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John Baumann  

Author of "Positively Unshakeable - Inspired by Parkinson's"

At the age of 10, this speaker was playing outside with his best friend when a sudden brawl with his brother led to a trip to the hospital.

Hit in the head with a rock, he received 10 stitches and a heap of pain, but the injury left him neither bitter nor angry at his brother. In fact, it did the opposite. “On the way home (from the hospital), (we) stop and get ice cream.” “When I get home, I’m told that I don’t have to go to bed at 7:15. Because of the possible concussion, I had to stay up ‘til midnight. And my response was … ‘This is the happiest day of my life!’ ”

Certainly an ironic declaration, but the statement is much more than that. It’s a prime example of his incredible ability to focus on the silver lining in the negative – A characteristic that’s helped him cope with difficult obstacles, including his diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease more than 10 years ago at the age of 41.

Stricken with a degenerative disorder typically detected in people in there ’60s, this speaker – a former top corporate attorney – chose to do something good with his diagnosis. Leaving the practice of law, he began a new chapter as motivational speaker and author, penning a book on success.

The book describes various episodes in his life that shaped him as a person and the intense visualization behind every goal that led him to achieve tremendous success, such as gaining admission to Cornell Law School and a 25-year career representing Exxon Corporation and other companies

Just as he’d handled any other setback, this speaker looked for a solution to the problem. He took medication and continued to practice law until 2008, when he decided it’d serve him best to place his declining energy elsewhere. “I couldn’t qualify for social security disability right away, and I had to make a living.” “So, I thought about it and I went through the same steps I’ve gone through, and I said, ‘Well, I’ve always wanted to write a book, I’ve always wanted to work for myself, and I’ve always been out speaking to colleges, high schools.’ ”

“I didn’t try to niche it Parkinson’s-only,” he said. “I felt the lessons applied to students, professionals, people doing hobbies, anyone with a life-changing event or caregiver to a person with a life-changing event. This gives you the guide book and it has exercises in it.”

While writing, this speaker also booked more opportunities to speak on his experiences with adversity. But while he’d fully moved on from his past in the corporate world, not everyone was sure he’d made the right decision with his new career path. “(My mother) – always been full of wisdom – said to me one day while we were talking, ‘Everything happens for a reason, you know that.’ I said, ‘Time out. I’m a lawyer, I’ve been a lawyer. I look at words, I heard that word change. … You’ve always said my entire life, everything happens for the best – For the best. Now you’re saying everything happens for a reason.’ ”

His mother’s reasoning was simple: “Well, I can’t imagine your Parkinson’s is for the best.”

Not to be dismayed, this speaker used his mother’s statement as motivation. Now a highly-sought-after speaker, he has delivered inspirational lectures all across the U.S., from Phoenix to New York, Hawaii and Cincinnati, where his mom first heard one of his speeches. “My mother (came up to me afterward and) said to me – she didn’t say it was for the best – but she said, ‘Now I understand why you left the practice of law.’ ”


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Speech Topics

DECIDE SUCCESS: Accepting .. better yet .. Embracing a Life-changing Event

With all humility, I am honored and blessed to have been selected as the inspirational speaker to be presenting at the 3rd World Parkinson Congress (1st in 2006 and 2nd in 2009) to be held in Montreal, Canada from October 1 to 4. I will be appearing in the Renewal Room on October 2 on Reclaiming Positive Perspective: A DECIDE SUCCESS Inspirational Talk. I have dates available to speak to your organization as well. DECIDE SUCCESS: Your guide to get through the emotional rollercoaster (shock, disbelief, denial, isolation, anger, depression, etc.) of a life-changing event (Parkinsons or any other disease or illness, the disease or illness of a loved one resulting in you becoming a caregiver, loss of a loved one, divorce, job loss, etc.) so that you have the ability to actually embrace it and maybe even find your purpose seeing it in someway as "for the best." While teaching part-time at the University, this speaker began collaborating on a book featuring Deepak Chopra. Next, he published a book on Success featuring short anecdotes that teach his 12 Action Steps, from intensity to instincts to maintaining a positive attitude to experiencing your end-vision to faith. “I didn’t try to niche it Parkinson’s-only,” he said. “I felt the lessons applied to students, professionals, non-professionals, people taking up a hobby, anyone with a life-changing event or caregiver to a person with a life-changing event. This talk gives you the plan you need.” Excerpt from book and audio-book on SUCCESS: My mother had said to me hundreds of times, “Everything happens for the best.” Almost a year after I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s sitting in her living room having casual conversation, her favorite commentary changed. “Well, remember, everything happens for a reason.” What had always been the “best” was now a mediocre “reason”, solemn and unexplainable “reason”?

Proactive Workplace Injury Reduction Culture Program

Proactively Anticipate: Avoid Regrets

All work-related fatalities should cause the owners and management of any organization to pause. Every one of us has an obligation and a moral duty to do what we can to prevent future fatalities by proactive anticipation. I was at a charity golf outing one Monday afternoon when I got "the call." A truck driver had lost his load, resulting in the death of a mother of two young children. This call hit me as hard emotionally as any other issue I had to address in my professional career. As I collected my thoughts, I remembered several times over the past year that I had thought of questioning the load securement assurance program. Perhaps I thought I might step on some toes, dislike the conflict, or believed that doing so was not my job. I regret to this day not actively engaging in the discussion. To prevent work-related deaths, raise your level of awareness by proactively anticipating, especially in the area of accidents. You may save lives.

