Effective Speaking Skills I Learned from Donald Trump

Don’t Bury Your Past – Use it to Become President of the United States

You can learn a lot about effective communication skills by listening to the presidential candidates. If you can bear listening to the candidates running for the presidency, you might have noticed that they are in competition with who has had the most difficult, impoverished childhoods.  There is a reason they are all trying to outdo each other about their rocky road to success.

Marco Rubio likes to bring up that he was born to Cuban immigrants with a father working as a bartender and mother in a retail store. Pobrecito, Marco!

Ben Carson is being securitized, not for the fact that he is a world-renowned surgeon, but because he claims to have been a troubled, violent youth on food stamps who grew up in an inner-city.

Hillary Clinton is now eager to talk about her mother, who had been abandoned by her own parents and worked as a housekeeper.

And Trump joins in with his stories about the difficulties of the business world, saying, "It has not been easy for me… I started off in Brooklyn, my father gave me a small loan of a million dollars." Okay, he likes to Trump the others. The only thing my father gave me was advice and a low metabolism.

Why do they publicize their past hardships?  Because, these are all example of communication skills. They know it’s not what we ACHIEVE that connects us to others, but the JOURNEY of how we overcame obstacles to get where we are. Another words, it’s not that you are a COO, a VIP or a CEO that’s makes you a BFD; it’s the road you took to get to success.   

Those of us who are not running for President are more likely to be giving our history at a business meeting, on a job interview, or on a date and we think it’s counter intuitive to focus on the painful and difficult part of our lives. Yet, it is the very things we tend to hide from others that define us and give us good communication skills.

Not only does our mess to success story inspire empathy and create a connection with an audience, it’s our MESSES that are most likely to be FUNNY. So many of my comedy friends, especially the hilarious ones, had difficult childhoods. When I was writing The Comedy Bible  and teaching standup workshops, the students who had nothing to kvetch about were NOT funny. Being rich, happily married, and not being able to gain weight will, I promise you, not get laughs. Want to know how to be funny? Have a miserable childhood.

It’s not impossible that a troubled past not only wins over others and gives us effective communication skills, but it motivates us to attain success. Would Steve Jobs have become the innovator of the tech industry if he hadn’t experienced rejection because of being given away for adoption? Would Walt Disney have created “The Happiest Place on Earth” if he hadn’t been raised by a violent, alcoholic father? Maybe not.  

Whether we are a business person wanting more effective communication skills, a job seeker wanting to connect, a comic wanting laughs, a Toastmaster wanting better speaking skills, or a presidential candidate wanting votes, we all need to own our mess to success story – not only to tell to others, but to appreciate how far we’ve come from where we started. A sad past is an asset; it gives a message of hope to others.  

The candidates understand that a good mess to success story has the power to win others over.

Do you know what your mess to success story is?
Can you express it?
How can you use it?

I would love if you shared your own mess to success story.  Please write in the comments below.

Coming February 2016 - "The Message of You" University!
Interactive online videos to Find your message, Write your Speech, and Inspire Others.


  1. I am tired of everyone making such a big deal out of Trump.
    He has personality, charisma and he is a great deal maker and highly skilled businessman. So what he got some money to start...he worked his ass off and it took skill to do what he has down in life. Just like in comedy people leverage off of their personality and I have not voted in 25 years but would vote for him as our politicians are a bunch of idiots and made many deals that just screw us.
    I have my mesh to success story but not in the mood to share it but my wife hates trump but most people just see the surface level bullshit the media blow up.( Trumps Up !) (continued below)
    I think he already has money and ego and is just sick and tired of the mess the USA is in and wants to use his skills to improve the place that allowed him with a hell of a lot of hard work and business smarts and skills to become a billionaire.
    This reporters opinion but I have read his books and can see the truth through the surface level stuff most people only see and then the shut off their minds.
    Steve Zook
    Polkzoo Channel on Youtube now at 32,000 views a month and almost 2 million total views.
    http://www.youtube.com/polkzoo check it out if you like guitars and guitar playing

    1. Hi Steve, this blog is not about Trump, but how to use techniques that the "Big Boys" use. Hate is a lost cause -- it's about what we can learn from the people we hate.

