Speaking Truthfully

Where Do I Put My Mouth?

One of the benefits of chemo brain fog (not to mention post-stroke motor skills weirdness — as in “what the hell are my hands doing now and who told them to type that!) is the opportunity those beauties have given me to really get down with this mindfulness thing. Mindfulness, a very popular term and a growing practice throughout the land, is what I’ll use as a placeholder for the first two of The 5 Principles of Authentic Living: Be Present and Pay Attention.


Mindfulness. Be Present. Pay Attention. I have got to be very focused and mindful of where I place my fingers on the keyboard, which is something I learned in high school typing class. If my fingers are not place correctly on the keyboard, I  fyppe fiburgis . . . damn, I mean I type gibberish. Oy vey.

These days, I have to not only be extra careful about where I place my fingers, I have to remain extra, even super, careful about how my fingers move from one key to the next. My muscle memory seems to be compromised by the twin beauties I mentioned above. If I have any hope of being accurate, clear, legible and sensible in my typing, I have to be super careful all the way through. It was enough, before, to just start out correctly and I could trust my muscle memory to take it from there. Not now. Mindful. Be Present. Pay Attention. To start, and all the way through. No let up.

Yes, I am a bit of a writer. But I fancy myself as more of a speaker. My writing is really my mouth on paper. So, as a speaker, what does it mean to place my speaking fingers, or mouth, in the correct place so as to speak in an intelligent, coherent, enchanting, and inspiring manner?


I know, this sounds like Zen on steroids. Silence? How can silence help me be a more effective speaker?

I’ll tell you! I’ve been a speaker for my entire adult professional life. I created Speaking Truthfully a dozen years ago to teach people what I’ve learned about being an effective speaker, to be a speaker who tells the truth, who reveals the truth of who they are and what they stand for. This is the essence of effective speaking: revealing the truth about who you are. That’s why the tagline of Speaking Truthfully is “YOU are the message.”

Sharing information and telling people about what you know is a part of speaking. It is not the most important part. Telling the truth about who you are — if not in words than in vulnerability, transparency, intimacy, honesty —is.

Silence. That’s the word I use to point in the direction of the mama bear hug that surrounds the first four of The 5 Principles of Authentic Living: Be Present, Pay Attention, Listen Deeply, Speak Truthfully. These principles, as is true with mindfulness, requires that we learn how to access, and live from, a place in our being that is deeper, wider, truer than the thoughtstream, our constant and chronic thoughts and emotions, the ones that are often like fingers gone all spring break, getting drunk and not working the way they’re supposed to work!

When I speak, to one person or 1,000, for five minutes or all day in a class, I keep a big part of my attention on my breath. I follow it as it comes in, as it disappears in my vast inner depth, and emerges. It is the vast inner depth that I call silence. That is where we find the truth of who we are. If we speak from that place, we will be telling the truth of who we are.

It is essential that we learn how to do this, how to speak less from our knowledge base and more from the vast inner depth of silence that lives within us. Let silence use our knowledge base. We need both. But most speakers are terrified of a simple pause, let alone the silence of their vast inner being. Silence is good. It can show up in our words. Speaking from silence is not not speaking. It is speaking to be sure. I never shut up. I’m always speaking. But, if I don’t speak with my attention on my breath and the place where it disappears in me, the vast depth, then I am speaking gibberish, pure shit.

So, thank you to my high school typing class, to stage 4 lung cancer, to chemo brain fog, to acute embolic strokes, to my fetish to speak and write, to silence, to the creator of the universe. Fuck. Thank you to everyone and everything. Love to all. I mean it.

Speaking Truthfully as Spiritual Practice

As part of my New Year’s “resolution” to focus my time, energy, and attention on promoting Speaking Truthfully programs, I began to outline a couple of new articles for publication. One of these articles is going to draw attention to the ways in which Speaking Truthfully can serve as a spiritual practice, a way for us to develop our own capacity for self-awareness in self-expression.

Yes, I have my own ideas about this, based on more than a dozen years of watching the impact of what I teach on my students and clients. Yes, I have my own anecdotes about how Speaking Truthfully has become my primary means of deepening and expanding the self-awareness I have been cultivating for decades.

But I then got hit by a bolt of inspiration to reach out to a few people with whom I’ve worked to see what they had to say. I wanted to incorporate their perspectives in my article, which is underway but not yet completed.

I asked them two questions:

1)  I what way do you feel developing confidence, skill, and effectiveness in public speaking can be a “spiritual practice” and contribute to one’s spiritual growth and development.

2)  How has your own experience of working with Robert in Speaking Truthfully been useful to you in this regard?

The responses really blew me away! They helped me understand the work I do more deeply, and more clearly. While not a word normally associated with me, I felt humbled by their comments. So, rather than wait until I finish my article, I decided to post their comments here, in a special blog post! The true value of Speaking Truthfully is, after all, determined by the people who experience and practice it.

