Everybody on the planet

I just got an email from a friend who read my book “It’s Fun to be Catholic!” Joe Bonura, wrote “Gary, your book needs to be read by every Catholic and non-Catholic on the planet. Keep up the great work.” Joe is Christian but not Catholic. He helped me adjust my thinking because yes this is a book about faith and growing in faith. So I think he has got something going when he says it should be read by everyone on the planet. I agree!

Someone else thinks the book is a good read for all Christians and you can see what she has to say about “It’s Fun to be Catholic!” Check out what Dawne Gee of WAVE TV said about the book during a recent interview on her show “WAVE Country.” The interview is posted on my blog www.icanplay/blog on July 10, 2016.

Some people I greatly respect are getting value from “It’s Fun to Be Catholic!” no matter their faith denomination. My goal is for the book to travel far and wide and be read by … as Joe suggested “… everybody on the planet.” Here’s why. An eighth grader caught fire in my Sunday School classroom and wrote a thank you note. He said he discovered that it’s fun to be Catholic while preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation. If an eighth grader can grow enough in his faith and in relationship with Jesus Christ, then others can do the same and experience the value of a relationship with Jesus Christ and his Father. If what we do in the classroom can move an eighth grader from being bored about his faith to thinking It’s fun to be Catholic, well we need to open the classroom doors and let the energy out! We need to share the Good News far and wide. So I am going to keep working, keep trying to convince grandparents, moms and dads, young adults, and eighth graders of all faiths to step into “It’s Fun to be Catholic!” with the expectation that they too can grow in their faith, whether they be Catholic or a member of another faith.

As we get excited about our faith we discover more about it. When we put more into our faith, we get more out of it. That’s when we discover that … “peace beyond understanding” … that Jesus brings and the hope we were created for. When we live in peace and hope all parts of life become fun.

Try it. You’ll discover the path like Joe Bonura or Ryan Riggs, the eighth grader who inspired me to write the book. I’ll tell you again; if an eighth grader gets energy and fun from his faith it’s time to write it down and share that great experience with others. It’s time to share the Good News “… with everyone on the planet.” Discover the fun in your life and in your faith. Go to www.icanplay.com/books to find out what’s it’s all about.

Wednesday Mornings

A group of men gather on Wednesday mornings at my church, St. Bernadette in Louisville KY. It’s a group of catholic men focused on growing as Men of Christ then sharing then the “Good News” with our wives, girlfriends, children, families, co-workers, and friends. We call it boot-camp but we’re not building muscle, we’re building our faith.

It started a number of years ago when a friend, Joe Bonura, called and asked if I would like to pray with him and a group of men on Wednesday mornings. I said yes and he told me they were meeting at his church at 5:00 AM. I asked if we could do it at 10:00am but Joe told me the men in his church were challenged by a preacher visiting from the country of Kenya to get up early in the morning and pray. I said I would be there and started a process where I grew in prayer and in my faith. My protestant friends went deep into prayer.

After a couple of years of being faithful to the men’s prayer group at Southeast Christian Church I decided to start a Wednesday morning group at my church. I felt compelled to give Catholic men a chance to start Wednesday mornings in prayer. We begin at 6:00 am, but still get a few early morning comments and complaints. But the purpose of the early morning start is simple; nothing else gets in the way.

A week ago we had a special visit to our “Catholic” Wednesday morning gathering at St. Bernadette. Three men from the “Protestant” Wednesday morning group paid us a visit. It was a joy to see Mark, Daniel, and Gary. They blended in nicely.

As we started I asked if someone would like to open with prayer. Normally there is a long silence and most often I end up leading the group in prayer. But not this day. One of our visitors, Mark was the first with a hand up when I invited someone to open the event with prayer. Mark’s prayer was personal, specific, focused and fervent. He shared himself and brought Jesus alive in our midst as he always does in prayer. It was a mini-lesson for our group to hear his heart-felt opening prayer. Many in our group are still growing in shared prayer.

