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Laura DeKraker Lang-Ree On The Five Things You Can Do To Become More Resilient During Turbulent Times



Taking care of your body, especially during stressful times, is a major way to build resilience. Because if you are not strong mentally and physically, you will break. This was something I didn’t pay enough attention to as a young mother whose child had cancer — I was far too busy, or so I thought. And I lacked the perspective to see that the things I chose to do for myself could make a real difference in my well being and ability to handle the moment.

Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Laura DeKraker Lang-Ree.

Laura is a cancer mom and advocate for parents of children with cancer and other chronic illnesses. After her 3-year old daughter’s battle with childhood leukemia, Laura became a voice for other parents in the trenches, providing resources and education to help them navigate their own health crises and come out stronger than ever. Laura is happiest in front of a classroom full of students, or at the beach with her husband and three grown daughters. Connect with her on instagram at laura_dekraker-lang-ree or

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Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?

I am the self-proclaimed “love child” of Pauline and Glenn DeKraker, the youngest of five. Although I was born in Springfield Illinois, our parents moved us across the country when I was four, driving to Northern California in their station wagon, seeing the sites of the United States along the way. In California, they built a home in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nature, hillsides, and forest where I ran free with my buddies, collecting all forms of snakes, tadpoles and rocks.

With so many older siblings, and being naturally laxer with the fifth kid, my parents let me explore all my passions — probably hoping I’d pick just one. No such luck! I grew up on-stage singing and dancing, played flute in the orchestra, piano in jazz band, was on the dance team, a cheerleader, piccolo in the marching band (where I met my husband, Arne), and whatever else artistic that looked like fun.

Today, I have the perfect job that combines all those passions. As Director of Performing Arts at The Harker School, a private, independent K-12 institution in San Jose, California, I lead a department of 18 faculty, nurturing 950 students’ artistic passions and professional ambitions. I have a Master’s in Theater with a Directing specialty from San Jose State University and a Bachelor’s in Political Science from UCLA.

I live in Northern California smack in the middle of the towering Redwoods, the sandy beaches of Santa Cruz, and the innovation of Silicon Valley with my high school sweetheart husband. Our three daughters are grown and flown, live nearby and we continue our family commitment to each other and thriving during lifes ups — and downs.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

Since our topic is resilience, the most relevant story from my career has to be from covid times. I’ve been Director of Performing Arts at The Harker School for over 25 years, and nothing prepared me for the abrupt shut down of the arts in March, 2020. I was mid-rehearsal for my annual musical, and just about to take our a cappella choir to Varsity Vocals semi-finals when the world fell silent and theaters went dark. It was debilitating to not be around my students, to not hear singing, dancing, and acting and their laughter all day long.

Throughout covid, our Director of Nursing, Debra Nott, became an expert in the protocols, constantly sifting through the data, working with state and local leadership, and then advising us on the smartest and safest way to have our students in person, when at all possible.

The following spring, I was hell-bent that my students would not miss out on their musical yet again, but we were still in remote learning and the world was still shut down! So, instead of doing a live musical on stage with an audience, which was not feasible with both singing and gatherings banned, I came up with the idea to make a movie. And not just film my students performing, but make a true multiple camera movie.

With years of film acting under my belt, friends in the industry, and armed with the support of my employers, I set out to make a movie version of Les Miserable. Students safely recorded their singing parts at home, creating tracks we could playback when filming so that they were not actually singing in person. Even though school was still remote, the cast was able to come together on campus after school to rehearse outside, masked and socially distanced, with final filming luckily and thankfully in our theater.

With covid safety protocols and policies changing constantly, we also had to maintain Plan B and Plan C all along, ready to pivot on any given day. That, in and of itself, was a lesson in resilience as keeping all of those balls in the air was challenging both logistically and emotionally. But my ambition, and those three plans, gave me purpose.

In the end, my students had an amazing experience producing a movie in their beloved theater. It was spectacular. None of that would have happened without the resourcefulness, smarts, and resilience of all involved.

My biggest take-away from that time is that the ability to look an unexpected situation in the face, explore all the options, and pivot on a dime, can make for the most remarkable experience. Les Mis, our movie, was my greatest directing achievement to date, and I had no idea it was coming.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

The Harker School stands out in so many ways but what strikes me the most right now is the way we evolved during covid and made the best of the situation for our students. We are blessed with abundant resources, supportive parents, and amazing kids but none of that matters if the leaders and faculty are not resourceful, creative, and resilient.

Summer of 2020, we were able to run our Summer Conservatory adhering to all covid protocols, which were significant in California at that time. Instead of closing our doors for the summer and resting, which would have been a lot easier and far less time consuming and scary, our leadership provided the infrastructure and encouragement for me to create small pods so that our kids could still be theater students in the classroom and even perform on stage for a few immediate family members at the end of camp. They couldn’t mix groups or play games with the other campers. They had to eat 6 feet apart outside in the hot sun, use only designated entrances and exits for the building, and practically bathe in hand sanitizer. But all of that was worth it when they took their bows on stage at the end of camp for their proud and grateful parents. You could feel their smiles, even though they were masked.

