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ALG’s public speaking class mid-term speeches

Read below for some compelling speeches by the members of the current African Leadership Group public speaking class. These are the midterm speeches. Final speeches will be posted when the program concludes in March

Tamika Coleman

Good evening everyone,

I have a question for you. What does fear mean to you? Or better yet, what does success mean to you? Let’s take a look at the definition of these two words. Shall we?

Webster’s dictionary defines fear as “concern about what may happen or worry.” In the same dictionary, Webster defines success as “satisfactory completion of something.” When I was given this topic, “Fear of Success,” I am sure a few of you may have seen my eyeballs pop out of my head on I-270 in Denver because this hits so close to home for me. In Chapter 15 of the book Think & Grow Rich, the author Napoleon Hill says that “indecision in the seedling of fear.”

You see, the fear of success creates accountability, the fear of success creates expectations and the fear of success creates risks. One might liken it unto a successful relationship whether that relationship is being single or married. In regard to the fear of success creating accountability, your spouse or your partner will hold you accountable for everything you do or say. Whereas being single, you can do whatsoever you choose seeing that you have nobody to answer to. In the same instance, with the fear of success creating expectations, in a successful marriage your spouse or partner expects you to honor the vows and to be there through thick and thin, richer or poorer, sickness and health. However, in a successful single relationship, there are no expectations because you have to undoubtedly be there for yourself and by yourself.

Being successful means different things to different people. My husband and I would often talk about this and he would ask me, “don’t you want to have your own business one day and be successful?” and so here I am thinking or asking myself why? My husband comes from a family that has had several businesses they owned and so he began working from the young age of 7 in Michigan. I, on the other hand, had both parents working a 9-5 with more emphasis on my mother who sometimes worked a double shift seeing that she was a waitress. 

To me, this was the definition of success that was painted by my mother. She worked, cooked, cleaned, went to church and repeat. In my eyes I was already successful. My husband felt I was successful but only to a certain degree and not where he’d want me to be. He saw something in me more than I saw in myself and it was in that very moment that I decided to ditch fear and date success. 

I’ve decided to change my negative thoughts into positive ones. We’ve all heard of the acronym for F.E.A.R. False Evidence Appearing Real. I’ve decided to flip the script and have my own acronym for F.E.A.R. and that is Forget Everything And Run. I’ve decided to run into the arms of success with open arms. I’ve decided to run into the arms of accountability, expectations and risks. In the words of Thomas Edison, “I have not failed 10,000 times, I’ve simply found 10,000 ways that did not work.”

My take on fear you ask? It was the very thought of walking away from anything I know was for sure or taking a step where there was none like Peter walking on water. How would I know just how far I can go unless I break the glass ceiling of limitation? 

Theodore Roosevelt put it perfectly when he said, “it is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”

Rev. Melissa Rogers Malumbe

I was born and raised in a poor family, community and village in Western Kenya. Miraculously a Good Samaritan funded my education up to high school. According to the villagers and family, at age 18 and done high school, the next step was to get married. Also girl children are not allowed to work or live in the city unmarried. 

So I got married, started raising a family but never gave up  on education. I enrolled in online courses, graduated with a B.A. in business administration specializing in banking. I worked a few years in the bank and at the same time started my own tours and travel company. It was very successful but I sold it to relocate to the U.S.A..

I landed in Colorado on a religious visa and worked as an assistant pastor. The church provided all that I needed.

My nature is not to be provided for but to work and get my own. Thinking deep again:  “The promise of tomorrow is for those who believe in possibilities of the future.” Yesterday is gone, let go of the past fears, roadblocks and embrace the ocean of opportunities in this great country. 

 I read somewhere that “the decisions you make determine your destiny.”

I had a dream and a goal, I needed more knowledge to get there.  I also needed to understand their systems of education and learn how things work in this society. I enrolled in universities and achieved degrees in both health matters and biblical studies working good jobs, traveling far and wide to share the word in various women’s conferences. I still have a desire backed by faith.

That led me to starting a health related college, of which I’m the CEO. It is a platform for many immigrants to start their lives here, it has also provided employment for several.  FBS( Freedom. Business Solution) is a blessing!

The legacy I’d like to leave to my children and their children, to immigrants and all those listening to me:  KNOWLEDGE is POWERFUL! Be determined, persist, have confidence, go for it, do not quit . All things are possible; there is no age limit on education.

