A Special Keynote speech….

I delivered a “special keynote” speech at OHSU for a group of Thailand professionals who were at OHSU for a week.

I was unsure if they were hearing my speech, so I decided to test it on my own.  In the beginning, when I say “In March of 2008, I suffered a massive stroke,” I put smile on my face; at least 50% of the audience smiled. At that point, I had to slow it down, so maybe they could get a feel for what I was to say.

It was challenging giving my talk, but fulfilling that they were there to learn.  Not once did I see the attendees look at their phone…and I appreciated that.  We gave them a copy of the book, Painful Blessing. That is me, the tall one in red in the center.  That felt really good to say that.  And who said I didn’t have the Christmas spirit!

That is Connie Amos next to me.  We think the world of Connie and will do anything she asks.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you!  I will be talking the next
two weeks off.

30 Years of Marriage Celebrated last week….

Commitment is everything!

This was my 30 year wedding anniversary; we spent it at The Nine’s Hotel in Portland! What a great time we had; unfortunately, we both got sick!

We came home the next day and we both felt a little off.  We spent the next 2 days  sleeping/napping.

Not quite what you want 30 years a marriage to bring, but we slogged through it. I wanted to go on a cruise for this miraculous 30 years, but that didn’t come to be.  We settled on the Nine’s and it was great to be there.

I think THAT is why we are so happy.  My wife can give you some others, but here are mine:

1. Marriage is 100%/100%, NEVER 50%/50%
2. Simple acts of love keep 2 people knitted together
3. Never go to bed mad
4. Always compliment each other
5. Be happy with what ever you are doing….even if it is going for a walk
6. Wake up and Bless each day you are alive
7. Commitment is everything; be committed to each other

OK, I said that already in the first line, bit I think is is important. Now you know our secret; please reach out and share your secrets.

A New Record…


I know what you are thinking…what is this?  This was one of my goals this year!

It means that I went 171 DAYS of 10,000 steps…or more. For someone like me, I would just sit all day. But when I set this goal, it got me out there everyday until I achieved it.  Last year, me goal was 170 day…and I hit that!

With the rain coming, I decided to put a home gym in my living room…where I can workout even when it is raining.

So be prepared for me setting BIGGER goals next year!

Note: My blogs have been infrequent this last month; I tell you WHY next week.


One last speech coming up for the year…

I have one more speech to do this year…and this will be my biggest to date.

The audience is the International DI  Society in San Diego. Not only does my wife gets to see her mother, the event is at the San Diego Marrioitt Mission Valley where we stayed before.

I am nervous because I am testing a new slide advance system. After a month of practice, I used the system for the first time last week…and it was a bit rough.

With this system, I hold the unit (on the right) in my pocket and advance the slide that way.  You would think it was easy, but it isn’t!  I always have to read my speech, but this time, I  got lost…twice!!  Since I was so focused on the slide advancer, I forget where I was.   I don’t know if people caught it; maybe they though it was part of my speech.

After reading the speech over 1000 times, I still have issues delivering it correctly.  I figure when I am great at delivering the speech, I will retire!

I could have wrote this article about something really cool!

I just read the article and the device looked like something really useful.  I will sign up for the free trial and let you know how it goes; fingers crossed!!  Check out the article:

“I was in the hospital and thought I’d better catch up on emails. I pulled out my phone and couldn’t read a thing. The nurse told me that the stroke had affected my vision and ability to read. When they brought in flashcards, and I couldn’t name simple things like a hammer or pencil, I cried. I realized my recovery was going to have to be my work,” said Patty Geer, Director of Finance, Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport, and stroke survivor.

I was 51 and too young for the rest of my life to be over,” said Geer.

In June 2019, the American Heart Association released a study showing that working long hours for ten years or more is associated with stroke and that people under the age of 50 had a higher risk of stroke when they worked long hours for a decade or more. This is compounded by the trend of Americans working longer and retiring later.

Digital therapeutics and neurotechnology have the power to change how stroke victims recover, but with more Americans working longer, there’s a need to put recovery directly into their hands through digital therapeutic mobile apps.

For stroke survivors like Geer, getting back to work is more than a mental necessity, it becomes a financial one as well.

Constant Therapy is a mobile app from digital therapeutics company, The Learning Corp. The app is designed for people who have had a brain injury or cognitive disorder to give them direct access to clinical exercises that can rebuild their cognitive, speech, and language functions.

Built by neuroscientists and clinicians at Boston University in 2012, the Constant Therapy app digitizes therapy through a Neuro Performance Engine (NPE) that creates a highly customized and detailed map of each user’s strengths and deficits across 80 different categories.

The company says the program in the app delivers the optimum combination of exercises uniquely tailored to each user’s needs.

