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Monday, June 20, 2011

Meeting a Living Idol.....

Me and Jack Canfield, author of
Chicken Soup for the Soul series.
We're holding a copy of my book.
Last week I had the privilege of attending a marketing workshop that included a full-day with Jack Canfield (see photo) the best-selling author of the "Chicken Soup for The Soul" series and speaker.

It was an incredible experience to have access and interact with Jack for eight hours. Especially when you consider the following:

+ He has sold more than 500,000,000 (that's half a billion) books globally in less than 18 years.

+ His books have been translated into 40 different languages.

+Nearly 90 percent of respondents to a recent Harris Survey knew and understood what the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" brand stood for.

+ More than 200 different target audiences have "Chicken Soup" books (i.e. Golfer's Soul, College Soul, Pet Lover's Soul...etc.)

Those are amazing results. But this connection with Jack Canfield had a deeper and much more personal meaning for me. I've been an avid fan of the "Chicken Soup" series since it was first published in 1993. Specifically, the very first book helped me a lot during a challenging time in my life.

I had graduated from college in 1991 and the nation was in the midst of a recession. Luckily, I had a job as a news anchor/reporter at a small radio station in western New York, but it paid less than $18K a year. Things were tight and thousands in school loans didn't make it easier.

By 1993 I had landed an anchor position at a national radio network (NESE) based just outside of an upstate city. It was a great experience working with outstanding professionals, but as is wont to happen in life - those good times didn't last. The network was sold and the only job I could land was part-time work conducting telephone surveys.

That was the most difficult and thankless job I ever had. I dreaded it and was miserable being chained to a computer that auto-dialed households across the country with two 10 minute breaks each day. I had to bother people at home to try and convince them to answer a barrage of questions that usually took 30-40 minutes. People would be furious by the end of the call.

It was difficult not to internalize the anger and rejection that job generated.

At the time, my faith had grown a little cold and I was not attending a church where I might have gotten support and encouragement. However, I remember standing in line at a grocery store and seeing the first "Chicken Soup for the Soul" book and said to myself, "My soul feels sick and maybe this could help."

Needless to say, that collection of 101 stories inspired me to shake off the funk I was in and take control of my life. It was a catalyst that propelled me back to my faith and a trajectory of professional fulfillment.

All of that was a result of authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hanson. In the decades since, I've met dozens of celebrities as a reporter and corporate spokesperson, but few touched my life as directly as Jack. Furthermore, at last week's conference I was honored to get direct feedback from Jack on an advance review copy (ARC) of my forthcoming book, A Question of Faith which will be available in November 2011.

It's difficult to describe the complete impact on my life that this man has had and will continue to have. But he helped spur me to write a blog and a book that I hope will have a similar impact on its readers.

Have you ever met someone you admire or idolized? What was it like?

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