Meet Missy Molenda

I’ve known Missy Molenda for 30 years.  We met when we were both still in high school; She went to Mason High and I went to Webberville.  I’ll never forget the night we met on the dance floor at Bzar’s teen night.  There was this extraordinary, beautiful, girl dancing next to me smiling. We danced a few songs together and introduced ourselves as we moved to the music.  Suddenly, she grabbed me and kissed me! I was struggling with the whole gay thing so I thought… why not!  Missy was the first girl I ever kissed (and I tease her that she was the last). Missy was wild and fun and scared the hell out of me.  After a few conversations she told me her ultimate goal was to host the TODAY SHOW.  Since that was my goal too, our friendship developed and we started hanging out, especially at teen nights across the Lansing area.  I still have a few of the fun, unique, letters she would write to me.   She would use a different color pen for each word, or write in a spiral shape so I had to turn th ...

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Meet Sandra Seaton

I met Sandra Seaton while waiting for service at a Verizon Wireless store years ago.  We quickly stuck up a conversation and I was so enthralled with her I asked her to lunch.  Sandra  is fascinating, extremely intelligent, and has accomplished some amazing things in her life.  Sandra is the type of person I can sit with for hours and have endless conversation.  I’m so blessed to know this incredible woman! WHO/WHAT INSPIRES YOU? As a playwright and librettist,  I have always been inspired by people in my family; my grandmother, who was never on the stage but performed at community fundraisers and garden clubs, and my great uncle Flournoy E. Miller, who wrote the book and was one of the visionaries who conceived Broadway’s original Shuffle Along in 1921. I am also inspired by writers that I greatly admire, such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Lorraine Hansberry, Emily Dickinson and many others. I’m constantly being inspired by people who know things and want to share their kn ...

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Meet Chaz Carrillo

When I started my blog years ago I didn’t know who I would be highlighting. I just knew I wanted to profile people that I met along the way who were making a difference.  A couple of years ago I met Chaz Carrillo who was one of my guests on MORNING BLEND (my talk show that airs each morning on FOX 47). What impresses me about Chaz is he is always smiling and goes out of his way to help others. Reading his responses makes me smile because this is authentically Chaz; a great guy who makes it a mission to help others. Who what inspires you? People and Purpose.  I feel I have a purpose and/or mandate to love others.  I know that this can be accomplished with the greatest impact if I focus my life in this order:  wife, kids, friends, community, church, and to the ends of the earth.  (Acts 1:8)  My only hope to have love and understanding come through me is to rely on my relationship with God, through Jesus, to make it happen.  I am naturally a selfish, broken, weak, quick to anger ...

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Meet Wade Hartwell

Modern technology is amazing how it brings together the energy of like-minded people.  Wade Hartwell lives in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.  Our paths would probably have never crossed if it weren’t for a mutual friend who Wade met online.  They dated for a brief period, which is how I met him.  Although that was many years ago, we’ve stayed in touch. Wade told me about his efforts to raise funds to improve the lives of the children in Nsongwe, Zambia, Africa; a city about five kilometers from Livingstone Falls.  It typically rains four months out of the year in Nsongwe and the children don’t have access to boots or rain clothes. They live mostly in Mud huts with grass roofs and no electricity or running water.  Many of the kids stopped going to school after the 9th grade because they would have to walk to school about 9 kilometers (about 6 miles) from the village.  Wade suggested if the children had bicycles to ride to and from school, many of the inconveniences wo ...

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Meet Judy Winter

I met with Judy Winter for lunch in March 2015; an entire year ago! We are FACEBOOK friends, but I don’t recall if we ever officially met before our meal together. The Pisces in me, combined with my natural curiosity, attracted me to her positive social media messages. We commented on each other’s posts — and after doing this for a while we decided to officially meet in person. Within minutes of meeting Judy, I knew we were brought together by divine order. Our lunch conversation was electric. Her passion and enthusiasm are palpable! I knew, I wanted to profile her for my blog. She accepted and sent her answers to me almost immediately. Now, a year later, I finally post Judy’s answers to the questions I ask all the people I profile. What took me so long to post them? I don’t know. But, for some reason I had to wait. I know now is the right time. WHO/WHAT INSPIRES YOU? I’m inspired by anyone that passionately chases his/her dreams, fights for human justice with raw cour ...

