How You Come to the Events in Your Life

“It is not important how we come to the events in our life. What is important is how we deal with those events.” “You are what you are and where you are because of what has gone into your mind, and you can change what you are and where you are by changing what goes into your mind.” ~Zig Ziglar (Read more from a 2009 article that still applies to this theory HERE) I assert that there is no such thing as luck, but rather the opportunities that are presented to you in life are a direct result of the way in which you walk through it. If for example, you love yourself and are confident, people will see you as the type of person that they want to be around. On the contrary, if you are constantly negative and complaining, you will only attract other negative people. Who wants to spend the day with someone who will bring them down? The same is true in the work place. If you bring a spirit of hard work and commitment with you to work, you will be rewarded. Who cares if you hate your job? Find a new one, but in the meantime, do it to the best of your ability. Who knows, maybe your attitude will be noticed and a new job will find you. I actually give a talk on this very issue to Human Resources professionals all of the time. I talk about how dead time is the greatest thief of productivity in the workforce today. If you don’t like where your life is headed, try changing the little things first and maybe the big things will follow. If you have something unfortunate happen, look for the lesson to be learned so that you can avoid having to learn it over and over again. It is as simple as this. Good works produce rewards. If you put good out to the universe, good works, good choices, good vibes, whatever you want to call it, it will be returned to you. Have faith in that and you will not get lost.
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Speaker Report: When Crime Pays

December 24, 2007 By Kinley Levack Originally published in Successful Meetings magazine, December 2007Anyone who saw Catch Me If You Can knows just how compelling–even likable–a criminal can be. Frank Abagnale, played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2002 film, first rose to infamy as a con man before finding success as a speaker following a five-year stint in prison. Although he made the category more popular, Abagnale is by no means the only speaker with a dark past. Former bank robbers, mob bosses, and white-collar criminals dot the speaking circuit, and planners as well as the speakers’ representatives say these keynoters bring far more to the lectern than a colorful story–although that doesn’t hurt either. “I think it’s refreshing for people to hear, ‘You know what? I really messed up in my life. Here’s what I did; I want to own up to it and help others to avoid making the same mistakes,’ ” says Bill Hallock, of Keppler Speakers’ corporate division in Arlington, VA. Keppler exclusively represents Abagnale and also reps some of the other speakers SM interviewed. “All we do is hear about people who don’t own up to past mistakes; it’s good for people to hear from someone who has taken ownership of their mistakes.” The speakers who find success using their criminal pasts as fodder for presentations do so in large part because they have come to terms with their history, have owned up to what they did, and now use those experiences to explain one of three things–the importance of integrity; that it’s possible to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles; or why the office politics and interpersonal relationships that bother attendees are not as big a deal as they seem (in fact, they are downright silly compared with prison dynamics). Beyond simply shaking things up, adding a bit of intrigue to a meeting can be a boon to attendance, as Joe Ellison, CEO of the West Virginia Bankers Association, discovered when he booked former bank robber Troy Evans to speak to his group at The Greenbrier last year. “Typically at The Greenbrier [the attendees] find things to do other than go to the sessions, but the participation was really good,” says Ellison, who added that many attendees’ spouses also attended Evans’ 50-minute presentation out of sheer interest and curiosity. “There is the ‘serial-killer’ aspect. None of your [attendees] would do it, but many are fascinated by those who do,” says Gary Zeune, founder of The Pros and the Cons, in Powell, OH, a speakers bureau specializing in white-collar crime presentations. Specific to white-collar crimes, he adds, “The most interesting aspect is what makes an otherwise honest person commit a white-collar crime. [It’s the] same reason people break the speed limit.White-collar criminals rationalize what they’re doing. They talk themselves into it.” Most of the speakers interviewed admitted that some planners are initially reluctant to hire them out of a feeling that people should not profit from past misdeeds, but bureau reps say that planners who avoid speakers
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From Desperation to Dedication: Robbery Prevention, Apprehension and Recovery

