January 29, 2009
The President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington DC, 20500
Thank You Mr. President,
Thank you for standing against reasonable, sane, and prudent men and women, against the
wisdom of the polls, against the reality of history, against the loud and persistent and
numerous chorus of “No you can’t,” against almost all but the greatest of expectations, and
believing that you could one day become the President of The United States of America.
Thank you for staying the course in a calm and determined manner during a long and
challenging campaign. Your thoughtful and timely actions helped shatter many of the
stereotypes that have helped to imprison the spirit of so many.
Thank you for in the words of M. Scott Peck, taking The Road Less Traveled. Any
reasonable individual, upon considering your background, talents and abilities, understands
that you did not have to take upon the monumental challenges you have accepted. There
certainly are easier and more profitable routes to fame, fortune and success than that of the
Presidency; routes without so numerous a variety of real challenges and potential pitfalls for
failure. Your successful run for the Presidency is just as significant a win for others as it is a
win for you.
Thank you for demonstrating the importance of using technology as you established, built
and maintained a virtual worldwide network of support utilizing the World Wide Web. The
importance and correctness of your decisions are reflected in the acceptance of your actions
by the famous and the infamous. Two newsworthy examples include Pope Benedict
establishing his own U-Tube Channel, and Alaska’s Department of Travel & Tourism
soliciting me by e-mail, and not so surprisingly including a photo of Alaska Governor Sarah
Palin. Your actions have established a path for the future. Prayerfully a generation of people
seeking hope will be able to understand, appreciate and apply some of the ideas and
methods you have employed.
Thank you for urging us to declare war upon the mediocrity that keeps so many mentally
imprisoned, by continuing to speak to the fact that it is we, and not you that hold the ultimate
key to our successful future. Thank you for reminding us that we can expect a bountiful
harvest, only if we prepare and plant and nurture as though our actions determine the
outcome, while we pray and hope as though God’s Grace determines the outcome, for I
believe both to be true.
Thank you for reminding us that we are not counted out because we get knocked down, only
if we choose not to get up.
Thank you for all that you have done to position yourself to be all that you have become.
Wise men and women understand that the foundation you built made possible all we have
come to know and expect. The process of reaping and sowing is as old as the Scriptures
and hopefully now as clear as crystal. The many that you have helped thus far during your
long journey of service was a prerequisite for the many more the world expects you to help. It
is comforting to know that unlike so many others who must prove what they have promised;
you have simply promised what you have already proven.
Lastly, thank you for reminding us not to condemn. As the son of an interracial couple, you
have captured the minds and hearts of millions who would have been critical of your origins.
Hopefully those who would criticize the decisions of your parents, and have yet come to
respect, love and adore you, will understand the reason and accept the reality that the only
judgment that counts is the judgment of God, whose wisdom transcends our understanding.
You are under great and often unrealistic expectations to repair the economy, to settle
disputes in the Middle East, to end hunger in Africa, to stroke egos in South America, to cool
tempers in Asia, to reverse Global Warming, to fix all that man has broken during a long
period of greed, ignorance and neglect. The reality is that if you can by example continue to
lead us to repair the minds and hearts of men and women, you will have accomplished goals
long-denied, achieved greatness long-eluded, and ultimately contributed much more than the
solution to a multitude of single problems.
THANK YOU, Mr. President!
Very truly yours,
Beyond The Call? No, Not At All: Supporting Our Students
Article by Henry Ford - Friday, December 19th was a particularly messy weather day in Cleveland,
accompanied by driving conditions that beckoned one to stay at home unless they found a very good
reason to do otherwise. To prove that watching television can be hazardous to any plans of relaxation,
I became aware that some Cleveland area students had an opportunity to attend the Inauguration of
then President-Elect Barack Obama. So you might be wondering how that involved me. Well, one of
the issues facing the students was how to obtain the funds to make the trip. That still may not have
involved me except that the school in question was Empire Computech, formerly Empire Junior High,
and my former Junior High School.
Like many Americans, my economic status does not qualify me to be “Mr. Bailout” but in this situation,
there were many other issues involved. There were issues of student need, student opportunity, and
the potential positive impact that a trip to the Inauguration might offer them. It occurred to me that
Empire Jr. High was the only primary education school I attended where I had any African American
teachers. It also occurred to me that those teachers, Mrs. Ramey, Mr. Barclay, and Mr. Mills had an
overwhelming impact on my education, and their wisdom, concern and images were life-enhancing.
