September 27, 2020

Meet Lucia Matuonto, Author of Zoe the Crab Series

Credit: Lucia Matuonto
Hello Lucia, Welcome to the Authors' Circle. You've been writing for at least twenty years and sharing your life insights through magazines, blogs and books. What type of topics do you entertain for magazines and blogs? How did you transition to writing children's books?

The topics I used to write about were healthy lifestyle, travel and funny short stories about women’s real life experiences. Since I also like to paint, during the quarantine I had enough time to create new characters, most of them are animals. This is when I got the idea to give life to these characters in a series of books for kids.

In your opinion, is one form of writing easier than the other?

I started to write fiction, which I find it easier than what I was previously writing about because I like to use my imagination and be free to create new worlds.

Do you recall the first book that you read as a child? What impact did it have on your imagination and personal values? ​Did it inspire you to believe in something new?

Yes! I was 8 years old when I read a book called “The Boy with Green Thumbs” from Maurice Druon. This book tells the story of a boy who turns into beautiful plants everything he touches and with this superpower he is able to give happiness to many people. It influenced me a lot, because I learnt that we should always do our best. I believe that what you plant you will harvest later.

As a writer whose childhood emanates from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, how are those childhood experiences reflected in your writings for the Zoe the Crab series?

The best memories from my childhood are from the days I spent on the beach in front of the Sugar Loaf. In those times I used to be fascinated by the marine life and all the interesting little creatures on the beach.

Character development in storytelling is a layered process dependent upon the main character's personality and values. The book's theme endorses inclusion, strength and friendship. How did you decide which strengths and weaknesses will reside in Zoe to communicate your book's message to the audience?

I was inspired by my little patients and by my personal experiences while growing up. I always admired the strength of my patients who were making every effort to overcome their fears and challenges to make new friends and to be seen as the other kids.

Zoe the Crab is the youngest of siblings. She has two older brothers that test her patience while challenging Zoe to find her inner voice. Lucia, from your childhood experiences, how did you learn to speak up and stand up for yourself?

It took a while to learn how to defend myself and how not to care too much about other people’s opinions. I was an only child for 8 years and my parents over protected me, which caused me to be afraid of confronting other kids. When my sister was born I had to start fending for myself also at home and this improved very much my fighting skills.

Tapping into our inner voice is a process which isn't easy for many people yet necessary for survival in life. What advice do you have for children seeking an effective outlet to communicate their feelings while confidently claiming their self-worth?

My suggestion is always to believe in yourself, to have positive role models who inspire you and to express yourself openly, specially in the relationship with your parents and closest friends.

The character Zoe is a handicapped crab that is challenged by how she is perceived; at the same time how she is restricted in mobility due to how she walks. How do you define the word challenge? What advice do you have for children who need to learn and appreciate that people come in different forms from all walks of life?

In my opinion a challenge is what makes you grow daily. A life without challenges will not give us any strength or learning. My advice to children is to always be open to people who are different because diversity opens our mind and enables us to experience many different aspects of life. A world where everybody is similar would be extremely boring.

As a professional physiotherapist working with children hosting motor and cognitive disabilities, what have these children taught you about resilience in life? Is there anything surprising you've learned about these kids in the process?

They taught me that we are all capable to reach unimaginable goals if we set a clear target and work relentlessly to reach it. I learnt not to give up with trying. There is a specific episode that happened with me when I was working at a school for kids with special needs in Dubai. We were organizing the end of the year show and we had to learn a choreography in very few days. I was worried that there was not enough time to do it, but the kids were very engaged and pushed me to drop my fears and doubts and just use that energy to focus on reaching the target. And we did it!

Credit: Zoe the Crab, Lost on the Beach

Zoe the Crab series celebrates the main character's unique traits instead of validating conformity in society. Zoe's perceived set backs (from her handicap to her dominant siblings, for example) serves as a set up for success by teaching her how to exercise courage to take pride in being different. How can parents and caretakers nurture the self-esteem of children? How can they override the resistance from children when they are afraid to engage with their social environment?

My advice for the parents would be not to remove all the challenges for the kids but to give them reasonable targets and to teach them, not to give up until they reach it. By reaching the goals and proving that they can do it, they will automatically build their self esteem and learn that everything in life requires effort and problem solving skills.

Lucia, you're also a painter. At what stage of life were you introduced to art? Are there any pieces of art, produced by others or yourself, which holds special meaning? 

I have been fascinated by books and art since I was exposed to them in school. I still remember the first time I went to an art museum in Rio and I was impressed by the huge colorful paintings which gave me unexpected emotions. Since I started painting, I tried different styles inspired by the famous paintings that I had the fortune to see during my travels around the world. In the last year I was influenced by the paintings of Arcimboldo and Gustav Klimt. Two very different styles that inspire me in my work.

You've lived and traveled among several countries. If you had to add another country to the list and make it your 'home', which one would it be and why?

I would add New Zealand because I believe that their nature is unique and pristine.

Will there be more stories added to the Zoe series? Are there any new projects on the horizon?

Yes! Zoe the Crab is a trilogy and i will release the third book in November. The project after that will focus even more on people with special needs and will target an older age range.

Finally, do you have any tips for parents spending time with children during quarantine? Are there any activities you recommend for children to remain focused and engaged with their local environment?

I would advise the parents to engage children with art and creativity in a playful way. One suggestion is also to create targets and incentive the learn of new skills for the kids. In fact there are online many classes that the parents can follow with the kids and support them during the learning process. Since I found that there are not many courses specifically designed for kids, I am creating different online classes to combine writing, painting and foreign languages to engage the kids in a playful way and to give the parents a break.

Credit: Zoe the Crab, Mystery Island

Please share with audiences how they can support your work. 

The best way to support my work is to follow me on the different platforms, to read my books and give me honest feedback and maybe ideas for topics that the readers would like me to talk about. These are the different links where the readers can find all the materials. Please subscribe to my website so you can get my newsletter and some giveaways.

Instagram: Luciamatuontoauthor
Twitter: Luciamatuontoauthor
Facebook page: Zoethecrab
Books: Zoe the Crab - Lost on the Beach
Zoe the Crab - Mystery Island

September 22, 2020

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Meet Dario Lake, Writer and Actor

Credit: Actor, Writer & Director Dario Lake

Dario, Welcome. I understand you're an accomplished artist with a portfolio of work that encompasses acting, editing and directorial projects. From your list of acting roles, is there a role that you've played which truly resonates with your personality and values? How do you go about choosing your roles?

No I haven't as yet but that's going to change in the near future. I choose my roles by making sure they express my values and overall focus I want to portray as an actor.

What is the inspiration for pursuing an artistic craft that always keeps individuals on their toes? Are there any aspects of self-development that helped you nurture your professional skill sets while remaining relevant with the times? 

