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CalmandStrong: Retrospective Speech

On Oct. 11th, I completed my 10th Advanced Manuals (20th overall) speech for Toastmasters at CSUSB, and it was entitled, “Retrospective.”

I started my day by working out riding 7.2 miles in 35 minutes on my stationary bike. I try my best to work out before I perform speeches because I’ve learned that it helps calm my nerves while I’m speaking to an audience.

I purposely arrived at Toastmasters early to set up my PowerPoint, and I had some technical difficulties because it took a while to fully load. I was prepared to perform my speech without my PowerPoint, but it eventually worked.

When it was time for my speech, I set up my cellphone on my tri-pod to record my speech and I encountered some more difficulties while trying to record. For example, I had trouble with my cellphone being stable on the tri-pod, and once I got it fixed, I was a minute into my speech and realized I never pressed the record button.

Once I realized I wasn’t being recorded, I stopped my speech, apologized and quickly pressed record. Two minutes into my speech, my tri-pod completely fell on the table making a loud crashing sound. I started my speech for the third time, and one of my fellow Toastmasters offered to hold my phone and record me while performing my speech. I’m thankful she offered to help me because I was getting frustrated that everything I touched was struggling to work properly. I turned that frustration into a burning desire to deliver a successful speech, and I believe I did just that.

My speech was about a detailed look back of why I decided to pursue a career as an inspirational speaker that started from 2013 to the present. After graduating from California State University, Long Beach in 2012, I landed my first job ever as an Associate Investigator for United States Investigative Services, located in Las Vegas, NV in 2013.

I was only an Associate Investigator for three months, and had to resign due to not understanding the position thoroughly and it took a toll on my physical disability. I eventually landed other jobs like selling legal services for Legal Shield, and I was a debt collector.

While at Legal Shield, one of my co-workers approached me and asked why was I limping while walking. I replied and said I’m a two-time cancer survivor, became a hip amputee and now I could only walk with a prosthetic leg. He asked my age, and at the time I was 27 years old, and he said I been through a lot at such a young age.

After telling him about my life story, he said besides selling legal services, he is also a Substitute Teacher, Mentor and Life Coach. I wasn’t at Legal Shield that long because I wasn’t making that much commission, and my co-worker offered his Life Coach services to me for free and I began meeting with him regularly.

During one of our meetings, he asked if I wanted to be a teacher, and I said no because being a teacher wasn’t resonating with me. Then he brought up the idea of me becoming an inspirational speaker because I have a unique story to tell. I never thought about being an inspirational speaker because public speaking terrified me, and I hated when I was forced to do it in school.

After thinking about what my Life Coach said, I realized that I do have a unique story to tell and I could help people who been through similar situations. I created a PowerPoint and called my Mother and asked her to mail all the pictures from when I was diagnosed with cancer at 14 and 17 years old. After I completed my PowerPoint, I felt something was missing…

Inspiration from inFAMOUS

What was missing was my connection with the inFAMOUS videogame franchise and superhero Cole MacGrath.

Cole was in the hospital, hooked up to an IV pole with his girlfriend Trish and best friend Zeke by his bedside; like me when I was in the hospital hooked up to an IV pole with my Grandmother and Uncle by my bedside.

Cole is an ordinary bike messenger turned electric-superhero, and based on his actions, the world sees him as a superhero or supervillain or Famous or inFAMOUS. This helped me make a decision: to think positive and do something to help myself; or stay in a dark and depressing place because I didn’t have control of my situation.

Besides the comparison photo, I said when I first saw Cole climb to the top of a flagpole in the original inFAMOUS, I noticed he had incredible balance. My bond with this digital character got stronger because when I don’t have my prosthetic leg on, I must balance on one leg.

When I first approached my Life Coach with my new and improved PowerPoint. I was nervous because I thought he was going to judge me because I was talking about my connection with a video game character. It turned out that he liked how creative I was connecting my experiences and realities with cancer and becoming a hip amputee to the digital world of inFAMOUS and superhero Cole MacGrath.

My Life Coach said if I was serious about being an inspirational speaker, I needed to come up with a company name, a tagline, create a logo, business cards and a website. One day, my Life Coach said “CalmandStrong.” He said I have a calming personality, and I’m strong because of the adversities I was able to overcome.