Learning to Speak Truthfully from Our Hearts

“We fell morally ill because we became used to saying something different from what we thought.” ~ Václav Havel

It is not uncommon to read about some scandal of corruption, fraud or deception – by government officials, corporate executives, spiritual leaders, celebrities or sport figures.

Even the Catholic Church is not immune, paying out billions of dollars in penalties for not speaking authentically about decades of child sexual abuse.

I want to set things straight. We are not victims in this. The light is always on. What people do is always visible. Maybe someone is not speaking truthfully, but maybe we are not listening for the truth.

YOU Are The Message!

The core tenet of the Speaking Truthfully philosophy is: YOU are the message!2015tagyoureitIn all speaking situations, whether it be a spiritual sermon, a conference keynote or high-stakes business meeting, a book tour or media interview, a pitch to producers or venture capitalists , a political stump speech or nonprofit fundraiser, a global webinar or an intimate one-on-one social encounter — in all speaking situations: YOU are the message. You command respect and attention, you impart power to your words, you inspire others, you impact and influence people, you are credible and believable. YOU are the message.

This is why we have to be authentic, genuine, and sincere in our speaking, to be willing and able to tell the truth, to show others who we really are and what we stand for; we have to reveal what’s in our heart in an honest and credible manner. Vulnerability. Intimacy. Transparency. Connection. Courage. Confidence. Clarity. Power. Presence. Awareness. Silence. These words are the portable platform on which we must stand if we are to speak truthfully.

Our philosophy is that wherever we are in life, whoever we are, whatever we’re doing — we can only prosper if we tell the truth, if we speak authentically. Speaking Truthfully means we use our words, expressions, gestures, and spirit to reveal, rather than conceal, our authentic self, purpose, and motivation. One cannot lie, distort, or mislead people when Speaking Truthfully. One cannot be split in two, serving different masters and different value systems. Speaking Truthfully requires impeccability; we need to establish our personal credibility as human beings, without which people will not listen to us because they will not believe us.

Speaking Truthfully means that we show up, plant our feet on the ground, look people in the eyes, and tell the truth. No hiding, posturing, pretending. No deception, half-truths, or statements we don’t believe. If we speak truthfully, people will listen. Our life will glow. Our work will thrive. Our heart will sing. Our spirit will soar. We will be a blessing to ourselves and to others.


Speaking Truthfully Facebook Page

I have established a new Speaking Truthfully Facebook page, which I invite you to visit, like, and follow. I will use that page as part of my efforts to publicize and promote the Speaking Truthfully philosophy, principles, and practices as part of my New Year’s Resolution to dedicate my professional time, energy, and focus on that wonderfully, wildly liberating and effective way to share oneself and one’s message in the world!

The fear of public speaking — speaking with anyone other than oneself — is at or near the top of most people’s list of fears. Yet speaking is a vital part of every aspect of our lives!

The quality of almost everything in our lives is determined by the style, substance, and effectiveness of our speaking, by the sum total of our verbal and nonverbal expressions: our relationships, work, and creative projects; our contributions to others and service to our community; promoting our ideas, affecting change, inspiring action, influencing the course of events. Our speaking pervades all domains of our lives: personal, social, business, political, spiritual. We even, and often, speak to ourselves. Speaking is everywhere.

So, of course, we all want to speak in a way that commands respect and attention, that positively impacts and influences people. We all want our speaking to brand us as credible and believable, as authentic and honest. And yet we cannot do so as long as we are in the grip of fear and self doubt.

The Dark Side of Place and Purpose

(I am writing this post with tongue in cheek, kind of. I am trying to infuse this writing with humor, as that’s how I am experiencing the “dark side of place and purpose.” But I’m also serious. I think. Fuck. Here it is.)


Perhaps you are like me, in that we have sought to find our place in the world and our purpose in living. Use whatever words you want for the persistent push from within to find our way into the unique flow of shakti, life force, that signifies our version of a meaningful existence. (No, let’s not spiritually sidestep this longing for place and purpose and a meaningful existence by ignoring the “personal.” Well, you can if you want.)

I am now 66 years old, if one starts counting from May 16, 1950, when it is alleged that I entered the world. It must be true, because every year on May 16, my four siblings send me cute cards to commemorate this event. Cards, yes; money, no.)

I can say that from 11 years of age, I have in one way or another sought my place in the world and my purpose in living so I could experience a distinctively meaningful existence. Distinctive as in it’s true for me, regardless of what others may say. Along the way, I have found currents of truth in various flowing streams of shakti. I have often felt purposeful; in fact, I could even say I only do things that seem purposeful, at least in that time and place. While I fully appreciate the underlying immensity and complexity of Existence, I do feel that my little piece of that immensity has been blessed with meaning, or significance. I have rarely felt, let alone been overcome by, despair, depression, or self-doubt. And I was not born with a silver or gold spoon in my mouth; I have encountered numerous “difficulties” in life, to be sure.

