Motivational Speeches

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Soft Skills that Make or Break Your Success- Preface


Researches show that the lion share of success comes from soft skills than technical. Sadly, many professionals over depend on their technical skills. And thus, neglect to develop their soft skills proactively and in turn pay dire prices individually and cause havoc in their organizations. Common complaints such as high turnover, conflict, lack of synergy, and low levels of productivity in many of today’s organizations come down to lack of certain soft skills.

This book is based on the story of a successful professional , Dan Murphy who works for a multinational research organization- Global Health Research (GHR). Dan was promoted to lead a multimillion dollar project because of his superb technical skills as a researcher. Unfortunately, due to lack of certain soft skills, problems started to prop up. He couldn’t get along with his peers, and lead his team members.

After several attempt to help, verbal warnings, and then a written one for his file, his immediate boss- Susan Jeffrey, decided to remove him from leading the project. However, since Dan was one of the superstar researchers at GHR, this caused havoc and forced the CEO- Paul Gray, to intervene. Finally, Paul negotiated a deal, which required Dan to attend a three-part Soft Skills Development program, and to work with a mentor in order to continue lead the project.

The book narrates how the problem began, the negotiations, and the main discussion points from the mentoring sessions. The first part of the book covers the discussions among Dan, Susan, and Paul. Introductions of the remaining three parts (Mastering Self, Getting Along, and Leading Others) narrate the discussions between the trainer and attendees of the program. The 12 chapters narrate Dan’s one-on-one mentoring sessions with his mentor- Rafael Arthur.

The main discussion points of each mentoring session include:

  1. Four key lessons he learned;
  2. Some of the assessments, processes, models, and/or tools he found helpful; and
  3. Immediate actions he plans to take as a result of attending that particular workshop.

The story of GHR and its staff in this book is fictional but realistic. GHR and its employees serve as an illustration of common challenges many companies around the world may face because of lack of certain soft skills. As a former researcher and workshop facilitator for scientific and research organizations, the examples are based on my experiences though the identifying details have been changed.

The program Dan attended is composed of 12 interactive workshops necessary to master self, get along with, and lead others. These 12 soft skills are industry and culture neutral. In whichever industry and country you may belong, they empower you to achieve extraordinary success in your personal life, career, and business.

Speaking of extraordinary success, by default, we all strive to succeed. It’s within our DNA. By hook or by crook, every one of us goes the extra mile to succeed- to achieve more, and go to the next level. We all, individually and collectively, have a desire to succeed.

Of course, success is subjective. It’s in the eye of the beholder. What you consider success may not be recognized as success by someone else, and vice versa.

To achieve the success that you’re pursuing, you need personal mastery; you need to get along with, and lead others successfully. And, this book contains great insights, tools, and processes that empower you to develop the 12 soft skills that make or break your success in life, career, and/or business.


1. The print and kindle version of the book will soon be available. Stay tuned.

2. Below are some of the follow-up services Success Pathways will soon start to provide based on the theme of the book:

  1. Book signings
  2. Keynotes
  3. Individual workshops
  4. Individual and group coaching
  5. Soft Skill Development program

If you may have any question or need additional information, let’s know. If you’re also interested to get one or more of these services, don’t hesitate to reach out:
Email: and/or
Tel: 703-895-4551


Motivating others to achieve extraordinary results

Dwight D. Eisenhower, who motivated and led hundreds of thousands of ally forces during the June 6 1946 The D Day war, believed that “Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.” Throughout his military career as a General and political career that culminated as the 34th President of the US, Eisenhower clearly understood that people are diverse with differing passions, desires, needs, and personality types. Accordingly, he tailored his motivation approaches that inspired his people to do what he wanted them to do gladly and with enthusiasm on a consistent basis.

In 2012, Hollywood’s highest paid star, Leonardo DiCaprio revealed what really motivates him. For many people’s disbelief, he dismissed that winning Oscar isn’t his motivation. He acknowledged, “I don’t think anyone would say that they wouldn’t want one [Oscar]. I think they would be lying.”

You may then ask, “What drives DiCaprio to perform extraordinarily in those roles he has been playing for decades?”

He admitted that he never expected winning Oscar and that is not his motivation when he plays these roles. He shared what motivates him, I really am motivated by being able to work with great people and create a body of work that I can look back and be proud of.”