Harker is a company to be proud of. They looked a tough situation in the face, dove deeply into the facts around covid, and decided to do the right thing — which when you are a school, is being there for your students when possible. And by the way, not one of the performers got covid!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I fell madly in love with my soul-mate at the tender age of 14 at a mandatory sex-ed class. No joke! We’ve been together ever since, married for 34 years, and are currently on our second honeymoon now that our three daughters are in college or on their own.

We are fortunate in that we have consistently evolved and changed over time and fallen more deeply in love vs. out of love as is often the fate of couples who marry young.

Arne has been my greatest fan and cheerleader, the one I go to when overwhelming anxiety hits. He’s my strategy consultant when I need to talk through a new idea or big plan. And he’s never thought my wild ideas were crazy, rather he’s helped me realize my dreams by getting me to think even more boldly. It was our early life experiences that helped us cultivate that relationship, and the ability to be there for each other.

Like most couples our age, we’ve been through a few challenges in life. But our practice in dealing with them started early in our marriage. Tragedy struck when our 3-year-old daughter was diagnosed with cancer. Then my Dad was diagnosed with cancer and quickly passed. With three small children in the house and a marriage we treasured, we made the decision to cultivate resilience and to put ourselves and our love story first, so that we could be there for others who needed us.

Those early lessons in caring for our daughter during treatment, and simultaneously raising three little girls while my Dad was dying, taught us not only about love, but how to be a team. How to choose joy and gratitude in our lives, and to put our marriage first. That’s when we committed to the practice of being there for each other, lifting each other, giving each other space, and demanding that we be fully present.

Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?

Courage is a choice to surrender to and face the situation at hand. And you have to have the courage to move into resilience — into whatever the situation is in your life. Resilience is the ability to maintain that courage against set backs and challenges. That’s how courage and resilience differ.

Courage and resilience similar in that they are both a choice, an intention you have to set in life for them to manifest. And it isn’t always easy. Sometimes it can feel oddly comfortable to live in your suffering. It becomes familiar, a cloud of Eeyore-like behavior that we get used to, and the thought of moving off of that couch of despair can seem harder than dealing with the despair itself.

But the more courage you choose, the more your resilience grows because you know you can persevere and come through stronger.

When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

My Mom, Pauline Elizabeth Dittmer DeKraker comes to mind immediately when I think of resilience. Mom is now 94 years young and has truly lived through some remarkable times in not only her own life but in history. And not just lived, but thrived.

Born in 1927, Pauline witnessed major world wars, the great depression, major political and social upheavals, massive technological changes, and now a pandemic. She double-majored in Biology and English, married her junior high school sweetheart, raised FIVE children, and moved across the country in a station wagon so my Dad could pursue his entrepreneurial dreams. She had to leave dear friends and always found new ones along the way. Mom lost the love of her life and best friend, watched her babies raise their babies, and was an integral part of their lives — to this day. She met her first best girlfriend at 78, joined a choir at age 82, and lost the use of her legs shortly thereafter. And she’s planning a trip to Disneyland this spring.

This woman has been through it all. And through it all, she persevered with incredible resilience.

When Pauline has a major setback, she’s grieved openly and hard. And then, picked herself up and pressed on. She has shown me time and time again that celebrating the little things, every day, makes all the difference in the world and is a mandatory aspect of living well. Mom has taught me that living a life in gratitude shores you up for the dark times, strengthens your resilience, and creates a life full of meaning and hope.

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?

The concept of resiliency is something that all of us have faced during the last two years in covid-land. For educators, it’s part of our everyday reality. The constant pivot from in-person, to zoom, to reconstructing our curriculum for both, while keeping ourselves and our students emotionally and logistically safe, has been a grind.

The thing I missed the most during the first winter was being with my students — not on zoom — but in PERSON. There is something magical that happens in the classroom when students and teachers are engaged in a common language, learning and growing together.

In addition to my regular classes, I also direct our annual musical. Directing is something I dearly love, maybe more than any other element of education. We were a few short weeks away from our performance of Damn Yankees when the world shut down, as did our production like so many others around the world. We were bewildered. Scared. Uncertain of what the future would hold. For weeks, I kept the energy of the cast up with promises of a re-mount, coming back together to perform ‘in a few weeks. And we all know what happened to those dreams in spring 2020.

The following winter, I was hell-bent to bring my students back together for their musical but I had no idea what that would look like. We were still teaching on zoom, but there were hints that in early January 2021, we might be able to have kids come to school in the afternoon — with tons of restrictions.

I only knew a few things for sure:

– I might have my students in person.

-They couldn’t sing in person anytime soon.

-We would likely have no audience.

