The Investment Committee Guide to Prudence by Jonathan J. Woolverton, CFA – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

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JJ’s investment career spans more than five decades. He has been the chief investment strategist for a pension plan sponsor, a managing director and senior consultant within a global investment planning consultant firm, and a managing director and chief operating officer of an investment management organization. Over his career, JJ has attended well over a thousand investment committee meetings as a plan sponsor, a consultant, and a money manager. In the majority of these meetings, he has found that committee members lack three things: in-depth investment expertise to effectively carry out their fiduciary responsibilities, the necessary time allocation to administer and manage the investment program in the best interests of the beneficiaries, and the ability to develop an efficient monitoring system to hold all service providers accountable for the products and services they provide.

This book outlines the steps to be taken in establishing investment policy; formulating asset mix strategy; creating an appropriate investment management structure; undertaking investment manager searches; and highlighting the conflicts of interest, biases, and self-interests of the various service providers.

This book is designed to assist members of investment committees in their role as fiduciaries/trustees/administrators.

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One of the responsibilities of the investment committee is providing effective and timely communication to existing beneficiaries of the plan. The information shared should provide comfort to all beneficiaries that their funds are in capable hands. However, in practice, communication with plan beneficiaries often seems to receive the least amount of time and energy spent, and seems to be a relatively low priority for the plan sponsor. Beneficiaries, typically, do not have the investment expertise to understand the importance that capital market returns have in creating or securing wealth for their retirement years. The plan sponsor has the responsibility to both inform and educate—whether within a defined-benefit plan or a defined-contribution plan.

In summary, the role of the plan sponsor is to create an investment program for the sole benefit of the plan’s beneficiaries. Plan sponsors must act in a fiduciary function to ensure that the administration, management, and implementation of the investment program is free from biases and conflicts of interest.

Plan sponsors must:

• outline their specific beliefs;

• determine the goals and objectives needed to deliver on the promises made to beneficiaries;

• understand the risk tolerance and appetite at the total fund level;

• set the framework for asset mix policy; and,

• create oversight processes and procedures as a check that the various components of the investment program are delivering as expected.

One of the primary responsibilities of the plan sponsor is to set up an investment committee to implement, execute, monitor, and evaluate all activities related to the ongoing investment of all plan assets. In so doing, the plan sponsor must determine the roles, authorities, and responsibilities of the members of the internal investment committee. The highest priority is to ensure that the committee members have the investment knowledge, experience, and skills needed to implement the investment program effectively and efficiently.

About the Author: Jonathan J. Woolverton, CFA, has spent his whole career in the investment field—over fifty years. After graduating from university in Pennsylvania, he moved to Toronto, Canada, where he began his career in the investment department of an insurance company. In his role as investment officer he was responsible for formulating investment strategy and overseeing all investments within the equity and fixed-income divisions. JJ later joined Ontario Hydro as their chief investment strategist where all pension funds were managed internally.

JJ left the money management business to become an investment planning consultant. He was a founding partner and managing director of Frank Russell Canada. He moved back to the money management side as the managing director and chief operating officer of Guardian Capital Inc. JJ graduated from Westminster College with a BBA and achieved his Chartered Financial Analyst certification. JJ has published numerous articles on the pension and investment industries and has been the keynote speaker at many conferences and seminars.

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Interesting Facts About Babe Ruth by Jonathan Weeks – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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–Ruth’s father was accidentally killed by a family member. George Ruth Sr. owned a number of taverns in Baltimore. While tending bar one day, a fight between two of his brother-in-laws erupted on the street outside. Ruth Sr. attempted to separate the two men, but ended up slamming his head on a curb and sustaining a fatal skull fracture.

–Ruth’s first wife, Helen, was killed in a house fire. The two were separated but still legally wed at the time. Since the fire took place under somewhat suspicious circumstances, Ruth was implicated as a suspect along with Helen’s boyfriend—a Boston dentist named Edward Kinder. In the wake of a formal investigation, both men were absolved of any guilt.

–Ruth worked tirelessly over the course of his career to interact with fans. In October of 1933, he actually visited a leper colony during a barnstorming tour of Hawaii. He did so against the wishes of his handlers.

–Ruth purchased a number of fancy sports cars during his playing days. He had little regard for the rules of the road, parking his vehicles wherever he pleased, driving them too fast, and smashing into things repeatedly. In 1917, he collided with a trolley car in Boston, derailing it. In July of 1920, he drove his expensive Packard off the road with his wife and several teammates in it. The vehicle flipped over, but no one was seriously hurt. In June of 1921, Ruth was stopped for speeding and arrested. Police officials released him from jail in time to appear in an evening game.

–Though Ruth was generally good-natured, he demonstrated his hot temper a number of times on the field. In 1922, he was thrown out of a game for tossing dirt at umpire George Hildebrand. After getting booed by fans, he climbed into the stands to confront two men who were heckling him. Unable to reach them, he jumped onto the roof of the Yankee dugout and challenged anyone in the crowd to a fight. There were no takers.

–Much has been made of Ruth’s alleged “called shot” off Cubs pitcher Charlie Root in the 1932 World Series. Few people are aware that he called one of his October shots four years earlier. Facing pitcher Bill Sherdel of the Cardinals in Game 4 of the 1928 World Series, the Babe engaged in some semi-friendly banter at the plate, bragging that he was going to deposit the next hittable pitch into the outfield seats. He made good on the boast, laughing all the way around the bases and waving mockingly to the St. Louis crowd.

–The use of performance enhancing drugs in baseball has generated a lot of controversy over the past several decades. But it is not a new problem. In the 1920s, team trainers began injecting players with a substance made from sheep’s testicles, which was said to increase stamina. Ruth agreed to give it a try, but he became severely ill after a single injection and abruptly ended the experiment.

