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www.exceptionalmag.com

July-August 2010

CONTENTS

Cover Photo by Georgio Sabino

Extraordinary Profiles 3 10

Cover Story— George Fraser—World’s Foremost Networking Authority Ron Clark—Ron Clark Academy

Inspiration 16

The Door to Your Dreams is Open

18

Karen Mager—A Rose By a Different Name

27

Is There a “Gift” in Life Trauma? Find It and You Will Flourish!

The Lighter Side 30

Mooching and Other Ways to Save Money

31

Mediterranean Chicken Salad

32

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

34

Exercise in Futility

37

Writers and Contributors

Time. A precious commodity that cannot be recaptured. How will you spend your time today?


COVER Extraordinary Profiles George C. Fraser

World’s Foremost Networking Authority

STORY


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Extraordinary Profiles

Online social networking -it’s the latest craze and millions of people have joined in. From Facebook, to Twitter, LinkedIn and many others, social networking has become the “in-thing”. So what happened to the personal touch, meeting in a room filled with individuals? Building successful relationships at organized functions has existed for many years and it remains one of the most effective ways to build a network of contacts. Who knows that better than one of the world’s foremost networking gurus, George C. Fraser, Chairman and CEO of FraserNet, Inc. He has proven this fact. Born and raised in a family of 11 children, Fraser’s childhood was not what most kids dream about – a carefree life with friends and playful times to remember. Instead, at the age of three, he and his siblings were orphaned, separated and placed in foster homes. His mother became mentally ill and because his father lacked the education needed to get a higher paying job, he could not handle the responsibility of 11 children. Driving a cab 12 to 14 hours a day was not enough to support his family. “It is not where you start, but where you finish,” says Fraser. Even as a young child, he wanted more out of life. Self-preservation was on his mind. He wanted to escape the toxic environment; the rough, mean streets of the New York foster homes in which he and his siblings resided.

You can grow up in a wonderful home but if you allow the external and negative forces of your environment to change your view of life, you will not become productive as an adult. An analogy could be if you didn’t succeed in your endeavors as a child, that doesn’t have to affect the remainder of your life. Despite an unkind childhood, Fraser has achieved an amazing level of success and he is helping thousands to develop successful business and professional relationships. He is often called the World’s Networking Authority. Through years of perfecting his craft, Fraser has built a company that provides thousands with the elements essential to successful networking. His annual Power Networking Conference draws over 40,000 attendees annually. Early in Fraser’s career, he realized that he had a skill only a few possessed – the ability to successfully establish and nurture relationships. Fraser shared with the Editor-inChief of Exceptional People Magazine how he went from an unpleasant childhood to a life of success through hard work, commitment and integrity. Monica: You had a very interesting childhood and I’d like to provide some insight into what your childhood was like. George: I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York to a family of 11 children, eight boys and three girls. My father came to this country in the early 1900s from Guyana. He

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married a beautiful, fair-skinned sister, Ida Mae Baldwin from Lumpkin, Georgia, and they lived in Brooklyn. When I turned three years old, my mother became mentally ill and was institutionalized for the balance of her life. My father, as a black man, could not get a good education and a good job in the early 1900s in America. My father was relegated to driving a New York City cab. He had to work 12 to 14 hours a day and could not care for 11 children, so I was orphaned. We were all orphaned. I stayed in an orphanage from age three to five. No one would take 11 children, so we were broken up into threes. I spent the balance of my life until I aged out of foster homes, growing up on the rough streets, the mean streets of New York. It was a very tough life. It’s not an indictment of the foster homes; it is just that the foster homes where I was placed were very toxic. I aged out at 17, and aging out simply means that the foster parents are not paid for your care. So they either volunteer to keep you, or you have to leave. In my case, I had to leave. I went back to the brownstone home that my father maintained while we were in foster homes. There I was met by several of

“ First things first, second things

never. Do the first thing--what’s in front of you. Do it with excellence. Do it with quality and then the second thing will be first.”


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my older brothers who had aged out as well. The difference between us was that they were heroin addicts living a very toxic life and I was 17 years old, in a bad environment. I understood very deeply that I would have to get out of that environment, or I would probably end up like them. Monica: How did you escape from the negative environment of the streets that overtook your brothers? George: Well, we lived in different foster homes. The foster home in which I was placed was in Queens, a suburb of New York City. I was not exposed to the street life they were exposed to. It was a much more innocent lifestyle. We grew up in different environments. I was nurtured differently than my brothers. So that’s how I escaped. It was a little bit of luck and a little bit of nature and some nurturing. As soon as I was able, I packed my bags and took a Greyhound bus to Cleveland, Ohio where my older sister, a nurse, took me in. I didn’t report back to my family for five years to let them know where I was. I didn’t want my family to know where I was until I got my life together. When I got my life together, I went back to New York and I saved two of them. While in high school, I was shipped off to a vocational school. I obtained a vocational diploma in woodworking from Thomas Edison High School

Extraordinary Profiles

because no one thought I was college material. I didn’t agree. For several years, I worked on the midnight shift at LaGuardia Airport mopping floors, to pay my way through college, disproving what people believed about me.

cape my circumstances, and I wanted more than what I had been exposed to.

And the motto of that story is very simple. It is not where you start, it is where you finish. That’s the big lesson that I teach and preach to help people understand that you can grow up in dire circumstances and in spite of those circumstances, you can excel. You can do well if you follow certain principles and rules in life.

George: Absolutely. What did I have? I had a mother. I had a father who had a mentally ill wife who was institutionalized, but he stayed married to her until he died and she died. That’s what I had. I had foster parents who stayed married, come hell or high water, until they both died. Those were my models, and that model simply said that life isn’t a crystal staircase, that we’re human, that we all bring baggage to the table of life, that we all have our issues and challenges, our differences. How can I grow up in one environment, you grow up in another and when we get married, how could someone expect us to be exactly the same? There are going to be differences, but you live through those differences. You iron them out and you stay together for the sake of family, community, children. That’s the kind of environment that I grew up in. That’s the kind of environment that we need to get back to today.

When I was growing up, divorce among our people was certainly not what it is today. Our families stayed together come hell or high water. My father, in spite of the fact that my mother was in a mental institution for the remainder of her life, never remarried. He stayed connected to her and kept us connected to her. We went to visit her in the mental institution. She hardly recognized us, she was basically insane. My father kept us connected to our mother and kept us connected to him. We returned home when we were older and were able to care for ourselves and earn our own way. We had a place to live. Everybody has a story. The question is, are you willing to analyze and understand who and why you are and the motivating factors that you need to succeed. My motivating factor was I wanted to escape. I wanted to es-

Monica: Would you say your past experiences have had an impact on your 36-year marriage?

Monica: When did you realize that focusing on networking and bringing people together was your calling? George: It came to me in mid-life. I noticed that after having spent nearly 20 years working in the public and

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Extraordinary Profiles

private sectors as an executive with Proctor and Gamble, United Way and Ford Motor Company, with only a vocational high school education, I out-performed and achieved more than most of the people around me who graduated from Harvard, Yale, Morehouse, Dartmouth. I was being promoted and achieving extraordinary results wherever I worked; and it wasn’t because I was the smartest person in the room or had the most illustrious credentials. What I noticed was that I had the best interpersonal and people skills. I noticed that my emotional quotient and my ability to cultivate, nurture and build relations were far superior to the people around me. I had skills and I certainly learned the jobs that I was assigned. I developed my skills around the responsibilities that I was given, so I had the raw talent. I just didn’t have the formal education. What I had that was better than most was relationship-building skills. I knew when to lead and I knew when to follow. I knew how to love and to like people and how to have them love and like me. I kept asking myself, “I wonder if black people understand how important this relationship-building skill is in their climb and in their success?” I began taking a harder look at that. I began speaking on it while I was employed and then decided that I would leave the velvet handcuffs of my sixfigure salary and start a business teaching culturally specific communities about the power and importance of relationships. The first business I started was called Success Source - Linking People and Ideas. I funded it with my stock options from Proctor and Gamble. The

first product that I produced for Success Source was a series of monthly networking events called Success Net - Success through Networking.

that’s exactly what happened. You have to be patient because you cannot run up a mountain. It takes planning; it takes time; it takes focus.

It was a brand new concept no one had ever seen before. In fact, it hadn’t been done anywhere in the country. And it was simply inviting AfricanAmerican professionals, leaders and business owners to a place, a venue. The first hour was cocktails and then I taught people how to engage in conversation and exchange business cards. I brought in well-known speakers such as John Johnson from Ebony Magazine or Ron Brown who was then chairman of the Democratic Party. That’s how Success Net began. We named it “The Party with a Purpose.”

Monica: How many years did it take to build your business to the point where you have many people who attend annually?

