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Me Like Microphones….


And me good with words too

I did a fun exercise at the Ibar Ranch with the audience this week. I asked everyone, in chorus, to yell one-word or phrase related to something they’re grateful for. It was a fun activity and most people likely yelled “family”, “money”, “beer”, or “sex” or “live music”. I yelled along with them and what did I yell? “Microphone”.

I’ve found joy through the power of a microphone and public speaking. I love making people laugh and just as importantly I love being part of the social fabric of our community and I get to serve my community through the use of a microphone. I apply my wit, humor and research into happiness through the microphone. You’ll find me emceeing trivia, up on the stage all summer at Ibar Ranch or DJ’ing a special event or wedding where I know I’m helping make the event better and hopefully memorable.

The role as emcee “fulfilling to me and helpful to others” and is part of my daily affirmations. I love my community and residents of the Gunnison Valley have it good, so good. I’m glad to play a role that lights me up and serves others. If you live in the Gunnison Valley you know what the word “community” means. Is our community perfect? HELLLLLLLL no. The Us vs. Them element that is so pervasive in our world today certainly exists here but we also take care of each other regardless of race, political leaning or socioeconomics. We pull each other (often me) out of ditches, pick up hitchhikers, donate to causes and support those who are suffering. But why?

As humans we generally want to help others who are suffering. In a small town there is an element of altruism blended with future reciprocity in our generosity. We help others knowing, maybe only unconsciously, that as a community when we create and support a culture of caring knowing, one day we’ll be helped when in need. We see suffering in others through our senses and our always analytic brain using sensory acuity and we are genetically programmed to be compassionate.

An aside: The term sensory acuity was developed by NLP Practitioners and describes our ability to “read” other people. At least 55% of our communication is non-verbal and so our body-language, tone, facial expressions and eye movements are often more important than the words we use in communication. Interestingly, two studies showed the higher socio-economic don’t notice suffering and have reduced compassion when compared to lower socio-economic classes. Why? The implication by the researchers is that lower economic classes need the support of others to survive more than wealthier classes so the skill of “reading” others is more critical to lower socio-economic groups.

But why help others? As humans we are social animals and groups are good for our survival. We were once in clans (not Klans) or small tribes which helped our survival which explains why we still like being in groups like Rotary, or clubs, or yes even Klans. We find camaraderie in likeness and we feel good when we are in groups and build trust because our brain releases a neurochemical called oxytocin, a “happy” chemical. Couple the neurochemical response with the research into compassion and you’ll find an inspiring pattern. Research shows compassion doesn’t just help the other person, it’s good for you as well. Studies show you can live longer and experience less cortisol, a fear chemical and bad for your if released too frequently, through consistent acts of altruism like volunteering.

Putting it all together: we feel good in groups, we like to help others and we personally benefit from helping others. So when you find the group and/or type service that fulfills you – everyone wins! I don’t believe in suffering through service either. I regularly decline invitations to be on non-profit boards because I’d rather serve in ways “fulfilling to me and helpful to others.” I feel like the microphone has helped my identify a part of my overall purpose.

“What all of us want at the end of the day is transcendence. We want to know why you’re here, your personal mission and to know you’re making a difference,” Dr. James Doty.

So what do I know about myself and my purpose?
I am compassionate – I’ve spent almost my entire professional career – now two decades – as staff for non-profits or in public service.
I love entertaining – public speaking for me is combination of a natural gift and the personal investment I’ve made in building this skill.
I love helping others – either through the SBDC, RTA, DJ, or as an emcee I know I add value to my community and that it’s a better place because of what I offer.

So thank you microphone for bringing me so much joy and I’ll see you out there soon doing what I love.  And if you fear public speaking LET ME HELP.

What’s your purpose? I’m curious! Email me:

Anthony Poponi is a comic, improv artist, brain chemistry nerd and community-minded advocate and owner of He’s brings his love of connection and laughter to audiences as keynote, emcee, workshop host or moderator and his mission is to increase laughter and connectivity to combat the human health crises of isolation and disconnection.

 Read more from my blog: Musings and Amusings


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