Firefighters vs. Autism


Turns out people like seeing pictures of half naked firefighters, throw in a good cause and people get really excited!

Justin Lewis, our crisis management expert, and author of Firefighter Self Rescue, recently started a non-profit that fights to prevent autism-related wandering incidents and deaths.


Wandering-When a person, who requires some level of supervision to be safe, leaves a supervised, safe space and/or the care of a responsible person and is exposed to potential dangers such as traffic, open water (drowning), falling from a high place, weather (hypothermia, heat stroke, dehydration) or unintended encounters with potentially predatory strangers.

As a firefighter, that information made Justin very uncomfortable. As a father of a child with autism, that information made Justin sick.
“It is physically and mentally draining to raise a child who is prone to wondering off from a safe environment and attracted to a potentially dangerous one, you always have to be dialed in, I had to do something…Hence, Firefighters vs. Autism.” Justin recently explained.


Well, what Justin did was recruit one of the most talented and creative photographers in all of Southern Arizona, Jason Lee Nolan, called a bunch of his fellow firefighters from numerous departments, and connected with families touched by autism, then shared his vision with them all.

His goal from the beginning has been to;

1. Train Emergency Responders how to best serve the Autistic community and children with special needs.
2. Sponsor Survival Swim Lessons for families touched by autism that are unable to afford them.
3. Raise awareness to prevent autism-related wandering incidents and deaths.


Social Entrepreneurship

To make a significant impact, Justin knew that it was going to take plenty of cash, community support, and sweat equity. Now, filing for non-profit status is no joke, he found that out when numerous lawyers he was referred to failed to return his calls. Another wonderful lesson he learned is that you cannot please everyone. The name of his organization seems to attract some raving fans as well as draw out plenty of critics. “Why does it have to be Firefighters VERSUS Autism, like it is a battle?” is a question he fields regularly.

Justin’s approach to solving problems in the marketplace is a perfect example of social entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurs identify and solve social problems on a large scale. Just as business entrepreneurs create and transform whole industries, social entrepreneurs act as the change agents for society, seizing opportunities others overlook in order to improve systems, invent and disseminate new approaches and advance sustainable solutions that create social value.

Our mission at GAP is to inspire leadership and creativity in a manner that drives innovation, not only through our trainings and presentations but through our actions as well. Firefighters vs. Autism is a perfect example of the process of innovation.

Empathy->Perspective-Taking->Creative Process->Leadership=Innovative Solutions.

“Social entrepreneurs identify resources where people only see problems. They view the villagers as the solution, not the passive beneficiary. They begin with the assumption of competence and unleash resources in the communities they’re serving.” states David Bornstein, author of How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas

For those of you who may be in the midst of solving some complex problems or itching to influence society, I would like to share my 3 biggest take-a-ways from Justin’s journey.

1. Be The Message-Make sure your mission is congruent with the person you are designed to be. It will get tough, you are entering uncharted territory. The road map to success is know where you want to go but be prepared to take detours along the way. Changing people’s behavior is crazy tough and capturing their attention can be a frustrating process, if you are not deeply connected to the purpose behind your initiative, it will fail.

2. Go Where You Are Celebrated, Not Where You Are Tolerated-If your message does not speak to a specific audience, nobody will listen. People want to be a part of a community, communities are built from familiarity. Be specific, start small and build momentum. Most organizations jump over warm leads to get to cold ones. Focus on serving the early adopters, then empower them to help recruit supporters.

If you want to change the world…act consciously. Be authentic, but temper it with compassion.

3. People Care More About Your “WHY” Than Your “WHAT”-Everybody is competing for attention, there is so much noise in the marketplace, your message must be clear. Most people will not remember what you say but they will never forget how you made them feel. The more you can get people to feel and connect with your purpose, the easier it is for them to tell your story.

The Campaign
Justin has done a really great job at launching his indiegogo project. Through an active Facebook community, and by leaking teaser photos of some of the most jacked firefighters in Southern Arizona, he raised over 4k in less than a week. Now to have the impact he desires, he will need to raise 10x that amount, but he is well on his way and taking the first few steps are always the most difficult.

There are so many problems in the world but doing nothing is like waiving a big white flag. I have a deep admiration for Justin and the investment he is making into our community. Think big, start small, then you can grow them all.

Eric Thompson is the owner of Global Ascension Productions and founder of The Brilliance Project.  Eric has developed a plan that helps people to synergize their inner virtues, allowing them to discover and fully utilize the hidden strengths that so many people never use – their Brilliance.

For more information about Eric visit him at

2 keys to the Human Existence and unleashing your passion

At a recent speaking engagement delivered to a group of service professionals, Joseph Blair shared some profound insight about two very basic needs every human strives to fulfill. Regardless of the business you are in, understanding these two basic human necessities can help you gain a much deeper understanding of your clients, team members, vendors, employees, etc. Do not overcomplicate your business, serve your current relationships and you will grow your influence.

