What a Stupendous NSA’s Influence 18 Experience!


Let me explain!

July 14 – 17, 2018

Dallas, Texas was warm and a bit sticky. I felt, this is my playground. For it is pretty much like home, and I love playing home. But with a big difference! Influence 2018, the premier event for professional speaking organized by the National Speakers Association was the stage.

To speak at an event with the magnitude of Influence is a dream for many emerging speakers. So, I was flabbergasted with joy to have been chosen. I was also happy to be sharing the stage with two other great and awsome humorous speakers, Kay Frances and Dave Hill, two affable and supportive characters. Working with them ahead of and during our speaking engagement was a thrill. Thank you Kay and Dave.

Dave Hill, Me, Kay Frances

Even though I attended Influence 2016 and was moved then by a host of amazing and talented speakers from the pro pool, Influence 18 was also mesmerizing (well, it has to be; I spoke there! J). You really don’t listen to a speaker but a performer embodied in a speaker. You listen, you watch, you learn and you are, definitely, entertained!

I must admit that I felt like a dwarf speaker among giants. I had two choices: Act as a dwarf or challenge myself to act like a giant…even though a skinny one! If you know me, you’d probably guess what my choice was. It was an opportunity to say my say and I was not about to let it slip away, especially I had two talented speakers alongside with me. I was utterly fearless!

Eddie Turner, a genuine smile

As is the case with breakout sessions, you always have this worry if your room will fill up, especially if your session is one of nine happening at the same time. So, roughly, 1200+ people will split throughout the sessions. Of course, there are other worries, including potential VA mishaps during the session…and there were, actually! Oh, did I mention I was the first speaker? But that never bothered me. In one Toastmasters competition season, I was the Number 1 speaker three times in a row, including the one that took me all the way to Orlando, Florida, where the 2012 World Championship of Public Speaking took place.

Everything turned out to be more than just fine, despite the usual worry, “how did the audience receive our session?” We had some terrific audience, about 70-80 people in the room, I estimated. You know an audience is terrific when you see people taking notes! J But the experience was beyond my expectation. You know that when people stop you the next day or two and tell you how they benefited from your session. When you fly fifteen hours back and forth and deliver a 20-minute presentation, you feel absolutely ecstatic when you hear some positive words from those who were in the audience.

Wonderful audience, some taking notes 🙂

What did I learn from the outstanding experience and from attending such a world class event?

  1. First of all, when you brush up with giants, you learn from them what really made them great speakers. It’s basically sticking to the process and learning the most important competencies of public speaking; these are NSA’s Eloquence (presenting and platform skills), Enterprise (business management and marketing), Expertise (topic and product development) and Ethics (professional relationships and industry awareness). By themselves, these four pillar competencies are deserving of a separate write-up. As a speaker, I know I am far from checking all four. But being their always provide an opportunity to learn from the best.
  2. Pro speakers don’t only speak! In addition to their tremendous speaking skills, each possesses a set of dazzling platform skills that set them apart. Some perform, some sing, some play an instrument, some act and some even utilize unique talents like gymnastics. These talents are not separable from their content; they complement it in a very entertaining way. Simply awesome!
  3. Pro speakers have a niche and they stick to it. They serve that niche in different capacities, as speakers, as authors, as consultants, as columnist, as trainers etc. This is a big thing that I find missing in myself and many emerging speakers in the region!
  4. I learned that, as a speaker, I should be creative and not shy from trying what may appear to be outlandish on the platform. Have you seen a speaker take the podium, stand on it on his hands, and address the audience?! An adventurous and jaw-dropper act, but within his comfort zone, and definitely his talent! The lesson: If I have a talent that augments my topic, I should seriously consider using it.
  5. Some people may find repetition sort of boring. I found it very educating. It was repetition with style! In one tremendous breakout session that I attended, a speaker took us through a step by step process on rehearsal. Every time she finishes a step, she would repeat it and act it with distinctive gestures, and she would repeat all the steps before it. All that, with participation of the audience! It was learning with style! Which reminds me…
  6. Pro speakers have their distinctive style when conducting a workshop. Some would jazz up their sessions with funky handouts, audience involvement, freebies, etc. You don’t just leave with the learning; you leave with something memorable too.
  7. People in attendance (some are pro speakers already) were humble and eager to see the speaker shine. I had the chance to interact with some who attended our workshop and got some valuable feedback. I asked for it! J There is a great value in networking!

Funny, down-to-earth bunch at Farewell Gathering

I found Influence 18 as it was advertised for, the premier event for professional speaking. I look forward to attending Influence again in the future.