-I was well versed in film acting as a student and actor and I

really loved it.

That’s when it hit- If the goal was to be together to make art, and we couldn’t sing in person, we would make a movie! Not just film the acting from the front, but a fully formed, 3-camera MOVIE!

My students were thrilled and understandably skeptical. Did I have a directing background in film? I did not. Did I know for sure if we would be in-person to film? Nope. Did I know the first thing about building and bringing together a film production team or film set? Nope.

But I did know a few things:

-I am determined

-I am ever-resourceful

-I have amazing industry contacts, all hungry to be creative again

and above all else…I am resilient. My students trusted me to make magic.

With a ton of enthusiasm and three versions of our production going in my head at once, I set forth to make Les Mis, the movie. “Les Mis — really?” you might say. Les Miserables is daunting even when the world is functioning. But these kids were the PERFECT cast for Les Mis and I had known for years that in 2021, we were going to do this show. They deserved to sing that music and tell that story.

Having successfully run a Summer Conservatory in 2020, with distanced, masked and full protocols and performances, I had all the resources and tools to help me determine what we could do in a given week. And often, those protocols changed daily. The possibility that my full vision of making a movie could happen was both thrilling and exhausting. My anxiety rose the farther along we got in the rehearsal process as the potential for it actually happening became more real. I wanted it to manifest that movie more than anything.

That’s when I had to really pull my resilience experience from cancer and life into play. I went hard into daily gratitude, and added a focused practice in the morning to set intentions for just that day — not the future, just that day. This was a pivotal practice for me to grow stronger over the next three months of rehearsals and filming. I had to accept that anything we did together, was a win. (Even though i still really really just wanted to make that movie).

I hired a local film cinematographer and editor who advised me every step of the way, teaching me how to create film story boards for our blocking, which I carefully crafted into 95 pages of blocking. On zoom, the cast of 45 learned that blocking, then sang through the songs on mute, typing their blocking into the chat as we went, so that i could ensure they were keeping up. Our Music Director taught the music via zoom and once learned, students uploaded that music to create a karaoke track of themselves that they could eventually lip-sync to on stage, masked. It was crazy. And magical!

We were allowed on campus, we rehearsed the blocking and staging outside in the cold and weather, costumes were designed and sent home to each individual cast member with exacting notes, and before I knew it, it was shoot time!

With some nudging, I was able to have our cast rapid tested regularly so that when it was time to shoot, we could be inside our beautiful (well-ventalted) theater. It was a miracle! I had scheduled a month to shoot the movie, in case somebody got covid, or the world shut down again. But neither happened. Our 4 week shoot was complete in 2.5.

Nobody told me ‘don’t even try making a movie’. But I did get a lot of raised eyebrows. I think that many people didn’t worry too much about my crazy idea because with all the restrictions and variables, the likelihood that this would happen was extremely low.

But as far as i was concerned it was going to happen — one way or another — no matter what. Bringing my students together to make their art during covid in such a totally unique way is one of my greatest professional joys and victories. Not only did it happen, but the final version — with incredible love and attention to detail from and amazing team of student and adult professionals, was spectacular. Truly spectacular.

We had the great joy of being able to bring the cast together, distanced and masked, to view their movie as a unit while the rest of our community watched via live stream. The reaction from my students is something I’ll never forget. Their pride, joy, and understanding that they too are incredibly resilient, was amazing. They didn’t see their masks and their 6-foot blocking, nor did the audience. What they saw and felt was their pure talent, energy, passion, commitment and storytelling. And what the audience felt was pure catharsis. My cast understood, even more than ever before, that art matters and has preservered throughout history in every imaginable configuration — even in a pandemic.

Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?

As an author, educator, podcaster, Cancer-Mama warrior, and advocate for parents of kids with cancer, I’ve seen a lot. From sick kids to funerals, bright yellow chemo bags, and life’s regular ups and downs, I’ve had to learn a thing or two about finding, strengthening, and building resilience. And I love teaching families and my students how to make that happen in their own lives.

For me, those lessons began when the pediatrician said my 3-year-old daughter Cecilia’s lethargy and the black circles under her eyes were childhood leukemia, and I entered the frenzied existence of childhood cancer. That first day, my husband and I spent 250 dollars on cancer books, and uncovered the truth — there is no book, no expert, no roadmap for parenting a kid through cancer, and for navigating a family through this journey. That realization was paralyzing and overwhelming. How were we going to make it through five years of treatment? Would she live? How would we survive as a family?

In vain, I tried to become a cancer expert to fix our horrible reality. For a time, I pulled away from friends, family, colleagues, and even my therapist as I dove into the research, desperate for a guaranteed cure. Our marriage morphed into a series of transactions focused on two things: saving Ceal, and swapping out care for her other daughter Madi, just 15-months-old. I was isolated in debilitating fear.

