Welcome to another installment of “10 Words or Less,” in which I ask brief questions of interesting people and request brief answers in return. I became interested in today’s participant via our mutual interest in the National Speakers Association, of which he is not only a former president but a recipient of its highest honor, the Cavett Award. He’s a successful author and Ph.D. psychologist whose clients have included 3M, Daimler/Chrysler, GE, Honda, the FBI, and many more. Please remember: 10 words is an intention, not a limit, so please, no counting. It’s not that easy, and besides, let’s see you do it.
Name Terry Paulson
Born when, where "Panama City, Fla., fall of 1945."
Anything unusual about the circumstances? “The total charge for six days was $97. They didn’t charge enough, so now it’s a nursing home."
Your first paying job "Cutting apricots for $1.20 a flat. and I got to be pretty good at it because I wanted my dollar-twenty. I was also Baskin Robbins scooper of the month, May 1964."
Some wisdom gained through that job "I learned the importance of doing a quality job. At Baskin Robbins, I was appointed assistant manager. I got 15 cents more an hour, and I learned the importance of leadership."
Residence today "Agoura Hills, Calif."
Family situation "Married, with a son. He’s a minister and he has given me four grandchildren, for which I’m very happy."
A historical event you recall vividly "When John Kennedy was shot, we were preparing for a football game with a major rival, and the game was canceled. I remember specifically trying to counter some of the heavy weight of that event. We all went to see, “Under the Yum Yum Tree," the movie, and I ended crashing my car that night. So it is a memorable day."
Something about you that others might find counterintuitive "I don’t share enough that faith is important to me. Sometimes, in the interest of political correctness, we don’t share what works for us, and I think it’s important to do."
Occupation "Psychologist. [a several-second pause] Turned speaker."
I’m fascinated that even after decades, “psychologist” was a complete statement. “I actually have a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and a masters in theology, so both of those topic areas provide the windows I use to serve people. The beauty of speaking is you get to speak to people who are higher functioning, can actually use your insights quicker."
Is there a pitfall to calling oneself a motivational speaker "Only from the point of view that individuals sometimes characterize motivational speakers as not having value. I always say to people that I’d rather be motivational than demotivational."
You’ve written a dozen books. What’s the key? "There are two [keys] I wish I had learned earlier. One, don’t put everything in one book, because people won’t read it if it’s too long anyway. Try to get the book out there. Secondly, the discipline of writing daily, I sometimes don’t feel like writing, and I write anyway."
Change is a topic of yours. Can one make people change? "Essentially, we’ve moved into the area of influence. What can I do to make it more likely that people will commit themselves to a change? And that’s the trick. The only person you can control is yourself, and even that’s in question on Mondays."
A common stumbling block to change. "Trying to continue everything you’re doing, and still make change work. [Management guru] Peter Drucker said, 'The essence of strategy is denial.' You have to say no to some things to truly say yes to a change, because it’s time consuming."
Someone who understands change really well "Jeff Bezos of Amazon is a powerful change leader. He knows the importance of core focus areas strategically, but isn’t afraid to extend those as he gains competence and as his people are committed to it."
An author whose work you admire "Max De Pree is a gentleman who did a lot of work on the art of leadership, servant leadership. I have always treasured his insights. He values questions, not just answers."
A question I should have asked "Are there any dangers in putting change on a pedestal?”
And the answer? A lot of people think change is the answer. I believe a comment made by the CEO of Nissan Canada. He said, ‘Every improvement is the result of change. Not every change is an improvement.' The past has value, but it can’t have an automatic veto."
Is it harder to achieve change or to sustain it "Sustain, because change isn’t an event. It’s not like a movie, it’s like a soap opera. Seldom does one change, end of process. It’s change after change after change, so to sustain is the real challenge of leadership."
Something that sustains you “No. 1, my faith. I have devotions every day that help motivate and center me. The second thing is exercise. The older I get, the more things start to fall apart. Those two habits are very important in maintaining gratitude for a good day."
Someone outside your family who deserves more attention "Craig Beeker is our minister at our church [New Hope Lutheran]. He has a gift of taking many diverse people and continuing to communicate a strong faith message every single week. Being a speaker who gets to do the same message over and over again, I have strong respect for that."