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Connection is the key to all life because it creates feelings.  And feelings and relationships are at the core of ALL successful relationships – whether it is sales, customer service, leadership, teams or anything else.  Connection is even more important for women, who operate particularly strongly through this value – make her feel disconnected from you and she will never buy your product or do business with you again!  Isn’t that true, ladies?  So, today I want to connect with you through storytelling.

My first story’s main characters are Ron and Violet.  They don’t rank high on the list of people that most business CEO’s want to connect with.  Their lives started very differently from the life I enjoy.  If these characters touch your heart, there are PMSI tissues in your swag bags!!

Ron was the first of eight children born to a fifteen year old mother.  His father was a coal miner who developed black lung early on.  Ron was very poor, suffered from asthma due to the conditions of the old house they rented.  He was bullied at school for his rag-tag appearance and his mashed potato sandwiches.  He had a disabled brother, quit school at 15 to look after his siblings, lied about his age and joined the military in order to help support his family.  After his stint in the military, he met the love of his life, Violet, and worked as a throat cutter at a chicken processing plant and drove a taxi at night.

Let’s talk about Violet.  Violet was a lucky child – lucky to survive.  She was born prematurely into a family who had two living children and had lost four others.  Her three pound body fit nicely into her shoebox bassinet.  Her father was also a coal miner and semi-pro boxer who traveled the mining camp circuit until he was quarantined for years in a tuberculosis hospital.  Violet was a shy, bright child whose teachers always took up a collection to get her a Christmas gift each year.  No playmates ever visited her house – Violet was too embarrassed by the shanty they lived in with no indoor plumbing.  She graduated from high school and attended a nearby junior college until she needed to quit in order to help with her family’s household bills when her father was hospitalized. Can you imagine the challenges Ron and Violet faced?

But enough sad stuff…..back to me now!! I am truly blessed.  I don’t have challenges like the ones I described in that story, and most of us don’t either today.  One of the biggest blessings is that I was born into a family with advantages.  One of the advantages is that my parents are Superheroes!!! 

My mother was a rare combination of June Cleaver (you all know Beaver’s mom) and Wonder Woman.  She wore high heels and was perfectly groomed and gorgeous at all times.  By all times, I mean for work, PTA meetings, volunteer work, grocery shopping, and when she met my dad at the door at the end of the day.  AND, she was a business owner! She owned her own construction business at a time when women didn’t do that!  Not only did she do it, she did it well!  My Wonder Woman mom was the first woman to be voted as the President of the Maryland Home Builders Assn.  She was a dedicated volunteer her whole life and was especially dedicated to helping young women through her work at the pregnancy crisis center and also help rehabilitate apes at an Ape Sanctuary in Florida.  With five children to raise and a thriving business, I’ll never understand how she managed it all and gave us all lasting memories of her incredibly organized and Epic Easter Egg Hunts, Bingo Birthday parties, trips to the beach, Disneyland, battle fields, museums, and the Bahamas.

Meanwhile, my dad was what I like to describe as an Aqua Man meets Superman combo.  Only two Atomic Veterans survived the effects of the nuclear testing in Guam on the Navy Destroyer my dad served on and are still living.  He is one of them!  His fearless nature led him to try his hand at race car driving and to become an expert marksman as a Maryland State Policeman.  During his career, he participated in the Baltimore riots, saving many lives with his strength, his calm demeanor and ability to “Talk someone down”.  He actually saved my life twice as a child.  He too, was a volunteer at the Ape Sanctuary and various food banks and was the most dedicated and amazing caregiver to my mother during her long and courageous battle with cancer, the battle that was lost, but not because she gave up, but because she ran out of weapons.

As their child, I was well-traveled but also hardworking.  To play hard we had to work hard.  That was our motto.  I was taught that volunteering was as essential as breathing; taught that girls could ride motorcycles, mow grass, change tires, hammer nails, waterproof basements and run companies.  I also learned that boys can cook, sew buttons on stuffed animals, vacuum floors, and write beautiful letters and funny notes left on breakfast tables.  I was taught to set goals and work toward them, to surround myself with people who have passion and perseverance.  I was taught to have an attitude of gratitude and to help others who are less fortunate.  I learned to expect success!

