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“The future is bright here. We have an incredible team. We are smart, strategic, and revolutionary. We have a thick culture of mutual respect and execution. We want to make a real difference.”

20/20 VSC President Christine Beckwith


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IN THIS ISSUE from the Editor in Chief

We hope you enjoy getting to know every person presented on these pages, learning the lessons shared, and simply enjoying reading our magazine. Please share and subscribe.

This month, we begin our annual campaign to reach out to those interested in marketing their services on our digital pages. We serve 100,000 plus social media followers spread across popular platforms such as Facebook pages and groups, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.

It is the mission of the WWV Magazine to inspire and inform those who share our passion for the mortgage and finance industry. Fundamental to our vision are these principles to guide our direction:

  • Employ uncompromising standards of excellence in the creation of our content and services.
  • Be leaders in the mortgage community providing respect and appreciating the values of this diverse group.
  • Seek to create a positive impact.
  • Celebrate creativity, balance, and humor, as well as personal and business growth.

This magazine continues to be offered at no charge to ensure the message addresses the desires and needs of our advertisers and readers, both men and women. Ask how you can be a part of this vision.


Candy Zulkosky

IN THIS ISSUE from the Publisher

It is a time for gratitude, tis’ truly the season. I am grateful for so much. Right now, I am most thankful for the 53 years I spent with my sister, Tammy, who passed last month after a long battle with many illnesses. As I grapple with the grief, I have come to a great perspective about my life and happiness, success, and honor. While caring for my sister for the past two years, I was writing my newly released book Finding Honor- The Journey to Truth.

I was able to put into play the effects of my writing on her life and saw in real-time what it looks like to live and ultimately die with honor. This book came to me while treading a long road to personal development. I believe its words and story it tells are meant to assist others on their own journeys. Words can shock the world, if they are poised to stun. But what if the truth is shocking but liberating and helpful? Healing and inspiring? Would you be willing to speak your truth, live in truth, and seek your ultimate peace and, thus, gratitude?

I hope you find time this month to reflect on what matters most. I hope you express to the world your greatest gratitude and love. The time to do that is now. And for you, our reader, our client, and our colleague, we thank YOU for following us this year, consuming our content, and being in our inner circle, riding along with us in this complex and intriguing life. May you be brave enough to Find YOUR honor!

20/20 Vision for Success Coaching

The Incredible Success of a National Consulting Firm (OURS!)

Written by: CaZ

20/20 is four years old. This month, the company is celebrating its fourth birthday and is continuing its strong growth forward into year five and beyond.

Tumultuous with huge growing curves. Thrilling. Educational. Painfully invaluable lessons. Fun and exciting. A labor of love.

These words and many more describe the emotions and experiences of the past four-plus years. Officially, 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching opened its doors as a business and sales consultancy with a heavy focus on coaching professionals in the mortgage industry in November 2018. Unofficially, we were a skeleton crew of two putting the pieces in place even before the opening date.

Christine has a unique ability to help people transition and embrace a new vision of themselves. As often happens, Beckwith’s career in banking was launched by accident and led, in a three-decade-long professional journey, inexorably to executive-level corporate leadership in sales, banking, and mortgage. The announcement of her professional pivot to leave behind the acclaim, position, and financial rewards of being a national officer in the mortgage world to focus on coaching left many industry jaws agape. It was part of a plan, however. Christine was ready to bring to life the irresistible draw of her own vision.

In the early days, the company was small. The first coaching students signed on in January 2019, their presence a direct result of Beckwith’s sales acumen. She shared her recollection of this time: 

“I have this vivid memory of setting up a whiteboard on day one and thinking that I just needed to sell.  And so that is what I did. And soon I had one sale. Then two. Then three. Fast forward four years, we have a huge company. The bricks have been laid adding up to this incredible Eiffel Tower.”

I, too, remember that whiteboard. Although I did not see it directly since Christine and I live hundreds of miles apart in different states. Nonetheless, I was vividly aware of the names going up on that board and the effort going into laying the foundation for 20/20 VSC. To this day, we celebrate and welcome every new coaching or consulting client as vigorously and with as much joy as we did the first few.

Pivoting was hard,” Christine admits as she reflects back. “Anyone in my proximity saw how the years leading up to the jump into my dream of owning a coaching firm were riddled with emotion, fear, and contemplation over whether I was making the right decision.”

It was a huge step to take. The naysayers’ voices were loud and came from many directions as Christine weighed the cost of pursuing her dream against the security and profitability of staying the course. Starting a company is not for the faint of heart and doing so in a fishbowl while telling others you can help them with their businesses is a trick most people would not attempt.

“I couldn’t continue to tell or sell others on the idea I could help their businesses if I couldn’t fundamentally and physically do it with 20/20 VSC in a public spotlight.”

None would disagree with the statement that Christine Beckwith is a visionary leader. The strength behind 20/20 VSC lies in the reality of the dream, with a team of leaders who support the clients, fuel the dream, and follow the vision. From day one, 20/20 VSC was designed to grow. With Beckwith at the helm, growth and excellence were inevitable. In the company’s first year, the first Vision Summit was held, an industry event which continues to receive acclaim for its focus on learning presented in an enjoyable show environment. The addition of the Women With Vision division and the Women With Vision Award occurred hand in hand with the planning for the Vision Summit. Those were busy days filled with new faces and the fast-paced growth of both staff and students.

“We work with as many males as females, of course. Arguably more men than women. However, a division for women within the company makes sense,” Christine says. “Women With Vision is a brand having a life of its own while functioning in lockstep with the 20/20 Vision brand. The courses for women are like none other in the industry. We tackle the outliers and topics often unspoken. We focus on delivering results in business. We have created an incredible and powerful place for women to thrive and embrace their unique differences as strategic weapons in the fight for elite jobs with equal and greater pay.”

“I love how with the WWV Award we celebrate amazing women leaders for an entire year,” Beckwith continues. “Women With Vision is showing the world we hide no longer. We own the fact we run incredible businesses while being beautiful women who love the things women love.”

Communication is high on the priority list for 20/20 VSC and comes as no surprise with a multi-published and award-winning author leading the charge. The launch of the Women With Vision Magazine in May of 2020, followed in June with the launch of The Vision magazine, opened an entirely new venture, introducing one more division which continues to grow and develop.

“I took a run at the wall and began the climb. Four years ago, I saw the vision of where we are right now, and it has taken many others by surprise.” Beckwith’s vision saw her creating a scalable platform capable of seating thousands of professionals to provide intricate levels of coaching, including financial forensics, reporting, strategic and growth development, health and wellness, trauma and life coaching, and the entire gamut of the coaching spectrum. Today, 20/20 VCS has a team of coaches, employs more than 60 people, and presents a robust public relations and marketing division providing an edge to help mortgage professionals learn and hone the skills of modern-day marketing. The coaching menu is diverse, and the curriculum is incredible.

“My vision has accountability and longevity, and I am playing the long game. We beat our competition’s price dramatically, and then we outlast them by four to five times the average length of a coaching student in our industry. I see 20/20 VSC becoming the largest banking, mortgage, and real estate coaching firm in the world. My vision does not yet envision the end game; I know it’s going to be big.”

