Make it a Meaningful Year


It's up to you. What will 2017 hold? As Washington Irving said, "Great minds have purposes, others have wishes." And it's even better if you add passion to that purpose.

"The pursuit of passionate purpose, as well as its attainment, and relationships along the way bring the real rewards to life." Theresa Szczurek, author, Pursuit of Passionate Purpose.
The Pursuit of Passionate Purpose Is a Four-Step Process
Know and Nurture the Person. Exploring who I am and what I value — what is my passion?
Find Passionate Purpose. Determining what I want and do not want — how can I align my passion with a meaningful purpose?
Pursue Purpose. Establishing how I can get it.
Assess Progress. Evaluating how things are going and what is next.


Practical Pointers

ASSESS PROGRESS. As we finish off this year and start another, it's the perfect time for your business planning and your personal life planning. Assess progress toward your goals and purpose. Look back on this year and look forward to the next.
  1. Did you achieve your goals and/or make progress toward your bigger purpose? (You do have goals, right?)
  2. What worked? What didn't work?
  3. Where do you want to go? What's next?
  4. What are the right strategic initiatives and actions in the New Year to get you there?
  5. What should you continue, start, or stop doing?
KNOW THYSELF. What makes your heart sing? Get in touch with your values, gifts, and passion. Keep it simple. I know that I value being with the proper people, close to nature, physically and mentally healthy in the flow, while making a meaningful difference and attracting financial and spiritual prosperity.
CLARIFY PASSIONATE PURPOSE. "There is one quality which one must possess to win, and this is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it," says Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich. What passionate purpose are you pursuing? Write it down. I like to transform my purpose into a short THEME to make it clear. For 2016 my theme was Resolution. It is a work in progress and for 2017 this same theme continues for me. State it daily as an affirmation.
PURSUE PURPOSE. Create a plan and put it into action. Get clear on your goals and priorities. Write them down — short and sweet. What is the first small step you can take today? What people will you take on this journey?


Assess progress, reaffirm what makes your heart sing, clarify purpose, set a theme, create a plan, and put it into action. Start now with assessment.

Theresa M. Szczurek, copyright 2016 2017, all rights reserved. 


PICK YOURSELF UP: Napoleon Hill's Wisdom to Get What You Want in Life

Regardless of whether you're distraught or jubilant about the state of the world or the outcome of the US elections, you may be asking "What's next?" Where should I go from here? These same questions are relevant when your business or life is at a crossroads, you have accomplished the purpose at hand, or you're getting ready to set next year's strategic direction.

That's Life

Perhaps you'll find guidance, as I do, from Frank Sinatra in his song, That's Life. Here's a useful interpretation of the song with seven key lessons. As Frank says, "Pick yourself up and get back in the race!"

Think and Grow Rich

In times of change, it's even more important to discern what your values are, to reaffirm your passionate purpose, and take action to accomplish it. Consider the wisdom of Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich which is encompassed in my work Pursuit of Passionate Purpose.

KNOW THYSELF. What is meaningful to you? What do you value? What gifts do you have? Nature gave you these tools — everything you need to get what you want. You get rewarded for accepting and using these gifts. You get the opposite if you don't use them.
CLARIFY PASSIONATE PURPOSE. There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose — the knowledge of what you want, and a burning desire to possess it. Write down your purpose. State it daily. One important purpose, Hill recommends, is to have complete harmony with your mate. What is your purpose?
REPEAT. Use repetition. Tell yourself over and over again what you want. Thoughts are things. If you tell yourself enough times, you will believe it, even if it's a lie. The human mind is constantly attracting vibrations which harmonize with that which dominates the mind. Any thought, idea, plan, or purpose which you hold in your mind attracts a host of its relatives, adds those 'relatives' to its own force, and grows until it becomes the dominating, motivating master.
BUILD A FIRE OF DESIRE (or Passion). Any idea, plan, or purpose held in the mind by repetition of thought and emotionalized with burning desire is taken over by the subconscious mind and acted on by all means available.
BELIEVE AND HAVE FAITH. Belief is what Napoleon Hill refers to as faith. Faith is a state of mind which may be induced, or created, by affirmation or repeated instructions to the subconscious mind. Whatever your mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.
PERSIST. Lack of persistence is one of the major causes of failure. It is a weakness that may be overcome by effort. If you find yourself lacking in persistence, this weakness may be remedied by building a stronger fire under your desires.
CREATE A PLAN. Then put it into Action and have fun with the pursuit!


