Columbia University Speech with Lisa Miller & Global Students

Columbia University Speech with Lisa Miller & Global Students 2017-06-08T15:01:34+00:00

Sam Beard Speech – Columbia University  with Lisa Miller & Global Students
Wednesday July 6, 2016

Opening Quotation

“The search for meaning IS greater than the practice of mindfulness.  But mindfulness IS the door opener to understanding the Universe and God,

and to finding our best selves.”

Sam Beard   July 2, 2016

About Sam

Thank you very much for the opportunity to be here with you today. The generous introduction connecting me to eight U.S. Presidents is an honor and sets me on a pedestal. At the same time in the past two years, I have learned that Sam Beard has all sorts of room for improvement.

Two years ago I faced a personal crisis. This was my Eureka moment. To deal with the severe stress, I learned how to meditate.  Through meditation and my own exploration into the deeper realms of mindfulness, I became self aware that there were important gaps in my psyche and personality. On a scale on 0 to 10 (10 being good), I ranked my emotional side at 5, and my spiritual side a similar low 5.

I am learning that the longest and hardest (and the most rewarding) journey for me is the 18 inches from my brain to my heart.  I am learning to better love, empathize and connect with others, understand their minds and better listen to their priorities.  In short, I am learning emotional intelligence. On my spiritual side, I now rank myself an 8 plus. I am living proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks!

As I focused on my youth, I uncovered important flaws in my upbringing.

I understood that my father was a nice, well-liked man who like many of his contemporaries was not a hands-on kind of dad.  He was hardly the one who would play catch with my two older brothers or me in the backyard.  One day, however, he decided to take me hunting with him.  I was thrilled.  But when we got there, he left me sitting by a tree in the cold and rain.  A very long, unforgettable 3 hours later, he came back to get me and we went home.

My mother was not a great source of emotional and spiritual nurturing either.  She had already given birth to two sons before me and desperately wanted a little girl when I showed up instead.  When I was born, she reportedly said, “I hate this child, I hate this child, I want a girl!”  I loved my mother dearly, but there were no hugs in our family. My mother was the strength of our family. She devoted her life to her three sons and taught us integrity and hard work. She assured that we go the best best and that we would study hard. She was someone who would not allow us to sit idle in a chair for very long.  You get the picture.

On the intellectual front, it was a much different story.  I drew the lucky straw and got the best formal education one could imagine—elite prep schools followed by Yale and Columbia.  It gave me tools that were a bedrock for whatever success I have accomplished in this life.

In the big picture, I am definitely not complaining and am very grateful.

No one needs to feel sorry for me.  All these influences, from parents to schooling, combined to teach me to THINK BIG—to be curious and learn critical thinking and communication skills.  Once out in the world, I learned from others how to turn ideas into action, and action into movements.

Today, I’m on two equal paths. Improve myself. And then improve the world.

Here’s what I know about myself. With my heart and the right side of my brain, keep improving Sam. With the left side of my brain and education, put me in a mud puddle, give me time, and I can build something large and impact thousands and thousands of lives. From age 12, I was for underdogs. My DNA is service to others, and I am proven to be good at it.

When we think about the magnitude of problems the world faces today, it is easy to get discouraged.  It is easy to go into negative thinking and question what difference we can make as individuals.  The best antidote to this is really what’s going on in this room today. Each of you has their BIG IDEA TO CHANGE THE WORLD, and we can make a big difference.


My speech has five main themes.

First, I will tell stories of people I met who did change the world. Each shows the power of one individual with passion and a powerful mission. With a BIG IDEA and the attitude, YES, I CAN, you can change the world.

My main purpose over the next three days is to have the honor of working with each of you. I hope in some way I can inspire each of you. Help you shape your ideas. Encourage you to believe in your passion and impact lives.

Second, I will introduce you to and train you in the very simple and practical life-long leadership skills that I have learned over fifty years creating and then running the programs of the eight presidents of the United States.

Third, I will use the new non-profit GIFT as a model. Show you step-by-step how I am using my life-long experience to launch a world movement. I will also ask each of you –if you wish – to join the movement and be part of these global efforts as they unfold. Together, let’s see if we CAN impact one billion people in the next twenty-five years and elevate human behavior through mindfulness.

Four, I will report on the rrecord-breakingpace of transformational technology and scientific breakthroughs that will completely change the world as we know it. This is likely to occur in ten years, certainly in 25 years.

Fifth, I will explore our relationship to a higher power, our role in the universe, our search for purpose, and our ability to connect with a high power for guidance and a moral compass.

As I go along, I will throw in random stories that come to mind. I am here to entertain and inspire.


Planning for this conference, Lisa, and Sarah and I had lunch. Lisa encouraged me to share my stories about major people I have seen in action. In the past fifty years, we have witnessed the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, and the “Stop the Vietnam War” movement. In my life, I have had the privilege of becoming friends with many of these leaders. I was able to see their impact first hand. I am not claiming any personal heroic role. To empower you, Lisa has asked me to tell you their stories.

Al Lowenstein befriended me. In the battles for civil rights, in 1962 and 1963 in the United States, Alabama and Mississippi were too engrained with prejudice and were off limits. President Kennedy sided with civil rights, but, based on seniority, the heads of most Congressional Committees were Southern Democrats – all 100 percent against civil rights. To have any chance to pass his priority legislative programs, the President could not offend these legislative giants.

In Mississippi on June 12, 1962, Medgar Evers, the field secretary of the NAACP, was murdered. Al had the idea of hosting a mock election to run Aaron Henry, a black pharmacist for Governor. It was called a mock election because the registration laws were designed to prevent blacks from voting. Al’s idea was to set up voting booths in churches, grocery stores, and public squares. Anyone who came and signed his or her name would count as a vote.

Al enlisted 100 Yale students and 100 Stanford students. I loaned Al my car. It came back with bullet holes in it. The FBI and the local police were against the students. There were 100-mile an hour car chases. The police tracked down the students and put guns down their throats. “The next time we catch you, we’ll kill you.” In November 1963 80,000 people voted for Aaron Henry for governor.