Beckwith’s vision was never limited to one coaching model. In June, at the Vision Summit, two new divisions were announced. The 20/20 Vision Retreats and Excursions division offers deep-dive destination coaching experience to align your personal or business worlds. The retreat and excursion experience provides tactical, new, and innovative ways to run every part of your business while finding alignment in all departments.

VisionMark Expert Marketing for Visionaries is a full-service marketing firm offering consulting, full-service provisionary marketing, branding, and a vow of excellence powered by 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching and Consulting. VisionMark’s mission is to bring marketing expertise to the professionals striving for the commercialization of their businesses.

“The future is bright here. We have an incredible team. We are smart, strategic, and revolutionary. We have a thick culture of mutual respect and execution. We want to make a real difference.”


  • Forget about fitting in. Stand out. Stand up. Stand strong. I have lived by these words my whole life, but not as outwardly as I do today. Find purpose and be real, authentic, and courageous.
  • Every day counts.
  • Service must be excellent.
  • You need to:
    • Have sharp competitive skills.
    • Take risks.
    • Know your numbers.
    • Lead with a clear vision.
    • Always evolve.
    • Outwork others.
    • Go for the long game.
    • Be willing to remove cancer when you see it.
  • You must lead by example.
About the Author: Candy Zulkosky (CaZ)

CaZ, the Writer Success Coach, wears many professional hats all earned through experience as a professional writer, editor, coach, marketer, educator, and entrepreneur. Aside from her nom de plume when writing, she’s known as Candy Zulkosky and is the editor in chief of this publication.

As the Writer Success Coach, CaZ specializes in supporting writers. She finds joy in helping others to write and experience the joys of being published. CaZ coaches writers whose skills and experience range from the novice to the multi-published author. She tailors the coaching experience to best fit the needs of each writer and business professional she works with. On the publishing side, CaZ is a multi-book published author and has edited or assisted in bringing dozens of authors to both print and to the best seller lists!

CaZ is pronounced KayZee in case you were wondering.


KIM KRICK: Survive and Thrive with a Bit of Sass Mixed in!

Written by: CaZ

Tips for Success

As is often true with strong leaders, Kim is generous about sharing her knowledge and experience. These tips are a few of the success habits she follows and encourages in others.

  • Be committed. Through commitment, you can gain motivation and pursue success.
  • Change your perspective. Positivity always puts a different perspective on things.
  • Set powerful over-the-top goals. Freedom’s President (Stan Middleman) talks about goal setting as being a huge factor in success.
  • Focus on a positive attitude. Always expect the best possible outcome for what you do.
  • Personally, get more rest. Go to bed early, get up early. 😉
  • Shop locally and eat fresh. Check out local harvest for your nearest farmer’s market.
  • Fast track your exercise routine with interval training.
  • Make the journey fun! The minute you make it serious, there’s a big chance it will start carrying a heavy weight.

It is always interesting to learn how a person who is super successful in their work came to the profession. In the mortgage world, backgrounds are wildly varied and often have no relationship to the financial world. Let’s face it, no one wakes up on their fifth birthday and says, I’m going to be a loan originator when I grow up!

Thirty (or so) years ago, Kim Krick walked away from her training and a career as a phlebotomist to help out her husband in his mortgage business, and a new, totally unexpected career was spawned. Kim moved into wholesale mortgage work from an executive suite in 1986. Florida was her territory then, and to a large degree, it still is. She has risen to now be the producing manager of the whole Southeast Region for Freedom Mortgage. As First VP and SE Regional Manager, Kim shares wholeheartedly that her passion is helping her account executives reach their growth and goals!

“In business, I consider success to be truly making our brokers look good in the eyes of their realtors and borrowers. If we get any credit for growing their business, it gives me great pride. I would say my greatest success lies in being married for 33 years and being a mom.”

This philosophy and work ethic holds firm for Kim in all she does as a leader. She excels as one who leads by example and leading by making others better. Her ‘secret sauce’ is finding the strengths of team members then giving each person the chance to do what they are best at while getting out of their way. “I like to listen to my team and talk less. I handle issues with a sense of urgency when a loan goes sideways. I like to think my leadership style makes people feel like they can be themselves and have fun doing what they do every day.”

As a woman leader coming up through the ranks in the mortgage field, Kim feels she’s always been able to bring a different perspective to the table. There were times she had to work harder than her male counterparts to achieve her goals, but in today’s world, the unique strengths of each leader are being counted, regardless of gender.

For Kim, the best part about her career is the impact her efforts and the team’s efforts have on homeownership. Her favorite task is working with great people to make things happen, saying, “I still get a thrill when we take a first-time home buyer and put them into a home.”

Kim has a strong vision for the future of wholesale and believes technology is going to play a big role in how fast deals can be underwritten and closed. “Margins are tight in wholesale. The more efficient we can be with technology, the better we can compete. Freedom has changed from a regional platform to a national platform, and it’s made us more efficient. More wholesalers are going that way because the cost is so tight.

We enjoy having the Value Verify with Class Valuation for our appraisals as speed does play a big role in our future. My vision is to grow wholesale, to be the lender of choice for our brokers, both in wholesale correspondent and broker. We are working towards a goal to close all purchase loans within 15 to 20 days. I want to be the broker advocate for wholesale in our industry and help them grow their shops and businesses.”

Kim, a native Floridian, still lives in Florida with her husband of 33 years. Her one child, a daughter, is busy planning a November wedding. Kim beams when she speaks of her family, and especially her daughter, who is a writer working for Advent Health. When asked what one message she would want to share with her daughter about finding success in life, Kim responded, “To love what you do! The money will come but first, you have to really love what you do every day. And it’s important to not stress about the small things. Everything will work out how it’s supposed to be. And this is important for all of us. Worry less. Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

Kim’s favorite hobby is cooking great food. A few years ago, Kim made a lifestyle choice and is a follower of Dr. Mark Hyman known for the Pagan diet, a combination of Vegan and Paleo principles that advocates eating to prevent and beat disease. On this subject Kim shares, “I am a little bit of a health nut right now. I would say I put my health first but for a lot of years in my 30s and 40s I would put work first which was not good. Dr. Mark Hyman has helped me learn food is medicine, and to understand the link between diet and our brain health is profound.”

When Kim’s coworkers were asked about her leadership, Senior Vice President of Freedom Mortgage Corporation Wholesale Lending Division, Keith G. Bilodeau, shared his insight,

“Kim Krick is a leader her employees never want to disappoint, a characteristic that is attained by earning the employees respect, which is something sadly missing in today’s society. Kim leads her sales team by example and is outstanding at walking the talk, and showing what it takes to be successful in this highly competitive industry. Kim has never met a challenge she wasn’t ready and able to conquer. Customer service is more than a catchphrase for Kim, it’s truly something infectious within Kim’s DNA. She makes all of us here in the sales management team proud every day.”

Our closing thoughts center around Kim’s goals for life, career, and home. “It’s important that we do not accept no for an answer and that we are positive and help people do better both personally and professionally. And most of all, that we wake up healthy and make the most of the present.”

Her favorite quote from Maya Angelou caps it nicely,

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive, and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” Kim adds this, “I like to say some sass, too, but style is fine.”

Great advice for anyone, I’d say.