In addition, as a long-time member of BDPA Cleveland/Northeast Ohio, my mission is clear. Like the
organization I owe much of my success to, I am committed to do what I can to help close the technology
gap, often referred to as the Digital Divide. What would be more fitting with those “circumstances” in
place, than for me to answer the call? My hastily devised plan was to commit myself and my resources,
and then call upon other BDPA members to step up to the plate. I was confident that given the
circumstances, BDPA members would certainly come to the aid of the students. After all, how could
they say “NO” to a school with “Computech” in the name?
My decision was clear and time was not available for consultation and reflection. I telephoned the
school office, but either because of weather or an overwhelming community response to the needs of
the trip (I prayed), I could only get a recorded message. Uncertain of whether the school was even
open, I nevertheless prepared a letter offering a cash donation, a donation of books which I thought
the students might be able to sell as a fund raiser, and the offer to share student experiences in
VISIONS Newsletter upon their return home. Considering what could have been a time-critical nature of
trip planning, I decided that it was necessary to make the sixty-two mile round trip from our home in
Twinsburg to Empire and hand-deliver my offer. I do believe December 19th was the last day before
Christmas and New Year’s break!
Ironically, the community or someone responded so quickly and completely that my offer turned out to
be unneeded. The bad news is that I can’t bring you those student stories I had hoped for. In the fast-
paced world of education with its endless challenges, the staff and teachers at Empire are now
occupied in something beyond the Inauguration. The good news is that there apparently was
overwhelming support for the students. That support confirms that as a community, we do recognize,
appreciate and respond to the needs of others.
I pray that this recognition, appreciation and positive response becomes widely publicized so that it
inspires others to go that extra mile in behalf of our youth and our entire community.
Below is one of the responses for my efforts . . .
Thank you for caring enough about our students to help. It is important that successful alumni like
yourself look for ways to give back to the next generation trying to move ahead. I am copying our
external affairs department to let them know of your efforts.
There are many ways to help, and if you are interested in leading an effort of the BDPA to partner with
us, please let me know.
Once again, thanks for caring enough to help our kids.
Office of Institutional Advancement
Cleveland Metropolitan School District
Below - A few thoughts . . .
"On life's report card, attitude counts, enthusiasm counts, a commitment to lifelong learning counts,
hard work counts, and helping others counts. If you go all-out, you will feel the difference in the quality
of your life, and that is what success is all about."
Steve Lodle Educator
"Parents who are afraid to put their foot down usually have children who step on their toes."
I came across a Chinese proverb that eloquently stated: “When
your cart reaches the foot of the mountain, a path will appear.” In
the same way, your path will appear when you create the will and
muster the courage to move forward to accomplish the
outcomes you want in life. Vision and determination are the
essence of a person’s will. People may have a clear vision, but
if they don’t have the determination to pursue it through thick and
thin, they’ll quit when they encounter obstacles, which are
constants in every person’s life. (Are you still acting on your
2009 New Year’s resolutions?)
The simple act of focusing on our desired outcomes for our lives,
with openness and optimism is like a magnet for good things to
come our way. Therefore, as you look to the future, continue to
PRESS FORWARD - through continual learning, growth, and the
development of fresh insights and skills. If we have tunnel vision,
we will insist on things in our life going exactly a certain way, to
accomplish exactly the outcomes we have envisioned. It is that
type of narrow focus that severely limits our ability to grasp and
take advantage of fresh, new, and exciting possibilities. Always
remember, if we step back however, and open our hearts and
minds, we’ll see all kinds of options.
Embrace this tiny nugget of wisdom and amazing things can
happen, as we take giant strides toward creating the “inner will”
that lead to the fulfillment of our vision.
Willie Johnson is a Performance Improvement and Training
Consultant with J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. He can be
reached at 479-659-6017 or via Email at: willie_johnson@jbhunt.
com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The window through which we look
A young couple moves into a new neighborhood.
The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging
the wash outside.
'That laundry is not very clean', she said.
'She doesn't know how to wash correctly.
Perhaps she needs better laundry soap'
her husband looked on, but remained silent.
Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, the young woman would make the same
About one month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said
to her husband:
'Look, she has learned how to wash correctly.
I wonder who taught her this.
The husband said, 'I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.'
And so it is with life. What we see when watching others depends on the purity of the window
through which we look.
Harvey Alston C.E.O. Best, Inc.