Joseph Blair is the founder of Blair Charity Group, philanthropist, retired professional athlete, professional speaker, and consultant. His charismatic personality coupled with his giving heart allows him to inspire acts of kindness in others. Most people know him because of his athletic prowess, but they love him because of his passion for improving his community.

Be Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

When I was first asked to be a part of the Dancing with Our Stars event, benefitting the Southern Arizona Diaper Bank, I thought “NO WAY!!!” I mean, I can dance and all, but not ballroom dance!! I’m more of a, at the party while everyone else is too drunk to notice I’m dancing, type of dancer. But the thought that continued to tug at me was the cause!! For those that don’t know, the Diaper Banks that are now seen throughout the country were all originated and duplications of our Southern Arizona Diaper Bank. That’s right! WE started this great mission and movement! To know that type of innovation and dedication came from the community that I love so much was enough to inspire that same type of innovation and dedication in myself. Although, my innovation and dedication would take on a much more “rhythmic” face.

Once I finally agreed to participate, the first question asked of me was which dance I would like to attempt. My reply was very simple. “I have no idea!! Please just pick one for me that you think someone my size can pull off!” And this is how destiny decided to drop the foxtrot into my lap and my life.

After my first correspondence with my instructor, I felt pretty good about what was going to happen, that didn’t last long. It was only a couple days after that initial correspondence that I received another email from that instructor informing me that she would not be able to teach me and she would assign the dance to a substitute. First, I thought this was a sign for me to be very afraid and merely a indication of how things would turn out. Then I stated to reflect on my own life and how many great lessons and opportunities that were given to me because things didn’t work out the way they were planned. With that in mind, I became even more determined to make the best of this situation.

I’ve competed on basketball courts all over the world and never did I feel the type of anxiety that I felt the first time I stepped into the dance studio. The level of discomfort I experienced was enough for me to reconsider going through with the competition. My anxiety was compounded when I learned that my instructor/dance partner, Zhenya Kellar, measured in just under the 5 foot mark…heck, I could fit her in my pocket!! Being that I am 6”10, I am use to towering over people but this seemed a bit extreme. All I could picture was at weddings when the groom dances with the flower girl, it is cute but I did not see it translating into good scores from the judges. Thankfully, Zhenya was a pro and we instantly connected and shared many commonalities, especially our love for competition. So we created a practice schedule that we felt would prevent complete and total embarrassment.

The next few weeks seemed like a blur. I realized that those folks on the television show “Dancing With The Stars” had spent 8 hours a day working on their routines. We had only 1 hour, once or twice a week, depending on our schedules. Work never stops! Even when you’d rather dance the day away!

Just 3 weeks into the rehearsals I was feeling really good. In fact, we sat down and cancelled the bulk of my lessons! I have to admit that I feel like I was at the advantage when it came to this dance thing. You see, a choreographed routine in my mind is just like a basketball play or a workforce project. There is a rhythm to it and if someone is off a beat or out of step, everyone feels it. I took the mentality of it all being a play that I had to learn. I would have not have had the longevity in the sport of basketball I had without being able to adapt to new situations relatively quick. I have learned to take direction well, ask good questions, and put in the work. If I was going to break out of my comfort zone and try taking on a live ballroom dance competition in front of hundreds of people who will be judging me, I wanted to control as many of the variables as I could. What if I trip? What if I step on Zhenya? Or worse, what if I drop her? The only way I could block out those thoughts were through preparation and repetition.
Competition day came quick and the nerves hit me hard. I’m sure I seemed calm and cool on the outside but on the inside of was a mess! The one thing that calmed me down and gave me peace was the video that was shown before the competition portion began. The Southern Arizona Diaper Bank put together a wonderful video describing what they do in the community and the impact that this type of event makes in the lives of the people they serve. Seeing the passion behind those involved and the appreciation of those served became the light that lit my fire. With so many people stepping up to do so much, how could I not make my steps with pride and passion?

I finished the evening winning both the judges’ vote and the crowd’s vote for best foxtrot of the evening! I think that one of the other dancers described it best in the post dance interview. He said, “It’s kind of like military boot camp, you’re proud you did it, but you’re glad it’s over!!” Growth means change, and change involves risk, the circumstances will never be perfect. The road will be tough, so what? Get started now! I leaned that with each step I took, I grew stronger and more skilled and more confident. Find what makes you uncomfortable and take action!


Joseph Blair is the founder of Blair Charity Group, philanthropist, retired professional athlete, professional speaker, and consultant. His charismatic personality coupled with his giving heart allows him to inspire acts of kindness in others. Most people know him because of his athletic prowess, but they love him because of his passion for improving his community.

The Legacy of a Teacher

Who in the hell would want to be a teacher these days?  They get blamed for everything that is wrong in the world.  You know what I am talking about; we all have that friend who over shares about their miserable life and how that ninja-like dream killer of an educator ruined their only shot at happiness.  I figured a great way to celebrate National Teacher Appreciation Week would be to make myself vulnerable (something I don’t do easily) and share with you how one educator has shaped my life.  To this point, I have only shared how my high school baseball coach/social studies teacher changed the course of my life with my beautiful wife of 14 years (shout out to Cristina Thompson).  I realized that I was being selfish, and these experiences could very well add value to people’s lives and allow me to honor the world’s oldest profession…wait, I mean honor the world’s most underappreciated profession.

