Mark C. Perna of TFS Results: “Focus makes the difference”

Focus makes the difference. I often tell a story from my childhood when I was climbing high in a tree and I heard the branch I was standing on give a deep, ominous creak. I knew it was about to break and send me hurtling about 30 feet to the ground; it was a terrifying […]

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Focus makes the difference. I often tell a story from my childhood when I was climbing high in a tree and I heard the branch I was standing on give a deep, ominous creak. I knew it was about to break and send me hurtling about 30 feet to the ground; it was a terrifying moment. And in that moment I did three things: I focused, I planned, and I took action. The terror of that branch-creak moment gave me a laser focus on the problem, so I could then make a plan and act on it to (quite literally) save my life. I have never lost my appreciation for those unpleasant but necessary branch-creak moments in life, when something happens that shakes our security and imparts that heightened focus. Focus is the catalyst to achieve truly great things.


As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark C. Perna.

Mark C. Perna is a bestselling author and CEO. A weekly contributor at Forbes.com, he also hosts The Perna Syndicate micro-podcast and serves on the Advisory Council for the Coalition for Career Development in DC. His mission is to shift the paradigm in education, workforce, and economic development nationwide.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve always wanted to make a positive difference in the world, but it took me some time to discover exactly where I could do this most effectively. My first job out of college was at a national printing manufacturer. I was working in their Cleveland office alongside lots of established and successful salespeople. Ten months into the job and fresh home from my honeymoon, I was called into my manager’s office to have the “talk” most of us fear from our employer. We had a pleasant conversation right up to the point where he told me that I wasn’t very good at my job. I was devastated. He told me I had 60 days to turn things around or they were going to “make a change” — which was unmistakably a euphemism for “you’re almost fired.”

I had sixty days to get serious, make this my lifelong career, and frankly, become darn good at it — right now. I left his office with an enormous knot in my stomach. How could I build on my strengths and increase my success rate?

I started reading books by sales professionals, listening to books on tape, learning about how to overcome objections, talking to sales professionals to learn their best practices, and absorbing anything I could find to garner even the smallest tip or competitive advantage. Throughout my explosive massive action in those first thirty days, I realized I wasn’t spending sufficient quality time in front of enough prospects and clients. My numbers were too low and I needed to increase my batting average.

I have always known that in baseball a major league player who is batting .300 gets only six hits for every twenty at-bats while the player hitting .250 gets only five hits for every twenty at-bats. That’s only a one-hit difference during each twenty at-bats and yet the difference in pay between these two players is astounding. In today’s terms, the player batting .300 can be making upwards of 6,000,000 dollars – 8,000,000 dollars per year while the player batting .250 makes significantly less (in fact, potentially two to three times less). That’s a tremendous difference for only one fewer hit per twenty at-bats. Imagine any business model where you can fail seven out of every ten attempts stepping to the plate and be considered a tremendous success. I started looking at my own success in those same terms.

I learned some very important things about myself. I wasn’t making nearly enough sales calls, actual face-to-face encounters that allowed me to tell the story, make the pitch, and play the game. I discovered that I was fearful of rejection. In fact, I abhorred rejection and avoided it at all costs. I continually viewed the rejection of being told “no” as a poor reflection on me personally or professionally — it hit me where I live. This perception stood as an inflexible obstacle, keeping me from making enough sales calls and becoming successful in this challenging career. Clearly I needed to make a change in the way I thought about sales, success, and the numbers game.

I started by reprogramming my mind to change the fear of rejection to excitement at the potential of being rejected. I know, that sounds crazy, right? Here is the way I thought about it. I was scared of rejection, which resulted in my making fewer sales calls where I could be rejected. The opposite must also be true…if I became driven to be rejected, this would allow me to become excited enough to make more sales calls. The more sales calls I made, the greater the potential for being rejected — so I became hungry to hear “no.” I figured that every “no” got me closer to a “yes.” Every time I stepped to the plate, I had the potential to hit the ball, strike out, or perhaps achieve a walk, allowing me to keep the inning alive.

As I changed my thinking, I also embraced several quotes from a professional sales trainer Zig Ziglar, especially his mantra of “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want” and his outlook that “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you learn to do it well.” That fit me like a glove. I was certainly doing things poorly, but I was committed to doing them poorly until I learned to do them well as I helped enough other people get what they want.