Bamba Diop

Is knowledge power?

If you believe that knowledge is power, please raise your hand.

Knowledge is not power. It is a potential power.

I was brought up to believe that knowledge is stored information in your brain. It will not empower you if you do not apply it.  Basically,you must take what you know and implement it into your life so that it will empower you. Knowledge without action is useless. It is an application.

I have been empowering myself to maximize my talent, sharpen my skills, and increase my income by just applying knowledge.

For example, I was one of the top bankers when I used to work in retail banking. Not just in my branch, but I was one of the best in the entire district. I have a proven track record of sales. Getting promoted every year and even in 6 months. I have accepted six different positions in less than 5 years within the same bank.

I was competitive because I applied what I learned from Papa and Professor Madiama. I even coached the other bankers and the tellers to help them become productive by sharing the same knowledge with them. If I did not use what I have been taught, I could have been just an average banker. Nevertheless, I was eager to utilize what I know to become one of the best and help others. 

I experienced some of my team members struggling and desperate to reach their sales goals every quarter. It was not because they did not have the knowledge to close a deal, but they failed to use what they knew while they had all the resources and support to succeed. They have been well trained and are knowledgeable about the banking products. All they needed to do was to apply the knowledge to empower themselves. Instead, they did not.

In conclusion:

Is knowledge power?

No, knowledge is not power, but it is a potential power. It is an application, and it will not empower you if you do not apply it on a daily basis.

Kadiatou Dia 

If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far go together

This proverb spreads an important message. When you lead a team, you have to know you’re a leader, but you’re also part of the team. Leadership involves more than just telling people what to do, it consists of equal parts examples and support. 

In our life, we’ve all had that one person who completely changed our way of living for the better. It could be a teacher, a parent, or a boss. These are great examples of leadership. If they made enough impact on your life to change it, then they were great leaders. For me, that was my mom. My mother is a strong woman who raised not only her own children but also any other child she saw was in need of a family. 

I have five brothers, and whenever one of their friends needed food or housing she was there. I was the only girl, but she never showed me that my gender was a barrier. Because of my mother, I am the woman I am today. I thank God every day for her.

The single most important thing I want you to know today is that anybody can be a leader. However, to be an effective leader, a life-changing leader, it’s all in your method of leading. 

First, we will identify the life-changing leader in our lives. Then we’ll talk about how to reproduce and improve their method of leadership. Lastly, we’ll talk about the results of effective leadership.

To get started let’s look at the great leader in our lives. Mine is my mother. My mother was a social worker. She worked with children who had been abandoned or orphaned. When there was nowhere for these children to go she would invite them into our home. Although we didn’t have much she still invested in us, not discriminating between us and the children she worked with. 

She made that little we had stretch a long way to fit in anybody who needed it. She preached kindness, and equality and put them into action. My mother’s message is something I have carried with me every day. I saw the effect of her method of leadership on not only me and my siblings, but on dozens of children, she helped over a lifetime.  

I teach my children to be kind, and I make sure we put it into action. When they don’t need something we donate it.  If they want to go volunteer someplace we go. If they want to go protest for a cause they believe in I let them. 

The support part of being a leader means uplifting people’s ideas, showing them ways to put your message into action. Because actions speak louder than words. Anybody can tell you to be kind, but if they aren’t kind themselves then their words are just useless and empty. 

Now that we have thought of the leaders who inspire us, let’s look at how we can have the same effect on another person’s life. You already have a blueprint for that. Look at that person who inspires you, and use them as a template. We want to be life-changing leaders, but we also want to be ourselves. My mom was a strong leader, but she was very conservative. I strive to lead like her, but this time with an open mind to different things. 

There’s always room to improve. This is also a trait of an effective leader. If you want your followers to respect you, they must see that you’re also willing to improve with them.

When you are an effective leader,  people are more willing to listen and do what you want. An effective leader grows with her followers. When we lead with hatred and selfishness, then we will never fully succeed. It might be good for a small amount of time, but it will never last. A good leader will build a strong base, work for the good of everybody. If you show your team you’re trustworthy and reliable, then they’ll be more loyal, and you will all be able to achieve.

How we lead matters because our method of leadership determines our progress. 