Everything needed to change — and it did, when I decided to shift how I was living. I started asking for help and learned to advocate for myself, my child, my family, and the life I had worked so hard to create. When I did, my world changed. Friends rallied around, family became supportive in every way possible, and my marriage strengthened as we learned how to lean into each other as teammates and lovers instead of adversaries.

For me, resiliency isn’t about hunkering down, toughing it out, waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about finding creative ways to adapt to a changing landscape and riding the wave while you make magic. Resilience often gives people the impression that you have merely survived — you MADE it! But tough times can also be a huge opportunity to step back, take a look at the situation, and not only survive it, but thrive. Yes, thrive.

Resiliency lessons from my cancer years have stuck with me and continue to inform my actions in a crisis. And I’m grateful! When you learn how to rise up thru resilience, you view trauma, setbacks, and life’s inevitable challenges with a whole new frame of mind. You find your power.

How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?

Watching my parents reinvent themselves in their forties and fifties, had a profound impact on my thinking and ability to see that people can remain positive and grow stronger in spite of (or because of) life’s ups and downs.

Settled and successful in their upper middle-class life in Springfield Illinois, my Dad got the word — he was next in line to be president of his company. While many would see this as a huge gift — security, prestige, power — my Dad freaked. Dad was a visionary genius and he realized that if he took this job, he would never get the chance to bring his creations to fruition.

So at a time when most people are settling into life and routines, they rocked the boat, big time.

My parents started dating at 14, married at 19, and have that magical ‘thing’ that we all want — a great love story. Together, they decided to pack their five kids in a station wagon, leave the big house and comfortable life, and trek back to Northern California where my Dad went to college and where they started their lives — the place where my parents saw opportunity and possibility. Dad set up his first (of many) entrepreneurial adventures in our basement- like a good Silicon Valley business person. And Mom, a logistics queen, re-settled all of us into new schools, managing a plethora of schedules and the emotional needs of five active kids.

My parent’s silicon-valley entrepreneurial dreams were not straightforward like they are in the movies. And as the baby of the family, I observed and listened and learned from my parents as they celebrated their small victories, grieved their losses, worried and dreamed for their future, and chose happiness all along the way — even when business’s were rocky and payroll was tight.

My parents intentionally chose love, laughter and put family first throughout those crazy business-building years. Through their constant jokes and pranks, endless flirting, attentive love towards their children, and even bringing my aging Grandma to live with us, they showed me that it’s a choice to live with joy and not to just wait for the ‘happy’ moments and the trappings of life that we perceive will make us happy.

Right in the middle of it all, Mom suffered from a brain aneursym that should have killed her. For three months, she lay unconscious in the hospital, determined to live, while Dad took the reins on not only his business but our lives. Somehow, by the grace of God, Mom survived. And, eventually, one of my Dad’s companies skyrocketed. And through it all, they grew stronger. We grew stronger.

My parents’ ability to see an obstacle and find a new way around or through it inspires me to this day and keeps me grounded and centered in my own resilience building. They are proof positive that choosing courage and flexing your resilience muscle makes you stronger by the day.

Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Wake up, and set the intention to find joy. — “Suffering is inevitable, they said, but how we respond to that suffering is our choice. Not even oppression or occupation can take away this freedom to choose our response.”― Dalai Lama XIV, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

When bad things happen, it’s not the situation that makes you miserable, it’s your reaction. When we fill our minds with negative thoughts and images, and let our anxiety run wild, we suffer. But if we can wake up, and choose to set the intention to find the good, the light, the joyful things in our day we shore up our mental health. We counterbalance negative thoughts by filling our mind with good thoughts instead.

It’s common to think that joy occurs only when we have enough stuff — money, health, friends, fabulous vacations — then we will truly be joyful.

But Joy isn’t always big. The most joyful moments, once you start to look for them, are the smallest ones. The perfect cup of coffee. The warmth of a cat in your lap. The way the sun streams across your classroom at 9am. A hug.

When you recognize these things as true joy, you strengthen your resilience, especially in hard times. Because you understand, and see, that joy is always there. Sometimes you just have to work a little harder to find it.

So do the work by setting the intention every day to find a little joy in your world.

2. Surrender & Accept — “Acceptance, it must be pointed out, is the opposite of resignation and defeat.”

Dalai Lama, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

After the first month of my daughter’s cancer treatment, I was burned out — I couldn’t see or understand how we were going to make it through two and a half years of treatment let alone another week, or another day.

Ultimately accepting that she had cancer, and surrendering to the reality that she would be in treatment for a long time, was a big ask. And it was key to finding my coping strategies.

Now, when difficult moments come up, I remember much more quickly that the surest way out my suffering and anxiety, is to surrender and accept life as it comes….my Dad’s cancer diagnosis and death, a landslide into our house, lockdown.

Only after I surrender to reality and accept my situation, can I face forward, take a deep breath, and come up with a new way of living. An action plan. You can too, and feel your resilience rise up.