After the opening prayer we stepped into a wonderful hour of scripture, working on leadership and listening skills, and additional prayer. All talents we can use in all parts of life. When it was time to conclude the “boot-camp” for another week, I asked if someone would like to close with prayer. Daniel Sam’s hand went up and he quickly stood up.

Daniel started his prayer by thanking God for the time together and to help us practice what we learned. Then he broke into song; heartfelt, joyous, fervent song. Mark and Gary, the other two-thirds of our protestant visitors, joined in. I was in the front of the room, eyes closed and singing quietly with my no-talent singing skills, and smiling. I didn’t want to look at my Catholic brothers who I believe were thinking, “What kind of praying is this?”

But that is always part of Daniel’s prayer. I heard it weekly in my previous Wednesday mornings at Southeast Christian Church.

The meeting broke up and not much was said about our new friend’s way of praying, but this past Wednesday there was some discussion about their visit and the uniqueness of their prayer. And then we started working on growing as Men of Christ.

As we closed the gathering I did as I always do on Wednesday morning, I asked if someone would like to close in prayer. I joked that you don’t have to sing like we did last week when Daniel closed with his singing prayer. I was ready for the normal long pause. But to my surprise Patrick Renn raised his hand and started to pray. Not the unusual way of praying at our St. Bernadette Wednesday morning gathering. Pat started to sing! He stepped up and shared a beautiful rendition of “Taste and See the Goodness of the Lord.” It was beautiful to hear him, and the rest of the Wednesday morning group join together to praise God in song. It was powerful! Then he closed his prayer with the spoken word.

I watched as we stretched ourselves. The Wednesday morning group of men grew this past Wednesday morning. Some visitors came and witnessed to us with prayer that is a bit unique and we learned. They witnessed to us and we grew. These are the simple lessons God wants us to see, experience, learn and then share. He wants us to “Taste and See the Goodness of the Lord.”

Thanks Patrick … and thanks Daniel. I love Wednesday mornings.


The Unknown

It’s a scary place, the unknown. We all think about it and some of us go there. Of course it’s no longer the unknown when we go there, that’s how we get rid of the unknown, take a risk and step in.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

Not long ago I had a medical scare. I woke up in the middle of the night and knew something was wrong. I discovered a bump which was causing some pain. Never noticed that bump before. I wondered what that’s all about. Is it just a swollen muscle? Did I do something to cause it? What is this all about?

The darkness and loneliness just made it worse. I had too much time to think about it and most of the thinking was negative. I started asking myself the negative questions and thinking negative thoughts …. because I didn’t have answers. I was in the unknown and when you don’t know it’s easy to think the worst.

Fortunately when the light of dawn came and Judy was awake we discussed options. Judy suggested we focus on the problem immediately so we went to an emergency medical center and discovered the nodule was something that could easily be taken care of. I got out of the unknown and got answers and discovered how to treat the problem. Turns out the unknown, the monster under the bed, was not as bad as the fear I created in my mind.

I speak and train in an industry where the unknown has halted opportunities at success. Head Start is a federally funded program that helps low incomes families get a “Head Start” and enroll their children in a program to help them prepare for kindergarten. Many of the families who enroll are challenged financially and consequently they are challenged in many areas of life; education, career and self-esteem just to name a few. The Head Start program is meant to help the children and families of these children grow to success and self-sufficiency. However the more I learn about the children and families the more I see them stuck in the unknown. Not the unknown of wondering about a nodule showing up somewhere on the body, but the unknown of having no idea of where to go to discover success.

Some of these families grew up in families where the unknown invaded their atmosphere and they never learned how to get out. They felt stuck. They lived in neighborhoods where young men and women did not graduate from high school, much less college. In fact college wasn’t even a thought. And they did not know anyone to help them see a path that would lead them to success, an improved lifestyle.

But the unknown doesn’t just reside with the economically challenged. Doubt and low self esteem can cause individuals to curl up and cower in the corner, never walking down the hall to see what is in the next room, or turn the corner to see another way. It’s not just darkness that keeps us from seeing success sometimes it’s the unknown that has built the wall around us or tied a weight around us to hold us down. And we are unable to solve the predicament. So we accept it because the solution is unknown … to us.