Like DiCaprio, each member of your team has things that motivate him or her. If you discover what motivates the people that you are leading, you could be able to inspire them to do extraordinary things well beyond what they have already believed they can achieve. Henry Kissinger, the 56th Secretary of State of the US, said: “The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.” Taking your people to unfamiliar places requires developing extraordinary motivational ability by understanding their sweet spots, things that motivate them.

What has been motivating you to do extra ordinary things in the past? Who is the most motivational leader you have ever known? What are the main characteristics of this motivational figure? Which ones do you have right now? Which ones you need to work on?

If you ever struggle to motivate your people to do extraordinary things, Success Pathways is your best bet. We will work with you to help you tailor your employee motivation and recognition approaches…


Assegid (AZ) Habtewold is the owner and lead trainer and coach at Success Pathways, LLC. He facilitates Employee Motivation and Recognition workshops. Here is the link to learn the learning objectives of our workshop on Employee Motivation:, and Employee Recognition:

AZ has been facilitating very interactive and dynamic soft skill and leadership workshops including Employee Motivation for diverse clients using latest adult learning methods. In his upcoming book, which will be published soon, he provides theories, insights, and stories to empower readers to become successful motivators.

Uncovering Your Blind Spots…

Stephen Covey talked about the four dimensions of self (Body, Mind, Heart, Spirit), and the needs of each dimension.

Among the four dimensions, awareness about our body dimension seems easy, isn’t it?

But it isn’t.

Let me give you a good example. I was reading the autobiography of Jack Welch, the former chairman and CEO of General Electric, “Straight from the Gut” in 2007 or 2008 and stunned when I read one of his blind spots. Jack wrote, “Decades later, when looking at early pictures of me on my sports teams, I was amazed to see that almost always I was the shortest and smallest kid in the picture.”

For decades, Jack was unaware of his physical appearance.

Jack revealed in the aforementioned book why he had a distorted awareness about his physical dimension. His mother pumped him with confidence as he grew up. As a result, he didn’t have any clue about his real physical height and size when he was a kid, during his teen-age years, and in the majority of his adult life. He confessed, “Yet, I never knew it or felt it. Today, I look at those pictures and laugh at what a little shrimp I was. It’s just ridiculous that I wasn’t more conscious of my size”.

I’ve to admit that reading this part of Jack’s autobiography caused a light bulb to go on in my head. I never had a clear sense of my real physical dimension prior to reading that story. In the past, whenever I looked at group pictures, my preoccupation was on how I looked, who was next to me, and so on. I never compared my height or size with my peers. I didn’t know that I was that ‘short’ 🙂

Reading Jack’s hilarious story led me to pay closer attention to my physical dimension. Since then, not only I found myself aware but also began making fun of my height. End of March 2016, for instance, I spoke at a conference about bridging the leadership gaps, and we had a group photo afterward with the rest of the panelists. Guess what?

I was the shortest! I posted the pic on my face-book timeline with this caption; I need this kinds of group pictures to remind me how short I really am.” Many of my face book friends loved the self-deprecating post. I even got so many encouraging words intended to lift my spirit.

  • What about you?
  • Have you had a blind spot concerning your physical dimension?
  • Have you figured it why?
  • If you don’t have one, think about others who have.
  • Why do you think people have these kinds of obvious blind spots?

If there are chances many of us might have been harboring blind spots concerning our physical dimension,

  1. What about those dimensions that may not be that obvious to easily figure out?
  2. What are the prices we’ve been paying for sheltering so many blind spots?
  3. What are your plans to uncover your blind spots?


Assegid (AZ) Habtewold is the owner and lead trainer at Success Pathways, LLC. He facilitates Increasing Self-awareness workshop. Here is the link to learn the learning objectives of our self-awareness workshop:

AZ has been facilitating very interactive and dynamic soft skill and leadership workshops including self-awareness for diverse clients using latest adult learning methods. The above excerpt is taken from the first chapter of his upcoming book, which will be published soon. In this chapter, he provides insights, tools, and processes to increase self-awareness in order to attain self-mastery, and in turn work with others well, and lead others effectively.

Time: Unmanageable? What to do about it?

Those of us who have tried the rat race to manage time and save as many minutes as we could on a daily basis discovered the bitter truth. This race is not winnable. It’s self-defeating.