About the Author: CaZ

CaZ, the Writer Success Coach, wears many professional hats all earned through experience as a professional writer, editor, coach, marketer, educator, and entrepreneur. Aside from her nom de plume when writing, she’s known as Candy Zulkosky and is the editor in chief of this publication.

As the Writer Success Coach, CaZ specializes in supporting writers. She finds joy in helping others to write and experience the joys of being published. CaZ coaches writers whose skills and experience range from the novice to the multi-published author. She tailors the coaching experience to best fit the needs of each writer and business professional she works with. On the publishing side, CaZ is a multi-book published author and has edited or assisted in bringing dozens of authors to both print and to the best seller lists!

CaZ is pronounced KayZee in case you were wondering.


Written by: Suha Zehl

This November, like every November, our nation honors and recognizes military veterans of the Armed Forces. Initially, it was called Armistice Day; but in 1954, Congress amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word Armistice and replacing it with the word Veterans, hence November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

From the battlefields of the American Revolution to the deserts of Kuwait and the Gulf War, women have been serving in the military in one form or another for more than 200 years. They have had to overcome decades of obstacles to step into where they are today: serving in greater numbers, in combat roles, and in leadership positions all around the world.


This year, I thought nothing would be more appropriate than to put In the Spotlight four phenomenal veterans who happen to be women to share their story, their journey, and some of the challenges they have experienced in and out of the military. All four served in three different branches of the Armed Forces and have now transitioned to civilian life, a journey all on its own.

But before I turn the spotlight on them, let’s learn a bit more about women in the Armed Forces:

  • Women represent only one out of every six Americans in uniform, ranging from about 8 percent in the Marine Corps to 19 percent in the Air Force,
  • Women represent 1 in every 4 reserve members or about 25 percent,
  • Women represent about 1 in every 5 national guard members or about 20 percent,
  • Only six women have ever reached four-star rank; only about 6 percent of four-star generals have been women even in the period after General Ann E. Dunwoody shattered, the glass ceiling in 2008,
  • You cannot carry anything in your right hand, just in case you have to salute, and
  • Until recently, women in the military were not allowed to wear nail polish or lipstick or wear their hair in a ponytail

In my conversations with these four women veterans, we talked about how they made the decision to join the military, their family’s response, and how their experience has shaped who they are and prepared them for their future. We also discussed the opportunities being in the military family opens up, the challenges faced, their proudest moments, going for it, pushing, and believing in themselves. Other topics ranged from the importance of discipline, commitment, and mission, the role mental well-being plays, the lack of inclusion, intimidation, showing up, knowing their WHY, and their transition back to civilian life. Finally, the women shared what they would tell someone who is considering a career in the military.

Each of the women In the Spotlight is truly inspiring in her own way. They are completely genuine, utterly funny, and deeply authentic. They wear their emotions on their sleeves, and they are proud of having served our country. I sincerely hope you enjoy my conversations with Sarrah Hall, Luly Dingus, Kimberley Mason, and Kelly Tierney. It was my distinct honor to speak with them, and yet, who better to share these deeply personal stories than they? Here, in their words, you may experience what it means to be a woman in service to her country and what happens beyond that service.

Sarrah Hall

Luly Dingus 

Kimberley Mason


Kelly Tierney 

I want to thank Michele Kryczkowski with Plant Home Lending, Laura Escobar with Lennar Mortgage, Chrissy Brown with Atlantic Bay Mortgage, and Ashley Puckett with Vellum Mortgage for their amazing recommendations!

The full episodes are also available here:





About the Author: Suha Zehl

Suha brings over 35 years of global, technology & innovation, and business experience in various industries, and most recently in mortgage. Suha started her career as a programmer analyst; she has taught at the university level, and founded the Office of Institutional Research for an international community college system before joining the mortgage industry as an award-winning technology executive, writer, and speaker. Suha is currently a successful entrepreneur as the Founder and CEO of Z Technology Solutions and


20 / 20 Vision for Success Coaching is pleased to announce the winners of the 2022 Women With Vision Award. For the fourth year, 20 / 20 Vision for Success Coaching has recognized women professionals in the mortgage and real estate industries. These outstanding women join prestigious award winners from the past (and some are past winners) as well as being the recipient of other awards in their industry. Many of these awardees have launched their own business ventures, hold key positions in the mortgage or real estate industry, and mentor the next generation of women leaders.

Winners are nominated based on their reputation of excellence, inspiration, professionalism, and leadership in their industries as they continue to aim for their vision. Being nominated is also one of the greatest compliments a peer can bestow on a fellow industry leader.

The 2022 Women With Vision Award Winners will be featured in a special January 2023 issue of the Women With Vision Magazine sharing their stories of inspiration, professionalism, and leadership as they balance work and life. The recipients will be recognized LIVE at the Vision Summit in 2023 and receive a trophy.

Congratulations 2022 WWV Award Winners!

Lil Abee

Megan M. Anderson

Sarah Arcanti

Patty Arvielo

Ginger Bell

Paige Blackstock

Fernanda Bodden

Elena Boland

Alysha Boles

Brittany Boudreaux

Laura Brandao

Jamie Cavanaugh

Suijita Chhetri

Kim Clancy

Paola Colina

Cristy Conolly

Ashlee Cragun

Marcia Davies

Karen Deis

Cindy Ertman

Jaki Fanelli

Mikinzi Ferran

Ashley Filitor

Samantha Fraser

Raisa Fudim

Debbi Galvan

Anna Golic

Genesis Gomez

Chasity Graff

Alex Grill

Sareena Halani

Chris Harrington

Tara Healy

Jennifer Heinrich

Nicole Heinz

Laiken Hobbs

Kim Hoffman

Celline Inglesias

Parihan Jawani

Tawn Kelley

Hamiley Leon

Suzy Lindblom

Sabita Maharjan

Aliza Maqbool

Rana Mortensen

Nike Ojo

Kirti Panchal

Kathy Pilgrim

Jennifer Du Plessis

Gloria Polanco

Carol Pope

Melissa Puckett

Tomasina Ramirez

Katie Sacriste

Paola Scott

Kiran Shah

Jenna Silverman

Katie Sweeney

Dianna M. Thompson

Reshma Vazir

Carolina Vergara

Kris Wake

Melanie Walburg

Julia Weeks

Jessica Wells

Melinda Wilner

Sue Woodard

Julie Yarbrough

Written by: Ashlee Cragun

When I was a little girl, I remember the excitement I felt when my parents told me I was headed to my grandparents for the weekend. It was like I had won the lottery! I remember always thinking I was the favorite grandchild. I could go without my parents or siblings to my grandparents’ house, and it was a whole hour away from home! How cool was I?!

I have very few childhood memories, but I remember those weekends were full of adventure and wonder. I couldn’t tell you how old I was, nor could I tell you how frequently I went to stay with my grandparents, but what I can tell you is I will never forget those moments. Those were the moments you never allow to disappear. As I write this story, my nostrils fill with the smell of the musty carpet in the back of my grandpa’s old yellow Chevy truck, and my skin remembers the scratchy feeling of the carpet in the bed of the truck. That truck housed the most memorable moments with my grandpa from the secret Sunday trips to McDonald’s, the bumpy drives down the street to the duck pond with my bag of bread in tow, hide and seek in the bed of the truck, and the countless conversations ending in laughter.  As a young girl, this made my grandpa my hero. He was one of the coolest old people I knew, and I loved that man!

