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Ascending to the Heavens on Crutches

By Yossi Ghinsberg | Aug 10, 2018 | Comments Off on Ascending to the Heavens on Crutches

Insights from Inca

By Keynote Speaker Yossi Ghinsberg

We landed in Lima an odd group of 35 people and drew attention at the airport as we made a lot of noise. Israelis speak loudly and with passion. To the uninitiated it seems they are about to explode! What made us odder was the way we looked – ragged. The first half were Israeli Army handicapped soldiers who were maimed defending a country. They were injured in combat, by acts of terror, or in training while serving their mandatory duty. The other half, me amongst them, was a team of volunteers that came to support these ‘salt of the earth soldiers’ as mentors, on an adventure of a lifetime, climbing by foot to the legendary lost city of the Inca – Machu Picchu.

(A few words on being an earthling and global citizen, and Israeli as well. I am an earthling, earth is my birthplace, all people, regardless of race, origin, or creed are my brothers and sisters. Yet I was born and raised in Israel, and that makes me an Israeli. I am proud of my culture and my heritage. At the same time, I think we should drop our nationalities and hang onto our cultures. Nationalities foster separation, cultures unite us. Sometimes I wish aliens would appear – if only to help us see that we are all from here.  One tiny planet, a blue speck in a milky way. One HUMAN race. Our planet belongs to all of us.)

From Lima we flew to Cusco, the capital of the empire of the Inca. The legend tells a story of two drops that fell from the sky into the big lake, Titicaca. They emerged as two gods, brother and sister who came to establish heaven on earth. With a golden stick they searched for the perfect place to build their city – it was Cusco. The old city of Ollantaytambo, is where we started our trek. It is nestled amongst the Andes, like a jewel, almost unchanged. The stones intact tell a tall story of a successful empire where no one went poor or hungry.

Early in the morning our group started to climb, from the height of 2800 meters (9,186 feet) we ascend. Leading the expedition was Opher Ugash, who is built like a rock. He is a legend of the most elite combat units, now retired from the army, and has built an adventure travel company that specializes in extreme challenges. The trail was narrow, the air thin, and weather conditions predicted hailstorms and constant rain. In the brief to the escorts, Opher expressed great satisfaction, telling us that climbing the mountain in bad weather was not much harder, but it would make everyone more miserable! Opher knew what we knew — the greater the sacrifice the greater the joy you reap! I already climbed to Machu Picchu twice. I was 21 years old the first time, 33 years old the second time, and I am 59 now. For those walking on crutches, wheeling a wheelchair, or dragging an artificial limb, it is clear that a person has a handicap. But, what no one knew was that a few months earlier my disk herniated and for 6 months, I couldn’t even stand. The pressure and inflammation in my spinal canal was the most debilitating pain I have ever experienced, and I was still recovering when I got the call to join the expedition.

When you face a challenge, and you think you cannot make it, the best way to move on is to help someone else. Focusing on someone else is where our true power is revealed. A goal that is larger than ourselves, the need to help another, is far greater than our need to do things for ourselves. So I held on to Shai Yair, who lost his leg by friendly fire as he battled the slippery slopes. I was his fallback support as we climbed some 900 meters (2,952 feet) into the thinning air.

At the lead was a fierce group who sets the merciless pace. Asael, an officer who took a direct hit by a missile to his combat vehicle, spent two years in a hospital bed, and still has a few hundred pieces of steal fragments floating in his body. Closely behind him, Shimon who was decorated for his bravery saving trapped soldiers in the casbah, who cannot stand without crutches, but boy, he sure could walk uphill fast! Despite the weather, no one gave up or complained, inspired by our leaders.  

At night the cold was below zero, with a steady, freezing rain. To my horror, I discovered that my tent leaked and my sleeping bag was wet. A night like that became the definition of misery, endurance the name of the game, accepting pain, and enduring.

We were escorted by a team of Peruvian sherpas, quick to support every need. They drove a mule with our equipment up the mountains, set up camps, and cooked tasty, healthy food to support us heart, muscle, and soul.  At 4600 meters (15,091 feet) and two more days of hiking in rain, hail, and cold, we reached our destination — a deserted well from ancient times. A place selected for a very special ceremony. We gathered in a circle, each soldier telling their story of bravery and endurance, then burying an item that reminds the past that needs to be left behind. The mountain taught us our limitations are not real. Trauma is an opportunity to grow and tragedy can make us appreciate our life and aspire for a better future rather than become victims.

We mourned enough for ourselves, for the ones we loved who stayed behind. Life is for the living. Their stories? Raz was stabbed seven times in his neck and back, the knife missed his heart by millimeters. Roy was run over by a terrorist driving a car into a group of soldiers. Shai wounded by an explosion of an RPG. Shimon took a full round in the casbah. Asael took a direct hit of an anti-tank missile. Rotem, had a grenade explode in his armed vehicle. Akiva took a brick thrown from a roof of a four-story high building straight to his neck. These and more stories of bravery and sacrifice were extraordinary, and the tears fell. Each buried something of meaning. Moran buried her crutches. Shimon, his boots still covered in blood. Asael, a piece of shrapnel that came out of his body. Shai, the identity disk. Itamar, his red beret. Memories thrown deep into an ancient well in Peru. Both surreal and real.

