Questions and Answers – The fun of presenting to live audiences

Teddy Roosevelt presents at The Kaleidoscope Factory

Teddy Roosevelt presents at The Kaleidoscope Factory

Often after a presentation as Theodore Roosevelt, I open the floor to questions.  Events that hire me often comment about the fact that people ask me questions by starting with “Mr. President”.  They are also intrigued by the fact that after all these years of study, I can field almost any question an audience asks.

Recently, I did an event at a history center where people were asked to show up with “stump the President” questions.  They told me about it when I arrived I was very concerned about what they might ask.  Most of them were much easier questions than the ones I was given back when I competed in contests.

The “doozey” questions still come up from time to time and I enjoy searching through my memory bank or doing research for the answer when they can stump me.  Some questions are rather subjective, and I have to literally take off my “Roosevelt hat” and answer as myself.  I thought you might be interested in some more recent questions – the answer I gave and the research I did after with the most common answer.

“When you shot an elephant on Safari – what gun and caliber did you use?”  The answer I gave: “Winchester .405 I believe, but my memory is not perfect so don’t quote me!”  Correct answer: Some experts say it was the Winchester .405 but others say it was the Holland 500-450.  My gut tells me that the Holland would have been a better choice and was probably what he used.

“What is your IQ?” The answer I gave: “Enough to get by. I am not the smartest man but I read a book a day so at least I can feel that way”  Correct answer:  Current estimates place Roosevelt’s IQ at 146.5

“How would you life have been different if your first wife had not died?”  I had to remove my hat for this one.  “We all have points in our lives where there is a “fork in the road” and we must choose our path.  Roosevelt said “I would have never become President if it were not for my time in the Dakotas”, which happened because his wife passed away and he went west to regroup himself.  From his perspective, our nation would have never benefited from his perspective on building a better country if his wife had not died  (maybe).  Correct answer: unanswerable.

“Who was the man with the shot off finger?” I still have yet to figure out this question and who the man is.  (I would appreciate any insights anyone has on this one).

The question and answer period is a great chance to connect further and have people get to the questions they wished they could ask Roosevelt.  I relate it to the idea “If you could sit down for a beer with someone from history, who would it be?”.  I can’t replace the real Roosevelt in that dream, but at least I can be a reasonable facsimilie.  (Unlike Roosevelt, I would actually drink the beer!)

 

 

 

What we all can learn from Teddy Roosevelt.

Theodore Roosevelt

The economic downturn in 2008 hit my home like it did for many of my executive friends who experienced “opportunity” to find new places to work.   For me personally, it was a devastating experience. There was very little work for a Marketing executive when few were buying anything.  My network was good, but not that good.

My opportunity came from an unlikely source – Theodore Roosevelt.

 “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”. (TR)

If I had been given the choice, I would have picked George Clooney as my doppelganger, but mine is Theodore Roosevelt.  As an occasional actor, I hoped there might be some part-time work I could pick up looking like him.

My contact to agents who specialize in look-alikes was not promising.  If I looked like Elvis or Marilyn Monroe, I might keep busy, but all recommended “Don’t quit your day job”.

Research into a job as a Presidential Impersonator was even more defeating.  It’s great work if you resemble the current President.  Potentially six figures, travel, fake secret service – in a word – “awesome” – for up to 8 years.  Once that President is out the door, you will be too.  My research wasn’t going the way I had hoped.

I decided to explore the motivational speaking circuit, as I figured there must be some call for motivating talks from famous leaders!   There is for living ones, but there was not much demand for dead ones. Three strikes and I should have been out.

 “Believe you can, and you are half-way there”. (TR)

A smart man stops after all the market research tells you to quit.  I was not about to let common sense get in my way.

I watched the Edison movies of Roosevelt, listened to recordings and memorized quotes.  Accomplishing those quickly, I found a place to do my first talk.   My nerves were so frazzled that I was able to crack my voice as Roosevelt did in real life without effort.  Anxiety flowed out of my pores and dripped off the end of my nose.  People were cordial as I wiped my brow repeatedly.  Once I finished my talk, they applauded! They thanked me and a few wanted my business card.

Each time I presented I got a little better.  My many hours of research on Roosevelt was paying off as I became better versed in his policies, his family and accomplishments.  As my confidence grew, so too did the requests.  I went from presenting just facts to presenting the concepts around the facts.

Then one day everything changed.  What made the difference was the day I truly internalized what I had been saying as the great man.    The words were no longer just “sound bites”.  They had become real for me – thus becoming real from me.

