- It's Your Life, Live BIG
By Josh Hinds
Captain Bob Smith
“Captain Bob” is Smith is a motivational speaker on the topics of overcoming stress and developing superior communication skills. He's a 28-year veteran firefighter captain, the author of “Eat Stress For Breakfast” and “Fire Up Your Communication skills”. He combines his experiences gained from three successful start-up businesses, education and over 40 years of research.
Interview with Captain Bob Smith
Q. What has been the best part of ebbing from firefighting into an entire new area of expertise?
A. Actually, I've been speaking for well over 15 years on stress, communication and relationship skills. I didn't retire from something. I transitioned to my speaker/author passions.
Q. How challenging is it for most people to counteract the stress they feel?
A. We are on a collision course with our families and careers. We're not going to be able to balance our lives anymore. Have you noticed? I spoke at a large software corporation last year. I asked the question, "By a show of hands, how many have read the articles, watched the TV programs and bought the books on how to balance our lives?"
Every hand went up in the room. Then I asked, "How many of you are able to balance your life today?" The room went dead silent. Not one hand went up in the room. What I hear almost nationwide is that people have the feeling of being overwhelmed. They don't know when they're going to catch up or when it will end. Well, I'm here to tell you that the train has left the station. We're all on board.
The train is not coming back. The problem is nobody knows where the train is going. A manager of a large company told me that things were so hectic in their busines, it could be compared with trying to repair the airplane... while it was in flight. I encourage people to form dream teams of employees, customers, vendors, families and friends to start blending stress in our careers and personal lives and start using some of this stress to our advantage.
Q. What was the turning point in your life that led you to make communication such a key part of your life?
A. When my wife, Harriet, told me I had to go live somewhere else. I felt that if I left and got into another relationship, I was only going to repeat what I was doing. I elected to gain new skills to make our lives easier. It saved our marriage. As these new skills were working for us, we were asked to share them with others at a marriage builders group.
We were shocked by the reception. People were bleeding to death. We were among the multitudes who shared the same problems. I wrote an article about our success. It has turned into a 52 short burst chapter book "Fire Up Your Communication Skills" in its second edition. I call it a great bathroom book. You go in constipated and come out motivated. Perfect for today's busy reader.
What started as pain, gave me a national speaking career. We have now been married well over 35 years. I've become a frequent talk show guest (completing over 123 interviews in the last year.) I have appeared on ABC's Barbara Walters Show "The View," been featured in USA Today and listed in Who's Who in Professional Speaking.
Q. Who has been the most instrumental person in helping you pursue your goals?
A. My wife, Harriet. Then, the friends and members of the National Speakers Association.
Q. What is your best piece of advice to people trying to significantly improve their communication skills?
A. The best communicators are good listeners. Start listening at least 60 percent of the time. Nothing is going to change unless you understand the problem. If you're not listening, you will never understand the problem. What may seem crystal clear to you probably is not to your partner. Are you listening? Or, are you just planning your rebuttal? In an interview after being married eight times, Mickey Rooney said, "Sometimes you just have to leave the room.
Q. What do you consider your greatest accomplishment in life so far?
A. Saving our marriage and putting our family back together. Now, we concentrate on making memories. One after another. Nothing else counts, does it? We help and do more with our adult children and their families at a time when they really need it. We have the privilege of seeing and enjoying the results.
Q. What would you most like people to say about Fire "Captain Bob" Smith?
A. He helped me get my life unstuck. I've received thousands of e-mails, voicemails and letters from those who have benefited from the information I share. I cry when I receive them. "Most people don't change because they see the light ... They usually feel the heat!" "Hope is hearing the music of the future. Faith is dancing to it today!"