  2. In 2008 I was diagnosed with stage III lung cancer...no I wasn't a smoker, yes I'm terminal, and I have no idea how long I'm going to live...three questions I'm always asked when I share the 'news'. If I told you I had colon cancer would you ask if I was full of shit? The other stupid question I get is why do you think you're alive today? Of which I share I was @ a cancer research presentation and the presenter put up a slide of three photos; broccoli, red wine, and a comely woman breast feeding a baby. He asked, 'What do these all have in common?' Everyone sat on their hands..."They're all cancer inhibitors - I was so pleased with this news I invested in an organic broccoli farm, stocked my cellar with red wine, and, well, I'll just let your imagination roam on the last one...That's my story...I found the humor in the situation on every turn. I now speak/consult to the healthcare industry having penned a book titled, "It's an Extraordinary Life - Don't Miss It". Check it out on Amazon.com...and not 'Miss it'!

    1. LOVE the title of your book. Love it! You are an inspiration... and hilarious. I'm SO impressed. You made me laugh and cry. Judy

  3. n my lifetime, I have totaled 3 cars, 2 heart valves, 1 marriage, and I have considered suicide more times than I can count, and that was when times were good.
    When, at the beginning of the recession, my corporate comedy bookings dropped off 80% overnight, and therefore my income, and my wife and I declared Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, losing our farm, the horses we'd rescued, and everything we'd worked so hard for in our 22 years of marriage, there was an itch on the roof of my mouth that could only be scratched with the front sight of a nickel plated, Smith and Wesson .38, with the hammer back.
    I called my life insurance agent and asked him if the two year "Incontestability Period," commonly known as "The Suicide Clause," on my million dollars of life insurance coverage, had expired. If you buy a life insurance policy, and then kill yourself in less than two years, as per "The Suicide Clause" it pays nothing. If I waited longer than two years, my wife would get the million bucks. Yes, I'd be gone, but so would my pain.
    My life insurance agent, a kind and thorough man, gulped hard, stuttered and stammered, and then allowed as how, "It has been 22 months since you got your life insurance policy, you have 2 months to go." Actually, I had two months, before I could go. The irrational part of my brain wanted me gone, but the rational part refused to allow me to do so, if it meant leaving my wife destitute,
    I'm still here. And now I'm speaking on Mental Health Awareness and teaching a class through www.StandupforMentalHealth.com for people who want to write and perform comedy based on their battles with mental illness.

    1. Always an inspiration Frank. I would love to interview you. Call me.

  4. I love these comments
    I was abandoned at birth, adopted by a woman who hated me, raped at 15, was a mother at 17 beaten to within an inch of my life st 20 when 7 months pegnant
    Emigrated with 2 small kids , held Dien 3 jobs at a time , broke my back and neck in an auto accident
    Have abused alcohol , got sober , divorced my husband after 30 years , started and failed several businesses , visited 111 countries hmmmm one day I will find something in my life to be sad about
    Oh and next year I am walking the Camino ( 599 miles)
    Why?? Because I can

    1. Carole - OMG! You are not only a survivor - but you are a "Thriver"

  5. I'm still in the midst of a major one though I've got a LOT of hard knocks struggles to get where I am now. I've defied odds coming from NC in a lower middle class family where my father was a practicing alcoholic, my mother favored him above all else (I even told her when I was 7 she should divorce him) & was super strict. I went to a religious private school from 1st-3rd grade & was in Special Ed Kindergarten (today I'd have probably been diagnosed Aspie but back then, I was just a quiet, smart, socially awkward kid who didn't have autism & whose sister was Miss Social Butterfly). Based on my grades, I got into a small liberal arts school in Atlanta then a law school in CT that wasn't Yale & also had a weird name people have trouble pronouncing or spelling correctly.

    Now I've been in the midst of my father's sudden death, my jerky & soon to be legally ex-husband throwing me out into the street with no steady income + no family or friends within 1,000 miles of my beloved NYC 9 months after my father's passing and a nearly 7.5 year marriage that had to have been a total farce. I had to be a transient for 16 months to avoid going back to my mother's in NC, even being on public assistance at one point. The theory goes that the guy views me as a failed meal ticket, had major insecurity issues & was a total Mama's Boy from start to finish despite me doing everything in my power to avoid those types. He was also emotionally abusive, stole all the money & the judge in my case completely sided with him since apparently basic laws and trial procedures don't apply if you're a licensed attorney, even if you are dead broke & work in an industry not known for its riches (in my case, indie film within the entertainment industry). All have told me this man will never get another woman anywhere near my caliber & he's not getting laid while I will move on and do far better. Tina Turner is my inspiration in all this; she got nothing in her divorce & had 4 kids to deal with along with her ex being far worse than mine. I also hope to do far better without my first husband & have tried not letting his total betrayal destroy me as a human being.