“The NPE in the app is self-learning and adaptive ability to produce new exercises is limitless. Every 3.5 seconds, a patient completes an exercise, teaching the program in the process,” said Michael Evers, CEO of The Learning Corp. “More than 100 million tasks have been completed by Constant Therapy users to date, allowing the NPE to discover new ways to improve individual tasks, fine-tune the sequence of therapies, and update current protocols, speeding up innovation in brain rehabilitation.”

Evers says that Constant Therapy moves recovery into the patients’ hands – giving them anywhere, anytime access to evidence-based exercises to help rebuild the brain.

“In a trial, patients with access to Constant Therapy did four times more therapy which resulted in a significant improvement in the patient,” added Evers.

A 2019 retrospective study published in Frontiers in Neurotechnology compared outcomes among patients using tablet-based therapy at home and those who complete the same therapy in a clinic. The study found that home users took less time to master tasks than users who only practiced in the clinic. Home users also practiced therapy more frequently than clinic users.

The app can be used by the consumer on their own or is available on referral by their clinician as a complement to in-clinic programs. Currently, Brooks Rehabilitation, Cleveland Clinic, Kaiser Permanente, Kessler Institute, Memorial Hermann, Shirley Ryan, and Spaulding Rehabilitation are using the app with stroke patients.

“The cost is $25 per month which is less than the cost of an average single session with a clinician,” added Evers.

“Our platform is powerful because it gives patients a more active role in their recovery [..] and it utilizes credible tech to impact patient lives in a measurable way,” added Evers. “This is a product that’s been developed around real patient usage and proven clinical recovery methods, making it a tangible application of technology versus a theoretical concept.”

Evers believes that traditional therapies developed decades ago just haven’t kept pace with innovations in health that can change the way people can now independently monitor their exercise, diet, and sleep.

“People want access to legitimate tools that help them manage their health,” added Evers.

After her stroke on Christmas eve in December 2017 which left her with cognitive and short-term memory challenges including aphasia, Geer was set on returning to her position as finance director at Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport.

Geer says she worked hard to recover with the help of a speech-language pathologist alongside Constant Therapy which she says put her back at work only three months after her stroke.

“I looked at it like ‘this is my job now, getting better so I can get back to work,’ I called it homework,” said Geer. “It was something that I could do at home every day that makes you feel like you’re making progress because you can see it – the app helps move you along. It gave me a sense of accomplishment because I could see real advancement as I went through the exercises.”

Geer says the app was a natural fit for her since 75 percent of what she does every day at work is on a computer.

“Outside of work, I use my iPad and I would play Words with Friends and then open Constant Therapy; it felt like it was in my wheelhouse,” said Geer. “Until I used the app, I never would’ve thought this was something you could do that actually helped. Using tech in this way was an important part of my recovery.”

Holy Cow!

I had the privilege of seeing Dr. John Maxwell receive the Master of Influence award the NSA Influence conference last week.

After an AMAZING speech, Dr. Nido Qubein interviewed him.  What a wonderful experience; I have goose bumps thinking about how impactful that was on MY life!

Dr. Maxwell spoke about his early years as a paster and the good advice he got from one of his coaches: it is not about YOU….spread the GIFTS that YOU were blessed to receive.

His talk turned the conference around for me.  Dr. Maxwell is a bit older than me and he keeps writing everyday.  While I can’t write or form clever sentences, I can enhance my speech…a little at a time.  He inspired me to keep doing what I am doing.

Look at me…I am SOMEBODY!

Check out what NAHU has done from my career.  I know that it is up to ME to get exposure, but still….

NAHU Speakers Bureau – Speaker Information

Gordon Viggiano 
My Brain LLC
Wilsonville, OR
Work Phone: (503) 454-0887
Fax: (503) 855-5908
Web Site: http://www.mybrainllc.com
E-mail: gordon@mybrainllc.com
Video: View Now!

We were a typical family: we lived trying to do things right — working hard, providing for the family, following Christian values. On Gordon’s 51st birthday, out of nowhere, a terrible thing happened: he suffered a massive stroke! One might say we were dealt a dirty card, but we see it differently. The experience has been a true test of faith and perseverance.

Our journey of recovery is still in progress. Gordon is now 11 years post-stroke and we are happy to report that he is getting better all the time.  We will discuss this life changing experience and the lessons that have come along with it. Our hope is to inspire people and help them see that good things can happen, even when one doesn’t think it is possible. Gordon is certainly not fully recovered from his stroke so this isn’t an “I did it and you can too” speech. I am in the middle of my recovery and so my perspective is from “the trenches.” I am now the disability guru; a true stroke to success story!

Visit the My Brain LLC website for more information.