See It, Believe It, Make It Happen
Every time a think I have “seen it all” I am blessed to meet someone who demonstrates new
and higher standards of excellence. Such is the example of Shirley Williams, a young lady who
soars as high as an Eagle, but reaches far, wide and low to help others in their search for
fulfillment. A resident of Toronto, Canada, Shirley wears many hats, and it seems that they all
With a motto of “See It~Believe It~Make It Happen,” it might not be difficult to believe that
Shirley’s titles include Director, Program Management Office at Plexxus; Principal at William
Pearl & Associates; Vice-Chair, Vice-Chair, Toronto at BioPharmaPM; and Professional
Mentor at The Mentoring Partnership Program for Professional Immigrants. If you find yourself
amazed from considering how she does all that, consider that your amazement has just
begun. With a bio that looks like a Who’s Who created from the cross between Superwoman
and the Energizer Bunny, Shirley just keeps going, and going, and going.
Shirley’s formal education includes degrees and training at a variety of institutions including
The University of Toronto, Queen Elizabeth College at London University, The Change
Management Learning Center and the Project Management Institute.
Some of Shirley specialty areas are Strategic Planning, Product Development,
Project/Portfolio Management, Supply Chain, Organization Development, Information
Services, Sales & Marketing, Business Development, Organization Strategy & Design,
Organization Change Management, Team Development (Deployment & Performance),
Facilitation, and Process Improvement.
Now comes the hard part! Shirley is the founder and facilitator of Professionals Winning
Across Borders (PWAB). She has the unbelievable challenge of growing, inspiring,
coordinating and maintaining the effectiveness of this 1,300+ member Global organization that
represents 146 countries. Despite all of this, on several occasions recently I had questions or
comments directed to PWAB. Remarkably, each time I received a quick, courteous and
helpful reply. I really believe the lady must be twins or triplets.
We are certain that VISIONS readers will be inspired by Shirley’s story. We congratulate
Shirley Williams on her significant accomplishments, and her unbelievable efforts to help
others achieve their goals. We are certain that VISIONS readers will be inspired by her
PWAB is a Global Network of Professionals who are driven to win across borders. Our
professionals are dedicated to networking, sharing best practices, tips, techniques, pitfalls,
business etiquette when negotiating overseas, mobilizing their diverse organizations to win or
building a new career/ business in a new country. We are also dedicated to learning and
making contacts about international business opportunities. This is a one-stop shopping
“Global Community of Practice” for leaders working outside their home turf. Countries (146)
currently represented. In the words of J.J., this lady is "DY-NO-MITE"
Visit Shirley at www.pwabnetwork.ning.com
You may contact Shirley at email@example.com
Friday, July 4, 2008 - Living South Africa
So I have no pictures, boo! I somehow lost my charger and cannot upload or take photos. I'm
hoping to change that, but in the meantime, no photo ops. However, I can say, politics is on the
tips of the tongues of everyone I meet. It hangs in the silences between sentences, it is on the
streets, in the water, in the mist that hangs over Table Mountain (which I climbed,3500 feet,
thank you very much) it is South Africa. I see a population disillusioned. So much hope was
stirred with the ending of Apartheid, Black hope. But as with all transitions, true change has to
start on the street. People have to feel it at the deepest levels of their existence. That has yet to
happen. Their has been idealogical change. South Africa is a Democracy. But it is also still a
heavily racist and stratified society, bound by the history of apartheid. The change has yet to hit
the everyman. We are awaiting the redistribution of wealth, the educational promises-, the
paradise that was post Apartheid South Africa. South Africa is beautiful, colorful, full of
diversity and promise, but is not paradise in the least. However the hope lies in the fact that
they have opened their history (the Truth and Reconciliation Committee), admitted their
wrongdoings and are moving towards a more just society. More than America can say. It is
much like Israel Palestine, a people subjugated and oppressed in their own land. Change,
however, takes time, takes sometimes more than the people can bear at the moment. In the
last we have wrestled with the questions, what is truth, what is reconciliation, can they be
obtained? All I know is that they have tried and so much is communicated in the tyring. I am
Happy that South Africa has tried.
Africa is EVERYTHING!
Monday, July 21, 2008 - Living Within the Divide
I have been given the gift of a glimpse of the South African reality. Of course I can only glean it
to the degree that any of us can understand culture, complexity, nuances and foreign land. I am,
however, not visiting, I am not watching some politicized, propagandized version of South
Africa, I am here, living, learning, growing, listening to the voices of its children. I am sitting
within narrative, listening, understanding what I can.