That one event changed attitudes. The summer of 1964 became the Freedom Summer. The Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) headed by James Farmer, and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) led by

John Lewis and Julian Bond as Press Secretary along with his top assistant Mary King helped organize local forces. 1,500 Freedom Riders traveled to Mississippi. Three students were shot  – James Chaney, Andrew Goodman Michael Schwerner. Two were white. This murder shocked the nation and gave President Lyndon Johnson the necessary outrage to pass the Voter Rights Act on March 15, 1965.

Without the mock election, the Freedom Summer probably would not have happened. Al Lowenstein’s courage and passion played aahistoric role in American History.

Again, Al Lowenstein was my friend. Sometime in early 1965, Al called and asked me to come to a meeting about the Vietnam War. There were six of us. The main public figure was Rev. William Sloan Coffin, the Yale Chaplain, along with selected leading New York liberal politicians. Al had just returned from Vietnam and reported that the war was immoral and needed to be stopped. He saw the war as a civil war within Vietnam – not as a regional “Stop Communism” war. He did not see Vietnam as essential to stop the flow of Communism throughout all of Asia.

(In the 1960’s the prevailing policy viewpoint was if Vietnam falls to Communism, all of Southeast Asia – Laos, Thailand and Cambodia will fall.)

Al proposed creating a new organization to be calling for the “Creative Reevaluation of our Asian Policy.” We pointed out that this acronym spelled CRAP, and a new name was created.

Lyndon Johnson had just won the 1964 presidential reelection in a landslide, and here was Al proposing to stop the war. I had a one-room apartment. After the meeting, Rev Coffin slept in my bed. I slept on the couch. I asked Coffin. “What is Al talking about?” Coffin’s answer was simple, “I don’t know, but Lowonstein is never wrong.”

Al then used his extraordinary speaking talents and toured American campuses rallying thousands and thousands of students. Al was a one-man band. Al struck a nerve. The anti-war movement began. He then tried to get Robert Kennedy to run again Lyndon Johnson in 1968. Finally Al got Eugene McCarthy to run. Lyndon Johnson withdrew from the race, and the rest is history. This is a classic example of the power of one man and a movement. Amazing.

My friend Harris Wofford, former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, is a giant in civil rights and volunteer service in America. In the 1960 presidential election between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon, Harris’ passion and vision played a pivotal role behind- the-scenes. The Kennedys were not in the forefront of Black issues. Their strategists worried about losing the South if they were too identified with Black rights. A recent CNN documentary on the 1960’s reports that Harris Wofford in late October told Sargent Shriver (the Kennedy in-law) to jump in a taxi and race to LaGuardia Airport in New York. Try to catch Senator Kennedy before his midnight plane took off. Martin Luther King, Jr had been arrested in Atlanta on October 19 for leading a civil rights protest and he was in jail.

If Shriver got there on time, Harris instructed Shriver to wait till all the other Kennedy insiders left so they wouldn’t shout him down. Then tell Kennedy to call King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, and offer to help get King out of prison. This worked.

While this was going on in the Kennedy campaign, Richard Nixon was also close to King and called President Eisenhower asking the President to call Mrs. King and seek King’s release. Eisenhower did nothing. The Kennedy call became headline news. History shows that the Black vote put Kennedy over the top 19 days later.

Two leaders stand out in the Feminist Movement – Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem. In 1963, Betty Friedan wrote The Feminine Mystique. This book started a national wildfire. The spark of one idea, powerfully presented, played a principle role in launching and building the feminist movement in America. I had the privilege of working directly with Betty. In 1974 she called me and asked me to help her create the First Woman’s Bank in American in New York City. The goal was to open economic rights for women who too often were shut out of credit and finance. The bank opened one year later.

Gloria Steinem was a journalist, social and political activist. She founded Ms. Magazine and the Women’s Media Center with Jane Fonda to highlight women in the media. She was relentless, a powerful speaker and a trailblazer. Gloria’s 1962 article in Esquire magazine unveiled the struggle that women face choosing between career and marriage. This article was dramatic beginning a reexamination of women’s leadership in politics, business and community.

In summary, Al Lowenstein, John Lewis, James Farmer, Julian Bond, Mary King, Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem were major leaders in civil rights, women’s rights and the “Stop Vietnam War” efforts. They were passionate and relentless in their passion. They are important role models for you. You too can take your BIG IDEAS and change the world.



As you know, I had the privilege of co-founding the Jefferson Awards with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and U.S. Senator Bob Taft, Jr. to create a Nobel Prize for service in America. Over the years, our Board of Selectors included Muhammad Ali, Hank Aaron, Senator Jack Heinz, Neil Simon. the playwright, and Lesley Stahl. Our top honorees have been a “Who’s Who” of America’s leadership – six U.S. Supreme Court Justices – Sandra Day O’Connor, Thurgood Marshall and Sonia Sotomayor; along with seven Secretaries of State – Colin Powell, Cyrus Vance and Henry Kissinger. Other honorees have included Oprah Winfrey and Peyton Manning. We have 120 media partners – local television and radio stations and newspapers – that reach 78 million American families. They reinforce the founding American call for neighbors to help neighbors. Over the years we have honored more than 65,000 grassroots “Unsung Heroes.”

In 2008, we began to use the history and prestige of the Jefferson Awards to change lives – with a special emphasis on training students 25 and under in leadership and service. We have now trained more than 20,000 students in leadership and their schools report more than 20 million hours of service.

The Jefferson Awards strongly believes that anyone can be trained to be a leader.

We challenge our students to THINK BIG. Develop the attitude: YES, I CAN.


The basis of the training emphasizes real world experience using simple, easy-to-follow, step by step “How To’s.” The training includes life-long leadership skills that are not taught in school.