Get back in the race and work to get all that you want. Follow Napoleon Hill's wisdom: know thyself, clarify purpose, repeat positive thoughts, build a fire of desire, believe and have faith, persist, create a plan and put it into action.

copyright Theresa M. Szczurek 2016.  All rights reserved.,,

Take BOLD Action: Plant a Seed with UNICEF

This is a season of bold colors.  As the Autumn leaves turn yellow, orange, red, and brown, we can open to a clear message that change is in air.  Don't miss the message. Life is short.  “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”  As the Mary Oliver poem reminds us, it is your decision.  Where are you planting seeds that will grown into colorful, strong trees.  Consider planting a seed with UNICEF.

UNICEF stands for United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund.  In 1967, President Lyndon B.  Johnson designated Halloween, October 31st, as National UNICEF Day.  An annual tradition, Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, began 66 years ago as a way to help kids still affected by World War II. Since then, millions of children across the United States have gone door to door on Halloween with UNICEF collection boxes, calling out, "Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF!" The annual tradition of Kids Helping Kids® — involving donations big and small — has helped to raise more than $175 million since 1950. Many people also donate directly to UNICEF throughout the year. 


Be Thankful.   Many kids and families across the world suffer without the basic necessities.  Appreciate all that you have.  Be thankful.  Help your friends and kids be thankful too.

Educate and Deepen Awareness. UNICEF works to give a fair chance in life to every child, everywhere, especially the most disadvantaged.  Organized around 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 established in September 2015, world leaders have set a transformational course for the future of human development. Millions of people were involved in crafting this new sustainable development agenda, including: governments, civil society, the private sector, academia, the UN system, concerned individuals.  How can you help?  Build awareness, tell everybody, and take action on  the GOALS. 

Donate -- Any Day You Can Support UNICEF.  By supporting UNICEF, you can be a superhero for millions of children in need. These kids are just like you and yours, except many of them live in countries where poverty, war, or natural disaster make it difficult to get even the basics they need to survive.  UNICEF uses the money to deliver medicine, nutrition, clean water, emergency relief and education to millions of children worldwide.  You don't have to wear a costume to support Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF! Donate online today.

Take Action for Girls and Women.  2016 is the year for Global Girls.  This year the Global Goals for Sustainable Development come into effect to achieve three extraordinary things by 2030 – end poverty, combat climate change and fight injustice and inequality.  If we are to achieve the Global Goals by 2030 we must start by empowering girls and women.  Take action here.


Help kids around the world. You can make a meaningful difference.   Be thankful, deepen awareness, donate to UNICEF, and  take action to empower girls and women.

Theresa Szczurek (,,

All rights reserved.  Copyright 2016 Theresa Szczurek

Three Universals for Living a Great Life

My mother always said, "Life is short. Death is sure." Therefore it's important to ask, "Am I living the life I want now?" Travel, if you pause to reflect on it, offers insights on the answer to this question.What changes have you made? Is your flame burning and is your life feeding your soul? One change I decided to make was to take a break and pause my newsletter. I also took a major trip to Spain and Poland in honor of our 25th wedding anniversary with my husband Richard and 20-year-old daughter Annie who had just completed a semester abroad in Granada, Spain. Here are some thoughts from my last few months.