DECIDE SUCCESS: 12 Action Steps to Achieve the SUCCESS You Truly Desire

DECIDE SUCCESS uses short stories to bring the success principles to life, engaging imagery. I have dedicated my life to inspiring, explaining my twelve action steps to achieve the success you truly desire to, and bringing hope to as many people as possible. You will have an actual plan to be more successful after hearing this speaker. There are twelve action steps to achieve the success that you truly desire. I make no secret of the phases and steps: Part I (the Mapping Phase) is to assess and envision; Part II (the Work Phase) is to give your best effort, prepare, and raise your level of intensity; Part III (the Active Phase) is to seek out experiences, and identify and nurture contacts and resources; Part IV (the Expansion Phase) is to increase your level of awareness and to trust your instincts; and Part V (the Legacy Phase) is to maintain a positive attitude, live a life of integrity, and have faith. These are in a very specific sequential, step-by-step order.
I want to mention that there is a real reason that I included the phrase, you truly desire. Sometimes what you currently believe that you desire to be successful at is not what you truly desire to be successful at. This talk starts and ends with these twelve principles. The guts of this presentation explain and add flesh to these principles. I used to think that success was something reserved for a person starting out and then establishing a career, but there are so many more applications for these success principles. Some have decided to focus their attention to succeed in a sport or an artistic endeavor whether as a career or as a hobby. Success comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. This program also teaches leadership and management skills from an Executive, Attorney & Human Resourses Manager who succeeded in Corporate America for 23 years.

JUST ENOUGH TO BE DANGEROUS: What everyone needs to know about the LAW

In an entertaining and often humorous way, this talk or series of talks has been described as mini-law school. Listeners are given the basics of several areas of law to choose from including the court system, contracts, personal injury negligence, employment, labor relations, intellectual property, environmental, and alternative dispute resolution. This speaker was selected "Most Inspiring Prrofessor" by the Scholar Athlete of the Year at the University of Louisville and a Faculty Favorite Finalist. This is a BIG PICTURE approach with the objective of helping business people and the general public at least know when they need to contact an attorney and which type of attorney they may need.

Proactive Workplace (Sexual) Harassment Prevention Culture Program

I have an extremely effective, unique harassment prevention approach. It is all about proactively anticipating and peer involvement. In the workplace, the accepted approach for addressing discriminatory harassment, including sexual harassment, is to have a lawyer at a big law firm write a long, wordy, all-inclusive policy against such activity and then insert it on pages 45 to 48 of a 100-page employee handbook. Most of the time, handed to, but not read by, new employees on their hectic first day of employment and then never referred to again until someone is accused of violating the policy. I wrote an Article for the American Management Association which focuses primarily on awareness. The worth of such efforts may be seen in the example of one company with fifteen steel processing plants and 1,500 employees, of which 1,200 are on industrial plant floors. In places including Detroit, Cleveland and Gary, Indiana. You would expect this type of organization to be involved with several harassment lawsuits per year. For a ten year period, there were NONE. Yes, NONE. Despite diversity in all repects: gender, race, religion, etc. How? Using engaging imagery and appropriate real life examples, to have the employees feel what it is like to be harassed. This talk will likely save you millions in attorney fees and settlements.
Here is an excerpt from my Article in a business newspaper: Involve all employees in the program. A proactive prevention program that involves all employees, both salaried and non-salaried, creates a culture that does not tolerate harassment of any kind and is the most effective program to actually prevent harassment in the workplace. Peer pressure and the negative reaction of co-workers to inappropriate language, the use of derogatory terms, and unacceptable jokes or slurs will do more than anything else to eliminate and prevent harassment in the workplace. There are many other areas that would benefit from this fresh

Respect & Appreciation: What Employees Truly Desire & Deserve

Broken down to the basic elements of the workplace dynamic, what all employees, associates, contractors, etc. really want most from the people they work for is respect & appreciation. This includes honesty, acknowledgment when a job is well done, credit for their contribution whether individually or part of a team. This feel good presentation is a reminder or refresher that works with any audience, but works especially well for those in a service industry like nurses and other healthcare professionals; first responders like police officers, firemen, EMTs, etc.; and front line factory personnel and front line supervisors. My talk contains several stories of appreciation related to my daughter's cerebral palsy and my Parkinsons. Here is an excerpt from my Article published in a business newspaper: Organizations make reference to their “culture” or “corporate culture” and sometimes refer to their “mission” or “mission statement.” These documents typically include some reference to how important their employees are, how customers come first, integrity, and so on. The words may be different, but they are all cut from the same cloth, a bunch of words. What boggles the mind even further is when an organization proclaims that they are going to “change their corporate culture.” Generally, all they do is rearrange the wording. You never see a mission statement change from “our supervisors will manage in a dictatorial manner” to “we will treat all employees with respect and appreciation.” No one would put down on paper the one about being dictatorial even if it is pervasive throughout the organization. I say, dump the mission statement and get out there to effectuate change: show your employees that you care about them.

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