It was vital for me to move from an official sales pitch strategy to simply sharing the vibrant success stories of how other clients and businesses had used our products and services to achieve enormous gains. It was these stories of innovative solutions, driven by our company’s full understanding of each client’s unique needs and objectives, that finally got people to listen. In sharing the relevant stories over and over again, I became good at telling them with passion and a keen sense of timing. My theatrical, broadcasting, and communications background now harmonized with my profession as I devoted my days to imparting the stories that counted to anyone who would listen. If someone wasn’t interested or engaged in the conversation, that was okay; I thanked them for their time and disengaged, professionally thrilled I had received the sought-after “no.” I simply moved on to the next opportunity to share the story.

I found myself excited to go to work, make contact with new people, and not only accept the frequent “no,” but fully embrace and celebrate the occasional “yes” as well. I was finally having fun. Sales became interesting and actually fit my background once I connected all the dots.

In case you’re wondering, I wasn’t fired after the sixty-day probation period. In fact, I turned things around. I brought in several new clients, including a huge global manufacturer whose sales would double my territory overnight. Within two years, I went from potentially being fired to being one of the top sales executives out of many hundreds in the Midwest. As a result of the 1986 calendar year, I was onstage speaking and receiving an award as a top performer at the company’s annual Achievement Club in Boca Raton, Florida. I went from outhouse to penthouse in two short years.

This experience spurred me to become the professional I am today. Today I work with educators, employers, economic developers, parents, and community leaders to bridge the skills gap, motivate students, and shift the paradigm. Everything I do as a speaker, author, CEO, and industry thought leader is built on a foundation of stellar customer service — forged in the crucible of having 60 days to turn my performance around.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

Earlier in my career as a motivational speaker and performance consultant, I was looking for new content to inspire people. But I certainly never expected to find it during a day filled with flight delays and stress. It was January 2005 when I met a remarkable man named Wade. He was driving a bus from the Baltimore Airport to the offsite rental car center located about ten minutes away. It was snowing in Cleveland that Friday morning, hampering flight and ground operations at Cleveland Hopkins Airport. As a result, my colleague and I arrived at the Baltimore Airport over four hours late, anxious to start the drive to DC to make our appointment. Needless to say, I was stressed and challenged and was not in the most cheerful of moods. Enter Wade.

As we were standing on the curb outside the airport that day, the rental car bus rolled to a stop and Wade jumped off the bus. Now when I say he jumped off the bus, I mean he had a real passion in his step. He looked us both square in the eye and said, “Glad you both made it here safely! Let me grab your bags while you both get comfortable inside the bus.” As a true road warrior, I was taken by surprise, as I am rarely met with such warmth and enthusiasm for one’s job. I liked Wade immediately.

Wade was roughly 28–30 years old and had a clear, deep voice that commanded attention when he spoke. As he pulled away from the curb, he got on the microphone to say, “Good afternoon, my name is Wade and I will be driving you out to the rental car facility today. Thank you for making Baltimore your final stop today and I want you to know that whatever stresses and challenges have brought you to this moment, I want you to take a deep breath and I want you to relax — because I’ve got you and I want to ensure I give you enough information to help expedite your trip through the rental car facility.”

He paused…and you could literally see people take a deep breath and exhale. He then went on to tell two of the funniest jokes I have ever heard. They were short and sweet and everyone burst out laughing in a full belly-laugh. He was funny! I wish I could remember the jokes; I would include them right here. He then gave us a few quick and helpful tips for when we arrived at the facility and he stopped talking.

Now, in the back of the bus, it’s like Mardi Gras. When you have laughed with people the veil of secrecy is gone. Suddenly our newfound friends were sharing jokes that were similar so the laughter roared on. Everyone was involved and engaged in the ride to the facility. Several more jokes and more laughter ensued. It was fun, enjoyable, and stress relieving. As the laughter started to die down, the conversations started. We now became friends and people became genuinely interested in the other people that only moments earlier they had wanted nothing to do with.

About a minute before we arrived at the facility, Wade got back on the microphone to say, “Thank you again for making Baltimore your final stop today and I want to encourage those of you that did not bring family with you on this trip, please visit again soon — we have such a family-friendly city with the Inner Harbor, Aquarium…” and a few other attractions I do not recall.