Three Universals for Living a Great Life

GOOD PEOPLE ARE EVERYWHERE. If you open your eyes and reach out, you will find them. Through our travels we connected with in-country hosts from Servas International who welcomed us into their homes. These people shared local food, drink, culture, and conversation with us. Jesus and his daughter showed us great works of art in the museums of Madrid and the colorful streets and churches of Toledo, Spain. We spent hours with his diverse 'English-speaking' group, who were so excited to have Americans attend. We got to know the work and dreams of a train mechanic, teacher, security guard, post-doctoral energy researcher, finance director, and more.
Here was the Connections Strategy at work — build relationships with the proper people and support network and bring them along on life's journey. Lessen the impact of improper ones. Many new in-country friends, my family, Servas hosts, and the Radish team back home helped make this trip possible. Who is or should be part of your support network?
UNIVERSALS EXIST AND UNITE US. Regardless of age or country, a smile and laughter can break open one's heart. Mothers protect and love their children. Families care about the welfare of each member. People seek ways to make a living and make a meaningful difference. While the language may be different from country to country, people want safety, shelter, and love. In the Pyrenees mountains of Spain, we stayed with Gabriel, another welcoming Servas host, who had just returned from volunteering three weeks at a refugee camp in Greece. After climbing high to glorious waterfalls, glaciers, and mountain tundra during the day, we shared deep conversations over dinner at night trying to understand the challenges of the world. We learned about the struggles of the war-displaced people who were seeking freedom, peace, and opportunity after leaving their homeland and everything else behind. They lived in tents and received a nightly cup of hot soup and some donated food and clothing.
Here was the Persistence Strategy in action — mindfully persevere with focused determination using a divide-and-conquer tactic. Try tackling your next big project using the divide and conquer approach of the Persistence Strategy
FAMILY CONNECTIONS CAN BE DEEP AND MEANINGFUL. Nearly 100 years ago, my grandmother Antoniette left the poverty of rural Poland at the age of 15 with her brother to find opportunity in America. She settled in the Chicago area along with millions of other Polish people, meeting and marrying my grandfather Anthony who had grown up just 4 km away from her small village in Poland. Through the years, letters kept our Polish-American family connected to our Poland family. During the hard Communist days in Poland, my Chicago family shipped back warm clothes and money. Only one family member Jan, a priest, came to America over that time. He served at my family parish, St. Mary of Czestochowa, in Cicero, IL in order to raise funds to build a new village church in Poland. About 13 years ago, I was the first family member to go back to Poland and visit our relatives. Now my husband and daughter returned with me. WOW, what a home coming and great welcome. We got to know our relatives, ate Polish food, drank Vodka, saw the beautiful countryside, learned about the passion of the people for Pope John Paul II (the Polish Pope who is now canonized as a saint), visited family cemeteries and Father Jan's church, and more. We experienced the family ties that bind over the miles and decades.
In addition to the Connections Strategy, here was the Attraction Strategy at work — hold a broad intention and be open to opportunities that are everywhere, while thinking, feeling passionately, and taking action to get what you want. We sought ongoing deep connections and family relationships. What are you seeking to attract in your personal and work relationships?

Radish Case Study

An entrepreneurial venture can be 24/7 if you don't set boundaries. It can and will demand an unlimited amount of your time and energy. This is a recipe for burnout and failure. The end result of a good break can be new insights for the company, its team, and yourself. Try it and see what happens.


What about you? What do you want from your summer vacation? What did you or will you take away? How can you apply these insights to your pursuits of passionate purpose so you can reap the real rewards and live a great life?

Theresa M. Szczurek (,,  copyright @2016 all rights reserved.


NEVER QUIT: Practical Pointers to Integrity of Effort

The Trait of Never Quitting

My theme in 2015 is "Be a SUNFLOWER." Each letter of the word aligns with one of the traits of successful Passionate Pursuers as explained in the book Pursuit of Passionate Purpose. N stands for Never Quit. Passionate Pursuers have a strong inner drive — a determined willingness and ability to work hard to get what they want. They maintain integrity of effort and a strong work ethic. This 'industry' concept, also a fundamental element in the progress of human development, is defined by Erik Erikson as the ability to "eagerly work and produce to completion by steady attention and persevering diligence."

Never Quit in Principle

I just returned from my annual women's backpacking trip. It was awesome to be in pristine wilderness with good friends. Yet, this trek was longer than previous years and it reaffirmed some of the 'Never Quit' principles. On the way out, carrying a heavy load in a different pack that did not fit me well, I doubted if I was going to make it. My friends had hiked together with me for most of the day, but when we got to the last three miles, after a refreshing dip in a mountain stream, they took off like horses heading to the barn. I was alone and tired. I wanted to quit, but that was not an option. What did I do? I sang songs to re-energize. I divided the hike into 1-mile segments using the 'divide and conquer' strategy and rested after each leg. I stopped to eat and drink water at that point, and I continued step by step. It was past 6:30 in the evening when I arrived back at the trailhead, but I made it!

You've probably been here. There have been many times with my current and former pursuits, when I've considered calling it quits. Indeed, there are times when it's the right thing to do. However, there is much to gain from accessing the situation first before making a rash decision to quit — a decision you may regret. A successful serial entrepreneur who is now the CEO of Orbotix, Paul Berberian, once told me, "Every entrepreneurial venture of mine has been at the brink of failure at one point in time. We somehow were able to pivot and bring about a good end." He had and still has the 'never quit' attitude.