    Haven't really done standup since my humor is different & I even have a blog called "The Angry Redheaded Lawyer" that I've been told is "funny" despite it being a rant blog. When I tried it, I viewed myself more like Andy Kaufman did i.e. I'll do what I want even if you hate me. So I still chug along, determined not to let my ex or his shitty family win.

    1. Anger + Comedy - you can't have one without the other. Thank God you found laughter. Judy

  6. This Vedic astrology writer has been precisely accurate in predicting last Presidential election both on US and France. So candidates in fray for White House race may feel free to send birth details for an opinion on chances of their success.

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  8. OK Laverne - Here are my messes to successes. First is my abusive father who kept telling me I was nobody and molested me. That drove me to be somebody. My disabled sister was given away when she was 8 yeas old and nobody talked about it pr anything. Everything was a secret. That made me grow up to make a career out of publicly telling the truth, i.e. standup. And I had a childhood where I couldn't speak as I had a speech impediment. And that mess lead me to a professional career as a standup comic and teaching others how to speak their truths. Thank you for asking.

  9. I grew up the son of an entrepreneur. I followed my older brother's footsteps into my father's family business. For 12 years I was emotionally bullied by my father, and my brother. My escape was drugs. After approximately 15 years of drug abuse, which cost me so much, including hundred's of thousands of dollars, I was able to quit drugs, when I decided to become a stand up comedian. Writing and performing comedy saved my life. #passiongavemepurpose. I have attended 2 of Judy's The Message of You Workshops. They were incredible. I am now trying to find audience's to speak to. I want to help people

    1. I love how your abuse turned into wanting to help others.

  10. Dear Judy, wow! What a story you have, and yes, we all have our stories that propel us. Mine is extreme, drastic to say the least! I just published an expose' memoir on the Kindle and am starting to do some inspirational public speaking.

    Basically, I was in a cult, and was thrown out on the street. On 9/27/2007, I was homeless, penniless and childless (my 5 children were taken away from me). So, here's the link, if you'd like to hear more. Thank you for the laughter, Judy!!


  11. Wendy what a story!!! Thank you so much for sharing.

  12. I grew with great parents. Unfortunately my father a milkman (mother a milliner) he was a gambler. Horse player and usually a loser. Needless to say money was always a family issue. I had goals to be a businessman at a young age. I worked and saved. First job at 10 Saturday's in my uncles grocery store $2 for the day, 1947. As teen worked in markets after school 50 cents an hour +tips. Delivers orders to homes. 19 sold exterminating products in minority neighborhood on Saturday
    Minimum wage .95 cents an hour. I worked 6 hours. Earned 35 to 40 dollars in commission. Sales was the way to go. My father. took after work naps when I was 14 if he was awake when I came home I knew I had to get money from my savings account to pay off a bookie. Never had my own room,shared with a step grandfather. All in all I survived. Had great sales job that brought me from NYC to California at 22. Made and saved money to start first of four businesses. Never knew anything about each when I purchased or started them.
    Achieved a life long goal at age 60. On a cruise ship passenger talent show signed up to do standup. Wrote an act life on a cruise ship. first time, they told me I had 3minutes. I've the video to prove I did a solid 10 minutes. Next day passengers stopped and asked "are you professional , how long have you been doing comedy"
    Came home and began studying with Judy. Been at it now go 18 years. Keeps me young. Marty Dusig

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  14. After reading all the above responses, I'm not sure my life was so bad after all. At any rate, just like many of you, there have been many ups and downs that we have learned to survive. Mine started with an unpredictable mother who had a strange way of disciplining - like dragging you to the stove and threatening to hold your hand over the fire until you promised to be good. Being only four at the time, I wasn't sure what I had done wrong, but it must have been bad!!! But like others, I recovered and became stronger.

    The mess that brought me to where I am today happened about seven years ago. Let's see, my significant of other of 15 years left to be with a younger women. No one in particular - just younger. That led me to losing my home, my finances, my business, and bankruptcy. But WORST of all, I lost my self-confidence and my belief in myself.

    My journey to healing brought me to my current career as a professional speaker. I now share stories of the people, books, movies, anything that helped me recreate myself. I share those lessons learned in case they can help someone else to view their problems as challenges, and learn from them, becoming a better person because of them.

    Looking back at my life, I wouldn't have it any other way. It is what made me into who I am today.