published with The Student Operated Press For more than 15 years, I pursued a career as a self-employed Addict, Drug Dealer, Gambler and Thief.  I risked my life and sacrificed my family to satisfy my need for money, attention and independence.  Ultimately, my disregard of values and discipline resulted in a 13 year Federal Prison sentence.  Following a six-month crime spree, which included five armed bank/credit union robberies in three states, my self-destructive lifestyle was brought to an end.  I soon found myself within the razor wire and armed confines of the Federal Correctional Complex in Florence, Colorado where my neighbors included such notorious criminals as Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. Facing the obstacles, pressures and violence of prison life, I was determined that this time behind bars would not be wasted.  I chose Education as my saving grace, despite the elimination of Federal Pell Grants for the incarcerated.  Undeterred, I set out to secure funding on my own through scholarships, grants and foundation assistance.  After six months of submitting applications, writing essays, begging, pleading and selling, I landed my first scholarship for one class.  That was a beginning, and when I walked out the doors of prison, I carried with me two degrees, both obtained with a 4.0 GPA and placement on the Dean’s and President’s List. Since my release, I have taken the Corporate, Association and Financial speaking platforms by storm.  Audiences are stunned by my endurance, accomplishments and remarkable personal transformation.  With straightforward, real life examples, I show how the keys to my success in prison are the keys to my success today, and how these lessons can be applied to escaping the “prisons within ourselves”.  I renew an appreciation for what is really important in all of our lives and motivate each and every person to overcome adversity, adapt to change, and to realize their full potential. For the past seven years I have provided financial institutions with real-life insight surrounding robbery prevention, apprehension and recovery.  By giving you a look into the “mind of the enemy” I am confident that the suggestions below, if implemented, will dramatically decrease the chance of your financial institution being targeted for a robbery; increase the chances of a quick apprehension of the assailant(s), and; aid in a speedy and full recovery of monies taken. As we all know, bank and credit union robbery has, at best, remained steady year in and year out and, at worst, has seen an increase in recent years. As it is my belief that this trend will continue into the foreseeable future, it is imperative that action is taken to reverse or, at the very least, minimize this trend. I am not telling anyone reading this article something that they do not already know when I tell you that bank robbery is not as Hollywood portrays it.  It is not John Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde and it is certainly not a crime that is committed by individuals who are living a glamorous lifestyle.  The people who
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From Hole to Whole

Published with the Student Operated Press On March 20, 1992 I was convicted of five armed bank robberies, over a six-month crime spree when I was 28 years old.  I was sentenced to 157 months, thirteen years and one month behind the razor wire of a Federal Correctional Institution in Florence, Colorado.  The same complex that would later hold Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.  Looking back at that time in my life, I can directly link my crimes and incarceration to the decision I made as a teenager, and in particular my decision to experiment with drugs.  To sum it all up- drugs eventually became more important than anything or anyone else in my life, and bank robbery became a means in which I could feed my habit for another 30-60 days or the police were going to show up and I was going to make them doing something I did not have the guts to do myself- suicide by police ” is what they call that today.   During my five month trial period is where I first experienced an awakening “, and this transformation was fueled by three things.  The first being the dead time ” in prison, which literally hangs in the air.  I would sit in the common areas and would watch guys play cards, play dominoes, and watch TV for 12, 14, sometimes 16 hours a day.  Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.  Some of these guys doing this for 5, 10, 15 years at a time.  I could not fathom spending all of those years in that fashion.  The second thing that fueled this awakening was my seven-year-old son Eric.  I found that not only was possible, but that I had the responsibility to influence my far off son in a positive way.  And the third thing that fueled my awakening was something my Dad used to say when I was a kid, something that I lost track of during my teens and early twenties, but something that I came to believe in and rely on during those years of incarceration.  What my Dad used to say is this- anything in this life that is worthwhile, really worthwhile, is never easy. ”  And you see I had always taken the easy road.  The easy road is the drug use, the lying, the stealing, and the cheating.  Anyone can take that road- it does not take a special individual to travel that path. So I have this awakening.  For me it is going to be education.  Education is what I am going to use as a tool to make a very negative situation as positive as I possibly could.  But first I have a decision to make as well as some obstacles that only prison can put before you.  The time comes during my trial when I have to decide if I want to take the plea agreement that the prosecution has offered.  My options are pleading to the
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Internal Prisons: The Theft of Productivity in Our Workforce