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Meet Mary Turner Gajda

I met Mary Turner Gajda when she was a DJ with Classic Hits 94.1fm.  She was always so inviting and willing to have me come on her show and talk about Wharton Center events.  Once I learned she loved to sing karaoke (and has an incredible voice) I knew we were going to be great friends. What I truly admire about Mary is her determination to spend time doing what she loves even though it’s sometimes difficult with her demanding work schedule. She reminds me the importance of taking time out for yourself and the positives that come with it. One of Mary’s passions is photography, especially boudoir photography. (www.studiomportraits.com www.boudoirbymary.com )  She also keeps a blog that continues to inspire me! When I needed to find a new co-anchor for FOX 47’s MORNING BLEND I immediately thought of Mary.  Thursday afternoons are my favorite day of the week because I get to hang around Mary Turner Gajda who is truly beautiful both on the inside and out! Who what inspires you?  ...

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Meet Robin Miner-Swartz

Robin is one of the smartest people I know.  We met years ago, but became friends after I joined Wharton Center and she worked at the Lansing State Journal.  I would NEVER want to play trivial pursuit with her because she knows (and can recall) facts like no other person I know.  Unfortunately I was on an opposing team against her on WKAR’s Quizbusters and my team lost big-time! What I adore about Robin is her positive attitude and smile. (As you can see in her picture above it’s contagious)  I’ve never seen her in a bad mood, upset or heard her say anything negative about anyone.  I feel blessed to be one of the very first people she called when she was coming out.  I’ll never forget that day.  We talked, hugged and I knew she would be okay.  Not only is she okay, she’s blossomed and I’m so proud of her. Who or what inspires you? People who back their words up with action. People who show up! One of the reasons I love Lansing as much as I do is it’s full of p ...

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Meet Carrie Rathbun Hawks

One of the aspects of being a reporter I loved was meeting so many incredible people across mid-Michigan.  Carrie Rathbun Hawks is one of them.  It’s been many years since we first met but what I remember ―and it’s still the case today― is being intrigued at how nice and genuine Carrie is.  She is also one of the most talented marketers I know.  When I needed help with ePIFanyNow™ I immediately recommended the board hire Carrie.  She’s a great writer, very organized and always willing to lend a hand. The last few months Carrie’s been vocal about issues with her health and I am so proud of her. Carrie inspires me and I think you’ll understand why. WHO/WHAT INSPIRES YOU? Faith is probably my biggest inspiration. God has given me many talents and surrounded me with family, friends, love and opportunity. So I must first give all thanks to Him. Though not easy, I am always comforted by prayer and knowing I can lean on Him for strength. He may not answer my prayers exac ...

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Meet Andrea Billups

Andrea and I had been FACEBOOK friends long before we spent any time together. This past Thanksgiving we were both in South Beach, Florida at the same time and decided to take advantage of the situation and meet up in person. What was supposed to be one drink ended up several hours of extremely interesting conversation. She’s intelligent, interesting and the person you can spend hours listening to and wish the clock would slow down. I’m so glad to get to know Andrea better and can’t wait until our next meeting. Who what inspires you? People who take personal responsibility for their issues inspire me, looking inward for solutions and bootstrapping their way to success. We hear lots of people blame their background or circumstances for their lot in life, but how inspirational are those who refuse to buy into that premise that they cannot get ahead because of others or because they claim their backgrounds hold them back. There are so many wonderful stories of achievement, and they ...

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Meet Kris Tennant

I’ve known Kris Tennant since grade school.  What I love about Kris is her willingness and enthusiasm to help others.  When I started ePIFanyNow™ in 2009 Kris was one of the first people to form a team and attend the event.  As a coach for the Webberville Girls Basketball Team, she’s also brought her team to every ePIFanyNow™ event since the beginning.  Because of this, I have had the opportunity to know Kris on a different level.  She’s been a huge supporter of mine and I’m so appreciative. I believe everyone has a person in their life that they may not see often, or even be close to, but they have significance.  Kris Tenant is this to me.  We grew up in the same town together, and although we are not related, our roots are eternally intertwined.  Growing up in a small town, you cannot help but feel some people are like family and are always there for you.  I’m honored to have known Kris for so many years and be influenced by her nurturing, positive natu ...

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Meet James Robinson

I met James while in college at Michigan State University.  We had similar interests in Russia; I was taking Russian classes and he was involved in Global Hopemakers, a non-profit organization focusing on cultural exchanges with the former Soviet Union.  We became fast friends and continue to be close 20 years later. James and I have had some remarkable times together; everything from an Oscar party in California to being talked into performing in a Chicago drag queen contest.  The great thing about our friendship is we can go months without talking but as soon as we get back together it’s like no time has passed. James is intelligent, driven and a role model to me.  I’m so proud of his success and think of him as one of my brothers.  I think you’ll understand why… Who, what inspires you? I am inspired by the stories of everyday people who do the best they can to face all that life challenges them with on a daily basis.  Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to w ...