3. Self-Care — “The most important relationship you have, is with yourself.”

Diane Von Furstenberg

Taking care of your body, especially during stressful times, is a major way to build resilience. Because if you are not strong mentally and physically, you will break. This was something I didn’t pay enough attention to as a young mother whose child had cancer — I was far too busy, or so I thought. And I lacked the perspective to see that the things I chose to do for myself could make a real difference in my well being and ability to handle the moment.

When Cecilia was finally cured, I tanked big time. PTSD was a very real experience for both my husband and me and thankfully, I got my butt into regular therapy right away. It was there that my thinking changed. I saw how my actions contributed to crash and burn, and I learned how to identify when I was heading there again and instead put myself on a healthier, stronger path.

Now, when stressful times occur, the first thing I do is book some time for therapy. If the budget allows, a massage or acupuncture. And my daily companions are morning intention setting, nightly meditation, and gratitude journal before bed.

These self-care strategies are critical to my ability to handle a lot in my very busy life and profession. And when my world gets crazy, they give me the resiliency to take action and move towards the light in a positive, constructive way.

4. Practice Resiliency in the “good” times, so they become habits in the “bad” times. — “Your habits will determine your future” ~Jack Canfield, Chicken Soup for the Soul

A sure way to strengthen resilience is to practice joy, acceptance, surrender, gratitude, and self-care in good times so that leaning into them will simply be instinctual when life gets difficult. Why? Because this soul-filling work fosters your ability to see the future in a constructive, positive way.

Nurturing your soul is as important as caring for your body during a crisis. For me, working on mine started at my daughter’s diagnosis when a friend suggested that I start a gratitude journal. “Right NOW?” I thought. What exactly did I have to be grateful for when my kid was just diagnosed with cancer? The gratitude journal turned out to be a life-changer, grounding me in the present and obliging me to look for moments of light and joy in my day.

I still write in mine every night with unceasingly amazing results ~ it’s a deep exhale every time I finish writing, even on my most difficult days because it reminds me that there is always good in the world.

5. Find Your Hero-Squad. — “Somehow we’ve come to equate success with not needing anyone. Many of us are willing to extend a helping hand, but we’re very reluctant to reach out for help when we need it ourselves. It’s as if we’ve divided the world into “those who offer help” and “those who need help.” The truth is that we are both.” Brene Brown

When we are in the trenches emotionally, or our backs are against the wall at work logistically, we can tend to go turtle-tuck in and hide, certain we can “handle it” on our own. Rarely, do we get real with those around us, showing our vulnerability and need for help. And in doing so, we suffer.

When Cecilia was diagnosed, I needed help and was clueless how to ask for it or exactly what I needed help doing — besides everything. Through therapy and journaling, my needs and that blessed help were eventually uncovered. But it took much too long and our family suffered with anxiety, fear, bad moods, crying spells, and general crankiness that come with isolation and overwhelm. I wished for someone who’d been through the trenches to sit me down on D-Day and tell me what I needed to know and how to ask for help. They didn’t. It was up to me to figure out what I needed in order to get through the day, heal, and move forward. I had to define and find our Hero-Squad.

A few years ago when a massive mudslide toppled on our beautiful home, I went turtle again — for about a minute. And then I remembered the resilience lessons I had already learned.

Ask. For. Help.

The minute I did, the call was answered. Friends and family listened, saw where we needed them, and rolled up their sleeves. They were the bridge to our new beginning, to rebuilding our home and our sanctuary. They were our Hero-Squad.

To strengthen your resilience, you must ask for help, know what you need and be willing to accept it with grace. Then pay it forward and help someone else.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. ?

I would love to inspire a movement for humanity to fully embrace the concept that difficult times are inevitable. We have a choice — to use those situations to build resiliency — or be paralyzed by them.

Somewhere along the way, society has come to view happiness as a right — something we deserve and can achieve only with enough money, status, or stuff. And, once we get that thing, all will be well and we will be happy forever! So when life throws us a curveball, as it inevitably will, we tend to lose our ability to enjoy life, find joy and gratitude in anything. What I’d love for us to do instead, is flex our resiliency muscle and choose to grow stronger — despite what’s going on, or better yet — because of it.

I’d inspire a movement to change the narrative in society such that we see life as 50/50–50% is going to be amazing, and 50% is going to be hard. Life, God, the Universe, is not punishing us when bad things happen — that’s just…life! This perspective enables us to see we have a choice — to find joy, fun, and laughter throughout the good and the bad times, and build our ability to handle tough times with grace. Resiliency at it’s best.

This movement would inspire people to accept life as it comes and know that choosing joy and gratitude in the good and the dark times strengthens resilience, allows us to see that happiness is achievable at any time, and gives us a light to find it every day.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them ?