Monica: You have built a global network of 40,000-plus people who meet annually. Did you think you would accomplish something so large? George: No, quite frankly. I wasn’t thinking that far in advance. I live by a very simple philosophy, first things first, second things never. Do the first thing--what’s in front of you. Do it with excellence. Do it with quality and then the second thing will be first and you focus on that. It’s no different than climbing a mountain. You have to climb the mountain looking at the first step, right in front of you. In fact you have to look down to climb up. I’ve always lived by that philosophy and that philosophy was do it month by month; put on an excellent program and get people totally excited about my ideas. And then you put on the next program, and more people will become excited. If you just keep doing that, before you know it you’ll be at the top of the mountain and

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George: It took 20 years and 250 events. This is before the internet. So therein lies another lesson. Chart a good and righteous course and stay that course. You have to know what is right for you and begin down the path and stick with it. If you do that, it will be impossible to fail. Monica: Does your technique, the networking events that you sponsor monthly and the annual networking global event work for other ethnic groups or do you mainly focus on African-Americans? George: I mainly focus on AfricanAmericans but I speak all over the world and to all groups. I speak all over the world on the power and importance of the relationships in our lives. The ideas I speak about, the strategy, the tactics for effective networking and building relationships are applicable to anybody. Monica: What are your thoughts on the internet, the social networking that takes place on the internet today? George: I think it’s wonderful. I think it needs to be used in a specific way, especially if you’re in business. It’s very helpful, especially for people who are shy. It’s a great way to meet new people all over the world. Here’s the caution, it cannot replace face-toface meetings. It cannot replace the human spirit, the human voice, the human touch. At some point in time


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you’re going to have to get out of your bunny slippers, get out of your pajamas, get your hair done and come out into the real world, talk, meet and greet people and press the flesh. It does not replace going to networking events, meeting people and exchanging business cards. Monica: What are some important steps to proper networking? George: Well, there are three steps in the relationship-building process. They are critical steps, and I have written about them extensively in my book “Click: Ten Truths for Building Extraordinary Relationships” and my book “Success Runs In Our Race: The Complete Guide to Effective Networking in the Black Community.” The first step is what I call the identification step, and this is where you identify people that you want to meet in life. As part of this identification step, there is the step of meeting people by circumstance and happenstance. We meet people on elevators. We meet people in the mall. We meet people on airplanes. We meet people in workshops, seminars and conferences. The first step is engagement. When we engage a person, we exchange information or niceties perhaps. Ultimately, if we like what we feel and see, we exchange business cards or information. That’s the first step in the process.

Extraordinary Profiles

The second step in the process is the connecting step, and connecting is based on common ground. Common ground is based on people, places and things. The more common ground you have with someone, the higher the trust level. The higher the trust, the more willingness a person has to share key concepts and information. Here’s what I know in 30-plus years of networking, and that is the 99.99 percent of everyone that I’ve ever given a business card will never, ever follow up. They will never call. They will never reconnect. There are lots of reasons for it, but they won’t do it. Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. I gave a general session speech at the National Society of Black Engineers in Toronto, a wonderful group of 6000 AfricanAmericans in the engineering sciences field. This was two months ago. How many people of 6,000 do you think have called me or emailed me or engaged or made a connection with me since that time? Monica: Maybe ten percent. George: No one ever followed up. Were there people in that room that I could help; how about everyone. During the 20 minutes that I spoke, I probably changed

half the lives there but no one ever followed up. No one ever said I’d really like to keep in touch and see if there’s a way I could help. The connecting step is the second step in the relationship-building process but most people fail in that step. This is especially true with African-Americans. The third and final step is the clicking step. I wrote an entire book on clicking. Did you ever meet somebody and you just clicked with them? When you click with someone, it simply means that you win, I win, and the people that we serve win. That’s the end result of clicking. Most people never get to the clicking step because they never reach the connecting step which is following up, cultivating, nurturing and building the relationship. The other fatal flaw that people make when networking is that they network to get something. Wrong. You net-

“If you want to be remembered, serve people. Give first. If you want to be forgotten, meet somebody for the first time and start asking for something.”

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Extraordinary Profiles

work to give and as you give, you get. If you aren’t giving, you aren’t getting. You cannot take out of life that which you have not put into life, just as you cannot take out of the bank that which you have not put into the bank. That is the first and foremost principle of effective networking. You give first; you share always. The getting comes later. Monica: You live your life by a set of guiding principles. Would you mind talking about a few of them? George: Yes. In my book Click: Ten Truths to Building Extraordinary Relationships, I essentially list those principles, and it took me 62 years to write this book because it is the synthesis of the fundamental laws and principles by which I live my life. I’ll give you three of them. One, you must love, give, serve and add value. That is the purpose of life. So you have to first understand the purpose of life. You must live by that purpose, and all that is due you will come to you. The purpose of life is not very complicated because God doesn’t make anything complicated. We tend to make things complicated so that we don’t have to do something, so that we can assert control. Another one is to bless them and release them. As you grow older and wiser, you must come to the understanding that there are certain people that you must bless and release. You’re going to have to rid yourself of toxic people and bloodsuckers, people who drain you of time, energy and resources. This is extraordinarily important, and it’s easy to say but very difficult to do. Why? Because most of these people are family mem-

bers, your significant others or socalled friends. If you’re not able to deliver yourself from toxic people and blood suckers, you will fail in life. I tell people choose your partner and you choose your life. I warn people to not spend major time with minor people. People going nowhere want you to go nowhere with them. People doing noting want you to do nothing with them. If you want to change your life, change your relationships. It’s extraordinarily important. The third is I trust you first. You must earn my distrust. Now this is completely the opposite of what we are taught. We’re taught that people prove themselves and earn their trust over time. With me that’s not true. That’s not how I’ve lived my life. I trust you are who you say you are. I trust that you will deliver what you say you will deliver. I trust that you are an ethical and decent human being, so I trust you first and you have to earn distrust. Have I been burned because I trusted the wrong people? Yes, I have no question about it. The advantages and the wonderful things that have happened and have come to me because I’ve had that philosophy and attitude in life have far outweighed any disadvantages that I have experienced. Monica: It is one thing to meet people and to network, but I would imagine that it is important to get them to remember you after you have met. What can people do to make themselves stand out from the crowd? George: By serving. If you want to be remembered, serve people. Give first. If you want to be forgotten, meet somebody for the first time and

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start asking for something. If you want to be remembered, meet someone for the first time and say, “I’ve got something that might be helpful to you. I know this person,” or, “I heard about this job.” Give somebody something as fast as you can -it could be a compliment. Be the first in the relationship to do that and you’ll be remembered. Monica: That’s wonderful advice. What do you find most rewarding about bringing people together and providing opportunities to learn about the importance of networking and building success? George: There are literally hundreds and hundreds of letters and cards I have received from people. They say they have read my book or they heard me say something that absolutely changed their lives and as a result, they have a whole new perspective on life. That is the greatest reward because that’s why we’re here. What is Bill Gates doing with his billions of dollars? He’s running a foundation, giving away a billion dollars a year. We are here to love, to give, to serve and to add value. That’s how God has designed the system. The more you give, the more you serve and you add value, the more you are paid. Monica: What’s in store for George Fraser within the next three to five years? George: I am writing another book which will probably be published in 2012 or 2013 and I am continuing to innovate in the world of social networking and leveraging technology and linking people and ideas.


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There is a PBS special that is going to feature me next year called an evening with George Fraser: “The Power and Importance of the Relationships in Our Lives.” Part one will be “Success Runs in Our Race: The Complete Guide to Networking in the African-American Community.” Part Two will be “The Race for Success: The Ten Best Business Opportunities for Blacks in America.” Part Three will be “Click: Ten Truths for Building Extraordinary Relationships,” and Part Four will be called “What’s Next?” Monica: You travel about 25 days each month. How do you manage to maintain a successful marriage? George: Oh, that’s very easy. I’ve been married about 37 years. In the 15th year of the marriage -- this is the secret. Somebody has to leave and come back on a regular basis. That’s the secret. That’s how you stay married for a long time. My travel has maintained my marriage because when I come home, it’s like a honeymoon. I also have a wonderful spouse who is understanding, not paranoid, and it makes all the difference in the world. Monica: What do your sons think of you and the success that you have achieved? George: It’s a bit surreal for my children. It never ceases to amaze them when they see me on television or hear me on the radio or read a cover

Extraordinary Profiles

story about me. They find it difficult to make the connection between the story, my reputation or my persona and their dad. They think it’s really cool but they don’t see me the way the world sees me. They want to be like me. That’s wonderful. We have an extraordinary relationship. They work in the business and they do their own thing in their own way. I like that about them. Monica: You have developed a very successful website, Frasernet.com. Can you speak about what people can get from the website and how they can become a member? George: Our membership is based on a coaching model. We believe that every black person in America needs a coach. If Tiger Woods has a coach and Michael Jordan has a coach and Lebron James and the finest executives in Black America have coaches, the average person should also have a coach. By becoming a member you usually buy into a year-long coaching program. I tell people don’t become members of our organization if you don’t have goals or objectives for yourself. However, if you have goals, if you want a transformation over the next twelve months, sign up to become a member. We will coach you to that result. When you become a member, you will have access to eight of the top Black coaches in America, one each month. You will have access to eight of the finest strategists in America.

Monica: You view it from the standpoint that you’re investing in your life. George: That’s right. It’s your life. It’s your results. You’re investing in that. I spend about $8,000 to $9,000 per year on personal growth and development conferences, workshops, seminars, books, CDs and other things. Why, because my life is worth it. What is your life worth? Why would you invest $500 or $600 a month in your car but not in yourself? It takes commitment. It takes hard work. It takes tenacity. There are people who, in spite of the fact that they would like to be committed, they are not committed. As my daddy taught me many years ago, what you do speaks so loudly. ♦

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Ron Clark The Ron Clark Academy


The Ron Clark Academy is a place where award-winning visionaries instill dreams and a passion for learning in the minds and hearts of young children. It is a place where they can learn to become responsible adults.

coming academic challenges and becoming model citizens. For many of them, the academy has opened doors of opportunity that would not exist otherwise.

