Keynote Sessions



Tuesday, Sept. 28
3:30 pm  |  Cascade 3 & 4


We are Wired for Stories

Dr. Steven Shepard
Shepard Communications

We are wired for stories!

40,000 years ago, before humans had language, we told stories. We painted them on the walls of caves; we pantomimed them by firelight. Why? It’s simple, really. The one thing we have that makes us truly different from other species is language. It matters because it allows us to describe complex objects and even more complex emotions. That, in turn, leads to connection, and connection gives rise to community.

Community is more than the town you live in. Community is your immediate family; it’s the relationships you share with your work colleagues; it’s interplay among professional organizations. It’s the set of qualities that describe life in a firehouse.

Which is why the art of storytelling is such an important skill for people to develop, especially leaders. Why? Because it is story that allows them to motivate others, to help them paint a compelling picture of where they’re going. But the craft belongs to everyone. Trying to teach a new firefighting skill? Story. Trying to motivate the town to fund new lifesaving equipment? Story. Trying to get the community to understand what it means to be a firefighter? Story. Trying to describe complex procedures, or the economics of a new truck, or trends in EMT or paramedic encounters? Story.

Maya Angelou said it best:  "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

In this presentation, we talk about the power of story and how everyone can harness its extraordinary qualities to motivate, inspire, communicate, drive collaboration and innovation, and, more than anything, create connection. We’ll talk about the structure of well-crafted stories, how that are most effectively used, options for narrative style, and the fine art of collecting and filing them for later use.


Thursday, September 30
3:00 pm  |  Cascade 3 & 4


Suffer From BURNOUT?

Mark Yarbrough
Former District Attorney, Lamb County, TX

Burnout affects millions of Americans each year and has been called “the disease of our civilization.”  The unhappiness and detachment burnout causes can threaten your job, your relationships, and your health.  But there’s good news -- burnout can be healed.  Former 20-year elected District Attorney, MARK YARBROUGH, from Littlefield, Texas (hometown of Waylon Jennings), personally experienced burnout, learned how to successfully overcome it, and went from “Burnout” to “On Fire!”  He has since become a “burnout expert” and has written and published on the subject. 


Mark is a very entertaining, motivating and inspiring speaker.  He has taught thousands of people how to overcome Burnout -- from companies like Blue Bell Ice Cream and Xcel Energy, to teachers and doctors/nurses, to a variety of government workers (police officers, CPS workers, attorneys, victim’s rights advocates, counselors, mental health professionals, etc.).  

Audience members will learn the definition of Burnout and the symptoms thereof.  But more importantly, attendees will be laughing, and at the same time learning how to apply Mark’s F.I.N.G.E.R. philosophy to help themselves or their co-workers avoid and/or recover from Burnout.  This is a training that you won’t want to miss!

Speaker Biographies


Steven Shepard, Ph.D.

Dr. Steven Shepard is the founder of the Shepard Communications Group in Williston, Vermont, co-founder of the Executive Crash Course Company, and founder of Shepard Images.   A professional author, photographer, audio producer, and educator with more than 35 years of experience in the technology industry, he has written books and articles on a wide variety of topics, including technology, business, biographies, history, photography, children’s stories, storytelling, wildlife recording and fiction. His published books number 84 and counting.

Steve is the creator and host of the Natural Curiosity Podcast, which is devoted to the discovery of the joy and wonder of the natural world and based on the idea that curiosity leads to discovery, discovery leads to knowledge, knowledge leads to insight, and insight leads to understanding. It’s available on iTunes, or on SoundCloud.

Mark Yarbrough
Mark Yarbrough was elected to five terms as the Lamb County & District Attorney.  He served for 20 years, prosecuting everything from death penalty cases to DWIs.  During his tenure, in 2002, he was awarded the M.A.D.D. regional prosecutor of the year.  He served on the board of directors for the Texas District & County Attorney’s Association, and is a member of the National District Attorney’s Association.  He also is one of the founding fellows of the Texas Prosecutor’s Society.  Mark is listed by the Lawyers of Distinction as one of the top 10% of lawyers in the United States, and by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys as one of the “10 Best Attorneys” for Texas.  Mark graduated from Abilene Christian University in 1984.  Following that, he worked as a loan officer for Dallas Federal Savings.  In 1987, Mark went back to law school at Texas Tech School of Law where he graduated in 1989.  At the end of 2012, Mark retired as District Attorney and travels the country giving motivational speeches regarding Burnout.  He has also written and been published on the subject of Burnout.  Mark’s interests include – golf, basketball, karaoke, and tropical vacations. 


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