Practical Pointers

Take a break. Rest. Step back and gain some perspective. You may be burned out and not able to see the forest for the trees.
Do an honest assessment. Use the multiple techniques explained in Pursuit of Passionate Purpose (p. 115-120) — Smile / Sign Monitor, Force Field Analysis, and Progress Inventory. What is working? What is not?
Assess Intrinsic Motivators. Are you getting a sense of meaningfulness, choice, progress, and competency from this pursuit? If not, why not? Can anything be changed?
Ask Outsiders. What would they do if they were in this situation? Ask why. It may be obvious to others what to do. Ask for help.
Pivot. Is there an alternative gameplan or strategy that would get you moving where you want to go? What would it take to implement?
Divide and Conquer. Have you taken on a huge project, perhaps too large? Can you divide the project into portions and accomplish just one piece? If you accomplish this, might that give you a sense of progress and re-energize you to continue?
Plan B. If there's no forward movement, if you have no energy / passion / enthusiasm for the pursuit, and if all alternatives have been exhausted, it may be appropriate to move on. What can you do to maintain your integrity of effort and learn even in this ending?

Don't Quit - A Poem

While hiking, I recited a popular poem written by an anonymous author called Don't Quit that has helped me over the years. The last stanza is below.

Success is failure turned inside out
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit,
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit!


Success comes from a 'Never Quit' attitude. Maintain your integrity of effort. Take these steps to help you along the way: take a break, assess progress, ask for help, pivot, and divide and conquer.

Theresa Szczurek (,,

copyright 2015.  All rights reserved.  Theresa Szczurek

ENERGIZE: How to Live to Be 100

Passionate pursuers, those people who find and successfully pursue their purpose to reap the real rewards of life, increase, focus, and use energy. Ask yourself,' do I have the energy to do what I need to do?'




My theme in 2015 is “Be a SUNFLOWER.”  Each letter of the word aligns with one of the traits of successful Passionate Pursuers.  E stands for Energy..  From page 52 of Pursuit of Passionate Purpose, “The capacity to do work--energy--is a habit of vigorous activity and forceful expression.  Your head, heart, and hands are your energy centers.  There are simple ways to increase your energy levels.  David Hawkins, MD, PhD, explains in Power vs.  Force:  The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior that energy levels can be calibrated into a map of consciousness.  Low energy levels manifest as shame, guilt. grief, and fear.  Courage, acceptance, love, and enlightenment align with high energy levels.  Positive jumps in energy are possible through intention, will, choice, and motivation.  Many spiritual disciplines of the world are interested in approaches to ascend these levels. ”


Seven Practical Pointers to Increase, Focus, and Use Energy

  1. Be Aware.  The first step toward increasing the strength of your energy is being aware of what energizes you.  Note what makes you feel alive, engaged, and energized and what does not.


  1. Build.  Intentionally nurture and build your positive, energizing forces.  Do more of what makes you feel energized and do less of what zaps your energy.  Say NO to zappers and distractions.  Say YES to energizers.  Be good to yourself.


  1. Meditate.  Hawkins notes that one technique to increase energy levels is meditation.  It also increases your ability to focus and concentration. Do you have a regular practice?  Even one minute each day is infinitely better than no minutes.  Find a teacher or a support group.  Improve your meditation posture.


  1. Surround Yourself with Energizers.  Ask yourself, 'what people energize me?'  Spend time with those supporters that provide encouragement and external validation.  As Kit Fox summarizes in the article "How to live to be 100 (or pretty damn close) in Men's Fitness, "Finding a healthy partner could actually save your life.  University College London researchers studied 3,722 couples and found that 67% of men became more physically active if their partner was." Smiling is an energizer! 


  1. Sleep More.  After decades of burning the candle at both ends, and surviving on 5 hours of sleep / night, I realized the price I was paying because sleep is important,  Not only does it feel good, sleep improves your cognitive and physical abilities.  It gives you energy.  For an even bigger energizer, try jumping out of bed in the morning, clapping your hands,  and saying, "I feel energized.  Today is a great day."