I am honored that Lisa asked me to have the opportunity to work with each of you on your dreams and visions and plans to make the world a better place. There are planned sessions where one-third of you work with me today, and then on Wednesday and Thursday. I am tireless in my passion and have offered to be available Wednesday and Thursday – after the planned programming – from 5:30 to 8 PM- for any anyone else that wants to work with my out-of-the-box nonsense to help you shape your personal projects.

The message is simple. Each of you can create and then run a program for the President of the United States, and I’ll show you how.

Lillian Pravda is an outstanding example. Lillian was born with cataracts and would have been blind by age nine. Her family was not wealthy, but wealthy enough to afford the operation. At age five, Lillian’s left eye spun completely around in her head. Her family afforded another operation. At age 8 Lillian decided to give back. My view is that all the energy and excellence are all attributed to Lillian. Lillian’s view is that our training totally helped. Lillian is now 16 and has been responsible for 26,200 donated operations in the United States and around the world. Lillian in now in all 50 states and 100 countries. She has active partnerships with the American Academy of Ophthalmology and flew to Lisbon to create a partnership with the International Association of Ophthalmologists.

We use Carin and Katrina – I call them “the ski girls” – as a perfect example of what the Jefferson Awards training at work.

Carin and Katrina live in the Sam Francisco Bay Area. They are from a solid middle-class American family. At age 11, they were on their school’s ski team.

My version is that one of the girls lost her ski jacket. She was terrified of going home without her jacket and hoped to find it in the Lost and Found. When they went to the Lost and Found, they had an idea. Wow! Here are all sorts of warm jackets, sweaters, woolen hats, and gloves. Why don’t we collect these for the homeless? By age 14, they had collected $250,000 worth of clothes and assisted 1,500 homeless people in the Bay Area. They won a Jefferson Awards through our local Media Partner – CBS television. My daughter asked if they wanted to be Jefferson Awards GlobeChangers and take their project national. Enthusiastically they said yes. Enter Sam with a one-hour training session.

With all our GlobeChangers, in one hour I listen to each student. I ask them what their passion is, and then fashion their passions into a simple, step-by-step doable national or global action plan. This includes numbers and measurable goals. I also assess each student’s strengths and create a personalized training program using our basic “How To’s.”

With Carin and Katrina they told me that they competed on seven ski slopes in northern California. I asked who they worked with. They told me that they worked with the lodge owners. Bingo! Each lodge owner will know three other owners around the country. Then I thought that there must be a national ski lodge association. By the time I had finished that question, the girls had already looked it up oonline There is the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) and told me the name of its president. That’s all we needed.

We talked ten more minutes. They agreed to a numerical action plan.

In five years, they would be in 50 to 70 ski lodges in 10 states. They would enlist and train 70 to 140 student leaders – one to two for each lodge to implement the program locally – and help 50,000 homeless.

We then set out and worked together for four months. The girls’ elevator speech rambled on and was so politically correct that the listener had no idea of who they were helping. There was no mention of the homeless. Their flyer showed wonderful pictures of affluent girls in dazzling ski outfits racing down a mountain.

There were no pictures of the homeless. The name of the project was cute – “K & C” Care – but there was no connection to what they were doing.

In four months we had a simple and powerful elevator speech, a motivating flyer, a power letter to the President, a PowerPoint, and a three-minute sizzle tape – a compelling video of their project. I also trained them in marketing their idea on the telephone.

They were set for the big time. They sent their letter to the president of the ski lodge association. In 30 minutes on the phone, the two 14-year-old girls created a national partnership. In 18 months, they were in 18 ski lodges in 7 states. They had 75 local student leaders, and they had helped 10,000 homeless.

My message is so can you. The Jefferson Awards has 150 students in our GlobeChanger program. In the next ten years, we will train 10,000 GlobeChangers. Each averages impacting 100,000 lives. This is one billion folks.

Each of you received the management plan that we used to revitalize the Wilmington, Delaware waterfront. The Wilmington waterfront revitalization is a perfect case study for action and results.

In Wilmington, the Christiana River runs through Wilmington. The south end of the city was a slum with abandoned industrial plants, and run-down, drug-infested housing. In the center of the slum was the Wilmington railroad station – the official  “Gateway to Delaware.”

The basic idea was to host an annual water festival to get Wilmington’s citizens and the Delaware leadership excited about revitalization and then attract major investment to rebuild the area.

This waterfront revitalization has been central to the Jefferson Awards training. The main point is its simplicity. With students, I take five minutes. Together we THINK BIG and settle on the four to five basic elements we need for our SIMPLE STEP-BY-STEP ACTION PLAN. To attract 10,000 people, we needed:

RESEARCH – Become an Expert





Research I had no idea how to rebuild a waterfront. I went to my friends in Baltimore, Maryland. They had pioneered waterfront revitalization and had created a $4 billion project that draws one million visitors a year.

They told me that water excites communities. They began by hosting a New Year’s Eve black-tie gala with dancing and fireworks right in the middle of the abandoned industrial slum situated on the Patapsco River. They ran water-related volunteer events weekly with two volunteer coordinators. They hired an architect and created a simple development plan. Every year they went to the Maryland legislature to rebuild the dilapidated bulk heading to make the area development-ready.

My friend suggested that we:

  • Host a water festival
  • Create year-round volunteer events
  • Enlist a volunteer architect to create a plan and a motivating model t dazzle decision makers with the view of what IS possible.
  • Go to the Delaware legislature to rebuild the bulk heading

Food We went to the telephone book yellow pages and called food vendors to provide the food. (That sounds funny today with online access to everything.)

Entertainment Same procedure. We went to the yellow pages and called local bands to play free. They agreed and we scheduled them.

Water Games We didn’t have the simple plan for this so we hosted a pizza party with our board and didn’t quit until we had 20 engaging water games. This included canoe races matching the Governor’s team against the Mayor’s team.

We built a suspended rope and wooden runway for kids. The fire department provided the hose to douse the kids.

Marketing System To Attract 10,000 People

The total project cost was $2,500. That’s all we had. Our motivating flyer was the key. Yes…Families were invited to have fun. Food. Entertainment. Water Games.