More than seventy years after his death, Babe Ruth continues to fascinate generations of fans. His exciting adventures on and off the field have become essential reading for students of baseball and pop culture. While most Ruth biographies are filled with mundane facts, Lore of the Bambino is the equivalent of a greatest hits compilation. Ruth’s extraordinary (and at times incredulous) tales carry readers on an enthralling journey through the life of the most celebrated sports figure of the twentieth century. All of the most popular anecdotes (such as the Babe’s alleged “called shot” in the 1932 World Series) are thoroughly covered along with many lesser known narratives.

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In the annals of baseball history, there has never been anyone quite like Babe Ruth. He transformed the game from a slow-moving battle of wits to an explosive exhibition of raw power. He could alter the final score with a single swing. When he retired in 1935, he owned dozens of statistical records. And his 714 homers were more than double the output of the next closest competitor.

Beyond the ballfield, Ruth was approachable, engaging, and jovial. He mingled with fans, autographed a myriad of baseballs, and befriended sportswriters. In an era when heroes were desperately needed, he fit the bill. He understood what he meant to people (especially children) and went out of his way to bring them joy.

As a role model, he was imperfect. He broke rules, got suspended, and struck out more than any other player of the era. But when the game was on the line, he almost always rose to the occasion, doing it in dramatic fashion. Over time, he became part god and part mortal—a mythical man-child who called his own shots and propelled baseballs farther than any player before or after him. He got more attention than U.S. Presidents and was just as newsworthy as a world war or economic depression. Everyone wanted a small piece of him. And everyone who met him had an interesting story to tell.

About the Author:A lifelong sports fan, Weeks has published several non-fiction books on the topic of baseball. Additionally, he has two novels to his credit–one of them a posthumous collaboration with his father. His latest project: Best of the Bruins: Boston’s All Time Great Players and Coaches, is due out in 2021.


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Following Your Heart by Toby Negus – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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Following Your Heart

It has been said that the greatest regret of the dying is that they wished they’d been truer to themselves. As if there is a life’s purpose in being who we are. As if who we are is a purpose. But where within ourselves do we go to find this truth, this thing of who we are that makes life worth living? Where is the source of our authenticity and what would truly make us happy, for they are intricately linked? We can never be happy without living the truth of ourselves. It is the heart that holds the answer because it knows us intimately; our dreams, our hopes and our loves. It is where we will always go to know what is truly important to us, what it is that we would not want to live without. But the heart is no place of shallow emotions or vain morality. It is the source of a passion and power that has created all the lights of the world. All great art and all the acts of humanity have been born from the heart because all beauty is created from the idea of love. Love is the heart’s purpose and our unique loves of life are its signature. Without its love, hope has no home, courage no direction, and fortitude no purpose. The heart is the home to the deeper dream of who we love to be and is the companion that is loyal to our purpose of life. When we follow our heart we have no regret because the heart’s wish is for our happiness.

This is a thought-provoking and enlightening exploration of spirituality and perception. The text functions as a guide to self-improvement, with a mixture of autobiographical elements and snippets of universal wisdom. The speaker provides accessible solutions to life’s difficulties, and an outlook of optimism applicable to any circumstance. The illustrations and graphics are thoughtfully chosen, and the interactive textual elements give this work an originality that sets it apart. The speaker’s own experiences and conclusions are at the heart of this fiction, and the first person narrative voice creates a sense of proximity between author and reader. The text describes itself as ‘a journey to the heart’, and this truthful discovery of the self is reflected in the speaker’s revelation of his whole self through the text. The narrative often presents a dichotomy between positive and negative outlooks or voices.

For example, the speaker includes sections in which his self-doubt speaks, ‘you’ve got no proper education, you can’t spell properly, you’re dyslexic and your grammar is crap. You’re not really a writer’. This negative voice directly opposes the sense of self-belief the speaker builds within the narrative. He uses examples such as this to remind readers that the journey to happiness is complex and that flaws or setbacks are natural. The negative separation or fragmentation of the self is prevalent in the lines, ‘I do not love the grumpy me, the sad me, the hostile me, the parts of me that act as if I do not care’. The act of writing represents a unification of the self and an attempt to reframe the speaker’s life into coherence. The frequent use of direct address and rhetorical questions promotes an active reading experience, in which the author opens up a dialogue with the reader. The text includes prompts and activities for the reader to engage with and learn from. Encouraging readers to take part in the text is emblematic of their journey to self-fulfilment and love, in which they must take responsibility for actively creating their own happiness.

The speaker depicts his process of enlightenment as a framework for others to emulate, and the format of the text demonstrates the transfer of agency to those who take part in the speaker’s challenges at the end of each chapter. This work ultimately teaches us that ‘we are the cause of what is’ and thus sheds light on the crucial idea that every individual has the power to create themselves and their world positively.

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Real learning is not what we expect.
If we could expect it, it wouldn’t be learning.

I looked in the mirror today and saw more than who I thought I was; within the eyes was a million years of purpose. I saw the depth of the universe and felt its unfaltering love. It was as if I had seen the divine within myself, the truth of who we are. The us that never dies, the custodian of our purpose, the love of our life.

This wasn’t what I expected and was somewhat sobering. There was no blinding light, no sound of trumpets, and no big handshake with an almighty. But it was as profound as if there had been. For it seemed I was touching an eternal part of myself, an authority within that could create my heaven on earth, that was already in heaven on earth! It was a glimpse of something other than the me I thought I was. Its light questioned the lack of self-care and love I held for myself. And its presence would eventually crack and then dissolve my view of what I thought it meant to be human.

Doing a spiritual journey and tackling self-development issues can give many profound perceptions, and I have had my fair share of them. But this was different, this was personal. It was my eyes that were looking at me, something that I could not escape from. It could not be brushed off as a ‘perhaps’ or a nice perception that subsided over time. Its truth seemed to embed itself into my very soul.

About the Author:Toby Negus has studied and taught spiritual and personal development in the UK and around the world for over two decades. He is qualified in advanced counselling, as a life coach and as a Cognitive Behaviour therapist. He is an Amazon best-selling author of a collaborative Conscious Creators book and has illustrated and self published two books on the subject of self-awareness and the spiritual journey. He is also a published author of a children’s book The Boy Who Dreamed in Colour. He has given talks and run workshops in support of his published work within the UK.