 “With self-discipline, most anything is possible”. (TR)

My personal goal from that point forward was to make people feel as if they had actually met Theodore Roosevelt.  I decided if I could do that, anything I wanted to achieve with my being “Teddy”, was possible.

The first time it happened was at a large history education event where they bused in school children during the week.  The event was open to the public for the weekend which allowed a very angry mother to place her daughter in front of me with firm orders I was to tell her that I was NOT Roosevelt.  I refused.  Mom learned from President Roosevelt that day that belief was an essential driver to success.  I had perfected convincing a child.  But I needed to convince an adult – a living, breathing intellectual adult.

It occurred one Sunday a few weeks later when a couple sheepishly came up to me at a similar multiple day event.  “Remember us?” they asked as they looked me up and down.  “Indeed I do!  How are you?” I responded.

They went on to inform me that they had become so engrossed in our conversation the previous day that after they left and went home, they each started to question what they had experienced.  I had tested their reality just enough that they decided they needed to come back to make sure I was actually at the event and that I was just a guy who looked and acted like Roosevelt.  Today, most people ask me questions by starting with “Mr. Roosevelt?” and often comment later in the hallway about how real it felt to them.

 “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care” (TR)

Since my revelation of the goal of making it “real”, I have been blessed with ongoing referrals that keep me busy across the country.  My talks are no longer just sound bites and quotes, but impactful discussions about the application of Roosevelt’s ideas, delivered by him, that we can apply each day to improve our own lives and those around us.  My appearances have expanded far beyond history events to include convention keynotes and government functions. I have raised millions for wildlife conservation and helped to create a National Monument, all as T.R.

Wherever I am, I encourage people to embrace Roosevelt’s idea of “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are” and apply his principal of “Believe you can, and you are half-way there!”

For myself, I have learned that I believe we all have the capacity to reinvent ourselves just as Roosevelt did many times over.  Doing so takes incredibly hard work, courage to face your critics and determination to push far beyond your own comfort level. It also requires the support from others who cheer on your efforts and help you brush yourself off when you fail.

But in the end, “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer, is the chance to work hard at work worth doing”.

 

Adam Lindquist is the Director of Membership for the Professional Risk Managers International Association who support his passion with job flexibility to work as an award-winning Theodore Roosevelt look-alike, educator and speaker.

TR and the power of Character

Speaking Theodore Roosevelt 1907

“The division between the worthy and the unworthy citizen must be drawn on conduct and character and not on wealth or poverty.”

Roosevelt was raised by a father who stressed that wealth provided opportunity to help others but the quality of your character was the reason to do so.  In college, “Teddy” met many people of privilege who were living off of family trusts with no desire to do anything but relax once out of college – and he loathed them.  Later, he would meet poor but able people who chose not to subscribe to hard work and he felt the same about them.  What he determined is what his father had preached: that character drives the success of a person, and success was not money, but contribution to society.

TR believed in the Strenuous life, a life of toil and work worth doing.   To him,  character was the ultimate measure of a person and he considered his own demonstration of it to others as his hallmark.  There were many people who politically he disagreed, but considered close friends because of their commitment to others and society as a whole.  Many of his actions went against the Republican party of the time, because he believed strongly that decisions were not just to appease the country for that moment, but to build a country for “your children and your children’s children”.

 

Theodore Roosevelt on Lincoln

The White House

The White House

Theodore Roosevelt considered Abraham Lincoln to have been one of the greatest leaders of the United States and many of his insights into leadership were formed from his reading about the 16th President.

In  a letter from his office, Roosevelt wrote:

“I am mighty glad you like what I have been doing in the governmental field.  I do not have to tell you that my great hero is Abraham Lincoln, and I have wanted while President to be the representative of the “plain people” in the sense that he was – not, of course, with the genius and power that he was, but according to my lights, along the same lines.”  – White House, June 13, 1906

To understand his perspective it is helpful to understand the Roosevelt family connection to Lincoln.  “Teddy’s” father, Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. was a “Lincoln Republican” and during the war between the States, he and two friends, William Earl Dodge, Jr. and Theodore B. Bronson, drew up an Allotment System, which amounted to a soldier’s payroll deduction program to support families back home. He then went to Washington, lobbied for, and won acceptance of this system, with the help of Abraham Lincoln himself.  Theodore Sr. and Mr. Dodge were appointed Allotment Commissioners from NY State. At their own expense, the two men toured all NY divisions of the Army of the Potomac in the field to explain this program and sign interested men up, with a significant degree of success. Over $1 million dollars was sent home from soldiers because of this program.

