Over the weekend, North Carolina and the speaking profession suffered a devastating loss. Jeanne Robertson CSP, CPAE passed at age 77.
According to a posting on her Facebook account, “She had some health challenges lately, but this was unexpected. Celebration of life details and an obituary will be posted here at a later date… We are sure – Jeanne is now telling stories in heaven, all the angels are laughing, and Left Brain is in the back with a big smile.”
“Left Brain” was a reference to her husband Jerry who had passed back in June. Jerry Ray Robertson was a graduate of Duke University. A scholarship basketball player, he captained the team in 1959. Jerry would later receive his master’s degree and doctorate at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. According to Wikipedia, Jerry was a teacher, school principal, and later worked in business.
Jeanne Robertson was figuratively larger than life.
She grew up as Jeanne Swanner in Graham, North Carolina. In 1963, at age 19, she was named Miss North Carolina. Jeanne came up short in her quest for Miss America, but her fellow contestants honored her with the Miss Congeniality award in the competition. The award (not the movie) is for the contestant seen as the most pleasant or kind presence among the competitors.
Nearly 60 years later, at 6 foot 2 inches, Jeanne is still the tallest contestant ever to compete in the Miss America pageant.
Robertson credits Miss North Carolina reign as the catalyst for her career as a speaker. After playing basketball and graduating from Auburn University, Jeanne would teach physical education for eight years. She began speaking professionally in the 1970s.
Her commanding stage presence and storytelling ability as a humorist were legendary. The North Carolina Press Association named Jeanne as its 2001 North Carolinian of the Year for “her popularity on the speaking circuit, her award-winning ways, and her representation of North Carolina.”
Her legacy lives on. Many short segments of her speaking are available on Jeanne’s YouTube channel. Her channel has over 340,000 subscribers.
Having had the honor of meeting Jeanne, I’m inspired by her work ethic and approach to humor. During the pandemic, she created a Livestream series each Saturday called “Live from the Back Porch.” She was continuously developing her stories and adding new material.
Back in May, I hosted a virtual Local Member Dine Around for NSA – Carolinas. It was at 8:30 a.m. Jeanne showed up out of the blue and dazzled everyone.
“Humor is not about one-liners or being able to tell jokes. It’s about accepting things about yourself that can’t be changed and finding the humor in situations around you.”
– Jeanne Robertson (1943-2021)
Stan Phelps walks the walk. He stands out in the sea of sameness by modeling his own Differentiated Experience (DX) message: Differentiation isn’t just about what you say, it’s about what you do and, more importantly, how and why you do it. Stan leverages his unique collection of 5,000+ case studies on customer, employee, and brand experience to engage audiences with informative learning-based experiences. He believes purposeful DX wins the hearts of employees and customers, and differentiation ultimately boosts loyalty, retention, referrals, and results.
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