Cassandra Johnson

Hello Everyone

Welcome to our midterm presentations and thank you for being here this evening

The secret of the Law of Attraction. Let me repeat that: The secret of the Law of Attraction

What does that mean? What is the first thing that comes to mind

You may be asking, Cassandra, does that mean physical attraction? No, what I’m speaking about this evening is the ability to attract into our lives whatever it is we are focusing on

Have you heard the expression you are what you eat? You will see the difference between eating processed fatty foods versus lean meats, fruits, and veggies. Right

The same goes for our minds. You are what you think

Focus on good and positive things or focus upon negativity

Either way, you get back exactly what you put out there. I remember when I was in the fourth grade being excited for field day at school. Its where the kids compete in different activities and are then awarded a ribbon based upon their efforts. (Much different than my kids field day where everyone gets a certificate just for showing up). We picked our teams, coordinated our outfits and practiced. It was a big deal

I was the last leg of the relay race and envisioned myself crossing the finish line like I was at the Olympics in slow motion. I felt the wind in my hair,,heard the crowd cheering and crossing the finish line..Yes, I made up my mind we would win and it happened

Unfortunately, as we become adults we forget how to dream and what we give our attention to is often random. Its important to become more deliberate in what we think and feel.

Every individual has the power to consciously and intentionally create a better life.

Lets talk about the three steps of using the Law of Attraction

Number 1 Ask the universe what you want. Become more deliberate about what you think and feel

Number 2 Believe that you’ll get what you want, then take action. Decide with conviction that what you want will absolutely happen and then do something about it

Number 3 – Receive it. Allow what you are asking for into your life

The Law of Attraction can be utilized to manifest many areas of life including: love, relationships, money, wealth; to improve mental, physical health; success and abundance

Some tips for letting the Law of Attraction work are:be aware of your thoughts, dream big, use positive affirmations, clarify your dreams and, use a vision board.

As with everything, this takes time and practice. However, the more you put a conscious effort into attracting what you want, the easier it will become

Make sure you are continuously sending out energy, thoughts and feelings that resonate what you want to BE, DO and experience

Remember, if you dont like the picture, change it. Life is a blank canvas of possibility

You are in control of what the finished picture could look like!

Queen Titilé Keskessa 

Alicia, Tanya, Stephanie, my brother Jarra, my mom, my husband – most importantly Tarsha – without her introducing me to Papa and Professor Madiama I wouldn’t even be here…thank you everyone for being here. 

When I heard this story, my first thought was…..ah! that donkey must be from Africa 😊 because the fact that it used the very thing that was supposed to kill it, to its advantage, jumped out and ran into his future and declared victory.. 

…..oh yea…I love that story so much because it reminds me of what it means to be an African.

A story of hard work, survival, resilience, innovation and victory. 

Though I know those traits are not exclusively reserved for just us Africans – it seems that we have been the ones to use them the most and for the longest 😊.

In the story – the donkey was the first one on the farm – and in life, we Africans were the first ones on earth and come from the cradle of humanity. We were builders and innovators way before the world noticed our strength. We have had to survive colonization, famine, disease and poverty – so being African means being strong, resilient, and a survivor.

The donkey in the story was the hardest working donkey on the farm and helped the farmer build all the wealth– as evidenced by the rock hewn churches of Ethiopia;

the walls of great Zimbabwe;

the great mosque of Jenay Mali; 

the Nubian pyramids of northern Sudan;

and of course the pyramids of Giza in Egypt (probably the only one everybody knows about)  

We’re not afraid of hard work.  

Being African means being a hard worker; a smart worker with goals. The proof is the data – Africans are leading the way in becoming an educated immigrant group here in the U.S. I’m not making this up: Look at the census data.

 Most of us came here as refugees and immigrants, having taken advantage of the very thing that was supposed to kill us. 

Every time the world throws dirt at us and tries to bury our true history under colonization, famine, poverty, we shake it off and rise up because deep in our DNA we know the truth.

The history of colonization is relatively short but Africans have a history of kingdoms and dynasties that ruled the world going back thousands of years. 

Being an African means understanding our undeniable contribution to the human race in every aspect of life, sharing our culture, fashion, music, natural resources like gold, diamond, cocoa, coffee…I can go on and on. 


Doing it all while dressed in colorful clothes, 

with beautiful smiles, 

singing and dancing 

and absolutely NOT looking like what we have been through.

Being African is truly shaking off the dirt and stepping up every day in every way. 


