What You Can't See: Key Messages and Questions

What was a memorable event for you this summer? That's what I asked Girl Scouts in 6th-12th grades at our "coming back together" pool party. A remarkable number of them agreed — the eclipse! Regardless of whether they were in Wyoming, like I was experiencing totality, or in their school yard watching the eclipse with their class or at NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) or other special place, the Great American eclipse brought a unique, perhaps once-in-a-lifetime, message to unite many Americans.

Key Messages

  • The eclipse brought the USA together. People from all over the country were mesmerized with a natural phenomenon greater than ourselves or politics. It felt good to have the media and individuals focused on something other than the dysfunction in Washington, DC or worldwide.
  • It gave us an opportunity, if we took advantage of it, to stop our everyday activities, gaze up at the sky, and see something we can't normally see. Did you pause or did you miss that special chance?
  • WHAT YOU CAN'T SEE. During totality, when the moon totally blocked out the sun, you could see the stars in the sky. They are always shining in the middle of the day, but the bright light of the sun blocks you from seeing them. What else in your life is always there, but not visible to you? What are you missing? What can you do to be more aware?
  • The eclipse was a spiritual event for me. The term is derived from an Old English word meaning, "whole" and perfect in goodness. It awoke a spirit within and outside of me that is part of the "interconnected web of life." What, if anything, did you feel?
  • I traveled to Wyoming for eclipse totality with the Boy Scout Venture Crew of my Unitarian Universalist (UU) church as one of the adult advisors. In planning the trip, we were seeking a place to camp and not having much luck until a lovely and lively 90+ year-old UU woman from Casper offered us her backyard. We received much more than a campsite: we found new friends, interesting conversation, shared meals, and so much more. The next day we viewed the eclipse together with dozens of other fellow UUs from around the country at the UU Church of Casper. People came from CA, UT, FL, IA, CO, MN, WY, and beyond. We were united with a common purpose — to experience this special event. It was wonderful to see so many different churches in Casper open their doors to visitors in a similar way.


The Great American eclipse united the country. It gave hope. It allowed us to pause, see things we can't normally see, reawaken our spirit, and find friendship. Here is an example of good news! Let's look for more of this goodness, which may not always be easy to see, but which is always present.


Theresa M. Szczurek (www.TMSworld.com, www.PursuitofPassionatePurpose, www.RadishSystems.com)

Copyright 2017.  All rights reserved.

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 (www.PursuitofPassionatePurpose.com, www.TMSworld.com, www.RadishSystems.com)  copyright @2016 all rights reserved.



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?

OUT OF AFRICA as a Pursuit of Passionate Purpose

Here is a book review of Out of Africa, by guest blogger Annie Szczurek Davis.  As a heroine's journey, it is in itself an interesting pursuit of passionate purpose dealing with business and life experiences. 

What if you were given the opportunity to move to Africa and run a farm there? Would you do it? In Out of Africa, by Isak Dinesen, the pen name of Karen Blixen, Blixen describes her experience in Africa. In 1914, at the age of 27, she sailed from Denmark to Africa and married her Swedish cousin, Baron Bror Blixen. For seven years, they lived together on their 4000 acre coffee plantation in Kenya, but eventually got divorced. Karen Blixen remained in Africa for another ten years, until she was forced to sell her beloved farm and move back to Denmark. The book is filled with many stories of the land, the Native African people and animals, and her friends in Africa. Though many of these stories are simply memories from her time in Africa, and don't play much of a role in the plot, Karen's overall journey follows the archetypal heroic cycle. In the orientation phase of her journey, she is called from her home in Denmark to marry her cousin, and crosses into another world when she reaches Africa. During her 17 years in Africa (the disorientation phase), she experiences many struggles and challenges, and eventually is forced to sell her farm. After moving back to Denmark, in literary terms, reorienting herself, Blixen shares her stories with the world as a gift.

 The novel shared some valuable lessons and messages with the reader, through the different stories. One point that was particularly clear to me was understanding and appreciating people of different races. A good portion of the book was spent describing the Natives who lived on Karen's farm and certain of the Natives to whom she was closest. These stories helped the reader understand the similarities and differences between Natives and Europeans. Blixen writes with such affection and regard for the Natives that the reader walks away less prejudiced against them.

 Lastly, Blixen made the point that although there will be uncontrollable events that occur in life, there is little-to-nothing you can do to control them. Life can be difficult. So, therefore, you should respond as best you can given the situation, but ultimately accept your destiny and fortune. Karen Blixen struggled with drought, low crop yields, grasshoppers, and much more. Because of these irrepressible factors which did not allow her ongoing financial support, she was ultimately forced to sell her farm and move away. After some denial that she would have to leave her home of 17 years, Blixen resigned herself to the fact that she was actually leaving. She also compared the philosophy of the Natives to that of Europeans with regards to their destiny and fortunes, saying that the Natives are more able to accept the cards they are dealt in life. From her own personal strategy, as well as her comparison of Natives and Europeans, her philosophy becomes clear to the reader that certain out-of-control events do happen, but there may be nothing you can about them except have equanimity. 

by Annie Szcczurek Davis (www.PursuitofPassionatePurpose.com)

copyright 2011.  All rights reserved. 