Always pushing yourself to go far and beyond in areas where others typically don't. Self development never stops. It's an ongoing lifestyle. If you decide one day that you fully made it and don't need to learn anymore, that's when you won't be relevant anymore. 

What is the best piece of professional guidance you've received that has contributed greatly to your emotional, mental, physical and material growth? 

Being confident in believing in myself and my thoughts. It's not about being perfect but becoming the best version of me.

In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception about working in the entertainment industry? What advice do you have for new talents wanting to contribute their work in a market space that is saturated with common themes, common looks and sometimes common mindset? From a director's perspective, how do you define an original talent? 

For me I feel the biggest misconception is thinking it's all glamorous. People tend to only see the final end result and not the entire process. My advice would be stay true to yourself, your talent and who you are as a creative. Everyone is some aspect of uniqueness about them it's just a matter of fully tapping into it. 

Having directed Delusional (a horror movie), how are you able to effectively communicate your vision to actors bringing a story to life? Are there any genres that are easier to direct than others?

Being a visual story teller my thoughts and ideas come so easily to express to actors my vision. I feel if you understand how to produce drama, you have the ability to effectively do any genre.

Credit: Addiction

You've also worked as a sound editor for the movie Addiction. What are the responsibilities of a sound editor? How can individuals interested in such roles, seek out opportunities in the local markets? Are there any prerequisite skills, or characteristics, that can enhance one's ability to succeed in such role?

A sound editor is someone who's responsible and prepares the audio enchantment of a visual story. Anyone interested in a such role has to have a creative mind to hear elements and layers of sound. It's all about practice, practice, and more practice. 

Dario, when writing scripts, do you adhere to any rituals that help you focus while feeding your imagination? How do you know you're satisfied with the final script that you've authored? What do you do when there's writer's block? 

No I don't adhere to any rituals I put my mind in the best possible position to flow without having any distractions. I know I'm satisfied when I can see the written story play out as a visual edited flowing story. 

If you had to choose - Are you a writer that acts, or an actor that writes? 

Definitely a writer that acts.

Thus far what is the greatest achievement within your professional career? Are there certain personalities that you'd love to act and/or direct in the future?

Having one of the biggest media outlets buy something I produced. Also from working with and being able to learn from the best professional and influential people in the industry. 

Credit: You're the Worst

What insights about comedy and drama did you acquire when working on the TV series You're the Worst? 

I've learned that there are many layers of comedy and drama. It all depends on how far you want to push the envelope. 

As a producer and director, what are the tell tale signs that a project will be a success, or whether it will demand more cooperation than anticipated? How do you offset your risks when you suspect the project will demand more of you than you're willing to take on?

There's a certain energy that flows when your heart is truly into something. You could feel it vibrating, it's alive so that I know. I offset my risks by making sure everyone involved is on the same page and giving it their all like myself. 

Acting is an escape itself from reality. What do you do for fun when you're not working? How do you escape from the daily stressors and unpredictability of the world?

When I'm not working I like to work out, do some self development, research and learn to improve myself. 

Please share how audiences can learn more about your work.

Explore Dario Lake's work & agent contact available here.

September 11, 2020

Meet Edmund McCormack, Founder & CEO of Dchained (Cryptocurrency Literary Network)

Credit: Edmund McCormack
Edmund, welcome to Kreative Circle. Please introduce yourself and share with us why you decided to transition from working in the tech and media space to focus on creating a Cryptocurrency Literary Network. 

I have been involved in cryptocurrency and blockchain since 2012. The initial draw was the technology and how it can address glaring issues with the current internet model: 1) censorship by governments (i.e. the internet experience of someone in China is much different than you and I; 2) relentless data breaches of governments & corporations by hackers; and 3) lack of consumer data protection & privacy. 

The latter became tangible for me in late 2015 when I was working at Apple and I saw Tim Cook speak about Apple’s rapidly-growing stance on user privacy. Personally, it meant that my days were numbered at Apple as they moved to distance themselves from the advertising world; however, I also realized that the current internet model – where companies & governments store your data on their servers – would need to be disrupted. Blockchain offered the solution, and it would not only disrupt how we surf the web but banking and even the money that we use (i.e. crypto). 

Coincidentally, this is when the crypto market started its historic rally that brought the word “cryptocurrency” and “blockchain” into the mainstream. It brought in droves of investors that “threw caution to the wind” and invested into markets that they didn’t understand from a technical or financial standpoint. Unfortunately, many of those investors were caught off-guard 12 months later when Bitcoin, along with the rest of the cryptocurrency market, collapsed. I can’t blame those investors though because most of the credible sources on crypto were highly technical. Individuals who could understand the financial indicators and updates on development knew that the end was near. With a little information and trusted hub to be a “safe haven,” many of those investors could have mitigated their losses.

Today feels very much like early 2016. Crypto is gaining in popularity, except this time they are backed by major financial institutions and significant development advancements. I wanted to create an online destination that made the information, often seen as intimidating and inaccessible to those outside of tech & finance, available for all. This is where the name “Dchained” came from – unlocking this investment & technology space that could change people’s lives. 

What were the common misconceptions related to cryptocurrency when it was initially introduced in the market? What misconceptions still need to be addressed in the cryptocurrency and blockchain technology today? 

In the early years, cryptocurrency had a stigma of being the currency to finance illegal activity. I’m happy that we’ve out of the “dark days” of the Silk Road, as it becomes further embraced by governments and financial institutions. 

The biggest misconception today is that you need to be technical to invest in blockchain and cryptocurrencies. The terms "blockchain" and "crypto" sound foreign to many, but so did HTML and IP Addresses in the early 90s (i.e. the internet). While most people still couldn’t explain how the internet works, it's hard to argue that investing in the early players involved in shaping the internet was a bad decision: Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon. They're also the #1, #2, #3, and #4 largest companies in the world, in order. This has the potential to match or exceed that investing opportunity (no time travel required).

Dchained provides a platform to educate oneself on cryptocurrency without complexity. Which topic is the most popular within the Dchained community that delivers utility value among members and potential investors? 

By far, most traffic has come to our section outlining Bitcoin. However, it’s been fascinating to see that nearly half the traffic is over the age of 50 to our Bitcoin content. In general, investing strategy for many starts to shift to assets with less risk as the individual moves closer to retirement age. However, this trend makes sense as the yields from Treasury bonds have decreased steadily as the Federal Reserve has increased the supply of money to support the US economy during COVID. This practice, known as quantitative easing, has led investors to seek out two of the most stable investment assets available: gold and Bitcoin. 

Cryptocurrency serves as a potential investment vehicle for investors. What are the top three questions prospective investors should ask, or research, before extending their resources into the cryptocurrency market? Are there any insights you've acquired through your investing activities?