Clark has been called America’s Educator, and rightfully so. As Founder of the Ron Clark Academy, he has created a model for educators around the world. They are able to glean insights into teaching methods that they can take back to their classrooms.

Students are achieving academic excellence, assuming leadership roles, learning team-work, integrity, honor and respect. Many of them are academically challenged when they enroll but they leave equipped to face the world with courage and anticipation.

Aristotle once said, “The roots of education can be bitter, but the fruit is sweet”. Within the minds and hearts of the youth who attend the academy, Clark has planted seeds of hope and innovation. He is reaping the benefits through kids who are eager to learn, who are graduating with honors, over-

Clark’s methods and approach to learning have set new standards in the world of education. He has been honored at the White House; he was named Disney’s American Teacher of the Year in 2000 and he has been recognized by Oprah as her first “Phenomenal Man”. His past teach-

ing experiences became the subject of the 2005 film, The Ron Clark Story. The Ron Clark Academy is a collaboration of love and hard work by community members, business leaders, parents and educators. The Editor-in-Chief of Exceptional People Magazine spoke with Clark about his life-long commitment to preparing young people for tomorrow’s challenging world. Monica: With respect to your overall program, you take students on trips throughout the year. Are these trips part of your curriculum or are they considered incentives for the students? Ron: No, it’s curriculum. We’re a global studies school where we inte-

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Extraordinary Profiles places around the world to experience what they have learned. For example, last week we arrived back from South Africa. We learned about apartheid, so the students went there to work to help end some of the problems and some of the remnants of apartheid that exist to this day. They delivered school supplies to schools in Soweto. Next, we spent two days at Oprah Winfrey’s school. Ms. Winfrey came to visit, which was pretty cool. Our school is unique. No one travels like this and the reason that we’re able to do this is because Delta Airlines is our biggest sponsor. They pay for flights around the world for our kids. The Intercontinental Hotel chains provide lodging for our trips.

grate everything we teach about world events. We teach the kids about different economies, religions. They learn about different nations, people and cultures. So the whole year math, science, everything is integrated. Throughout the year we take them to

Monica: You are allowing them to experience life on a much broader level at a young age. What inspired you to start the Ron Clark Academy? Ron: I was teaching in New York City when I was named American Teacher of the Year. My students had great test scores and I was able to achieve a lot of results in the city. When I was named American Teacher of the Year, I got the opportunity to be on the Oprah Winfrey Show. She told me I should write a book. And, you know, if Oprah tells you to write a book, you should probably write a book. I wrote the book entitled The Essential 55. It was based on the 55 rules I had for my students in New York City and in North Carolina, where I taught as well. My rules are not really rules. They’re about how to become a good person, how to respect those around you, how to make a difference in the world, how to be a positive person, how to uplift others, just ways to be a good student and a good person. So I incorporate that into my classrooms.

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Half of my philosophy is about structure and manners and those 55 rules. The other half is about passion and energy. It’s electrifying. It’s exciting. We’re really doing what we can to bring learning to life at our school, and at the same time we have high expectations. Where most schools tend to dumb down the kids, we really push them. For example, we teach eighth grade math to our fifth graders. We’re sometimes three to four years ahead of most schools. We found that when we push the students, they always rise to the occasion. I wrote a book about that. When the book was published, it wasn’t doing well. I sent Oprah a copy because no one knew about it. She made it one of the books that she wanted to highlight on her show. I went back on the show and she highlighted the book. During the interview, she held the book up and said, “America, I want you to go out right now and buy this book.” She held it close to her bosom. When Oprah holds something to her bosom, that’s it. One hour after the show, the book was number two in the nation. It was right behind Harry Potter. It was on the New York Times bestseller list for four months and it made about a million dollars. The American Middle School Teacher of the year at that time was Kim Beardon and she was in Marietta. I told her she should come to Harlem because I was going to start a school. She said she didn’t want to come to Harlem but if I started a school in Atlanta, she would help me. I wasn’t interested in that but I told her I would look around in Atlanta and see what I could find. I found an old factory, a hundred year-old building. It was disgusting, the windows were busted, there was barbed wire and cobwebs and a crack house was


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Extraordinary Profiles We want our kids to become leaders and to have a global perspective, to respect other nations and cultures and to know how our country relates to countries around the world. If you’re going to become successful, 10, 15 or 20 years from now, you’ve got to have a global perspective. That’s what we’re teaching our kids at a very young age. Monica: Are there targeted students who enroll in the academy?

nearby. I looked at it. Kim was with me and I told her, “This is it.” She said, “Yes, it is.” A lot of people thought we were crazy and we didn’t get a lot of support initially. We purchased the old factory and we ran out of money. We spoke with representatives from Delta, Coca-Cola, Verizon Wireless, Dell Computers and others. When people visited the school, they could see everything had been donated. The community built our school. Kim and I teach, as well as our amazing staff. We not only affect the lives of our students, we invite teachers from around the world to visit. Every year about 3,000 teachers visit our school to learn our methods.

to the kids who aren’t performing well. About a third of our kids come to us as strong students. About one-third of the students are average and a third has never achieved academic success. We focus on the brightest kid in the class. Of the group of thirty, we found the brightest one, and that’s who we teach. We use music, energy, drums, excitement and hands-on activities to get every kid excited to proceed to a higher level and that’s what makes our program different.

Ron: We take all kids. That’s a major misconception about our school. People think we have all gifted kids. One-third of our kids have learning disabilities, some have never had academic success. The middle third are doing okay with maybe some discipline problems. Another third of our kids are honor roll students. One thing that they have in common is that the average family income is around $28,000 a year, so most of them are from families in the lower economic spectrum. We usually accept three kids who pay full tuition, so we have a bit of diversity in terms of the family income levels. Some are from families with median incomes but the majority of the families have income below $28,000.

Monica: What makes the educational methods that you employ more successful than other programs? Ron: Number one is we have high expectations. Most schools have gifted kids, middle kids and lower achieving kids. Most will teach to the middle. In our school system, the larger portion of resources is devoted July-August 2010 | Exceptional People Magazine | 13


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Extraordinary Profiles They’ve traveled to six continents; they can discuss political issues and world economies. They have lived with families in Japan, delivered school supplies in South Africa, had Belgian waffles in Belgium and conducted research at the Louvre in Paris. They have also surfed in Australia and worked with Aborigines. These kids are unique, they are very well-spoken and their test scores are very high. Monica: What qualifications are required when you’re seeking an educator?

A full scholarship is $18,000 per year. Most kids get some form of scholarship and most pay about $45 per month. The parents perform 40 hours of community service within our school each year. They are required to give of themselves in that respect, even though they don’t give as much financially.

our school to observe our methods and learn about our program. What we do here is already replicated in thousands of schools around the country and around the world. It’s very successful. Our mission is to continue to spread our system of high expectations, passion in the classroom and discipline.

Ron: We look for teachers who are innovative, who are doing things in a way that needs to be replicated. Our teachers are highly recognized. Monica: What do you find most rewarding about what you do at the Ron Clark Academy?

Ron: We have people from Finland, Singapore, Australia, Chile, Russia, South Africa, Italy, Cyprus, England, Canada and Japan. They come from everywhere to visit the school in Atlanta.

Ron: I think it would be the kids who come here generally haven’t been successful in the past and they become extremely successful. Some are very, very shy and have their heads down. After three years, our kids have been interviewed on CNN and Good Morning America. We watch them go from being shy withdrawn children to children who are world travelers, articulate, confident individuals.

Monica: Do you believe that the system you created through the Ron Clark Academy could be utilized at other inner-city schools. If so, have you considered opening another academy?

Monica: I would imagine when students complete the program they’re better prepared than the average student.

Monica: Your program is very demanding and rigorous. Are some of your students unable to measure up to the standards?

Ron: We’re not opening another school. We’re a model school. Our purpose is to bring parents, teachers, superintendents and other educators to

Ron: A lot of our kids are receiving full scholarships to the schools they wish to attend. They are having a difficult time selecting schools because they are highly sought-after individuals.

Ron: Yes, we have to work really hard to get them where they need to be. We come to school on Saturdays with these kids. We go to their homes and tutor them. We work with the parents. I mean it’s not easy. 

Monica: That allows them to give back to the community. Ron: It’s a sliding scale, depending upon their income. That determines how much they pay. Last year the parents of our students contributed 6,500 hours of service. On Wednesday nights I instruct the parents on the math that we’re teaching the kids.

Monica: What are some countries that have sent educators to attend your program?

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Inspiration

Appreciate the beauty that nature has to offer.


