Most of the success I have had in life has come from my ability to communicate. I used to have terrible public speaking and social skills, but I set out to conquer them and turn my weaknesses into strengths. Now I am inspired to teach those skills to others.
Read my story below.
When I was growing up, my family traveled around the world because of my father's job. I went to elementary school in Germany, middle school in Florida, and high school in California and Belgium.
The experience of moving every few years was great for learning different cultures and meeting different kinds of people, but not great for social skills development. I was friendly but quiet for the most part - what most people would probably label an introvert. My communication skills were near the bottom of the barrel. One of my strongest memories from high school is a little graduation party we had. I remember feeling very awkward, not knowing how to make small talk, even with people that I knew fairly well. I sat in the corner hoping that nobody would come over and talk to me. Not exactly what you would expect of a future public speaker and communication coach.
The graduation party was the first time in my life that I really felt like I was missing out because of my communication skills. I knew that I had to make some changes.
I went to college at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. This is where my communication and social skills really took off. I knew that these skills would probably be needed in whatever career I chose, so, with much anxiety and hesitation, I signed up for an intro to public speaking class. To my surprise, I thrived in the class. I actually enjoyed it. The quiet, focused, introverted kid who had entered college was making some serious changes.
After considering a career in law and majoring in political science, I decided to change direction and become a high school teacher. When I was entering college, I never would have thought in a million years that I would become a teacher, or anything heavily dependent on public speaking for that matter. My public speaking courses had prepared me well.
I got my first teaching job soon after graduating college and taught for the next 21 years, with a one year break to work full time on a Master's degree. During that time I taught everything from U.S. History and Economics to Calculus, Statistics, and Finance.
Even though I taught for a long time, I knew from the beginning that I would probably not retire as a teacher. There would come a time when I would make a change. To what, exactly, was unclear for a long time.
I generally enjoyed working with young people, but my fascination with communication skills continued. This interest eventually led to a website and blog and the publication of two books for educators- one about the topic of discipline and another one a collection of tips for teachers.
During my last few years of teaching, I started talking to students more and more about communication and social skills (yes, even during math class. Don't judge me.). Students would ask about speeches they were making, scholarship interviews and even topics like dating. I enjoyed helping students with these issues. also noticed very real changes in the communication styles of students as the internet and smart phones became more and more commonly used.
the mingle master
In 2011, another defining moment in my fascination with communication skills occurred - a friend of a friend that I barely knew asked me to help him improve his social skills. This acquaintance was very uncomfortable talking to strangers and wanted to get better. He was coming out of a relationship and knew that better social skills would help him in future relationships and in life in general.
I agreed to help, and I wound up working with him for an entire summer - taking my new student downtown and giving him communication challenges. The two of us would walk up and down the street and talk to strangers, while I would give communication and social skills tips. At the end of the summer, he suggested that I go public with my ideas.
I was hesitant to publicize my communication ideas at first. I really only got involved to help this one guy, not share things publicly. I talked to a few trusted friends about the idea, though, and they encouraged me to go public. As a result, the Mingle Master website and blog was created to discuss dating, relationships, and general communication.
After studying communication and social skills for awhile with a focus on dating and relationships, I realized that these objectives were just one end result of developing communication skills. The goal didn't really matter. The skills needed to succeed in those areas could be applied to any objective that required communication.
This realization opened the door to expanding the methods that I was using for personal situations to business settings as well. This lead to the creation of RDS Communication, LLC, my communication coaching and training business.
I currently work with individuals, groups, and companies to help them figure out ways to use communication skills to reach higher levels of success.
The name RDS Communication was chosen in honor of my grandfather, who called me RDS (my initials) as a child.
I created this website to help people improve in an underrated but hugely important area - communication skills. So, if you would like to improve the way you communicate either at home or at work, this site is for you.