Attempting to manage the unmanageable led many of us to experience disenchantment, and even frustration. Our attempt to manage time efficiently resulted a stressful life filled with disappointments and burnouts.

Personally, when I discovered a seemingly simple truth about time management, things started to change. It was a humbling experience when I first realized that I don’t have control over time! Alec Mackenzie and Pat Nickerson were on the mark when they wrote, You don’t manage time at all. You only manage yourself in relation to it.”

What a relief! When I discovered the fact that I only have control over my own resources, and myself alone I began to be in charge and able to manage self and my resources around time better. ‘Managing time’ started to be easier. Don’t misread me. I’m not yet there where I want to be, but at least for now, I have a better handle on time than I used to.

What about you? Are you still on the other side of the fence and racing against time or have you crossed over and moved to the side of time, which is, managing yourself and your resources in relation to time? What has been your experience?

In conclusion, we humans don’t have direct control over time. We only have control over ourselves and other resources. Understanding this simple fact is a huge difference maker in our effort to maximize time, the scantiest resource in the world. Once we master managing time effectively, the rest will be easier. This is because managing other resources is easier compared to managing time. Lastly, don’t forget that until you develop a good handle on effective time management, you are at risk of mismanaging yourself, and other scarce resources. Peter Drucker warned: Unless time is managed, nothing else can be managed.” 

Assegid (AZ) Habtewold is the owner and lead trainer and coach at Success Pathways, LLC. He facilitates Time Management workshops. Here is the link to learn the learning objectives of our Time Management workshop:

AZ has been facilitating very interactive and dynamic soft skill and leadership workshops including Time Management for diverse clients using latest adult learning methods. In his upcoming book, which will be published soon, he provides insights, tools, and processes to empower readers develop effective time management attitude, mindset, and skills.

The Case for Developing Effective Time Management Skills

There are some reasons why many people don’t want to invest their time and resources to develop their time management skills. A few of these individuals think that managing time doesn’t have to be developed. They argue that it’s common sense. What do you think? Is it really common sense and any one can manage their time effectively without putting some efforts to learn best ways such as using some latest tools, processes, techniques, and technologies?

Let’s be humble. We’re not born with mastery of time management. We don’t have the innate ability to manage time effectively. For that matter, we are predisposed to mismanage time. I conquer with Peter Druker- the father of modern management, who admitted, “Man is ill-equipped to manage his time.”

Well, I also met some who are passionate about why they don’t want to develop time management skills. They argue that developing such a skill deprives them from being spontaneous and enjoy the fun that comes when they do things haphazardly. They proudly call themselves ‘Free spirited’. They consider themselves activists who fight for their freedom against the ‘controlling TIME’. They go as far as belittling TIME by saying, “It’s created to serve us, not to become boss over us’.

There are some truths here. Yes, time shouldn’t be allowed to control us but we don’t need to show time who the boss is by winging it as we wish. We can still be our own boss and use time to serve our goals by becoming smarter in using time effectively, and by using it in our favor. The point is: We can still be skillful in managing our time without losing our freedom.

There are others who believe that they perform best when they are under pressure. They proudly call themselves ‘Deadline Junkies’ 🙂 Of course; it is very hard to counter argue with someone’s experience. If they say that they put their acts together and perform well when they are under pressure, well, I would like to trust them. They may perform outstandingly when under pressure.

But, I’m skeptic about whether doing things at the 11th hour is wise even if I’ve the capacity to do so. Yes, I may deliver results just before the deadline. The question is: Can I produce quality results while I’m rushed against time?

Of course, there are others genuinely concerned that they don’t have additional time to spend in order to develop time management skills. It’s understandable. They’re already out of time, and struggling to meet deadlines. How can they spend the time they don’t have with the hope to become better in managing their time in the future?

This reason too is legitimate. Yes, in the short term, you need to put an initial investment by believing that, in the long run and down the road; the return on investment outweighs the time you may put down initially.

What about you? If you’re great in managing time effectively personally, what about your team members and colleagues? From 1 to 10, how do you rate yourself (and your team) when it comes to time management, one being very poor and ten very excellent? If you (or your team) scores less than 7, you need to invest on your time management skills.

