Thoughts from the Top Woman Speaker of WCPS 2016


After I won my semi finals, a gentleman came up to me and said I had a good chance of placing in the finals because I was a minority woman, and added that it also helps that I’m attractive.
I smiled and nodded because I genuinely believe he meant it as a compliment and I always want to recognize good intensions.

But giving credit to any of my accomplishments to what I look like is actually a bit insulting. It diminishes all the hard work I put in by attributing it to a characteristic that is unrelated.

Society still has us believing that the best compliment you can pay a woman is physical attractiveness. That we are defined by desirability and beauty sums up our worth no matter what our accolades.

While I am overwhelmed with gratitude by what happened last weekend, I also realize that in the 70+ years of this contest, there has been a total of only 4 women who have ever won the title of The World Championship of Public Speaking. I also found out I was the first woman from Founder’s District and first Korean American woman to ever place at the world stage.


Given that history, kind sir.

I would argue that I placed despite being a minority woman.

Not because of it.

#WomensEqualityDay Vocal Women

Interview with Olivia Schofield

Olivia, when I ask my seminar participants to name great public speakers from the past and the present, the answers tend to range from JFK to Gandhi and from Martin Luther King to Steve Jobs. Aren’t there any great female speakers?

It is true that traditionally we think of male speakers when we are asked to name a great speaker, but there are women out there.

Oprah Winfrey speaks on topics she is passionate about, passion helps any speaker shine. She is comfortable being herself and being oneself is crucial to being a great speaker.

Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post talks about sleeping your way to the top. She is an advocate for getting enough sleep. Despite a strong accent, her speech is witty and relevant, but a simple idea. She doesn’t feel the need to appear smart. Now that’s what I call smart!

Whether you agree with their views, both Margaret Thatcher and Hilary Clinton are masterful speakers in a predominantly male arena, politics.

One of my favourite Ted Talks is Jill Bolte Taylor. She studies the brain even when she herself is having a stroke. Her speech is lively, accessible and creates images in the listener’s mind. After all a great speaker is a movie maker. Passion and honesty speak volumes.


You are one of them… Do you have any plans to help empower more women in the limelight?

It took me half my life to find my voice and the other half to realise I had something to say. Now there is no stopping me! I want to blaze a trail for women, not just as speakers, but as champions of their own life.

I run a women’s session that looks at how our nature, which is one of nurture, needs to be focused inwards to nurture ourselves. Our instinct and our value historically is through nurturing those around us.

Yes, you can have your cake and eat it, as the expression goes. I am a mother of two teenage girls and I’m travelling extensively as a speaker, however… there is a price to pay. Compromises have to be reached and sometimes an important event in my child’s life has to be missed. But they respect what I’m doing and I’m setting a benchmark for them too.


You overcame a speech impediment and now you are a world-class public speaker. What are your key lessons learned on your path?

Often we focus on our weaknesses rather than our strengths. When we fail we feel a failure. Well, a failing doesn’t make us failures, it just means something we tried didn’t work out. No matter how much we strive to gain validation from outside, it is worthless without validation from inside.


If you could give three tips to rookies on stage, what would you recommend?

Instead of trying to sound like a professional, try and sound like yourself. An actor is an expert at being someone else, but speakers are experts at being themselves. Be yourself.

Don’t try to be clever, keep it simple, keep sentences short and keep the audience connection.

Energy is key, not necessarily outward energy, but that smouldering internal energy. Like the energy of a tiger, you know it can pounce, however even when it is just strolling along you feel its power.


You’ve reached the final round of the World Championship of Public Speaking. What are your new challenges?

I want to write a book. I have written one “A thief, A failure, A fabulous future” which is the story of my journey from a troubled childhood to centre stage at the World Championship of Public Speaking. However I plan a new one to help others “Sizzle on Stage”.

Thank you so much, Olivia! And Keep sizzling on stage!

                        The Pursuit of Capabilities Isn’t Supposed to be Comfortable

i just got back from a run. i’m not a marathon runner. i don’t experience the runner’s high that makes me want to run for 10 more miles. in fact, i sort of hate it. this run was particularly terrible since i got out of the workout routine for two weeks while we wereholding monkeys in thailand.


it was also terrible because suddenly portland decided to turn into the ‘windy city’ and blow leaves and broken cigarettes in my eyes in addition to making it hard to breathe and my ears hurt. wind is my least favorite common weather thing. i hope your listening wind…least favorite.


anyways. there i am huffing and puffing trying to run against the wind with my lungs burning and my eyes filling with tears when i suddenly saw the bridges start to raise. this was a perfect excuse to cut out a mile from my run (i usually try to do 3 miles) since i would have to stand around and wait for the bridge to lower so i could cross to the other side of the river to my typical 3 mile loop.

wife blog running portland bridgei then had a realization…running is probably never going to be comfortable for me. it’s just not. i do it anyways because it helps my mental health once it’s done, it helps my metabolism so i can eat more cookies and it helps my heart and muscles so i can stay healthy.


as i was standing and contemplating turning around because i was so over it all, i thought back to when i could barely run a .5 mile. as i slowly added miles to that, i found that i was capable of running farther than i once thought (i maxed out at 7 miles and that still blows my damn mind). it was never comfortable (and still isn’t) but the point isn’t for it to be comfortable. the point is to move forward.


this is directly relating to where i am at with many things in my life at this exact moment.

Like running,new paths and hard work

i am struggling with the new path that i’m on from social worker to entrepreneur. all of this is brand new to me and while i have a long list of things i am supposed to be doing to advance ‘the new wifestyle’ and the business i own with my husband, i often become overwhelmed by them because they are new and extremely uncomfortable to me.


ready for this to become full circle…


new paths and new goals aren’t supposed to be comfortable because they are new and scary. we are trying to find out new capabilities of ourselves. just like running, they are supposed to move us forward, not necessarily make us feel comfortable.


i have to get comfortable with expecting discomfort and doing things anyways. that is a hard sentence for me to even write because as humans, we crave comfort. we work for it. we reach a point to where we are comfortable and it is incredibly hard to give that up to get up and put yourself in discomfort.


i miss the stability of a consistent paycheck and someone else paying my insurance. it is so much easier to have someone else telling you what to do and working with a team of people to accomplish tasks. i miss the comfort of knowing i only have to work 9am-5pm and then be done.


i also realize that i am picking and choosing some of what i remember as well. my consistent paycheck might have been consistent but even if i worked harder, i couldn’t make more money. i sometimes long for the days of the security of what working for someone else provides you and quickly forget that i was laid-off without a moment’s notice. there isn’t security there either.


so i ran on. i stopped frequently and cursed the wind but i reminded myself that i wasn’t running to be comfortable.


i was running to move forward.

portland water front

there is a “look both ways” sign on the ground before you start to run/bike/walk on the hawthorne bridge, which i found fitting.

wife blog running portland inspirationso i’m going to take the anecdote from monday about motivation never striking until you start, paired with realizing i will not be comfortable in this process and start moving forward. deep breaths and boldness…


1) what do you think about the concept of not being comfortable in many of the things we do?
2) how do you think being comfortable holds people back?
3) any epiphanies you’ve had lately you want to share? big fan of relating and hearing what you’re going through :)


article by Chelsea Avery