Interview with Captain Bob Smith
What has been the best part of ebbing from firefighting
into an entire new area of expertise?
Actually, I've been speaking for 15 years on stress, communication
and relationship skills. I didn't retire from something.
I transitioned to my speaker/author passions.
How challenging is it for most people to counteract the
stress they feel?
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?"
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.
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 business, 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.
What was the turning point in your life that led you to
make communication such a key part of your life?
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.
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.
started as pain, gave me a national speaking career. We
have now been married 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
Who has been the most instrumental person in helping you
pursue your goals?
My wife, Harriet. Then, the friends and members of the National
What is your best piece of advice to people trying to significantly
improve their communication skills?
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.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment in life
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
What would you most like people to say about Fire "Captain
He helped me get my life unstuck. To date, I've received
over 2,000 e-mail, voice mail 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!"
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