Rave Reviews: Clint Smith named to Forbes' 2018 30 Under 30 List

2017 has certainly been a standout year for Clint Smith, with his 2016 poetry collection Counting Descent, winning the 2017 Literary Award for Best Poetry Book from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. He's a 2017 recipient of the Jerome J. Shestack Prize from the American Poetry Review. He was recently named to the EBONY Power 100 2017 list under "The Luminaries". And this week was announced as a 30 Under 30 Media star for Forbes.

As a featured voice of Crooked Media's popular podcast "Pod Save the People" and one of our most popular speakers, Clint has much to share with us on historical perspectives and the use of poetry as a means to ask about the world—something he often dissects both on the show, in his writing, with his studies and certainly his speeches.

Check out this reflective video and short performance of his piece "What the cicada said the black boy":

Candid Conversations: Ret. General Donald Bolduc

With Veteran's Day celebrations through the weekend, it was important to us to highlight a very special veteran in our lives, Retired Brigadier General Donald Bolduc. With 32 years of activity duty service and an impressive career spanning from private to one star general at the time of retirement, General Bolduc knows the true meaning of service and sacrifice for our country. He is the epitome of a leader, with many lessons from his time in service to share with audiences around the world. Thank you, Don (and your family), for your years of service to our country!

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Take a moment to learn more about Don in our Candid Conversations series:

OA: What are you Outspoken about?

DB:  I am Outspoken about combat the stigmas around post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As one of the few military officers, and, at the time, the only active duty general officer on record, to openly discuss his own struggles with PTS, I have used my leadership position to change the conversation to one of understanding and acceptance through my own experiences. I am also outspoken about the importance of moral courage and how this is a leadership attribute that is in short supply among our civilian and military senior leaders.  I am known to always put my country first, and now I look to continue my  service off the battlefield sharing my leadership mantra of “Mission, People, Family” and my personal experiences with mental health to educate others.

OA: How has your recent work transformed the focus of your content when delivering a speech?

DB:  My recent work continues to inform every speech. By listening, I learn, and this allows for content improvement. It is also an opportunity to learn how others deliver messages and this improves my approach to speaking.

OA: How do speaking events help your growth?

DB: Every speaking event is an opportunity to learn. It is also an opportunity to improve how you connect to people.     

OA: What would you like to see happen more often at events to engage with the audience?

DB: More audience participation.     

OA: What has been one of the most fulfilling audience experiences at a speaking event and why?

DB: The audience that share the same passion for the subject are the best and most fulfilling experiences I have had as a speaker. It is hard to speak at events that the audience were scheduled or required to be there.  

OA: How can people become more involved with your work?

DB: They could ask me to speak at their event. Leadership and veterans issues are a hugely important topics in our society. People can get involved by volunteering, supporting, and contributing to private veterans organizations would be very helpful. Leadership is probably the most over-discussed and misunderstood topic. We must teach children about leadership and the importance of moral courage, compassion, and empathy.       

OA: If you could hear someone give a speech alive or dead, who would it be and why?

DB: Abraham Lincoln. His speeches were so concise and delivered such a powerful message. I also like the stories he tells as analogies to make his point or capture the attention of the person or person(s) he was speaking with. I would also like to see his delivery and presentation. 

Candid Conversations: Natalia Mehlman Petrzela

For our monthly Candid Conversations series and in honor of Women's History Month, we asked Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, health and wellness expert and history/culture podcast host, to answers some questions about what she's Outspoken about and how that translates to her speaking content.

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OA: What are you Outspoken about?
NMP: U.S. culture and politics, past and present. More specifically, feminism, fitness, wellness, and education.

OA: How has your recent work transformed the focus of your content when delivering a speech?
NMP: My first book was about education and civil rights around sexuality, language, and immigration, and it was really clear to the people I interviewed for that project and everyone to whom I spoke about it that this was a very important and serious topic. Now, writing about fitness culture in the U.S., one of the most exciting things is opening people's eyes to the fact that, as I say, "the gym is not just the gym" and that this routine of so many people's everyday lives (and by routine, I mean even thinking you SHOULD exercise, not even actually doing it) is a very recent and development. It's really exciting to share the research that shows how this transformation has happened. Beyond this project, having to speak to a wide range of topics each week on my podcast, Past Present, forces me to look at the big picture in American news and politics and to ask, "what does a historical perspective add to the 24-hour news cycle's hot takes?" It's pushed me to get educated and eloquent on a lot of topics beyond my specific expertise!

OA: How do speaking events help your professional growth?
NMP: There's the obvious "exposure" factor of speaking that is helpful, but I find that I learn something new from every single audience I encounter, both in how I write a talk and from the insights people share during Q and A. I've spoken to everyone from 8th-grade girls to non-profit professionals to entrepreneurs to academics and more, and I find with every event I emerge not just a better speaker, but a clearer thinker. I am grateful for that!

OA: What would you like to see happen more often at events to engage with the audience?
NMP: It's hard with big groups, but I love unconventional setups that challenge the usual "sage on a stage" setting. Recently, I was on a panel around a fire on a mountaintop lodge on Powder Mountain in Utah; a less glamorous but similarly inspiring setting was speaking about the politics of wellness in Union Square NYC, which with its Greenmarket, fitness studios, and rising rents, is a really exciting spot to discuss these dynamics.

OA: What has been one of the most fulfilling audience experiences at a speaking event?
NMP: As a historian, I am always so excited when older folks who lived through the eras I am talking about approach me and both confirm I "get it" (phew!) but more importantly, when they share that my historical perspective gave them new insights on their own lives. This happens a lot when I speak about feminism and fitness; I can't count the number of times I have gotten some variation of, "I never thought I was making history..."

OA: How can people become more involved or engaged with some of the work you do?
NMP: Join me at an event or contact me to create one together. In addition to researching fitness culture, I have been teaching an amazing mind-body class called intenSati for over a decade and there are some really cool possibilities to create experiences with both an embodied and intellectual component. In January 2017, when it was both peak New Year's Resolution season and peak political anxiety before the inauguration, I ran a workout-dinner-conversation series called EXERCISE YOUR POWER, in which we did intenSati, shared a meal, and engaged emotionally, intellectually, and as activists around the very fraught moment. It's exciting to be able to co-create experiences beyond the standard Expert Sharing Expertise model.

OA: If you could hear someone give a speech in person alive or dead, who would it be and why?
NMP: Gloria Steinem because she has not only lived feminist history but also has been crucial in making it. Role model!

Black History Month with Clint Smith & PBS NewsHour

Oppression doesn’t disappear just because you decided not to teach us that chapter.
— Clint Smith

"When you sing that this country was founded on freedom, don't forget the duet of shackles dragging against the ground my entire life." This is how poet Clint Smith begins his letter to past presidents who owned slaves. In honor of Black History Month, Smith offers his Brief But Spectacular take on the history of racial inequality in the U.S.