The top three questions that investors should ask themselves: 1) what is your goal and risk tolerance, 2) how diversified do you want to be (i.e. should you invest in an exchange traded fund (ETF) or purchase a coin directly from an exchange), and 3) what trusted sources are available to stay up-to-date.  

My advice to anyone interested in starting, or growing, their crypto investing portfolio is: 1) take the time to learn the fundamentals (i.e. how is Bitcoin different than Ethereum), 2) store your cryptocurrencies on a hardware wallet instead of the exchange you use to buy from, and 3) do your own research before you make any investment decision.

Risk comes with all forms of investment. On a scale one to ten, how would you rate the risk factor for cryptocurrency investments in general? Has the risk factor increased or decreased due to the Coronavirus pandemic? What does the potential forecast of cryptocurrency demand look like in the next five and ten years? 

The cryptocurrency market delivers opportunity at both ends of the risk spectrum. For example, Bitcoin has been drawing praise from major institutional investment firms, such as Goldman Sachs, and publicly traded companies in the face of our current economic situation. Its limited supply and strength in the face of the weak US economic and jobs data have drawn parallels to the stability that gold offers. In fact, MicroStrategy (a publicly traded business intelligence company) exchanged USD for Bitcoin in its reserves to more effectively store value due to fears of USD devaluation from the Federal Reserve’s steps to increase the supply of money to support the economy during COVID.

While I don’t have a crystal ball to predict where prices will go, it’s clear that cryptocurrency (specifically Bitcoin) is being rapidly adopted in developing countries. For example, the rate of adoption of crypto in Latin America has been inspiring as they turn to cryptocurrency as a solution to staggering inflation and increasingly unstable banking systems. It’s also worth noting that there are 2 billion people globally who do not have access to banking systems, often referred to as “unbanked,” but are actively using mobile phones. It will turn a mass amount of people into participants in the global economy, while creating demand on the limited supply of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (increasing the value for investors).    

You've been engaged in the cryptocurrency market for at least a decade. Engagement in this niche requires good sense and implementation of good strategies. What has this form of investment taught you about decision making skills in life and business?

Behind all the acronyms of the cryptocurrencies are people who are leading technology projects. I have taken a focus of trying to invest in technology that I believe can be transformative, and I’ve used this approach to build confidence and conviction in my investing strategies. The crypto market is heavily influenced by emotion, as seen in the last bull run in 2016 and 2017, and there is no shortage of people who will give you their advice. It’s important to remember that there is no shortcut for doing the due diligence, creating a plan, and maintaining composure during short-term challenges.

Investors are constantly seeking opportunities to acquire diversified return on investment in their portfolios. What are the top four types of cryptocurrency popular in the global markets? Are cryptocurrency investments ideal for individuals seeking short term or long term returns?  Is there any way to offset risk for short term losses?

The crypto market has assets that can appease varying levels of risk & reward that investors can incorporate into their overall portfolio. Personally, I think investors should analyze what is the function of the crypto and what it represents.  

1. Stablecoins, which is cryptocurrency that is backed by fiat currency (i.e. USD or British pound) or commodities such as gold, offer a conservative investing opportunity with minimal volatility and modest returns. Given its association with national currencies, stablecoins provide a higher level of stability. 

2. Bitcoin offers a unique opportunity where it’s a proven store of value but it has significant upside potential given its limited supply. The use case where it can be utilized for large-scale payments, such as government to government, draws further parallels with gold.  

3. Ethereum is an investment in whether it will be the future backbone of digital infrastructure. Investments can net higher returns as Ethereum becomes more widely adopted across industries and further development enables further growth for the platform. However, there has been an influx of competitive technologies that are creating a technical “arms race” with Ethereum to provide the foundation for our connected lives.  

4. Decentralized Finance (DeFi) is a high risk/high reward investment. Its goal is to remove “intermediaries,” such as banks, by allowing individuals to conduct financial activity through “smart contracts.” Investments resemble the practice of stock-picking as you’re financially back that a specific project or offering will become the leader in its specific sector of financial services, such as lending or earning interest on asset holdings. 

Is there a recommended minimum amount needed to invest in the cryptocurrency market? What type of investment strategies have led third parties to lose money in this specific area of investment?

There is no minimum required to invest, as long as you cover any necessary fees charged by the exchanges to buy the cryptocurrency. With that said, there are a few things to consider. The golden rule is that you do not want to invest any amount of money that could put yourself in financial distress if you were to lose it. Additionally, it’s advisable to utilize a dollar-cost averaging investing strategy where you are investing a consistent amount of money consistently on a scheduled basis. This strategy helps investors avoid mistakes often made when trying to “time the market.” Lastly, it’s imperative to do your research and not invest based on the potential of “missing out.” This led to a lot of investors making poor decisions in the last bull run. 

As a subject matter expert and entrepreneur, how have you built your investment network of highly skilled team members which include lawyers, financial advisors and business leaders? Did you find them or did they find you? What guidance do you have for business professionals building a robust network? 

Over the years, I have met individuals both professionally and personally who provide their clients with advice on cryptocurrency in their respective fields. I’m a client of many of these specific individuals, as I’ve sought advice on topics such as filing gains/losses on my tax returns or how to claim crypto holdings when applying for a mortgage. It’s interesting how people involved in the crypto space have sought to offer introductions to help build the community. I want to help open that community up to those who are now getting involved. 

Some people perceive the cryptocurrency market to be a clandestine network which hosts fraudulent activities. How can prospective investors find a peace of mind knowing their identities and resources will not be compromised when participating in the network? 

The clandestine reputation was deserved in the early days, as crypto became associated with the “dark web,” but the world is a much different place with cryptocurrency today. Large financial institutions are focusing their long-term strategy on building crypto investment options for their customers. The Federal Reserve is collaborating with MIT on if/how they roll out digital legal tender. 

Blockchain, which is built to provide anonymity and security, is looked at as a solution to consumer data privacy. I would ask someone to think about how many times they’ve had issues with illegal activity on their credit card, or even worse if their identity was compromised. It’s extremely easy to do because that information is stored on a physical server that hackers can attack. With blockchain, there is no central target for hackers and its use of cryptography make it almost impossible to breach.

How can this form of investment win over the trust of millionaires who strongly oppose investing in a cryptocurrency market that isn't reliable enough due to its young age, and/or the bad information circulating on the financial platforms online? What are the credible stock exchanges that provide valuable information and services to clients wanting to start their crypto journey?

The opinion of wealthy investors have shifted more in favor of cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, more in the last year than the 9 years preceding it. Regulation and policy changes from the US government and financial regulatory groups have set the stage for crypto to become mainstream. Large institutional banks are creating funds dedicated to cryptocurrency, such as Fidelity’s upcoming $1B Bitcoin fund, while several leading players in the crypto market are contemplating the move to becoming publicly traded companies.  