I hope my sharing of this learning experience would add value to you. If you have any questions or wish to invite me to speak at your event, please contact me.

Are you growing your leadership ability?

It is one thing to be in a position, and another to be a leader—a true leader! The Live2Lead (L2L) simulcast, conducted by John C. Maxwell and his team of highly influential personalities and public figures, provide focused doses of leadership content to thousands of people around the world.


The Live2Lead rebroadcast was just conducted on March 17, 2018 in Bahrain by a great team of John Maxwell Team coaches, namely Meenakshi Sundaram, Tosin Arowojolu, Kadri Rizk and Abdulla Abandi. The event received remarkable review by the participants who showed great interactions throughout the event.

The team complemented the event by introducing other short topics on leadership from John Maxwell teaching, such as leadership ability, learning from failure, intentional living and defining moments…as preludes to the rebroadcast topics. “It was a day of great learning and fun. L2L has enriched us with valuable leadership lessons,”   a repeated comment by many participants.


Learning did not come only from John Maxwell and his team, as a member of the facilitation team, I personally learned from the astounding real life experiences shared by some of the participants, whether in the business world or on the personal level. It’s interesting when you see the audience talk without barriers, which indicates the level of confidence they had during the event.

As a facilitation team, we were so encouraged by the response that we decided to continue with these leadership-focused events throughout the year. The next event is on April 28, 2018, in Manama, Bahrain. We will be so happy to receive more participants. Of course, in addition to those who delighted us in the first event. More information about the April event will be posted soon.

It was a delight to have conducted the event to such a brilliant group of people who came with diverse cultural, educational and professional backgrounds. They’ve all expressed praise for the value they received from the day.

If you wish this JMT team or myself to help you on the leadership side, please connect with me.

Lights, Lights, Action!

How do you know you had a great week? It’s when something you’ve been working on for some time is done with a flying color!

Last week, I had the joy to speak to Philips Lighting, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on their annual kickoff meeting. It was a great gathering with around 300 people in the room, including higher management. Those are passionate people whose mission is “…to unlock the extraordinary potential of light for a better life and a better world.” What a mission! It is interesting that the theme, “Passion for…” is close to my heart and has commonality. I have a Facebook page with the name Passion Fuel, and I have a group on Whatsapp with the same name too. Is it a coincidence? Maybe. But that’s just me. I am a person who is passionate about seeing people learn and grow. Fueling passion is within me…it’s my purpose!

So, the thought on my mind, how do I weave a motivational talk that could move the “movers and the shakers” of Philips Lighting? Good question. They are in “Passion For” results, innovation, sustainability, leadership, teamwork, diversity. And they have challenges too! But on top of that is to improve results.

I bet you it takes a great deal of effort to grow results over the past year’s targets in a state of economic slowdown. That’s a challenge for all businesses. It is not impossible, though. It’s a mindset! And that’s what I focused my talk on…having that positive mindset that would drive you to excel. As they say, it’s all in the head. It’s all about attitude, energy, stretching and taking initiatives that challenge the familiar and bring out the unfamiliar.

I was overwhelmed to see a great team put a great show for a whole day, bringing people from different parts of the Kingdom. Knowing events from hands-on experience, it is not easy to maintain energy in the room for six hours. Despite the short time I spent in the event, I had the pleasure to listen to a panel discussion with some great minds of Philips Lighting on stage from the CEO, SFO, Marketing, IT, HR Head to the brilliant staff that kept the event alive. Thanks to Imran Zafeer, the Marketing Manager, who made this opportunity possible.

I also happened to meet some young talents, like Noura, the Talent Acquisition Supervisor, who moderated the panel discussion successfully. And of course, the young photographer (who may not be from Philips Lighting), who I had the delight to chat to briefly. The photos you see here are of her brilliant work. Thank you, Maya.

I am hoping the stories I shared would make a dent, a little at least, in raising the momentum of the team to march towards their top goals of the year and beyond. It was a quick visit. It felt like a dash. In fact, just few minutes after finishing my keynote, I immediately headed to the airport…and I barely made my trip! And I won’t talk about how the night before my speech went. Have you ever called A/C Maintenance at 3:30 in the morning? I leave you with just this thought in mind! 🙂

HHH enthuses Dubai audience

You don’t know how you really feel about a certain event until it’s over! And, you don’t know if you’ve made a dent on those who attended until you hear from that audience on the spot! Another indication that your gig was well received and reached to the audience’s head, heart and funny bones is the feedback you receive on social media and the sharing of that experience by some of those who attended. Speaking with Head, Heart and Humor (HHH) was the debut event for Prodigy Bureau in Dubai, and still lingers in the audience’s heads after more than two weeks have passed. But nothing speaks influence more than the fact when someone comes and tells you, “You have changed my thinking about public speaking!” The HHH event fulfilled its mission indeed. It did penetrate the head, touched the heart and tickled plenty of funny bones. Above all, we’ve felt that we made good friends, judging from all the interactions during and after the event. The level of networking before and after the event was unprecedented. We’ve heard lots of encouraging comments and feedback, yet we know that we can improve further on what we’ve delivered. We are upbeat and really looking forward to do this again and again. Stay tuned. We could be in a city near you soon!

