My journey to becoming a speaker and coach was a non-traditional one and began when I was hired by the U.S. Customs Service several years after college. I showed up at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center with long blonde hair, red, white, and blue fingernails and a pair of black high-top Guess sneakers instead of the stereotypical scowl and combat boots. As you can imagine, this did not go over well. I envisioned sitting at a big mahogany desk with the official seal of the United States of America emblazoned on the name tag on the door to my office. What I got was an assignment to work on the rat-infested piers of New York with some pretty cranky men who didn’t think women should be part of their world. (Oh, I could tell you some stories…) And, no desk. And, no office. I realized quickly that it was going to be VERY different than the detective shows I watched on television as a kid. (No, I was not going to be one of Charlie’s Angels.) And, I recognized that being my soft-spoken and speak-when-spoken-to self was not going to enable me to excel in this arena. I needed to find my voice. Instead of Looking at What Others Are Doing, Focus on Your Own Journey. On the job, some of the guys called me “Hair and Nails” and a few did their best to make my life a nightmare, publicly berating me and harassing me. But, I worked side by side in filthy assignments in the heat, snow, and rain lifting boxes, driving a forklift, and sifting through smelly shipments on the contraband enforcement (narcotics interdiction) and EXODUS (money laundering) teams. I was one of the fastest promoted women on the job, and while I can’t say I was the best at enforcement, I was smart, hard-working, quick-witted – and I found my voice. Working in the New York area during 9/11, I worked 16-hour grueling shifts after losing my mentor in the Trade Center bombings. And, over time, I earned the respect from these tough-as-nails men as they treated me like one of the boys. Yes, I held my own. And, when I left federal law enforcement after 10 years, I left with pride, and the nickname “Mary F’in Sunshine”. What I Learned was You Can Do Anything You Want without Compromising Who You Are. While I began my job with a small-town naiveté and there were days when I was unsure of myself, I learned how to be strong, stand up for what I wanted (I had a no-profanity rule which the guys adhered to….LOL), how to work well with others (even the people you don’t like), not to take other people’s “crap” without being ugly, and how to trust my gut to the point where I now have a built-in “No B.S.” meter. I studied leadership and the inner workings of what it takes to communicate effectively and build a personal brand. The World is Made for Those who Learn How to Stand Out, Not Fit In. I worked in a male-dominated industry where I had to learn how to communicate who I was, what I brought to the job, or become invisible. And, despite the rigors of 9/11, my deep compassion for others led me to helping some of my co-workers cope with the changing landscape and recognize that every day brings is a gift which brings the promise of a new beginning. (From my 1st book, Designing Your Destiny….) My career in law enforcement was a challenging journey – and I walked through this because of Choice. Direction. Commitment. and Discipline and you can do the same with whatever you are seeking to achieve or move forward in your organization or personal life. Vince Lombardi said, “Leaders aren’t born; they’re made. And, they’re made like anything else, through hard work.” You can develop what it takes to be a leader in your career and in your life. I studied personal leadership and effective management and supervision, and you can be taught the same principles and learn how to do this with ease. People Follow the Person First, and Then their Great Plan. Being a person worth following will open doors you never thought were possible. On a personal level, no doubt you are brilliant and talented and have a lot more to do in the world but may not be seen for your vast array of talents, gifts, and abilities. Do you know who you are? What you want? And, why it matters? At one point in my life, I didn’t. And, when I began coaching, I found that many lots of successful people out there didn’t either. Nor did they know how to communicate their brilliance so they were overlooked for promotions or losing market share in their business or just plain unhappy with the decisions they had made. I get it – because I’ve been there before. Eight years ago, I re-invented myself again and I’ve been speaking and coaching around the world, delivering high-energy presentations to groups of 10 – 1000 – and that’s pretty amazing for a girl who took no business classes in her Criminal Justice program in college and has weathered the storms in one of the toughest economies in my lifetime. Success Lies Just Past Your Comfort Zone. I’ve written several books, been on countless radio shows, and coached multi-million dollar entrepreneurs, new start-ups, seasoned executives, and non-profit leaders from three different continents. Past clients include a varied array of non-profit, for profit, local and federal government entities, as well as educational institutions who have increased operational efficiency, productivity, and enthusiasm within their respective organizations. I’m passionate about training and delivering presentations on leadership, communication dynamics, performance management (one of my favorites), change, and time management that are like me, practical and no-nonsense, and leave you with strategies you can immediately implement.