Similar to the stock market and politics, there is no shortage of misinformation and people willing to offer it to you. This is why we wanted to create a platform that acts as a safe-haven, where you can build an education in the overall space and stay up-to-date on the latest developments.

Edmund, do you have a favorite quote or a favorite song? How does it inspire you with the work you do? 

It’s a bit cliché to quote Warren Buffett, especially if you’re involved in investing, but he has a quote that is spot-on in the crypto world. “Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.” Crypto is dangerous for investors who think that it’s an apples-to-apples type of market with the stocks and bonds. It’s a whole different beast and you have to know what’s a market signal out of all the noise. This is where we come in as we are focused on building a platform where investors can learn about cryptocurrencies and leverage all the services that we offer our members to invest more effectively. 

 Please share with audiences how they can support your work. 

We host a volume of free content and instructional information on our site  Also, follow us on our Facebook page as we will be announcing a virtual video workshop on “How to Get Started in Cryptocurrency.”

September 10, 2020

Meet Natalie P. Jenkins, Author of After The Storm

Credit: Natalie P Jenkins
Natalie, welcome to Kreative Circle! As a professionally trained writer, do you recall the first time you aspired to pursue the craft of writing? Do you remember the very first piece you wrote early in life?
I do remember when I first wanted to pursue writing. I was actually a sophomore in high school and I joined a club called JAG (Jobs for America’s Graduates). The club had a state competition and I was given a project to write a script for a video that we had to make. Technically, that the was the first piece I’ve ever written. My love for writing extends all the way back to elementary school. The very first piece I ever written that I personally consider to be my first professional piece was a poem that I crafted in college.

Prior to authoring your two books, you worked as a translator interpreting Spanish and French stories into English. How did you come across this valuable opportunity which grants writers leverage in better understanding diction from a cultural and linguistic perspective? Were there any insights you acquired which surprised you pertaining how foreign authors write and what they value in their stories?

I studied Spanish and French in college, and majored in that. I started translating books as a side hustle to make a little extra money. Reading other people’s work gave me a lot of insight, so I am very lucky that I had that advantage. I already knew how to format a manuscript before I wrote my first book. One thing I definitely did learn, though, was that the French are a little more dramatic in their writing. 

Your first book "Fourteen Day Fiance", published by Christian Faith Publishing, focuses on an autobiographical account of your fiance unexpectedly passing away following a brief engagement. The story focuses on how to move forward in life through these unplanned events without a proper closure. How did you perceive closure prior to these events in your life? How do you view the ideology of closure now? Where did you derive your strength from during your healing process?

I found closure in two ways. One of those ways was through writing. Writing my first book was very cathartic, because I was able to express feelings that I had bottled up for so long. I also did get closure in the court system as well, and I am very thankful for that. When I did get actual closure, because I had waited so long to hear it, it’s almost like it brought back all those old emotions and memories. I definitely got my strength from God and my family. My family was a huge support to me through my journey of finding closure but ultimately my strength came from God. I often say that it was God’s own strength that pulled me through and not my own. 

Faith is a word that holds many meanings in different hearts. Faith is a verb for some people, faith is a noun for others. How do you view the word faith in your life? What life guidance can you share with those grieving their transition out of their literal and metaphorical relationships? Do you have a life mantra that you live by now?

Faith to me is a lot of things, but I like the way the Bible puts it. The Bible states that Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the evidence of the unseen. I live by this verse, not only because it motivates me, it also assures me that God has heard me and will come through for me. 

Your second book "After the Storm" took about nine months to write. The book focuses on working through the grief following the previous events of your fiance Jason's passing and finding the strength to cross the bridge into the new reality waiting for you. Everyone processes grief differently. What resources, from people to tools, did you exercise to assist you through this process? 

My grief process was a difficult one. I not only grieved the death of someone I loved dearly, I also had to grieve the loss of a relationship and losing the chance to get married. Marriage is something that I’ve always wanted and accepting the fact that it wasn’t going to happen was one of the most difficult things I had to process. Throughout my grieving process, I went to see a therapist. I struggled a lot with thoughts of suicide and I was diagnosed with PTSD after witnessing such a traumatic incident.

In hindsight, do you believe Jason was brought into your life for a purpose? If Jason is listening, what would you like to tell him?

I very much do believe that Jason was brought into my life for a reason. He brought me closer to God and taught me how to love myself. If Jason were listening to me right now, I’d tell him how much I love him. I’d also thank him for teaching me the major lessons that he taught me in such a short amount of time. 

The universe has blessed you with a new partner in your life. How did you two meet? How did your overall being welcome this new person into your path? Have these events encouraged you to possibly write another book in the future?

I met my amazing new partner at a book signing of mine. There was just something about him that stood out to me. He was different than all the other guys. This man came into my life at the right time. I knew that I wanted someone new and I had been looking for while. It was honestly really strange, because when I stopped actively searching for partner, then he just shows up out of nowhere. Overall, it’s been very positive and I’m so glad that I opened my heart up to him. This incident has definitely inspired some ideas for more books in the future.

What are two writing tips you can share for authoring a memoir? Are there tips you wish you had known sooner to exercise?

One tip for writing is memoir is start with an outline. Write down every event in your life in chronological order and start building from there. The second piece of advice is build an audience up before you even start writing the book. The more audience you have, the better. 

What is the most useful constructive guidance you've received as an author? How has this improved your outlook on life and writing?

Honestly, as cheesy as it sounds, the best piece of advice that I was ever given as an author was to never give up. I had a quitter mentality and my friends, family, and everyone I worked with clearly saw that in me. They brought it to my attention, told me to snap out of it and not to quit. This has improved my outlook on both life and writing in a huge way. Whenever I start writing a new book, I get this feeling that it’s never going to be good enough or that people won’t resonate with it and hate it. So, whenever I feel like this, I go back to what my family told me. Don’t quit.

Natalie, what is the most fearless thing you've done in the past year? What new adventures do you look forward to now?

The most fearless thing I’ve done this year is opening my heart back up to love. I was scared of how people would react, but it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. What I look forward to this year is obviously the release of my new book After The Storm on December 15th. Personally, I’m looking forward to making new memories and just seeing where life takes me. 
Please share with audiences how they can support your work.

Author Site @ Natalie P. Jenkins
Natalie @ Good Reads

September 07, 2020

Meet Olivia Friedman, CIO and Author

Credit: Olivia Friedman
Hello Olivia, it's a pleasure to meet you. You presently serve as the CIO of The Institute of Higher Global Studies as well work as a celebrated business woman at True Success Coaching. 
Please briefly share how True Success Coaching was born. 