Face it, take a risk and step in. That’s how we get rid of the unknown.

Slow down for Success!

One of the fastest ways to ruin a presentation is to talk too fast.  (I guess you got that bit of humor)

You know the story.  Starting too fast while sharing your message and you can’t slow down.  You begin talking faster and faster.  You know you’re doing it but you are unable to slow down.  I’ve got a tip for that which I’ll share later, but first let’s stop the speed from picking up in the first place.

If you normally talk too fast, and you know who you are, practice by reading some material from a magazine, a book, newspaper, or Gary Montgomery’s blog.  When you see a period, stop.  When you see a comma, stop.  When you see a semi-colon, or colon, stop.  Stop for a count of five.  You probably thought “five seconds, that’s too long!”  I agree if you are reading to an audience but what you are doing is practicing and the best practice begins with exaggeration.  Stop so that you recognize you are stopping and stepping out of what you normally do and you recognize you are learning something new. 

To use an analogy from coaching kids in baseball and softball, I’ve had young players try to make the throw to first too fast.  After a great catch on the ground ball, she rushes the throw and the runner is safe at first.  We need to adjust thinking.  So I teach them to pat their glove three times after catching the ground ball and count each pat, out loud (it’s usually slower when you say it out loud.)  It gives her time to position her feet and see the target, the girl playing first base, before throwing.  No we aren’t going to normally do that in a game (although some have) but this is learning.  We need to exaggerate to learn.

Step number two is to start slow.  Not just start talking slow but make the mental approach to the stage or the lectern slow.  Think slow as you are introduced.  Walk slowly to the front of the room.  Speak slowly when you thank the person introducing you (be sure to get their name so you can share it.  People are listening.)

As you face your audience and start to speak;  wait.  It may feel a little uncomfortable but use your five second count again, (not out loud this time.) Look left, look right, smile, feel your feet grounded on the floor or stage.  Now you are ready to begin …s..l..o..w..l..y. Know what words you are going to use.  I’ve seen many start talking at this point and not know where they are going.  Know your open, your story, know what you are trying to accomplish in the open.  Your slow start and intentional pauses will put you at ease and your audience will be comfortable because you are comfortable.

And here’s the tip I promised in case it happens that you do begin talking too fast and feel you can’t slow down;  just stop.  Try to make it appear you are stopping on purpose.  Perhaps a drink if you have water nearby (if not you should).  Attempt to find a reason to pause in your presentation;  stop to draw attention to a particular word or point you are making.  Make the stop feel like a pause for effect.  But even if you are unable to have a reason to stop, just stop; smile and breathe.  It might look a little irregular but it is better than gasping for air and becoming anxious because you are going too fast and can’t slow down.

Bottom line: prepare.  Think slow, start slow, and get comfortable being with a group of people who need to hear your message.

A lot more great ideas at Gary’s presentation skills seminar coming up in Louisville, KY, September 17, 2015,  “Making Magic in the Front of the Room..”  For more information go to www.icanplay.com/magic, or call Gary at 502.339.0040.

Givers and Takers

I am reading a book my son gave me recently.  It’s titled “Give and Take” about helping others as we travel the path to success.

If you’ve read any of my blogs, or my book “I CAN PLAY, A Philosophy for Life,” or if you have attended one of my presentations, you know I teach the “Giver” side of “Give and Take.”  Why?  It simply makes life better for you and all who surround you.

My definition of leadership is very simple.  Leadership comes alive when someone feels better about who they are because they were influenced by you!  Think about it.   Who from your past, or present, has influenced you to think better of yourself?  Perhaps it’s a fifth-grade teacher, or a band director, maybe a volleyball or football coach?  Of course there’s Mom and Dad.  They influenced you to think better of yourself from something they did or said.  Because of that positive influence,  you want more of them.  That’s the Gary Montgomery definition of leadership.

Let’s apply this approach to presentations to an audience from in front of the room.