My biggest dream is to empower parents of kids in crisis to find their resilience and power during their battle. To that end, I’m striving to find the perfect agent and publisher for my book THRU THE FIRE: A Compassionate Guide for Surviving Your Child’s Terrifying, Life-Threatening Illness with Your Identity, Your Family, and Your Relationships Intact.

When my child was diagnosed with cancer, I desperately needed a toolbox to help me survive the 3-year marathon of treatment. Burnout, anxiety and fear were my constants and there was no book, organization, or toolbox to help me find my way out. So, I dug my way out myself. I aim to make it easier for parents like me with Thru the Fire.

To that end, I would have brunch with Reid Tracy, president, and CEO of Hay House, Inc, the largest and most influential self-empowerment publishing company in the world! We would talk about the needs of this untapped group of parents and how annually, we could be of service to over 400,000 parents of kids in crisis. And, together we’d identify other groups of readers that could benefit most from learning resilience. Powerful.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Reader’s can reach out to me at [email protected] or on my website

I am actively looking to partner with an agent, publishing house or organization or private individual to bring THRU THE FIRE: A Compassionate Guide for Surviving Your Child’s Terrifying, Life-Threatening Illness with Your Identity, Your Family, and Your Relationships Intact to parents. Let’s talk!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Thank you for having me and thank you for making such a difference in the world!

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New Study Reveals Majority of UK’s Young People Unaware of Careers Advice on Offer



Jack Parsons

3rd July 2023, London, United Kingdom:

  • A new study from Youth Group finds three fifths (63%) of 18–25-year-olds are unaware of the current career advice available to them.
  • Just under half (48%) feel they are limited when it came to accessing vital career guidance.
  • Findings revealed to coincide with the anticipated launch of Season 3 of ‘My Duvet Flip: The careers show for young people’ fronted by UK’s Chief Youth Officer Jack Parsons.
  • The latest season of My Duvet Flip is backed by returning Season Two partners Aviva & EY, who are now joined leading UK jobs platform Totaljobs.
  • Season 3 is available to watch on LinkedIn, Youth Space, TikTok, and YouTube, starting from July 1, 2023.

Youth Group, the nation’s leading youth employment company with over 1.7 million members, have published new figures underlining the extent to which young people are being left without the necessary access support and guidance needed to successfully start their careers and navigate the UK’s turbulent job market.

Figures released by Youth Group reveal a clear gap between the guidance currently provided and the needs of young job seekers. The majority of young people (16–24-year-olds) are simply unaware of the available career advice resources on offer. A further 48% also found that when trying to access these resources they have felt restricted in terms of the advice they were able to access.

It is response to clear gap in careers guidance that ‘My Duvet Flip: The Careers Show for Young People’ is returns this July for its highly anticipated third season.

Backed by returning Season 2 partners Aviva & EY, season three also introduces a brand new partnership with leading UK recruitment solutions provider Totaljobs, part of global digital recruitment platform, The StepStone Group.

Totaljobs is well-aware of the considerable challenges being faced by young people in the UK. Their own report in the nation’s future talent, released in October 2022 found that half (48%) of 16-18 year olds in the UK believed they were receiving a lack of career advice at school.

Totaljobs has over 20 years’ experience helping individuals find the best job that suits their life circumstances. Whether it’s the first step in their career or a job to cover their expenses, together, this partnership seeks the best guest line-ups, whilst providing educational and job advice to instil confidence in young people across the UK to achieve their employment goals.

By joining forces with ‘My Duvet Flip‘ Totaljobs aims to empower and inspire the youth of the UK. Season Three, presented UK’s Chief Youth Officer, Jack Parsons will continue to engage in up-front, candid conversations with global business leaders, entrepreneurs, and politicians. The show explores their career journeys and seeks to extract valuable tips and advice for viewers from their own experiences. The series also offers insights into what motivates these leaders to succeed and what inspires them to start their day with a positive mindset.

Season Two saw an incredible line-up of guests, such as UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Debbie Hewitt, FA Chairman, Sebastian Dettmers, Chief Executive Officer, of The Stepstone Group, and President of Google Europe; Matt Brittin.

The second season of ‘My Duvet Flip’ attracted an impressive 9 million views and generated over eight times more engagements compared to the previous season.

Jack Parsons, CEO of Youth Group and the UK’s Chief Youth Officer says:

“I’m excited to present the third season of ‘My Duvet Flip’ and share the motivational and honest conversations I’ve had the privilege to experience with some of Britain’s most successful business leaders, including Sebastian from The Stepstone Group,” shared Parsons. “The podcast is all about supporting the millions of young people across the UK and empowering them to achieve their goals.”

Sebastian Dettmers, Chief Executive Officer of The Stephone Group said:

“I am proud that Totaljobs will now be a partner of ‘The Duvet Flip’ for the 3rd season. Earlier this year, I guested on ‘My Duvet Flip’ and met Jack in person and was very excited by his mission: to be an inspiration and support to young people in the world of work. This fits very well with what we do at The Stepstone Group and at Totaljobs where we help to help find the right job for everyone.”