OK, enough backstory and prologue.

C’mon . . . Really?

I wonder how many times during this eventful year you thought, said, or even yelled something like this:

C’mon! Really? Is That True? Are You For Real?

Maybe your incredulity was even spiced with some F-bombs or other favorite words of emphasis!

Yes, this is the year where we learned that it is very difficult to know what — and who — to believe. Sure, the low hanging fruit on this tree would be the explosion of “fake news” stories on social media, the rabid, toxic rants of ideologues, the deceptive and manipulative narratives of many politicians and corporate executives, the premature ejaculations of news pundits, — OK, you know what I’m talking about. But, with the exception of a few notable branches, the entire tree of public discourse has become depressingly unbelievable.


Here is an all-time memorable line from the 1976 movie Network, spoken by Peter Finch as the character Howard Beale: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

Sadly, I do not have sufficient super powers to send an energetic wave of transformation out into the world, such that — POOF and PRESTO — accuracy, believability, transparency, honesty, and dignity — would instantly sprout in the minds and hearts of all people. But, I can lead the charge, and I can speak for this, and I can stand for this, and I can embody this.

Which is what I do through Speaking Truthfully. It’s a kind of crusade for me, being a crusading, mission-driven kind of guy.

How about it? How about if we decide and dedicate ourselves to this crusade? A crusade that is about embodying and exemplifying truthful speaking, about seeding the world with actual and accurate information, about showing up in the world without pretense or hype, about using our words to educate and elevate, to illuminate and inspire, to unify and heal — rather than to demonize and marginalize, obscure and confuse, oppress and intimidate.

This is what I want for Christmas! This is what I’m giving for Christmas. This is what I want and will give throughout the New Year, and for as long as I live.

Truthful speaking: believable, accurate, honest, soulful, heartfelt, non-dogmatic, kind, healing, uplifting, encouraging, unifying … .

Speaking Truthfully. My mission and crusade. My promise. My hope.

Love to all.

I Love Language, But . . .

I love language: as my sister Gina says to me, “you are woefully unable to keep your mouth shut.” OK, she’s right. For years, I used “Have Mouth, Will Travel” as my professional tag line, though now I tend to favor the new — and thoroughly modest — “a radically brilliant speaker & coach.”

Yes, I love language. I love the feel of it in my brain, the sound of it as it takes birth in the world. I love the energy of it. I love the drumbeat cadence of rhythmic, poetic speaking. I love how we can use language to understand each other, to form connections with each other, to become intimate with each other. I love the way language can enchant people and take them on glorious journeys of possibilities, of epiphanies and realizations about the mystery of life. I love the way language can be used to illuminate dark places and things, the way it can be used to encourage, to arouse, to awaken — yes, language is good!


These are just a few of the reasons I love language. But . . . there is something I love more than language, something vital to Speaking Truthfully. In fact, the Speaking Truthfully philosophy, principles, and practices were discovered in this thing that I love more than language.

Why I Love Speaking Truthfully Masterclasses

Among the many great joys I experience in my work is watching people open, expand, and express. I love this. I watch them find their voice, and learn how to self-generate portable safety which gives them the courage and confidence to express what they have never expressed. I watch and listen as people in master classes or private sessions face down their particular taboos against speaking up and standing out, push back the bullies of their past with power and self-ownership, and grant their secret dreams and visions the life-force they need in order to come into the world and be seen and heard and felt. I love watching people free themselves from fear and confusion about who they are and what they want to say, giving birth to the freedom-loving, tender-hearted rampaging animal they were meant to be.

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Maybe because I have spent most of my life learning to do the same, I love watching people find and own their voice and bless themselves and others with the gift of their truth, their authenticity, their heart, their joy, their creativity. I love seeing the light in their eyes glow brighter, their posture grow taller, their confidence in their own being register “off the chart.” I love seeing the authentic connection — to self and others — that blossoms, the vulnerability, the transparency, the sheer fearless openness.

Speak Truthfully

This post is an excerpt from The 5 Principles of Authentic Living. Here, I discuss the fourth principle: Speak Truthfully.


Be Present, Pay Attention, Listen Deeply. With these principles, we become intimate with what is beneath the thoughtstream in order to uncover and discover our authenticity. These three principles illuminate us from the inside, through the clarity of awareness and power of silence. But this is not enough for an authentic life, because we have to bring this clarity and power from the inside to the outside, to the world in which we live and work and play, to where we see and feel the ripples of our authenticity in the reflections of our words and actions and relationships.