Assegid (AZ) Habtewold is the owner and lead trainer and coach at Success Pathways, LLC. He facilitates Time Management workshops. Here is the link to learn the learning objectives of our Time Management workshop:

AZ has been facilitating very interactive and dynamic soft skill and leadership workshops including Time Management for diverse clients using latest adult learning methods. In his upcoming book, which will be published soon, he provides insights, tools, and processes to empower readers develop effective time management attitude, mindset, and skills.

Developing Empathy

We are diverse. Some of us are naturally gifted and have innate gifting and preferences for certain things. We don’t sweat about these things. They’re our second nature.

However, that doesn’t mean we don’t need to develop those things that are not natural to us. This is especially true if you are a professional, business owner, community organizer, politician, you name it. As you work with and lead others, you need to develop certain soft skills for which you may not have home court advantage.

One of those soft skills we need to develop is empathy. Alvin Goldman defined empathy as “The ability to put oneself into the mental shoes of another person to understand her emotions and feelings.”

If you don’t have empathy naturally, you may ask, why bother? Let me give you a good example that may cause you to think twice.

Abe Lincoln, the 16th President of the US, is known for his extraordinary empathy. In Team of Rivals, his biographer wrote: “He possessed extraordinary empathy- the gift or curse of putting himself in the place of another, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires.”

Interestingly, as much as it added sorrow in his life, that the same quality was one of his greatest assets for Lincoln’s success. People who closely witnessed his political career such as Helen Nicolay, whose father would become Lincoln’s private secretary, suggested that that the same attribute, “gave him the power to forecast with uncanny accuracy what his opponents were likely to do.” His biographer also agreed and wrote, “Such capacity to intuit the inward feelings and intentions of others would be manifest throughout his career.”

Assegid (AZ) Habtewold is the owner and lead trainer and coach at Success Pathways, LLC. He facilitates Emotional Intelligence workshops. Here is the link to learn the learning objectives of our Emotional Intelligence workshop:

AZ has been facilitating very interactive and dynamic soft skill and leadership workshops including Emotional Intelligence for diverse clients using latest adult learning methods. In his upcoming book, which will be published soon, he provides insights, tools, and processes to increase Emotional Intelligence in order to attain self-mastery, and in turn work with others well, and lead others effectively.

With Increased Self-awareness Comes Unshakeable Security

The world has been in trouble mainly because of insecure individuals than bad ones.

The damage and chaos is severe when insecure individuals are at the helm of families, organizations, communities, and nations. Such individuals know more about who they are not, what they don’t have, and their weaknesses and limitations than their uniqueness and strengths. They are focused on what is missing, wrong, and not working rather than taping into their true self, and spend their valuable time and energy on what they can do well leaving those they cannot to others…

Insecure individuals are thorns inflicting constant pain against the people around them. They are always feeling inadequate, and anxious of what other people think of them. They dread to become vulnerable and ask feedbacks to know more about their weaknesses, limitations, and vulnerabilities. Deep inside, mostly at subconscious level, they strongly believe that they are seriously flawed and unredeemable. That is why they lash out aggressively whenever people closer to them mention their limitations and weaknesses inadvertently (or with good intentions), and/or when critics point them out.

On the other hand, individuals who are willing to increase their self-awareness have unshakeable self assurance. It’s not because they are perfect. Such individuals understand that we all have certain strengths, and for obvious reasons, some limitations and weaknesses.

That is why we shouldn’t be bothered by the so called ‘perfects’. If you find someone in your life, organization, and/or community acting as if he/she is perfect and judging you and/or others who have imperfections, that individual must be an alien- from another planet.

In the land of the living, we were purposefully wired to seek completion/perfection from others. We are parts of the larger body. We’re unique and made perfectly to carryout our mission, and pursue our passion. Our fulfillment in life, within our team and community meets with success when we give our best as per our talent, gifting, and strengths while willing to team up with others in the areas of our limitations.

Remember, as much as you need the compliment of other fellow humans, you too compliment others, and make them WHOLE. It’s a win-win…

Thus, no one should feel insecure about the way they are. No one should bow down his/her head because they cannot be like someone else or do certain tasks and jobs like others. The truth is, if you aren’t good at certain things means you’re not made for them. You should get over it, and focus on who you are and what you can do best for both individual and collective success…

In conclusion, with increased self-awareness, self-doubt vanishes. The more we become proactive and constantly increase our self-awareness, the more we:

  • Stop doubting self,
  • Embrace our limitations,
  • Focus on our strengths, and
  • Team up with others to overcome (at least mitigate) the impacts of our limitations.