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Inspiration

The Door to Your Dreams is Open By Catherine Galasso-Vigorito

I’ve been thinking a lot about dreams. Lately, Not the kind of dreams we have while we are sleeping, but the dreams and goals that we hope to fulfill in our lives. Remember when you were a young child, and you thought that anything was possible? Then, we grow up. And sometimes the difficulties and disappointments we encounter seem to overtake us. After that, inch by inch, our innermost dreams are pushed to the side and swept away. Perhaps, visions might be passing before you of past mistakes and setbacks, and you have stopped pursuing your dreams. Maybe, someone negatively told you that your window of opportunity has closed and you deem you’re too old now to be successful. Or possibly, you’ve given up, slogging through your days, with no enthusiasm. However, you have not exhausted all of your opportunities or possibilities. You have inexhaustible creativity, talents, and resources to accomplish what you set out to do. There is a great purpose for your life…for anything is possible, when you dare to dream! Close your eyes for a moment and take a long, slow breath. Ponder upon the life you imagine. Ralph Waldo Emerson advised, “None of us will ever accomplish any-

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thing excellent or commanding except when he listens to this whisper which is heard by him alone.” So what dreams are gripping at your heart? Do you have an aspiration that you long to accomplish? Now, do you have a plan on how to achieve those dreams? Regardless of where you are at the moment, no matter what has happened before, or what others have negatively said about you, remember, you have the capability to dream, to pursue your passion, utilizing your gifts for the good and glory of God. A long-time builder of fine homes I know uses a pencil and paper to draft housing designs for his clients. When I asked him why he uses a simple sketch pad and a pencil, the builder answered, “I use a pencil in case I make a mistake because it has an eraser.” Similarly, just like the builder, we make mistakes. Choose to erase painful situations from your mind, pushing out guilt and destructive thoughts. Let go of the things that didn’t work out and rid yourself of the chains that are holding you down. Thus, stretch to the next level of blessings and actively follow your heart’s desires. Even if it’s a big dream that seems improbable or unattainable, God will give you the abilities and the opportunities to do what needs to be done to suc-


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cessfully fulfill it. For God’s word says: “He who began a good work in you will complete it.” (Philippians 1:6). A grandmother wrote to me and described that over 30 years ago, she had a dream of becoming a musician. Yet, she put that dream aside and made excuses for three decades, because someone she was trying to sell her music to once told her to ‘try another profession,’ and she’d ‘never make it’ in the music business. One day, she was babysitting for her five-year-old grandson and she started singing and playing the guitar for him. The little boy loved her music, so the grandmother went on to explain to the boy how she always wanted to be a musician. Thereafter, quite innately, the child uttered, “You can do that!” Those four little words from her grandson gave this grandmother the fortitude to try for her dream again. Today, this talented grandmother has written and recorded over 30 songs for children. And her inspired music is sold all over the country. Don’t lose sight of your goals. By doing so or underestimating yourself, you can live far below what you are truly able to accomplish. Look out into the future; it’s never too late for you to begin anew.

Inspiration

No dream you dream is ever wasted. As a child, one of my mother’s dreams was for us to have a cottage on a lake. Mother loved the water and although there was no evidence that a summer home would be possible, she’d imagine us swimming, boating, and enjoying the fullness of summer at that home, holding on to the tiny glimmer of possibility. “If God wants a lake home for us,” she said, “He will make a way.” But whether her dream came true or not, my mother was always kind, thankful and happy. Although that cottage did not come to pass in my mother’s lifetime, her dream came true for me and her grandchildren. God led my husband and I, and our wonderful daughters to a home that is situated on a lake. It never ceases to amaze me what God can do. In the golden sunshine of this delightful summer morning, under the pale blue vault of heaven, I watch my little girls feeding the ducks on the glistening waters of our lake. A flock of geese fly overhead and butterflies dart in and out among the fragrant flowers and foliage that surrounds us. The door to your dreams is open. Allow me to help and encourage you to take a leap of faith and… walk through that door! ♦

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A Rose By a Different Name

Karen Mager

Her Dark Secret— A Story of Pain, Deceit, Guilt and Success


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There are lessons to be learned from practically everything that we do, don’t do or should have done. Have you learned a lesson today? Karen Mager has chosen to reveal her story of deception and truth followed by powerful lessons that she’s learned since childhood. Have you ever been caught in a thunderstorm that was so powerful and so dark that your instinct to seek refuge lead you to make a foolish decision and afterwards you realized that you could have endangered your life? We experience many storms in our journey through life. There are our personal storms, the kind from which we can’t immediately seek refuse. They are a test of our faith. What storms have you encountered lately? Are they related to finances, business relationships, personal relationships or health related?

As a young child, Mager’s personal storm began around the age of nine. As a child she was sexually abused by a man that she adored. She viewed him as “the most brilliant, handsome, dashing, smart and coolest guy on earth” -- her father. It was the beginning of a series of nightmares that became a reality. It was the beginning of a life of pain, confusion, deceit and, oddly enough, an amazing amount of success, although it was success obtained through deceit. “I stole credentials I didn’t pay for; I stole three years I didn’t live; and I stole jobs from people who were actually qualified and age appropriate, “says Mager. She may have gained tremendous success, but she lost a part of her soul. Sometimes when we’re in survival mode, we don’t think things through logically. We find what we believe to be the best solution to a difficult situation. There are times when we have done things that we’ve regretted. For Karen, it was a whirlwind of deception. She devised a plan to escape her personal storms but, as she states, “The result of my plan was the harboring of a secret, one so damning that if anyone found out, the shame would finish me. Decades of pain, personal and professional survival, obsessive-compulsive behavior and denial defined my journey”. This once confused and hurt child has chosen to share her dark secret. Mager has decided to reveal her true self to those whom she has deceived and hurt and to help others make wiser choices when they are faced with adversity. Sometimes it takes years of contemplation and selfrealization before deciding on truth. Sometimes we need a lightening bolt of reality to strike us.

Inspiration

Mager, who has been diagnosed with Bi-polar Disorder, Narcissistic Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Fibromyalgia, has beat incredible odds to become a successful business woman. As part of the healing process, she has chosen to share how she weathered her storm. Today she is ready to atone for her mistakes and for the pain she’s caused others. She’s ready to seek forgiveness – a testimonial that you can definitely overcome any obstacle or adversity, but the decision is yours. At the age of 65, Mager has released her burdens. Though hers is a story of pain, tragedy and deceit and despite all the storms she’s weathered, Mager has a wonderful success story to share. Her desire to help other women fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams has inspired her to create a flourishing online networking community for professional women and men. The Editor-in-Chief of Exceptional People Magazine was grateful to have Mager share her amazing story so others will be encouraged to overcome their personal storms. Monica: What was your childhood like? Karen: I grew up in a very unusual environment. My father was, what I thought, the most brilliant, handsome, dashing, smart, coolest guy on earth. My mother, on the other hand, was short, overweight, didn’t wear makeup. She seemed to have what I now know is depression. So we grew up with a heavy hand, meaning that punishments were dealt out for small, or what I consider today as adult infractions. We were punished with a

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Inspiration

Karen: I do. I have a sister who is 21 months younger than I am, and she was a good kid. She was never in any trouble. She learned to be quiet and stay out of the way where I, on the other hand, wouldn’t shut up and fought tooth and nail. Monica: I would imagine, that behavior, even as a young child landed you in hot water on many occasions. As a child, where do you think your stubbornness came from?

belt. We used to call it a whipping or we were put in a room for long periods of time. There was no such thing as a 15-minute time-out. I remember one summer when I didn’t understand the multiplication tables, I spent the entire summer in my room and I couldn’t cross the line at the door. All summer, Monday through Friday, I was only allowed out on the weekends. My job was to sit in there and write my multiplication tables. Monica: Did you ever have to recite what you learned? Karen: In writing, never verbally. It got to the point where I was going insane. I would be sitting in the doorframe, crying and begging to be allowed out of my room. I don’t think that was a punishment my mother developed, but a punishment my father developed. And my mother did what my father said. Monica: You have a brother and sister.

Karen: I believe, in looking back, that I was a really good kid. I was graded by my teachers as respectful. I had a good attitude. I did what was asked of me. And oddly enough I don’t have any memory of the third and the fourth grades. When I look at my sixth grade report cards, I didn’t do what was asked of me, my behavior was unruly. I talked when I should have kept my mouth shut. My grades had gone from good grades, in the first, second and third grades to barely making it in the sixth through twelfth grades. I remember the first day I found out I was Catholic. I had gone to public school and I loved it in the first grade. I thought this was the neatest thing ever. All of a sudden my mother dressed me in beautiful new dresses and shoes and socks. I got to ride the school bus, and I remember loving it because all of a sudden I had fabulous new friends. One morning as I was getting dressed, my mother pulled out a uniform and it was disgusting. It was a navy blue gabardine jumper with a white blouse and it was two sizes too big. I had just been in these fabulous outfits and I couldn’t imagine what I had done to incur the wrath of my mother so that I couldn’t wear my beautiful clothes.

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My father informed me that he would be taking me to school that day. As he drove me to school, we didn’t speak but as we pulled in front of a building I didn’t recognize, he slapped me and said, “You are now going to Catholic school, and I want you to know how much your mother and I are sacrificing to send you to this school.” Monica: While you were still a young child, you experienced some dark periods in your life. You were molested by your father. What effect did that have on your life then and as an adult? Karen: Until recently, I had not remembered the sexual experiences as a young child. I was aware of the molestation as a teenager. It made me feel very, very confused. I adored my father. My parents were divorced. That didn’t take away from the fact that I still adored him. I wanted to please my father but at the same time, I knew that it was wrong. I would say no as a teenager. My father told me when I was 17 years old that if I were his eldest son, he would take me to what he called a whorehouse for the experience but since he was my father, he was doing me a favor. The molestation stopped then. Monica: At what point did it start? Karen: It started somewhere between the third and the fourth grades. It is only through psychiatric and psychological intervention that I have begun to remember those experiences. I would remember waking up in the middle of the night and my father would be in my room. I shared a room with my sister, not a bed, so this was a big secret. Things like that have a way of taking on a secretive life. I would wake up in the middle of the night and he would be in my bed.