There was a sort of “mini” civil war in the Roosevelt home during the same time.  “Teddy’s” mother Mittie was raised in Georgia at a plantation where her family owned slaves.  Mittie had a personal slave companion growing up who slept at the foot of her bed.  Her brothers fought for the confederates and because of this, she requested that her husband did not joint the Union army.  Roosevelt’s father was wealthy and as it was custom of the day, paid for someone else to fight in his place to appease his wife’s wishes.   Roosevelt, Sr.  was well known by the Lincoln’s and was a favorite escort of Mrs. Lincoln when he was in Washington.

There is no actual account of young Teddy meeting President Lincoln and I believe that if he had met him, he would have spoken about it at some point is his life, given his reverence for the man.    There is a photo that many claim is  young Theodore watching from a window as the funeral procession moves past his grandfather’s home, the claim being a photo of the two Presidents together: TR and Lincoln.

Roosevelt referenced Lincoln many times in his famous speeches and the hero’s of the battlefield for both sides of the war.  Roosevelt’s comment on leadership however gives us a good insight into his perception of how a leader is made and why we regard Lincoln in high esteem.

“If there is not the war, you don’t get the great general; if there is not a great occasion, you don’t get a great statesman; if Lincoln had lived in a time of peace, no one would have known his name.”

 

Heavenly Iowa and yet another life lesson

Roosevelt! the play

Roosevelt! the play

I was fortunate to premier Roosevelt! at the Donna Reed Theater in Denison, Iowa this past week.  I gave two performances there – one with almost 350 fourth and fifth graders who learned about their 26th President and many of his adventures.  They were so well behaved that both Mrs. Roosevelt and I couldn’t believe it.  I was told afterwards that usually these children are fidgeting in their seats, but that they were so engaged in the stories that they didn’t move a muscle!  We did an evening performance as well, which went great with much discussion in the hallway after.

I also performed at The Kaleidoscope Factory in Pocahontas, Iowa the following day to a fun crowd.

Many years ago I read a book entitled “Blue Highways” by William Least Heatmoon about traveling the back roads of America.  After a very scary near-death experience on the Interstate, I have for almost 3 decades preferred the road less traveled.  My beautiful wife is great at hunting out places to see when we drive the unbeaten path and one such trip she found a factory that made Kaleidoscopes.  It was in a very small town and when we stopped we ended up spending several hours with the owner.  When he asked what I did, I told him I was just starting to portray Theodore Roosevelt and he offered at that moment to “Hire me someday”.  Five years later I received an email from him saying he was ready – if I was.  He had moved to a larger town, and was converting his shop  – when he could – a few evenings a month into a specialty live entertainment venue for performances.

When we arrived there was sawdust on the floors and tables set up for manufacturing!  Within a few hours, we had converted the whole place to a small theater complete with seating and a stage.

Life lesson From Roosevelt “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”

Life Lesson from Leonard: “I just do what I can, with what I have, where I am”

Please take a moment to learn about this amazing man by visiting him at http://www.kaleidoscopefactory.com/ and like him on Facebook at The Kaleidoscope Factory.    I highly recommend one of his handmade scopes – they are a great way spend a few minutes of enjoyment each week without the need for batteries! (Had mine for over 5 years so I know!)

Roosevelt in Ireland

The Stag's Head

The Stag’s Head

I just returned from a week in Ireland for my “real job”.  While there, I took a few days to tour the Dublin area and see the sights.  Two events lead to discussions about Teddy Roosevelt – even though I never told them about my work back in America as the great man.

The first came when I was touring a castle north of Dublin and as we toured we entered a child’s bedroom with a stuffed bear on a chair.  I asked her what they call that kind of bear in Ireland and she just looked at me sort of perplexed.  “You mean the Teddy Bear?” she pondered.  I asked her if she knew who the bear was named after and she said “I am not sure of how to pronounce it – but Roooooooooooosavelt”?

The second came at the famous Stag Head Pub in Dublin.   I was speaking with the Gentleman behind the bar about a place with a similar name back in the states.  (the Buckhorn exchange in Denver).  I mentioned The Buckhorn hosted both Buffalo Bill and Roosevelt frequently because the owner was a hunting guide.  When I told him this, he started speaking of Roosevelt and his accomplishments.  We had a lively discussion about history, Roosevelt and hunting general.

I never once mentioned my connection to representing the man, only listened and fixed facts when needed.

The Buckhorn Exchange

The Buckhorn Exchange

It reinforced to me the impact Roosevelt made during his life and of course in the history books.  His accomplishments truly reach across the globe.