The following day we descended to Machu Picchu all of us together bonded as a family forever.

As for me, I buried my injuries silently. The previous year was the hardest in my life, not only my back injury, but also my soul injury. My family had fallen apart. I was separated from my loved ones, my kids far away, and I mourned the death of love. My handicap was hidden but present. I managed to climb to 4600 meters (15,091 feet) to help others, and be the storyteller on duty to carry everyone deep into the nights with stories of adventure and inspiration. What I learned is how limitless life is. That life is a gift regardless of hardship and challenges make us strong. On that trip to the mountain, we touched the heavens, and, having buried our ghosts in the ground, ensured that nothing can haunt us or bring us down again.

A big thank you from the cmi team to Yossi for sharing this story! Click here if you would like to see a video about this experience. Yossi’s artful ability to communicate what he has learned in ways that help organizations and audience members grow and adapt to change is extraordinary.  To learn more about Yossi, his adventures, and the lessons he shares with audiences worldwide, please click here.

Believing in the Impossible – Vinh Giang

By Dori Weisenberger | Aug 7, 2018 | Comments Off on Believing in the Impossible – Vinh Giang

Following a huge career high-point speaking for Microsoft, Vinh Giang realized that anything absolutely anything is possible. Vinh proves to your audience that no matter where you’re from, you can go anywhere.

Learn more about Vinh Giang!

Finding Your “In” – Chris Bashinelli

By Dori Weisenberger | Jul 30, 2018 | Comments Off on Finding Your “In” – Chris Bashinelli

Learn more about Chris Bashinelli!

Here’s to the AHA Moments and Crushing it as an Events Coordinator

By Julie Escobar | Jul 25, 2018 | Comments Off on Here’s to the AHA Moments and Crushing it as an Events Coordinator

In Step with Event Guru Ashley Goodman

In a world where high-impact speakers and world-savvy thought leaders wow crowds and create shifts for audiences around the globe, it’s the smart organization that realizes the BIG impact that every member of their team can have on their bottom line business and the relationships with their customer base. Such is the case with the tight-knit crew at cmi. Every person in the company plays a critical role in not just cmi’s success – but in ensuring that all the pieces are in place for those thought leaders and speakers to work their magic for thousands of audience members.

This month, I caught up with Ashley Goodman – for a fun, insightful look at her role in the organization. Enjoy!

Q:  Hey Ashley – great to meet you! Can you tell our readers a little about yourself?  

A:  I am a born and raised Calgarian, who after spending much of my early career dabbling in industrial and technical sales, I then came to cmi and found a real passion in the meetings & events industry. I really enjoy what I do! When not in the office, I love to spend time out adventuring and exploring with my daughter and husband. 

Q:  Your title is Events Coordinator Guru — I love that. It’s got some sizzle to it!  Can you tell us what your position entails? Are you the connective link between meeting professionals and the speakers they want to hire? Give us the scoop! 

A:  Oh my, what doesn’t it entail?! You’ve got the right idea though – once a client has booked a speaker, the Events Guru steps in to coordinate all the details leading up to the event, essentially making sure all the pieces fit! Much of my day is spent gathering logistics, organizing meetings, reviewing details and putting it all together so that our speakers get to the right place, at the right time. 

Q:  What surprises you most about what you do? 

A:  Definitely that no two days are ever the same! In our office, there is always something happening, which means that the days are unique and different. In preparing for upcoming events, we field a lot of fun and interesting inquiries and are often faced with time-sensitive challenges. We need to be on the ball, thinking creatively, and working together.

Q:  Well, you all are certainly good at that! Your team works with some powerhouse speakers. What do you love about working with these pros, and do you get the chance to tap into some of those masterminds? 

A: We do! And I feel very fortunate to work alongside such extraordinary people. I love the enthusiasm and energy that is created by their passion to make the world a better place. Our team does get the opportunity to tap in, whether it is attending our yearly summit and putting into practice our speakers’ ideas, strategies, and philosophies. We discuss them often – and find ourselves having many ‘Aha’ moments in our weekly meetings from reading their books or listening to their videos. We also know that if we have questions or want to know more, they are a phone call or email away. It is very cool! 

Q:  You recently attended one of the most prestigious events in the industry – MDRT, with Jason Hewlett, what did you think? 

A: I did – and what an event to take in! It was really exciting to be able to see such a great lineup of speakers and to be a part of the energy that was generated in a room of 15,000 people. It was extra special to see Jason Hewlett live, showcasing his signature moves and teaching us the importance of keeping our promises and being present.

Q:  What did YOU take from the event, and do you think it changes your perspective at all in how you approach coordinating events?