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blurted it out, what he had been doing to me. He looked shocked, he looked hurt, and within short order I was shipped off to live with my mother. He called me a liar. The next time I saw my father where any molestation occurred was when I was in high school. He told me he was doing me a favor. I was drugged. He took me out to dinner and allowed me to drink. Shortly after that, I told my mother and she completely ignored me. To get her attention I drank a glass of Ronco lighter fluid.

And I knew that I was never to speak of this. I was 17 when I began to speak of my father molesting me. My parents were divorced and my father had remarried. In fact, he remarried on the day that his divorce was final. He married a woman who was nine years my senior. Needless to say, coming home from a honeymoon with a rebellious teenager probably wasn’t her idea of a great experience. In retrospect, I was jealous of her, as terrible as that sounds. She was beautiful where my mother wasn’t. She was a professional woman where my mother seemed to always be sad. She was all the things my mother wasn’t. Monica: Who did you tell that your father was molesting you? Karen: I told three people. I told a friend that I grew up with as a teenager. She began to despise my father because of it. I told my mother when I was 17. At one point very shortly after my father remarried, I did something to incur his wrath. We were having an argument and his new wife decided to become involved. I just

I called her at work and said, “Mom, I just drank lighter fluid to kill myself.” She called some friends and said, “Go over and sit with Karen, I’m on my way home.” On the way home, she picked up a bottle of ipecac. My mother gave me the ipecac, so that I would vomit the lighter fluid. Nothing was ever said about that again until I was 37 years old. Monica: Did you graduate from high school, even though you were minus one semester? Karen: I was minus one-half semester. I wore a cap and gown with my class and was handed an empty portfolio. Right after I graduated, my father handed me the keys to an old used car, which to me looked like a dream. He also gave me the payment book, so that meant I had to get a job. I was living with my mother at the time she said, “Now that you’re out of school, you’re going to have to start paying rent. I need $50 a month.” Now that’s $94 a month. In 1971, that’s a lot of money. Monica: At that point you decided that you were going to; as you put it, pay for your own rules and your own life. As a result, you moved out.

Inspiration

Karen: I moved out probably in less than a month because my mother wanted to continue to impose her rules, and I said, “Mom, if I’m going to pay rent, I’m going to stay out as long as I want. I’ll go to concerts. I’m going to do what I want to do.” I was a party animal. If there was a party, I was there. It didn’t matter where or what time it was going on. I somehow managed to get to work every day, hung over beyond belief and I never missed a day’s work. This was not the beginning of my rebellious period. I started that when I was in high school, but I was certainly out of my mother’s purview when I moved into my own apartment. Monica: Once you were living on your own, you obviously made some decisions early on that were not good decisions. You became a mother at a very young age. Karen: I met and married a man who was 11 years my senior. We married in April and in June of the next year I became a mother. I married the first man that asked and I saw that as a way out. I thought at 11 years my senior he was going to be a responsible man who was going to take care of me. My father didn’t take care of me, so I thought he would. Within less than four years, I was divorced with a child and had no skills. Monica: How did you begin to deal with reality? Karen: I worked at a telephone answering service. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to pull plugs out of one hole and put them into another hole and say, “Good afternoon, Dr. Jones’ office. How may I help you?” At that time I made about $1.60 an

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Inspiration

license and I needed a new one. I said, “By the way, there was a mistake on my driver’s license,” and I increased my age by five years. In less than 10 minutes, I walked out five years older. I was out in the parking lot doing the happy dance, thinking, “I can’t believe I just did this.”

hour. My daughter Jennifer and I were just barely making it.

I had to do it. I had to support myself and my child.

I thought, “There’s got to be another way.” Going to college, getting an education at that point didn’t seem like an option to me because it wasn’t offered to me when I graduated from high school. How could I possibly go to college and support myself and a three year-old child? I certainly couldn’t do it on $1.60 an hour and a car that was going through a case of oil per week.

Monica: By changing your persona or your identity, did you ever think what the consequences would be for yourself, as well as your daughter?

Monica: From that perspective you made some daring decisions to support yourself. You re-invented yourself in a way that was not honest. Karen: I devised a plan. I created a persona, a person on paper with nonexistent education and experience. I believed if I could create a persona and not get caught, then I could manage to pull it off. I knew from being told my entire life, “she is intelligent but she just doesn’t apply herself,” I could do it. I knew, more importantly,

Karen: You know what, I never thought of the consequences. I started developing my plan but it never occurred to me that I would fail. The first thing I knew I had to do was develop a resume. I had to develop a resume based on the incredibly limited experience I had in terms of jobs. I wasn’t old enough to have accomplished anything of any significance, so the first thing I had to do was increase my age. Now how does one increase one’s age? I mean, we all have a birth certificate, but generally speaking a birth certificate is not requested for a job interview. The only way I could think to do it was to go to motor vehicles and get a driver’s license. So I went there and I told them that I had lost my driver’s

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The second step was to create a resume, and that wasn’t nearly as easy as increasing my age by five years. I had jobs over the years, including working during the summer, working at the answering service, doing odd jobs. By this time I was working because my husband and I could not pay the bills unless I worked. I had to craft a resume that exaggerated what I did. I added collegiate credentials to my resume that I had not earned. During that time if you were not a doctor or a lawyer, or some other professional, your credentials were not checked. Monica: Though you embellished your resume and invented job experiences, you managed to become very successful at every job that you had. Can you explain how you became successful in positions where you had no prior experience? Karen: I spent hours, weeks, days reading, taking notes and studying. If I was at an out-of-town meeting, while my co-workers were out drinking and partying, I would be in my hotel room studying, staying up all night. I would be exhausted but I would never let anyone know what I had gone through to complete that task. My first career interview was with an employment service. I went in dressed like I had just stepped out of Vogue. I dropped my resume on their


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Inspiration

sition, every time I made a change in my career, I wasn’t just good at it, I was excellent. There was a price to be paid for that, and the price was not being at home, missing many things in her childhood and her teen years. What my daughter Jennifer saw was an overbearing, obsessive-compulsive necessity for perfection in all things, and that included her. There was no margin for error. She was a good kid, but there were times where she acted out. She attended a private school from grades 6 through 12. Today she is a better mother than I ever was. desk and said, “I’m currently living in Albuquerque. I would like to move back to Little Rock because I have a young child and my mother lives here. I am the best thing since sliced bread in terms of sales and marketing.” I knew I could sell icicles to Eskimos. That was who my father was and I didn’t spend all those years around my father and not learn anything. I was told, “You are the perfect candidate.” The next thing I knew I was on an airplane flying from Little Rock to Kansas City, meeting with a vice president and a regional director. I thought manna from heaven had just dropped in my lap. That was my first career job. Monica: Did you look upon that experience as gaining your freedom and becoming successful? Karen: I was scared to death every minute of every day. I was a single mother. I was in survival mode every minute of every day. No, I didn’t see it as freedom. Monica: When you decided to change your persona, change your

resume and embellish job experiences, did you feel that you had lost a part of yourself once you became K. R. Young instead of Karen Mager? Karen: Oh, yes. That is such a loaded question. Young was my married name. Once I became K. R. versus Karen, I became unstoppable. In my mind, I knew that K. R. could do anything. I was arrogant, I was beyond arrogant. Career-wise, I was completely unstoppable. Monica: At that particular time you did not consider turning back?

Monica: How did she react when you revealed the things that had happened to you during your childhood and the secret plan that you developed to survive? Karen: She was shocked. When I told her about my father, she was completely shocked. She was in college at the time. I think for Jennifer it explained a lot, but it was hard for her to live with a woman, live with a mother where there is no margin for error, someone who doesn’t sleep and someone who was always looking for ways to improve. When it’s an obsession, it’s pretty hard to tolerate.

Karen: Absolutely not. I could not do it. I was a single mother. There was no turning back.

Karen: In 1999 I was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder. That, in and of itself, explained a lot of my behavior.

Monica: At what point did you decide to tell your daughter that the life you had been living was not your true life?

Monica: How have you been dealing with it?

Karen: When she became an adult, when she could understand. My daughter grew up believing her mother could do anything. Every po-

Karen: I understand it. I take medication for it. The medication is a godsend. I can only imagine how miserable it must have been for my employees. I’m using them as the first example. When I started a business, I

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Inspiration

I was married to my current husband for 20 years before I sat down with him on our patio and burst into tears. I told him that I didn’t have a college degree. He just looked at me and said, “Wow. I’m amazed. I can’t believe you’re sitting here crying over it.” He said, “All the things you do and all the things you’ve done, who cares?” Monica: You have certainly educated yourself.

worked around the clock for years. I would not accept anything less than perfection from myself. Imagine how difficult it was for my employees. Monica: I imagine your colleagues are not aware of how you became one of them. Karen: No, they’re not. Monica: Within that timeframe until now, have you ever talked to them about it? Karen: No, because that would have meant an exposure that I have to tell you, Monica, living with this over the years has been my deepest, darkest secret. Secrets, I don’t care what they are, will eat you alive.

Karen: I had no choice. While everybody else was reading novels, I was reading books about successful people whom I admire, like Walter Cronkite and Richard Branson or business books such as “Wharton Dynamic Competitive Strategy: The Portable MBA in Finance and Accounting,” or “Closing Tactics” and “Socratic Selling”.