Nice to meet you as well, I've heard such wonderful things about you and your talents. You know what, as a futurist, and Woman Leader in Tech., knowing what is likely coming down the pike in business as my business sense is almost like a sixth-sense to me. True Success Coaching was born out of pure necessity just prior to Covid-19, whereas companies and their leaders both large and small, were quite hesitant to go fully-digital.Luckily, I suggested back in November of last year to the bulk of my clients, that they make the transition to digital while the getting was good. I guess it was my sixth-sense kicking in. When Covid-19 hit, many of the businesses I worked with not only remained relevant, they also had already made the transition to digital, just in time too. So they were alright for the most part. Yet in reality, I have always been the technology, military and business go-to person. While on active duty in the US Navy also running exercises with the US Marines with Fleet Marine Force Hospital Corpsman groups, while I was Aviation Medicine. I was also a civil servant within the United States Government, and in both the private and public sectors as well. I was a government contractor with Northrop Grumman, a major defense corporation and learned so much, which allows me to assist countless companies strategically, today.

Yet even before the pandemic, many companies sought out seasoned professionals like myself and others. With us being Chief Information Officers and marketing strategists with a vast network and business expertise, we were positioned quite strategically, to assist them with everything from translating technology to business leaders to finding viable technological solutions to everyday business problems and assisting them with pivots in business, to ensure a likely survival if their previous business model, product, or both are no longer relevant. In fact, I was contacted by Suyati Corporation out of India whereas they also have offices in the United States, Germany, and a few other countries. I groomed the possibility of working with the entity and met with Ashutosh Karandikar and Karthic Ravindranath, since they were considering me, a woman for the position which is a wonderful milestone for a company in India, I was impressed with them reaching out to me. The idea was to have me gain contacts and translate business needs to technological solutions.

As a former US Navy "Doc", you've implemented respectable protocol to ensure cyber and offline emergencies were addressed and resolved in a timely manner. Your leadership as an Information Systems Security Officer directed Navy professionals to engage in emergency drills for natural disasters including viruses. Lessons were learned from the SARS virus. What recommendation would you provide to those (government agencies and civilians) attempting to refine their Coronavirus response in the present? 

You know what? That is a great question and it couldn’t have been any timelier. While on active duty in the US Navy working in the triage and acute care clinic, I was the medical person everyone loved to hate since I believed in drills, and not of the simulated variety. What I mean by that is that I always ensured that any emergency drill team I was assigned to, I made sure our drills were as real as possible, within reason. Our last drill was an Ebola drill. We made the calls as the parties were notified of the date and time of the planned drill. We did well, same as we did for an airplane crash emergency which actually happened a month later, of course we did very well. The Admiral and his wife were quite pleased with both the response and their care. The same went for cyber issues while on active duty. Yet since it was a collateral duty which somehow consumed most of my time after my medical duties were complete for the day, I relied on the Information Systems Security Manager for the big cyber issues. He is the one I learned the tricks and nuances of the trade from. He wanted to know I was competent before sending me on trips to cyber security conferences and such in the DC area predominantly. On that note, my advice is to “Pivot in your business, test and fail quickly to find a new niche or two. It’s best to complete the pivot, while the pivoting is good.” “It’s almost as if the economy, business, and countless industries are encountering another reset. Best to fail and learn quickly, in order to benefit from your pivot(s).”

Small business owners and entrepreneurs are adjusting to their new normal. How do you define innovation?

Innovation technologically or any other way post-Covid-19 may be quite simply described as, “Preventive or deliberate and active adaptation, or implementation of something new or by adjusting something already in place, by way of implementing new, or improved action(s), process(es), or product(s) that is/are vital to the survival of an entity, person, or group; as they may be known or not known for - if the pivot is drastic.” 

A good example of this would be Starbucks. As opposed to going out of business, they might pivot to coffee sales only, or lease out their brand to countless coffee shops around the world to remain relevant in their field, and still make billions of dollars, off of a brand they built ages ago without franchising a single shop. Another way innovation may be defined is; “Improvising and improving in just about any area, by implementing a new method, product, model, or concept as well as or possibly improving upon those already existing, in order to sustain or prepare for in advance, that which may already be or in the foreseeable future may clearly become, obsolete.” 

As a business coach and consultant, how can these business owners rely on innovation to sustain their organizations during these dynamic times when business forecasting can be unpredictable and perhaps even intimidating? 

Excellent question. In a nutshell, since none of us are psychic to the point of predicting all the perfect businesses to thrive during the post-Covid era – all we can do is try, try, try again, fail and learn quickly. Then to do it all again, faster and faster – until ultimately finding new and viable niche(s). I have a funny story to tell you. I did well upon coming to the South in transportation. Yet when I first arrived, I tried seeking businesses that required little to no maintenance. Therefore, I immediately asked about a drive-in theater. I was laughed at and told no, there weren’t any and that the South was no longer a backward one horse and buggy town. I laughed with the gentleman but continued my search and found one in Athens, Alabama that wasn’t bad at all. There then, it was $25K at the time if I’m not mistaken. Imagine its worth now, 10 years later during Covid-19. Easy to maintain, easy to open, work, and close. I’m sure the person who laughed at me back then is thinking right about now, that I was onto something, wouldn’t you agree? 

My point is this, you have to first follow your own gut as a business owner, then realize you need a team, check feasibility and your cake and get a plan to implement so you know your steps before you take them, do your research, speak with those who already know the industry if not your specific niche, yes – find the major hitter and get their advice, get your cake up, and assemble your dream team and a few others as backup including a board as well as a mentor or two if you’re serious, and dive right in. It’s the only way to learn what will work. Right now, some of the most unlikely businesses are thriving right now. Everything from food delivery to restaurants and grocery stores. Now the airline industry is a toss up right now but I’m still hanging in there with them, Tesla as well although I have a friend who knows the leaders of Tesla’s competitor. I’m being groomed to switch over to the other side. Who knows, only the future can tell.

When starting off as an entrepreneur, what were your top two challenges that you needed to overcome? 

The first hurdle was Cake, the fact that I had none, LOL. And when I say cake, of course I mean money. You know, cheddar, cheese, etc. The second was fear. I had to overcome fear and doubt, especially considering the people I allowed myself to be surrounded with back then. 

What did it teach you about yourself? 

I just love your questions. And I hope someone can truly benefit from our dialogue. Let’s just say, I will remain as real as possible, because it’s the only way my responses can really help. We as people doubt a bit more than we’d like to believe we do. I suggest, because I saw this in myself, entrepreneurs might want to be sure they have a good support network before taking on major challenges in life, business, career, education, or otherwise. Quite simply put, fear can be debilitating if you do not have the tools to overcome it. Imagine doubters in your ear 24/7. My secret was to jack into my headphones or earbuds to drown out the voices of doubt. And I don’t mean just the people that were around me back then. Or at least not them alone. I meant to drown out my own voice in my own head telling me I can’t do it, or that I’m wasting my time and should get a ‘real’ job, amplifying what I heard nearly every day, several times a day. All the greats went through that, but they learned how to believe in themselves, to have faith, keep at it, and they eventually achieved it. That brings to mind a book I’m working on called “Divine Gifts Theory”, where I challenge Gladwell’s 1800 Hour Rule. I found it took me sometimes twice that or in some instances, three times the typical 1800 hours of beating on my craft, to see any of the fruit of my labor. Then I learned it wasn’t just me, that it was happening all over the world. Maybe during our next interview, I will share those details, once they have manifested and materialized.

