She steps on stage, the audience members unassuming of what’s ahead. As she begins to speak, the genuineness, passion and authenticity are so captivating, that the listeners feel as though they’ve been let in on a secret that they can’t help but feel elated.
Barbara Glanz speaks to organizations to improve morale, retention and service. But this is no ordinary motivational speaker. Award-winner and best-selling author Glanz is the first professional speaker (let alone savvy gal) on record who has spoken on all seven continents. One of her most recent books is co-authored with business book guru Ken Blanchard.
And everywhere she goes, her trademarked tag line is: Spreading Contagious Enthusiasm.
“I give people hope,” she explained humbly. “Most people don’t understand they have choices. Every decision is a choice; it doesn’t matter what others do around you, you can make a difference every time you interact with someone to make their life better … whether it’s as mom at home, a teacher at school, or in the workplace, no matter if you clean toilets or are the CEO … you can make a difference.”
Her message is universal. As Glanz speaks and motivates across the globe, her goal is to give others a sense of purpose. Last year in Singapore, which is ruled by dictatorship, she spoke to security police (via translators). “It was all men in their fifties; they came in wearing holsters, guns, arms were folded for 45 minutes,” she recalled. “I thought, ‘this is my first big bomb.’ But by lunchtime, I was signing books. After the session, I was there for two hours giving hugs.” They then each requested an additional half hour with her to go over specific employee issues, which she did during the next two days.
“People are open to authenticity and to building a trust level that breaks down barriers,” she said of the experience.
When she spoke in Greece, the interpreters scheduled at the first session so enjoyed being a part of the seminar, that they traveled the rest of the trip throughout the country with her without receiving compensation.
The reason she can cross the lines and speak to everyone is her ability to relate to others through genuine caring and real story-telling. “I tell stories and share ideas. I only tell stories that have personally happened to me or are directly told to me by the person,” the certified professional speaker said.
Her ideas range from things to do at home with children to creating a motivating corporate environment. But they all have the same underlying theme: Choosing a positive attitude, no matter the circumstances. “Realizing that you always have choices and how you respond, empowers you to be your own person,” Glanz stated.
Her own family — full of grandchildren — benefits from her abundance of ideas, too. In her recent newsletter sent out from her Web site, she wrote of watching two of her grandchildren, Gavin, eight, and Kinsey, five, for six days. One of the fun projects she did with them as a gift to their parents was an “I remember … book. Every morning, the children wrote (Glanz, of course, did Kinsey’s writing) three things they remembered about their lives. This included learning to ride a bike, a first skateboard, etc. The parents loved the gift, and the activity engaged the children to create (and choose to remember) happy memories, even at such young ages.
Her creativity may come from working as a teacher prior to having her first born, and then staying home with her children, creating a learning environment for them. “I made my kids my career,” she explained. “I exposed them to as much joy, beauty and difference I could. I had people from other countries over dinner, as well as taking them to operas, museums and other events to expose them to different things.”
She also completed her masters over a five-year period, taking one class per quarter. When it was time to return to a career outside of her home, she took a position as a training manager. After a couple of years, Glanz started her own company in 1995 to speak to and impact more people. “Clients were asking me to speak at different conferences, so I realized I could impact more people,” she said of starting Barbara Glanz Communications.
Since then, she has earned the title of Certified Speaking Professional (a National Speakers Association award), been selected as a Platinum Speaker by Meeting Professionals International and nominated five times for the NSA Speaker Hall of Fame. A regular speaker to Human Resource Managers at the Society for Human Resource Management annual convention, she is consistently ranked as a top speaker; she was the only female speaker ranked in the top ten in 2006. Clients include the top companies across the country.
Glanz also impacts as an author. The book, “The Simple Truths of Service — Inspired by Johnny the Bagger,” co-authored with Blanchard, is about a young boy with Down Syndrome who impacts people around him to reach for their best through reaching for his own. A 17-minute movie of the story is to be released February 1 of this year.
She has five additional best-selling books, plus two more due this year. Topics include inspiring ways to make the workplace and home full of love, and demonstrating appreciation for those around us.
With all this enthusiasm, one would think it might be easy for Glanz; she’s got it all. But it was in May of 2000 that she lost her husband, Charlie, of nearly 34 years to cancer. This led to a series of life-changing events and a re-evaluation of priorities. She said she has been given an awesome responsibility to motivate people, and she wants to do as much good as she can. “I choose to be a happy person. I wake up everyday asking God, ‘what do you have planned for me today?'” she said with confidence.
Her latest book to be released, “What Can I Do: Ideas to Help Those Who Have Experienced Loss” is a collection of ideas gathered by talking with those who have lost someone. It is full of testimonials of what provided comfort at a difficult time, as well as what people wish someone would have done. “When we know of a friend who lost someone, we think, ‘I just wish I could do something;’ here are some ideas of comfort,” she said of the book.
Hearing Glanz speak to an audience, as well as talking to her one-on-one, she is full of creative ideas, and it is so apparent she wants to genuinely see people succeed. But it is her humility and authenticity that make her a captivating speaker as well. She credits her success to God and merely sees herself filled with a gift beyond herself.
When she’s not out traveling the world or off seeing family across the States, she makes her home in Sarasota, Florida where she kayaks, swims and occasionally plays the piano.