Here are some of the comments we captured on Facebook, other than all the heart-warming comments received face-to-face:

“It was indeed an epic and funtabulous event that showcased the golden techniques and wisdom in the realm of public speaking and beyond!” Mariz del Rio

“Amazing learning experience with you honorous gurus” Ghina Amoyen

“I had the opportunity to attend a very creative .. innovative ..and organized presentation about “Speak with Head, Heart, and Humor by excellent, talented speakers” Salwa Alhammadi

“Thank you so much for inspiring us and giving us useful techniques that we can apply in making our speeches.” Ely Aczura

“Good fun and learning yesterday at the Head, Heart & Humor workshop in Dubai by Mohamed ShukriMohamed Isa & Abdulla A. Abandi. Thank you champions for sharing your knowledge and for the valuable tips.” VP Menon

“Speaking with your #head #heart with a dash of #humour is an art and these 3 fabulous trainers aimed to teach us just that 😊 thank you for those valuable lessons!” Divya Raj

“It was a stupendous event!” Dayne Menchavez

“Evening well spent! Fantastic workshop! Love the workbook!” Emma Bruneau

Malaysian Community Rocks!

I just opened the back door of my Panda (the nickname of my car) to unload my stuff when a gentleman walked towards me and offered help. I immediately guessed he was one of the parents of a student participant in the program I was about to start in Jubail, the John Maxwell YouthMax Leadership Program. Jubail is about one hour drive from my hometown.

The drive was challenging on the main highway, but pleasant as I approached the residential compounds of Jubail where thousands of expatriates work in this huge industrial city! As I departed from home about 15 minutes later than planned, I was particularly vigilant of all speed cameras erected on the sides of the highway, not that I was speeding over the threshold. And, of course, watching for all insane drivers who flash at you a kilometer away to pass. And they normally cause turbulence to my Panda as they pass with close to 200 K per hour! So, arriving at destination safely was in itself a breather.

So, when the gentleman offered help, it was as if he knew what I was going through on the highway! I said, “I think I am ok,” on the outside. On the inside, “Please!” That was only the tip of the iceberg. What I witnessed from the Malaysian Community that day surpassed all expectations. I arrived around 7:45 and the workshop was supposed to start an hour later. Many of the kids (youth 13-18) and their parents were already there! Talk about interest, talk about respect to their parents, talk about their cooperative attitude! Parents were all buzzing with action offloading stuff from their cars and proceeding to set up the room.  Within minutes, as I was busy setting up my laptop and ensuring good projection and sound, all workshop materials were on the tables.

As the workshop relies on some videos, the sound quality is important. And, this was my struggle, I thought. The technician, the photographer and all those who have some technical knowledge of sound connectivity moved into action suggesting solutions, even though I came ready with Alternative Plan, which did not work at the beginning. It was obvious that the success of the event is also their interest, and not just mine. Seeing them around lending hands alleviated my worries.

When things were up and running (almost), the parents wanted to give some introductions through some volunteered spokespersons. I have conducted this workshop twice in my hometown, and none of the parents hinted at joining us for a few minutes at the start, although most of them were supportive of the program.  But genuine words of welcome and interest in seeing their kids embark on a program like the YouthMax Leadership Program made me feel special. And that in itself was a motivator to do my best to add value to their children. In fact the workshop went very well, judging by the interactions from the students, and their enthusiasm which kept them going all the way to the end!

Malaysia is on my list of countries to visit. In fact, it is also on my list to do speaking and training business, and I feel opportunities are coming. Yet, I have already gotten a good feel of its people. The Malaysian Community in Jubail left me spellbound, especially for their kindness, hospitality, togetherness and team spirit. I felt I was among a family I knew for a long time. I have seen the beauty of Malaysia present in its people. So, Malaysia is really, really, truly Asia! Thank you Norma and the rest of your team. Thanks also go to the children and especially to the mystery little kid who joined us (on my signal) in the group photos  :).

I am ready to repeat the experience in different shapes and forms. And, I wish that one day we could bring both my home town community with the Malaysian Community for a cross-cultural event. And I will be the lead host!