Olivia, you are an advocate of more women joining the ranks of power. Women have made respectable progress over the past three decades. How can more women take advantage of the present reality to embrace power and contribute to a better world? 

You know with my having predicted as far back as March of this year, that Biden would surely choose a woman and has apparently now chosen Kamala Harris as his running mate, now that she’s the nominee - long after Elizabeth Warren having dropped out of the race, a time as recent as March when I was being laughed at, for merely the title of my book with most men asking me if I thought it a bit ambitious to choose such a title, it’s amazing that Pamelya Herndon , CEO of the KWH Law Center in Albuquerque New Mexico, just had this conversation while discussing the 100 Years Celebration - Centennial Online Event Honoring Women’s Right to Vote. We discussed City Councilors Diane Gibson, and others, along with Trudy Jones regarding Social Justice and Change. My book was featured in that its focus is on the Future of Women 2020 and Beyond. We invited community members to tune into the 100 Years Virtual Celebration Honoring Women’s Right to Vote on Wednesday, August 26th, where the event aired live on Wednesday, August 26, 2020 from 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM on GOV TV – Comcast channel 16, I still have the YouTube and Facebook link for those interested in taking a peek.

Yet to answer your question more directly, women can only take advantage of the present toward embracing power if we stick together! In short, more women supporting women, as opposed to competing for the attention of men and positions we should all occupy, in just as great an abundance as men. AKA’s, and Delta’s have this already figured out. Zeta’s are more my speed although I’m already a member of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity as a Law Student. I personally prefer co-ed fraternities and am okay with that. However, I do see the importance of sororities. After all, it’s sister supporting sister. 

In my book, Year of the Woman 2020 and Beyond, I reference Elizabeth Warren in her run for President of the United States and the women who failed to support her on her own turf. I also mentioned this on a major nationally syndicated radio station in Boston, in fact it was with Mike Mullaney over at WWBX-FM in Boston MA back in March of this year, 2020. I remember this because it’s when I placed my book out there for pre-order at my website,

I guess I sort of called women out there, yet I was simply making my point that women simply do not stick together. Yet in reality, I get it. Many women just weren’t finding Warren very likable and some called her selfish, not seeming as if she would be a woman to back up other women if it came down to that. I reference a study listed in a New York Post article Bias Persists for Women of Science, a Study Finds that 9 out of 10 people are biased against women. Yes, of course that means both men and women. We have to steer clear of this in order to find our center of power.

I remain neutral in that I may not like her, yet I have always believed that a woman that’s liked by too many people in politics, may be attempting to appease every one as opposed to sticking to her guns and making things happen for her constituents and helping other women, as well as those in need, if you know what I mean. Not to be influenced by those in a position to manipulate to support their own agenda, at the expense of the people, at the hands of likable, but manipulable politicians. I enjoyed that interview since they asked if I believed it was time for women to lead. It was also referenced that while Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren had already dropped out of the Presidential race, if I believed we were still beginning to see a shift to women in positions of power? I responded the same way as I did back in February, it is most definitely our time!

You are a priceless source to those seeking counsel, coaching and companionship. Who are the people who uplift you on days when you're seeking clarity with personal and professional matters? 

Outside of my higher power which is on call 24/7/365, I have a muse that helps me with all creative tasks, either in spirit or in person. This is a must in my life in order to get major things done. It’s one of the main staples in my support network for creative or massive endeavors. 

Where does your strength emanate from? 

My strength comes from fostering a strong belief in myself that few may possess if they do not truly believe in a higher power. I realize that where I may drop off as well as others, I can pick back up due to my faith in a higher power. I know that where I may not be able to do something on my own, through my higher power, I am unstoppable! I must also give credit to life experience and the decades I wasted helping others to greatness. From politicians to finances and spouses in their businesses and campaigns to spiritual endeavors, rarely receiving what was promised and in some instances, what was agreed to, in writing. I was used to simply walking away but noticed my life changed drastically toward the better, when I finally began standing up for myself. Of course, this always came with a fight. I may not have always won, yet have won most. I kind of feel like I was temporarily transported to a fight club scene there for a moment considering how bad I have been beaten up in business before lol. I used to say it’s not always about winning, and that for me it’s more so about doing my best and not backing down, depending on the fight, and whether it's winnable or not. Now I say something similar, by adding that I will fight if I believe what I aim to gain is worth the fight!

Credit: Divorce Superpowers for Women

You've also authored Divorce Superpowers for Women, a book for women to learn how to protect themselves through a divorce. What events inspired you to compose a book which serves as a valuable guide for those transitioning out of their relationships? Writing on such a topic can stir all sorts of emotions. How would you describe your writing experience? 

Thanks so much for keeping it real. Yes, it was remembering my divorce of ages ago where I did not do what I should have in being just as fierce as the system that was in place at the time, in realizing just how hard I’ve had to work to get anywhere near the level of wealth I had then. Yet then again, you’re absolutely right - Emotions says it all LOL. However, when I write I do so from a different perspective. I think of women that have either been through a divorce and weren’t prepared for it, or did not fair, as well as their ex-husbands did, after the divorce. You know what I mean? 

Left to raise their kids alone after they both committed to it, while the ex runs off usually with a mistress, wining and dining her while we sit at home doing all the work, with barely a few minutes in the bathroom throughout the day for running a smooth household looking out for the kids at every turn. While we clearly love it, it seems unfair that we cannot take a quick vacation or get wined and dined like the mistress, after all we gave and did for the household as well as the (most ungrateful) previous hubby. So sure, it was tough writing the initial outline for the book. I wanted to find a way to be clear in communicating that the book was not intended to serve as a guide by any means. 

It’s more so a book offering moral support for those going through it, and for those who think they may have to or are not sure, and how they may protect themselves in a practical sense. Simple concepts such as a “separate account he or she does not know about.” (Credit to the originator of that phrase). It’s tough yet now I am as resilient as they come and can understand just about any angle a woman may be coming from. That being said, we have a support group we are growing as well, to offer support for those currently going through it or that are in recovery. There are many pointers and suggestions in the book that can surely help. The kicker is, I also plan to write a book for men in a similar fashion. This is the true essence of equality, in that there are some women out there learning to navigate the game better than men, but that is going overboard. Or rather, those women are reckless, and families are also suffering because of it, and last time I checked, two wrongs still did not make a right.