But the powerful purpose was the biggest motivator.


500,000 flyers were donated and we passed them out at the most populated areas as people went to and from work, and on the most popular lunch malls. We created large four-foot by six-foot sandwich boards with blown up flyers on them – all donated –  and posted these at major intersections up and down Delaware.

With the $2,500 we went to Delaware’s four major radio stations. For each $1 we paid them, we asked for $3 of donated air time. This created a $10,000 radio campaign in a state that features driving time.

As a volunteer, we enlisted Wallace Roberts & Todd, the Baltimore Inner Harbor architecture firm, to create our plan and marketing model.


The plan worked. 10,000 people showed up the first year. The third year 20,000 people showed up. Because of the water festival excitement, we raised some money and hired one professional to mobilize over 1,000 volunteers in monthly water-related projects. We sponsored clean-ups, planted trees, created a major waterfront mural, and even started the Wilmington Rowing Club with the Girl Scouts and John Kelly, Jr., Grace Kelly’s brother and a four-time Olympic rowing champion.  We worked with the Wilmington Mayor and the Delaware Governor and received $250,000 per year for five years to rebuild the bulk heading.

The Delaware Theater Company, Opera Delaware, a bank branch, Delaware’s leading architecture firm, an office design firm – all moved to the waterfront. The prize was a credit card company that built their $150 million headquarters.

A $2,500 start-up budget led to $300 million of investment. This created a whole new vision for the area. Tom Carper, the next Governor, and past Governor Russell Peterson picked up where we left off. Total investment now exceeds $1 billion and thousands of jobs have been created.

GET STARTED This is always the key and in this case really proves the point.

We had two board meetings. By the end of the second meeting, the board had designed the water festival.  At our May 1982 meeting, the board unanimously approved the project. When we began to pick the actual date for the water festival, a substantial majority of the board wanted to postpone the event to the summer of 1983. The heads nodded in agreement, “We need more time to plan.”

My experience is that delay in most cases sounds smart, but is an excuse to never proceed. Too often delay is the killer. I reported to the board that we HAD the plan. I asked the Board, if we put off the festival until the summer of 1983, when would we really get serious and start the implementation? They thought for a minute and gave me the right answer, “Next May.” I pointed out this was May.

So we called the mayor’s office and found an August weekend that did not conflict with any other major community event and GOT STARTED. As soon as you draw a line in the sand, and pick a time and date, you then take all the action steps necessary to succeed.

The Jefferson Awards Training

The Jefferson Awards training includes 65 documents. More than 500 pages. It consists of 50 “How To” action documents. This ranges from the naming your project, preparing your elevator speech, setting an agenda, how to run a meeting, the importance of listening, how to raise $10,000 in 90 days, effective public speaking and managing to results. In your homework, we invited you to come to this session with your elevator speech, your compelling flyer, and your power letter requesting $10,000. During the work sessions, I look forward to working in groups. We will train you in 15 of the key documents and review your individual ideas or projects to see if we can help expand your vision and impact and pass along some practical life-long lessons. See the fifteen on the screen.

When we leave, Lisa and Sarah will email you the 50 documents and selected case studies. We believe that these will help you throughout the remainder of your working lives in whatever you set out to achieve.

I use them myself. They are invaluable as reminders and guidelines anytime I set out to launch a major initiative.




Beginning in June 2014, I faced a serious personal crisis that changed my life.

A person set out to destroy my economics. I was supposed to forfeit my pension and lose my salary. At age 75, I was supposed to restart my economics at zero. We were mired in lawyers. My detractor was much smarter than I and a most convincing mud-fighter. The pressure was extreme. I am a positive, can-do person. I love creating and building. I really couldn’t function on a day to day basis. To handle the stress, I began meditating. As so many books prophesy, serendipity changed my life course. Carl Jung calls this synchronicity. The film The Secret and John Assaraf call it “The Law of Attraction.” Out of nowhere, my friend Sandon Nixon, came back into my life. Sandon had worked for almost ten years at the Jefferson Awards. Sandon was a top National Director and left because the non-profit couldn’t pay him enough. Sandon went into wealth management and insurance and moved to Phoenix, Arizona. He tripled his salary.

Sandon called and reported that he was coming to Philadelphia. Let’s have a cup of coffee.

In January 2015, Sandon and I had the cup of coffee in Philadelphia. I reported my crisis, and told Sandon that I was meditating to survive. Sandon turned out to be a complete expert in the underutilized powers of our minds and meditation.

Sandon has read hundreds of books and attended a full range of personal development courses all designed to reach your highest self and change the world.

Meditation changed my life, and I had found my new passion.

THINK BIG! Select Your Passion. What Is Your Project To Change the World?

 Lisa asked me to use the Jefferson Awards training as a guide. She asked me to go step by step as I set out to build a global movement around meditation. She wanted me to make this easy to follow so that you could adapt it to build your individual BIG IDEAS. Step by step, what am I doing?

First, find your passion and BIG IDEA. Listening to Sandon was inspiring and I began reading Sandon’s recommended books. In April, I attended the four-day PSI Seminar in Phoenix. PSI was started by Tom and Jane Willhite in 1973. This was cutting edge then and remains cutting edge today. More than 700,000 people have been trained since 1973. By April my passion and vision were set. I would spend the next 25 years marketing mindfulness and meditation worldwide and impact one billion people.

How do each of you find your passion? My recommendation for you is to follow your instincts. Let your intuition guide you. Each of you has something that motivates your spirit. Meditate and listen for it. Then go for it.


With your BIG IDEA, you now need to create a simple action plan.

To impact one billion people is powerful, but how was I really going to do it?

What practical steps were necessary to turn the vision into reality? Between May 2016 and December 2016, I wrestled with formulating my action plan. This was an eight-month exploration of ideas and proposed action steps. The plan developed into five steps.