Ahmed Cisse 

Hi, I am Ahmed Cisse and I am going to talk about how to build resources from professional and life success:

What resources do you need to be successful?

All progress takes place outside the comfort Zone. Characters, Relationship, Skills, hustle, Value, Commitment, Creativity and Confidentiality are the resources every professional needs to succeed. 

If you have reached the apex of opportunity within an organization, it’s your skills that make the difference.

Skills are the hammer that help you break through a ceiling. It is impossible for you to stay stuck in a lousy situation if you are continually learning something new. 

Dreaming is not enough; you must go a step further and use your imagination to visualize with intent!

I have been working for a company for 15 years. I started as a bus driver.

One night, I turned off my TV and took some time to  imagine and to dream how and what I could do to move up in this big organization that has 210 divisions in the USA and a  division in all the major countries in the world.

I had a burning desire to reach my goal and I knew I had the capacity and the potential to accomplish my dream. First, I made time to study and learn all the policies , procedures, and codes of business conduct. 

Second, I made time to get all the 74 free online certification programs the organization offered and then volunteered to attend all the safety academy conferences. These steps give me the knowledge and the skills not only about my organization’s safety regulations but also about all the major safety compliance organizations like FTA, TSI, OSHA, NTI and so on. 

Third I have made some innovations through monthly safety contests, the monthly safety newsletter, and the annual cultural and diversity food day.

The implementation of my innovations improved our safety performances and other divisions reached out to me to share my ideas.

I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have, so don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning.

The road was bumpy. However, I also understand in life whatever you really want will never come easy. I overcame the fear of criticism, drove buses for four years, became an instructor for two years, became a trainer for 2 years, became safety and training supervisor for five years, became a training manager for one year, and safety and security manager for the past three years.

For a strong implementation of my new ideas and vision I have always focused on the 10 sources of energy that I call the energy ball. They are: Commitment, Communication, Respect, Inclusion, Flexibility, Consistency, Accountability, Recognition, Creativity, and Fun.

 If you can dream it, you can do it.

Don’t be distracted by criticism. Remember the only taste of success some people get is to take a bite out of you.

Cedric Behle

Good evening everyone and thank you for being here and giving me the opportunity to share a word with you tonight.

People  have said that “The fastest and shortest route to go from point A to point B is the straight path.” The question now is: Is it always true?

Let us think about that for a moment and we’ll find out later together. 

Tonight, we’ll be talking about THE POWER OR PERSEVERANCE. Life is full of challenges and what seems easy and obvious for someone might be difficult and challenging for someone else.

Usually, before graduation, students have dreams about how they’ll be making big money, how their work will be easy, how they will be respected and valued for their knowledge and position.

Unfortunately, it is not always the case, especially for me.

After graduation, I sent applications everywhere to work as a petroleum engineer. Months passed but no job offer. We wanted to move to Texas and own a house, but one of the requirements to be approved for a loan to buy a house in Texas was that one of us, either my wife or myself, must have a job in Texas. My wife had a good job in Colorado as an accountant and couldn’t resign, so I had to look for a job in Texas. I was frustrated and pressured since I hadn’t been able to get a job after several months.

The positions suggested to me were equipment operators instead of engineering, physically and emotionally challenging jobs that were not what I was expecting but since I couldn’t get a job as an engineer, I had to swallow my pride and accept a job offer. 

Honestly, my feelings were mixed since I would have to take orders from the people I was supposed to give orders to in normal circumstances. But it was an opportunity for me to be qualified to buy our house and to learn the job from the bottom of the ladder up. 

A wise person said:  “It is better to start a job at the bottom of the ladder because you can only move up, thus you’ll know all the aspects of the job and become a better asset to the company.’’

I didn’t lose my focus on getting a position as an engineer. I was working hard and was persistent. I took on all the humiliations related to my origin and position.

I was like Barns in the book “Think and Grow Rich,” who didn’t quit regardless of all the challenges. Nobody knew who I really was for a year, until an opportunity finally showed up and I went for the interview. The engineer manager was so grateful that I didn’t quit. I finally got the position that I wanted with all its privileges. 

Now to answer the question above, we can agree that the fastest and the shortest route to go from point A to point B is not always a straight path because in between, there might be challenges to go through. Some students went from school straight to work as an engineer but for me it took one year.

Thank you for your time. 


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