  1. Move More.  Exercise, even just a 20-minute walk, increases your stress robustness and resilience.  It provides a source of energy.  Ask yourself what movement works best for you? Using energy creates more energy.  Too much media zaps energy too -- turn off the TV, smart device, or computer, get off the couch, and move!  While you are at it, breath.  Oxygen is an energizer.


  1. Eat Well.  There are certain foods that zap energy.  Fresh, colorful vegetables and fruits are energizers. Pure, clean water energizes -- are you drinking enough water per day?  Too much fat, salt, and sugar reduces your energy.  Fake sugar zaps energy.  Too much food in general reduces energy -- do you have the ability to stop eating when you are full?  Be aware of what works best for you.  When did you last have your blood tested?  Make sure you have enough iron and other important elements are in balance.




People who find and successfully pursue their purpose are energetic.  They have tremendous energy and know how to increase, focus, and use that energy.  What are you doing to increase your energy? Start now.


Theresa M. Szczurek (,,

copyright 2015 Theresa Szczurek.  All rights reserved.

TRANSITIONS: Process and Pointers for Successful Change

You’ve been through it.  We all have.  It’s when the winds of change start blowing.  Transition is coming.  It may be in your personal life or in your professional life.  These times are upon me now.  Our daughter Annie is heading off to college.  How could 18 years go by so fast?  I am filled with memories, thoughts, dreams, and intense feelings… There is enjoying every moment we still have left in the ending – packing, driving to college, and helping her move into that dorm room.  There is the sadness of leaving behind the life we have had together and experiencing emptiness.  There is joy and anticipation for her and my new beginning. 


I recall leaving for college.  I was excited to leave home, spread my wings to fly, and embark on the next BIG phase of my life.  The sky was the limit.  I was ‘Born Ready’ for this new beginning.  My mom was not. I recall the sad look on my mom’s face as I was leaving.  My daughter is ready.  I am getting ready.  What about you? How do you react to these life transitions?


What is Transition? defines ‘transition’ as a passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another.  Change.  A movement, development, or evolution.


What Major Transitions Stand Out for You?


Transitions, big and small, are part of both our personal and professional lives.  Think back on your life – what transitions have you experienced?    Leaving home to go to the next phase of your life, starting a first long-term job, getting married, losing a job, ending a relationship, death of a loved one, moving to another part of the country, getting pregnant,  bringing a child into this world, starting a new company, and so many more.  What have you learned from these times in your life?


Process for Transitions.


In his seminal book Transitions, William Bridges, explains that there is a three-phase process:

  1. Every transition begins with an Ending
  2. Next we move into the Neutral Zone.  This time is meant to be a moratorium from the conventional activity of our everyday existence.  In the Pursuit of Passionate Purpose terminology, I call this going in-between and becoming an In-between’er. 
  3. Then we make a New Beginning.


Practical Pointers for Successful Transitions.


1.  Recognize this is a process.  It is okay to take time and allow. Be kind and patient.


2.  Learn from Endings.  It is important to let ourselves or others in transition react to endings.  Our endings are often brought about by the very acts and words that we believed would keep things going. 


3.  Surrender to Renewal.  In the neutral-zone, give in to the emptiness and stop struggling to escape it.   The process of transformation is essentially a death and rebirth process.  The gap between the old and new life is a source of renewal.  Bridges makes recommendations for finding meaning in the Neutral Zone: 

  • Find a regular time and place to be alone.
  • Begin a log of neutral zone experiences.
  • Take this pause in the action of your life to write an autobiography
  • Take this opportunity to discover what you really want.  Here, as explained in Pursuit of Passionate Purpose,  is the ‘Know and Nurture the Person’ work that helps you find your passion.
  • Think of what would be unlived in your life if it ended today.
  • Take a few days to go on your own version of a passion journey. “The more you leave behind, the more room you have to find something new.”


4.  Make a New Beginning.  Bridges makes these recommendations:

  • When we are ready to make a beginning, you will shortly find an opportunity.  Settle for inner signals – a faint intimation of something different from your inner wiser self, a hint from some comment that you can not forget, a dream.
  • Stop getting ready and act.  Be courageous.
  • Begin to identify yourself with the final result of the new beginning.  Visualize it.  Feel it.  Hear the crowds roar!
  • Take things step by step (Use the Persistence Strategy’s divide-and-conquer approach). 