Monica: Do you ever think that will change? Karen: Let me just say this. Today I have a beautiful relationship with my brother. I have zero relationship with my sister, who may or may not forgive me. It is work I have to do, not work she has to do. I also have to understand that the three of us or the four of us came from the same dysfunctional family, so we all have our baggage. She’s not obligated, to accept my atonement. I’m working on establishing a new relationship with my youngest sister. I am going through the Al-Anon program. I am working the twelve steps. I tell people I’m going through 48 steps because I have a whole lot more that I need to atone for. Nonetheless, taking responsibility for your own moral activity is a major step in making amends. Monica: Earlier this year you had an anxiety attack which landed you in a psychiatric hospital. What happened to you psychologically and mentally?

Monica: Were your siblings aware of the destructive choices and decisions you were making? If so, how did they react?

Karen: I climbed the corporate ladder to become the vice president of sales for a large company. When the economy crashed in 2008, for the first time in my life I lost my job. I decided to take my driver’s license and my birth certificate in to correct my age.

Karen: They saw me climbing the ladder. I mean, there was no doubt that I was succeeding in what I was doing, but it made me more arrogant and more difficult to have a relationship with in the process. For many years I had no relationship with my brother. Today, I have no relationship with my sister who is 21 months younger than I am.

I had been working incredibly hard. I was on the road probably 300 days a year, so I slept for about three months and started trying to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I was 55 years old. I had a formidable resume in terms of my positions and my accomplishments over the years. I still didn’t have the education. What I found out is that I’m not even quali-

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My father was a masochist. I definitely have masochistic tendencies, but I have not been diagnosed as a masochist. A masochist wouldn’t see a physician or try to get well. Monica: What do you think it is going to take to release yourself from a lot of the pain you have encountered, as well as the pain you have caused others? How will you react to the disappointment and anger that some people involved in your life may experience after they read this interview? fied to work at McDonald’s. I was absolutely devastated. Given the fact that I have some health issues, my depression really started to get black. Consequently, by the time I went to the doctor, my blood pressure was 180/155. They thought I was having a heart attack. What ultimately happened after a multitude of tests is that I had an anxiety attack, and I had two choices. Either the cardiologist was going to involuntarily commit me to a psychiatric facility, or I could voluntarily commit myself. I spent 10 days there. During those 10 days I learned a lot about myself. When you go to a psychiatric hospital, it’s not about laying around in bed all day. It’s a very structured process and you begin remembering things that you had forgotten. That’s when I remembered that my father had molested me as a very young child. Right smack in the middle of a meeting I remembered it. All I remembered were the teen years. In any event, I have been diagnosed by three psychiatrists and two psychologists as bipolar. It is very unusual, I think, to be born bipolar. They believe I have been bipolar for at least 40 years.

Karen: I have to take ownership, and it has to be honest. I have no motive whatsoever to serve myself by not taking ownership. I have to make amends. However, you can’t make amends to every person you’ve bumped into in your life. My puke list is a list of people who have been and are important in my life. I am going to attempt to make amends to them. There is a caveat to that. They are not obligated to accept my amends, but once I have attempted to make amends and I have done it properly, then it’s gone. I have to release it. Monica: If you were to approach one of your colleagues today, what would you say to them? Karen: I’m sorry I deceived you. I know that I hurt you and I would like for you to know that as of this moment, this day, I am very sorry. If I could take it back, I would. I have sat down with two people on my list already because they were two people that were very important to me. And it took me two and a half days to get through my list with one person. Was it a difficult thing to do,

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yes, it was. Did I need to do it, most certainly. Monica: How did you feel afterwards? Karen: Drained and so happy I finally got rid of it and did the right thing. My life today, 25 years later, is so different in that I get up every morning trying to do the right thing and to help someone with no expectation of return. Monica: Are you at peace with yourself now or are you still carrying a lot of guilt? Karen: I still have a lot of guilt for people whom I have hurt. I have, by agreeing to do this interview, meaning coming out of the closet, taken the stigma of bipolar off my forehead. Monica: And what is your perception of Karen Mager today? How would you define the real Karen? Karen: The real Karen today is I am who I am. I have limitations. I would be happy to tell you what they are. I will do anything I can do to help you. I will give you anything I have if it’s within my power, and I expect nothing in return. I know what my talents are. I know I am a talented woman. I have made myself talented in certain aspects of my profession and in that vein; I’m willing to give back to whomever I can help. Monica: Of everything that you’ve done, what do you regret the most? Karen: There are two things I regret. First, not being there for my daughter when she was growing up and second, I regret all of the hurt that I heaped on my husband.

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Inspiration

Monica: What lessons have you learned from K. R. Young that you apply to your life today as Karen Mager? Karen: Oh, wow. What I learned is that your baggage is always with you, and unless you can find a way to divest yourself of it, it’s going to fester and it’s going to hurt other people. Monica: Based on the person you were then and the person you are today, what do you want people to learn from your experience? Karen: Ask for help. If you feel that you are out of control, go to a doctor, talk to a friend, talk to somebody. Get help. I knew throughout all these years something was wrong but I was too slick and too smart to seek help. But it’s out there, go get it. Don’t wait until it nearly kills you. Monica: Looking back on your life as a child, what advice would you give other parents and young girls who might be experiencing the same situation that you experienced? Karen: Today there are many resources for young girls; teachers, friends, parents of friends, extended relatives, doctors and others. You have done nothing wrong. If you know in your heart that something is wrong, tell someone – anyone. When I was growing up there was no one to tell. In the late fifties, early sixties and seventies when I was growing up, we didn’t see doctors. In retrospect, my mother was chronically depressed and I had no extended family nearby. School nurses and counselors were not nearly as involved as they are today. Monica: Looking back on your adult life, can you provide three to five les-

sons that you’ve learned about the deceptive lifestyle that you chose to live, even though it was a means of survival at the time. What would you do differently if you could re-live that part of your life? Karen: I would have found a way to enter and complete college with a law degree. It’s hard to say I wouldn’t have married at such a young age because I have my wonderful daughter as a result, but I saw my first marriage as a means to an end. I would have sought professional psychological help to sort through my challenges, so I could have enjoyed over twenty years of tread-mill survival and thus enjoyed my daughter’s childhood. Monica: For the past few years you have been developing what is now a very successful online networking community called “CremeMagnolia” mainly for professional women, and your motto is, “Today I will pay it forward.” Do you see this project as possibly being a way to redeem yourself for all of the pain you have caused others? Karen: No, I don’t see it as a way to redeem myself because I’m working with strangers. I see it as a means to share with people I can possibly help. I see it as a legacy for my daughter and my granddaughter. Monica: You have the opportunity to leave a legacy. Karen: CremeMagnolia. If I was to leave this planet tomorrow, I would want my daughter to be able to say, “My mother was a good person and she helped people, and I want to be like my mother because there were many years my daughter could not say, “I want to be like my mother.” That is my legacy to my daughter.

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CremeMagnolia is debt-free. I have not borrowed a cent. Every penny goes to CremeMagnolia, and I want it to be Jennifer’s legacy. Monica: Through CremeMagnolia you are helping so many women further their entrepreneurial endeavors, so you’re certainly doing wonders with that. Karen: Thank you. I want to make amends but I also want to help people through CremeMagnolia by showing other women who are sitting out there thinking I don’t have a college degree and I’m a single mother. Well, here’s this bipolar, OCD, crazy woman. She did it, and she’s alive. She survived. I can do it. I want to help more women. If you make potholders and you make great potholders, let me help you write a business plan. I learned how to write multimilliondollar business plans and I did that because I had to. I figured out how to do it, I learned how to do it and I’m not going to charge you to do it. Come here. Let me help you. Don’t be depressed and miserable when there’s help out there. ♦


potpourri

Inspiration

Is There a “Gift” in Life Trauma? Find It and You Will Flourish! By Rosalind Sedacca When we are in the midst of life trauma it is very difficult to feel anything but the pain, hurt and disappointment related to that experience. But very often, looking back in hindsight, we can find meaning, relevance, valuable lessons and insights that were the direct result of those major life challenges. Without that life-altering event we would not become the successes we are today. Many people look upon that result as the “gift” they received from the experience – the wisdom they gleaned, the turning point they needed to move on to a new chapter in their lives. They look back and can say while the lesson was tough; they don’t regret it in the least. I believe divorce, illness, the loss of a job or death of a loved one can be seen as one of those “gifts” and life lessons if we choose to look for the reward. What did you learn as a result of that challenge? Who are you today that you would not have been had you not had that experience? Do you see inner wisdom or strength that makes you proud? Have you made decisions that are more supportive of your life and values? Do you like yourself better? Have you found new career directions, new faith or new meaning in life as a direct result of your trauma? If you can’t yet answer yes to any of these questions, give yourself time. Perhaps you have not fully moved through the inner and outer transitions resulting from your challenge. Perhaps you are still holding on to resentment, anger, jealousy or other negative emotions that are keeping you from experiencing the freedom from old programming and patterns.