He went on, “I am about to come to a stop in front of the rental car facility, so any of you that wish to grab your bags and go, please feel like you can do that. But for anyone needing assistance, I am here to help get you safely on your way.” He then closed with one more brief and funny witticism and everyone burst out laughing as we jumped to our feet and began exiting the bus. It was extraordinary and in some ways magical.

Have you ever met someone who just put a bounce in your step, made you feel better, or seemed to remove the chip from your shoulder? That was Wade. Despite all that had occurred to bring me to Wade’s bus — the travel delays, appointment time pressure, and the stress of making the day work — it all seemed to melt away as a result of that ten-minute ride. Wade made us feel better about ourselves and our circumstances and ultimately made a tremendous difference for those around him.

In the process, he was a remarkable ambassador for the city of Baltimore. He radiated pride for his city, his job, and himself. I’ve been back to Baltimore many times since that trip and I have never seen another bus driver do this nor have I seen Wade again. In fact, the bus microphone has been replaced with automated messages throughout the journey. Wade’s interaction that day was pure quintessential Wade; he did the things he did not because he had to, but because he wanted to make a difference in your journey.

As my colleague and I departed that bus, we felt great about our shared experience and sported huge smiles which lasted a full sixty seconds until we walked up to the Avis counter where we met the person I affectionately refer to as the anti-Wade. Boom, back to reality. Her name was April and maybe because it was January it was just not April’s month. To her credit, she got us in and out of the rental transaction in three short minutes. Have you ever seen someone whirl so fast on a computer that you wonder whether in fact they are actually typing?

During that brief three-minute interaction she was cold, standoffish, and even flat-out rude. She never looked up at me from her keyboard or acknowledged me in any way except to rap out, “Name?!” She was technically proficient but when it came to making a connection with people — not so much. I walked away from that fleeting unpleasant exchange in awe that within sixty seconds I could meet two people so diametrically opposed. April clearly missed the fact that Avis spends tens of millions of dollars to bring me to the point of renting a car and where the rubber meets the road (literally) — she gets handed the ball and she doesn’t just drop it. She destroys it.

My unforgettable experiences with Wade and April became a signature story that I told at the end of every keynote I delivered for the next 15 years. I would tell the story and then challenge the audience to ask themselves, am I a Wade or am I an April? Is my organization mostly made up of Wades or Aprils?

My one ten-minute trip on Wade’s bus has positively affected an awe-inspiring number of people nationwide — simply through his optimistic outlook and genuine nature. Imagine how your life can impact those around you and the vast ripple effects that can flow far beyond your direct interactions or those of your children, students, employees, and community. I am keenly aware that every time I speak at educational conferences, the audience is made up of administrators, teachers, and critical support staff members who have the ability to alter the way they influence students’ lives. For every educator I can influence, they can influence countless students, who go on to influence the people in their lives. The ripple effect can turn us all from a single drip to a powerful wave. So, are you a Wade or are you an April?

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

This wasn’t early in my career, but it was a rookie mistake that I think all of us can relate to. It’s a story about something we all deal with every day: distractions.

It was a blazing hot afternoon in the dog days of August. I was driving to a gymnasium in the middle of upstate New York to deliver a speech to 800 educators who were being bused in from around the region. I couldn’t believe it when I arrived and learned the facility’s air conditioning was not working. They had placed monstrously huge industrial fans in front of open doors at all four corners of the auditorium to make it a little more bearable, but the heat was still intense.

So I started my speech, working hard to speak over the fans (because of course, the sound system wasn’t working either). Going into this, I knew that my audience didn’t want to be there. Give me a morning slot any time over an afternoon presentation. By afternoon, most of us just want to go home rather than listen to some guy try to provide meaningful professional development.

I was sweating like I had never sweated before. Have you ever been so absolutely drenched in sweat that you were afraid to take off a layer of clothing? That was me. I longed to remove my sport coat but didn’t dare — it would reveal the soaking wet sauna of my next layer of clothing. So I suffered through it.

The whole experience was unbelievably hot and uncomfortable — not just for me, but for everyone there. And then, the flies arrived.

We’re talking flies like an Old Testament plague here, and for some reason, they found me particularly attractive. They came in through the open doors and found their way everywhere. They were all over me, filling my range of vision. Later when I undressed, I found many that had slipped down my collar to die in my shirt (ugh!).