I've just returned from two weeks of living in the Black Town Ship of Khayelitsha, in a small
place called Harrare. When we would tell Cape Tonians, (mostly non-Black) that we were soon
moving to live in Khayelitsha, their faces would fill with incredulous horror. The Black Town
Ships are only a few miles outside of Cape Town but they are purposely eons away, the
dividing line between included and excluded, have and have not, access and non, the savagery
of poverty and deeply embedded racism. Coming over the N2 (the freeway) I felt sick to my
stomach as we passed into sanitized and Europeanized Cape Town, I felt the tug of my family
This morning I cried, I cried leaving my Khayelitsha family, who treated me exactly as their own
daughter. My Khayelitsha family are all community activists and advocates and I was fortunate
to work side by side with them, learning a bit about their community as I did. Even as I write
these words are difficult to speak. I will not return the same person as I left, though I am still
here and it is still unclear how I have changed.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commissioners (YES, we attended at special two week session
just for us at the University of Cape Town and THREE Truth and Reconciliation
Commissioners graced us with their presence, knowledge and enlightenment) seemed to
agree there is a large degree of importance on narrative. Individuals have their narrative,
families have their narrative, communities have narratives and whole countries, have
narratives, stories that are true, if not factually, then emotionally, or politically. How we tell these
narratives, how we relate to these narratives, how we live these narratives says so much.
South Africa has a narrative and by climbing her mountains, scrambling over the rocks of her
shores, exploring her caves, engaging with her intellectuals, I'm coming to know her and she is
strangely, intoxicatedly, profoundly beautiful and is ever changing.
Scored some pics, let's just send a shout out to my SA sidekick and home girl CECILIA
SAENZ for the photo love!!! Photos are of a little preview of all of my adventures here,
searching for 3500 year old cave paintings of the Saans people ( I am in the cradle of
civilization after all), some views of Cape Town, some pics from my Safari, the Language
Monument and some other goodies. Hope you enjoy!
A BIG THANK YOU to Rukiya for sharing the experience of her African Journey with us. We
hope you have been informed and inspired.
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This is one of those occasions when you just need a computer (or visit the library to use one). I
cannot adequately describe the talent of Derek Austin, and his humble description of himself
does not convey his talent either. If you have the need for any of the products or services listed
below, check him out and you may well become a client.
Derek’s “self portrait” is as follows:
I'm a freelance graphic designer specializing in creating distinctive and original brand
identities to new and existing businesses and corporations. I also design brochures,
advertisements, annual reports and promotional materials. In addition to print design, I also
produce motion graphics for a variety of functions. If you have any questions, want to view
samples, or would like to hire a graphic designer for an upcoming project please call (919)
961-0617 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publisher’s note: Before you call or e-mail Derek, check out www.austindesignnetwork.com.
After that, you probably won’t need an explanation of anything except the terms!
What do you call going to a party and meeting a future client? Some call it networking, while
others call it circumstance. In this case I call it a blessing. Recently at a brunch I attended, I
was asked to say a few words about President Barack Obama, and how we might participate
in the vision, “Yes We Can.” The next day I received an E-mail from Anthony President of
Presidential Consultants. That is too much “circumstance” to be circumstance.
Anthony President is a Certified Trainer with the Institute for Human Services and a Staff
Instructor at Lakeland Community College and ATS Institute of Technology. With over twelve
years training experience in both the public and private sector, imagine my surprise when
Anthony stated that I had “impressed him.” Talk about saving testimonials; that one will be
framed. After reading his extensive bio and reflecting a little, I realized that one of Anthony’s
strengths was that he was always open and eager to learn. It wasn’t necessarily that my words
were so powerful (although I hope they were!), but Anthony looked for value and found it, where
others might look for “no value” and therefore, find nothing. Needless to say, Anthony and I will
feed upon each other’s strengths, and that should be good news for both of us.
Although Anthony’s Bio is too extensive to share in its entirety, we have listed his Summary of
Qualifications to whet your appetite, should you be in the market for the services he provides.
Anthony is a Seasoned Trainer with exceptional communication and workshop development
skills. Thorough knowledge of transforming Training Needs Assessments into value added
seminars. Keynote and Public Speaking experience. Experience developing training
manuals and policy guidelines. Skilled in diplomacy and teambuilding. Adept at managing
multiple priorities and assignments. Experienced negotiator with executives and decision
makers. Thrive in fast-paced, challenging environments. Excel under pressure. Outstanding
leadership skills. Diligent, articulate, and well organized. Experience working with diverse
market groups. Proficient in Project Management, Root Cause Analysis and Problem
Solving. PC proficient in PowerPoint, Word and Excel.
For additional information, phone 216-650-0966 or e-mail: presidentialconsultants@yahoo.