I believe there can be a gift in every tough experience in our lives – if we choose to see it. And why shouldn’t we put our energy in that direction? What good does it do to hold on to a past that has slipped away – or to people who are not giving us the love and support we deserve? When we let go of the past, we open the door to a new future – and only then can we empower ourselves to create that future as a much better outcome for ourselves and those we love. Everything that occurs in our lives can have a hidden gift. If you speak to someone who has survived illness, divorce or loss of a job and has gone on to create a vibrant life based upon their own passions and values, they will certainly tell you that their challenge was a catalyst to bringing out the best in them. That may not be true for you right now, but there is a gift waiting for you to find. Oftentimes it takes a good whack on the head to awaken us to life’s possibilities and our own happiness. When you search for the gifts from your challenge it can become another step toward a positive recovery from the life trauma. Successful recovery takes commitment, conscious awareness and much inner work. It isn’t easy but the rewards can be considerable and long-lasting. Ultimately you will see valuable outer rewards. Don’t be afraid to go within and plant the seeds for the tomorrow you dream about. With love, patience and gratitude you can overcome life traumas and move on to embrace a new and very rewarding future.♦

July-August 2010 | Exceptional People Magazine | 27


Presented by Exceptional People Magazine Coming on DVD in 2010!


Th e Lighter Side

Hello there, cuddle cakes.


potpourri

Lighter Side

Mooching and Other Ways to Save Money‌By Dorothy Rosby There are many ways to save money during these tough economic times besides the one we all think of first: Borrowing other people's stuff. Unfortunately, those we borrow from tend to be away from home a lot, so let's look at some more reliable tips for saving money.

Cutting home energy costs: Always turn off the lights when you leave a room. Be firm about this, no matter how much it annoys those who are still in the room. Turn the thermostat down. When family members complain, tell them to be quiet and put on a coat. An angry person is a warm person. A full freezer is more energy efficient than one that is only partially full, so stock up on ice cream. Not only will this improve your freezer's efficiency, it will add to your . . . uh . . . insulation. Instead of cranking up the air conditioner this summer, try taking your family out to cool places. Restaurants, for example, are notoriously cool. You can save a lot on air conditioning costs by eating out more often.

Saving on transportation costs: Avoid wasting gasoline idling in drive-through lines by always choosing the line that's moving the fastest. How will you know which line that is? Look for the line I'm in, then go to another one. Slow down! Each five miles you drive over 60 is like paying an additional 30 cents per gallon for gas. Plus I hate it when you pass me! Convince your family they need to walk more. This will not only save gas, it will free up the car for you. Compare gas prices. If one station seems too high, drive to the next one. You may even have to drive to another town, but think of all the money you'll save.

Lowering your grocery bill: Never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach--unless it's sample day at the grocery store. Use coupons, but only for the things you normally use. A dollar-off coupon for a two-dollar can of anchovies in mustard sauce is a dollar wasted--unless you're especially fond of anchovies in mustard sauce. Similarly Buy One Get One Free is only a bargain if your free ten-pound bag of Russet potatoes doesn't rot in your basement before you use it all up. And if you have enough creamed corn and ketchup to feed your family and still pass on some to your heirs, you may not to be saving money. Remember, it will be cheaper for you if your grandchildren stock their own pantries. Serve leftovers. You know what they say: Waste not; want not! Of course, sometimes it's wasted because no one wants it.

Miscellaneous expenses Never buy what you can borrow. I realize this may eventually cost you some friendships, but then you won't have to buy as many birthday cards. Those things are expensive! Make Christmas and birthday gifts. By the way, I love homemade baked goods, and a homemade sweater would be nice. But if you're making me something with Popsicle sticks, I'd rather have the Popsicles. Buy used--except for bike helmets, baby car seats, and underclothes. Finally, bartering is a practical way to save money in difficult times. Offer to mow your mechanic's lawn or wash your dry cleaner's windows. They may just take you up on it. You'll probably still get bills though. ♌

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Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

Tilapia- 6 oz 2 tsp. Cajun seasoning 1/2 tsp. salt 1/2 tsp. pepper 1 tbl Parmesan cheese 1 tbl Breadcrumbs 1 tsp. Olive oil In a small bowl, combine Cajun seasoning, salt, pepper, parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs. Mix well. Spread olive oil over fish. Sprinkle seasoning mixture over the fish. Place fish in oven on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 7 minutes or until desired temperature has been reached. Serve immediately with wild rice. Top with Pineapple chutney. Pineapple Chutney 1/2 cup red onion, ¼ inch diced 1/4 cup red bell pepper, ¼ inch diced 3 cups pineapple, ½ inch diced 2 tsp. curry powder 1/4 cup chopped cilantro 1/2 tsp. salt 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes 1/2 cup honey 1/2 cup white wine vinegar Combine vinegar, honey, red pepper flakes, cilantro, curry and salt to form a dressing. In a separate mixing bowl, combine onions, peppers and pineapple. Pour the dressing mixture over the onion mixture. Gently mix ingredients together. Place mixture into a plastic storage container. Label, date and refrigerate. Recipe provided by Chef Sean Thomas of Café 1017 32 | Exceptional People Magazine | July-August 2010


Mediterranean Chicken Salad Makes 4 servings

Ingredients 2 large oranges, cut in small cubes 1 curly endive, washed and chopped 2 chicken breasts, cleaned and with skin removed 1 small onion, very finely chopped 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil Vinegar to taste or the juice or a lemon

Preparation Add a pinch of salt to chicken breasts and grill them. Let them cool on a plate and cut them in thin slices. Place chicken breast slices, endive, onion and oranges in a bowl. Add the oil, vinegar. Mix and serve. Recipe provided by Emilia Klapp


potpourri

Lighter Side

.

Organic vegetables His wife wanted organic vegetables, but he couldn't find any. So he grabbed a tiredlooking produce guy and said, "These vegetables are for my wife. Have they been sprayed with any poisonous chemicals?" The produce guy glared at him and said, "No, you'll have to do that yourself."

The Lighter Side LINES FROM RESUMES WE HOPE AREN'T TRUE

                

My ability to complete projects on time is unspeakable. Hope to hear from you shorty. Here are my qualifications for you to overlook. My fortune cookie said, "Your next interview will result in a job." Previous experience: Self-employed (a fiasco). I am a rabid typist. My experience in horticulture is well-rooted. Education: College, August 1880 to May 1984. Special skills: Speak English. I am sicking an entry-level position. I saw your ad on the information highway and came to a screeching halt. Served as assistant sore manager. Married, eight children. Prefer frequent travel. Education: B.A., Loberal Arts. Objective: To have my skills and ethics challenged on a daily basis. Experienced with office machines and make great lattes. Graduated in top 66 percent of my class.

July-August 2010 | Exceptional People Magazine | 33


potpourri

Lighter Side

Exercise in Futility By Angie Brennan

Have you done your hour of jogging yet today? I ask because of that report issued by the Department of Health and Human Services a few years ago. You remember---the one recommending that adults “engage in approximately 60 minutes of moderateto vigorous-intensity activity on most days of the week” to manage body weight. I think I speak for my fellow Americans when I express my appreciation to the DHHS for their concern about our collective health and then inquire, with all due respect, are you crazy? Now perhaps you’ve established your daily hourlong exercise routine. I, on the other hand, don’t get an hour of vigorous activity in an entire quarter, much less in a single day. As far as I’m concerned, my exercise duty is done for the day when I’ve walked to the mailbox and back and sorted through pizza coupons. No, I’m afraid the Department will have to do a little more than issue recommendations if it wants to get me off the couch and onto the racquetball court. Here are a few suggestions: 1. The government could offer tax deductions to any U.S. citizen who can provide proof of having spent at least five hours a week of vigorous exercise. (For example, medical records showing that you were admitted to the emergency room for cardiac distress, having made no previous attempt to exercise since graduating from high school 30 years ago). 2. Encourage employers to provide giant “exercise wheels” for cubicle workers to use during breaks, enabling them to engage in constant activity with-

34 | Exceptional People Magazine | July-August 2010

out actually going anywhere. Just like their jobs. (Note: giant water bottles should be available at each “wheel.”). 3. Offer free plasma televisions to anyone who enrolls in the “Get Off the Couch, America!” club. Of course, encouragement and rewards aren’t always enough. Sometimes there must be tough love. For Americans who refuse to put in even 15 measly minutes of exercise a day, Uncle Sam might have to take a more proactive position. For example: 1. Non-complying citizens would be forced to register for a “anti-vanity plate,” displaying their weight and BMI. 2. Non-complying citizens would be forced to listen to a specially created radio station called “All Oboe, All the Time” until they race out screaming. 3. Non-complying citizens would not be allowed to hold a political office. Unfortunately, this would eventually result in a government full of officials so busy jogging, swimming, and playing volleyball, they would have no time to create new laws and regulations. (On second thought, let’s make that “fortunately.”) If those things ever happen, I’m in big trouble. My only hope would be to have my lawyer point out that the DHHS report doesn’t specify physical activity. Then I can demonstrate that I do, in fact, engage in an hour of activity each day--- mental activity devoted to looking for excuses not to exercise. But perhaps I should start building up a resistance to the oboe, just in case. ♦


potpourri

Lighter Side

Future widow

A woman visiting New Orleans sneaked off to visit a well-known fortune teller. The mystic peered into her crystal ball and delivered grave news. "There is no easy way to say this, but you must prepare yourself to be a widow. Your husband will die a violent and horrible death this year." Visibly shaken, the woman looked into the fortune teller's eyes and asked, "Will I be convicted?"