In the last few years, he has created many pieces of artwork that are a reflection of his spiritual journey. These have appeared in magazines and have been exhibited in the UK.

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Find Your Way Back by Javacia Harris Bowser – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The Literary Lobbyist will be awarding one $25 and one $50 Amazon or B/N GC to randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Award-winning freelance journalist Javacia Harris Bowser is convinced that writing is a superpower. She sees her life as proof of it since writing has helped her navigate marriage, crisis of faith and body image issues. It also helped her to beat cancer.

As a Black woman from the South, Javacia has used the written word to explore issues of gender and race as well as religion. Find Your Way Back is a collection of essays that demonstrate how Javacia has used writing to achieve some of her wildest dreams such as being a public speaker, having her own column, and being her own boss. The book also explores how writing, self-love, and faith helped her overcome her worst nightmare: a cancer diagnosis in 2020. Javacia’s goal is to show readers how writing can transform their lives as well. The book includes prompts throughout to help readers start their own writing journey.

This book is for the woman who has wanted to write since she was a girl but struggles to find the time or the courage to put her words on paper. Find Your Way Back, shows that instead of putting writing on the back burner when life gets turned upside down, we should turn to it to help life make sense again.

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– from “How Does a Feminist Fight Cancer?

I was in my early twenties when I started calling myself a feminist—long before Beyonce’s song “***Flawless” made feminism cool. It was in my early twenties that I finally learned that—despite popular opinion—feminism had nothing to do with hating makeup, marriage, or men.

In the song “***Flawless” from Queen Bey’s 2013 self-titled album, we’re given a clear-cut definition of what being a feminist means courtesy of a snippet from Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk, “We Should All Be Feminists.”1 Feminist: the person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. Merriam-Webster also defines feminism as “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.”2

But for me, those definitions only scratch the surface. Yes, I call myself a feminist because I believe in women’s rights and the equality of the sexes. But I also call myself a feminist because simply put, I’m obsessed with women, and I’m obsessed with being a woman. That’s why as a freelance journalist, I mostly write stories for and about women. That’s why in 2011, I started a website and online community for women who write and blog called See Jane Write. And that’s why I believe in sisterhood—for real.

I feel an inexplicable kinship to nearly every woman on the planet, regardless of her age, race, or religion. It doesn’t matter if she’s a CEO of a company on the Fortune 500 list or a cashier at my local supermarket struggling to make ends meet. Whether she’s a princess or a pole dancer, in my mind, we are inextricably linked.

But after being diagnosed with breast cancer in January of 2020, I found myself wondering if being a woman was as wonderful as I’d always thought it to be. My oncologist told me early on that after chemotherapy and radiation treatments, I would have to take the drug Tamoxifen for five to ten years. The tumor found in and removed from my left breast turned out to be “ER-positive.” That means the cancer cells grow in response to the hormone estrogen.

When explaining why I needed medication that would essentially push me into early menopause, my doctor said, “Estrogen tried to kill you.” Those words stunned me more than, “You have cancer.”

Learning that the thing that makes me a woman—biologically, at least— was the very thing threatening to end my life caused the earth beneath me to shift. As an ally to the trans community, I understand intellectually that gender is much more than biology. But emotionally, I felt betrayed by my body and by my womanhood.

Despite the sexism that women can face at work, home, church, and even while walking down the street, I have never seen being a woman as a cross to bear. Of course, I was aware of the horrific oppression faced by women and girls in some countries—including the United States. But these stories and statistics only made me more fiercely feminist. I wanted every woman to feel like womanhood was a blessing. But now, all of a sudden, it felt like a curse.

For months I tried to keep my diagnosis a secret, only telling a few close family members and friends about the lumpectomy I had in February of 2020. But as I got closer to my first day of chemotherapy, I knew I’d soon have to share the news with more people because soon I’d be bald.

There was no chance I’d run into friends at a networking event or at my favorite restaurant or wine bar. The COVID-19 pandemic had us all confined to our homes. But because of See Jane Write, I do live broadcasts on Facebook, and I post pictures and videos to Instagram often. I knew eyebrows would raise once people noticed I no longer had any. I knew I would have to go public with this fight against cancer, and I knew I would have to fight like a feminist.

But how does a feminist fight cancer? First, she makes a playlist because every battle needs a fight song. Of course, Destiny Child’s “Survivor” is at the top of my list.

But just as there’s no one way to be a woman, there’s no single way to be a feminist. And likewise, every cancer warrior must fight in their own way. Being a writer, I decided I would fight with words. As a friend of mine, who’s also a writer, once said, “I fight with my fingertips.” That mindset shifted how I approached every aspect of my battle with cancer.

During cancer treatments, I wrote from my body and for my body. I wrote as if the sentences could replace the locks of hair that fell into the shower after my curls became a casualty of chemo. I wrote as if the syllables could dry my tear- stained face. I wrote and pretended the dark spots on my tongue, fingernails, palms, and the bottoms of my feet were splotches of ink.

I wrote as if adjectives could restore my taste buds, allow me to know spicy, savory, and sweet once again. I wrote as if vowels and consonants could calm my constantly queasy belly. I wrote even when hand-foot syndrome made it nearly impossible to hold a pen or touch my fingertips to a keyboard.

When facing a disease like cancer, fighting for your life isn’t simply about fighting to stay alive. You’re not only trying to keep your heart beating from one day to the next. When you feel like cancer is taking away every goal and every dream, you’re fighting to remember who you are.

So, I write. With Beyoncé’s “Find Your Way Back” playing in my ears, I write in journals, essays, poetry, blog posts, and even in the Notes app of my phone.

I write my way back to myself, and I share my words with my sisters so that they—no matter what battle they’re fighting—can write their way home too.

About the Author

Javacia Harris Bowser is an award-winning essayist and journalist and the founder of See Jane Write. A proud graduate of the journalism programs at the University of Alabama and the University of California at Berkeley, Javacia has written for USA Today,, and Good Grit magazine. Named one of Birmingham’s Top 40 Under 40, she believes we can all write our way to the life of our dreams.