Step One – Research – Become an Expert

I have now read more than 150 books. In the United States, I have attended six conferences and training sessions in the United States and two international conferences with Mindvalley. Mindvalley is an amazing Malaysia-based, $25 million for-profit company spearheaded by Vishen Lakhiani. Vishen has three hundred of the brightest, most energetic and competant 25-to-40 year olds working for him. He has set out to impact one billion folks worldwide and elevate human behavior through meditation and mindfulness.

His AwesomeFests are like TED Talks. Vishen has the world’s best speakers and corrals 300 to 400 movers and shakers from around the world all dedicated to meditating and changing the world.

In addition, I have been formally trained in transcendental meditation, and in Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindful-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR.) I have purchased and listened to the CDs of ten other renown meditation leaders including Shakti Gawain and Byron Katie. I am still learning every day, but I feel comfortable in the field.

Step Two – Prepare Your Basic Marketing Materials

My basic marketing materials followed the Jefferson Awards step-by-step training exactly. They include my:

  • Mission Statement (See the website:
  • The Six Focus Areas for GIFT (See the website.)
  • Motivating Flyer. You received this by email: “About GIFT” on the front; “About Sam” on the back.
  • Create a non-profit. I had created a new 501 c 3 public foundation in 2006, and had never used it. I added meditation to the non-profit purposes and was set to go.
  • Advisory Board of luminaries to give GIFT credibility
  • Elevator Speech.
  • One-page Power Letter.

My elevator speech is simple and powerful. 20 seconds.

“I am honored to meet you. Congratulations on being so significant in the meditation movement. I began working with Senator Robert Kennedy in inner city economic development. Since then, I have had the privilege of creating and then running programs for the past eight U.S Presidents from Nixon through Barack Obama. This led to the creation of more than ten million inner-city jobs. I have now launched a new non-profit GIFT and will impact one billion people in the next ten years.” Then the ASK.

Can I see you? Will you be a speaker in GIFT’s 100 million person Virtual Summit? Do you know anyone that will underwrite a graduate student intern to help me to enlist thousands of folks via social media?

Step Three – Demonstrate Results. Create a Two-to-Three Year Action Plan.

I am the action guy. My experience is that a BIG IDEA and passion, connected to measurable outcomes, attracts volunteers, a motivated team of professionals and the money to underwrite the program. People want to know what you really plan to do. Action and results give you credibility. GIFT has settled on four specific and measurable action goals.

  1. GIFT Ambassadors. GIFT Alliance. Make Delaware a Model.

First, GIFT has started their GIFT Ambassador and GIFT Alliance programs.

We are starting in Delaware where I live. We will make Delaware a working model for America and around the world. We planned to start by enlisting 3 to 5 GIFT Ambassadors. These are mainstream, local opinion makers to serve as our local committee. Working with the Ambassadors, we planned to create the GIFT Alliance. We planned to start with 25 then 50 local Delawareans who are also mainstream opinion makers who are practicing meditators in schools, business, government, individual trainers, or simply folks that want to help. With these Ambassadors and GIFT Alliance members, we will create systems and begin bringing mindfulness and meditation into Delaware schools, businesses and government.

The original plan was to have 3 to 5 Ambassadors and build to 25 members of the GIFT Alliance. To our surprise, we have now hosted two organizing meetings.

We have 40 Ambassadors on our organizing committee, and we are on our way to 200 GIFT Alliance members.

By year end 2016, we will raise $100,000 and hire a full-time professional to activate Delaware in four focus areas – schools, business, government, and individuals. The goal in three to five years is to impact 100,000 Delawareans.

Repeat the Delaware Model in ten U.S. Communities and

Five Communities Around the World.

As we build the Delaware model, we will seek to replicate this is nine other U.S. communities. We will replicate the GIFT Ambassadors as the local organizing committee and then enlist their nominees into the GIFT Alliance. We will raise $100,000 in each to put one professional on the ground. We have potential Ambassadors in Arizona, California, Florida, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington. We will repeat this process in five countries abroad. We already have interested Ambassadors in Australia, France, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands and New Zealand.

In Five Years Seek to Increase Federal Research Dollars

by $100 Million.

Effective politics is local. GIFT plans to work with the GIFT Ambassadors and GIFT Alliance all across the country. On a repeated basis visit the local offices of the 100 United State Senators and up to 20 to 30 selected committee chairs in the House of Representatives. Demonstrate that mindfulness and meditation are mainstream and sweeping America. On a simple level, mindfulness can reduce stress in businesses, government, health facilities, and schools. Work with the Senate and Congress to increase federal research dollars to further study the mind and consciousness.

  1. 100 Million Person Virtual Summit in September 2017

By September 2017, GIFT will host a 100 million person Virtual Summit on mindfulness and meditation. “Unlock Limitless Human Potential by Opening Gateways to Transform Ourselves and Our World.” As part of this, we will seek to involve 10 million young people 25 years and under to undertake local service projects. We will invite them to make mindfulness and meditation a life-long practice.

28 percent of the world’s population is twenty-five and under. This is two billion folks. If we get them into mindfulness and meditation, we can transform human behavior in one generation.

Step Four – Raise Start-Up Money

When you begin with your passion and get started, you begin meeting new people who share your passion. With your basic marketing materials and a polished elevator speech, you can begin fundraising. I have raised $100,000 for start-up money, and have five people on small retainers.

My goal is to raise a $500,000 per year operating budget by year-end 2016, and a $1 million per year operating budget by year-end 2017.

Tenacious fundraising is essential for any successful project. Count on it.

Step Five – Hire an Initial Team

The strength of any project is the quality of the team.

To date, I have brought on five professionals with small retainers. Their expertise and job descriptions are:

  • Communications
  • Materials Design and Social Media
  • Gift Ambassador and GIFT Alliance Manager
  • Research – Analyze America’s leading organizations bringing mindfulness into schools. Create a menu of options for local schools.
  • Administrative, Legal, and Financial Support
  • “Goals Buddy.” I have a top professional who has been a friend of mine for 36 years to be my volunteer “Goals Buddy.” Create written 90-day measurable goals. Every 90 days meet with my “Goals Buddy” to keep me on track.