Assegid (AZ) Habtewold is the owner and lead trainer at Success Pathways, LLC. He wrote a book entitled ‘The 9 Cardinal Building Blocks: For continued success in leadership’, and Self-awareness is the very first building block. He facilitates Increasing Self-awareness workshop. Here is the link to learn the learning objectives of our self-awareness workshop:

AZ has been facilitating very interactive and dynamic soft skill and leadership workshops including self-awareness for diverse clients using latest adult learning methods. In his upcoming book, which will be published soon, he provides insights, tools, and processes to increase self-awareness in order to attain self-mastery, and in turn work with others well, and lead others effectively.

Your People Skills, Your competitive advantages

Someone from my LinkedIn network posted the quote of Robert Kuok- the richest man in Malaysia: “When I hire people, I look for great attitude. I don’t look for MBA or PHD.”

I liked the quote. Normally, I’d have just liked it and moved on. But, the quote is a perfect fit to the theme of my upcoming book. Thus, I wrote the following comment: “It’s a great strategy. I forgot where I read but John C Maxwell, a renowned leadership expert, suggested that employers should first look for affinity- whether the person has the right mindset, and attitude to fit within the corporate culture- followed by character, and then skills necessary to do the job. This shows that soft skills (intangible) skills are more important that hard (technical) skills. The temptation, however, for many leaders is to look for skills, and qualifications first.”

Following the above comment, in the comment section, someone posted a very good question: “Well, why then waste all the energy in going school trying distinguish yourself. I would have a better attitude if I don’t owe all that money on student loan.”

This is a legitimate question. If we don’t put Robert’s quote in context, it looks like he undermined the importance of skills. He is not. You cannot just hire a very impressive bystander to do heart surgeries in your hospital. You are not crazy enough to give your BMW car for a guy who isn’t a mechanic but full of positive attitude and people skills. You got my point…

Here is my response: “Good question. Why wasting our time, energy, and finance to go to school if hard skills like accounting, engineering, IT, surgery, and hundreds of other technical skills we need to perform our primary job description aren’t important compared to attitude and character? Going school and acquiring these skills is mandatory. They are the bare minimum. We need them to get into the door. But, they cannot help us succeed without the right soft skills like positive attitude, and other people skills, which many schools neglect to offer to their students. Employers would like to make sure that the new hires fit into the corporate culture. Therefore, if they have hundreds of candidates all of whom have PhD in physics and they need one person, most employers go for the one who has the right attitude and character who would be the right fit to the existing team than the one who has the highest GPA. The most important thing to professionals is to master our craft (technical skills) plus invest on our soft skills to become skillful in our communication, EI, problem solving, decision making, teamwork, etc. These intangible skills, which we may not get from formal education, are our competitive advantages to succeed in any career/environment….”

Well, I thought you might be interested to read this interesting conversation.

By the way, how do you rate your people skills (1 to 10, 1 being very poor, 10 excellent)? If you gauged your soft skill competency below 8, you need help. Whatever time, resource, and energy you may dedicate to improve your soft skills, it’s worth your investment. It compliments your technical abilities. It also empowers you not only to survive in this very competitive era, but also to excel and thrive.

Whether you are a professional, business owner, politician, activist, community organizer, what have you, you need to work on your people skills. Your technical abilities cannot take you far; they cannot separate you from the crowd in your field/industry.

Just so you know, your zeal to serve isn’t enough!

Assegid Habtewold (AZ) is an author, consultant, coach, speaker, and trainer at Success Pathways, LLC ( He facilitates soft skill workshops for some government agencies, technology and research companies, and non-profits. If you’re interested to empower your people with key soft skills to experience harmony, synergy, low turn over and conflicts, and so on, you may contact us via email: (and/or and we’ll be happy to work with you to create customized workshops right for your team.

By the way, Assegid’s upcoming book, which will be published soon, addresses the very theme touched in this blog. We’ll announce on our website when the book becomes available. Stay tuned!

