Ultimate Destiny? Who Me?
You've Got To Be Kidding!
When I was just 16 years old, my
Mother gave me a copy of The Power of Positive Thinking by
Norman Vincent Peale. She was hoping (and praying) that
something would get through to me and help me make better
choices than I was making. I had dropped out of high school,
started drinking and smoking cigarettes (and occasionally other
things . . . ) and I was wasting my life.
Fortunately, the gift of that book
did set into motion a series of “discoveries” over the next few
years that led me into a life-long interest in personal growth
and development. In recent years, my focus has shifted more
toward stewardship and spiritual enlightenment and I have been
blessed to have experienced some of the world’s top experts and
trainers and coaches on successful living.
But first, more of the background on
how a high school drop out graduated Summa Cum Laude with a
Masters in Community Economic Development from Southern New
Hampshire University and became the co-founder of several
non-profit organizations and cause-oriented companies involved
in personal, organizational and community development.
My first real job was through an
unsolicited grant in 1969 from the American Friends Service
Committee. The grant was to develop a Community Development
Center in Greenville, Mississippi to support desegregation of
the public schools. Through a number of unexpected circumstances
over the following years, I found myself working as a disaster
relief specialist for HUD, the US Department of Housing and
After six years of helping disaster
victims deal with and recover from natural disasters such as
floods, tornadoes and earthquakes, I was asked to take some
assignments in a different kind of “man made” disasters. That
led me to serving HUD for another few years in “troubled
offices” such as Detroit, St. Louis, Chicago and East St. Louis,
In 1978, my then wife and our two
young children moved to the intentional community of Stelle,
Illinois about an hour and a half south of Chicago to focus on
our interest in personal development and spiritual awakening. I
was still working for HUD in the Chicago Loop and my daily
commute was about five hours. Just imagine that drive in a
Midwest blizzard in the flatlands . . .
Someone gave me a copy of Lead the
Field, the classic audio cassette tape program by Earl
Nightingale. I listened to those six tapes every weekday for
many weeks. The results were so amazing in terms of my increased
positive outlook, my sense of being in control of my destiny and
overall well-being. I started buying and consuming more tapes by
Brian Tracy, Norman Vincent Peale, Jim Rohn, Les Brown, etc.
After a few months of enjoying my
“mobile University”, the changes in me and in my life were so
profound and obvious to friends and family that I kept getting
asked what I was doing that was producing those improvements in
my attitudes, happiness, effectiveness and productiveness. As a
result of sharing all the resources on success secrets with
other members of my community, I was inspired in 1980 to create
a 16 week class on PST! Personal Success Techniques.
After two-years of the daily commute
from Stelle to Chicago, I retired early from HUD and increased
my focus on various personal and community development projects.
In 1998, I was asked by HUD to accept the position as Director
of Community and Economic Development for the City of Kankakee,
Kankakee was in fact a “disaster” in
many ways which the Fantus Organization attributed to several
decades of racial, political and geographic divisiveness. What a
perfect assignment for a disaster relief specialist.
After spending most of the first few
months helping resolve some issues between HUD and the City, I
was free to start experimenting with my vision of combining
personal and community development in ways that might “expand
the circle of success.” By then I had learned from experience as
a distributor for several of the leading development training
companies that they focused only on the top 10% to 13% of the
When the Presidents and CEO’s of
those companies would tell us to ignore the other 87% of the
population, I was always one of those who got in trouble by
pointing out that those folks lived in my community . . . that
we are only one people, with one future and one economy.
As I interviewed the psychologists
and psychiatrists in Kankakee County, I learned that the two
major conditions they were treating were negativity and
depression, largely due the massive impact on the County of
100,000 losing about 8,000 union jobs. After convening a task
force of community leaders to brainstorm what could possibly be
done to provide help in that environment, we decided to produce
a Community Unity Event. Our objectives were to promote positive
thinking, personal and community empowerment and appreciation of
multicultural and geographic differences.
In that situation, who else would we
bring in but Dr. Norman Vincent Peale to speak on The Power of
Positive Thinking and Les Brown to share his exciting and
motivating messages on the Power of a Larger Vision. That was
only the beginning of my “graduate level work” on myself and the
organizations and communities I was involved with.
Over the next few years, I was
blessed to be able to produce major events with Les Brown
several times, with Brian Tracy, Mark Victor Hansen, Jim Rohn,
Bonnie St. John and several others. Many of the individuals and
companies that had sponsored our Community Unity Celebration
became close friends and advisors as we developed a Community
Development Corporation, spearheaded the successful renovation
of a 22,000 square foot National Guard Armory building into an
award-winning Community Resource Center. We also co-founded
Kankakee County CAN DO! as a vehicle for promoting positive
thinking within and about the area and YOUth CAN DO!
We developed several non-profit
organization s and created a model for smaller communities to
learn how to come together and co-create a shared vision and
discern how best to pool resources and meet common needs. At
hat time, before 9 11, most of the large scale development
training events were mostly produced in cities of a million or
more population by for-profit promoters from out-of-town who put
on a one day show and took home the dough.
We have developed and are now
sharing with the world a template for smaller communities to be
able to provide the same caliber of world-class training to
benefit their residents. And in our model, the local community
gets to keep most of any proceeds to facilitate personal and
community development when, where and how they feel is most
appropriate for their community.
In addition to launching these initiatives to help establish
Empowerment Resource Centers and CAN DO! Chapters and Centers
for Successful living, we are about to publish and give away a
comprehensive You CAN DO! Too Resource