Seven Pointers for Life and Business Success Learned from a Canoe Trip

There is nothing like a break to give perspective.  What plans do you have to unplug and get off the grid, so you can recharge, rewind, and refresh?  Thanks to my daughter’s Girl Scout troop, I had the opportunity recently to spend 5 days canoeing in the Buffalo River National Park in Arkansas where the temperature hit 102 degrees with 90% humidity.  There we were with four 15-year-olds, two leaders, three canoes, nine paddles, two tents, and one large, slowly moving river.  Of course, there was also one van to carry our troop and its gear 917 miles from Colorado to Arkansas and back again over two days each way.


Here are Seven Practical Pointers from the River:


Go with the Flow.  Life is like a river flowing.  Slow down.  It is so much easier to go down stream, rather then fight the battle to paddle upstream.  How often at work do we paddle upstream when we don’t have to? Use the Allowing Strategy – let go and go with the flow. ( See the book Pursuit of Passionate Purpose for further explanation on all success strategies.)
Divide and Conquer.  We divided the 50 mile trip into five days, approximately 10 miles a day traveling at two miles an hour….Piece by piece, part by part we flowed (and paddled) down the river.  Try tackling your next big project using the divide and conquer approach of the Persistence Strategy.
Surround with Proper People and Beauty.  Besides the participants and leaders, many people helped along the way.  One family allowed the troop to use their van.  Another family let us use their tents and other river gear.  Another troop leader, worked as the trip treasurer.  The National Park rangers were extremely helpful in sharing pertinent information to plan for the trip.  Our outfitters provided the necessary equipment for a price. Nature provided the proper environment to relax and learn. We used the Connections Strategy – connecting with self, proper people, other beings, and spiritual sources.
Prepare and Pack.  A big trip like this does not just happen—it takes preparation, planning and packing.  We set the goal in September to have a June canoe trip.  While we did not know where we would go and exactly how much it would cost, we knew the girls would need to earn money.  The girls sold lots of magazines and cookies.  It turns out our actual budget was correct within 1% of our planned budget.  I wish all of my work budgets were so right on. We learned to pack the energizers and unpack the hindrances along the way – we used the Pack Strategy.
Be a Firefly.  How I love those bugs that fly around at night rhythmically flashing on and off.  They remind me of hot, lazy summer evenings in Illinois where I grew up. The message from these lightning bugs: Focus on your strengths.  Do what you do best.  Try to delegate the rest to others.
Skip Rocks.  We arrived at the take-out two hours early on the 5th river day.  There was NO phone coverage so we could not call the outfitters to pick us up early.  So what did we do with time and no electronics for entertainment?  We decided to learn something new.  Be curious.  We learned about the optimal shape for a rock that will skip, how to hold and let go of the rock, and the fun in the contest.  There was the thrill on the face of the girls when they successfully skipped a rock two, three, or even seven times.
Take a Break.  Sing a Song.  What do you do when its mid-day, 100+ degrees, and you are tired after paddling only half of the required daily distance?  Be flexible on the distance for that day AND jump in the river for a cool, rejuvenating swim.  The paddling also goes much faster when you are singing a song together with your partner. Can you find a way to do this, have more fun, at work?  Enjoy the journey.

Summary.  Every experience in life brings lessons.  What will you learn from your summer vacation?  How can you apply these to your pursuits of passionate purpose?


Theresa M. Szczurek (www.PursuitofPassionatePurpose.com, www.TMSworld.com, www.RadishSystems.com)

Harry Potter’s Business Success Secrets

Have you ever seen such a thing?  People pay a large amount of money to get the opportunity to stand in the hot sun for over an hour in a long line to be able to shop in a certain store.  Then when they finally get into the store, they spend lots of money buying theme products. Unbelievable?  That’s what hundreds of Muggles (non-magical types) did at “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” as part of the newest attraction in Universal Studios in Orlando, FL.  Wouldn’t every business love becoming an international craze with huge demand?


Over Spring Break 2011 besides attending the CTIA Wireless show, I experienced with my daughter one of the biggest business successes.  People of all ages traveled in from all over the world and spent lots of money for parking, entrance fees, food, and products.  As a Harry Potter fan, I must admit it was brilliant and the Hogwart’s Castle ride whereby you experienced being on a broom in a Quiddtich Match with Harry was the best ride ever.