New Year with Gusto

On the Set with Roosevelt

On the Set with Roosevelt

The new year is starting with a very busy schedule of events, theater and more.

I am finalizing a one man play entitled “Roosevelt”! that will premier at the Donna Reed Theater in February.  This is an exciting time as I pull together the set, finalize the script and add the elements that make a play engaging, memorable and entertaining.  Roosevelt himself said “It is better to wear out than rust out” and there are many days where being worn out is how I finish my day.

When I envisioned how the set would look, I decided to recruit my artist friend to help me develop the concept.  We both agreed that an easy to set-up set was important, but that it had to truly set the stage of the “largess” of the man.  As you can see by a few of the elements as we stand in front of  a portion of the set, I found the right helpers!  The amazing part is that two people can snap together the panels in less than 10 minutes and entire ensemble stores flat and is designed to get through a standard door. (it was designed for theaters, so that other part was more about getting it out of the house once we built it)

This set will be used in inside events I do only, and mostly Theaters.  However, there may be a few opportunities where I could include it in other Roosevelt presentations, such as the one I just did for the Mountain Lake Historical Society, which you can read about in the “Travels with Teddy” portion of this blog.

My calendar is filling fast and I am blessed to be able to recreate a most amazing man.  I am looking forward to the adventures!

Veterans Day with Roosevelt

IN HONOR OF VETERANS DAY, Nov. 11, 2014 —Minnesotan Adam Lindquist’s award-winning portrayal of America’s 26th president, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, entertained a roomful of guests and veterans at Covenant Village of Golden Valley on Tuesday, Nov. 11. Pictured, left to right, Brooklyn Park, Minn.-resident Marvin Ceynar; Adam Lindquist as Teddy Roosevelt; and U.S. Navy veteran and Covenant Village of Golden Valley resident Wally Swanson.

IN HONOR OF VETERANS DAY, Nov. 11, 2014 —Minnesotan Adam Lindquist’s award-winning portrayal of America’s 26th president, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, entertained a roomful of guests and veterans at Covenant Village of Golden Valley on Tuesday, Nov. 11. Pictured, left to right, Brooklyn Park, Minn.-resident Marvin Ceynar; Adam Lindquist as Teddy Roosevelt; and U.S. Navy veteran and Covenant Village of Golden Valley resident Wally Swanson.

Veteran’s Day as we know it didn’t exist when Roosevelt was President.

It wasn’t until November 1919 that President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”  It was in honor of “The war to end all wars”.

Even though we did not have an “official” day at the time, Roosevelt acknowledged the sacrifices of those who came before, often citing those who fought in the Civil War in many speeches he presented.  The importance of Patriotism, sacrifice and honor are prevalent in the majority of Roosevelt speeches.

TR also spent much time after the Spanish American War with his “Rough Riders”.  These events were very popular with those who served, and even though Roosevelt wasn’t able to attend the 10th Anniversary, this gives you and idea of what many reunions must have been like:

Monday, Dec. 14, 1908

The Rough Riders, the regiment Theodore Roosevelt led in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, held their 10th annual reunion last night at the Union League Club. Roosevelt did not attend, but Major Gen. Leonard Wood, “the first Colonel of the Rough Riders,” did. Roosevelt’s regrets are quoted: “I wish I could be present at that dinner, but it is out of the question. Give my warmest regards to all present. The flag we carried is, I think, in Arizona. Personally, I should deem it very unwise to keep sending it around the country to the different reunions.” His wishes were not followed. “Col. Benson went to Arizona and got the flag. … The first toast drunk was ‘To the Dead,’ and was drunk in silence. Gen. Wood proposed the toast, ‘To the President of the United States.’ He told in an impromptu speech of the difficulties in clearing Santiago, and later Havana, of the yellow fever peril, also of his work in the Philippines, and said that, whatever he may have accomplished there, it was materially helped by the enthusiastic support given by President Roosevelt. … One of the most interesting features of the evening was the singing of the Rough Rider song by Col. Emerson. This song, which has about a thousand or so verses, was composed by Col. Emerson while the regiment was on duty in Cuba. It has been added to at almost every special occasion since. The chorus goes thus: ‘Rough Riders we are, from the West,/Green tenderfeet the rest,/Of mounted men the best./Rallied at Woods’ and Roosevelt’s behest/To carry our way to glory.’ Col. Emerson sang verses until he was tired, and early this morning the Rough Riders were still chanting the chorus as they went homeward.”

