Walking the walk , Talking the talk


I’ve stumbled across a term recently which I feel perfectly summarises what I try to do every

day, as both a professional speaker and inclusion advocate. It explains the language that

I often use, the certain clothes that I wear, and yes – it even explains the moustache. It’s

called Social Engineering.


Social engineering is the act of ‘tricking’ someone into divulging information or taking action, usually

through technology.


It’s a phrase commonly associated with the world of ‘hackers’ – individuals who manipulate people into

handing over their personal information so they can empty their bank accounts, steal their identity, or any

other kind of low-life act.


Ok sure, on the surface it has quite a negative connotation. So why would I associate what I do to social



When you take it away from its origins, social engineering is simply a way of taking advantage of people’s

natural tendencies and emotional reactions. My whole life is about changing people’s expectations of me:

a guy in a wheelchair.


Society has long held the notion that having a disability is a negative thing. That people living with a

disability are somewhat inferior or lesser-than those with ability. We’re not as smart. We can’t have a job

or earn our own money. We can’t have a family. Essentially, we can’t have a fulfilling life.


So I wear the loud clothes, I grow an impeccable moustache and I live a largely independent life. I do

these things on purpose because I want to challenge people’s preconceived notions about what disability

should look and act like.


I want people to look at me and think “huh, I wasn’t expecting that”. To me, that’s social engineering:

I’m constructing a narrative by narrowing in on what my audience is looking for and then blowing it to



It’s something I’m quite passionate about, particularly as a professional speaker. I believe that if you are

fortunate enough to be asked – heck, paid! – to stand in front of an audience and speak to them on a topic

of your expertise, then you owe it to yourself to do it properly.


Authenticity is essential in my line of work; people can smell bullsh!t from a mile away. Forgetting this

is the worst thing you can do as a professional speaker and yet, it’s such a common mistake. To me,

authenticity means walking the walk (if you excuse the pun). Talking about a topic isn’t enough, you need

to socially engineer a way to amplify the message through all your actions to get it across properly.


I didn’t start off my journey trying to socially construct a new narrative for people living with a disability.

I was one of the millions who believed the silly notion that living in with a disability meant you lived a life

less full. I’m happy to admit I was SO WRONG.


Now, I take it upon myself to help change that narrative. For others to learn from my mistake. Because I

tell you, my life is far better now than before my accident. I’m happy, healthy, I have a great wife and kid.

Life is really, really good.


And I make sure to bring that energy into every public speaking event I’m privileged to be invited to, to

challenge people’s preconceived notions and hopefully begin a new narrative.



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