Let me first start by saying that I had a lot of great teachers throughout the years, and many invested their heart and souls into my development that led me to evolve into this incredible being that I am today, but I’m sure most would appreciate remaining nameless for obvious reasons.  However, I will out Mr. David Landrith and allow him to bask in the glory of contributing to my brilliance.

I was a fairly typical latchkey kid, a product of a divorce, which forced me to grow up quick.  I approached my education as a means to keeping me on the baseball field.  There were not many people yielding more influence in my life than the head varsity baseball coach because if you took baseball out of my life, I would have been lost.  This was my element; the baseball field was the only place that my talent and passion met, it gave me purpose.

As I reflect back on my memories of Coach L., I experience deep gratitude for him being in my life.  He had a commanding presence but was full of humility.  Rarely did you ever hear about how he was a part of a College World Series Championship team or how he played professional baseball.  You always got the sense that what happened yesterday did not matter; it was all about being consistent and putting in the work.  His pedigree was very impressive: his father enjoyed a colorful career as a major league baseball player.  His dad played along side of one of the greatest ever to play the game, Mr. Willie Mays.  Coach never bragged about how his dad hit a game-winning walk-off homerun off hall of fame pitcher Warren Spahn or how his dad jumped on Roger Maris’s back to protect the pitcher.  Nope, Coach kept all of these great nuggets to himself and let his actions do all of his talking.  I only know this information thanks to Google.  Of the many lessons this man has taught me, two had such a profound impact on me that they are now a part of my character.

Coach's Dad


Lesson #1

Celebrate Your Victories with Dignity and Appreciation.


Coach demonstrated this lesson unequivocally during a game my junior year when we were playing a very talented team from the south side of town. This team had some highly touted recruits who garnered national attention.  In the top of the fifth inning while the game was tied, I crushed a high fastball over the fence to put us up a run.  As I rounded the bases I was celebrating like my next stop was Disneyland.  Seriously, Kirk Gibson had nothing on me.  Coach Landrith signaled for me to come over to the third base box; I trotted over there with my chest sticking out expecting him to praise my wondrous athletic ability, and he calmly expressed his displeasure for my antics and reminded me that we have yet to win the game.  That pissed me off.  I was like, “Who in the hell does he think he is? I just delivered the very best outcome for our team, and he is criticizing my excitement???”

Well we went on with the game and, sure enough, lost the lead again.  In the last inning of regulation, I came up to bat again, and same as earlier, the game was tied.  I was still furious about what had transpired earlier but was ready to take some hacks.  Well, Déjà vu… same pitch, same result, I hit my second homerun of the game.  This time, though, I sprinted around the bases with a scowl on my face, refusing to show any emotion in protest.  Coach summoned me over to the third base box again. This time he told me in his booming voice said, “Son, it is okay to smile.”  Unfortunately, we went on to lose that game in extra innings, but coach made sure he taught me the power of humility.  I know that he was not trying to make me feel small but to expand my capacity for appreciation.  This lesson has always stuck with me and has changed my paradigm from looking up at the stars and feeling insignificant to appreciating the fact that I am included in such a universe.


Lesson #2

Show Up Everyday.


My senior year of high school was crazy and fun, but I was near the ledge a couple of times and needed to be pulled back.  My parents did not really have a great sense as to what was going on, but thankfully Coach Landrith said what needed to be said.  I had been missing some classes, and it finally caught up to me.  My parents were informed, and my dad reacted in a way that he thought he should: he went down to the school to get some answers.  The problem was that no one knew who he was, not even my baseball coach.  Before a game that I was planning on playing in, Coach Landrith sat me in the dugout and unleashed his full fury on me.  This was not a fun-loving intervention; this was a barrel-chested Grizzly Adams-looking man yelling at a decibel level high enough to ensure that not only my team heard, but the visiting team heard too.  Later I found out that the track team practicing on the football field 500 yards away were in the loop as well.

This is how I remember it...

He said a lot that day, but all I remember hearing was when he said, “And who is this guy who came into my classroom today claiming to be your dad?  You have been in this program for four years, and I am just meeting him now?”  It was like getting smacked in the face with the truth, and I was finally capable of comprehending it.  This was such a humiliating experience that I knew then that I would never let my children experience anything like that.  Coach was not trying to be hurtful; he was frustrated and genuinely concerned for my well being.  This man was not related to me yet still had a vested interest in my progression; he was rooting for me.  I have approached parenting from the perspective of just needing to show up everyday.  My kids do not expect me to have all the answers, but they know they can count on me to be rooting for them.

My contention is that we need to honor our teachers through meaningful and deliberate expressions of our gratitude for showing up everyday and making the continuous, laborious investment of shaping our students.  They work within constraints of a broken system yet are responsible for solving all that is wrong in our world.  These effective educators focus on serving their students’ unique needs as Coach did for me.  They may not bat a 1000, but when they connect, their influence has a compounding effect on the world.