What would your guidance be for individuals that are hesitant to claim their second chance at nurturing personal relationships? 

For some, it may even be a third, a fourth, a fifth, or even a sixth chance. I say go for it, keeping in mind lessons learned as to not repeat them. We all need companionship to some degree and should always desire to foster personal relationships. It’s a part of life, and if left out can make for an odd stay on this planet.

It takes vulnerability and a pinch of faith to welcome new people into our personal time and space. What is your philosophy on relationships in general? 

I find that personal relationships can have a different dynamic based upon the parties involved as well as the location, outside influences, finances, education, and so many other factors. My philosophy is to keep your relationship to yourself for a spell at the onset, to give it a test-drive on a trial basis in the beginning. Such times shall never come again in any given relationship, so make good use of the time. That way if only a close friend or two know it’s happening, if it doesn’t work out or last, no big deal. In my opinion, it seems that outside influences can dampen the time dedicated to nurturing a new personal relationship, to a degree where it can stand on its own in a crowd, among friends, family, and even co-workers. The boundaries you set should be well adjusted to your comfort level, not theirs. And your boundaries should be clearly communicated, in the beginning. This is a great start, as the people involved get to know one another. As for an overall view of relationships assuming they are established and not brand new, I believe a good relationship is like water or air, we need it! Or it’s akin to the air we breathe, as was said to me in a previous relationship. When you meet that special someone, it can be so beautiful and is something we should all strive for. Yet in reality, it should also be seen as a partnership whereas one has the others’ back, especially when times get tough. Relationships take work and will not always be easy. I have the philosophy that a woman should always seek her equal at best. I believe it will save the couple so much heartache. Anything less that one’s equal would be akin to walking up hill, backward. Find him (or her), and life will surely feel more complete, and can provide an environment filled with support, understanding, freedom, to grow and fly, to soar above the clouds without feeling guilty or overly ambitious.Having one’s equal means to be of kindred spirit, not just finances. Even temperaments are also a great idea. These days, someone you can trust, truly trust - is also key.

What is the toughest decision you've had to make in your professional career and why? 

The toughest decision I’ve had to make in my professional career wasn’t actually related to operations or processes. I had to decide if I wanted to remain on board when a partner demanded sitting in to administer contracts, yet failed to tell me they could not handle it and had lost all of them one by one. I practically stayed up day and night for months to turn the company around while my partner slept overnight. One of us had to be on our toes, and since I was the Chief Technology Officer, Contract Recruiter, HR person, Website Developer given that we could not afford contractors – it was a tough decision to leave after contracts had lapsed due to my partners negligence. 

How did you go about executing that decision? 

I slept on it and knew upon awakening I needed to cut my losses and move on. I simply put things in place and made it happen. The company went down when I left, yet I did what I had to do with my interests in the company and moved on. If you remember my reference to doing so much for others and leaving with a deficit or with the very short end of the stick, it’s themes like these that caused me to write the Divorce Superpowers book. I decided that if I could save other women from what I encountered time and time again, that the book would be worth the labor, albeit, a labor of love, care, and concern for others, left at a grave disadvantage.

Mental wellness is a state of mind. How do you practice mental and emotional wellness in your life? 

That’s a wonderful question, I meditate and pray. I make sure I include tons of visualization. It works for me with action and execution of plans I set in place of course. 

How can others start taking better care of their mind and body? 

In such times as these during the Covid-19 pandemic, with all the uncertainty and chaos even still today, relaxation and keeping on top of important tasks will help tons. Breathing exercises, stretching, and just a bit of quiet time. During an interview on the Tim Ridley Show out of Tennessee featured on SiriusXM Radio Channel 146, I remember Tim asking me about Covid-19 and how it’s affecting me at home and what advice might I have for moms, it was near Mother’s day this year. I responded with a similar response in that sometime, we can only grab a bathroom break during the day. So I suggested nap time for the kids everyday so that mom can get a break too! Also, if having an older child that can watch the younger siblings, a schedule to allow this is also a plus. Yet in general, earbuds were safe, nice relaxing music, and having a point in time throughout the home where the news should be simply turned off altogether for at least an hour or two. It’s great to remain aware of current events and breaking news in such crazy times by way of the news, yet it’s not okay to become inundated – not for any member of the family. Nik Rajkovic, a reporter at KTRH Houston later asked me to share some ideas for Mother’s Day, during the pandemic, a good snapshot of just how chaotic this year has been, with not being able to hug an elder family member, especially mothers on Mother’s day. Yet this too shall pass. Hopefully next Mother’s Day will be a bit closer to normal, as we remember it.

Please share with audiences how they can support your work. 

Gladly, and what a great interview too. Well, many know I’m a business consultant where many connect with me through my success coaching website. Listeners and viewers in general may feel free to support my work by visiting my LinkedIn page and connecting with me, to stay on top of what moves I will be making next that will help the masses, by sharing of my life’s successes, yet also some of my greatest lessons learned in life, business, and relationships.

They may also support my work by visiting and signing up for the newsletter to remain informed. Any books I have written will be there as well on the same landing page. We have contests for cool prizes, and offer many perks for signing up. And for those not yet aware, my most recent book after the books featured at is Year of the Woman 2020 and Beyond and is available on Amazon via pre-order right now. It would help to grab a couple books or to loan it to a friend. Both books are full of tools and resources to make you think in ways that will leave you with the desire for a better future for you and yours.

September 06, 2020

Meet Faust Ruggiero, Author of The Fix Yourself Handbook

Faust Ruggiero

Faust, welcome to Kreative Circle!
Please introduce yourself and share with audiences what inspired  you to pursue a career in therapy?

Thanks Sasha. This is actually a question I receive quite often. For  me, my career path actually chose me at quite an early age. I was  the kid everyone came to when they had a problem. I love people,  I’m a good listener, and a problem solver. So, for me it was a    natural  fit.

For individuals contemplating a career in therapy, what is the difference between studying clinical and developmental psychology? How did studying various forms of psychology impact your approach to human behaviors in your initial therapist role following your academic career?

Clinical psychology is the study and treatment of problematic thoughts and behaviors, It’s often discussed as abnormal psychology, where developmental psychology is the study of normal human development. It’s a good idea to study both branches of the discipline. This gives the therapist a sound understanding of what normal development should look like, and what happens when things go off track. I was fortunate to design my own graduate study program at Illinois State University, and based it around both clinical and developmental psychology with the understanding that it would help me to become a more efficient therapist. Having experience with both normal and abnormal human development, and the good fortune to have worked with many diverse populations, allowed me to experience the human condition from many different perspectives. This always helps a therapist to both develop and implement practical programs to help people change their lives.