Dallas Human Resources Management Association As a professional speaker, one of my biggest challenges is to grab the attention of my audience within the first few minutes of the presentation- grab them by the throat if you will.  I do this by coming out in a suit and tie, following an introduction in which I have been described as a recent college graduate who earned both of his degrees with a 4.0 GPA and placement on the Deans and Presidents List.  I am portrayed as someone who was once an honors roll student, star athlete, father and family man.  Upon entering the stage I ask the audience to take a close look at my face.  “This is the face, as your were just told, of a recent college graduate, a recent college graduate who earned both his degrees with the highest academic honors available.  This is the face of a kind man, an honest man, a trustworthy man, and a man of his word.  Please take a close look at this face.”  Now the hook- I then turn around, pull a pantyhose mask over my face and turn back around brandishing a toy pistol.  I now ask them to take a look at this face.  “This is the face of a man who on March 20th, 1992 walked in to the First Tier National Bank, pointed a semi-automatic pistol at the tellers face and demanded all of the twenties, fifties and hundreds.  This would be the first of five armed bank robberies that I would commit over a six month crime spree when I was twenty-eight years old.”  I then pull the mask off and explain to them that both these faces are mine.  “The transformation between the two, the transformation from a suicidal, drug induced bank robber to what you see standing before you today took place gradually, over 7.5 years within the confines of a federal prison.” PRISON DOES NOT ALWAYS MEAN STEEL BARS AND RAZOR WIRE What does me earning two college degrees while incarcerated have to do with HR Management?  It is my belief that we all have internal prisons, “prisons within ourselves” that are just as confining as those walls that held me for 7.5 years.  I am talking about being a prisoner to things like fears, addictions, depression, overeating, overworking, bad relationships- the list could go on and on.  Only when we ourselves, and those we bring into our companies are “whole” personally can we then become better professionally. It is also my belief that these “internal prisons” is the number one cause in lost productivity and the largest contributor to declining quality.  If your people are worried about their relationships, their fears or their addictions, are they giving you the best eight hours they possibly can?  No, they’re going to be on the phone mending relationships, feeding addictions and being preoccupied with their fears.  If your employees bring to the job with them the burdens of their personal life, you are getting at the very best someone who is distracted and at the very worst someone who is contributing nothing to your bottom-line.
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Securing Financial Aid for the Non-Traditional Student

Published with The Student Operated Press Troy Evans spent seven and one half years within the confines of a Federal Prison.  Despite the obstacles that only prison can produce, Troy was determined that his time behind bars would not be wasted time.  Education would be his saving grace.   Unfortunately, his aspirations coincided with Federal Pell Grants be eliminated for the incarcerated.  Undeterred, Troy set out to secure funding on his own through scholarships, grants and foundation assistance.  After six months of filling out applications, writing essays, begging, pleading and selling, Troy landed his first scholarship for one class.  That was a beginning, and when Troy walked out the doors of prison he carried with him two degrees, both obtained with a 4.0 GPA and designation on both the Dean’s and President’s list.  Troy now wants to share with you some highlights in securing financial aid for the non-traditional student. Your first attempts should be through the School or University you have chosen to attend via correspondence.  Most institutions will offer some type of scholarship program/package through an alumni association, a foundation or a sponsorship group.  Some people may choose to research what is available in the form of financial aid at several different schools, making that the determinant in what school they will attend.  This is first and foremost the quickest way to land a scholarship. Apply for federal and state aid.  Although the incarcerated do not qualify for either, many scholarships which you will apply for in the future require that you first exhaust these two possibilities. Contact the Department of Commerce where you reside, as well as where the school is located.  Get from them a listing of all Civic and Service clubs in their area (Kiwanis, Rotary Club, Lions, Elks, etc.) and contact these clubs individually.  They often times sponsor scholarships, and more importantly they often earmark their scholarship money towards “hard luck” cases such as those incarcerated. Associations within your area.  These can be brought up easily on any search engine, and the key here is to contact the Public Affairs Division and inquire as to what might be available for somebody in your situation.  In particular target nonprofit, social work and any associations that are involved with the helping of others. Churches and religious organizations within your area.  These organizations often have money earmarked for, again “hard luck” cases (homeless, disaster relief, etc.).  Many times the church leaders have discretion on how this money can be distributed, and many times those incarcerated can fall under the umbrella of these funds. Private scholarships.  This will be your bread and butter in the future.  There are literally thousands of private scholarships out there.  They are based on every imaginable criteria (the degree you are seeking, sex, race, hobbies, location, religious background, etc.).  The list goes on and on.  There are several good scholarship books that list every private scholarship and grant available nationwide.  Peterson’s Scholarships, Grants and Prizes and Daniel J. Cassidy’s Scholarships, Grants and Loans
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