As I looked out at the people, all I could see were the flies in front of my face. I was floundering, struggling to even recall what my speech was about, much less deliver it well. I stumbled, I stuttered, I lost my train of thought and couldn’t find it again.

After about four minutes of giving the worst presentation of my life, I knew I couldn’t go on like this. Right there on stage, as I was dragging myself and my audience through the speech, I had a revelation.

The heat, the sweat, the flies were nothing but distractions. In that moment I remembered the purpose of what I was doing, why I was there, and why, in the big picture, the flies didn’t matter.

The flies that day were a lot like the distractions we all face in life. There are always adverse circumstances, things that obstruct our vision and steal attention from what’s important. But we all have the ability to look past them — if we choose to. Looking past the distractions, no matter how uncomfortable they are, was a powerful lesson I learned from that fly-filled afternoon in upstate New York. And I now impart this lesson to audiences across North America in my keynotes and professional development.

Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?

At my company TFS Results, we have one mission: to share and support your passion for making a difference. We are a full-service strategic communications and consulting firm specializing in education and workforce development.

On October 21, we are hosting a groundbreaking Livestream experience called the Education with Purpose: Call to Action. The goal of this event — which has never been tried on this level before — is to bring communities together around a shared vision for purpose-driven education. We need to make students career ready in this country to positively impact the expanding skills gap our employers are facing in increasingly greater numbers. To do this, we are attracting a wide variety of folks who work in education, who lead businesses, and who spearhead initiatives for economic development. I’m incredibly proud that our registrants include chambers of commerce, teachers, administrators, employers, community leaders, and many others from two countries and five-time zones who want to shift the paradigm in education, workforce, and economic development. Once they all catch the same vision, there’s nothing we can’t do together.

And then in September 2022, we’re hosting a follow-up in-person conference in Cleveland, OH: the Education with Purpose: Take Action Event where we will focus on facilitated strategic planning, dynamic PD, and networking to further the paradigm shift for our attendees and their communities.

Of course, this is all in addition to our ongoing strategic consulting and professional development to help our clients maximize their enrollment, retention, engagement, and performance with the younger generations. It’s a privilege to work with so many talented individuals who want to make a positive difference, just like we do.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

As I worked with educators and employers to increase retention and performance rates, engage more effectively with young people, and motivate their greatest effort at school and work, I realized that many people hold a negative view of the younger generations. They’re lazy, they’re entitled, et cetera — people just have this stereotype in their head and they interact with young people accordingly.

Of course, I believe something very different about the younger generations. I see them as one of the most talented, intelligent, and pitbull-like generations we’ve ever seen. They have it within themselves to become the next Greatest Generation — if we can unleash everything they’re capable of.

This is one of the reasons that I published my first book in 2018, Answering Why: Unleashing Passion, Purpose, and Performance in Younger Generations. It has gone on to become a bestseller and win eight national awards, and I have received such an overwhelming and humbling response from people in all areas of life as they work with young people.

After reading Answering Why, career counselor Sarah Caitlin Morales wrote: “Mark’s view of young people is powerful and positive. As an educator, it’s important to me to play to the strengths of my students and I love the fact that his ideas help me see MORE strengths! The information he provides in this book is useful for teachers, counselors, and parents who want to help kids find meaning and drive. And who WOULDN’T want to help kids do that? This book and Mark’s ideas have truly reinvigorated me and my work as a school counselor.”

Principal John V. Honey wrote, “If you are an educator (or parent) who is trying to grasp how to best guide a young person from high school to adulthood, “Answering Why” is an important book. Mark Perna has given voice to a unique strategy for directing and motivating today’s youth in a way that challenges old paradigms while still supporting everyone’s dream of helping our youth develop a life of meaning and purpose. Think of an important adolescent in your life and then take the first step in helping them to develop a “competitive advantage”. Read this book; it will change how you think and work.”

Parent and business owner Todd Bertsch wrote, “As a father, teacher and employer of the younger generations this book spoke to me on many levels. It’s refreshing to hear some positive thoughts on how to teach, collaborate with and inspire the younger generations. It’s an easy read and I was able to put some items into immediate action that have proven to be home runs. Mark pours his heart and soul into this book and shares some personal stories that I’m sure many parents can relate to. I don’t leave many reviews, but I highly recommend this book.”