I am a committed father who understands the importance of gratitude and being present.  That will never show up on some ridiculous standardized test designed to measure the effectiveness of a teacher.  However, it shows up in every interaction I have in my business, parenting, and coaching practices.  Coach Landrith continues to teach and coach at my high school, and I know our community is better off because of the virtues he willingly shares.

Now, I challenge you to invest some time into expressing your appreciation for an educator who has shaped your life.  If they are no longer living, how can you honor them?  Plant a tree?  Create a scholarship fund?  Send a letter to their loved ones?  Get creative; take action and build up some gratitude equity.  In the comments below I would love to hear ways that you have or will honor an influential teacher in your life.  It may not be convenient, but isn’t that the point?  Now show up and be gracious…it will change your life. Thanks Coach!

Eric Thompson is the owner of Global Ascension Productions and founder of The Brilliance Project.  Eric has developed a plan that helps people to synergize their inner virtues, allowing them to discover and fully utilize the hidden strengths that so many people never use – their Brilliance.

For more information about Eric visit him at

Inclusive Leadership – Where do you stand?

I work closely with some of the most incredible speakers/authors within the human potential industry.  One of the content provides that I have worked the longest with has had an incredible influence on me.  Jamie Utt ( Director of Education and Diversity here at GAP) has raised my awareness on all things social justice.  This awareness has made me a more inclusive leader, which has translated nicely for my business.  If you are committed to serving your audience or the people you lead, raising your awareness to issues surrounding diversity can enhance your ability to connect with people, which is always good for business but more importantly is great for the global community.

If you do not have a friend that does social justice work, find one, because they take the fun out of everything…we all need a friend like that.  They remind us how inconvenient growth can be.   Paper or plastic?  We all know that plastic is more harmful to our wellbeing, but it is the convenient (and more popular) choice.  Creating a life of significance is never convenient, that is why so few achieve it.

One of the first things that Jamie taught me was about the concept of white privilege (white privilege is a way of conceptualizing racial inequalities that focuses as much on the advantages that white people accrue from society as on the disadvantages that people of color experience.).  People with political agendas have hijacked this term; it has been labeled as a left activist’s initiative, which I think diminishes its relevance.

For the past couple of years I have been trying to observe how people who do not benefit from race and gender privilege (anyone other than a white male) are treated in this country.  This awareness has taught me a lot about people, it really is amazing what you notice when you open your mind.  When I try and imagine my life as a person of color, my mind goes to my baseball career.  I think, “Well maybe if I was black, I would have made it further because I would have been faster, or if I was of Latin decent, I would have been able to play infield…hmmm.”

Then I realize how ignorant that thought is, which is quickly followed by wondering how I allow these stereotypical thoughts to influence my behavior towards others.  Along the way I have also learned about microaggressions – The term was first coined by American psychiatrist Chester M. Pierce and described as, “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of other races.”  My thoughts about my baseball career would not necessarily qualify as a microaggression, but saying something like “being a 5’9 white baseball player really limited my career” in response to a question about how far I made it just might.  Now, I do not believe that my race limited my baseball career, but conversations like this are taking place everyday in every community.  By taking the time to invest in this perspective you will be better equipped to lead a diverse team, which in a global economy, elevates your value.

Michael Scott, champion of the microaggression

On a recent trip to Southern California with my family, we experienced two overt expressions of microaggressions.  The first occurred while my wife (of Hispanic decent) was returning her rental car to a high end resort in Dana Point; the male agent was dismissing her because she did not have her contract in hand and he was unable to read the serial number on the back of the key chain.  He told her she would have to go get her contract and come back when she had it.  When I engaged in the conversation (he thought she was alone), I asked him if he could look it up in the system using the VIN to save us the inconvenience of driving our four young children around any longer.  He quickly resolved the issue and we were on our way.

Two days later on Easter Sunday we were eating at a local pancake house and had a party of eight.  It was a first come, first serve restaurant, and the service and food was great up until we were finishing our meal.  I took two of my children to the restroom, which left 3 Hispanic adults and two Hispanic children.  Long story short, while I was away, a server very rudely asked our group to move so white customers could have our spot.  When I returned from the restroom, my seat and the coffee I ordered were gone.  Would the same have happened if a white man were sitting at the table?  I’m not so sure, particularly since when polled, most servers say they give people of color poorer service!

Now, I do not think the rental car agent is a sexist or the server a racist.  However, I do believe that each of us is raised in a system that teaches us to devalue the voices and presence of women and people of color.  I know it is not a stretch for anyone to believe that women are dismissed everyday in similar situations across the country and that white people receive better service and are treated with more dignity than people of color in some restaurants.

One thing that I have learned working with as many leaders as I have worked with is that the most influential leaders lead when it is inconvenient.  They do not turn it off and on, it is a badge they proudly wear 24/7/365.  The same must be true for building inclusive communities.

