Like many of you, I grew up never learning the social skills that help people make friends, get along with others, network, and lead happy, productive lives. As a child, I had few friends and was lonely and depressed much of the time. The social skills I lacked were like tools. Imagine trying to fix dinner with just a soup spoon. It would be very difficult to cut a steak or prepare noodles or do any one of a hundred things it takes to cook with just a soup spoon. But when you have the right tools- in this case a steak knife and a fork, it becomes vastly easier to prepare and eat a meal. I discovered there were several hundred studies that had been conducted for years at universities throughout the country., working with groups like men who never date, women who have few friends, and couples who just talk a few minutes a day. They were teaching skills for doing better, but these skills were seldom taught off campus. They had made such a difference in my life, I decided to dedicate my life to teaching them. I went to UCLA to get a BA in Speech and then to the University of Oregon to take a special Master's Degree course in teaching these skills. I became a college speech teacher, and at night and on weekends teaching Community Service workshops I called "Conversationally Speaking." After a while I added a shyness component, because I found that many of my students had become very adept at using the skills I taught them, but were too shy to use them. For this I used lessons I learned from books by Drs. Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck, the modern founders of the cognitive school of psychology.. Over some 30 years, I taught hundreds of "Conversationally Speaking" workshops all over the world and trained other people to teach them as well. Sometimes my audience was just two people (my parents) and sometimes hundreds. And I wrote "Conversationally Speaking," which has sold over 1 million copies. It started small, with the marketing manager of McGraw-Hill having no plans for the book beyond recalling it and adding $1 to the price if it proved popular. Although I didn't have much money, I decided to make plans to spend 4 months on the road promoting the book, and just trust that somehow I would be able to succeed. When Herb Kavet, the Marketing Manager of McGraw-Hill, heard about my plans, he became excited. He told his PR people to set up interviews for me everywhere I went, morning, noon, and night. Further, he told me he would pay for part of my trip. This was exactly the sort of help I needed and it brought tears to my eyes that my efforts were succeeding beyond my wildest expectations.. An inspirational quote I had once read was coming true: "Be Bold. And Mighty Forces will Come to Your Aid." Chapter 12 of my book summarized the life's work of Dr. Albert Ellis, whose work was followed by hundreds of therapists. I took apart 44 books of his books, such as "How to Stubbornly Refuse to Make Yourself Miserable about Anything- Yes, Anything." Some taught people how to be less shy and more confident. I found the lessons and themes they all had in common and managed to summarize them all in just 25 pages. I'm proud to say Dr. Ellis gave me a quote for the cover. Soon, hundreds of cognitive and behavioral therapists were recommending my book. The much respected Aaron Beck, MD, University Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote "Conversationally Speaking is of great value for people who want to sharpen their skills in interpersonal relations. I routinely recommend it." All this brought tears to my eyes as it was always my dream to be able to help exactly the sort of people I was reaching now. I hit upon a formula that I had never heard of anyone else using, before or since: I got foreign rights to my book and found well-known local co-authors in different parts of the world who made the book a success in their countries. Because they were local, they were able to connect with their countrymen far better than I could ever have done, and the books became bestsellers in many countries. There was Maria Tereza Maldonado in Brazil (and Portugal), Dr. Frank Oomkes in Holland, Dr. Doris Wolf in Germany, and most of all Allan Pease in Australia. Allan sold so many books, I moved to Australia to join him for a few months! We did local joint editions in Singapore, South Africa, Norway, Russia, the UK- and of course Australia and New Zealand. Altogether, we sold an amazing 600,000 books! Thanks to my co-authors, and especially Allan, as well as to my own efforts in America, Conversationally became a huge hit, selling far more than might have been expected. Some of these partnerships have lasted over 20 years.. "Conversationally Speaking" has been published all over the world and has just come out with a newly updated 3rd edition for the 2020's with the help of a superb new co-author, Amanda Goodwin Caporaletti, an Associate Teaching Professor of Speech at Penn State. She teaches these skills to hundreds of students a year and is well versed on the latest advances in the field. My hope is that, with her now taking over the lead authorship, the book will remain the most popular and up-to-date book in the field for many more years.. Incidentally, if you happen to be the child of an alcoholic and were neglected or abused and "Conversationally Speaking" seems too difficult for you, I joined Janet Woititz, the author of the NY Times bestseller, "Adult Children of Alcoholics," in writing "Lifeskills for Adult Children." That book is more elementary and would be a good place for you to begin. As for me, I have retired and have moved with my wife part-time to Thailand, I've written a book about this adventure that's available at Amazon for all of 99 cents in a Kindle edition and $5.95 as a paperback. It's title: "How I Moved to Thailand: Retired Early, Found Love, Built a Mansion, Live Like a King on a Dime- and How You Can Too!" My pen name for this book is Scott Curtis. I have always felt it was my privilege to teach these skills that made such a difference in my life to so many other people. It is my privilege now to teach you.Read more Read less
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