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How to Handle Negative Criticism by Sandie Gascon – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Sandie Gascon will be awarding a $15 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

How to Handle Negative Criticism

This is a great topic as negative criticism aka fear of judgement is a fear that stops many people in their tracks. It keeps them from ever creating because they are afraid people won’t like it and even more afraid someone will say they don’t like it publicly. All criticism, whether positive or negative is just feedback. Feedback is just new information. Most people, when they get positive feedback love the ego stroking. It makes us feel good. It is a very instinctual emotion rooted deeply in attachment. We want to be loved and accepted. We want to be able to share ourselves and still be loved and accepted. Most of us growing up were praised when we did things that were good. If our parents, teachers, and other adults in our lives felt what we did was bad we were not praised and we were usually punished. This causes us to believe we are only loved if we are good. So, we try very hard to be good and we fear that punishment and lack of approval if we don’t measure up. When we understand this instinctual aspect of fear of judgment, we can move past it. We can choose to transcend our instincts. We can also teach our own kids that they are loved regardless of their behavior. That way they learn there is no failure. There is only new information helping us grow. We can also teach them and ourselves how to respond to feedback. When you get negative feedback, these are the most common responses. People cry, feel hurt and give up. People get angry and defensive and throw back insults, People ignore it and pretend it isn’t there. None of these are great responses. When you get negative feedback allow yourself to feel what comes up. Ask yourself, “Where does this come from?”, “What belief do I have about myself that is being mirrored through this person?”, “Is the feedback true?”, “Is something from my childhood being triggered where I didn’t feel loved?”, “How can I learn from the feedback and improve?”. When responding to feedback it is important to wait until after you have felt and moved through the emotions. Then respond from peace. Say thank you for the feedback, try to see it from the other person’s perspective. They may be hurt, and it may be the only way they know how to communicate. I always try to provide helpful resources if I can and respond with kindness.

The body wants to return to balance. It just needs the tools to do so. Heal Yourself ~ Body ~ Mind ~ Spirit ~ helps you discover the messages your body is sending, and it also shares the tools to aid your body in healing itself.

“Part One: Body” covers Sandie’s whole-body approach to healing: rebuilding and rebalancing the body, removing stress, and addressing the root causes of chronic illness. All key systems in the body are covered, including functional laboratory test analysis to determine what support your body needs, and the forms of supplements that are right for you. Because everything in our body is connected, we must also focus on our mind and spirit in order to heal. When we change our negative thoughts, beliefs, and responses to ones that serve us, we remove a huge burden of stress from the body.

“Part Two: Mind” dives deep into all areas of personal growth, from empowering language to the Laws of Attraction, building healthy relationships to wealth consciousness, and so much more.

“Part Three: Spirit” is focused on meditations to help further your spiritual journey. Through meditation, you learn to become the observer of the body. From here suffering becomes optional, allowing you to shift to a vibration of peace where the body, mind and spirit can heal.

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One of the most common questions I receive is, “What is the root cause of my illness?” Everyone wants to blame something: Lyme, candida, mold, root canals, antibiotics, medication, and so on. I have found the answer to be that there is never a single root cause of illness. We all start out with a reserve. I think of these reserves as our bodies’ “bank accounts.” Genetics and the health of our mother will determine how much of a reserve a person has in the beginning of their life. Through pregnancy and after birth, any stress we encounter makes withdrawals from the bank account. Stress includes emotional stress, physical stress, and chemical stress. Emotional stress is pretty straightforward. Physical stress will include things like injury and exercise. Chemical stress includes toxins, metals, and pathogens. Our world is a stressful place.

The majority of people eat a Standard American Diet (SAD). Kids grow up lacking nutrients. Moms are nutrient deficient, which creates more genetic mutations being expressed from the womb and beyond. If a mom’s detoxification pathways, in particular methylation, are not functioning optimally, it will mean less detoxification capability for the baby. Formula fed babies start out with a propensity for leaky gut. Moms are now getting vaccinated while pregnant, and babies currently being born have the most vaccines in history.

Withdrawal after withdrawal is happening from our bodies’ bank account, which quickly becomes depleted. Once the person hits zero balance and goes into debt, symptoms start occurring. The further in debt they get, the more symptoms appear, and eventually, disease is inevitable. It is no wonder we are seeing illness in increasingly younger individuals, and the rate of all diseases continues to climb. The amount of stress we face is outrageous.

By the time you start showing symptoms, the last event is what most people correlate with their symptoms and illness. In reality, it is just the straw that broke the camel’s back. If it were not that case of food poisoning, for instance, then it would have been the next stressor.

That is why I don’t focus on pathogens or metals in the beginning, and I do not recommend strict diets. Both of these end up stressing the body further. We need to stop making the withdrawals, or at least reduce them, and start making deposits. Deposits are supplements, herbs, and foods that fuel us.

Deposits include fueling our souls with passion, purpose, joy, and love. Stopping the withdrawals is done by removing chemicals in our environment, reducing emotional stress through mindset work, eating clean, whole foods, and in time, removing metals and pathogens. Rebuild and rebalance, repair detoxification pathways, and remove stress; these 4 Rs are critical to replenishing our bodies’ bank account.

About the Author Sandie Gascon is a Health Coach who has helped guide hundreds of people from over twenty-five countries on their healing journey. After suffering severe side effects from medications during her twenty-year battle with chronic migraines, when she was diagnosed with Lupus she committed herself to healing naturally. Through her experiences, she developed a whole body, mind, and spirit approach that addresses the person in a truly holistic manner. She takes the guess work out of the equation by running functional lab work to see what the body needs. She healed herself of migraines, depression, lupus, interstitial cystitis, and cystic acne. Her purpose is to help educate others on the importance of shifting focus to rebuilding and rebalancing the body and removing internal and external stress so the body can heal itself.

Sandie lives in Ontario, Canada, with her husband Eric and son Kaiden. She has a passion for riding horses and spends much of her free time at the barn with her horses Bee and Vala. She loves playing with Kaiden, spending time with family and friends and hiking with her dogs.