I remember in middle school we were given the assignment to interview someone who had served in the military. Our task was to find someone we knew and ask them to share their story of serving our country. Of course, I knew immediately I was going to interview my grandpa! Who doesn’t want to interview their hero? At the time, I had no idea what exactly he had done in the military or did for the military, but it gave me an excuse to go see him, so to me, it was a perfect idea. My grandpa had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and I wanted the opportunity to document his story. I wanted to share with the world how amazing my grandpa was. Now I am not going to go into detail about what I learned that day, but I will share with you the feeling of pride and respect I felt for my grandfather.

My grandfather passed away a few years after my interview with him, and I remember the pain and sadness I felt when my mom called me at work. I was devastated. My hero had left this world, and I was heartbroken. His funeral was beautiful, and as the military presented and passed the flag to my grandmother, that sense of pride and love came back. I am so proud to call him my grandpa, my hero, and my friend. Although my grandpa has passed on, his memory has not. I learned so many lessons from him through his example and the way he lived his life.

As I look back at these memories, there are several lessons I learned and I have carried over into my everyday life, both professionally and personally. These lessons have blessed my life, and I will never be able to express my gratitude for them.

  1. Listen – Open your ears. Everyone has a story, and it doesn’t matter what you think it might be, it might surprise you. Every story is unique. It is important to take the time to ask questions, get to know people, and listen. Open your heart and your mind to serving those around you as you listen to their truth.
  2. Everyone has a place, and every role is important – As I listened to the stories shared with me and the responsibilities of each person serving with my grandfather, he helped me understand that everyone from the pilot on the airplane to the mechanic to the supply contractor had an important role to play in order to keep everyone safe and make sure each mission was accomplished. If you want an engine to run smoothly you need to make sure you have the right pieces to the puzzle.
  3. Be strong – Although you go through a lot in life it is important to look for the small moments and enjoy your life. Take the time to smile, laugh, and look to the future. No matter what life throws at you if you look for the positive in your life it will not lead you astray.
  4. Family is key – My grandparents made it a point to make memories with me forever. I will forever be in their debt for accepting me for who I am and showing me that it is ok to love, trust, and have fun with family because they are part of who you are.
  5. Do hard things – It wasn’t hard for me to go interview my grandpa. It was harder to set aside time to go up to his home and ask him questions to which I wasn’t sure I get the answers. I could have taken the easy way out and found someone closer to home to interview. Take the time and do things that might be a little harder because you will reap the benefits.
  6. Don’t forget the small things – Remember what made you smile and the memories that made you who you are. Remember the lessons that taught you your values and how you interact with the society around you.

My grandfather’s character and who he was, helped me learn lessons that help dictate how I live my life today. He helped shape who I am and how I look at this world. I am grateful for my grandpa lessons, and he will never know how much he helped me become who I am today. I am grateful for people like my grandpa who, through their example, show the greatness of the world around us.

The value I place on opportunities to continue learning is in part why I chose to join the Women With Vision board of directors. It’s a win-win when I can learn and bring learning to others at the same time.

You can find the lessons if you are looking or open to hearing. Take the time to listen and be open to learning. What lessons have you learned recently? Who taught them to you? Have you thanked them?

Take the time today to be open and share your gratitude to one person who has shaped your life to be who you are.

Turn a Good Letter into a Great One with Gratitude!

Written by: Michael Collins

“I appreciate you!”

An associate recently said that to me after I assisted him with a dilemma resulting in him earning a commission on a real estate project. His comment was sincere and unsolicited. I appreciated the nice feeling his words gave me, plus, I was more than happy to help him again if needed.

His comment caused me to think about how infrequently I express gratitude for something or when someone has done something for me or helped me in some way. As a Life and Success Coach, all I could think was, “shame on me!”

I suspect I am not alone in not being conscious of showing gratitude. It is so simple to do and greatly appreciated, as demonstrated by my reaction above. But yet, it is not something we automatically think to do. Why not?

The main reason could be because our present living or lifestyle is at a fast pace and its many distractions make it easier to forget the importance of gratitude.

It might also be because we are not completely in touch with our feelings. As a result, we aren’t comfortable putting ourselves out there with a show of gratitude. For some of us, it might be too touchy-feely or out of our comfort level.

Or we simply don’t think of it!

Regardless of why we don’t do it often enough, it is important to know why we should commit to making this a part of our daily interactions with people. Significant studies over the years have proven that by practicing gratitude, we can handle stress better than others.

“By merely acknowledging and appreciating the little things in life, we can rewire the brain to deal with the present circumstances with more awareness and broader perception.”

Also, gratitude can “boost the neurotransmitter serotonin and activate the brainstem to produce dopamine.” Dopamine is our brain’s pleasure chemical. The more we think positive, grateful thoughts, the healthier and happier we feel.

Neuroscientist Dr. Antonio Damasio says, “We are not thinking machines that feel, but emotional machines that think.” Our emotions impact how effectively we think; thus, it is in our best interest to be as happy and grounded as possible. Showing gratitude can help us toward this objective.

Here is what Tony Robbins says about showing gratitude, “When you are grateful, fear disappears, and abundance appears.” Once we appreciate what we have, the law of attraction brings us even more abundance. The benefits of gratitude affect every area of our lives, from our relationships to our careers and our businesses.

By not showing gratitude, it is easy to imagine many of the benefits mentioned above don’t occur or, at worst, reverse themselves. The law of polarity states that everything in life has a polar opposite: White versus black, hot versus cold, and happy versus sad. As a result, if practicing gratitude makes us happy, it stands to reason that not practicing gratitude can contribute to making us unhappy!

Ok, so we agree that showing gratitude is a good thing. What are some simple ways to do so if you are uncomfortable with the concept?

In my coaching practice, my pre-coaching call sheet asks my clients to list “Three things I am truly grateful for in this moment.” It is a really easy but powerful exercise and frequently results in impactful conversations during our sessions. Just by being forced to think about being grateful and acknowledging it, there is an awareness and appreciation you would not have had otherwise.

Starting a daily habit of writing what you are grateful for in a gratitude journal takes this a step further. This habit becomes a great point of reference to keep you grounded and remind you of all the good things when your day is not going so well or as well as expected.

By keeping the journal or just writing down what you are grateful for at the moment, you now have people and events cataloged that you can recognize.

A number of years ago, when I was at a bookstore, I found a book in the discount bin about the power of writing letters. I don’t remember all the details, but basically, the author decided to write someone a letter every week for one year. Generally, it was to thank someone or acknowledge the impact someone had on him. Sometimes it was to reconnect with someone he lost touch with (doing this is a sign of gratitude, isn’t it?).

Well, the results were phenomenal. People were truly touched, and most responded to him in kind. His business grew, he was happier, and his relationships, in general, all improved. He realized he had a ton to be happy about, which multiplied exponentially.

I firmly believe what Tony Robbins says about the law of attraction. What the author put out there with his letters came back to him tenfold.

As more and more of us become hypnotized by our technology, it’s easy to find ourselves lost in our private world and hide behind text messages and emails. We become self-obsessed and forget to recognize other people.