During our three days together, I am eager to work with each of you. I am very much looking forward to hearing about your dreams and vision and your projects to improve the world. If you wish, we can make this a two-way street. I invite each of you to participate in the Virtual Summit and help bring mindfulness and meditation into your communities. Talk to me and let’s see what we can create.


These are exciting times to live. The pace of technology growth and breakthroughs in science are abounding at an amazing rate. Go back to the beginning of the arrival of homo sapiens. Assume that humans fell out of the trees 6 million years ago. They stood on two feet and started to develop their thumbs and brains.

Trace the impact of discovery, technology, and science through the ages. Trace all discovery through the year 2,000.

There will be more discovery and technology and science breakthroughs between 2,000 and 2025, than in all past human experience combined.

Let’s explore this with some “Did you know that?….”

In 460 BC the Greek philosopher Democritus was the first to explore the idea of the atom – the smallest particle that is indivisible. At the turn of the twentieth century people like JJ Thomson, an English physicist (1897), Max Planck, a German theoretical physics professor (1900), Albert Einstein (1905), and Ernest Rutherford, the New Zealand physicist (1911,) discovered neutrons, electrons and protons and determined that the atom had a solid center with electrons revolving around them. Today we know that the atom has one billion parts.

As we sit here looking at each other. Did you know that what we see is called “light matter.” This is our view of reality, and it is only 4% to 5% of reality. The space between the strands of light matter is called “dark matter.” But that is only 27% of reality. 68% of reality is called “dark energy.” Go to the NASA website and look it up. In 1998 with the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists found that our universes are expanding at ever increasing speeds.

Did you know that your bra, socks or shirt might be your next doctor? Robin Farmanfarmaian, in her book The Patient as CEO, reports that medical technology is transformational. From using wearable sensors to robotics, to artificial intelligence, we will revolutionize medicine and allow each of us to best monitor and predict our health.

 With my whimsical mind, let’s explore science and reality. There are two views.

The first view is that reality is what scientists can prove. The remainder is theoretical, hypothetical and unknown – not reality. Most scientists are exceptionally smart. They rule our view of reality.

The other view is that humans have premonitions and intuitions that are real.

They are afraid of being shunned or being outsiders so they don’t talk about what they have experienced. They hide their actual experiences under a rug. They know that there is no known proof of telepathy or déjà vu where one senses that something will happen before it happens, and then it happens.

Do humans have some sort of 6th sense? Do humans have a capacity that reaches beyond the five recognized senses of taste, smell, sight, hearing and touch? A 2005 Gallop Poll reported that three out of four Americans believe in the paranormal, ranging from ESP to telepathy to clairvoyance. In a similar Gallup Poll in 2001, 65 percent reported personal experiences. Science can’t prove these. Which is reality?

Let’s explore how many in this room have had some form of paranormal, telepathic or déjà vu experience. A simple example. My 38-year co-worker, Nancy Leonard, does not believe in any form of the paranormal. However, she reports the following. Her husband was a police officer. Many years ago, Clyde was on patrol and Nancy was at a holiday party. At 7:08 pm she had a sudden feeling that something was dreadfully wrong. She told her friend about her unshakable fear and that she needed to go home. The friend brushed it aside. Call home. Talk to the babysitter Make sure that your young children are fine and then stop worrying. Nancy called. No problems. But her angst continued unabated. One hour later, Nancy was still very upset and went home. Nothing was wrong. Two hours later, the phone rang. At 7:08 her husband Clyde had been shot. He was in the hospital and would be okay, but come to the hospital. Call this some form of telepathy.

Science can’t prove it. Is this reality or a coincidence?

It did happen, and a majority of people have had similar experiences.

Did you know that in the 1930’s at Duke University, Dr. J. B. Rhine pioneered scientific studies in ESP. Today the Rhine Research Center has the world’s largest collection of ESP experiences – more than 14,000 case studies. From their viewpoint – each has been painstakingly researched and confirmed scientifically.

One example. A young woman in the Washington State awoke at 2:30 a.m. She dreamt that a large chandelier hanging over their young baby’s bed crashed and crushed her baby. She dreamt that the clock on the bureau read 4:35 a.m. and that she could hear strong winds blowing and rain pattering on the window. She woke up in fear and woke up her husband. Her husband sought to calm her and told her to go back to sleep. Everything was fine.

Undeterred the mother got up, picked the baby up out of the bed, looked out the window to see a full moon and no clouds in sight. She brought the baby back to bed with her. Two hours later they were awoken by a large crash in the nursery. The clock on their bed table read 4:35 a.m.

They ran to the nursery and found the chandelier had fallen and crushed the empty crib. Outside there was a powerful wind and rain was pelting the windows.

Reality or a coincidence?

Did you know that Harold Morrow Sherman experimented in clairvoyance, extraordinary perception, psychokinesis and precognition? In 1937

Sherman with the explorer Hubert Wilkins carried out an experiment in telepathy for five and a half months. Sherman was in New York and Wilkins was in the Arctic. At the end of each day, Wilkins visualized a mental image or “thought impression” of the events or thoughts he had experienced. Wilkins and Sherman each kept a daily diary and recorded the images. When they reconvened, they compared notes. Upwards of 60% up 70%, their records agreed. Non-believers write this off as happenstance.

My contention is that a majority of these experiences are reality. They show that the human mind has extraordinary underused capacities. The definer of reality is not science. Science is amazing. At some point, science will catch up with what we know intuitively is reality.

There are 90 people in the room. How many of you have a similar type of experience? Show hands.

One goal of the non-profit GIFT is to use social media and invite thousands of people to send their stories. These stories are real to thousands of people. Science is glorious. I predict that within the next 25 years we will know much more about our 6th sense.