Empathy is a great quality to have as a leader; it will increase your awareness and allow you to better serve your diverse community.  My ability to look at things from somebody else’s perspective has proven to deepen my connection with my team, clients, and audience.  It is easy to make these types of issues more complicated than necessary, I would love to gain your insights, in the comments below, please share some of your best practices when it comes to leading a diverse community.


Eric Thompson is the owner of Global Ascension Productions and founder of The Brilliance Project.  Eric has developed a plan that helps people to synergize their inner virtues, allowing them to discover and fully utilize the hidden strengths that so many people never use – their Brilliance.

For more information about Eric visit him at

Health Expert Dishes Up the Truth about Energy Drinks

Health Expert’s Message to Youth: “Energy (NRG) Does Not Come In A Can! Thinking so can have life-threatening side-effects!”

Contrary to popular belief and what most of the ads and commercials on TV/radio/billboards today are saying, “Energy (NRG) Does NOT Come in a Can!”  I have always preached a “food first and food second” approach to daily nutrition.  For these reasons: 1) it is cost effective; 2) it tastes better; 3) you have more variety; 4) and it is SAFER.  Let’s talk about reason #4.  I understand that nutritional supplements have a place in today’s world.  It’s a monster of an industry.  And to sit here and tell you that I don’t use some of them as a PART of my daily nutrition plan would be lying.  But understand that they are just that… supplements!  Meant to “add to” an existing program or plan, not intended to replace or overtake what you are already doing.

According to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, nutritional and dietary supplements do not have to go through FDA compliance procedures to get their products on store shelves.  This means that it is possible that what is in the label is not always in the can/packaging.  And often doses of ingredients are not standardized from lot to lot of the same product.  This should perk up your antennas.

In the case of NRG drinks, most all of the energy comes from stimulants (natural, herbal and chemical forms).  Caffeine is the most popular stimulant used.  In safe ranges (1.4 – 2.7 mg/lb. of bodyweight for an adult), caffeine can safely and effectively enhance performance.  Recommended amount of caffeine per day is 300mg.  That is equivalent to 3 cups of fresh brewed coffee. Because NRG Drinks fall under the category of “nutritional supplements,” they can exceed the 71mg of caffeine per 12 oz. limit set by the FDA for soda drinks.  There are certain NRG drinks and gourmet coffees with 400-600mg of Caffeine per one 12 oz. serving!  That’s just too much stimulant for the heart to take at any one time and, when combined with high intensity exercise in extreme temperatures, it can be fatal.

Overdosing on caffeine and other stimulants can lead to a condition known as “caffeine intoxication (C.I.).”  C.I. will bring on symptoms such as nervousness, heart irregularities (rapid heartbeat), insomnia, high blood pressure, anxiety, and other neurological symptoms.  How can anyone be expected to optimally perform on or off the field when you have any one or several of the C.I. symptoms?

Energy Drink Executive’s message to 12 year old who experienced caffeine toxicity: “You should have known better.”

In today’s world where technological advancements have enabled us to get information faster and faster and from all corners of the world, one would think that we would have more time to spend on self-improvements.  Time spent with family and friends; time to engage in an activity or exercises of choice; time to relax, read a book, and/or watch a movie; time to take a nap; time to EAT breakfast in the morning.   For the past few months I have been presented with an opportunity to engage with, consult with, and train with many student athletes and active adults of all ages.  Part of each consultation before we start our training covers their current nutrition habits.  Most people today are not eating breakfast!  And that is a major “no-no” in my book.

So I ask, “How can you expect your high performance engine to run with no premium fuel in the tank?”  The answer I am getting in return is, “Well I grab an energy drink on the way to school/work . . .”  Uhggg, that is like nails on the chalkboard to my ears.  This industry needs to be reigned in, because it is growing at an alarming rate.

The NRG drink industry pulled in $9 Billion last year in the United States alone.  People of all ages are consumers.  A study from the AAP Journal of Pediatrics states that 30-50% of adolescents are NRG drink users.  I could send my 7-year-old son into the convenience store down the street, and he could purchase any 1 of a variety of the NRG drinks sold.  There are no laws to prevent this from happening.  This concerns me and it should concern you, and if you that does not make you uncomfortable, just keep reading.

Another study published by the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) states that in the past 10 years, there has been a 50% increase in strokes for children age 5 years to adult’s age 44 years.  And know that obesity numbers have held steady over the past decade according to the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA).  What is the reason?  NRG drink companies market to the youth ages (ads and banners at most sporting events) as well as the adults (used as mixers for alcoholic drinks in many bars/nightclubs which are very dangerous – mixing a stimulant with a depressant).

Though some countries (Norway, Uruguay, and Denmark) have taken a stance by banning NRG drinks, I do believe that they are here to stay in the United States.  We the people need to be well rested, well fueled, and well hydrated for optimal energy and performance. Supplement and nutritional beverages should have a beneficial, not negative, effect on the body. Examine energy drinks carefully (again, the industry makes this part difficult to do) and think before you buy.  Ask yourself if there is anything about your current drinking, sleeping, eating habits and other lifestyle patterns that you can improve before trying an NRG drink?  Seek an expert’s opinion, and please don’t rely on the person behind the counter to give you an educated opinion on any NRG drink or nutritional/dietary supplement that you are inquiring about.  They are looking for the sale and have no vested interest in your wellbeing.  Spend your dollars wisely, and invest in real food for energy.  Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fats are where it’s at!  Stimulants affect the heart!

