My life so far
When I was young, adults would ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I never knew how to answer them. I still don’t. Why “be” one thing?
My dad was a conductor, a scholar, an author, an instrumentalist and a teacher. That’s at least five things. (Six, if you count being a dad, which I do.)
My mom never asked me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Instead she’d simply say, “You can do whatever you set out to do.” For five decades, I’ve been putting her belief to the test, as a composer, cellist, educator, entrepreneur, editor and writer.
If I were a high-wire performer and had my dad’s example and my mom’s philosophy as my only net, I’d still wouldn’t worry about falling.
As a Musician
I was born (in 1954) to a family of musicians and writers. My mother, Carolyn Mann, was a drama teacher and playwright. My father, Dr. Alfred Mann, was a renowned musicologist and Handel authority, author (The Study of Fugue, The Study of Counterpoint, The Great Composer as Student and Teacher) and choral conductor.
I launched my first career in my teens as a concert cellist, recorder soloist and composer. My first serious composition, at age thirteen, was a setting of eight choruses for Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound, which was performed as part of a theatrical production of the play in Delphi, Greece in a stone amphitheater—the very one, in fact, where the play was originally premiered a few thousand years earlier.
At the age of sixteen I won the prestigious BMI Awards to Student Composers and received the award at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, where I met such twentieth-century-music luminaries as William Schumann and Leopold Stokowski. I apprenticed as a choral conductor under my dad, which gave me the chance to meet more legendary figures of classical music, including Randall Thompson, Leonard Bernstein, Boris Goldovsky, Robert Shaw and George Crumb. I performed for over a decade in orchestral and operatic productions, chamber ensembles and solo recitals.
As an Entrepreneur
I never planned to go into business; it just seems to keep working out that way. I’ve founded four businesses (one school, one food distribution business, two publications) and have been involved in the management, direction and operation of a variety of enterprises over the years.
In 1986 I began working as an independent contractor for a nutritional supplement company in Oregon called Cell Tech (today renamed Simplexity Health). In the decade from 1986 to 1996, I helped build, train and coach a sales network responsible for several hundred million dollars in annual sales; wrote much of company’s materials and served as Editor in Chief of the company newsletter; was a regular speaker at national company conferences and a national trainer for the company, and served as host of an international teleconference series and a monthly satellite TV program. In 1992 I was recipient of the company’s annual “Founders Trophy,” awarded to individuals who have had the most significant impact on the company’s growth.
Over the past quarter-century I have worked for five different national publications (East West Journal [now Natural Health], Solstice, Upline, Network Marketing Lifestyles, Networking Times) in every capacity from shipping clerk and design editor to Editor in Chief and Publisher, managing a diversity of staff and personnel and juggling a range of editorial responsibilities and production challenges.
As an Educator
I have never subscribed to the weary adage, “Those who can’t do, teach,” and instead believe that the truth is more like this: Those who love to do, can’t help but teach. Both my parents were educators, and both loved what they did with a passion.
At the age of seventeen I co-founded (with author Julian F. Thompson and a handful of my contemporaries) a private high school in New Jersey, called Changes Inc. “Alternative” though we were called, we successfully placed our students in such universities as Harvard and Yale. After graduating, I joined the school’s faculty.
In the years since, I have taught at music schools, colleges and was on the faculty at the Kushi Institute in Boston, teaching health and philosophy. I have taught children in affluent Boston suburbs, Indiana farms and the poorest neighborhoods on the outskirts of Philadelphia. As a public speaker, I have addressed audiences of thousands, and served as host of a satellite television program.
As a Writer
In 1986 I founded Solstice, a national monthly magazine on health and environmental issues, and served as Publisher and Editor in Chief from 1986 through 1989, during which time the publication grew to a national circulation of over 15,000. Portions of my series on climate change, “Whither the Trees?” were selected in 1989 for reprint in Utne Reader for a readership of over 100,000.
In 1990 I co-founded (with John Milton Fogg) Upline, the network marketing industry’s preeminent trade journal, and served as Senior Editor through 1996. During the nineties, I also edited and/or co-authored a slew of books for the network marketing trade, including Fogg’s The Greatest Networker in the World, which went on to sell over a million copies in eight languages. I served as Editor in Chief of the newsstand magazine Network Marketing Lifestyles from 1999 to 2001 and Editor in Chief of Networking Times from 2002 to 2006, and remain with that journal as Consulting Editor. During those years I also edited, ghost-wrote or co-wrote another slew of books for the trade, including Marian Head’s Revolutionary Agreements, Jeff Olson’s The Slight Edge and Paul Zane Pilzer’s The Next Millionaires.