I encourage you to consciously make an effort to show more gratitude in your relationships, personal interactions, and with yourself!

  • Start each day by identifying three things you are happy with in the present moment.
  • Keep a daily gratitude journal.
  • Or accept my challenge to send one letter per week.

A letter is certainly more personal than a text message or email. Still, it may not be as uncomfortable to some folks as direct conversation. Give it a try and see what happens. Start sending letters to people you are comfortable expressing your feelings to, then gradually include people you have lost touch with within your social circle. Push yourself. Probably the worst to happen is that you won’t receive a response, but my gut tells me it is unlikely. My guess is that your results will be incredible.

Regardless of what you do, please don’t ignore the significantly positive impact gratitude has on all of us. Gratitude is one more tool we can use to live the happy, abundant lives we all deserve.


Don’t try to influence people, just do it.

If you are unsure how to do it, listen to this episode and then give me a call and let’s unpack whatever it is we need to unpack so you understand that you are able and good enough to exude all the influence you want as long as your promise to do one thing…

Tell the truth.

My door is always open for you.


Beckwith Unplugged and Uncensored is a video podcast designed for Christine Beckwith, a long-time business executive turned executive coach in the banking, mortgage, and real estate industry. In this totally transparent and sometimes raw monologue, Beckwith tells it like it is…publicly. Emotion is the driving force behind all human intellect, accomplishment, and success. If you cannot feel where you are going, you cannot SEE it either. As the visionary behind 20 / 20 Vision for Success, Christine brings her personal and professional philosophy to the mic. Listen in because these are lessons you will want to learn here instead of anywhere else.

Who is Depending on Me Today?

A Laura Brandao interview with Elena Boland

Written by: Laura Brandao

I had the pleasure of speaking with Elena Boland, executive vice president of Wholesale Mortgage located in Reno, Nevada. Elena started her journey in the mortgage industry after being offered a job at a mortgage company where she could bring her kids to work. Originally, Elena attended school for accounting, but when the mortgage opportunity presented itself, she jumped in and never looked back.

I started in reception and worked my way through the various roles. Today, I am the owner of the firm and running the show. I took the reins in 2015 from the original owner, who left to pursue other opportunities and trusted me to look after the business he had built. 

Always curious, I asked Elena what being a woman with vision meant to her. A woman of vision is constantly moving and adapting to her environment, and she understands that being successful means being bold and taking risks.

This woman needs to have unwavering confidence in herself and be able to pivot when circumstances change.

My vision for myself is a vision for my company. As head of the firm, I am the face of the organization, and by setting a goal for all of us to work toward together, I feel I am providing an environment for growth and success for my team.

Elena has a personal goal to make sure she brings more women onto her team and provides them the opportunity to shine in a previously male-dominated industry.  Doing so, she believes, will serve the business well moving into the future. 

Elena wasn’t fortunate to have a mentor or a woman to help her become a leader in the industry. It’s sad to say, but I didn’t really have a person like this as I progressed in my career. I wish I had had a woman to push and encourage me as I started.

Early in her career, Elena discovered women in the local mortgage business were reluctant to be approached for help. They seemed to view younger women starting their careers as competition to be feared rather than youth to be mentored and encouraged. It was puzzling to her then and still is today.

The interesting effect on me was that it spurred me to reach out to others in the industry and make sure they never had to feel alone like I did. I will never turn away a young woman looking for advice and support, and I make a point of helping anyone who asks or stepping in and offering even if they don’t.

If we want more women in the mortgage industry, we need to show them they will be supported and given whatever advice and wisdom we who have gone before can offer.

Asked what her professional superpower is, Elena said, My professional superpower is my ability to pivot quickly and adjust to what the day throws at me. To do that, I need to be confident and decisive. I also must be mindful of building a good team I can rely on to move quickly and not become bogged down in second-guessing and wavering about decisions. I have worked on this by changing the structure of my company to a team-based environment, so every team member feels supported and confident when the inevitable whirlwinds of change blow in the door.

Experiencing a pivotal moment in our careers helped most of us reach our successes. For Elena, her pivotal moment was living and working through the crisis of 2008, which taught her to work harder and be ready to take charge of herself and her work environment every single day.

From the time I rise each morning, I keep in mind people depend on me to make decisions that directly impact their lives, and it motivates me to be my best and work as hard as I can to be worthy of that trust.

Two-thousand-eight was a time of unprecedented upheaval and engendered a lot of fear and animosity toward our business. One of the biggest challenges I still face is overcoming my disappointment and anger at the blame heaped on our industry during that period. Small companies and local ones took the brunt of the blame and anger from the public, and I was in that group.

I have had to process and work through my feelings on this subject and the hurt it caused. The media piled it on too and for about five to seven years after the crash, I felt the pain of it. I used my feelings to push myself to be a better leader and work to move past the unfair stigma. We are in a much better place today, and for that, I am very glad.

Asked what advice she would give a woman starting her career, Elena said, I would tell her to act when opportunity knocks and not overthink things. Being decisive and willing to take a risk to move forward is critical, and she will let herself down if she hesitates and does not act with confidence and courage.

For me, it comes down to grit and determination. Never leave an opportunity sitting on the table because you can be sure someone else will pick it up if you hesitate.

Elena sees failures as learning opportunities and trying again is not an option but a necessity. I would tell her that being afraid always costs you, but it will never reward you. Put your fear in the back of your mind, and never let fear make decisions for you.

For Elena, success is having the opportunity to work hard and provide for her family. She wants her kids to understand that hard work and a willingness to take responsibility for their success are important and worthwhile goals. 

Running is something Elena enjoys doing to destress. Being outdoors and pushing myself even when I am tired or stressed from a long workday is invigorating and a great way to recharge my battery for the next day.

Asked what she’d recommend navigating the ever-changing, growing industry, Elena said, Staying on top of industry changes means staying engaged. As a team leader, I need to be in the trenches every day and not just sit behind a desk and give orders.

I believe that no matter what role you rise to within an organization, you should be able to perform any job in the company if the need arises. Being able to do so allows you to shift gears or fill gaps quickly should there be a shortage of staff or unexpected leaves of absence.

In short, navigating change comes down to taking quick and decisive action while having a thorough knowledge of the industry. It also means having hands-on leaders to step into any role if the situation calls for it.

COVID has been a huge challenge for everyone in every business. In our state, legislation requires us to control of files in our office environment. So, the work-from-home rules were difficult for us. We managed to work through it and keep our clients serviced properly and within the framework of the law, but it was not an easy task. 

Per Elena, mentors are invaluable. Someone you can bounce ideas off and turn to for advice when you are having trouble deciding or dealing with a new issue can be the difference between successfully navigating a problem and making it worse.

Whether male or female, a mentor can smooth the path for you with their experience and guidance, and something I think is worth seeking out at any point in your career.

When Elena decides to hang up her hat and leave the industry, she wants to be remembered as the broker in Nevada who stuck it out through the highs and lows and still maintained her integrity and determination. And as someone who made a difference in the community by never giving up or being less than her best.

Finding your voice is never being afraid to speak up and out when you know what you share is important and beneficial to those around you.

People find their voice when they spend time becoming an expert in their field, then use their voice to share their knowledge and experience to help others move forward toward their goals.