Sandie is available for speaking engagements, workshops, and personal coaching..

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How I Became a Writer by Vivianne Knebel – Guest Post and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Vivianne Knebel will be awarding a $10 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

How I Became a Writer

My secret to writing is a complete absence of helplessness and discontentment which affects so many of the old. Writing has a healing effect! There is an increased sense of well being.

When I started writing my memoir, I engaged in the process of reflection. Not only reviewing past events but finding a connection between them and drawing valuable lessons from them.
I wanted to take the readers by the hand and walk them through my past. My memoir explores some deeply sobering moments from my life. In order to do that, I realized I faced vulnerability. In order not to cheat the reader I had to be truthful and bear all.

I believe it is important for the writer to be open and let people see them! Deeply see them!
Vulnerability builds bridges and connects with the reader. Vulnerability is the courage to do something that frightens us.

We all at one point face difficult and trying times. Pain and suffering are part of life. Without it, there can be no life!

In my book, I am taking the reader through experiences that look just like their own, with the disposition that can shift their hearts and minds. The purpose is key! Not only to do something good for ourselves but also for the world around us. That drive keeps me going, it keeps me alive. The fire inside me is always burning because I have a purpose and it gives meaning to my life. Writing is my purpose to help other people better their lives.

My books are a testament to the human struggle which we all face and my ultimate triumph in the face of adversity. It is a story about the hard and terrible realities of human life, but also of the beauty that’s always awaiting all of us, of love and of happiness. There is always something better for all of us. I guide and help people to reflect on their own lives.

Reading books changes people’s lives. So does writing them.

In her second book “Lessons Learned About Life and Love”, Vivianne shares some of the lessons she has learned from writers and thinkers such as Dr. Wayne Dyer and Dr. Viktor Frankl, weaving them into her own experiences in a compelling guide to living, loving and thriving in old age. Her insights offer proof that great wisdom is not gained only from the classroom or the lecture hall, and that one need not look far to understand the secrets to living well. From anecdotes about her everyday rituals to memories from her world travels, Vivianne captures the profound and often surprising moments of enlightenment that can be found right in front of us, if we only know where- and how-to look.

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My book “Lessons Learned About Life And Love” is about my life experiences and how they were impacted by my mentors the philosophers and poets, who helped me make sense of the world. I applied their wisdom and it worked to help me gain the inner dignity of living a fully loved life. How I have come to love life, that same life which I had once sought to end at age 17. I learned early on how cruel life can be but also felt inspired by the beauty and love that always awaits all of us. The trials of my early life left their mark on me and I found a way to overcome the adversities of the world I was able to build a new life for myself, dealing with immigration and walking that long path of self-discovery and self-fulfillment. But that does not mean that I left all adversities behind me. We are in a constant cycle of ups and downs.

In my book, I write about my latest challenge having to face my husband’s severe illnesses. How it was almost touching and go. With positive hope and optimism, one can still find joy and meaning in life and how it can create miracles. This book is a guide to seek meaning even amidst tragedy. I write about the greatest power of love. Nurturing and a sense of responsibility are facets of love. Awareness of service is a state of mind that expresses love. With my unwavering hope, positivity, and devotion I hope to inspire my husband to hold on to that same faith and hope to overcome this latest challenge.

I want to give people the message to always hold onto hope, positivity, and faith, to stay determined, and to persevere. I guide people to cope with challenges in flexible ways. Challenges make us resilient and resilience breeds purpose. That is how we grow!

About the Author: Born an illegitimate child in the wake of WWII in Berlin, Nazi Germany to a single mother, Vivianne Knebel’s options were limited and her future looked bleak. She experienced poverty, cold, and hunger, and was even driven to the point of committing suicide. To seek out a better life, Vivianne immigrated to Canada as a teenager, but her misfortunes did not end there. However, in response to a miraculous intervention, she decided to preserve her life and keep moving forward.

After this incident, Vivianne met a fellow German immigrant, Wiland, who eventually became her husband. But even more than that, he became a catalyst for change in her life. His belief in her is what helped her see the true, immeasurable value of her life. She went on to play a key role in Wiland’s business venture and together they built a better future for each other.

Since then, Vivianne has run a marathon, learned to pilot a plane, and even beat cancer. She’s found a greater sense of spirituality and wants to share her story with the world, to remind people that there is always a reason to keep moving forward.

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The Hardest Part of Writing and What to Do About It by Bonni Goldberg – Guest Post and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Bonni Goldberg will be awarding a prize to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, the winner can choose between a 30 minute coaching call, a Q&A Zoom with their group, or feedback on 3 double spaced pages of their work (via email). In addition, a free ebook about balancing writing & marketing will be given to everyone who enters the raffle. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The Hardest Part of Writing and What to Do About It

I’ve written, taught writing, and hung out with writers for a few decades. Based on my experience and observations, the hardest part of writing is your attitude towards it. The best way I know to manage yours is this; think of your writing obstacles as salt.

Basically, salt is good. And so are your obstacles. But it depends on how you use both. Chemically, salt is necessary to maintain the health of your body and for you to thrive.

With no writing obstacles, you can’t evolve as a writer. Whether it’s a plot problem, a world-building issue, or your dislike of writing description, it’s through solving it you become a better writer.

Salt deficiency can lead to death.

Without writing challenges, you wouldn’t maintain passion for writing. It feels like the opposite: the challenges stifle your passion. You quit because you don’t know what to do. But most often, the issue is resistance to pivoting, experimenting, or asking for help.

Whether you’re a master of structure or content, humor or suspense, without having to work on some aspect of writing that stretches you, you will get bored and stop.

While salt enhances the flavor of foods, too much of it ruins the recipe. Your challenges and obstacles either enliven your relationship to writing or spoil it, depending on how you use them. If you don’t have enough time to write a novel, don’t give up. Write a short story for now.

