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.