Most Requested Topics

  • Motivational
  • Disability

Speaker Reference:

Farren Baer 
Sr Vice President of Education & Professional Development
1212 New York Ave., NW  Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20005
Work Phone: 844-257-099
E-mail:  fbaer@nahu.org


Why Am I Different?

Jill is writing this one…

One of the hard things about my sweet stroke surviving husband is that people often assume he is fine. That he can think clearly and that he can make sense of the world around him like anyone else.  This is sometimes true…but not always true!

Sometimes, he can participate in conversation and make perfect sense.  Then there are the other times. He will participate in a conversation and suddenly say something completely off-topic, insulting, nonsensical, and/or abrasive/aggressive.  I want to say “Please forgive him!  His brain doesn’t work right!” But the words are already out there and the other person is offended and no amount of explaining changes that.

For anyone out there that we have offended/insulted/freaked out, I am sorry.  Please understand it was not intentional. It is the stroke talking.


Take a look at BEFORE and AFTER….

After last weeks event, I am putting this into my presentation. You are looking at how my script looks to me, with the different colors.  If I have BLACK text, it is older text. There is no BLACK text since this is all new to me and will be new few months. If I have GREEN text, it is new so I have to watch it a bit more closely.  If it is RED text, it is NEW so I have to read it for now.  The BLUE text means it have to advanced the slide. Check it out:

Do you think it can be better than that?

Those videos were taken 3 years ago.  On my 10 year anniversary, I was SURE I had improved so I tried this experiment again. (PAUSE) What happened? (PAUSE)  I crushed the cup, spilled water all over myself, and showed absolutely no improvement. (PAUSE)

So here we are at 11 years post-stroke. What do you think will happen this time? 

(PAUSE for applause) (PAUSE)  Isn’t that great? It only took 11 years to be able to drink from a paper cup! (PAUSE)

You can look at me and SEE my PHYSICAL disabilities. (PAUSE) They are awkward and obvious. (PAUSE)  But my most challenging deficits (PAUSE)  are the ones you don’t see. (PAUSE)  The barriers of broken language and cognition are tough to break down. (PAUSE) My ability to think clearly and speak at will (PAUSE) remain my biggest obstacles.

These minor changes takes me months to get right.  I am telling you this because I want you to appreciate the amount of work I put into this task.

No Shave November…only 2 more days left!!!

For more info, Click HERE

When you think of November, election season and Thanksgiving typically come to mind. This November there are bigger things to be concerned with other than who to vote for or what dishes to make for the big feast. To shave, or not to shave. It’s an important decision.

If you find yourself asking “What is no shave November for?” or “What does no shave November support?” you might want to do some research before shaving your face. The decision to shave or to not shave is a crucial one. So before you let your beard get a little native and type November No Shave in your calendar, you should take a look at the facts first.


We strongly encourage supporting cancer awareness and research. If participating in No Shave November is how you choose to do so, we do not discourage that! This post is simply to inform those who are considering whether or not participating is the right move for them.


This is when guys all across the country drop their razors for an entire month until December 1st rolls around. Some men view it as a competition to see who grows the best beard and others do it truly to support the cause.


At some point in the last couple of years you have probably heard of “no shave November”. The whole purpose of no shave November is not to let your beards grow crazy, but to raise awareness for different kinds of cancer including prostate cancer. The goal is to donate the money you normally would use to get a haircut or groom your facial hair to St. Jude or other cancer research charities.

This is a great tradition but the real no shave November meaning and significance often gets lost among all of the jokes, hashtags and hype created by the media. Many men don’t even realize why they do it. Some use it as an excuse to not shave for a whole month. Although the no shave November cause of cancer is a great cause to support, there are other alternative ways to show your support.


So, how did no shave November start? No Shave November started after a father in Chicago passed away from colon cancer. His 8 sons and daughters started this campaign in 2009 in honor of their father. Over 6 years this became a popular thing to do among many throughout the country.

There are a lot of things that people don’t tell you before you decide to participate in this official month of no shaving. From trends to setbacks and to just straight opinions. Even if you like facial hair on a guy, or as a guy it only goes to a certain point. No one likes beards or mustaches that look unkept. Many girls like a man with a well groomed beard, but if you happen to be one who doesn’t, chances are “No Shave November” is not your month.



While you’re growing out your beard for the month, you’re likely to tell people about why you’re doing it. It’s a great conversation starter, and can really generate a huge conversation about cancer. It can get more people to make sure they’re getting regular checks for prostate cancer, breast cancer, melanoma, etc.


To properly participate in No Shave November, you should be donating the money that you aren’t spending on razors and shaving accessories to a cancer research organization, such as the Prevent Cancer Foundation, Fight Colorectal Cancer, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Don’t just participate in No Shave November to grow an awesome beard — make it worthwhile and donate the money you’re saving to cancer research!


