THE GENERALS

Lt. Col William Gus Pagonis and Brigadier General Nick Halley

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“General Knowledge”

 

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Jessica Cox

Jessica is recognized internationally as an inspirational keynote speaker. Born without arms, Jessica Cox could have succumbed to the low expectations that ushered her into this world. In spite of them all, she earned two black belts in Taekwondo, graduated from college, and learned to swim, drive a car, fly an airplane, surf, scuba dive, and live independently using her feet in ways others who take their hands for granted can only imagine. She holds the title of the first person without arms to get a black belt in the American Taekwondo Association and the Guiness World Record for the first pilot to fly with her feet.

However, Jessica’s greatest triumph in life stands far above any physical feat. It is her unrepentant regard for herself as a whole person, her high degree of self-acceptance that gives her freedom and power to insist that society accept her, too, just as she is.

Accolades

  • Guinness World Record: The First Armless Person in the World Ever to Have Obtained a Pilot’s License, 2011
  • AOPA LIVE Pilots Choice Award 2010: Most Watched Female Aviator
  • Filipino Women’s Network: 100 Most Influential Filipino Women in the U.S., 2009
  • Published in Ripley’s Believe It or Not, 2009
  • The Filipino American Journal Award of Excellence, Outstanding Filipino Award, 2008

TOPICS

When Jessica first walks on stage, the audience has no idea that she doesn’t have arms. Carefully hidden underneath a jacket, she has on her prosthetic arms. Minutes into the introduction, she removes them and begins her speech rightfully titled:

Disarming the Impossible! Corporate Keynote:
Turning “Impossible” into “Accomplishment”
What limits people in your group from attaining their highest potential? How can they push limitations aside?
Jessica believes that by combining creativity, persistence, and fearlessness, nothing is impossible. In her presentation, she digs deep into her experiences living armless in a two-handed world. She shows how these three qualities helped her achieve the seemingly impossible.
Jessica’s elements stem from answering such questions as:

  • Are you letting your fears stand in the way of your opportunities?
  • Is it easier to come up with an excuse than a creative solution to a challenge?
  • What handicaps are you-and others-creating that you don’t need?
  • How soon should you give up when confronted with a difficult challenge?

Get Ready to Turn your “I can’t” into “I can!” and “I will!” Youth Keynote: Embracing Differences
Every person on this earth is “different” in one way or another and in one form or another has endured pressure to conform under the threat of rejection and isolation. Students experience the constant pressure to “fit in.” Jessica shares the struggle of masking her difference growing up in a two-handed world but then realizing the importance of being true to who we are as individuals. In order to be a good leader, Jessica believes it is critical to stand up for who it is we are, stand out every opportunity we have, and to stand proud of our differences!

Thinking Outside the Shoe
As a person who has never viewed herself as a victim of her condition, Jessica shares in her speeches humerous stories of struggle and success living in a “two-handed” world.  She provides critical insight on how to best approach a challenge, redefining the concept of innovative thinking.  She helps people reconnect with their own inner strengths and aptitudes.  Jessica believes in combining creativity, desire, persistence and fearlessness; with them, nothing is impossible.  In her presentation, she will dig deep into her excperiences living armless in a two-handed world and share how these four elements helped her achieve the seemingly impossible.

Jessica’s points stem from answering such questions as:

  • Why is it more important to “fit in” than to stand out and be different?
  • Do students act based on what everyone else is doing?
  • Who is responsible for standing up for who we are as individuals?
  • Why are we so worried about what everyone else thinks?

Full Biography

Jessica Cox was born without arms. The doctors do not know why she was born “differently-abed.” But she does. Jessica has made achievements with her feet that most people only dream of. Now she shares her story with people around the world.

Born in 1983 in Sierra Vista, Arizona, Jessica has learned to live her life with her feet. There were many questions at the time about whether Jessica would be able to live a “normal” life. However, Jessica’s father has said he never shed a tear about her birth condition. He had full confidence in her potential. With the support of her parents and family, Jessica became confident in herself as an adult and continued to explore the world with her feet.

As a child, Jessica studied dance in her home town. When the first performance arrived, she asked to be put in the back row. Her dance teacher told her there was no back row. Tentatively she took the stage with the other students and performed her routine. When she finished, the applause from the audience gave her encouragement and the confidence to continue dancing for 14 years.