Kudos to you for gathering knowledge, now please share it.  Our goal should be to demand accountability within this industry, as we have with the tobacco giants.  As consumers we have the right to be able to make informed decisions about these products and potential side affects. The heart is our #1 muscle in the body and since we only have one, we need to take care of it.


Frank Velasquez is the owner REV Sports Rehab and Athletic Development in Pittsburg, PA.  As a speaker and consultant within Global Ascension Productions, Frank specializes in messages of health and wellness.

For more information about Frank, visit his GAP Biography.

Honoring the Dream: Davidson College and Global Ascension Productions Align to Build Inclusive Communities over the MLK Weekend

Dr. King’s dream was about what we can build together. In 1963, he told thousands of freedom fighters, “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.” Davidson and Global Ascension Productions are striving to create communities that live up to Dr. King’s vision.

Charlotte, NC – January 12, 2012 (via

Global Ascension Production’s Jamie Utt and Davidson College honor Dr. King’s dream by strengthening the Residence Life staff’s ability to celebrate diversity and influence inclusive communities.

“Davidson has a track record for being one of North America’s most forward-thinking universities, especially when dealing with issues related to diversity and inclusion,” says Jamie Utt, Director of Education and Diversity for Global Ascension Productions- a Speaker Development and Publishing company. “Our collaboration is not only about honoring Dr. King’s legacy for a weekend, but about equipping these young leaders with the tools and philosophies necessary to honor him throughout their lifetime by shaping their own behaviors to create a more just and inclusive society”.

Global Ascension Productions has been on the forefront of teaching leaders how powerful and influential their voice can be. Participants exposed to Jamie’s curriculum become fully aware of their influence and how their focused mind coupled with a servant heart can elevate societies collective brilliance, as demonstrated by Dr. King.

“Jamie is an incredible talent and has the ability to connect the institutional with the personal to ensure that his curriculum supports the participants endeavors for a lifetime” noted Frank Velasquez Jr., Owner of REV Sports Rehab and Athletic Development and 10 year Major League Baseball strength and conditioning coordinator, Pittsburgh, PA. “I am thankful to have Jamie as a resource; his work is critical to establishing a culture of inclusion”.

Davidson College invests a lot of resources into creating a comfortable and inclusive environment for all of their students and faculty members. They are successfully building a culture on their campus that maintains that the residence halls are not merely a place to sleep and study but a place to live and learn. This MLK Holiday weekend provides the Davidson community an opportunity to publicly honor one of the greatest activists for justice our country has ever seen; however, when you visit their campus, you can feel that they honor his legacy year round.

Creating innovative education has always been Jamie Utt’s calling, and as a former teacher himself, he knows first hand that education is truly the key civil rights issue of the 21st century. He spent years teaching social studies on Chicago’s west side, helping empower young people to unleash their brilliance on the world that often overlooks them. Jamie teaches that this nation’s knowledge-based economy demands that we provide young people from all backgrounds and circumstances with the education and skills necessary to become groundbreaking advocates for change. If we fail to help all young people to discover, develop and deliver their brilliance to the world, the United States runs the risk of creating an even larger gap between the rich and the poor, which in turn threatens every effort toward justice in this country.

Learn more about Jamie Utt at

About Global Ascension Productions;

Global Ascension Productions was founded by a group of professionals who have been in or around the professional speaking industry for years and have experienced it all. Globalization has influenced all aspects of society, especially how we interact with one another. We embrace different perspectives and philosophies because we understand that we were all put here on this earth for one another. Our purpose is to attract, serve, and collaborate with leaders who serve others and whose primary foundation is connecting rather than just communicating, we are Leaders Unleashing Leaders.

Schedule an interview with Jamie Utt:
Press Contact
Eric Thompson
Global Ascension Productions
Oro Valley, AZ
520-742-7165 or via their web site at http://
Book Global Ascension Productions by e-mailing Eric Thompson at:

# # #

Please contact for corrections or updates.

Jamie is an expert at hosting difficult conversations with leaders to identify the story below the story while simultaneously equipping them with the necessary perspective to be an agent of change.

Tucson’s Brilliance Project Event Teaches Kids How To Eat Healthy At Richardson Elementary School

Healthy kids make better choices, ultimately improving society. But who’s actually making this happen? Tucson’s Richardson Elementary and The Brilliance Project are, with an interactive experience celebrating health and wellness through music.

Tucson, AZ – September 12th, 2011 (via — Richardson Elementary School in Tucson is hosting members of the Brilliance Project, Scott “Fireman” Robb and Eric Thompson, for a revolutionary type of assembly that will have the kids thinking critically about what they put in their bodies, and how that can influence their creative expression – and ultimately their role in their community.