Finally, LibraryThing reviewer “nanagee” wrote: “As a millennial, this book was a joy to read and really resonated with me. Passion and knowing why I do what I do help keep me going. I took over a year off from working to review my passions and whys. Now I try to impart the same philosophy every time I train our new hires. There are not many books that are on my list of re-reads, but I’ll have to revisit this book once a year.”

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

Yes! We can start by 1.) extolling all postsecondary pathways rather than just pushing the college route on every student. This means celebrating every viable training pathway that young people take after graduating high school; we need to be proud of every single one. Instead of “college and career ready,” we should be making students “career ready, period.” This doesn’t mean I’m anti-college at all; I just don’t want young people going there and racking up tremendous debt without a clear purpose and plan for why they’re there and what they want to accomplish.

To prevent that, we need to 2.) start embedding meaningful career exploration within our existing curriculum, rather than tacking it on as an afterthought in high school. This will add real-world relevance to academic subjects, inspiring young people to do their best work in school because it connects to where they want to go in the future.

Finally, 3.) we can start bridging the awareness gap that many students and parents have about high-demand career fields. There are so many new careers, opportunities, and on-ramps to success in our fast-changing world, it’s no wonder that so many families and even educators/counselors don’t know about them. When we bridge this awareness gap, we can start shrinking the skills gap in sectors like advanced manufacturing, healthcare, supply chain & logistics, construction, and so many more that are desperate for skilled workers.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

I consider every person in my company to be a leader in their area of expertise. That’s why I hired them: I can’t be an expert in everything, and so I must rely on others to fill these gaps and bring the talents and perspectives that I lack.

At TFS Results, I hire people who are leaders not just in their field, but also in their character. These individuals display integrity at all times, not just when they’re in front of a client. I can trust them with the confidential data of our company because they have a proven track record of honesty. They’re leaders who never stoop to less than ethical behavior.

Leaders also practice great communication: written and verbal, virtual and in person. I define communication as the ability to speak and write clearly, as well as the ability to listen well and process what others say. A leader who cannot effectively share and receive information is marooned from the rest of the team — now more than ever in today’s remote and hybrid work environments.

Leadership is more than just the ability to take charge of something, though ownership is critical. Leadership is, in many ways, the sum total of a person’s soft skills. It’s how you bring those soft skills to bear on everything else. Leaders are constantly developing their abilities and becoming better versions of themselves. Ironically, it’s those who are willing to learn who are the true leaders. Such individuals can process feedback and use it to fuel their growth — reminding me why I hired them in the first place.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1.) Focus makes the difference. I often tell a story from my childhood when I was climbing high in a tree and I heard the branch I was standing on give a deep, ominous creak. I knew it was about to break and send me hurtling about 30 feet to the ground; it was a terrifying moment. And in that moment I did three things: I focused, I planned, and I took action. The terror of that branch-creak moment gave me a laser focus on the problem, so I could then make a plan and act on it to (quite literally) save my life. I have never lost my appreciation for those unpleasant but necessary branch-creak moments in life, when something happens that shakes our security and imparts that heightened focus. Focus is the catalyst to achieve truly great things.

2.) Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Failure is highly uncomfortable and many of us try to avoid situations where we might fail. I have come to embrace the feeling of being uncomfortable because it means I am challenging myself and my team to be better. Being uncomfortable is now my resting pulse, because I’m not content with the status quo.

3.) Say yes — and then figure out how. It’s a common saying that “opportunity is all around you.” What’s not so common is actionable advice on how to truly take advantage of these opportunities. About five years ago, I shifted my approach to my life and career to a simple philosophy: Say yes… and then figure out how. This goes hand in hand with getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. If we only say yes to the things we’ve already mastered, we will never master anything new. We will never be pushed out of our comfort zone — and growth rarely happens when we’re comfortable. When I come across an opportunity that seems way beyond our capabilities, that’s going to stretch us big-time, I don’t react with a nice, safe “no.” I say yes — and then figure out how.

4.) Consistent, thoughtful reflection and planning is a game-changer. As an entrepreneur, I spend a lot of time analyzing the business and strategizing ways to make a bigger impact with our clients and in education, employment, and economic development in communities across North America. On the surface, the time spent this way does not have an immediate monetary gain. But over time, as we implement the plans to grow our business and impact, I see tremendous growth.

5.) Trusting and empowering employees supersizes the impact of your organization. Teamwork is more than just being a pleasant person to work with. I define teamwork as active participation in collaboration with others — the ability and desire to partner seamlessly with anyone in the company to accomplish whatever is needed.