One day, I was looking at random videos on YouTube, and came across an interview of Hip-Hop artist Ice Cube. The interviewer’s asked him why did he leave his Hip-Hop group NWA at the peak of the group’s success.

Ice Cube said he always knew he was going to leave the group when he realized his money situation wasn’t going to be handled properly. Then he said, “Nothing is More Powerful Than a Made up Mind.”

When I heard those words. I thought about how Cole and myself are both are strong willed, strong minded and we overcame adversities that waited for us in the future. “Nothing is More Powerful Than a Made up Mind” became my tagline because it fits perfectly with my story and Cole’s.

The doves flying around the world represent God’s angels healing and protecting me when I was diagnosed with cancer as a teenager. Within my CalmandStrong PowerPoint, I have doves on every slide where I express my experiences and realities cancer.

When I perform my speeches to a wide audience, I want the doves to represent God’s angels healing and protecting people who are currently sick in the hospital and people who have ever experienced a serious illness.

The Impact: Tragedy to Testimony

“Darryl was always very positive, driven, motivated and strong willed,” my Mother said. “His will is the strongest thing, it’s stronger than strength because his will is what keeps people going. He also has courage, he went through something most adults couldn’t even face. Overall, he had super strength with a positive outlook on life.”

“He is real strong in a lot of areas, and never let the adversities get him down,” my Father said. “A lot of strength, he continued on and got an education, real proud of him there. Graduated just like his Brother and Sister. Nothing got in his way. He learned how to drive and adapted to his prosthetic leg well, and just like now he is pushing forward, which is great.”

“Darryl has his degree from Cal State Long Beach and we are super proud and excited for him,” both Parents said.

“Darryl had his own place, lived on his own, worked and took care of his business," my Brother said. “I think he handled it very well, because personally, anybody else would of went into a deep depression or something. It was a tough situation to handle, and not a lot of people can do that.”

“He has been positive, I think most people would have went into a deep depression, felt really sad or sorry for themselves,” my Sister said. “I think Darryl handled it, he went to school, finished college and lives a normal life. I think as of now, he has done well.”

My Grandmother, who was pictured by my bedside when I was in the hospital at 14 years old said, “I’m just thankful that my boy is still here with us.”

I concluded my speech saying, as of today, I have completed 20 overall speeches for Toastmasters at CSUSB, I’ve written an autobiography, 109 blogs and completed 221 volunteer hours at Loma Linda Children’s Hospital.

My name is Darryl Richie, and you can find me in cyberspace at

The Evaluations

After I finished my speech, the Toastmasters audience gave me a long-standing ovation for completing 20 speeches. The audience evaluations I got were mostly positive. For instance, one person said I had passion while performing my speech, I was calm, I spoke from the heart and I spoke with confidence. I also received some constructive criticism about the difficulties I had before starting my speech, I paused for a long six seconds to collect my thoughts, sometimes I needed to speak more clearly, louder and some parts within my PowerPoint was a distraction.

My speech evaluator congratulated me for completing 20 speeches, and he said it took him a while to notice that a have specific speaking style that doesn’t always align with the Toastmasters book objective. The first objective was to make the audience entertained by my speech, but he said the audience was more engaged than entertained.

He noticed that I have a unique story, and some of my speeches in the past have been about my experiences and realities with cancer, but I’ve always presented it from different perspectives to make the topic still feel fresh.

The story I have includes struggles, but it is also a story of strength, according to my evaluator. He also said my organizational skills to chronologically tell my story was good, and it flowed well.

Overall, after all the difficulties, I was still able to perform a successful 10th Advanced Manuals and 20th overall speech. I recognized I was talking fast during the beginning of my speech because of my frustration of having to start over three times, I fumbled a few of my words and the video on my phone didn’t capture the PowerPoint slides fully. Besides those mishaps, I felt I performed well and I’ll be receiving a certificate from Toastmasters International for this accomplishment.

To check out my CalmandStrong: Retrospective Speech, click here:


I do not own any image content from the inFAMOUS videogame franchise. No Copyright Intended. All inFAMOUS image content is copyright to their respective owners.

All inFAMOUS content is property of Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE), developed by Sucker Punch Productions.

I don't own any content from the image displayed from Toastmasters at CSUSB.

No Copyright Intended. All image content is copyright to their respective owners. All content is property of Toastmasters at CSUSB.

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