“There is something unique that is inside of us and is worth developing,” says Eric Thompson, founder of Global Ascension Productions – the Tucson-based speaker development and publishing company that is behind the Brilliance Project. “The healthier our kids are, the better decisions they tend to make, improving their chances in unleashing their brilliance – allowing them to be better educated and live deeper, richer lives.”

“The Brilliance Project is a powerful way for our students to discover, develop and deliver their virtues to our community,” noted Kathy Van Loan, Vice Principal of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School in Tucson.

The particular program they will be conducting at Richardson Elementary School on Friday, September 16th, 2011 at 9:00 AM, has proven to have a positive impact because of Scott “Fireman” Robb and his creative integration of music into the presentation. Fireman Robb uses his ADDY award-winning skills and talents to inspire kids to live safe and healthy lives, engaging them with his newly-released song “Gotta Eat Healthy”.

This catchy new song can be heard on YouTube at

Kids love this music and get very involved when Scott performs it. The kids whistle and do a great job of getting engaged in the presence of their peers, most of whom have never done anything like this before. They get the message and they have fun!

“We have had amazing feedback from our clients,” says Eric Thompson of The Brilliance Project. “I was on campus the other day at one of the schools we have worked with, and some kids saw me and started whistling the chorus of Fireman Robb’s rendition of a popular song, It’s A Good Life, by One Republic. Principals are now calling us and wanting to be one of our collaborative schools, as opposed to us knocking on doors.”

Evaluating and training high performers has made Eric Thompson an expert at nurturing the skills for high achievement. After a decade of real life professional development, he’s developed a plan that helps people to synergize their multiple awarenesses, allowing them to discover and fully utilize the hidden strengths that so many people never use – their Brilliance. They help develop the dormant talents that many young people fail to discover until much later in their lives, if at all.

About The Brilliance Project:

Eric and his team, including Scott “Fireman” Robb, host a conversation on real-life obstacles and the tactics they have developed to succeed, in a competitive daily environment. Their enthusiastic personalities, candid and charismatic style will keep attendees engaged and help them unlock the path to Brilliant Living.

The Brilliance Project can be contacted at 520-837-9837.

Book the Brilliance Project by e-mailing Eric at:

# # #

Please contact for corrections or updates.

Anti-Bully Awareness Month – The Brilliance Project and Mesa County Valley School District Forge Partnership

Bullying is a problem in schools, the workplace, public venues, and now more than ever, online. With over 36 suicides across the nation and within the past four years forensically proven to be linked to cyberbullying, legislators are finally attempting to modernize laws in hopes of slowing this epidemic. MCVSD 51 has partnered with The Brilliance Project to provide an innovative curriculum to their community that will foster acceptance, tolerance, and celebrate diversity.

Grand Junction, CO – October 11, 2011 (via

Mesa County Valley School District 51 is hosting GJHS Alum and founding member of The Brilliance Project, Jamie Utt, for a revolutionary, interactive experience that will have the students and educators thinking critically about how they use their influence to build inclusive communities.

“We all have a creative expression within that makes us unique and of value to our communities,” says Jamie Utt, Diversity and Inclusion Director for The Brilliance Project – a supplemental curriculum that fosters critical, creative, and divergent thinking skills through collaboration and innovation. ( ). “Grand Junction is my home, and I am so honored to be returning to my Alma Mater in this capacity. These kids have such a tremendous amount of power and influence, when they properly channel it, everybody wins.”

The Brilliance Project has been on the forefront of teaching young adults how powerful and influential their voice is, especially when technology is factored into the equation. Understanding precedes clarity, students exposed to The Brilliance Project become fully aware of their influence. They are challenged to fully develop into the community members that they are meant to become.

“Jamie is straightforward and passionate about celebrating diversity; his curriculum inspired our student leaders to continue the mission of creating a culture of inclusion and combating intolerance on our campus,” noted Diane Fitz, Counselor, Richmond-Burton Community High School in Richmond, IL.

Jamie Utt kicks off his tour of the Western Region at Grand Junction High School on Monday, October 17th, 2011 at 9:00 AM, followed with programming at Fruita 8/9 School on Tuesday, then culminating at First Baptist Church for R-5 high school on Wednesday the 19th. Jamie’s program has had deep and meaningful impacts on campuses all across the country due to his ability to engage both students and educators through strategic and creative collaborations.

Jamie is an expert at hosting difficult conversations with teenagers to identify the story below the story while simultaneously equipping them with the necessary perspective to be an agent of change.

Kids who have been exposed to Jamie’s work respond well to being empowered. Technology has compounded people’s influence. Statistics support the need for innovative and creative approaches to combating issues related to bullying. Bullying is so pervasive that socially-conscious businesses have approached The Brilliance Project team to offer support for their mission.