What do you think is the secret to a woman “having it all?”

I don’t know if everyone would agree with me, but my secret is working eight to sixteen hours a day and not wasting a moment. I am always the first person in the office in the morning and the last out in the evening.

As the article indicates, I am the sole provider in my family, and I have people who depend on me, which is my motivation in everything I do.

I work better under pressure, so not allowing my workday to be interrupted by social media, personal calls, or other distractions, lets me focus and finish what I need to do.

Asked what her biggest fear was and why, Elena jokingly said, I don’t have any. Next!

In all seriousness, I don’t allow fear to influence my life. So, I simply say I have none because that is the mindset I wish to maintain. Fear holds me back from making good decisions, and not allowing it to get a toehold in my mind prevents me from any unnecessary and undue influence.

When recommending and listing to podcasts, she likes to listen to some old-school Dr. Laura on Talk Radio, now on Sirius XM daily. I admire her no-nonsense approach to life, and she also encourages a dedication to motherhood that I find inspiring.

How do we propel more women into leadership roles within our industry?

We need to provide equal opportunities for women in the industry and encourage and support them when they take them on.

I would like to see a program wherein, two times a year, business owners take girls on as interns and let them see how the business works daily. Ideally, the girls should be high schoolers making decisions about their careers and post-secondary education.

I think many young women really aren’t aware of the opportunities available to them, and when armed with the knowledge, they would be amazed by their choices. I believe that starting at a young age and at the local, grassroots level is the best way to encourage young women to broaden their career horizons and see themselves as capable, qualified, and deserving of careers in any field they choose. They should never feel they aren’t able to choose certain professions due to their gender or lack of opportunity due to being female.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In five years, Elena sees herself right where I am today. Maybe a bit wiser and older, but I love my job, my community, and my home, and I have no desire to change any of it in the future.

I also want to say that making the decision to work right through the day and sticking to that goal is what I believe to be the most purposeful and straightforward path to a successful and rewarding career. Don’t let distractions pull you and your focus away from your tasks.

I would also like to encourage business owners to support women and equal work opportunities in all industries through mentorship and education, beginning with girls who are still in school and looking to their futures.

About the Author: Laura Brandao

Laura is the driving force that has catapulted AFR Wholesale to the top of Manufactured Home and Renovation lending in the USA. She has seamlessly rolled out new products based on market demand, including VA renovation, USDA repair escrow, and One-Time Close Construction to Permanent Loans for the FHA, VA, and USDA. Laura’s hands-on approach also propels AFR to remain on the cutting edge of technology with mobile-friendly applications that cohesively integrate the borrower, realtor, broker, and AFR.

Laura has already been featured as one of The 10 Most Influential Businesswomen to Follow in 2020 and among The 20 Most Successful Businesswomen to Watch, 2020 by Insights Success magazine. Laura was among the 50 Best Women in Business named by NJBIZ in 2019, has been recognized as a HousingWire Women of Influence for the last three years, and named one of Mortgage Banking’s Most Powerful Women by National Mortgage Professional. Laura has also been one of Mortgage Professional America’s Hot 100 Mortgage Professionals in 2017, and an Elite Women of Mortgage in 2014, 2016 and again in 2017.

Laura is also actively engaged with several organizations and initiatives including the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts and is one of the founders of AIME’s Women’s Mortgage Network (WMN).


Opening Your Eyes to Be Heard

Written by: Megan Anderson

I want you to think back to when you were nervous about making a good first impression. Maybe it was for a job interview, a first date, or meeting your significant other’s friends and family for the first time. Did it go as planned? Or did you leave confused about why you didn’t land the job or did everyone not approve of the relationship?

Think about when you have been in the opposite position, such as hiring someone or meeting your child’s new boyfriend or girlfriend for the first time. For example, perhaps the interviewee slouched in his chair or kept tapping his finger on the table. Or maybe your child’s date didn’t make eye contact with you or open the door for your daughter.

When we flip the script like this, it can be easier to answer these questions regarding how the meeting went. You see, before words come out of our mouths, we’re already speaking.

Psychology professor Albert Mehrabian developed what has become known as the 7-38-55 Rule, which says that only 7 percent of meaning originates from spoken word, and 38 percent is through tone of voice. The majority, 55 percent, is through body language.

So how do we open our eyes to be heard?

When we slow down and notice these non-verbal cues in ourselves and others, we gain a power many have long forgotten to build trust and connection in our personal and professional relationships. We become active and conscious “listeners” and observers of what people may really be feeling, regardless of what they say.

How we perceive these non-verbal cues then dictates our next thought, response, feeling, and action, which can help us connect more deeply and positively with those around us. By mastering non-verbal communication, you and others will feel better heard and understood.

Mastering Non-Verbal Communication

Remember, Albert Mehrabian said that 55 percent of meaning originates through body language. Without moving a muscle, what is your body language saying about you right now? How would you change your body language if you were walking into a meeting with your boss or were greeting a friend for lunch?

Have you ever been to a country where you don’t speak the same language? I was just in Europe, and it always surprises me how much communication can occur even when people speak different languages.

Body language can tell us if we should approach someone or if they are having a private conversation. Body language can also provide friend and foe signals, which can be extremely helpful when we’re trying to make new connections at a networking event or want our team to feel we are approachable. Friend and foe signals are important to master because they can help us know when to approach people or leave them alone. They can also give us a better understanding of the strength and closeness of our relationships.

These friend-and-foe signals are discussed further in the book The Like Switch by former FBI agent Jack Schafer:

For example, if you were to walk past Barry and me, would you give us our space or walk up and start talking about the latest football game? Using the chart above, we see that Barry and I have closed body language, and our feet point toward one another instead of being open. Here you would likely walk past us and bring up the football game at a later time.




Now looking at this photo, would you say we’re giving off more friend or foe signals? The head tilt, smiling, body mirroring, and open body posture give off friend signals.

I encourage you to go to a busy place and assess your body language skills.

Spoken Word

Since we can now master the nonverbal aspects of communication, how do we master the spoken word portion to create maximum impact and influence?

The way we sequence a story matters, and it determines if the audience walks away feeling inspired to take action, or angry they wasted an hour. One person in my life who has taught me so much about sequencing is Barry Habib, MBS Highway’s CEO. He has a gift for taking complex macroeconomic information, breaking it down, and making it simple to understand. When you take our free 14-day trial of MBS Highway, you can see what I mean. You’ll have access to our daily morning update video featuring analysis of the markets and economic data as well as tools like our Bid Over Asking Price, Buy vs. Rent Comparison, Loan Comparison, lock alerts, and more.

You can think of sequencing as a way to position your speech, conversation, team meeting, or social media video in a way that aligns with how our brains process and receive information. And the first step is to think about how the audience or person may receive or resist your message. What are the nonverbal cues your audience is giving you?

For example, when I first started speaking about the financial markets, I had concerns about being perceived as too young and inexperienced. I felt people might lack trust based on my age and because I was never a loan officer. Yet I was telling them how to grow their business and where the markets were headed. There were times I could feel the lack of trust by reading the body language in the room. I often started my speeches by providing common ground and letting the audience know my mom was an originator and my dad a builder. Then I would joke about how so many of us never thought we would end up in the mortgage space but somehow did. Doing this has helped me to build trust with audiences so they would remain open to my message.

