Influential People of Norcross: Ariel Ghinga
Personality Development Group founder Ariel Ghinga talks about how his service can help people not only overcome their fear of talking in front of a crowd, but also help with their overall lives.
Ariel Ghinga is the founder of Personality Development Group, a coaching service where he teaches how perfecting the art of public speaking can improve one’s overall life. A Romania native and a Norcross resident since the age of 11, Ghinga does everything from staff training and private one-on-one coaching, and he provides a free beginners’ seminar Tuesday evenings at 45 South Cafe.
He’s also giving back to the community by going to different public schools in Gwinnett and talking about the SafePlace outreach program, which helps runaway teens by getting them off the streets and reconnecting them with their families.
Patch spoke with Ghinga about his company and how he hopes to change people’s lives.
When did you start Personality Development Group? I started in 2009 unofficially, because I was working my [other] job at the same time. Full-time, I started in 2011. On the side, I would have these seminars literally out of my one-bedroom apartment. I became a minimalist, got rid of a lot of the furniture in my house, even the couch, and I just set up a bunch of chairs and said, ‘This is what I’m going to do. I’m going to do seminars and teach people.” So in March of 2011, I left the leasing business and transitioned to my passion, my true love, to teach the world the art of public speaking through something I call the Freedom Circle Method.
What is the method? I believe your personality is comprised of six fundamental human freedoms: your mental freedom, your social freedom, your physical freedom, your relational freedom, your financial freedom and your spiritual freedom. I believe everyone has their own freedom statement or slogan. We help people define what their statement is, and you speak about what matters most. So it’s not just a college public-speaking type of thing. The thing that makes PDG different is that there’s self-improvement interwoven in every session, so you’re getting inspired and motivated, you’re talking about your goals, getting reconnected with your life purpose, and as an off-shoot, your working on your public speaking because everything you do is in front of a class or group.
What inspired you to get into public speaking? When I was 17 years old, I had a really, really bad experience in geography class. I had to do a presentation on the country of Columbia. I remember getting in front of the class. I had the coolest poster, but when it came time for me to speak, this is what I said to them: literally nothing. I remember staring at people’s eyeballs and I sat back down. That experience at the age of 17, I said, ‘This is not normal. A person should not feel like this.” So that weekend I signed up for “Unleash the Power Within” with Tony Robbins because I wanted to see someone great on stage and I wanted to see how somehow is able to speak in public. The interesting thing is, when I got to the seminar at the age of 17, the whole world of self-improvement opened up to me because Tony Robbins teaches about life balance, about synergy, about relationships, finances, doing what you’re supposed to do. All that good information, these nuggets of wisdom, the whole world of self-development, it was introduced to me in one weekend. I said to myself, “This is what I want to do with my life. Some day I’m going to marry the art of public speaking training, and I’m going to combine that with the world of self-improvement.” And today, that’s what I’m doing; it deals with the whole person.
What’s one tip you give to people going in front of a crowd? One of the tips that I use is that I never memorize any speech. I never even write out the speech. I know some places tell you to do that, but every great speaker that I’ve seen, they speak from the heart. So what I do is that I teach something called the Bubble Map. It’s basically like a speech-crafting tool where you have an itinerary of what you’re going to talk about. With public speaking, all problems are categorized into a two-part problem. When you get up there and start to notice you’re freezing up, there’s something called epinephrine, or adrenaline, which is released through your body. You lose your train of thought, you don’t think clearly, everything becomes like tunnel vision, and you [get] physical sensations like a heavy heartbeat and sweaty palms. So the two-part problems are mental blocks and physical blocks, and they’re all coming from this epinephrine.
So what we do with training [is that] we make it really intense, so it makes you feel like you’re not overwhelmed by the epinephrine when it’s released in your body [during actual public speaking].
So one tip is to have an itinerary, or game plan of what you’re going to say, [but also] memorize your opener and memorize your closer. The first 30 seconds are so important. Other than that, don’t memorize anything.
So you’ve spoken at Gwinnett County Public Schools? What do you talk about? It’s [about] an outreach for the kids called SafePlace. There’s 129 Safe Place sites in Gwinnett County, and all of the QuickTrips have a Safe Place site, so if you have a conflict at home and you’re a teenager, you can go to QuickTrip and ask one of their employees, ‘Hey, do you have a Safe Place?’ and they have a volunteer come, pick you up and bring you to the shelter.
I also had a bad experience [with] a family conflict, and I ran away from home before. I kept walking on Indian Trail Road, and the first thing I found was a QuickTrip. I went inside, and it was weird because nobody was there except the lady behind the register. I told the lady my story, but I actually lied to her and told her I was 18. I convinced her to sell me a pack of cigarettes, and I started smoking (I don’t smoke anymore).
The funny thing is, the Safe Place program developed in 1983. [When I went into the QuickTrip], I asked for the wrong thing. I asked, “Hey, do you have a pack of Marlboro Lights?” because I didn’t know about the program. Had I known… so that’s part of my give-back to the community, I want to tell these young teens. I asked them [the other day] if they know someone who has thought about running away, and almost 60 percent of those kids’ hands went up. We don’t want kids to go out on the street, join gangs, make bad decisions, smoking, drugs and all that bad stuff, so I go around and tell people about this outreach program. The whole goal of Safe Place is family reunification, so they try to reunite you with the family, and they’re doing a good job.
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