  15. I do identify with you -Thankyou for your post

  16. I was always bullied in school. I was the "smart" girl, so some of the "tough" girls hated me. When I would walk down the hall in high school, one girl would always hit me. Another girl once punched me in the face through the open window of a car when I was at a hamburger drive-in. Weird, she recently wanted to become my friend on Facebook! (She probably doesn't remember she punched me, but I remember.)

    Anyway, several years ago I wrote a comedy movie script with the theme "It's better to be friends than bullies." The script was optioned 8 times by Hollywood Producers and never made. Finally, I decided "no more options." That's when things started to happen. I found an investor who loved the project, then I teamed up with a production company and they brought in another investor. Within 6 months the movie was cast and in production - and it just came out last month in honor of National Bullying Prevention Month. It's a "Home Alone" kind of comedy with an anti-bullying theme. I even gave the mom in the film a line about how she used to get bullied and hit by a girl every time she walked down the hall in school. The thing my writing partner and I realized - so many stories of bullying are sad or distressing, we wanted to create a movie that could provide fun and laughs to kids and families, yet still spread the word to stop bullying - but in a positive way... by using humor. So the bullying I got as a teenager and the ups and downs of show biz rejections - lead me to make the film, not only as the writer, but as the Executive Producer.

    The film is called, "How to Beat a Bully" and it's now on Google Play and Amazon Video. Viewers can even see it for free if they have Amazon Prime. Here's a link to the film: http://tinyurl.com/qhf3jur

  17. My entire life fit into my leased Corolla, I drove to it to L.A.
    At age 47, 30 years after I left, I returned ‘home’ to assist my parents as they aged. 30 years of an Archaeology Degree, and MBA Marketing, 15 years with IBM, President of a Dot Com (that actually shipped product).
    So noble, for me to sacrifice for my parents, or pure pathos, as you like.
    The real story?
    Divorced (she got the assets, I got the debts)
    Over Weight (305lbs - Pillsbury Dough Boy Big.)
    $2000 to my name.
    Turned out, it was the perfect crime.
    My father was already getting senile, Denise, the caregiver, was terrific, took care of dad, mom, and Babs (mom's parrot), made dinner cleaned my room and did my laundry.
    Dad passed in 2008, and by then Mom qualified for long term care. Her death (of "Unspecified Debilities" (best cause of death ever!)) coincided with the end of all her assets.
    Now I had the condo. 6 months Wells Fargo making home affordable paperwork, INCLUDING A LETTER TO MOM REGARDING A RECENT PHONE CALL... I had to agree that I couldn't afford the place.
    Decided not to pay my mortgage anymore.
    Listed the condo
    Sold it.
    Goodbye Sunset Strip. Welcome to Old Town Torrance!
    1 bdrm(!) HOUSE
    I'm debt free. A year's savings in the bank and a growing retirement account.
    Still too big 210lbs but
    now yoga limber and balanced chemistry too.
    happy to walk/hike 10 miles wherever.
    My lover is about to arrive, so I'll sign off now.
    My girlfriend only sees me on the weekends...
    Still living the perfect crime.

    (Just my real life, nothing to see here! Thanks for the forum Judy! Not exactly uplifting, but I'm happy!)

  18. Oh no, I had a great childhood. Guess I will have to just use all the miserable things I put myself through as an adult to get material.