During my tenure at Networking Times I’ve had the fascinating chore of interviewing dozens of noted authors, speakers, educators and other leaders, including:
Scott Allen (The Virtual Handshake), Arjuna Ardagh (The Translucent Revolution), Jeffrey Arnett, Ph.D. (Emerging Adulthood), David Bach (The Automatic Millionaire), Colleen Barrett (President Emeritus, Southwest Airlines), Dawn Billings (Entitled to Fail, Endowed to Succeed), Brian Biro (Beyond Success), Diana Booher (Your Signature Life), Gregg Braden (The Isaiah Effect), Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom (The Starfish and the Spider), Jim Bunch (The Happy Healthy Wealthy Game), Bob Burg (Endless Referrals), Rhonda Byrne (producer, The Secret), John Castignini (Thank God I), S. Truett Cathy (founder, Chick-fil-A), Kathy Cloninger (CEO, Girl Scouts of America), Dr. Henry Cloud (Integrity), Ben Cohen (cofounder, Ben & Jerry’s), Vic Conant (president, Nightingale-Conant), DC Cordova (CEO of Excellerated Business Schools), Stephen R. Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People), Stephen M.R. Covey (The Speed of Trust), Mike Dillard (Magnetic Sponsoring), Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D. (Age Wave), Maddy Dychtwald (Influence: How Women’s Soaring Economic Power Will Transform Our World for the Better), Duane Elgin (The Living Universe), T. Harv Eker (Secrets of the Millionaire Mind), Dato Vijay Eswaran (The Sphere of Silence), Traci Fenton (CEO, WorldBlu), Matt Flannery (cofounder of Kiva), John Milton Fogg (The Greatest Networker in the World), Dr. Barbara Fredrickson (Positivity), Randy Gage (Why You’re Dumb, Sick & Broke...and How to Get Smart, Healthy & Rich), Michael Gerber (The E-Myth), Seth Godin (Permission Marketing), François Gossieaux (The Hyper-Social Organization), Dr. John Gray (Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus), Kevin Hall (Aspire!), Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Gay Hendricks, Ph.D. and Kathlyn Hendricks, Ph.D. (The Hendricks Institute), Tom Hopkins (How to Master the Art of Selling), A.E. Hotchner (Shameless Exploitation in Pursuit of the Common Good), Tony Hsieh (CEO, Zappos), Barbara Marx Hubbard (president, Foundation for Conscious Evolution), Kathy Ireland (CEO, kathy ireland worldwide), Tony Jeary (Life Is a Series of Presentations), Cameron Johnson (You Call the Shots), Larry Jones (cofounder, Feed The Children), Anya Kamanetz (DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education), Kim Kiyosaki (Rich Woman: A Book on Investing for Women), Robert Kiyosaki (Rich Dad Poor Dad), Marcy Koltun and Bob O’Conner (cofounders, PowerfulIntentions.com), Jennifer Kushell and Scott Kaufman (Secrets of the Young and Successful), Ben Kinchlow (The 700 Club), David Krueger, M.D. (The Secret Language of Money), Leonard Laskow, M.D. (Healing with Love), Dr. Bruce Lipton (The Biology of Belief), Frank Maguire (former Senior VP of FedEx and KFC), Howard Martin (The HeartMath Solution), Dr. Ivan Misner (founder, BNI), Neil Offen (president, Direct Selling Association), Paul Zane Pilzer (Unlimited Wealth), Daniel Pink (Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us), Thomas Power (Networking for Life), Bob Proctor (You Were Born Rich), Nido Qubein (president, High Point University), Dr. Martha Rogers (The One to One Future), Karen Russo (The Money Keys), Terry Savage (The Savage Number), Don Schmincke and Chris Warner (High Altitude Leadership), Tom Schreiter (Big Al Tells All), Rev. Robert Sirico (president, Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty), Hyrum Smith (cofounder Franklin Planner), Dave Stewart (One Plus One Equals Four), Brad Sugars (Billionaire in Training), Marshall Thurber (cofounder, Burklyn Business School), Brian Tracy (The Psychology of Achievement), Margaret Trost (founder, The What If? Foundation), Jim Turner, Esq. (The Chemical Feast), Rory Vaden (ProcrastiNation), Gary Vaynerchuk (founder, Wine Library TV), Dr. Denis Waitley (The Psychology of Winning), Tami Walsh (founder, TeenWisdom.com), Chris Widener (The Angel Within), Marianne Williamson (The Age of Miracles), Mark Yarnell (Your First Year in Network Marketing), Dr. Danah Zohar (SQ: Spiritual Intelligence).
During 2006 I coauthored You Call the Shots (Free Press/Simon & Schuster), the story of business prodigy Cameron Johnson; the book was released in January of 2007. The Zen of MLM: Legacy, Leadership and the Network Marketing Experience, a collection of sixteen years of essays and editorials on business and leadership, was released in May 2007.
In 2007 I wrote The Go-Giver (Portfolio) with Bob Burg. It was released at the beginning of 2008 and became an instant national bestseller (hitting the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, Amazon and 8CR bestseller lists). The Go-Giver has been or soon will be released in twenty foreign-language editions (Afrikaans, Bulgarian, Chinese (modern), Chinese (traditional), Danish, Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Slovene, Spanish, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese), and is available on audio CD and iTunes (in English, with the authors reading). The Go-Giver was followed by two more books in the series: in 2009 by Go-Givers Sell More and in 2011 by It’s Not About You, both also coauthored with Bob Burg.
A steady stream of books have followed in the past few years, including the New York Times bestseller Flash Foresight with Daniel Burrus, Take the Lead with Betsy Myers, and The Secret Language of Money with David Krueger, M.D. To view the most current collection of titles, click on the “My Work” tab above.
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