Jessica’s parents eventually met a Taekwondo instructor named Jim Cunningham. His response when told of her birth condition was that she would be more than physically able and that only her attitude could hold her back. At the age of 14, Jessica earned her first Black Belt in the International Taekwondo Federation.

After graduating from high school, Jessica attended the University of Arizona where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. When talking about her degree, she frequently explains that psychology credits the way people think has a greater impact on their lives than a physical limitation.

During college, Jessica found a club of the American Taekwondo Association and resumed training in the sport. Even though Jessica already had one black belt in a different style, she had to relearn all of the color belt material. The instructors created a curriculum that would be accessible to any future arm less students. Jessica then became the first arm less person to earn a black belt in the ATA.
Jessica’s most famous accomplishment was learning how to fly. It took three states, four airplanes, two flight instructors and a discouraging year to find the right aircraft: a 1946 415C Ercoupe Airplane. She received the Guinness World Record for being the first person certified to fly an airplane with only their feet.

Jessica now works as a motivational speaker. She travels the world sharing her story and encouraging people to be creative and innovative with the mantra “Think outside the shoe.

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Those twenty-five miles developed into an epic fourteen-hour journey in which he encountered everything from massive jellyfish to blue whales, fog to white-capped swells. Read more

Gary Marlon Suson

9/11 photographer Gary Marlon Suson lives in New York City. On September 11, 2001, his life, just as all American’s lives, was turned upside down by the attacks on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon. Initially, after photographing the Towers’ collapse from his rooftop, Suson returned to his studio, deciding he wasn’t going to shoot anything else having to do with this tragedy. He didn’t want the stress of being in the midst of the chaos taking pictures, and especially didn’t wish to be wrongly viewed as someone trying to exploit a situation. Read more

Michelle Rosado

Michelle Rosado has a message of inspiration and empowerment for your audience, as well as an engaging style that will make your entire organization strive to new heights by helping them to discover their own inner strength both personally and professionally. Internationally recognized as “The Woman of Empowerment“, Michelle has overcome some incredible life obstacles, including surviving a physically and mentally abusive relationship, as well as escaping the World Trade Center just seconds before her offices were destroyed. Read more

Ariane de Bonvoisin

Walking away from a successful corporate career Ariane de Bonvoisin transformed her life, believing that from any change something good will come.
In her best selling book The First 30 Days, Ariane outlines the nine principles of change that successful people know in order to navigate transitional times. De Bonvoisin shares with audiences her unique background; she grew up and worked in over a dozen countries, distinguished herself with degrees from the London School of Economics and Stanford and worked for companies including BCG, Bertlelsmann, Sony, TimeWarner and Charlie Rose, but she wasn’t happy until she was able to balance her goals with her passion to help others.

Now with a successful book, her Change Nation show, a magazine column, weekly appearances on radio and TV, and through her own upcoming TV series, de Bonvoisin is determined to help others make or face any life change with optimism. Authentic, passionate and capable of touching audiences the world over, she is truly a next generational force with a foot in both worlds- one who can talk to peoples minds and touch their souls. Ariane de Bonvoisin’s amazing journey from corporate darling to entrepreneur, author and ‘transformationalist’ can inspire and help anyone contemplating or experiencing any life change.

 

TOPICS

The 9 Principles of Change
Change is the most important life skill and survival tool for the next decade. After interviewing thousands, Ariane de Bonvoisin reveals the nine habits of people who successfully navigate change, whether it is personal or professional. In a lively, and engaging manner, de Bonvoisin gets her audience to look at change differently, to evaluate their own ‘change quotient’, how to handle emotions such as fear, doubt and impatience and multiple ways to strengthen their ‘change muscle’. She discusses what makes the difference in people and companies who can handle any change. Companies are inspired to look at how good they and their employees are at navigating change and how this is rapidly becoming a core competency. She leaves her audiences with optimism, practical tools and ways of making any change easier.