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Meet Charlie Green

I met Charlie Green in February 2013 after hearing about him through Carrie Rathbun Hawks.  Carrie told me Charlie is someone I should get to know because every month he gathers a group of people together to share good news.  Immediately I was intrigued! Charlie and I met over a cup of Bigby coffee and he told me he is a social capitalist, a term I was not familiar with but wanted to learn more.  By the end of our conversation I remember thinking this guy is one-of-a-kind and is genuinely making a difference! Who/What inspires you? What inspires me is literally “breathing in.” It’s the life breathed into us when we are created, the life that makes all things possible.  There is something unique in every person that can serve to remind me to live out what was breathed into me. So the question could be “Who TODAY have you quit judging long enough to appreciate their unique wisdom?” When I quit judging behaviors and started valuing each person, they began to ...

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Meet Justin Caine

I met Justin several years ago after being introduced by our mutual friend Penny Rodriguez.   Within seconds of meeting I knew we were going to be friends.  I didn’t realize until later how much he would inspire me. Justin continually gives back to the community.  He started LUNCH WITH A PURPOSE, a volunteer organization that is made up of a group of people who― once a week ―donate their lunch hour to help others in need.  The LUNCH WITH A PURPOSE website states, “Whether it’s cooking food or folding bed sheets, a lot of people with a little time make a huge difference.”  If you know Justin, this is his M.O. Justin also started BATTLEFIELD BRAWL, a flag football tournament to raise money and awareness for Oldham Kids.  This family-friendly event draws huge crowds each year!  The next event is coming up April 2014 and you can still register a team at BATTLEFIELD BRAWL. I think the quote on Good Fruit Video’s website (Justin and his business partner Kraig Westfall ...

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Meet Bernadette Johnson

One of my favorite books is “God Winks,” by Squire Rushnell.  The author talks about the amazing coincidences in life and theorizes why they exist. He tells of coincidences with both ordinary and famous people including Barbra Streisand, Charles Schulz, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Twain, and Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. The last few years I’ve paid attention to the (God Winks) that happen in my life. For instance, two years ago I thought I was calling my friend Bernadette Friedric to set up lunch.  Instead I called Bernadette Johnson, whom I had never met before.  I have no idea how her telephone number was in my contact list because it wasn’t there after the call.  I spoke to Bernadette Johnson as if I was talking to Bernadette Friedric.  They even sound alike on the phone.  However, I quickly realized I wasn’t talking to the person I thought I was calling.  We both laughed and said something to the effect “it was meant to be.”   I wrote it off as being b ...

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Meet Eric Dennis

Last December I received the following Facebook message from Eric Dennis. “Hello Bob, I’m Eric, the Good Sign Guy.  I love your work and I think we’ll understand each other.  I would love to have a conversation about what were both doing.” I’m always up for meeting new people, so we set up a time late January for a cup of Biggby coffee.  Within seconds I was inspired by what Eric is doing to make the world a better place.  He created THIS IS A GOOD SIGN (http://thisisagoodsign.com) as a way to make people feel better.  It’s a great reminder the world is a GREAT place and full of people, like Eric, who consistently search for the positive. I left the meeting with a few THIS IS A GOOD SIGN signs, pins, stickers and a new friend.  I also remember thinking, aren’t we fortunate to live in a world with great people like Eric. Who/what inspires you? Knowing that by inspiring even one person, we can actually change our world for the better?  It keeps me encouraged and work ...

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Meet Katie Dama Jaskolski

A few months ago I received a call from my friend Jan Pfeiffer asking if I could spare a few minutes to meet her friend Katie Jaskolski, the co-founder of the LIFE AS A ZEBRA FOUNDATION.  Jan said, “Katie is a real inspiration Bob, and what she is doing to educate people on various rare and invisible illnesses is incredible.  I just know you will be inspired.”  My curiosity was peaked—and I adore Jan— so we set up a time to meet. Immediately I was moved by Katie’s story.  She has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) which, Katie explained, means there is a defect in her connective tissue; the tissue that provides support to many body parts such as the skin, muscles and ligaments.  EDS is often referred to as invisible because there are no outward signs.  Katie and her sister Allie Dama, who also has an invisible disease called Vasculitis, started LIFE AS A ZEBRA FOUNDATION to draw attention to these and other invisible diseases.  Katie said they came up with the name LIFE AS A ...