Frame – Message – Tie Down

The sequencing of the message is vital. In his book, “Amplify Your Influence,” Rene Rodriguez covers this in detail. He explains, “You are either adding or subtracting from your influence, and there is no middle ground.” He also gives insight into a format you can use to tell stories in how our brains receive them.

According to Rene, start with a frame of reference for the audience so people can pull from their experiences and understand your story. Given how the brain functions, if we, as the speaker, do not provide a frame, our audience will subconsciously do this for us.

For example, if we know some realtors may see loan officers as needy, you could address it and frame your message as follows:

“Good morning, John. It’s Megan. I know you may be thinking, ‘Oh joy, another needy lender is trying to reach out and do business with me.’ I know you have a lot of other lenders you can work with, but it means a lot to me that we could connect right now.”

Then comes the message. These are the main points or information you want your audience, clients, or referral partners to hear.

“There has been a lot of confusion about what’s happening in the housing market right now. Several of my clients have been struggling with rising interest rates and fear of a possible recession. They’re wondering what this means for the future of housing and if now is a good time to buy or if they should wait for rates to come back down. Have any of your clients been struggling with the same concerns?”

Lastly comes the tie-down, which pulls the story together and tells the audience what you want them to do next.

“If you have some time to connect next week. I would love to show you what has been working to motivate our clients and showcase the power of homeownership.”

Tone of Voice

Lastly comes tone of voice. One thing that helped me become better at communicating was learning about the five elements of voice and how to use them. The Five Elements framework bases this information on the theory that we can trace everything in the universe back to these five basic elements.

Earth: When we think of the earth and its relation to voice, it is grounded, heavy, and slow.

Think of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s classic line from The Terminator, “I’ll be back.”

You want to use this voice when commanding respect. Use it when asking for a raise or directing your team.

Fire: Speaking from the fire element brings energy, and that energy spreads like wildfire around a room or audience. Imagine Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech but in the voice of Julia Childs. It just wouldn’t work. Use this element when you want to be seen or heard on stage or even in a team meeting when you’re trying to “fire up” your team to reach their monthly sales goals.

Water: Voice within the water element is welcoming, flowing, caring, and comfortable. This element is a great voice to use when expressing empathy, gratitude, or appreciation towards friends, family, colleagues, or employees. And it matters. Think of someone apologizing to you, but you didn’t believe them because of the tone of their voice.

Metal: Speaking from the element of metal means your voice is bright, sharp, and cuts through anything. Use this voice when you want to amplify your message and when you need to be heard. It’s the voice you’ll need to use if you’re ever speaking on stage and your microphone goes dead.

Air: Speaking from the element of air is light and brightens up a room. When telling a story or pitching a new idea to your boss, it’s good to use the element of air.

Putting it All Together

Now that we have gone through nonverbal cues, sequencing, and the five elements of voice, I want you to think about the last conversation you had where you didn’t feel heard or understood.

Consider your body language, the other person’s body language, the sequence of the message, and the element(s) of voice you were using. For example, did you tell a colleague, “Sorry that deal didn’t close,” but in the tone of metal and foe signals for body language because you were thinking of another major issue at the office?

What we say and how we say it matters. As you approach conversations, ask yourself, “What are my goals for this conversation? How might this person feel? And how can I use awareness of non-verbal communication, sequencing, and the five elements of voice to help us both feel heard and understood.”

About the Author: Megan Anderson

Megan Anderson is a well-known professional speaker, teacher, and winner of HousingWire’s 2020 Women of Influence award. She is also the winner of the 2019 40 under 40 award and 2019 Women with Vision award. She has introduced systems and platforms that effectively create content and increase engagement.

She is vice president of Marketing at MBS Highway, the industry’s leading platform for mortgage sales professionals. Megan has helped eliminate the fears and obstacles mortgage and real estate salespeople have in creating video content. Her innovative pieces of training have transformed salespeople into local celebrity advisors.

Megan is a highly sought-after speaker and coach who is passionate about helping others grow their business and gain more confidence in themselves. She is also the host of the podcast Behind the Breakthrough, a podcast telling the untold stories of success.


Colleen Wietmarschen

Answering the Call to Defend
Thank a Veteran; Our Freedom Isn’t Free

As I pondered the Lifestyle column for this month, I can’t tell you the number of thoughts I had on writing this article. My mind traveled from one idea to another: what to say, what not to say, how to say it, whom to thank, and more. I decided to speak from my heart.

I don’t like war, it makes me sad, and it scares me. Most people don’t like the thought of war, but it happens. Our veterans fight for our freedom.

In my heart, I believe many people take our freedom for granted. They haven’t learned about past wars, or they’ve forgotten. Besides the bombing at Pearl Harbor and the attack on 9/11, we’ve been blessed in America as far as direct attacks here. Do most of us realize what servicemen and women put at stake when they choose to serve our country? The stress of leaving their families for months and even years. Many don’t come home. Many come home and are never the same. Whether it’s PTSD or injuries, their lives are changed.

Memories throughout my life and encounters with veterans

I was six months old when the Bay of Pigs invasion occurred, and as great as my memory is, I don’t remember the event. Besides learning about past wars in history classes, my first real memory of a war starting was the Iraq War in 1991. I remember the night and what I was doing. I was home alone, pregnant, and watching TV when the news announced the story. It was Steve’s bowling league night, and I was scared the world would end. But it didn’t. To this day, I remember the soldiers deployed, yet again, to fight for our freedom.

Veterans come in all shapes, sizes, races, religions, and genders. Most of the vets I know are men; again, it’s the era I grew up in when I didn’t know any women who served.

Veterans leave a war, but war never leaves a veteran. ~Unknown

Remember the show Mash? My father served in the US Army during the Korean War, and my siblings and I were forbidden to watch the show. At the time, I didn’t understand why and it wasn’t a big deal. I never watched Mash until I was married. I know why we were not permitted to watch it at home. I watch the show. But I respect how my dad and most veterans who serve in any war would not want to watch and relive time spent at war. I like the show because it represents how veterans survive the mental stress experienced while serving: through humor and sarcasm. However, the show only sometimes focused on wit and sarcasm. Mash shows war’s nitty-gritty effects on veterans, their families, and the innocent people trying to survive.

My mom had three brothers who were Navy veterans. Uncle Chuck served in WWII and lost his hearing when an explosion occurred on the ship in the boiler room where he worked. Uncle Jack served in the Korean War, and Uncle Jim made a life-long commitment to the service. I remember when he came home on leave, thinking how handsome he was in his Navy uniform, and even at the young age of eight, I was proud.

Four of my brothers-in-law served in the armed forces, and one was lucky to escape the draft to Vietnam. From the Marines to the Air Force to the Coast Guard from Vietnam to Guantanamo Bay, Iraq, and Afghanistan. I thank them and am proud to call them family.

My brother-in-law Jim said, “I will always be proud and grateful for my time in the USAF. It helped me grow up and see what life outside Milford was all about.”

