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