Jack Parsons, has already earned multiple accolades, including being recognised as LinkedIn’s ‘Top Voice for Young People’ and ‘Top 15 Young Entrepreneurs to Watch,’ hopes that the second season of ‘My Duvet Flip’ will inspire young individuals across the UK to realize and fulfil their potential.


Notes to Editors:

Survey conducted by Youth Group between February to April 2023. The total survey sample was 15,847 young people between the ages of 18-25.

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Brayan Jimenez talks about Maximizing Business Growth: Unleashing the Power of a Strategic Financial Controller in Fintech and Business Improvement




In the fast-paced world of business and fintech, organizations face unique challenges that demand a strategic approach to financial management and operational enhancement. A skilled and experienced strategic financial controller proficient in implementing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and optimizing processes is the catalyst for unlocking growth potential and mitigating risks.

This article delves into the significance of having a strategic financial controller, the risks associated with neglecting one, and the exceptional value they bring to businesses in the fintech sector.

What is a Strategic Financial Controller?

A strategic financial controller is a highly skilled professional who plays a crucial role in managing an organization’s financial operations and driving its financial success. They possess a deep understanding of financial management, accounting principles, and business analytics, allowing them to provide strategic insights and guidance. Unlike traditional financial controllers, they take a proactive and forward-thinking approach, aligning financial strategies with the organization’s overall objectives.

They work closely with key stakeholders to develop and execute financial plans, optimize profitability, and mitigate risks. A strategic financial controller also excels in identifying opportunities for operational improvement, implementing efficient processes, and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.

Their expertise in ERP systems and data analysis enables them to provide accurate financial insights for informed decision-making. Overall, a strategic financial controller is an invaluable asset in driving financial stability, growth, and long-term success for businesses.

The Value a Strategic Financial Controller Brings to Businesses

A strategic financial controller brings immense value to fintech businesses, mitigating risks and driving growth through their expertise in various key areas.

  • Financial Strategy and Planning: A strategic financial controller aligns financial strategies with business objectives, providing guidance on capital allocation, funding strategies, and financial forecasting. This ensures businesses are well-positioned for growth and financial stability.
  • Operational Efficiency: By implementing ERP systems and optimizing business processes, a strategic financial controller enhances operational efficiency, minimizes costs, and maximizes resource allocation. This leads to improved productivity, reduced inefficiencies, and increased profitability.
  • Risk Management and Compliance: In the fintech sector, compliance with regulatory requirements is paramount. A strategic financial controller helps navigate complex regulations, ensuring compliance and mitigating legal and reputational risks. They also establish robust risk management frameworks, safeguarding against potential threats and strengthening data security measures.
  • Data-Driven Decision Making: A strategic financial controller has extensive knowledge of financial management and data analysis. They empower executives to make informed decisions, spot market trends, and spur innovation by converting complex financial data into usable insights. This gives companies a competitive edge and encourages long-term growth.

The Risks of Ignoring the Role of a Strategic Financial Controller

Failure to employ a strategic financial controller exposes businesses in the fintech sector to numerous difficulties and risks. Without their expertise, organizations may encounter:

  • Inefficient Financial Operations: Inadequate streamlining of financial processes leads to errors, delays, and subpar financial reporting, hampering decision-making and compliance efforts.
  • Regulatory Non-Compliance: The highly regulated fintech landscape requires meticulous adherence to complex regulatory requirements. Without a strategic financial controller’s guidance, organizations may struggle to navigate these regulations, resulting in legal and reputational risks.
  • Inadequate Risk Management: Fintech companies handle sensitive financial data and are prone to cybersecurity threats. The absence of a strategic financial controller increases vulnerability to data breaches and financial fraud.
  • Missed Growth Opportunities: Absence of a dedicated professional overseeing financial strategies may result in missed growth opportunities, failure to optimize revenue streams, and suboptimal investment decisions.


In the ever-evolving world of business and fintech, the role of a strategic financial controller is pivotal. Neglecting to employ one exposes businesses to inefficiencies, compliance risks, and missed growth opportunities. However, by harnessing the expertise of a strategic financial controller in ERP systems, financial management, and operational enhancement, fintech organizations can thrive, outpace their competitors, and achieve sustainable growth. Investing in a strategic financial controller is a strategic decision that ensures financial stability, streamlines operations, and propels businesses towards unprecedented success.


Brayan Jimenez – LinkedIn

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Breast Cancer: Facts, Symptoms, Prevention and Latest Research



Photo by Leeloo Thefirst:

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers that affect women worldwide. While significant progress has been made in early detection and treatment options, it remains a serious health concern with potential life-altering consequences. This article provides an overview of breast cancer facts and statistics, symptoms to look out for, ways to lower risk factors, screening methods available for early detection, and the latest research developments in finding better prevention measures and treatments.