I was raised to show respect to and be grateful for those who work to keep us safe, whether servicemen, servicewomen, police, or firefighters. Whenever I see a veteran, I thank them. Whether I’m at a restaurant or out in public, I’ll go up and thank them for their service. I usually receive a smile and a comment of “we appreciate it.” When I approach the veterans or others who serve, I’ve also noticed that the people I’m with are very uncomfortable and don’t understand why I go out of my way to say thanks. People ask me why I do it, and honestly, it baffles my mind. It makes me wonder if they take our freedom for granted.

Celebrating veterans

Have you ever participated in an Honor Run? It usually occurs on a Sunday during the week of Veterans Day. A few years back, I walked the Honor Run Half Marathon. It was a beautiful Sunday morning and an emotional yet wonderful day. Veterans were handing out water to participants, people were running while carrying the American Flag, and some were running while wearing gear in full uniform. I remember tears running down my face as I thought of the sacrifices they gave.

St. Elizabeth Hospital sponsors the Honor Run in our area. All proceeds go to support the Honor Flight, transporting US military veterans to Washington, DC, to see the memorials of the wars they fought.

My wonderful friend, Rosie, was honored to be her father’s guardian during his trip. Her father, Gus, was a Marine and had the opportunity to participate in the Honor Flight. Rosie said it was the most amazing day for her. “The respect and admiration shown for the veterans on the trip were SO NEAT, SO SPECIAL!” Her dad said, “It was the sixth best day of my life. The first was when I married your mom, then the births of my four children, then this Honor Flight.” When I asked Rosie if I could write something about their experience on the Honor Flight, she said she was honored, and her father was beaming in heaven!

We are free because of the brave men and women who put their lives on the line to keep America free. We can walk around without worrying about passing through checkpoints, showing identification, or having the military roaming our streets; we can make choices. No system is perfect, and no one is perfect, but if no one cared enough to serve and keep us safe, where would we be? Thank a veteran. It’ll warm your heart.

I invite you to listen to a few songs written about veterans and their families.

I’m Already There by Lonestar, A Soldier’s Tribute

God Bless the USA by Lee Greenwood

If You’re Reading This by Tim McGraw

About the Author: Staff Editor

A lifelong Midwesterner, Colleen was born, raised, and has stayed in Cincinnati, Ohio. Why? Because it’s home. Colleen found her love of the English language while working at a law firm where she developed her finesse in editing and proofreading and has carried these skills throughout her 27+ years as an entrepreneur. If she’s being honest, she isn’t afraid to learn anything, but prefers to pass technology stuff off to any interested party!

Anyone in a meeting Colleen facilitates knows she believes it’s OK to have fun when working so the meetings start with gratitude and celebrations. One of her favorite quotes is, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” ~Charlie Chaplin

In her spare time, Colleen likes to be outdoors. Whether it’s gardening, walking, hiking, completing a half marathon, or a sprint triathlon, nature and water are where Colleen finds joy and peace. Her walking buddy is Chloe, her dog, and when she can drag her husband out, she’ll take him along! Colleen sings in her church choir and another quote close to her heart is, “Music Makes Us Human” (Unknown).

In 2011, Colleen won the Best of Cincinnati Writers Award, in 2015, she won the Jan B. King Scholarship which led her to the path of Certified Author Assistant, and in 2022, she was honored to win the Women With Vision Award.

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A Peter Wietmarschen Book Review

For this month’s Bookshelf review, I took a deeper look at our emotional intelligence. I truly believe we, as a culture, need to take a closer look at our interpersonal relationships and inspect our emotional resilience. What I didn’t know before deciding on this book was that Brown articulates these same ideas throughout her book.

Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston, focusing her studies on courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. At first glance, these topics do not seem to fit logically into the everyday business world. We have been told to keep these emotions away from our cubicles and boardrooms.

Before reading Brown’s book, I would have agreed with the above statement. When we take a moment to look deeper, we realize our bosses, subordinates, and colleagues are not just names but individuals who experience these emotions. An even more daunting task: we must understand that we, too, experience the same emotions. This book shows us how we can dare greatly in our own lives and become comfortable with our vulnerabilities.

When writing a book, a speech, or a newspaper article, you are supposed to build interest, grab your readers’ attention, and make sure they want to continue reading. Brown begins this book with a bit of a cliché using a quote from a famous person. As well-worn as it might sound, her introduction captured my attention. She quotes Theodore Roosevelt’s speech “Citizenship in a Republic,” sometimes called “The Man in the Arena.”

In his speech, Roosevelt says, “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again.”

This act of being in the arena is a true act of vulnerability. It shows others that we are not afraid of continually striving to be the best we can be without knowing the outcome of our actions. It is always showing up with our entire and authentic selves. Daring and allowing ourselves to be present and seen is a must.

Throughout this book, Brown challenges us to dare greatly. Each chapter takes a different look at our personality, the reasons why we do not show up in the arena, and how we can work to become more vulnerable in our relationships with our colleagues, family, and friends.

One thing Brown and I believe we can all agree upon are that we have been living through a series of unprecedented times. My partner jokes with me, saying, “Just once, I want to live in precedented times.” All of us are sick of being afraid; we want to be brave and dare greatly. Take a quick look back at the last 20 years: we’ve seen terrorist attacks, multiple wars, economic crises, political strife, and a pandemic, and those are only the highlights. Brown wrote this book in 2015, so while not all these events had happened yet, they further prove Brown’s hypothesis: we have a culture of “never enough.”

Brown shares how this culture of scarcity, of not having enough, did not come overnight. This culture developed from our collective post-traumatic stress by us not coming together to heal but instead isolating ourselves in anger and fear. These actions have led us to lose our willingness to be vulnerable.

Why does this matter? According to Brown, our willingness to be vulnerable affects our personal relationships. Vulnerability is where our other emotions are born. Without being susceptible, we cannot experience love or hate, fear or joy. Vulnerability, therefore, is not a weakness, and not allowing ourselves to be vulnerable instead weakens our connections to others.

It is not just vulnerability holding us back from daring greatly. More often than not, shame is a contributing factor preventing us from entering the arena. Brown shares how shame derives its power from being unspeakable. Too often, whether in work, in friendship, or in love, we face shame and let it fester within us. We each respond to shame in our own ways. Still, some common responses are to become angry, withdraw from relationships, or shut down entirely.

There is one part of this book I truly enjoyed. While Brown initially focuses on the shame and vulnerability women experience, she recounts how an older gentleman approached her at one of her speaking engagements. The gentleman shared that men also experience feelings of shame. It was this exchange, which I cannot do justice by retelling when Brown started researching the male perspective of shame.  This may be the first book I have read which explicitly outlines research on men’s feelings of shame.

What I enjoy about this book is Brown puts words to many uncomfortable feelings and scenarios. Throughout Daring Greatly, she shares how we can all approach the very human feelings of vulnerability and shame and step into the arena, allowing ourselves to dare greatly.

To become our best selves, parent, coach, or leader, we must become comfortable with being vulnerable. We must know that shame has power, but only if we hold that shame inside. We must take these lessons to heal by loving each other more deeply and connecting with our friends and family.

This book should be required reading for anyone who has ever felt like they are not good enough. I’d venture to guess this is probably every single one of you reading this. I speak for myself when I say I have feelings of shame crop up for me weekly, if not daily. That’s okay! It is not the feeling that matters, but how we face that feeling and Dare Greatly.

My rating for this book is: 5/5


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