There’s more to growing out your beard than just getting a new look. There’s actually health benefits, too! A beard is a natural toxin filter — it keeps things like pollen and dust from getting into your lungs, because they’re clinging to your beard instead.

It can also help prevent blemishes. Shaving gives you a risk of getting bacteria into your skin, especially if you’re not using proper methods. Growing out a beard can combat this.

November is when the weather really starts getting cold, and a beard can act like a scarf for your face and neck. It’s really the perfect time to stop shaving!

Lastly, a beard can help with sun protection. Obviously you will still need to apply sunscreen, because hair isn’t going to block out 100% of the sun’s UV rays, but it’s been proven that a beard can block up to 95% of them! What better way to support cancer awareness than actually practicing it?



What about those people who can’t really grow facial hair? If you fall into this category you might already be disappointed that you can’t produce a macho beard. The disappointments will only continue when No Shave November comes around. We hate to break it to you, but no one wants to see a man that can only grow patches of uneven gross facial hair.

Let’s face it; not everyone looks good with a beard. They might not have the face shape or personality for a beard. Sure there is Movember where those who prefer to have a mustache instead of a beard can participate, but not everyone looks good with facial hair, PERIOD. For most women facial hair is only considered attractive when it is well kept and groomed and with No Shave November, that is not the case.


For the longest time every man’s goal was to rock the hipster beard. You couldn’t go to a trendy coffee shop or hip restaurant without becoming lost in a crowd of wannabe lumberjacks. We don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s just not cool anymore. The time for hipster beards is long gone.


When it comes to no shave November women aren’t often participants. It’s all fine and dandy when a guy decides to put the razor into hibernation, but when a women decides to, suddenly “it’s gross”. We are all human so we shouldn’t have different expectations based on typical cultural roles and gender norms.


Some jobs frown upon facial hair. For those guys with jobs that do not allow them to grow a beard, how do they show their support for this cause? Or maybe even the women out there who want to join the movement but are too scared of being judged? There are many people in the world who wish they could, but can’t.am


Okay, maybe your beard doesn’t have actual poop in it, but multiple studies (KOAT & NY Post) have shown that your beard might be just as dirty as a toilet. Just because you wash your face or take daily showers does not mean that your beard is squeaky clean.


Usually it takes months and months for any man to grow the most glorious, luscious beard that many women go crazy about. According to Beardoholic, a beard on average only grows half an inch per month. If you expect to grow a hip beard in just one month, you can take your so-called beard to the World Beard and Mustache Championships and see what they have to say.


You have spent months and maybe years perfecting your beard. If you want to be a part of No Shave November, your hard earned beard will be history. One of the No Shave November rules is that you start out with a clean face. If you don’t feel like saying goodbye to the beard you worked so hard to get you are not able to do No Shave November.

In order to support the charity of cancer research there are other events, products and things you can do to make a difference. The whole reason for No Shave November is to raise money and awareness for cancer. Why can’t we just dedicate a whole month or host another event to do the exact same thing? An event where there are no rules, photos, memes, or other aspects that draw away from the original goal. Before you decide to start letting your hair grow for No Shave November, think about all of these reasons why you should not take part in No Shave November.

If you choose not to participate in No Shave November to raise awareness and money for cancer research in other ways, that’s great! But, you’ll probably need some quality razors to continue shaving with… right?

Well, what if we told you that you could purchase quality razors at an affordable price, while raising money for animal rescue? Yep, you’ll be able to keep your beard, raise awareness for cancer in other ways, AND donate money to an animal rescue organization! What could be better than that?! At 99 Cent Razor, we donate $0.99 of every order to START Rescue, an organization in California that re-homes animals that are in danger. Click here to check out what we have to offer!


Use the code NOSHAVENOV on our site to save 15% off your order! We want you to support cancer research, but also be prepared when the time to shave comes back around.


  • “Kissing a man with a beard is a lot like going to a picnic. You don’t mind going through a little bush to get there!” Minnie Pearl
  • “You can’t grow a beard if you shave” Bob Blue
  • “I grew my beard out a little bit just to show that, indeed, I am a man.” Johnny Weir
  • “I will never shave off my beard and moustache. I did once, for charity, but my wife said, ‘Good grief, how awful, you look like an American car with all the chrome removed.” Rolf Harris


Find a no shave November meme and prepare yourself for beards on beards on beards. There’s tons of funny no shave November pictures, memes and other things on the Internet that you can come across.

For more info, Click HERE

I only have TWO MORE DAYS!!!!!  I like like the beard…but I am happy it is coming off.