Going beyond using lame excuses…

No ExcusesBlaming our past for not taking action to change our destiny for good is taken from a weak man’s playbook. Even if we’ve inherited a flawed past with so many disadvantages, we’ve the unlimited power to use today and inherit a glorious tomorrow. There should not be any excuse about our heritages. If we don’t like them, we’ve the power to change them for good. Let’s go beyond using lame excuses.

Unfortunately, I never met a person who got stuck, failed, or left behind taking responsibilities and own his/her circumstance. They always point to something or someone including their parents, relatives, peers, teachers, and the system where they grew up for where they are in life NOW. Paradoxically, only those who are truly successful are the ones profusely admit and then take ownership of their failures. This attitude of ‘I’m not the product of my circumstance’ enabled them to overcome extraordinary challenges.

One of the common themes among excuses many people assign for their failures is ‘I was raised in a dysfunctional family’ or ‘I grew up in the wrong side of the fence’, and so on. These things happen all over the world. Nonetheless, we have countless successful people who overcame obstacles they faced during childhood or when they were young. Many of these individuals rather used the misfortunate circumstances into their own advantage.

Another huge excuse many people use is ‘I’m the way I’m because of WHO I’M.’ These individuals think that who they are was fixed long time ago and they don’t have any say NOW. They wrongly believe that the DNA they inherited from their pedigree predisposed them to fail. They’ve a distorted belief about the infinite power that resides within them. They don’t realize that they may not change the past but they are the authors of their future and they have the necessary power at their disposal if they just believe that they are the creator of their own destiny.

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I’m not here just giving you a pep talk. Go ahead, research, and study. Space doesn’t allow me here to provide you details but there are some biologists who believe that genes can change in your favor. Your inner voice- your true self, can change the pattern of your genes. Yes, you may not be able to change your height, the color of your eyes, and the feature of your face but you definitely have the power to chart a new path for your life, career, and business by changing your genes and in turn by having the right attitude, sharp and quick brain, and healthy body.

Latest scientific discoveries about the brain- more specifically neuroplasticity, also demonstrate that our IQ isn’t fixed; our brain didn’t stop growing when we were young. Unlike past beliefs, most of which are faulty, our brain is limitless and an ever expanding organ. It changes, adopts, and our neurons multiply on a daily basis. It isn’t that it doesn’t grow. What you’re feeding it to grow that matters. You could feed it defeats, excuses, and limitations and it grows and becomes powerful to fulfill your self-prophecies against your own destiny. Or feed it great things, as you’re born great with unlimited potential, it grows to shape your future and deliver for you a glorious destiny. It’s up to you. The question is: Are you willing to go beyond using lame excuses to define, shape, and attain your glorious destiny? You can do it by changing your attitude, accepting responsibilities, taking bold and positive actions one at a time. I can only see a bright future for you. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help…


Dr. Assegid (AZ) Habtewold is a motivational speaker at Success Pathways, LLC. His passion is to inspire people to make positive changes in their attitude, mindset, values, and in turn to take bold actions to transform their lives, professions, and organizations. To learn more about the themes of AZ’s motivational speeches, check out this page: The list isn’t complete. If the topics you’re looking for couldn’t make it to the list; let’s know, we can come up with the right topic and customize it for your audience.

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Communication Strategies for Technical Professionals


Last week, I posted on my face-book timeline a casual statement saying “Many people told me that my accent is OK & they understand me very well. It’s very hard to stop being OK when you’ve EXCELLENCE as a value.” Considering English is not my native language, and we were taught English poorly while we were in High School and College, I’ve come a long way. Nonetheless, I’m working on my accent on a consistent basis even if more than 90% of English language native speakers understand me 100% of the time. This status post attracted some interests from some of my face-book friends, and also from some acquaintances off line. I’m not here to further talk about what have been already discussed there. You may check it out yourself, and if you’re interested, add your say 🙂

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In this quick blog, nonetheless, I’d like to clarify one important thing for those who struggle to work on their accent. I met some great friends and colleagues who struggle to buy into the idea of modifying their accent to communicate better. Regardless of having thick accent, which is getting in the way and affecting their career advancement, they don’t want to do something about it. They may have so many reasons why they’re not taking action but it boils down to one thing, I figured 🙂 They don’t have passion to see it through. The root cause of lack of passion is one- you’re not desperate enough to change. You’re some how surviving regardless of that limitation so why should you invest your time and energy while you’ve so many other important and urgent things that need your attention 🙂 Understandable, right?