7 Practical Pointers.  What are the Harry Potter business success strategies?  What can we learn and apply to our businesses?  Radish systems is using these.


  1. Start with an exceptional product or service.  The Harry Potter book series by pauper turned billionaire J. K. Rowling was one of the biggest and most profitable publishing phenomena.  My daughter has read all seven books hundreds of times – no lie.  The product is different, is filled with characters readers can related to, is action-filled with magic and suspense addressing a universal good versus evil topic, and hit at the right time.  By dividing the book into many parts, there was anticipation for the next part of the story. One of the most important P’s of marketing, have the right product.
  2. Be responsive to the market, your customers.  Here is another important P of marketing, know and respond to the people. Wouldn’t it be great if your customers can’t stop thinking, dreaming, and talking about your firm and your service? Your customers are your most important asset – without them you would have no revenue, you would be out of business.  If you make sure your customers are happy, they will keep coming back and make sure you are happy.  How often do you ask your customers and prospects what their pain is and how you can best resolve it?
  3. Leverage success to breed more success.  The bestselling book, led to sell-out movies, which led to in-demand products, overflowing amusement parks, and much more.  It is the same concept that Starbuck’s and other well-known brands have used for concentric diversification and additional revenue streams.
  4. Go viral.    Harry Potter came out just as social media channels began to take hold.  Readers spread the word to other readers.  When the park was about to be announced, the top 10 Harry Potter bloggers were invited to a private meeting.  They then spread the word virally.  Within 24 hours, millions knew about it. How can you use this most important promotional tool (another P of marketing)?
  5. Think BIG.  Believe everything is possible.  Be open to the possibilities.  Use the Attraction Strategy to power the pull (as explained in Chapter 8 of Pursuit of Passionate Purpose, www.PursuitofPassionatePurpose.com)
  6. Surround yourself with great people.  Harry had Hermione and Ron, and Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix who were united in a common set of values.  Rowling found a great publisher and other support team members.
  7. Be lucky.  It is said that luck comes when preparation meets opportunity.  Believe, prepare, and then act.  It is useful to be lucky.

Theresa Szczurek (www.TMSworld.com and www.PursuitofPassionatePurpose.com)

SMARTPHONE DEPENDENCE – the Agony and the Ecstasy

What I Learned on Spring Break about How Technology Has Changed Life


Getting out of town for Spring Break this year seemed less challenging than my normal routine, which typically includes pulling close to an all-nighter while trying unsuccessfully to finish every uncompleted task. My family and I were all safely on the packed bus on time heading to the airport, when a dreadful question hit me –where is my BlackBerry?  Doing the mental check list, I reassured myself – yes, I have the laptop and its charger; okay, there is the Bluetooth headset with its charger; yep, I have the camera, videocamera, and chargers; and here is the BlackBerry charger and its emergency battery backup charger.  No BlackBerry.  Oh dear! 


Ecstasy.  When I moved from a cell phone to a Smartphone, it changed my life for the better – instantly I was able to get all my emails and not have to wait to turn on my laptop, find Internet access, and retrieve the messages (which is what I had been doing).  I could quickly check my Twitter stream and easily tweet.  I could browse the Internet and get access to needed information.  And I could make phone calls with reliable access to my directory and do much more 24/7.


Agony.  The challenge, for me and many others, is turning it off and living in the present without constantly checking the addicting stream of electronic information.  My husband is especially sensitive about having me read emails, tweets, and online articles while in bed; to me it seems the equivalent to the hardback book he is reading.


Lessons Learned.  What would this trip be like without my Smartphone? Fortunately, it was only six days long.  This is what I learned:


  • I became aware of my dependence on my Smartphone.  It makes me so much more efficient.
  • I used my husband’s iPhone when necessary, which he did not like, but overall I was more present in the here-and-now of our vacation.
  • Email communication was much less accessible, so my response time lagged.  When I did get on the laptop (very early or late in the day, after our busy days in Washington DC), I only responded to the most urgent messages.  I still have hundreds of non-responded emails.
  • My office was able to get my BlackBerry to me two thirds of the way into this vacation and it was much easier for me to function then.
  • The world did not end without my Smartphone.
  • Next family vacation, I will truly go off net.


Practical Pointers about Successful Living with Technology


  • Prepare a written checklist of essential technology to take with you each day, whether on a trip or just doing business
  • Manually review the checklist before you leave for the day – make sure you have what you need, then relax and breathe easy.
  • Agree to proper etiquette with the important people in your life about when/how to use technology and when to turn it off


How has your life and performance been improved or high jacked by technology? Want to find out? Try giving your Smartphone up for a few days.


Theresa M. Szczurek (www.TMSworld.com and www.PursuitofPassionatePurpose.com)