As a therapist hosting over thirty years of experience with a positive track record of changing thousands of lives, what have your clients taught you about yourself?

Any good therapist knows that we are only as efficient in our practice, as we are in our own personal life. It’s difficult to help someone else if you, yourself are confused and conflicted. So, the full circle of counseling requires that the counselor be introspective, and always willing to pursue self enhancement. While I’m treating others, I tried to be empathetic which helps me understand not only what my clients are going through, but how the situation can be applied to myself.

Are there any human behaviors that would surprise you in your present state of career, or do you believe you've "heard it all, seen it all"? Have you ever encountered any moments in your career when you considered 'taking a break' to pursue other endeavors? 

It’s really a combination of both. Through all the years of counseling, there is a feeling that we have seen most of it, but a good therapist knows that that’s never the case. The key is never to forget that everyone is their own individual life form, they’re all special, and they are all different. In the end, if you look at it this way, everything is new all the time. I’ve always pursued other endeavors, but never took a break in the process. It’s good for all of us to diversify a bit, but we don’t have to stop what we’re doing in order to make that happen.

Your book The Fix Yourself Handbook (winner of the Literary Titan and Non-Fiction book award) discusses the Process Way of Life which comprises 52 internal processes that assist in creating healthy internal balances within oneself. What criteria was used to extract 52 internal processes for implementation? 

This goes right back to all those years of counseling. When you do this as long as I have, you hold on to what works, and discard what does not. The way to build any good counseling format is to define and formalize what you’re doing and then put it into a functional program. I saw that every part of life was run by some type of process, from the smallest things we do, to the more grandiose endeavors. Understanding this allowed me to put all those little things that work into a process oriented program. That became the Process Way of Life as presented in The Fix Yourself Handbook. 

As a highly acclaimed therapist recognized for your professional contributions on local and state levels in Pennsylvania, how have the therapy programs evolved since the inception of your career? Are there any programs and/or protocols that you would recommend other states to implement that have worked exceptionally well in your state?

Programs don’t really differ that much from state to state. As far as how programs are evolving, I think they’re becoming more eclectic, and less restricted by the older more formal approaches. On the other hand, I also have concerns that the discipline has become “watered down” as we are requiring much less training for those who are counseling others. Today, everyone is a “life coach”. These are, all too often, short programs that do not provide enough solid teaching and experience to produce qualified counselors. The rule of thumb is still a solid and fundamentally sound educational approach, coupled with a diversified experiential training process. Avoid anyone who doesn’t possess both.

For any form of therapy to work, an individual's willingness plays a crucial role in whether the therapies will be effective in the short and long run. Seeking therapy isn't a sign of weakness, it's a supplemental tool to improve one's life. What guidance do you have for individuals that may benefit from therapy yet they are afraid of the social stigma that comes attached with it? What advice do you have for families struggling with a loved one refusing to seek help?

The social stigma really isn't what it used to be. More people are getting involved in therapy, and they're not as ashamed as they used to be. Also, a good therapist is the key to those concerns. Those of us who love what we do, but are also trained to help people through those initial parts of the counseling process, usually see clients that are much more relaxed about the changes they need to make, and about working with us. As far as what to do when someone is refusing to come to counseling, I usually advise that they come one time. This gives them the chance to see what's going to happen in a counseling setting, and gives them control over whether or not they want to come back. Very rarely will someone come into any of my counseling sessions and not return. Personally, I incorporate good listening techniques with a very dynamic approach. This helps to produce the trust that is necessary to not only attract people to the counseling environment, but also, to keep them there . 

You've worked at a few counseling centers catering to individuals battling alcoholic and drug addictions. What are a few common variables that are present among all these addicts? Do you believe the twelve step recovery program is effective for all forms of addictions? Can an addict reach a point where no form of therapy will penetrate their being to yield a positive result of recovery? 

The evidence about addiction strongly suggests the genetic component, and that's probably the core of the issue. Additionally, we live in a culture these days that is medicine-oriented, and aligns with quick fixes and short-term solutions. Drug addiction produces a quick euphoric response, which is short lived, and has to be reestablished often. When you take a closer look at that, it is, unfortunately, the way we tend to live these days. With drug addiction, however, once the person is in the grasp of the addiction, it's no longer about euphoria. Now it's about “getting right”, and this is nothing more than avoiding the withdrawal nightmare that quickly attaches itself to the addictive process. No program is for everyone, but on the other hand, no program works better with addicts than the 12 step program does. It's not only a program for addiction, but a program for good living. What makes it difficult for many people is that it's not a quick fix. It requires a long term investment. People don't like that. Some addicts do reach a point where nothing is going to help them. That, however, is usually the result of not wanting to do the work, or feel the uncomfortable feelings that come with sobriety. No one ever said it was going to be easy, but it's certainly not impossible. 

Out of all the demographics that you've served (from nursing homes, prisons, substance abuse centers and inpatient facilities), which population was the most challenging to work with? Which population greatly contributed to your personal growth? 

Addicts and child molesters are the most difficult, and by far, the most resistant to change. As far as the population that contributed to my personal growth, that would be abused women. This required me to stretch past many of my perceived notions about women, abuse, and recovery. In the end, it became the population I love treating the most, and a population I've become very successful treating.

Faust, what do you do for fun when you're not guiding and healing others? You invest your time and energies in listening to the world's thoughts and emotions. What sources serve as your cornerstone of personal faith and inspiration? 

I knew early in my career that diversions from the counseling environment would be necessary. I'm an avid sports fan, have worked with Phillies fans for twenty-six years, workout regularly, and I write. In addition, I'm a Christian with a strong faith, and I always have that to guide me through my life. I must say though, I never saw counseling as work. I still love all the people that I have the privilege to work with, and after four decades of doing so, I still look forward to going into the office. In short, for a select few, counseling others is not a job, it's a way of life . For me, I'm one of those people that never worked a day in my life. 

Engaging in therapy can be an intimate experience for vulnerable and private souls, what characteristics should individuals seek in an ethical and honorable therapist? 

There's someone for everyone. How can one find the right therapist for them? You'll know a counselor is right for you if they are invested in what you're saying, nonjudgmental, and always available. I've always said that I am available 24/7/365. I think all counselors need to take this approach. As far as ethical behavior, there are boundaries in counseling. It should always be safe, nonthreatening, intimate, but always adhering to those boundaries.

Please share with audiences how they can support your work. 

Anyone interested in the Process Way of Life which is taught in The Fix Yourself Handbook can find the book on my website, and available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and many other retailers. I've also provided links to my website and personal social media pages . The website is dedicated to The Fix Yourself Handbook , and all information about the book can be found there. 

Image Credit: Sasha Talks | Faust Ruggiero

Moving Mountains SPOTLIGHT ** Meet J. Stewart Dixon, Author of Spirituality for Badasses

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