The other reason is a belief. Many of the people I had a chance to strike conversation about accent consider acquiring another accent as if they’re betraying their native culture. When you’ve that kind of invisible belief behind the scene, it sabotages your success by denying you to have motivation. While you are in this mode, it’s unlikely that you invest your scarce resources such as your time and energy in order to modify your accent since acquiring a new accent takes time, and a serious commitment to learn and, most importantly, practice what you’ve learned.

Personally, I don’t feel like acquiring the accent of a given culture I live in as betraying my native culture. I know who I’m, from where I came from, and also celebrate many of my culture’s heritages. On the other hand, if my desire is to succeed in a new culture, I need to be flexible, and adapt things that are important in that culture. What is your goal? When people understand you easily and clearly, they always look forward to have conversation with you, relate, and work with you. When that happens you keep your relationships and in turn succeed in what you do. One of my favorite motivational speakers- Les Brown, said, “Effective communication is the number one tool to succeed in any endeavor. Communication determines whether people vote for you; write you a check; invest in what you do; and buy your services and products.”

The bottom line is that the purpose of communication is to understand and be understood. If your native accent stands in the way and prevents you from being understood in the place where you work and live, modifying it isn’t betraying your native culture. It’s called being reasonable, flexible, and most importantly, being humble- going the extra mile to serve others who don’t speak like you. What you’re doing is making the lives of the people you work and hangout with easy and pleasant. Of course, many people may reciprocate and attempt to understand your accent that you may not need to make lots of efforts. But, you don’t have control over that. For that matter, let’s be honest, you’re a ‘minority’ and the one who benefits the most from being flexible. Don’t you think? Believe me, I understand what I’m talking here. Myself, I struggled a lot initially until I betrayed (not my culture) my ego, and began investing on acquiring a new accent. I’d have done the same if I move to Italy, India, or Ghana to live and work there. Therefore, do your part and see what you’ve been missing 🙂

Of course, improving one’s accent is just one part of becoming an extraordinary communicator. Let me give you a practical example how lack of communication has been getting in the way and preventing many technical professionals from advancing in their career. I’ve been a technical person: a veterinarian, and then an IT guy worked as a researcher, production operator, and software engineer for multinational organizations since the turn of the new century up until 2007. I’d worked with so many great colleagues who were superb in their technical skills. Because of that they were rewarded, promoted, and admired a lot. Some of these professionals, however, stopped there. They thought that the most important things for their career success were their hard skills, and therefore, they neglected their interpersonal skills.

These professionals, though experienced and qualified, they struggled to climb the corporate ladder because of lack of interpersonal skills such as the inability to communicate with diverse stakeholders from different upbringings, cultures, professional backgrounds, etc. Many technical professionals in accounting, medicine, engineering, maths, science, IT, and so on over depend on their technical abilities, and thus, give minimal attention toward improving their soft skills on a consistent basis. They assume that what have made them successful technically and thus far, would take them to the next height. Marshall Goldsmith disagrees. He said, “What got you here won’t get you there.”

By the way, because of the critical role communication plays, I provide Communication Strategies workshops for technical professionals. This one-day workshop enables participants to overcome communication barriers and become effective communicators. It empowers them to develop effective communication, improves their listening ability, increases their competency to cross cultures without committing deadly sins, and more.It’s a very dynamic and interactive workshop designed to engage participants in pairing, and small and large group discussions. The workshop is filled with latest insights, models, tools, and processes that equip participants to take their communication ability to the next level, and in turn succeed in their personal, professional, and business endeavors. Let me know if your people need this workshop. Your team and organization greatly benefit a lot and at many levels when your people are great communicators. When that happens, your organization achieve high productivity, synergy, harmony, and most importantly, you’ll experience less conflict and minimal turn over…


Assegid (AZ) Habtewold is a trainer at Success Pathways, LLC. He provides trainings on technical, managerial, and business skills including Communications Strategies for technical professionals in science, accounting, medicine, IT, engineering, and so on. Here is the page that provides more info about Success Pathways’ Communication Strategies workshop: To learn more about the other available training themes, check this link: 

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