Did I inherit my parents’ superpowers?  Was my success based on theirs?  What would my life be like now had I been born to the first couple I described? 

Well, lucky for me, I was!!!!  Ron and Violet are my superhero parents. Superheroes aren’t always born that way.  Superheroes are created.  After all as the Dark Knight said “A hero can be anyone”  My parents forged their own superhero status as a dynamic duo – with a connection so strong they beat the odds to succeed and exceed all expectations by others, with grit, not unlike Batman and Aquaman, Superheroes aren’t just men and women in tight uniforms fighting evil.  When it comes down to it, they’re (at least, part) human with real emotions and their motives can teach us a thing or two about what it means to be a good leader.  They strive to better themselves by helping those around them and contributing to the greater good, in business and in life.  Superheroes tend to attract other superheroes.  That’s why we’re here today!

These are the superhero traits that have been recognized in me over time:

H – Hardworking

When it comes to the trait of being hardworking, Wonder Woman tops the chart.  What can we learn from her, besides the fact that she wears amazing cuffs!!!  Hard work pays!  With dedication and a pure sense of conscientiousness, Wonder Woman did what she was chosen to do.  A good leader leads by example and a lackadaisical leader will have similar followers.  A leader who works hard to meet deadlines motivates team members to deliver on time.  My life is filled with deadlines that must be met. I would never ask one of my employees to do something that I haven’t done myself.


E – Energetic

What more can be said about Flash Gordan’s energy?  He channeled his energy to what he was most passionate about.  His energy is unsurmountable when it comes to his super heroic feats.  Energy = zest for life.  Enthusiasm speaks volumes.  People in motion stay in motion.  Running a business requires plenty of motion!


R – Responsibility

Peter Parker, aka Spiderman, understands that “With great power there must also come great responsibility” and in order to be Spiderman he has to take on the responsibility that comes with being a superhero and not just bask in the greatness of the power gained.  Great leaders don’t let their gifts go to waste but, rather; see them as a calling to do something heroic.  Plus, I had to give a shoutout to Spiderman from PMSI!


Professor X’s systematic approach to promote the peaceful affirmation of mutant rights, to mediate the co-existence of mutants and humans, shows how adept he was in his organization skills.  His great management of his institution for the greater good of mutants and humans is remarkable.  This trait is similar to my volunteer work at YFT, mentoring sex-trafficked girls and helping them co-exist with the rest of the world after being isolated and “different”.  Organization sometimes promotes trust.


Knowledge is power and Tony Stark, aka Ironman, is the living example of this.  His knowledge of technology can only be matched with his super wit.  Ironman always steered ahead of opponents, all the time, by putting to good use his wisdom in the technical world and creating the best gadgets for his arsenal.  Keeping yourself updated on the latest trends in business will ensure your superiority in the market and is key to your survival.  After all, what is in Vogue today is passe’ tomorrow.  Can I get an Amen!


S - Self-Starter

Batman trained himself both physically and mentally to fight crime.  He is the classic self-starter.  Unlike most superheroes, he does not possess any super powers, instead he makes use of his intellect to fight crime.  He uses pure grit and resilience to become a super hero….the true characteristic of a self-starter.  My parents were self starters, showing me and my siblings that we could achieve anything we were willing to work for.


So, as we return to reality, I ask you to reflect on the superhereos in your lives, and the superpowers you possess.  I encourage you to surround yourself and be inspired by other superheroes.  One of my super hero partners, Vernon David #85 on the Washington Redskins, and Man of the Year Nominee couldn’t be here today.  There is a signed picture in your bag as a visual reminder to focus on growing and fine tuning your own super powers.  Remember, anything is possible…..Thank you!!!

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