I was a television sportscaster for over 30 years.  To be honest I did not understand this philosophy, or approach.  I thought I was special because I was the one on T.V.  I was the one people invited to speak to their audiences.  I was special because I was in the front of the room …or so I thought.  It took awhile but eventually I learned that I had it all wrong.  I was a Taker.

I needed to become a Giver.

Instead of saying “Here I Am!” when I showed up to give a presentations, I needed to learn to say, and think, “There You Are!”   It changed everything.  I made the audience more important in my life.  I was to serve them by giving them a message which could help them grow.

Today I work to carry that lesson to all parts of life.  With my grandchildren, my children, my wife, the 8th graders I teach on Sunday mornings, the kids I coach, and everyone else I connect with during the day.  I’ve got a long way to go, but I am working and improving on the “There You Are” philosophy.  It’s a giving philosophy.  It’s a listening, helping, growing, guiding philosophy.  And here comes the amazing part.  Once you and I help others realize how good they can be, they want more of us.  We help them feel good about themselves.

That’s Leadership … “There You Are!”

We’ll make the “There You Are!” philosophy come alive when you join me for the “Making Magic in the Front of the Room,” presentation seminar coming up September 17.  We’ll share great techniques on how to build your message, share your ideas, and feel comfortable during your presentation.   We will grow as ‘givers’ helping our audiences feel better about themselves as they learn from you.  A TAKE-away for you is you will grow in learning how to “Make Magic in the Front of the Room.”  Developing your leadership skills will occur as you improvce your presentation technique.

Go to www.icanplay.com/magic to register for the presentation skills seminar.  Bring a friend or co-worker and register early!

Alway Learning

I learned a lot when I  watched the Republican candidates debate.  I learned  a few things about issues and politics but mostly I learned about communication.

I liked the energy most of the candidates showed up with.  You’ve read how important energy is in communication from previous posts.  Most candidates showed excitement.

What attracted my attention most in the debate was Donald Trump.  First let me get this out of the way.  I don’t agree with many of his comments.  Often he is somewhat disruptive, arrogant, and boisterous.  He makes some good points, but other comments he made need some fine tuning, or just left unsaid.

But what I want to point out is this:   He believes what he says and you know he believes it.  He is confident in his beliefs and he is comfortable in sharing what he knows to be true.

Following the debate I heard reporters talk about Trump’s performance.  Some agree with him, others are opposed.  But I’ve not heard anyone say, “Well, I’m not sure what he meant.”  He knows what he believes and he is not afraid to tell us what he believes.

I like the “know what you believe” approach to communication and to life.  In fact I like it so much I believe it, I teach it, and I work hard to live it.

I work with companies and organizations who want to improve their teams and their managers.  I teach communication and leadership.  The first thing I teach is to know what you believe.  I am going to share some questions I have shared in past blogs, questions you ask yourself in order to know what you believe.  These beliefs become your compass.  They direct you in life.

Here we go with the questions:

Who am I?  What do I believe?  What are my values?  What are my talents?  What am I doing with my talents?  What are my goals?  What holds me back?

Good questions that become difficult questions once we focus and work to answer them.  Try it.  Answer them, write down your responses, and life will get easier because you know who you are, you decide where you are going (based on values, talents and goals) and you know how you will get there once you get whatever it is that holds you back out of the way.

Simple questions, difficult answers.  However your life will get easier once you identify the answers.

This questioning process is what I present early in teaching leadership and communication.  The key ingredients of a successful presentation is knowledge, confidence, and an effective process to deliver the message (communication.process).

The speaker has, or can get, the knowledge to share. I can teach an effective communication process but the confidence and trust needs to be part of the presenter.   But don’t worry, like communication skills, the path to confidence can be learned, earned and internalized.

And the wonderful by-product of confidence and self-belief is when someone asks you a question you don’t have to try and come up with a new idea, or one that they will like.  You very simply share what you know to be true, your beliefs.  It makes life so much easier and it makes communication easier.  You share the truth as you know it.  Just share who you are and what you believe.  It’s your message!