Living Healthier – How to Transform the Health of Your Employees and Your Company
Tough times inevitably lead to bad habits and health challenges. Having healthy employees is rapidly becoming a competitive advantage and a core value for companies. Founder and CEO of the First 30 Days, Ariane de Bonvoisin helps de-clutter all the information about health, offering a dozen steps that really make a difference. She shares information from over 50 health experts she met and interviewed, from traditional doctors from Harvard to the Dalai Lama’s physician. Audiences will learn tips not often talked about, from food combining, to acid/alkali balances in the body, to cleansing, to building the body’s natural immunity. She is bold, bright and funny when it comes to discussing her research on health leaving audiences laughing, being amazed, and motivated by a sense of possibility based on real facts and simple daily changes to incorporate into their lives.

A Foot in Both Worlds – Combining Business and Spirituality
For so many, ambition and living spiritually– money and meaning– don’t go together. They require a difficult choice. Companies can’t do good, contribute and be profitable. Individuals can’t live spiritually, have a corporate job and a great relationship. Ariane shows us the misconception of this either/or framework so many companies/people have and inspires us to consider a new model. She reveals a new lens for us to look through in how we make important choices, what it means to live consciously in everything from relationships, to work to how we treat our health. She gives practical examples of how to combine the material and spiritual calling in day to day choices and how to live in this ‘real’ world. In a world where more people and companies are wanting to live consciously and have a sense of meaning, Ariane’s discussion will leave anyone with a sense of possibility, inspiration and clarity.

Full Biography

Ariane de Bonvoisin is the Founder, CEO and Chief Change Optimist of First30Days, a New York City-based media company focused on guiding people through all types of changes, both personal and professional and social or global. The company, which launched its web site, first30days.com, in February 2008 currently features

60 life change subjects, including those relevant to our times such as losing a job, selling a home, starting a

business, dealing with depression, smart investing,

reducing debt and getting divorced. She also hosts a popular on-line show, ChangeNation, where she interviews experts and thought leaders on all aspects of life changes. With a degree in economics and international relations

from the London School of Economics at the age of 19, Ariane began her professional career at The Boston Consulting Group and worked in over a dozen countries during her tenure. After receiving an MBA from Stanford

University, she moved to New York, working with media companies Bertelsmann and Sony.

In 2000, she joined Time Warner as the Managing Director of a new $500 million digital-media venture fund. The

Fund’s mission was to take equity stakes in early-stage, potentially strategic, technology companies. Prior to her launch of First30Days and time at Charlie Rose Productions, Ariane spent a year as a Senior Advisor on a

Humanitarian Project, A DAY IN THE LIFE OF AFRICA.

The project involved the top 100 photojournalists placed in the 53 countries of Africa on a single day. Ariane had a monthly column in Redbook magazine and AdAge, is currently MSN’s Life Change Expert, a contributing editor to BusinessWeek.com, a Life Balance expert for Health Magazine and has appeared on dozens of TV and radio shows, including NBC’s Today Show, the CBS Early Show, CNN Radio and ABC News Now. She is a Huffington Post contributor and has written articles for media outlets including Yahoo, Town & Country, Advertising Age, the New York Daily News, Reader’s Digest, MSN and Media Bistro, among others. She has also been written about in Oprah magazine and USA Today.

Ariane’s most recent book entitled, “The First 30 Days: Your Guide to Making Any Change Easier” was published by Harper Collins in May 2008 and reached the bestseller list on Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Ariane embarked on a national media and speaking tour for the book. A Spanish edition was published in December 2008 by Spanish by Rayo, a division of Harper Collins and the book has now been translated in over a dozen languages. She is currently finishing her next book, A Foot in Both Worlds; Walking a spiritual path while fully being in the world.

Ariane speaks frequently around the country and abroad on issues of personal and professional change and the topic of consciousness and spiritual life. She has spoken at events including Maria Shriver’s Women’s Conference, the Pennsylvania’s Governors Conference, the Houston and Boston Leadership Conferences, the Health Conference in NYC, the IDB in Washington and international conferences. She also loves speaking to kids and youth of all ages.

She is also an accomplished athlete, having been a competitive swimmer, a ski instructor, and a runner in a series of marathons and triathlons. She also reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in January 2001, accompanied a group of students to Antarctica in December 2002. She was most recently part of a documentary movie called The Highest Pass (www.thehighestpass.com)- a motorcycle journey through the highest roads in the Himalayas, that premiered in August 2011; a journey to discover that our Highest pass is always within the heart and beyond the mind.

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