Transitions are a part of life.  The process includes ending, going in-between into the neutral zone, and then making a new beginning.  Finally you will be ready, then act!


Theresa Szczurek (;;


This is vacation time. It's a time to break your normal routine and go on holiday.

What Do You Want from a Vacation?

Rest, rejuvenation, perspective, assessment, new ideas, mental stimulation, reduced stress, fun and laughter, physical exercise, adventure, learnings, time with loved ones, a way to contribute, ways to make new connections, reaffirmation of your values, and more. It's up to you.

I just returned from a once-in-a-lifetime trip with my 18-year-old daughter to Europe. The trip was part reward for Annie's high school graduation and part exploration of the World Centre of WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts).

Four Practical Pointers from Travel


BE OPEN AND BE FLEXIBLE. Annie had been raising money for two years to go to the India Centre in Sangam. She sold 1000s of boxes of Girl Scout cookies and wrapping paper, led outdoor skills day camps as fundraisers, and even applied for (and won) a Look Wider International Travel Scholarship from the Girl Scouts of Colorado Council. This council-wide trip to Sangam did not come together as planned. So in February, Annie and I regrouped, assessed the situation, and concluded — why not go as a mother / daughter team to Our Chalet, the oldest WAGGGS Centre located in Switzerland, and Pax Lodge in the UK? By being flexible with a broader vision, we pivoted and took action to go to Europe. We're glad we did!

Here was the Attraction Strategy at work. Hold a broad intention and be open to opportunities that are everywhere, while thinking, feeling passionately, and taking action to get what you want. How can you attract an alternative solution when you're stuck?



PACK LIGHTLY. Note that packing includes your attitude as well as your bag. Once you've packed your bag, evaluate if you really need each item, and reduce by at least one third. Pack even lighter. Oh how we wish we would have done this on our Europe trip.

We arrived at 7:00 PM by train in Bern, Switzerland, the lovely capital, after a long traveling day that started in Iceland at 6:00 AM. We could not find the information booth to get a map. With the hotel address in hand, we started walking, burdened with our backpacks. It's not far, people said. Forty-five minutes later, tired and hungry, we searched for a taxi. Finally we found one. As we were about to put our heavy bags in the cab, the driver pointed, "Just walk that way 100 meters." Finally 300 meters later, as despair was about to set in, we saw our hotel. While indeed we had packed many positive items, next time we will come without as much gear.

Here was the Pack Strategy in operation. When embarking on a path of passionate purpose, pack energizers that encourage you along the way and unpack hindrances that discourage you. How can you lighten your personal or professional load?



ARE YOU READY? ARE YOU PREPARED? Finnish Girl Guides follow the guideline of "Born ready! Always prepared!" Our goal was to summit Bunderspitz. We prepared with increasingly longer hikes day by day. Using the divide-and-conquer strategy, we started hiking to Bunderspitz around 7:30 PM on the first segment and arrived at the Cheesemaker's Hut at 9:30 PM where we got a few hours sleep. At 2:30 AM in total darkness and silence, we were ready for the assault. We first hiked to the highest barn on the mountain where we ate an early breakfast, then proceeded through the fog to the saddle, and then hiked on through the final stretch to the summit for sunrise at 5:35 AM. While the clear, panoramic view we yearned for never appeared, we did catch glimpses of the majestic mountains. Then slowly we descended five hours back to Our Chalet feeling exhilarated.

Here was the Persistence Strategy in action. Mindfully persevere with focused determination using a divide-and-conquer tactic. Try tackling your next big project using this approach.



MAKE NEW FRIENDS, BUT KEEP THE OLD. With ten million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from 145 countries across the world, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) is the largest voluntary movement dedicated to girls and young women in the world. We share common values of building girls with courage, character and confidence, who can take action. Recently WAGGGS launched a Global Action Theme, "together we can change our world." This awareness raising programme is directly linked to the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). One MDG is to promote gender equality and empower women. Seventy percent of the world's 1.2 billion people living in poverty are women, and 45 million girls around the world are being denied an education. WAGGGS believes that "empowering girls will change our world."

At Our Chalet and Pax Lodge we made new international friends, reaffirmed our values, had fun singing songs, challenged ourselves physically and mentally, learned a new skill, rejuvenated, and much more. In addition to precious mother / daughter together time before Annie leaves for college, we even met the WAGGGS commissioner from Taiwan.