As we grow as communicators, or presenters, we learn to become comfortable in sharing.  That comfort shows up in front of our children, our co-workers, or the audience of one-hundred you are addressing because you know what you believe.  Your beliefs of course will influence  your message, but that’s OK because you are confident of your message, you’ve worked on it.  You spent time with the questions.

I’ll help you learn how to present it, but the hard part is over. You know what you believe.  You know your message.

Join me September 17, 2015 to grow as a communicator and leader and to deeper your self-trust and confidence.  Learn more about the seminar “Making Magic in the Front of the Room” by going to www.icanplay.com/magic.  The room will be full of energy and people just like you, investing in themselves as communicators and leaders.


I can’t help it!  I get excited when I have the opportunity to help someone grow.   Even when I can’t understand them fully.

Working with eighth graders in religious education, teaching ten-year old to catch a  baseball, or working with adults on how to  make a presentation in front of the room, it’s exciting to see someone grow!  And the excitement is often contagious.  Once someone steps into the the energy zone they become more spirited and energetic.

I attended a retreat recently and I did not understand a word that was said.  The retreat was presented by a native of India and he spoke in his native tongue.  He and I have been working together to improve his use of the English language.  He is doing great but  I thought it would be a benefit for me to see him in his comfort zone, speaking his language, and seeing how he uses his body mechanics and the atmosphere he creates while in his comfort zone.

While I did not understand the native Indian language I learned a lot about his communication style and techniques.  When he spoke in his native tongue he was more energized and animated than when he speaks in English.  Of course, he was more comfortable.

That taught me about comfort. It is a strong message for all of us.  Get comfortable in what you say and how you say it.  Believe it!  Believe that it will  help others!  Believe that what you say has value!  Believe that it is worth hearing by others.  Believe that it will help someone, somehow, someway!  When you know your message has value you will share it more readily and with more confidence.  You will work harder to be sure the audience understand exactly what you mean and what you feel about the message.  The words are coming alive and being influenced by your actions.

I am going to work with my friend to get comfortable in a new language and I want him to understand that his message, although it might be a little difficult to comprehend because of the challenge of a new language, nonetheless it needs to be delivered with the energy that lives inside him.  Let it out!  That is part of who he is and how he presents.  Go past the doubt that the different language presents.  Share the energy, the audience will get the meaning even thought they might not comprehend each syllable.   They will piece it together, the words and the action, the smile and facial expression , and they will receive the intended message.

September 17, you are invited to grow your presentation skills.  You will learn how to boost the energy level when you communicate, to a large audience, or to an audience of one.  Even if it’s to your spouse, daughter, son, or co-worker, the energy you bring creates the atmosphere of the message.  When we speak, our purpose is to be understood.  We want that atmosphere to help the meaning of the presentation come alive!  The “Making Magic in Front of the Room” seminar will help you grow as a presenter and a communicator!

Go to www.icanplay.com/magic to learn more about the seminar and to be sure to reserve your seat.

Look forward to seeing you, and seeing your excitement September 17, 2015  at Indiana Wesleyan – 1500 Alliant Avenue, Louisville- 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM.

When you register for the seminar you can also sign to make a five-minute presentation and have it critiqued during the seminar.  It’s a great way to learn for the presenter and those in the audience.

To register go to:    www.icanplay.com/magic



Grow as a Communicator & Leader

I help people understand they can be better than they think they can be.  It’s really simple.  It’s the I CAN PLAY formula.  Change you VISION to look past the obstacles in front of you.  Start living in a POSITIVE ATMOSPHERE, start saying yes and quit doubting yourself, and try new things, RISK, stretch yourself to think, learn and live differently.  If you need help, guidance, a coach, go get the help, guidance, or coach.  The help is out there.

I often work with individuals who are challenged about public speaking.  They say they can’t get in front of people and give a presentation.  It holds them back in the work place and in other areas of life.  Strength as a communicator will help in all areas of life and strong communicators displays a confidence that carries over  all area of leadership in career and throughout all walks of life.