In 1969, because of my break-through work with minority-owned businesses, I was asked to be a speaker at a community organizing conference in Colorado. Saul Alinsky, a famous, tougher-than-nails labor organizer from Chicago preceded me. Alinsky is credited with being the father of modern community organizing.

I remember his words as if I just heard them yesterday.

In 1969 Cesar Chavez started a national campaign against companies that were distributing grapes picked by non-union workers in California. Many airlines served scab grapes on their lunch trays. Saul talked about how to stop it. One way is to write a letter to the airline president, with the view that enough letters would change the policy. Saul’s alternative and unorthodox method was as follows. If you are on a flight and they serve scab grapes, once all the trays are served, get out of your seat, go to the head of the plane. Reach onto people’s trays. Pick up their grapes. Hold them high over your head. In a loud voice proclaim, “You’re not planning to eat these scab grapes are you?” Then squish them and throw them on the floor. Proceed down the aisle until they stop you. He promised that this would go directly to the president and grapes would be off the menu immediately.

He then gave another example. You go to lunch and order a hamburger. It comes. You ask the waiter for ketchup. It doesn’t come. Three choices. Eat your hamburger as is. Wait until it gets cold. Or, stand on your chair and yell, “Where the F….is my ketchup!” He promised, the ketchup would come instantly.

I only followed these ideas twice. I report it always works, even if it is out of character for me.


Exploring My Spiritual Side

In April 2015, I attended my first meditation/mindfulness conference, PSI Seminars in Phoenix, Arizona. PSI Seminars were founded in 1973 by Tom and Jane Whillhite. They have trained more than 700,000 people seeking self-improvement, and PSI is one of the the clear and important pioneers in this field.

One exercise was to analyze your balance as a person. They divided your personality into four major components: Mental, Physical, Emotional and Spiritual.

I did fine on Physical. I’m being more careful with my diet and exercising pretty regularly. (I gave myself an 8 out of 10 rating.) Mental has been my strength with multiple, left-brain presidential programs and proven results. (I gave myself a

9 out of 10 rating.) During the three-day weekend, as reported above,

I discovered many exercises that showed meaningful room for improvement.

(I gave myself a 5 out of 10 rating and promised to change my priorities.

Begin to emphasize my spouse and family first, then friends, and then my projects. I set out to practice greater empathy and a greater focus on my heart over my mind.)

The fourth component – Spiritual – stopped me in my tracks. I really didn’t know how to respond. I had been brought up in a largely non-participating Catholic family. As a child, the rituals and music did not seem to related to me personally.

I was bored, and stopped going to church. I was ready to give myself a 1 or 2 rating out of 10 when I remembered a book I had read ten years earlier on comparative religions and service to others. The book reported that all religions stress service to others. They reported that people who volunteer feel good about themselves because they are “connected” to God and the “Universe.” Being connected to a higher purpose and spirit makes you feel good. Since my whole life has been caring for others, I gave myself a 5 rating.

As I was meditating to reduce the extreme stress of my associate seeking to destroy my economics (reported above,) I began praying to a higher power for guidance.

I had always accepted that there is a higher power but never thought that I could communicate directly to the higher power. I called the higher power three different names: “God,” “Universe,” and “All That Is.”

Following what I was reading in both religious/spiritual books and personal, self-improvement books describing the law of attraction, I felt – serendipity – that I was getting meaningful answers and guidance. “Listening” and following my intuition became important to me. Weighing into my spiritual side became like an unused muscle. The more I exercised it, the stronger it became. Multiple amazing coincidences and communications came to me – well beyond what might ordinarily be expected. So much so, that I began keeping a spiritual journal.

One day in mid-2015, my mind began racing, and the words of a person prayer flooded my consciousness. Sharon Salzberg told me that she is “channeling” when she does her best writing. This is what I was experiencing. I grabbed my computer and wrote a 16-line prayer that I use to pray everyday. This is a prayer of love and gratitude, surrendering myself to be a servant to the higher power in the hopes serving others and connecting to this divine spirit. I find the words inspiring and beautiful. They strike my sense of whimsy because I know that I could not write anything that amazing myself, and this makes me more grateful and accepting.

An Invitation to Explore Your Spiritual Side

The above is my spiritual story. I heartily invite you – every reader – to answer the same questions. I hope that the details that I report give you a roadmap to help you explore. With a strong and active spiritual commitment and practice, I feel a totally changed and improved person.

Comparative Religions and Our Relation to a Higher Power

Studies of comparative religions seem to show that there are common threads running through the great majority of religions. Australian aborigines, Native Americans and today’s twelve considered major religions that include Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Sikhism – have a full understanding that there is a power greater than us. The greater power is almighty.

Through time, the world has seen hundreds of religions all bowing our heads and hearts to the higher power.

Most religions center around the human quest to explain the creation of the universe, our relationship to nature, our purpose in life, our moral compass, service to others, and paths leading to the discovery of our best selves.

“God” “The Universe” “All That Is” are word labels that represent the greater power. Prayer and meditation are paths leading to the greater power.

There seems to be an inherent connection between humans and the creating divine power. Religion and spirituality seem to be born within each of us.

As part of this presentation, I have selected examples to support this connection. They uncover our divinity, and our ability to be guided and find our moral and spiritual compass.

Australian aborigines and Native Americans believed in the higher power, a Supreme Divinity, and saw the Great Creator in all existence – people, animals, birds, trees, rivers and mountains. There was a strong belief that “right relationships must be maintained with everything that is, in order to maintain the balance of existence.” (Source

A Native American article in the Inter-Tribal Times, October 1994 sets out the “Native Code of Ethics.” “Each morning upon rising, and each evening before sleeping, give thanks for the life within you and for all life, for the good things the Creator has given you and for the opportunity to grow a little more each day.

…Listen and follow the guidance given to your heart. Expect guidance to come in many forms; in prayer, in dreams, in times of quiet solitude, and in the words of wise Elders and friends.”

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, in his 1995 Living Buddha, Living Christ states, “The kingdom of God is available to you in the here and now. But

the question is whether you are available to the kingdom of heaven. Our practice is to make ourselves ready for the kingdom so that it can manifest in the here and now. You don’t have to die in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. In fact, you have to be truly alive to do so.”