July-August 2010 | Exceptional People Magazine | 35


36 | Exceptional People Magazine | July-August 2010

Extraordinary Profiles— Resources Side One Ernie Hudson, Pg. 4, A Versatile Hollywood Actor www.ernie-hudson.com Louis Herthum, Pg. 12, A Profile in Courage To Learn more about Louis Herthum, visit the Internet Movie Database: www.imdb.com/name/nm0381043/.com Ana Maria Alvarez, Pg. 19, Fusing Dance with Life, www.contra-tiempo.org Marlene Gordon, Pg. 26, The Next Stage of THE NEXT STAGE, www.nextstagetours.com, www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAT5EkqfQDM, www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-HYFi8MHQI Dr. Clint Pearman, Pg. 30, America’s Mental Toughness Coach, www.clintpearman.com Photo Credits CONTRA-TIEMPO, Pg. 20-23, by Tyrone Domingo and the CONTRA-TIEMPO Dance Company Marlene Gordon, Pg. 26, by Gloria Klaparda

Side Two George Fraser, Pg. 3, World’s Networking Authority, www.frasernet.com Ron Clark, Pg. 10, Ron Clark Academy, www.ronclarkacademy.com Karen Mager, Pg. 18, A Rose By a Different Name, www.crememagnolia.net Photo Credits George Fraser, Cover Photo and Pg. 2, by Georgio Sabino The Ron Clark AcademyRon Clark Academy Group, Pg. 11, by Alex Martinez Top of Page Photos, Pg. 12 and 14, by Yang Huan-Shih Photo Top Left, Pg. 13, by Jenni Girtman, Atlanta Event Photography Additional Credits Recipes: Emilia Klapp, Pg. 31, www.emiliaklapp.com, Chef Sean Thomas, Café 1017, Pg. 32, www.cafe1017.com Photo Enhancements: Mindy Belcher, Photographer - www.everaftervisuals.com Graphics: Jeff Hayes, http://www.plasmafiregraphics.com


Writers and Contributors

William R. Patterson

Annemarie Cross

Ranked as the #1 Business Motivational Speaker by Ranking.com, William R. Patterson is a three-time award-winning lecturer and international best-selling author who uses his trademark approach, THE BARON SOLUTION™, to coach, train, and motivate business leaders, sales professionals, entrepreneurs, and investors. His breakthrough book, The Baron Son, has been translated around the world and featured in the Forbes Book Club and Black Enterprise. William is an internationally recognized wealth and business coach who has been a featured guest on over 500 television and radio programs. William's website, BaronSeries.com, is winner of four 2009 Web Awards including: Best Speaker; Best Male Author; Best Business Advice Site; and Best WealthBuilding Site. For more information, visit http://www.baronseries.com

Annemarie Cross is a Career Management & Personal Branding Strategist, Speaker, Consultant, Radio Broadcaster, and Author of ’10 Key Steps to Ace that Interview!’ She is also the founder/ principal of Advanced Employment Concepts – Career Management and Corporate Career Development Specialists offering powerful programs for people striving for career success and fulfillment, as well as savvy companies committed to building and retaining their most important asset – their staff. Widely considered a personal change agent and success catalyst, Annemarie has distinguished herself as being people-focused, caring, inspirational and life-changing in her approach. Annemarie can be contacted at www.a-e-c.com.au email: info@a-e-c.com.au.

Catherine Galasso-Vigorito

Charles Forchu

Catherine Galasso-Vigorito’s nationally syndicated weekly column, “A New You,” has endeared her to readers worldwide for over 15 years.

Charles Forchu is CEO of ForchuTeck Consulting Group, a Next Generation Technology Consulting firm specializing in cutting edge business solutions utilizing the latest technology. He is leading a new generation of Information Technology experts into Africa who will initiate knowledge of today’s cutting edge technologies with the business savvy needed to create and build strategic technology infrastructure and applications. ForchuTeck provides exceptional services to its clients in various areas of technology including applications development, SEO, web development, mobile applications and many others. The company also provides non-technical services such as branding, recruiting and advertising.

Known for her ability to uplift and encourage, Catherine has become America’s most beloved inspirational voice. Catherine is the founder and CEO of her own company, A New You Worldwide, developing and designing inspirational products. Her mission is to instill hope in the hearts of people everywhere, inspiring them to live a better life. She makes her home on the East Coast with her husband and three daughters. Visit her website at www.anewyouworldwide.com Searching for inspirational gifts - visit http://www.qvc.com/qic/qvcapp.aspx/app.nav/ params.class.K990/walk.yah.0101-K990.

ForchuTeck is headquartered in Dallas, Texas with an office in Yaoundé, Cameroon, to serve the continent of Africa with the initiatives to end the digital divide between Africa and the rest of the world. Visit his websites at www.forchuteckconsulting.com and www.forchuteckstudio.com. July-August 2010 | Exceptional People Magazine | 37


Writers and Contributors

Dean G. Campbell

Dorothy Rosby

Mr. Campbell advises clients throughout the country and is licensed in securities and insurances in many states.

Dorothy Rosby is an entertaining speaker and syndicated humor columnist whose work appears regularly in 30-plus newspapers in eleven Western and Midwestern states. She is also Community Relations Director for an organization which supports people with disabilities. She lives in Rapid City, South Dakota with her husband, son, mother, and hamster. Contact her at drosby@rushmore.com or see her website at www.dorothyrosby.com.

Dean G. Campbell is President of Campbell Retirement Planning Centers, Inc. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan with degrees in Finance and Economics. While attending college, he also taught business applications. Simultaneously he began attaining licenses to transact business in Securities and Insurances. Upon graduation, he worked for an independent brokerage firm then moved on to IDS Financial Services, now Ameriprise. After becoming a top producer at Ameriprise, Dean worked as a Financial Planner for Empire of America Bank in Buffalo, New York. He later became a Financial Planner for First of America Bank where he also for a period worked as the financial consultant for the bank’s customers at fourteen branches. Thirteen years ago Dean started Campbell Retirement Planning Centers, Inc. To date he has personally helped over 2,500 people with planning there financial futures. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Eastern Michigan Better Business Bureau and was recently appointed for his fourth term. Through the business and personally, Dean donates to several charities, helping those who are less fortunate. Visit his website at http://www.campbellretirement.com. Securities offered through Sigma Financial Corp. Member FINRA/SIPC

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Angie Brennan Angie Brennan is a humor writer and illustrator from Maryland. Visit her website at www.angiebrennan.com for cartoons, spoof advice, and more.

Kathi Calahan Prescott, Arizona business coach, Kathi Calahan, is a Syndicated Author, Certified Behavioral Therapist, Professional Psychic and CEO of two home-based businesses. Her first business, www.godseer.com, shows entrepreneurs how to start any business from home, even if they’ve never done it before. Her other business, www.AmericanLovePsychic.com helps lovers heal their relationships by identifying the underlying problem and providing workable solutions, even if they’re thinking of throwing in the towel. Sign up now for her free and helpful small business ideas newsletter, as well as her relationship advice newsletter.


Writers and Contributors

Rosalind Sedacca

Margaret Paul

Recognized as The Voice of Child-Centered Divorce, Rosalind Sedacca is a Certified Corporate Trainer and founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network for parents facing, moving through or transitioning beyond divorce. She is the author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook™ Guide to Preparing Your Children – with Love! which offers a unique approach to breaking divorce news to your children based on her own personal experience. Rosalind is on the Board of Directors of ChildSharing, Inc. and WE Magazine for Women. She writes monthly columns for several divorce and parenting websites. She is also the 2008 National First Place Winner of the Victorious Woman Award. Rosalind shares her expertise through TV, radio and print interviews, newsletters, teleseminars and coaching.

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a noted public speaker, bestselling author, workshop leader, relationship expert, and Inner Bonding® facilitator. She has counseled individuals and couples, and led groups, classes, and workshops since 1968. She is the author and co-author of eight books, including the internationally best-selling Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You?, Healing Your Aloneness, Inner Bonding, and Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By God?

As a Certified Corporate Trainer and Business Communication Strategist she provides consulting, speaking, training and Executive Coaching services to organizations nation-wide on marketing, public relations and business communication issues. She specializes in gender-related dynamics, marketing to women and employeemanagement collaboration in the workplace. In addition, Rosalind is a partner in a new business membership site for women, Women Helping Women Mastermind, where women can network, promote their businesses, access help and advice, find resources for accelerating their careers and enjoy free weekly teleseminars, a free weekly newsletter and much more. Basic Membership is also free to women around the world at www.WomenHelpingWomenMastermind.com. To learn more about her book, free ezine, programs and other valuable resources on creating a positive ChildCentered Divorce, visit www.childcentereddivorce.com and www.howdoitellthekids.com.

She is the co-creator, along with Dr. Erika Chopich, of the Inner Bonding® healing process, recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette, and featured on Oprah, and of the unique and popular website www.innerbonding.com. Their transformational selfhealing/conflict resolution software program, SelfQuest®, at www.selfquest.com, is being donated to prisons and schools and sold to the general public.

James Adonis James Adonis is a people-management thinker and the author of three books including his latest, ‘Corporate Punishment: Smashing the Management Clichés for Leaders in a New World’. Thought-provoking and entertaining, James's keynote presentations and workshops show companies how to solve staff turnover, engage all generations, and win the war for talent. He has presented to audiences across Australia, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, with an impressive list of clients including McDonald's, American Express, Coca-Cola, Qantas, and Gucci. www.jamesadonis.com.

For more information about her customized programs, audio and videotapes, and other services, contact Rosalind at 561-742-3537 or Talk2Roz@bellsouth.net.

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ExceptionalPeopleMagazineJulyAugust2010-Part Two