Here was the Connections Strategy at work. Build relationships with and bring along on life's journey the proper people and support network and lessen the impact of improper ones. Many participants, staff, interns, friends, and my Radish team back home helped make this trip possible. Who is or should be part of your support network?


Radish Case Study

An entrepreneurial venture can be 24/7. If you don't set boundaries, it will demand an infinite amount of time and energy. This is a recipe for burnout and failure. The end result of a good break was positive for the company, its team, and me. I learned that Radish Systems survived while I recharged.


What about you? What do you want from your summer vacation? What did you or will you take away? How can you apply these ideas to your pursuit of passionate purpose?

ANGELS AND DEMONS: How to Fund Your Venture

I’m not talking about the bestselling mystery-thriller book / film involving the Vatican.  I am referring to what an entrepreneur deals with in funding a business.  While it is harder than ever, at least in Colorado, to find the funds, it is worth it since businesses produce jobs, pay taxes, create products and services, train their workforce, return value to investors, and provide a meaningful pursuit of passionate purpose.


Sources of Funding


“There are several million “startups” that are formed each year. In very general terms, roughly 1,500 startups get funded by venture capitalists in the US, and 50,000 by angel investors. VCs look at around 400 companies for every one in which they invest; angels look at 40,” states David Rose, CEO of, an on-line community connecting investors with deals.  Angels are high net-worth individuals who are often sophisticated, accredited investors interested in early-stage private equity or debt investment in emerging firms with great potential.

“Around 90 Colorado firms were funded by VCs in 2012 with approximately $550M coming from 125 different venture capital funds.  Over 80% of those funds came from out of state,” stated James Linfield, Managing Partner, Cooley LLP, a top global law firm, at the recent VCIR (Venture Capital in the Rockies) 2013 Winter conference co-hosted by Rocky Mountain Venture Capital Association and KPMG.


This annual conference in Beaver Creek was kicked off by Colorado Governor Hickenlooper, who is himself a successful entrepreneur.  VCIR brought together carefully preselected emerging growth entrepreneurs, venture capitalists (VCs), and service providers for networking, company pitches, education, partying, and skiing.  Mike Bearup, Managing Partner of KPMG, a leading accounting and audit firm that helps run VCIR, reported that there were over 250 conference registrants showing there is no lack of interest in funding ventures.


What happens to the other firms that don’t get VC or Angel funding?  They may die or they may get funded from other options such as:

  • Sales.  This is the best and easiest approach.  Just sell more.  No need to get diluted or worry about dissatisfied ‘demon’ investors.
  • Founder’s Capital.  Prepare, save, and dip into your own pockets.  
  • Sweat Equity.  Staff members work for equity instead of cash to keep burn rate low and to get a piece of the action.
  • Friends and Family.  These people believe in you and want you to succeed.  They make an emotional decision to invest. 
  • Government Grants such as SBIR.  Contact the Small Business Administration (SBA) and your local SBDC (Small Business Development Center) as a first step.
  • Strategic Partners.  These firms need what you have and will fund you in exchange for early use of your product.  They may eventually acquire your firm.
  • Bank Lending and other financial vehicles.  Check with your local banker.  They might even be an SBA lender.
  • Crowdfunding.  Let the masses fund your project or venture online.


Four Practical Pointers to Funding Your Venture.


  1. Find the Angels or Invest in a Start-up.  The Rockies Venture Club’s annual Angel Capital Summit conference was held on March 19 and 20, 2013.  Entrepreneurs were there seeking investors.  Angels were there learning how to be a better investor and seeking deals.  This year’s conference kicked off with a live interview with David Cohen of Techstars ,  Jon Nordmark, former CEO and co-founder of eBags and currently CEO of UsingMiles gives the Day 2 keynote lunch speech, and up to 35 of Colorado’s hottest startups will be pitching to investors.  Be on the look-out for other valuable gatherings. 