That type of close working relationship will not come without sticky patches. My team has had its share of these moments and we always try to believe the best of each other’s motives, respect the diversity of opinions represented and keep our focus the quality of the work. I know that each person is striving to create the best possible product for our clients and because we are committed to teamwork, we are able to navigate our creative and sometimes even personal differences. I trust them and they trust me; we’re in this together and that’s why we can make such a powerful difference.

You are a person of enormous 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. 🙂

Education with Purpose for Employment with Passion. This covers the entirety of a young person’s educational and career journey, and it is all powered by purpose. Purpose is paramount to everything we do as human beings, but it’s too often missing from the conversation with young people. Young people who see purpose in their education (what I call their Light at the End of the Tunnel) are motivated to do their best work. They can then enter postsecondary training with a plan and goal for their ultimate employment in a career they’re passionate about. To achieve this mission, we are partnering with three areas that are often siloed from one another: the educational system, business and industry, and economic development. When all three of these diverse groups can come together around a shared vision for purpose-driven education and employment, we can shift the paradigm and make a huge positive difference for both young people and the entire community.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

The blockbuster movie Apollo 13 was released in 1995 and it contains the most powerful quote I have ever heard. It’s not the one people would normally guess, such as the famous line of Gene Krantz, as played by actor Ed Harris . . . “We’ve never lost an American in space, we’re sure as hell not gonna lose one on my watch! Failure is not an option.”

No, my favorite line comes at the beginning of the movie. It’s July 20, 1969 and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin are getting ready to walk on the surface of the moon for the first time. Jim Lovell and his wife are throwing a party from their home in Houston to watch this historic event. They have lots of guests and the champagne is on ice. The line that has had such an impact on me is spoken at the end of the evening when the guests have departed and the Lovells are sitting outside in lounge chairs, beer cans strewn on the ground, looking up at the moon. Tom Hanks playing Jim Lovell says this: “From now on we live in a world where man has walked on the moon. It wasn’t a miracle, we just decided to go.”

“It wasn’t a miracle, we just decided to go.” I found that sentence to be the most promising words I had ever heard. To understand their significance we have to back up to May 25, 1961 where John F. Kennedy stood up before a joint session of Congress and committed the nation by the end of the decade to land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth. He said, “We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” Just over eight years later on July 20, 1969 we realized that goal. “It wasn’t a miracle, we just decided to go.” To accomplish that feat, hundreds of thousands of Americans worked tirelessly to create things that had never been built before. They needed to invent, design, build, and test everything — each system, instrument, and component right down to each screw.

At the time Kennedy made that speech we didn’t know how to get there. We had not settled on Earth Orbit Rendezvous, Lunar Orbit Rendezvous, one spacecraft or multiple, or how we would solve the challenge of the Space Race. The clock was ticking and the nation was engaged. “It wasn’t a miracle, we just decided to go.”

We have accomplished so much as a nation, a people, and as individuals. It became a source of great inspiration to understand that we can accomplish anything — that I can accomplish anything. We simply need to make the decision to go.

I embraced that inspiration in my life and determined that it was time for me to go . . . set my priorities, build my dream, and create something meaningful in my personal and professional life. I flourished at setting goals and working hard. I was willing to take calculated risks, but realized the power of building on my accomplishments and focusing on my chosen path. When the branch creaked beneath me I focused, planned, and took the necessary action. I succeeded and failed, won and lost, and thrived as a result of each lesson taught. I suffered each consequence resulting from my actions and accepted things over which I had no control. I continuously adjusted my plan and fought for the principles I hold dear.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

As a result of the impact Apollo 13 and his other films have had on my life, I have always placed a meal with its director Ron Howard on the top of my bucket list. I deeply admire his unique ability to tell an important story and involve the audience in the events on screen.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I’m active on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. I also have a weekly column at Forbes and host a weekday micro-podcast called The Perna Syndicate. Here are all my handles:

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/markperna

Facebook: @MarkCPernaLeadership

Twitter: @markperna

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMxPQjsNxzD9MfUtBM92qaA/videos

Forbes.com: Forbes.com/sites/markcperna

The Perna Syndicate: https://www.markcperna.com/motivational-speaker/briefings/

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

Thank you for the opportunity to interview for Authority Magazine! If I can provide any further insights or material, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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