On a personal note, I would like to take a moment to thank those who served and to honor those who gave their lives so that we could be free.  Thank you is not enough to say for all you have done.

 

 

Roosevelt’s Tiffany Bowie Knife

Only Tiffany would do for TR

Only Tiffany would do for TR

I had a client send me an article of the 1st public reference of the word “dandy” and the writer claimed it was about Theodore Roosevelt.  You can see by this photo why the guide who was hired to take him on the Bison hunt in Dakota Territory called him a “dandy” and why he had second thoughts about the whole thing when this man got off the train.  The high voiced spectacled man insisted he wanted to hunt on horseback and the guide informed him that no “greenhorn” from the east was going to use any of his horses – Roosevelt would ride in a buckboard.  It was only after Roosevelt offered to pay $50 for one of the man’s horses that he was able to get what he wanted – and show the man he could actually ride.

Roosevelt first went to the badlands to hunt that bison and he had his clothing, knife and gun made to his specifications.  Of course, he had the local photographer take his photo in studio to show the amazing outfit he had assembled – The buckskin shirt you see on him here was made for him for the outlandish price of $100 – a steep amount indeed (when you consider he offered to buy a horse for $50).  But when you add the silver and gold gun with ivory handles and the knife you see tucked in his buck skin pants, his investment just to look good for his bison hunt is impressive.  His bowie knife was made by his friends at Tiffany’s – who would supply him for much of his life.  In fact, it was Tiffany who funded special rifles for the Rough Riders at Roosevelt’s request.

I was fortunate to come upon a reproduction of his knife which I take in a glass case to many of the events at which I speak.  The side you see here pictures Davy Crocket, on the flip side is his name spelled out in cursive.  The blade on the Davy side features bears, while the opposite has a scenic deer motif.  The knife is silver and heavy and larger than life, just like its owner was!

Only the best for “Teddy”.

He killed a cougar once with only a knife:-

Keystone Ranch, Colo., Jan. 14th, 1901 –
“Soon we saw the lion in a treetop, with two of the dogs so high up among the branches that he was striking at them. He was more afraid of us than of the dogs, and as soon as he saw us he took a great flying leap and was off, the pack close behind. In a few hundred yards they had him up another tree. This time, after a couple of hundred yards, the dogs caught him, and a great fight followed. They could have killed him by themselves, but he bit or clawed four of them, and for fear he might kill one I ran in and stabbed him behind the shoulder, thrusting the knife right into his heart. I have always wished to kill a cougar as I did this one, with dogs and the knife.”

Was it the silver 1884  Tiffany Knife?  We’ll never know!

 

 

Why Roosevelt was different than other Presidents

Speaking to the people

Speaking to the people

I have had a lot of discussions with people after the mini-series on PBS and I am amazed at the different perceptions / comments on how they felt Burn’s portrayed TR.   A few comments have centered around the idea that Roosevelt was a “war monger” or “quick to decision”.  Here is my rebuttal to both:

Dig deeper than the PBS series could.

“Speak softly and carry a big stick” was a preventative approach to war, not the reason for one.  Roosevelt knew that having a strong military and showing the world that the United States was prepared to take action if attacked, meant that the potential enemies would think twice before doing so.  They did – The United States was not involved in any major conflicts during Roosevelt’s Presidency.  (We did support Panama in their quest for independence, but the U.S. was not directly named in the conflict)  Additionally, Roosevelt was the first American to win the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with brokering peace in the Russo- Japanese War.  That’s not very “war mongering” – it actually is the exact opposite.

As a leader in the battle of San Juan Heights, TR lost friends and many of his men, so he knew the direct cost of war.  His position was peace, with an understanding that he would defend his countrymen if we were placed in a position to do so.

The idea that he was too quick in making a decision I would frame with an understanding of the man.  Roosevelt was an extremely well read historian with a photographic memory.  When he looked at a problem, he did so with a computer-like mind, sifting through history  to assess other societies faced with similar circumstances. He then compared that to his current time, along with inputs from those around him.   His decisions were quick in the sense that he didn’t dawdle,  but to imply that being quick meant they were not well reasoned would frankly place the odds against him.  Most of his decisions of the time are still embraced as laws and common sense we follow today.  The Pure Food and Drug Act, the Meat Inspection Act, the National Forest Service, National Wildlife Refuges, National Monuments.  Roosevelt made decisions as a leader looking to the future, based on the current needs and experiences and history of the past.   His decisions continue today to be embraced, meaning he beat the odds -few of his ideas have been replaced with better ones.  That’s why today’s politician’s want to be measured as “good as TR”