Salt preserves foods that nourish people in times of need. The challenges your writing presents are some of the greatest gifts your writing offers you. One of America’s most preeminent short story writers, Grace Paley, wrote those stories because she couldn’t succeed as a poet.

Salt can torture people when rubbed into an open wound. When you see your obstacles as the enemy, they will damage your writing and deplete your energy and confidence. Instead, try welcoming a challenge the way you welcome its remedy. After all, they’re a package deal.

The hardest part of writing is approaching the blocks of salt with a grain of salt—knowing your writing challenges are your personal invitations to grow as a writer.

In The Write Balance, the companion book to the beloved bestseller, Room to Write, Bonni Goldberg demonstrates how to find fulfillment as a writer by embracing three key aspects of writing: 1) Percolation: what takes place before a first draft is written; 2) Revision: the writer’s role after the initial draft; and 3) Going Public: the writer’s mission once the writing is done. Filled with tools, examples and exercises, Bonni’s guide offers motives, choices, and encouragement for writers to appreciate and to be creative in the phases before and beyond a first draft. Whether you’re new to writing or a pro, become more passionate and balanced in your writing life.

Enjoy an Excerpt

I wrote my first writing book. Room to Write, to invite people to enter writing creatively, to trust their intuition and discover and use their tendencies, passions, and resistances as fodder for more writing. At that time people seemed to need to free up their innate creative juices and get the words flowing. Since then, at book appearances and during my workshops and writing courses, I’ve repeatedly had this experience: People thank me for helping them to trust themselves as writers and then ask me how to take the next step. What do you see as the next step? I ask.

Whether the answer had to do with getting an agent, writing longer works, feeling legitimate, or any of the many other facets of creative writing, the undertone was the same: a sense of longing or unrest about writing. It felt as if each person was saying to me, “Okay, I get the words out, I even trust them sometimes; now what?” This book is my answer…

The writers I know who are passionate and grounded, who truly love and respect their writing life, consciously attend to three aspects of writing that often get short shrift in the heat and excitement of raw creation: 1. Percolation—the process that takes place before a first draft takes shape 2. Revision—the writer’s role after the initial draft 3. Going Public—a writer’s mission once the writing is done.

About the Author: Bonni Goldberg is the author of The Write Balance: How to Embrace Percolation, Revision & Going Public, the companion book to the best-seller Room to Write: Daily Invitations to a Writer’s Life. Bonni is an award-winning poet and writer. She is the creator of the 2 Minute Journals™ series. Both traditionally and indie published, her books include non-fiction for adults and fiction and non-fiction for young readers. Her essays and blog posts can be found in numerous print and online publications.

Bonni teaches creative writing at colleges and leads writing workshops internationally for all ages. She knows everyone is creative, and she supports people to discover and share their authentic, meaningful and imaginative experiences through words.

Whether through her writings or through teaching, her methods and perspectives continue to empower thousands of adults, families, and children.

Bonni is also a Jewish educator. She speaks, writes, and leads workshops on Jewish topics such as Jewish identity, rituals and antisemitism at Jewish women’s events, JCCs, and conferences.

Bonni Goldberg lives in Portland, Oregon with her partner in life, and some creative projects, artist Geo Kendall.

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How Reading a Book Rewires Our Brain by David Amerland – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. David Amerland will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

How Reading a Book Rewires Our Brain

The first recorded incident of organized book burning took place in the Roman Empire in the year 212 BC. The intent to destroy books as a means of preventing the spread of ideas deemed ‘dangerous’ and controlling the narrative of the past has been with us for, apparently, as long as there have been books which suggests that the organized opposition to a book that such as act represents, has little to do with its format and even maybe its contents and a heck of a lot with what it actually does to us, as people. Or rather what it does to our brain.

Consider, for a brief moment, the preposterous idea that a book’s content can change the way someone thinks. I call it preposterous because, until very recently, we had to assume that what made all the difference were the book’s content and given how after reading a book, especially a non-fiction one, we recall barely 10% of it considering a book a threat, logically speaking, must have been little more than a case of misplaced priorities. Picking easy targets, perhaps?

We now know that books work as more than just a means to passively transmit information to us. In order for the brain to access the information contained in a book it needs to first model the world of possibilities the book presents. In the case of a work of fiction, for instance, we model worlds where the choices of characters lead to affairs, romances, murders, wars, revolutions, empire building and coming-of-age situations. All of which we then use in a “what-if?” scenario in our own head to play out alternate options of reality that are not readily available or possible, even, to our experience of daily life.

Is the Dark Knight a vigilante operating outside the law, driven by his own personal childhood trauma or is he a selfless individual sacrificing his own peace of mind to protect those who are helpless and cannot protect themselves? How do we know the difference? Is there one between these two scenarios and what does this say about our sense of right and wrong and the moral code we live by?

It is in answering such questions that the brain proves its true power. Works of non-fiction arguably have an easier in as by default they model the real world and so present easier cases for our brains to model and experience internally. But that makes them also that much harder to dismiss. Non-fiction books contain ideas that subtly transform what we see when we look up from their pages.

Neuroscience tells us that the internal mental modelling that the brain carries out complex modelling processes that evolve the entire brain: emotions, dreams, values, fears, uncertainties as well as the factual aspects of the writing, all come together at once to create a seemingly seamless whole that readers can respond to.

The effects of all this processing are felt at a neural substrate level. As you’re reading these words, for instance, part of your brain is drawing on memories and experiences, you’re quietly seeking to remember instances where what you read changed what you do and you are then projecting some of your new understanding onto intended future plans, where you hope your newly acquired understanding and knowledge will improve your chances of success. What is happening is that you are now rewiring your brain to perform differently.

A rewired brain is a brain that’s changed, even if it cannot accurately recall the contents of the book that changed it. The ability of a book to shift perspective, affect values, change priorities and release insights is what those who want us to remain locked inside a fixed, controlled narrative fear the most. Shifting perspectives and changing values indicate the ability to think for ourselves and reassess what we see, hear and think. No autocratic or despotic regime has ever been comfortable with that nor, would they ever be.