Facts and Statistics

Breast cancer is the most common cancer globally, accounting for 12.5% of all new annual cancer cases worldwide. In the U.S., an estimated 287,850 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 51,400 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in 2022. About 13% of U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime.

The risk factors for developing breast cancer include being a woman and getting older; however, some genetic mutations can also contribute to its development. While about 85% of breast cancers occur in women with no family history of the disease, Ashkenazi Jewish women have a higher risk due to a higher rate of BRCA mutations.

Breast cancer death rates have been decreasing since 1989 due to treatment advances and earlier detection through screening; however, persistent disparities exist among different racial or ethnic groups. Black women are more likely than any other group to die from breast cancer due partially to high rates of triple-negative breast cancer diagnosis.

What Are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer symptoms can vary from person to person, and some individuals may not experience any signs or symptoms at all. However, there are warning signs that people should be aware of.

These include the appearance of a new lump in the breast or underarm, thickening or swelling of part of the breast, irritation or dimpling of breast skin, redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or on the breast, pulling in of the nipple or pain in this area, nipple discharge other than milk (including blood), and any change in size/shape/pain experienced within any portion(s) of your breasts.

It’s important to note that these symptoms can also occur due to non-cancerous conditions; thus it is recommended for an individual with such concerns to seek advice from their healthcare provider as soon as possible so they can determine if further testing is needed.

Ways to Lower the Risk of Breast Cancer

There is no guaranteed way to prevent breast cancer, but there are steps that can be taken which may help to reduce the risk. Some risk factors are beyond an individual’s control, such as age and gender; however, other factors like body weight and alcohol consumption can be modified.

For all women, maintaining a healthy weight throughout life by balancing food intake with physical activity is crucial in reducing the risk of developing breast cancer after menopause. Regular moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for at least 150-300 minutes per week (or any combination of these) is also recommended.

Alcohol should either be avoided or limited to one drink per day at most since even small amounts have been linked with an increase in breast cancer risk.

Breastfeeding for several months after childbirth might also lower the chances of developing breast cancer while using hormone therapy after menopause can increase the risk. In case hormonal treatment options are required post-menopause, non-hormonal options should be discussed with healthcare providers.

For women who are known to have an increased risk of developing breast cancer due to certain genetic mutations or family history etc., medical interventions like genetic counseling/testing and prescription medicines like tamoxifen and raloxifene could help lower their chances of getting it. Preventive surgery or close observation for early signs of this disease could also be considered based on individualized assessments made by healthcare professionals.

Screening for Breast Cancer

Breast cancer screening is used to detect the disease before symptoms appear. Tests like mammography, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used for screening. The primary goals of breast cancer screening are early detection and reduction or elimination of deaths from the disease. Mammography is currently considered to be the best tool available for breast cancer screening as it has been shown to reduce fatalities resulting from this type of cancer.

While digital mammography may be more effective at identifying cancers in dense breasts, 3D mammograms may improve sensitivity even further by reducing false-positive results that lead to additional testing and anxiety. However, overdiagnosis remains a potential issue with this method.

Other tests such as ultrasounds and MRIs are not routinely recommended unless there is a high risk of developing breast cancer due to genetic mutations or other factors.

The frequency and type of breast cancer screenings recommended depend on individual risk factors, age, health status, etc., so it’s important to discuss options with your doctor. Different organizations have varying recommendations regarding when women should start getting screened for breast cancer as well as how often they should receive these tests.

It’s worth noting that while clinical breast examinations (CBEs) are included in some guidelines along with mammography, others do not recommend them for women who are not at an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Breast self-examination is also not proven to lower mortality rates but can help people become familiar with their bodies in order to better identify changes that could indicate a problem.

Latest Research on Breast Cancer

Researchers are studying various aspects of early-stage and locally advanced breast cancer to find ways to prevent the disease, provide better care, and improve treatments. This includes identifying causes such as environmental factors, lifestyle choices, and endocrine disruptors. Additionally, they are developing new methods for evaluating genes and proteins in order to determine the best treatment options for each individual patient.

Other areas of research include finding more effective ways to prevent breast cancer or detect it at an earlier stage; determining whether ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) should always be treated with surgery; identifying which molecular subtypes of cancer require chemotherapy; testing new drug therapies for different types of breast cancer; exploring approaches like targeted radiation therapy schedules and reconstructive surgery techniques; improving hormonal therapies for ER-positive breast cancer patients; managing symptoms associated with treatments that affect the quality of life.


In conclusion, breast cancer is a serious disease that affects many women worldwide. While there are steps to reduce risk factors and early detection through screening, ongoing research is necessary to improve treatment options and overall outcomes for patients. Recommendations include maintaining a healthy lifestyle, regular screenings based on individualized assessments by healthcare professionals, and staying informed about the latest research developments in breast cancer. It’s important for individuals to discuss any concerns or questions with their doctor and follow recommended guidelines for prevention and care.

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