  19. Where to start??? Let's see, raised in a home with a father who was abusive to our mother for many years. She held firm and raised us girls in church (very strict church where we got made fun of at school at times). So as soon as I could, I went totally wild, running with the wrong crowd, running away, coming home (I know, so far a normal rebellious teenager). Met my first husband to be via alcohol and friends, got pregnant, got dumped, got disowned by my father. Had my beautiful daughter, married her bio father finally. Abusive marriage, divorced after 11 months. Fought, dated again, got pregnant again, remarried him (lol in itself). Still abusive, arrive to deliver our son with a knife print on my stomach from him throwing knives over a sandwich made wrong and a black eye. Tried to kill me and our son one snowy night but instead he wrecked killing himself and 2 passengers (right before our son turned 6 months old) - widow at 23 years old with 2 kids. What to do next to support 2 kids? NURSING (yes, years later I would get to see you at Mo Healthcare Convention)! Started dating the best guy (got pregnant) - think there's a pattern here? Married him (happy with our 3 + his 3 = Brady Bunch). After 7 years he died with cancer. Widow again at 32. Went almost off the deep end; hooked up with a previous guy (time changes good guys into bad guys)! Married him when I shouldn't have; very abusive relationship - many cops at our house lol. Cops helped me move out once! While moving stuff, they watched him closely and at one point there were some flourescent bulbs standing in a corner that got knocked over and exploded. Cop pulls gun and I yell "Don't shoot, it's a light"!. Divorce the abusive jerk and re-marry (how many times is this)? Wake up one morning a few years later, having coffee in bed, see the local news. Another "female" gut shot my EX and killed him (even though we're not married, technically that's 3 dead ex's)! CRAP, now I'm nervouse for my new Husband! Actually, the ex that was murdered, his mother told me when she first met me "You've had 2 husbands die, I hope my son doesn't die"! WOW... nice to meet you too! Anyway, another bad marriage so another divorce! BUT... the great news is that even after a very rocky start in life, I now have the BEST husband ever, who laughs at the things of the past and he has parents who aren't worried that he'll die with me! When I teach and train staff now, I tell them only a small part of my past but I also tell them when they whine about the little things, to suck it up buttercup and put on your big girl panties! (same thing I told my own kids growing up). I told them that yes, you had a rough past, yes you lost 2 Dads but when you're an adult, the world and any future employer won't care about your past, they care that you're a productive member of society. Because of this, my oldest daughter is one heck of a tough red headed Nurse as well!

  20. My childhood really wasn't all that bad. My stories come from everyday life, alot of them from raising my childen and my marriage of 45 years. So I'm hoping I can put together some sort of speech, sort of a feel-good, fun speech.

  21. A while back I was having a bad day and kvetching about it and someone asked me what sign I was born under. I said, "It's obvious I was born under the sign that said SHIT HERE!'

    I'm trying to see the humor in my life story but have some difficulty as I just recently put all the puzzle pieces together at age 62 and realized why my mother despised me. My mother had problems carrying me the last six months of pregnancy and was told by the doctor I most likely would not survive. When I did survive, my paranoid schizophrenic mother with religious ideation and most probably post partum psychosis decided that I had made a deal with Satan to survive and, logically of course, made my life a living hell. By the time I got out f high school, I was such a nervous wreck from the abuse, I couldn't talk to anyone without shaking, couldn't look anyone in the eye (I was punished for that -- you know the old evil eye bit), and had bitten every one of my nails to the point my fingers were crusted with blood. Now, try to find a job like that! Much less try to be an actress!

    I can't sign my name for fear of retaliation from the Society of Paranoid Schizophrenic Religious Abusive Mothers Association!

  22. This is a 7 minute speech on how I went from the "mess" of putting my trust in external things and suffering the consequences, to learning to trust in my inner guidance FIRST! :-)

  23. life is full of up and downs. Kinda like my bathroom scale. In the late 80's I found out my husband was having an affair. I was beyond upset. I asked his parents to come over and confronted my husband in front of his parents. After the heart felt discussion and his parents left. He said to me "don't you think she has given me ultimatums." I snapped back "I don't care what's she's given you so long as it's not contagious."

  24. I was the youngest of three monsters, my brothers. My mother was a school principal a loving...monster she arrived very tired from work and in a real bad mood. And my dad was a quiet monster. Pipe books and wiskey, if you know what I mean. The house a living hell I mean a loving place.I was appalled with so much intensity. The begged my mother to sign me up to acting clases wanted to stay away from home, piano clases, ballet clases, flamenco clases. Anything riming with asses was fine. Now I am a stand up comedian in Perú. Teach workshops and read Judy Carters blogg.

  25. I was the youngest of three monsters, my brothers. My mother was a school principal a loving...monster she arrived very tired from work and in a real bad mood. And my dad was a quiet monster. Pipe books and wiskey, if you know what I mean. The house a living hell I mean a loving place.I was appalled with so much intensity. The begged my mother to sign me up to acting clases wanted to stay away from home, piano clases, ballet clases, flamenco clases. Anything riming with asses was fine. Now I am a stand up comedian in Perú. Teach workshops and read Judy Carters blogg.


Judy's Blog

Judy Carter blogs on comedy, storytelling and public speaking techniques, using personal stories and her adventures as a stand-up comic turned motivational public speaker. Her weekly blogs are read by fans of her books, “The Comedy Bible” (Simon and Schuster) and “The Message of You” (St. Martin’s Press), which include comics, speakers, and entrepreneurs. She is also known for teaching the value of humor and storytelling to businesses as a leadership and stress reduction tool.