The power and legitimacy of all such regimes, throughout history, has lain in their ability to control and then fix the narrative, creating fear to manage everyone’s emotions. Reality is never fixed. The emotions we feel are always nuanced. Thinking for our self is an intentional, goal-oriented task that says: “I can think. I am free.”

The process starts with a book you read.

Live your life the way you want to. Manage stress better. Be more resilient and enjoy meaningful relationships and better health. We all want that. Such life leads to better choices, better jobs, loving romantic partners, more rewarding careers and decisions that are fully aligned with our aims.

What stops us from getting all that is the complexity of our brain and the complicated way in which the external world comes together. The misalignment between the internal states we experience and the external circumstances we encounter often leads to confusion, a lack of clarity in our thinking and actions that are not consistent with our professed values.

Intentional is a gameplan. It helps us connect the pieces of our mind to the pieces of our life. It shows us how to map what we feel to what has caused those feelings, understand what affects us and what effects it has on us and determine what we want, why we want it and what we need to do to get it.

When we know what to do, we know how to behave. When we know how to behave we know how to act. When we know how to act, we know how to live. Our actions, each day, become our lives. Drawn from the latest research from the fields of neuroscience, behavioral and social psychology and evolutionary anthropology, Intentional shows you how to add meaning to your actions and lead a meaningful, happier, more fulfilling life on your terms.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Whether we realize it or not, we all feel the need for this kind of guidance that gives us a deep sense of purpose. Because we are born physically helpless we have evolved to latch onto and work hard to understand our immediate environment and the people around us. This makes us, as we grow older, intensely pro-social. At the same time it provides us with a ready-made set of expectations, rules and guidelines to guide our behavior that arise from the collective behavior of those around us.

That behavior is the culture we experience and the traditions we abide by. The problem with this is that rather than defining for ourselves what is important to us we accept that which is given to us. That which is given to us is rarely what we want, but it can very easily become what we settle for.

Settling is an evolutionary-programmed trait. Let me explain: Life is hard. It really is. Even if we happen to have the extraordinary luck to be born into a very rich family whose legacy gives us everything we need to live comfortably for the rest of our life, maintaining that fortune and navigating through life is going to be fraught with risks, traps and constant upheavals.

We need other people. Other people need us. That is a truth. But the reasons for this mutual need are usually contradictory or, at the very least, sufficiently at odds with each other to make trust an issue and turn cooperation into a risk-assessment exercise.

About the Author:David Amerland is a Chemical Engineer with an MSc. in quantum dynamics in laminar flow processes. He converted his knowledge of science and understanding of mathematics into a business writing career that’s helped him demystify, for his readers, the complexity of subjects such as search engine optimization (SEO), search marketing, social media, decision-making, communication and personal development. The diversity of the subjects is held together by the underlying fundamental of human behavior and the way this is expressed online and offline. Intentional: How to Live, Love, Work and Play Meaningfully is the latest addition to a thread that explores what to do in order to thrive. A lifelong martial arts practitioner, David Amerland is found punching and kicking sparring dummies and punch bags when he’s not behind his keyboard.

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Find out where to buy the book at the author’s website.

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The Making of a Memoir Writer – A Short Beginners Guide by N. Daniel – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. N. Daniel will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The Making of a Memoir Writer – A Short Beginners Guide

My name is N. Daniel and I began writing memoirs about my life in 2013. Authors who write memoir have both the blessing and the curse of living through meaningful, sometimes traumatizing events, and coming out the other end with something worth mentioning. Unique experience is awesome in these circumstances but finding the profound in the ordinary is where most memoir writers make their living.

The first thing you need to realize is that memory is a day-dream. Your timeline, your conversations and your frame of reference are probably all false. Your goal is to ride the tide between reality and interest. Be accurate and use your deviance from the truth to reveal the lessons you have learned along the way. Reality is respectful to the reader but they will not pay attention if your story doesn’t flow correctly or meanders on loose ends. Change the timeline to build a climax. Weave narratives throughout to show people what you have learned without them doing the work. This is the real work of the memoir writer. If you need to combine or omit characters to simplify the story, do it! Streamline your thoughts. Streamline the narrative. Let it flow and shine. The most important thing you can do is to show people what you know with as little information as possible, and then show them more! Life is too complicated to explain everything, to have every little sub-plot involved. Make it easy. Make it smart. Write in a way that will make people interested but also be factual whenever possible. This is the memoir way.

The second thing you need to be aware of is this, don’t use memoir as a weapon. Respect your characters. Be sympathetic to them and be realistic about their aspirations and motivations. No one thinks they are evil. No one thinks they are wrong. Point out the inaccuracies in a kind and humbling way. If you google “writing a memoir” online, it will tell you to expect people to be hurt. That is very true. However it is up to you to tell your story fairly, realistically, without judgement. If you don’t like some one tell the reader why! Tell them what they did. Speculate about why they did that and be nice about it. Perhaps they came from a broken home, had improper role models or maybe they were just having a bad day. Be honest with others. More importantly be honest with yourself. Explain what you have done wrong, why you did it and how you could have avoided it. Value your readers enough to set your book in the real world. You don’t need to be the hero. You don’t need to sugar coat yourself. Just be genuine.

Finally, write from the heart. Talk about things that matter to you. Explain why you feel the way you feel. This is your story so you need to give as much detail as possible. The most embarrassing, self conscious and incriminating thoughts are often the ones readers relate most to. Find the bravery to be vulnerable. Find the courage to “take the hit” for your story. Reputation aside, we are talking about your life, your writing! People value a genuine story and the closer you can hit home the better. Put your soul into your writing. Tell people about your deepest desires, your deepest fears! Never shy away from sensitive topics and always, always, always be respectful to everyone you think might be reading your work. The profane, the controversial, the offensive has a place in your writing. This is reality we are talking about. This is real talk! Just remember to put things in perspective.

Everyone has a story in them just waiting to get out. Scratch the surface a little. Find out what you know. I guarantee you will learn more about yourself than your readers will. It is the ultimate journey of self discovery.