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Meet Tobi Moore

This past weekend Tobi and Bil invited us over for a Valentine’s themed dinner.  Tobi greeted us at the door with a glass of champagne and a big hug.  The dinner table gorgeous and filled with all sorts of holiday candies scattered in between one of the most amazing meals I’ve had in a long time.  The highlight, though, was a personalized Valentine’s Day card Tobi gave to each of her guests.  Saturday reminded me how fortunate I am to have Tobi Moore in my life. Tobi is one of the most generous people I know.  She is always willing to lend a hand or offer advice.  I could call Tobi anytime of the day or night and I know she would be there if I needed her.  Honestly, Tobi is more of a sister to me than a friend.  We’ve always hit it off and I’m consistently learning from her. Who/what inspires you? I love the saying from Zig Zigler, “People often say motivation doesn’t last.  Well neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily.”  I have always been dr ...

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Meet Julie Becker

I became acquainted with Julie Becker on a personal level when she called to interview me for the April 2011 cover story she was writing on ePIFanyNow™ for The Capital Area Women’s Lifestyle Magazine.  http://cawlm.com/article/bob-hoffman-the-art-of-being-nice/    We stayed in close touch after that first lunch, and this past month Julie wrote me the nicest letter which brought tears to my eyes.  Here’s a portion of what she wrote: “I’m sure people tell you often what an inspiration and positive light you are to everyone you come in contact with — but I hope you know what a lasting impression our friendship has made on my life.” Julie went on to say that she’s been inspired to start the Beautiful Buttons Project.   She creates small buttons that say “You are Beautiful”  with the idea she’ll pass them out to as many people as possible and ask them to do the same.  Another way to pass-it-forward! Julie wrote, “Beautiful Buttons feels inspired ...

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Meet Mary Welch

I met Mary two years ago and she quickly became one of my closest friends.  She is spiritual, kind, and always fun to hang out with.  No matter how often we get together Mary is always smiling.  (You can see that in her picture).  Mary’s energy is palpable; she can walk into a room and she lights it up. The first time I visited her house I was surprised to see she had motivational messages strategically placed throughout. I remember thinking, “we are going to be great friends.  This woman gets it.”  I am truly blessed with such amazing people in my life, especially Mary Welch! Who what inspires you? I have two historical figures who inspire me: Abraham Lincoln and Mahatma Gandhi. Lincoln was brave and smart.  He went against the grain and stood for what he believed in.  He fought for what he knew was right, and started the end of slavery.  I also love the fact that he lost many elections before he finally won one.  He is the epitome of “….if at first you ...

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Meet Erica N. Williams

  I met Erica several years ago when she was a student at Michigan State and also a reporter for HOM TV.  She called me to set up an interview to talk about upcoming Wharton Center attractions.  I’ll never forget that first time we met in person.  One of the first things Erica said to me was, “Bob, one day I want to be just like Oprah.  She gives so much to the world and that’s what I want to do.”  At the time her email was even “thenextoprah.” I was so intrigued we set up coffee and have been close friends since. I’m so proud of Erica and all she is accomplishing in this world.  She is truly one person making a huge difference in the lives of many.  Who/what inspires you? My inspiration comes from God and Oprah. I am a believer that every person was created to serve a purpose in life. Everything that I am and hope to be is made possible through God. On the days that I feel inadequate and hopeless it is the power of God that energizes me to keep moving forward ...

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Meet Bil Moore

  Years ago when I was active in Toastmasters I met someone who immediately got my attention.  It isn’t just Bil Moore’s dynamic speaking ability that intrigues me, but his sense of who he is as a person.  Bil is the kind of guy you meet and instantly can’t help but talk to because he radiates positivity and he’s approachable.  Bil is also someone I look up to because of his incredible self-discipline.  When we used to work out at the same gym he was consistently there, and I wasn’t.  I wanted to profile Bil because he often teaches me new things, and I’m sure he is not aware of it.  He is just being himself.  I think you’ll understand by reading his answers. Who/what inspires you? I get inspired by so many things. Many of the choices I have made in my life were inspired by my dad. We didn’t have a good relationship as I was growing up, so I always wanted to be as different from him as possible. Maybe that’s reverse inspiration? Just this morning I ...

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Meet Jenn Dubey

This past year I met someone who absolutely intrigued me from the first moment we spoke.  She’s positive, smart, goal oriented and is making a difference in many people’s lives.  Immediately I knew I wanted to get to know her better because her passion for good health is contagious. Jenn Dubey and I first met at a Lansing Rotary meeting.  I sought her out after hearing her speak about eating healthier, exercise and good health.  Jenn has this aura about her that oozes friendliness and since she is so easily approachable I decided to tell her about my struggles with weight, food and the gym.   That conversation led to several months of Jenn educating me on how take better care of myself. As the new-year starts I’m once again finding myself back at it; making goals to get in shape, eat better, and be more diligent about writing in my blog and profiling people I think of as mentors. Here’s what Jenn had to say: Who/what inspires you? I am inspired by people who truly live li ...

