Dr. Paul Stuart Wichansky

   Sharing the voice and vision of courage and optimism.
Motivational and Keynote Speaker for Schools, Colleges, Companies, and Organizations.

Frequently Asked Questions

You have been speaking for 37 years! How did you get started?

Barbara WichanskyMy mom was a school social worker. With the assistance of parents and teachers, she started a handicapped awareness program in her schools and invited me as a guest speaker. I was 10 years old and quite nervous to get up in front of a bunch of kids I didn't know to talk about my disability. But all the students knew my mom and wanted to meet me! Continued practice made future assemblies so much better.

Sadly, my mom left this world merely two weeks ago (August 2018) after a fierce 33-year fight against the effects of multiple sclerosis. Her storied life and legacy is best conveyed through a heartfelt video tribute to honor her and the love she had for family and friends. My presentations are now a living legacy to her inspiration.

In 2001, I became an active member of A Vision in Motion Speakers Bureau. Jay Gittleson, its president, encouraged me to speak in front of larger audiences and was instrumental in enabling me to become a polished speaker just as confident in front of a gym of first-graders as I am in an auditorium of high-school athletes. When you earn a standing ovation at the United Nations, for example, you know you have the power to open minds, hearts, and worlds.

What do you speak about?

I speak about values that transcend all types of audiences. The development of independence and character, the importance of respect and self-confidence, and the transformation of dreams into reality. Such dreams can be playing in the championship basketball game or successfully resolving a bullying episode in school. I never explicitly mention the hallmarks of respect, optimism, or other principles of good character. Rather, I take my audience on a journey of self-discovery by sharing uplifting, insightful stories that encourage my audience to interpret these hallmarks for themselves.

I speak from the heart. The heart-to-heart connection is an emotionally and intellectually powerful lifeline. Each audience member grasps the inspiration and never lets go.

Do you have a flyer I can share with my colleagues and teachers?

Sure do!

My youth flyer  describes an overview of my K-12 school presentations.

University staff/students and professionals can download my keynotes & workshops  flyer here.

What is the maturity of your audiences?

I speak at many elementary, middle, and high schools, in New Jersey, New York, Maryland, and nationwide. I am often asked to keynote at youth conferences and colleges. I also host diversity seminars at companies, evening parent workshops, and professional development for teachers. I adore this job because, when you learn to bring out the best in others, that brings out the best in you!

What are your estimated speaker fees?

Many aspects contribute towards a successful event. You just don't walk on stage and ask for a microphone. Behind-the-scenes details are crucial, including the maturity of my audience, the topics I address, my travel time and expenses, the preparation time, and many other considerations. Not to mention the wisdom and insights learned over decades of my own triumphs and challenges.

The exclusion of one small detail, including the video or audio setup, can consequently lower expectations for an exceptional presentation or keynote.

By inviting me to help inspire your students or staff, your school, college, or organization is taking advantage of a valuable investment opportunity. Start the process by completing an online form to share important details about your proposed day or event.

What's on your iPod these days?

Paul Wichansky with his cousin Rachel PlattenBesides a collection of 1538 Billy Joel songs, each catalogued by year, concert venue, and location, my newest favorites are those sung by my cousin, Rachel Platten. Her trademark "Fight Song" encourages listeners to harness the power of confidence and inner strength to triumph over adversity. Fight Song has since become an anthem for many childrens' hospitals and cancer clinics around the country.

I am blessed to have a family member in Rachel who sings about the power of love and confidence. I use my voice in a different way to bring out the best in my audiences! I guess this power runs in our family, as my mom used to be a member of the Sweet Adelines chorus.

Besides, if I try to sing, I would scare everyone out of the auditorium!

Two years ago (July 2016), Rachel was invited to sing Fight Song at the 2016 Major-League Baseball (MLB) All Star Game.

She knocked it out of the park with her stunning voice, singing with heart, grace, and soul! Excited to share with you the video.

During the presentation, you share a video of your skydive. What does it feel like to jump out of a plane?

Frankly, I didn't jump out. I was PUSHED out!

It was actually a thrilling experience! When the airplane door opened at an altitude of 13,500 feet, my first thought was not the height. I was thinking of the luxury liner Titanic which sank in April 1912. We were at the same height above the ground surface at which the Titanic lies on the ocean floor. I looked down and realized that the ocean floor is such a lonely place to be.

After that initial Titanic moment, I felt that I no longer had a disability. The intense feeling of freedom overcame me. Falling for 60 seconds at 200 feet per second, with no buildings or trees in sight, you begin to lose your fear of heights. Skydiving was precisely one way to conquer that fear.

I did not reveal the skydive to my family for an entire month!

Your attitude is so positive! Have you encountered any negative experiences, and how did you find the silver lining?

Years ago, my family hired a New York ghostwriter to author another of her books about the successes and challenges I have encountered, along with the impacts that my presentations were having on students weeks, months, even years later. This ghostwriter sent out interview forms to all my family members, my friends, and former teachers and principals, to get inside my head and see how I interact with others. I sent her copies of newspaper articles and school essays. She even previewed a few of my presentations and met my family several times in preparation for writing the book.

After mom wired several thousand dollars for the first payment installment, she disappeared with our money. She was not even using her real name. Lawyers could not assist us because the ghostwriter signed all of her paperwork using a digital signature, which was not in ink.

This experience has not made me lose faith in the inherent goodness of people. But it is so important, as Ronald Reagan once said, to trust and verify.

Shattering Stereotypes. Triumphing over Adversity. Soaring towards Success. JustTheWayYouAre.com