Bless you and your endeavors. Write me if you need help at:

N. Daniel

As Daniel recovers from a psychotic episode and months long mental health civil commitment, he befriends a youthful quadriplegic named Samantha who is dealing with life-threatening health problems. When cohabitation becomes necessary for Sam, caregiver and client both move to downtown Minneapolis to begin a new life together. Before they can get settled in, Daniel is diagnosed with stage 3 cancer and must undergo multiple surgeries. The two navigate the American healthcare system and work towards Samantha’s eventual independence, however, their relationship becomes toxic when a global pandemic shakes the nation and George Floyd is murdered by Minneapolis police officers.
Based on the author’s life, this endearing platonic love story is the gooey center of a turbulent world set aflame. Through the laughter and the tears, Samantha and Daniel play off each other like a tragic comedy duo that’s hell bent on finding humor within the most savage aspects of their everyday lives.


EXCERPTS (Please choose only ONE to use with your post):

Excerpt One:

I pulled into a gas station and had some trouble figuring out which side the tank was on. With some maneuvering I positioned the van next to the pump. Suddenly I realized that I didn’t have any money for gas. I paged through the three-ringed binder holding the mileage log and found what looked like a debit card in a pencil pouch.

“That’s the gas card, dear. You type in the mileage and the user code when you start the pump.”

“Oh, I get it. What’s the code?” I asked. “Look at the back of the card.” There was a tiny piece of paper fastened to the back of the card with clear plastic tape. It read “3742”. Sam put her limp left hand on her forehead as though she was doing a facepalm. I entered the information into the pump and opened the side door so I could talk to her while it filled up.

“So, you have had problems with these sores before?”

“Yes,” she replied, callously.

“They can be pretty serious business, huh?”

“You know the guy that played Superman? Christopher Reeve?”

“Yeah, everybody knows him. He fell off of his horse and broke his neck, right?”

“Exactly,” Sam continued. “He broke his neck at the base of his skull, so he had even less function than I do. Poor Bastard. Do you know how he died?”

“No, how?”

“Just like this. He got a pressure ulcer. Felt fine, just peachy. He went into sepsis and before they could give him antibiotics he dropped dead.”

Sam pointed her hand at me in the thumbs up motion.

“I wish I had the balls to just refuse treatment, but I am too chicken****.”

About the Author N. Daniel works as a medical caregiver in the greater Minneapolis/Saint Paul Metropolitan area in the Winter and as a landscape laborer for his father in Winona, MN in the Summer. His debut writing effort, “Corners Untouched by Madness: A Personal Journey of Overcoming Mental Illness,” has enjoyed modest success in certain writing circles. The Author lives with his wife and two dogs just outside of downtown Minneapolis.

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The Democratization of the Private Market by Carine Schneider – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Carine Schneider will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Facebook, Uber, Robinhood: all were private companies at some point. Historically, there has been no way for investors to easily buy and sell shares in private companies. With the introduction of blockchain technology, digital securities, and decentralized financial solutions, the ability to grow the private market is on the horizon. Regulators around the world are rushing to catch up and understand how to protect investors who want to participate in this market. This book reviews the regulatory, technical, and societal challenges to open this asset class to more investors in the future.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Currently, US residents who want to invest in the private market need to have a certain net worth to participate. Under the cover of this exclusive private club is access to investment opportunities, supporting innovation, and extreme risk. As the private market has grown, the types of investment instruments and the complexity of the investment structure has increased significantly. Unlike investing in the public market, investing in private ventures can be complicated and requires an understanding of securities law, tax strategy, and, in many cases, future technology that can only be envisioned by innovative entrepreneurs. The key characteristics of the private market are: • Less company regulation • Limited public reporting requirements, especially for smaller companies • A lack of information symmetry • Only investment professionals, or the ultra-wealthy, can invest (accredited investors) With the changes in technology solutions, the advent of new financial solutions, and a change in the way some founders approach building their companies, these characteristics may change as the private market grows. Dan Gallagher, General Counsel of Robinhood and a former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Commissioner, describes the private market as “a vibrant ecosystem.” Capital is key to growth in a private company, and it can come from various sources — professional individual investors (sometimes called “angel investors”), venture capital firms (VC firms), friends and family, and crowdfunding campaigns. Private equity (PE) is sometimes confused with private company investment. PE firms tend to acquire mature companies and recapitalize and re-organize their targets. PE firms generally aren’t looking to make individual investments alongside other investors. For the purposes of this book, we will mostly focus on non-PE owned companies, although we do discuss liquidity in PE funds. The private market is attractive because investors in privately held companies hope to quickly increase the company’s value, then sell their stakes later through a buyout, trade sale, recapitalization, or listing on a public market via initial public offerings (IPOs).

About the Author:

Carine Schneider, FGE (Fellow of Global Equity) is an experienced and well-connected leader in the private market and global compensation industry with deep experience working in consulting, technology, and financial services. She is the President of AST Private Company Solutions (AST PCS). She was named one of the 100 Influential Women in Silicon Valley by the Silicon Valley Business Journal and one of 17 “Women to Watch” in 2017 by Brown Brothers Harriman Center on Women and Wealth. Carine was formerly the President, Nasdaq Private Market and has been the founder and CEO of Global Shares, CEO of Certent, and Partner at PwC. She has also held senior level positions at Morgan Stanley and Willis Towers Watson. She was the founding Executive Director of the National Association of Stock Plan Professionals (NASPP) and founded the nonprofit Global Equity Organization (GEO) where she is now Chair Emeritus, after serving as Chair for eighteen years. She 103 started her career as Manager of Shareholder Relations at Oracle Corporation where she assisted in the IPO. Ms. Schneider was born in The Netherlands and received her degree in psychology and sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is a frequent speaker at conferences around the world, including at President Obama’s 2016 Global Entrepreneurial Summit, and has authored various articles and chapters in industry publications. She currently serves as a member of the Board of Professional Business Women of California (PBWC). In 2019, she received the UK ProShare Award for Service to Employee Share Ownership.

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