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Meet Doug Langham

I’ve known Doug for at least ten years.  If there is ever a person who fits the description of a kind,  generous, and compassionate person it’s Doug.  As a fellow Rotarian, he is a perfect example of someone who holds the 4-way test:  is it the TRUTH, is it FAIR to all concerned, will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS, will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned. Several years ago Doug and I were part of a Lansing Sister City delegation to St. Petersburg, Russia.  The trip allowed us to get to know each other better and what I found is Doug is a great conversationalist, very educated and yet down-to-earth.  He is also a talented photographer. If you get a chance to spend time with Doug Langham you’ll be glad you did! WHO/WHAT INSPIRES YOU? “People who are positive in spirit, and who pursue life with dedication and integrity.” DO YOU HAVE A SLOGAN OR MOTTO? “Devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to cr ...

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Meet Rina Risper

I’ve known Rina for the last five years.  Intelligent, sophisticated, kind and compassionate are all words I use to describe Rina Risper.  She is always smiling and involved in a good cause.  What I love about Rina is her dedication to others.  Every time we meet she tells me about another charity she is helping.   She is a mom, a business owner (President and Publisher of The New Citizens Press) and a humanitarian.  Rina has an energy about her that shines.  When ever we part ways I’m smiling because Rina’s positive energy is so contagious.  If you get a chance to meet Rina, say hello.  She is one of the friendliest people I know! What or who inspires you? People who are authentic and respect others inspire me.   I love people who agree to disagree and still maintain a relationship.  People who show compassion despite their lives are absolutely amazing to me.  I love people who laugh heartily and cry deeply. What is your Motto? Live Simply. Take Chances. Love People ...

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Meet Clyde Keep

Meet Clyde Keep… I don’t remember meeting Clyde, I feel like he’s always been in my life.  The last ten years he’s been one of my closest friends and always there if I need him.  What I love most about Clyde is his ability to make me laugh.  I can’t think of a time that we’ve spent together that I didn’t belly laugh.  We’ve traveled together, spent many of weekends celebrating together, and also had some pretty deep talks.  Clyde is kind, considerate, and passionate about life.  I see a person who doesn’t allow what others think, say or do affect him.  He is following his passion and letting nothing get in his way!  The last few years he has been working with a leadership development organization called TEAM, an amazing group of individuals who are on the path to success!   WHO/WHAT INSPIRES YOU?  “Helping people realize their true potential and begin to dream again.”   DO YOU HAVE A MOTTO YOU LIVE BY?  “I will do today what others will not do, so ...

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Meet Jane Aldrich….

Meet Jane Aldrich.  I met Jane more than twenty years ago while a student at Michigan State University.   At age 8 I knew I wanted to work in TV news.  Fast forward to college and I did something to make my dreams a reality.  I called the news director at WLNS TV-6 expressing my interest in an internship.  I interviewed and was hired, not for pay, but credit.  The first day on the job I met Jane and knew intuitively she was the kind of person I wanted as a friend.  Fast forward a couple of years and my first paid job out of MSU was at the station as the morning producer.  We’ve been friends since.  Jane has such incredible energy that it’s almost palpable.  When she walks into a room she radiates a positive glow.  She is a teacher, a mentor and a friend.   If I had to describe her with one word it would be JOY!  And that’s what she spreads with joyworker.com.  Jane teaches classes and holds workshops on the Being Happy, Now! and Loving Each Day.  She helps people ...

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Angie

Meet Angie Malloy:  I met Angie two years ago and in that time she’s become one of my favorite people.  She’s motivating, fun to be around, and insightful.  Here are her thoughts: WHAT INSPIRES YOU: She laughs and says, “That’s a hard question.”  “I guess life itself.  Every single day I wake up with a smile on my face.  I wake up feeling curious, wondering what I can do today, what I’m going to create and what I’m going to learn.Come on Angie, are you serious?  “Of course there are days that I wake up tired.  But I just put my ass back in bed and rest until I feel better.” DO YOU HAVE MOTTO THAT YOU LIVE BY: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who matter won’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.” -Dr. Suess! DO YOU HAVE A LESSON OR THOUGHT TO SHARE: “The lesson that I teach my kids is:  To follow your passion!  The biggest thing is to not chase after money and to do t ...

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