  1. Get help.  Are you an aspiring entrepreneur?  Get involved in one of the many programs to help you succeed.  For example, The Founder’s Institute, self claimed as the World's Largest Startup Accelerator, has a mission to "Globalize Silicon Valley" and help founders build enduring technology companies. It is working with over 800 graduate companies and part-time programs operating in 40 cities. Register for the next Denver program by April 14, 2013 at  


  1. Surround Yourself with Other Hot Entrepreneurs. Colorado has some cool conferences where innovation lives – learn as much as you can.  Each Fall there is the annual Defrag Conference (now with its Blur addition) which explores enterprise collaboration, social media and big data.  At the November 2012 Blur conference, I learned all about 3-D printing.  This is really cool and is changing how products are designed!  Coming soon is Glue Conference ( ) in Broomfield from May 22 and 23, 2013.  Learn how developers, architects, administrators, and integrators are solving the web application integration problem-set.  Or check out the many other technology and innovation conferences.  These will inspire you and provide a means to connect with other potential partners, investors, and customers.


  1. Bootstrap.  Vic Ahmed, successful business man and founder of Innovation Pavilion (, an ecosystem for entrepreneurs which is now bringing the Angel Capital Group to Colorado, advises, “It is a mistake to assume you need to raise funds. You lose control and there are consequences of raising money.  Try to bootstrap your firm.  Cut your team and increase your runway.  If you still need outside funds, ask, ‘Do you really have a high growth company?  Can you achieve hockey stick growth?’ If the dog is not eating the dog food, you are fooling yourself and it is a dream that you can raise money.  Fundraising can take all of a CEO’s time, time you can spend building your business.  If you decide to take in outside money, know thy investor.  You will sleep better at night and reduce your stress.” 


Seeking to fund your business?  Attract more angels and avoid the demons! 

Theresa M. Szczurek (;;


John Hickenlooper, now the Governor of Colorado, knows what funding has to do with it --  the success of a business that is.  As a Denver entrepreneur working with other urban pioneers to launch Colorado’s first brewpub and Denver's first craft brewery 25 years ago, Wynkoop Brewery Company, it was not easy.  At the recent Colorado Capital Conference in Denver, Hickenlooper shared, “It look two years and over 200 meetings to raise $400,000. Those who did invest received a 90% return per year for 12.5 years when we sold out.  Entrepreneurs, if you have been turned down over and over, don’t quit!  It takes persistence.”


It still is not easy for Colorado entrepreneurs to secure funding, but RVC or Rockies Venture Club (, which has been hosting the Colorado Capital Conference (CCC) for twenty four years, makes it easier.  RVC also runs monthly meetings bringing the entrepreneurial community together, providing education seminars, and having more companies present.  Peter Adams, Executive Director of the RVC, reports, “Of the fourteen companies pitching at CCC this year, eight have been identified by angels for continued due diligence, ultimately leading to investment in some of the companies.  This process has led to over twenty RVC pitching companies receiving funding totaling over $15 million so far in 2012 with even more investment expected within the next few months in the CCC presenting companies.  RVC Angels meet in Boulder, the Tech Center, and now Golden every month to collaborate on investments and create a community that makes angel investing both fun and effective by sharing the knowledge of a diverse group of investors.”


There are many entrepreneurial organizations popping up in Colorado, and now it's imperative that the community work together to minimize overlaps between organizations and to address the service gaps that remain.  At a roundtable lunch held at the CCC, some initiatives were established including:

  • creation of a common calendar so events do not conflict with one another (
  • angel groups agreed to work together to syndicate deals so that combined resources can better meet the capital needs of entrepreneurs.  Deep dives are scheduled so that each angel group can share their best deals with peers in other cities.


Five Tips for Entrepreneurs:

  1. Be Persistent.  Don’t quit.  Be creative and try other alternative funding channels such as friends and family, angels and angel groups, venture capitalists, incubators such as ‘Plug and Play Tech Center” as part of the Innovation Pavilion ( and Story Stock Exchange a crowd funding incubator ( , and many more.
  2. Join a Mastermind Group and learn from others.  The RVC sponsors a group ( or organize your own group of non-competing entrepreneurs seeking funding.
  3. Participate in the Angel Capital Summit.  Plan to apply and participate in the March 21-23 2013 event (
  4. Get connected.  The entrepreneurial business community is taking steps to connect investors to entrepreneurs.  Get involved—for example, consider participating in Rockies Venture Club, Silicon Flatiron Center, Meet Up groups such as Denver Founders Network, TiE Rockies, and many other groups.
  5. Bootstrap.  Raise cash through sales.  Keep your financials as lean as possible.


Funding is a critical resource to the success of a venture.  Smile, believe, have fun with it, and be open to pivots that make your venture more attractive to investors.

Theresa M. Szczurek (;;