A: I was in awe of the amount of work that goes into putting together an event like this.  As an attendee, hearing from the speakers in the room gave me lots to think about and reminded me that as an events coordinator, the little details are uber important, as is remaining flexible to change. 

Q:  Very insightful! What’s one thing you’d like the world to know about you and why?

A: When meeting people for the first time, I’m often quiet, though I’m not shy. I just like to listen, observe, and take it all in! I also love those moments where you get the chance to connect with people through a smile or laugh. 

Q: You’ve got a great team — and you all work towards some great causes. Do you have any personal causes or charities that you are passionate about? 

A: Definitely! I have always been interested in animal and wildlife conservation. Each year, my family adopts an owl at a nearby wildlife rehabilitation center. On a recent vacation, we stopped at a grizzly bear refuge and wolf rescue center to learn more about how we can help protect the animals and their environment. 

Q:  Finally, any sage advice from an events guru for speakers out there? 

A: So much of what you do and say can have a positive influence on people’s lives and encourage them to make changes, even the smallest tweak and that is really a powerful thing! You can never underestimate the impact that you have on audiences. 

Thanks, Ashley! You’re awesome!

Want to learn more about the team at cmi? Check out their team page here or give them a call at 1-877-307-7403.

How Amazon makes smart decisions – Mike Walsh

By Dori Weisenberger | Jul 23, 2018 | Comments Off on How Amazon makes smart decisions – Mike Walsh

Learn more about Mike Walsh here!

Problem = Opportunity (for real!) – Mike Rayburn

By Dori Weisenberger | Jul 18, 2018 | Comments Off on Problem = Opportunity (for real!) – Mike Rayburn

Learn more about Mike Rayburn

Seventeen Years in the Making

By Karen Harris | Jul 13, 2018 | Comments Off on Seventeen Years in the Making

How One Speaker Kept the Faith, and Delivered on The Promise

Fresh off his recent closing keynote at The Million Dollar Roundtable (MDRT) Annual Conference, Keynote Speaker Jason Hewlett, received a standing ovation from the more than 15,300 audience members and realized the cumulation of a vision and goal set in 2001 when he embarked on his speaking career:  To speak on the mainstage at MDRT.

“During my entire youth there were MDRT plaques lining the hallways of our home,” shared Jason. “My Dad, John Hewlett, being in the upper echelon of the most successful in the world in life insurance and financial planning fields, his lifetime membership in MDRT made it my goal as well. When I began my career in 2001 looking for big stages to perform on, asking my Dad where I should begin, he recommended MDRT because they had the best speakers at their conferences he’d ever seen. I made my first call to them, and I’ve submitted to be on their stage as a speaker every year since.”

For Jason, it was a home run, Olympic medal, life-changing moment. “Well-earned, well-deserved, and we are quite sure just the tip of the iceberg for what is next for this show-stopping entertainer and keynote speaker” shared Karen Harris, CEO of cmi speaker management. “He lights up the stage with humor, impressions, and an animated presentation that is just out of this world. More than that, however, he CONNECTS with messaging that is relatable, heart-warming, and exactly what audiences are looking for today.”

The topic he took the stage with was his signature, “The Promise” which compels audiences to take a long look at the impact their own “promises” make on the lives around them. While fun, engaging, and completely entertaining – the keynote has poignant moments that leave audience members feeling transformed, inspired, and motivated to take positive action in their lives.

“There is so much heart and humanity that just pours out of every speech Jason delivers,” shared Julie Escobar, industry consultant. “He is loved by audiences, adored and respected by his colleagues and peers, and a dream for meeting planners to work with. High entertainment, low ego, and a double-watt personality – all make him a speaker companies want to hire again and again.”

In a world that can certainly use a lot more fulfilled promises and big dreams coming to fruition, Jason’s journey to keynote for one of the most prestigious events hosted by the world-class organization of MDRT sends a resounding message to all of us. Keep your promises. Keep the faith. Stay focused and driven. Extraordinary things can happen when you do.

Great work, Jason. We can’t wait to see what event you’ll headline next.

CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame – Jason Hewlett

By Dori Weisenberger | Jul 11, 2018 | Comments Off on CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame – Jason Hewlett

Learn more about Jason Hewlett and his amazing signature keynote, The Promise, here.

Developing Future Leaders – Sam Silverstein

By Dori Weisenberger | Jul 3, 2018 | Comments Off on Developing Future Leaders – Sam Silverstein

Learn more about Sam Silverstein here!

In What Ways Are You Like Hemingway?

By Jason Hewlett | Jun 19, 2018 | Comments Off on In What Ways Are You Like Hemingway?

I’m writing to you from Key West, FL.

When people think of Key West they mostly think of key lime pie, which I am sorry to say, I can’t even stomach.

However, when I saw on my calendar I was booked to be in Key West I thought of only one name: Hemingway!

About a decade ago I first visited Ernest Hemingway’s home here with my wife and our friends.  Today I enjoyed the tour once again and am inspired.

He is one of the great prolific writers in American History…. Read the rest of Jason’s blog post here!


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