or share stories of family members or friends who have had all sorts of challenges, not only stuttering.
Most Unexpected Experience- Day 8: Lily's Seafood & Brewery
I give this to everyone with whom I advertise.
      This kind of experience was exactly what I had been looking for. I stopped up at Lily's on a Friday evening to do some writing and have my favorite IPA/Stout combo. I also anticipated many opportunities to advertise during my time there. Still having issues "pulling the trigger", at 11:51pm I finally approached a group of people at the bar. Turns out they were all employees who had the night off, and all were interested in hearing me out. I talked mostly with the Sous Chef, who had a cousin who he said was a very severe stutterer. While he did tell me too "relax" (I politely explained that I was relaxed), it was again nice to talk to someone who wanted to learn more. I ended up hanging out with them the rest of the night, making unexpected new friends, drinking a few free beers and getting a tour of my favorite local brewery. All it took for me to have such a positive experience was a little courage, introducing myself and putting forth effort to get to know people. It makes me wonder what other experiences I have potentially missed out on, and proved to me how beneficial this project will be for me.

Most Ridiculous Moment: Day 2: Every Coffee shop within 5 miles
      I alluded earlier to my challenge of initiating conversation. Long story short, on the second day I went to 4 coffee shops (and ordered 4 coffees) before I finally approached someone. All jittery, I advertised and talked to girl who taught 3rd grade and had students in speech therapy. Afterwards, I realized just how exhausting and unnecessary my trek across Metro Detroit was. I'm learning that there is never going to being a perfect speaking situation, void of fear and variables. Just like a freezing pool on a hot day, It's best to just jump in.

Favorite Moments: Day 12, 15 and 18:  LA Fitness
     On these days I was approached by numerous old friends, a gym employee and a golf coach from my high school days. All asked about the project, what day I was on and how it was going. It was an opportunity for me to share with people about my stuttering, an opportunity I wouldn't have otherwise had. While advertising to strangers or acquaintances at work is challenging and rewarding all in it's own way, receiving positive feedback from people in my community has been been my favorite aspect of the project thus far. Even though I've known these people for many years, for them to finally feel comfortable approaching me about my stuttering and me being in a place where I am able to be open and share, is a tremendous feeling and a huge change from where I was just a short time ago.

Some Excerpts from my Journal:
- Great feeling to follow. Very, very dysfluent but feels way better than if I would've avoided.

- This is what I need today.

- "If you're handed it, you can handle it."

- "We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are."

- Another coffee? C'mon man.

- Let's be better tomorrow. Better everyday.

Two quotes to sum up my first 21 days:

"Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change."

"If you wait until you're ready, you may be waiting the rest of your life."

79 days for the rest of my life.

Please visit and support the NSA!   

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Top 5 Reasons Why I Advertise

"Hi my name is Cameron, and I am a person who stutters"

Advertising is as simple as letting someone know that I am a person who stutters. It is a great opportunity to educate and spread awareness, while also offering other personal benefits. Here are the top 5 reasons why I advertise:

 5. Leave no room for interpretation.

     When I am speaking with someone, no matter who, I prefer for them to know why it is that I may be dysfluent. Too many times I've been asked if I "forgot my name", told to "relax" or stared at in wonder. I refuse to allow my listeners to make there own conclusions based on what could be very narrow knowledge of stuttering. By advertising that I am a "person who stutters" it allows both myself and my listener to focus on the content of our conversation.

4. Reduce the pressure of expectation.

Day 7: Advertising at Work
     Based on numbers alone, people expect people to be fluent. If somehow they can predict I am one of the 1% of people who stutter, I will be immediately inviting/dragging them to the casino. By advertising, I don't feel the need to hide the fact that I stutter for the rest of our interaction or relationship. In turn, I've found that not only can I more effectively use the tools I've practiced in speech therapy (voluntary stuttering, bouncing, easy onset,etc.), but operating without the pressure and stress of expectation, my fluency almost always increases.

3. I am a person who stutters.                            

     I have been fortunate to become meet and become friends with a large number of people who stutter. I have met doctor's, lawyer's, actor's, speech-language pathologists and athletes who stutter, people who have achieved great things. There's so much more to all of us who stutter, more to everyone regardless of what challenges they bear.
     I graduated from Michigan State, I have a job, I have a great family and great friends, I love the gym, I've run a marathon, I'm loyal, I like to cook, play golf and I stutter. I trust that those who matter will appreciate me for the person I am, regardless of that last little detail. You should too.

2. Stuttering is OK.

    There is no law which states that stuttering is not okay, or that a challenging day with fluency is punishable. It is okay if I take a little longer to order or if I stutter throughout introducing myself. We all have our challenges, it just so happens that people are able to see and hear mine. I've worked hard to be able to control my speech, but if I stutter (which I do a lot) and I'm doing my best, I'm not going to apologize. Instead, I'll smile, advertise and reaffirm to myself that stuttering is okay.

1. It is my voice, and it is beautiful.

     We are all different, we all talk different, look different and believe in different things. It is was makes us human. Our differences should be celebrated, not hidden. I was given my voice for a reason, and no one can take that away from me. I advertise because I am a person who stutters, it is my voice and it is beautiful.

     So is yours.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

100 Days for the Rest of my Life

"100 days for the rest of my life" was the first thing I wrote down in my journal in morning of February 1, 2013. 100 days to challenge myself, 100 days to educate, 100 days to put myself out there, 100 days to learn and 100 days to transform.

During our January meeting of the Royal Oak NSA support group I made a comment about all of how our "talk" is great. We discuss issues, challenges, and accomplishments among many relevant topics in relation to our stuttering. It really is a tremendous experience, one that grounds me every 4th Thursday of the month. However, at the end of my comment I talked about how while our discussion within the group is great, it really takes action to evoke change. As I left that night, I had a humbling realization that I had been all "talk". What had I done to change? What had I done to improve? What action had I taken to make a difference? The answer was nothing.

How could I make these proclamations at our meetings about "taking action" when I wasn't? At that moment I knew I had to do something.

This idea had come to me after the 2010 NSA conference in Cleveland, Ohio. Admittedly, I did not have the real motivation or courage to follow through, and I gave up after just a few days.

Not this time.

One thing I do want to make clear is that I am not starting this project from a perfect place. My relationship with my stuttering will forever be a work in progress along with many other things in my life. My hope is that after these 100 days I will learn more about what I can be, the person who I want to be. 100stutterProject will be my anchor as I work to improve my communication skills, self-confidence and achieve goals I have set forth in my personal life, at school and in the gym.

During the next 100 days I will be sharing my experiences, good and bad, in hopes to shed some light into the power of advertising, the power of action and the affect is has had on me.

Hello, My name is Cameron Francek and I am a person who stutters. I recently embarked on a personal mission to advertise my stuttering to a different person every day, for 100 days. This project, what I call 100stutterProject, is an effort to spread awareness about stuttering, educate and engage with a diverse group of people and to hopefully show how powerful advertising can be.

My hope is that at the end of these 100 days, I will have transformed into more of the communicator I’d like to be, while helping to make my community and beyond, more educated, accepting, and compassionate toward people and their challenges.

I would not have the level of acceptance, courage and confidence if it were not for the National Stuttering Association. Offering an incredible amount of support, the NSA has helped me to accept my stuttering mold me into the person I am today. The NSA is an organization in which provides support, friendship, and information to the stuttering community, instilling the sense of self-worth so often missing in the lives of those who battle this disorder.

During my journey, I have a goal of raising $1000 for this incredible organization. Please consider giving a small donation to help ensure the NSA can continue to help and support people who stutter, all around the world.

Please visit and my donation page