Reshoevn8r (an Arizona based sneaker rejuvenation system designed to sanitize and lengthen the life span of shoes) is currently running an Anti-Bully campaign where a percentage of each unit sold throughout the month of October will be donated to diversity education and programming. “We believe wholeheartedly in the message that Jamie Utt and The Brilliance Project so passionately represent that we had to offer our support. You can hardly turn on the news without hearing about a young person taking their own life because of issues related to bullying. Reshoven8r had to step up and align with this initiative,” states Stephen Grear, President and CEO at Sneakerhead LLC. ( )

Creating innovative education has always been Jamie Utt’s calling, and as a former teacher himself, he knows first hand that education is truly the key civil rights issue of the 21st century. He spent years teaching social studies on Chicago’s west side, helping empower young people to unleash their brilliance on the world that often overlooks them. Jamie teaches that this nation’s knowledge-based economy demands that we provide young people from all backgrounds and circumstances with the education and skills necessary to become groundbreaking advocates for change. If we fail to help all young people to discover, develop and deliver their brilliance to the world, the United States runs the risk of creating an even larger gap between the rich and the poor, which in turn threatens every effort toward justice in this country.

Learn more about Jamie Utt at

About The Brilliance Project:
Jamie and his team host a conversation on real-life obstacles and the tactics they have developed to succeed in a competitive daily environment. Their enthusiastic personalities and candid, charismatic style will keep attendees engaged and help them unlock the path to Brilliant Living through collaboration, technology, and advanced learning methods.

Schedule an interview with Jamie Utt:

Press Contact
Eric Thompson
Global Ascension Productions
Oro Valley, AZ
520-837-9837 or via their web site at

Book the Brilliance Project by e-mailing Eric Thompson at:

# # #

Please contact for corrections or updates.

This video of Jamie’s work is an example one of his most engaging collaborative sessions entitled “The Wall.” Jamie will be conducting numerous sessions throughout the Western Region over a three day span.

Our Engine of Belief

I am fortunate to be surrounded by amazing people who have created or are in the process of creating an extraordinary life. As a professional speaker, entrepreneur, coach, and father, people often compliment me on my ability to express my thoughts and how those thoughts inspire action in others. I appreciate these flattering observations. However, I am only able to inspire because I listen with my eyes and ears.

Life is complicated and convoluted; there is no one size fits all approach to arriving at our desired destination. However, I will say that a person’s relationship with their beliefs is the most influential relationship of their life. All you have to do is log in to Facebook or watch the news to see countless examples of people who fail to believe in the possibilities.

“For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.” — Stuart Chase

I enjoy asking questions, but I love delivering solutions. I am a parent of four young children, I coach a youth baseball team, and I work with middle and high school students, collegians and professionals. What I recognize is how curiosity and wonder slowly dissolve as people get older. I get it…heartbreak, loss, embarrassment, and failure obviously influence our perspectives, and life can be cruel. Though, when I interact with adults who have accomplished incredible feats, I am always struck by how well they manage their beliefs. Despite experiencing failure, loss, heartbreak, and embarrassment, they continue to believe in possibilities. In trying to decipher their approach that delivers them to achieve greatness, I have found that they thrive off of challenging their own beliefs.

We are hard wired to believe before we reason. Once we form a belief, we tend to seek out evidence that conforms to it. We even go so far to protect our belief by ignoring contrary evidence or make up rationalizations to explain it away. Rarely do we admit we are wrong or change our mind. People who can manage their ego enough to challenge their beliefs are much more likely to discover truth and fulfillment.

Why do we believe what we believe?

It is critical to understand the foundation where our beliefs are formed if we want to successfully challenge them and gain a competitive advantage in this rapidly-changing world. The purpose of this article is to equip you with insight that may allow you to better understand how to test your assumptions, recognize your own biases, and ultimately, effectively decide when to change your beliefs. Our experiences obviously shape our beliefs, but it is important to recognize the sources that shape our assumptions, convictions, and fears.

Sources of belief
Internal-Emotional, Sensory, Intuition
External-Authority, Science, Logic

So let’s find out why you believe what you believe…

Write down your answers to the following questions:

To be successful at work, I need?

If my partner/spouse ________________ we would be much happier.

I am not in the shape I should be in because ________________.

These are just some very basic examples to prompt a discussion with yourself so that you can start being more aware of how your beliefs are serving or hindering you.

Kids love asking questions; you would think as we grow older, we would learn to ask better questions, but our interpretation of our experiences tend to reinforce our assumptions, leading us to stop asking questions. If you feel like something is missing in your life, ASK BETTER QUESTIONS!!! THEY WILL LEAD YOU TO BETTER SOLUTIONS!!!

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond imagination. It is our light more than our darkness which scares us. We ask ourselves – who are we to be brilliant, beautiful, talented, and fabulous. But honestly, who are you to not be so?” -Marianne Williamson
I battle everyday to capture wonder and to stay curious. It reinforces my belief in what is possible. Allow your engine of belief to deliver you to your beautiful suppose to be by challenging what you think you already know.


Eric Thompson is the owner of Global Ascension Productions and founder of The Brilliance Project.  Eric has developed a plan that helps people to synergize their inner virtues, allowing them to discover and fully utilize the hidden strengths that so many people never use – their Brilliance.

For more information about Eric visit him at