I was a television sportscaster for over thirty years.  I used to believe that I became a sportscaster because of my knowledge of sports.  Today I know different.  I did what I loved for thirty years in a career as a sportscaster because of my ability as a communicator.  Of course I had a knowledge of sports, and was confidence in my self, but it was the ability to communicate and make the audience comfortable that allowed me the joy of spending my life a career that I loved.  And the fact that I was confident as a communicator helped in all parts of my life.  That confidence carried over to help me pursue other risks.  Risks that paid dividends for my wife Judy, my children and grand children.  Communication, in front of a large audience, a business gathering, or in front of your wife and children, is one of the keys to peace of mind, comfort and success.

So what does it take to grow as a communicator?  Is it a God-given gift, or can it be taught.  I am a prime example that it can be taught and I will share the keys to growing as a communicator at my Seminar coming up September 17, 2015.  I invite you to explore the possibilities at my website, www.icanplay.com/magic. You will grow as a communicator and  grow in confidence of what you can achieve in all areas of life.  Email me if you have questions.  coachgary@icanplay.com

Step up to grow yourself!   Go to  www.icanplay.com/magic and call, mail, or use Paypal to register.
Some of the components of the the seminar are:

  • How to prepare for a presentation.
  • How to build a speech.
  • How to overcome stage fright.
  • How to open a presentation.
  • How to make the presentation your own sharing your message throughout.
  • Front of the room techniques.
  • Incorporate stories.
  • How to be comfortable, professional and engage the audience.
  • How to move the audience to action.
  • How to close and leave impact on the audience.









When do you quit?

When do you quit?

I just completed a presentation with a small company.  It was about Leadership and Teamership but I included a splash of goal setting in the event.  My goal is to help others think about what kind of leader they can be but the audience always is in charge.  They hear what I say but their minds take them where they need to go.

Following the presentation one of the employees of the establishment that hosted the event came up to me and said, “I needed to hear your message.  You were put here just for me.  I didn’t want to come in to work this event but I found myself taking plenty of notes on the other side of the bar.”  He explained he did not follow his dream in the past and it has haunted him for long time. 

Here’s what he heard  … “it’s never too late!” 

My son Troy was running in his first marathon.  It was a warm day in Chicago, going to get up to 80 degrees.  Troy had trained all summer for this special October day.  He was prepared and he was doing very well, not with a chance of winning, but he was going to finish the 26 plus mile adventure.

Late in the race the warm temperatures started getting to him.  He was tired.  His legs were heavy.  He was hot.  He was thirsty.  He took water at every opportunity.   As the race stretched on he slowed down more and more to drink the water.  The more he slowed, the more he thought about stopping, about quitting.   But he kept talking to himself.  “Don’t stop Troy.  It will be too difficult getting started again.”  He pushed forward.

Finally he did stop.  He took a bottle of water from a helper and slowed to a walk, then to a halt.  Negative thoughts raced through his mind.  “Give it up, or just walk to the finish line.  Just finishing will be great.  I ran most of the way.”    His attitude had changed from the first time he decided to run a marathon.  In the summer he had energy and excitement pushing him to train. His thinking was different now that fatigue set in.  Who was it that said “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”  Troy was thinking, maybe it was Confucius, maybe Lombardi, perhaps it was Dad.  Whoever thought of it was right on!

It was then that Troy was jolted from his thoughts of quitting.  “Hey,” a police officer shouted.  The cop was leaning on a barricade.  “How long have you trained for this race?”  Troy replied, “Started in June.”  The police officer shook his head and said, “You mean you trained for four months and you’re going to walk to the finish line?”

Troy perked up.  Finish line?

The police officer smiled, “It’s just around the corner.  You might want to pick up the pace a little bit.”

Troy sprinted to the finish line.  It was still October but his mind raced back to that day in June when he decided to try something he’s never done before.  He had renewed energy.  The excitement returned.  The passion was back.  He had come too far to quit!  He just needed to adjust his thinking. 

How about you?  When do you quit?  When is it time to just walk the rest of your life and leave the dream out there for someone else?

Or have you come too far to quit?