Swami Vivekananda (1863 – 1902), a Hindhu monk famous throughout India, states, “All that is real in me is God; all that is real in God is I. The gulf between God and me is thus bridged. Thus by knowing God, we find that the kingdom of heaven is within us.” “All the powers in the universe are already ours. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes and cry that it is dark.”

Norman Vincent Peale, American Methodist minister and author, in chapter four in his 1952 book The Power of Positive Thinking, tells you explicitly how to pray. He suggests that you get into a quiet place of your choosing – in your bedroom, sitting in nature, or in a church. Take whatever troubles you in your life and pray directly to God for answers. The problems can be that you are having problems with your spouse, your son is a drug addict, you are seeking your purpose in life, or that you are being passed over for promotions at work. He then maintains that serendipity – if you listen – you will get answers and guidance from God. He reports that he deals with thousands and thousands of people. Way beyond the odds, people are getting guidance from God.

Thomas Keating, Trappist monk and Catholic priest, in his book Open Mind, Open Heart also tells you explicitly how to pray. Keating is a world renown scholar on the writings of the early Christian mystics and a leading architect and teacher of the Christian contemplative prayer movement. In chapter one, he tells you how to meditate and listen. He explains that you as an individual can pray directly to God on any issue that confronts you. If you listen, you are likely to get guidance from God.

In his history of contemplative prayer, also called centering prayer, Keating reveals that Christ and the disciples and their followers in the Catholic Church taught centering prayer for more than 1,000 years leading up to the Middle Ages. In the Middle Ages disease and disorder unraveled known society. With the beginning of the Renaissance, the church stopped contemplative prayer.     

John Assaraf, American serial entrepreneur and brain surgeon, in his 2008 book The Answer traces the science of the atom and how quantum physics is changing our whole view of the world and the universe. Einstein and the quantum physicists show that steel, wood and physical objects are all made of molecules and vibrations. The same is true of ideas. Everything is “vibrating packets of energy.” With the Law of Attraction, humans have the ability to use their minds to set clear intentions about their goals. With repeated concentration, Assaraf maintains that you are sending energy into the universe. Persist in those intentions. Enter them strongly into your minds and consciousness and purpose. In many cases, well beyond the odds, those ideas will become your reality. The Law of Attraction, combined with purposeful action, allows individuals to shape their futures.

One hundred years ago Napoleon Hill teamed up with Andrew Carnegie, the world’s richest man. Carnegie introduced Hill to America’s 100 most successful leaders. This included three presidents of the United States, the leading industrialists that included Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone, as well as Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell. In his best-selling The Laws of Success, Hill defines the power of “Masterminds.” Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell knew about vibrations flowing magically through the atmosphere. They were inventing the telegraph and the telephone. They believed that ideas were vibrations. Edison credits the powers of meditation as the source of many of his breakthrough ideas. Masterminds were people with strong intentions somehow exchanging ideas through an unknown sixth sense. This connection between teams made these men and women exceptional.

Julia Cameron in her best–selling The Artist’s Way – A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity (1992) clearly links our creativity to a higher and divine power that is reachable by all of us. “Creativity is the natural order of life. Life is energy: pure creative energy.” “Creativity is God’s gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back to God.” “Our creative dreams and yearnings come from a divine source.

As we move toward our dreams, we move toward our divinity.”

Darren Hardy, publisher of Success Magazine 2007 – 2015 interviewed and published articles of thousands of the world’s most successful people. He created his version of the key elements required for a balanced and successful life in an eight-spoke wheel. To be balanced, every human needs a strong spiritual side.

He asks each of us to truthfully answer ten questions to rate ourselves on our spirituality.

I consider myself a spiritual person.

  1. I take at least 20 minutes each day to meditate and reflect on my life.
  2. Others who experience me would consider me a spiritual person.
  3. I have a personal relationship with my spiritual source.
  4. I study my spiritual beliefs daily.
  5. I practice my spiritual beliefs daily.
  6. I preach my spiritual beliefs daily
  7. I live completely in accordance to my spiritual beliefs.
  8. I consistently use my spirituality to help resolve my problems.
  9. I consistently use my spirituality to offer guidance and advice to friends.

I will end where I began. Lisa Miller’s ideas in The Spiritual Child – has the power to change the world in the next 25 years if not sooner. The idea that each child has a spiritual gene and has a divine connection to God and the Universe is transcendent. The idea that each child can reach out to a higher force and help define and guide their individual paths is empowering. Receiving guidance from a high power –through anyone’s selected religion or the universe – is a greater and more powerful idea than the Renaissance itself. In 25 years, together, we have the chance to elevate and transform human behavior.


In summary, let’s review the ground that we have covered.

I have told you stories of individuals who changed the world. So can you.

I have presented case studies using the Jefferson Awards leadership training to offer you practical step-by-step ways to create and implement your own projects to change the world.

I showed you step-by-step how I am using these same tools to launch a world movement around mindfulness and meditation with the goal of elevating human behavior. Impact one billion people in next twenty-five years.

I have painted a picture of breakthrough technology and science that will transform our view of reality and directly affect your lives. The next ten and certainly twenty-five years will transform the world as we know it.

I ended reviewing our spiritual side. I reviewed our innate and transcendent capability to connect to a higher power: to best understand the universe, our role in it, our purpose, our ability to receive guidance as we seek our best selves, and our innate divinity.

Personal Summary

The firsthree-quartersrs of my life have been full and joyous. Creating and running programs for eight U.S. Presidents. Creating more than 10 million jobs in inner cities. Training more than 20,000 students in leadership leading to 20 million hours of service.

All this seems to be spring training for the big event. I am 77 years old. With GIFT, in the next 25 years, I will impact one billion folks worldwide. I’ll be an important leader elevating human behavior. I am at the starting line and raring to go.

Please join me. Thank you.