More to come on this event…stay tuned!

23 Young Kids Learn From the Best

Learn, Earn and Return—A concept of learning, knowledge sharing and giving back. It is the cycle of life…It is the purpose of living. And as the saying goes, “Learning at a young age is like engraving on stone.” I thought part of giving back of what I learned through the years is giving some of that to the young. The John Maxwell Youth Max® program is a great gift to the young. It is only my wish that someone should have wrapped this program for me when I was 14 or 15, I would have been much more myself now. Much more in discipline and consistence, much more in achievements, much more in my value in general.

I just launched the first self-leadership program for the youth in my home town, the John Maxwell Youth Max program, featuring Nick Vujicic, the motivational speaker and author, sharing his personal stories from ups and downs, sad and happy, put downs and lifts up. All put in a very simple and interactive program highlighting self-esteem and self-value. I was amazed by the high interest from the young and their parents in the program and racing to register their children till the nick of time. Amazing group of kids who took it upon themselves to learn from the best like John Maxwell, Nick Vujicic. Well, let’s also  they also have a fine facilitator J  The program focuses on positive self-image, knowing one’s self, overcoming failure, and critical steps of success.

The first go of the program enlisted 23 of the finest kids in town, who were bustling with energy (especially when you rid them of their mobiles until breaksJ). They listened attentively; they participated with vigor; they had fun.

Since we had a waitlist of more than 6 people due to late action, I am working on offering the program at different times during the year, with an Arabic version being contemplated.

If you have a child between the age of 13 and 18, don’t miss an opportunity to have them learn important lessons in life from world renowned speakers and experts that will propel them toward success. See you in the next offering.


Influence 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona, such an experience

It was an exhilarating experience to have attended the prestigious National Speakers Association convention, Influence 2016, in Phoenix, Arizona, United States. As an academic member of NSA, this was a wow experience by all standards. Since I am in the speaking business, attending this event was not by chance, as you can imagine. It was part of my effort to get good as a speaker and learn all the secrets from great speakers on the platform. It was a goal and I hit the bull’s eye! When I saw those thrill-inducing speakers on the platform, I felt but a dwarf 🙂 Amazing speakers as Kathy Buckley, Scott Stratten, Jason Hewlett, Darren Hardy, Patricia Fripp, Willie Jolley, Connie Podesta, Tim Gard, were on the platform inspiring, entertaining and adding value–just the essence of public speaking! Kathy Buckley’s videos inspired me in the early 2000, with her unique style and blend of tears and laughter, only to see her live. I was blessed!

What was a dwarf speaker doing with the giants? That is not the question. The minute you think of yourself as great in what you do and believe this is it, you have arrived to a destination swamped with failures. It’s only when you look up that you become great in what you do! As John Maxwell said, “If you are the head of the class, you’re in the wrong class.” Learning from all those giants performing on the platform was worth every penny spent. There is also great value in the diversified topics covered in the breakout sessions.

You may think, that’s great! That’s not it all! When you bump into the world champion of public speaking and dear friend, Mark L. Brown, and have a one-on-one conversation with him, that is a icing on the cake…and free of charge 🙂 It was a delightful surprise to sit with Mark over breakfast and chat with him. He is such a down-to-earth person. I never forget his, what might be an overstatement, “Abdulla Abandi, my great friend, and the funniest man (speaker he means :)) in the Middle East!” This testimonial from this giant, I will continue to cherish for life. That was not the only surprise! I was sitting in one of the breakout sessions when I saw this smiling gentleman rush to my table and say to the person he was chatting with, “Excuse me, I must say hello to this person!” Then I hear my name, “Abdulla, oh my goodness, it’s so nice to see you!” I look up, stand up and extend my hand to shake his hand. For a while I didn’t recognize him! Then my memory raced back three years. It was Eddie Turner. He and I attended the Effective Facilitator Training in Houston, Texas. Oh my my! The reason I mention him is that he is one of the most jolly persons in the world! I love his great spirit. There is one problem with him, though. I could not walk with him 10 yards without him stopping shaking hands and hugging another person. I was so envious of him, especially as he hugged the ladies. Just kidding :). He must have taken a selfie with every person that attended Influence 2016. And sometimes, I worked as his personal photographer 🙂 Seeing this gentleman was heart-warming, especially for he has a very warm heart!

Notice that I wrote about a couple of gentlemen more than what I wrote about Influence 2016. I believe the personal friendship experience is more valuable than what you get from a high-value event! Will I attend next year’s Influence? Very likely. If not for anything, it’s for meeting all the great friends I met and made during the four-day extravagance!