A Tribute to My Mom – The Game of Catch

When I was 8 years old, I was a happy 3rd grader, without a care in the world, living in a small town in Kentucky with my parents, Helen and Jack Bolton. The daughter of Swedish immigrants, Helen had wanted to be a missionary when she was young; she knew how to love and take care of people. Jack was a manager at a factory. At 6’4”, 250 pounds, he was like a mountain, in my eyes: My hero.

Every day, my Dad and I played a game of catch. And throwing the baseball with dad, every night, was my favorite thing. Every night, after he returned home from the plant, he heard me ask: “Daddy, daddy! Can we play catch?”


One Sunday morning in late August will forever be burned in my memory. I awoke to an empty house. A few hours later, Mom, tears streaming down her face walked in the front door. She said she had taken dad to the emergency room. She sobbed, and uttered two haunting words: “Daddy died.”

We’d played catch just the night before. Now he was gone – forever – felled by a massive heart attack. My happiness vanished. I no longer took interest in school, friends–or really, much of anything. Because the game of catch was over.

That winter, Mom took matters in her own hands. She saved the S&H Green Stamps they gave you at the Winn-Dixie supermarket when you bought groceries. One warm Saturday morning in March – early spring in Kentucky – Mom said we needed to go to Louisville to run errands. She drove us to the S&H store. She told the man behind the counter that she wanted to get the catcher’s mitt that appeared on page 34 of their catalog.

More than seven months had passed since I’d last played catch. Dad and I were both left-handed, but Mom was a righty; she couldn’t use his old first baseman’s mitt. Mom handed over the stamp books, and took the mitt, and we went on our way. The game of catch was about to resume.

Even though Mom wasn’t that great at catch, she gave it her best. We played for three years – until I was 11. We filled the holes in our hearts that way. Slowly, the happiness returned.

Shortly before my 12th birthday, Mom and I moved to Chicago. To support us, she needed to begin working as a secretary–and to care for her parents, who were in failing health. She told me I could ride my bike to the park to play Little League baseball. There, as she had predicted, I found plenty of other boys to play catch. She retired the catcher’s mitt — but by then, it had served its purpose.

That game of catch with Mom was a great gift. She got me over the hump of losing Dad that way. She got me playing organized baseball, and pitching. That was an activity I could throw myself into – I was happy being on the team and playing ball. Pitching ultimately helped pay for my college education. I was blessed to play college ball, under the tutelage of outstanding coaches. I also had caring professors, and a great four years in school.

Without that game of catch with mom, I wouldn’t have…

  • Gone to college.
  • Enjoyed a 20-year career as a leader in the fast-growing medical device industry.
  • Become a CEO coach, coached a Nobel Prize-winner, written a best selling book, or given a speech at the Harvard Business School.

Nor would I be showing leaders and teams how to reinvent themselves and become happier — so they can discover how to become their best and become even more successful.

Mom was a happy leader. A great role model. She was the person who was most generous, optimistic and inspiring. She taught me to care about others. For her, what seemed to be huge problems were challenges to be chunked down and conquered.

From her, I learned how to treat people, how to handle life’s curveballs, and when to swing for the fences — lessons I use daily in my work.

She had to reinvent herself, from homemaker to single parent, breadwinner, and caregiver. She never complained; she always smiled, and encouraged others with her happiness. Mom was the most remarkable person I’ve ever met.

And, Mom told me always to give my best—and become my best. She was my role model for happiness and reinvention. This book is for her. And for you. To help you become happier, more successful, to become your best.

It’s time to get started.

From the story, The Game of Catch from: The Reinvented Me: Five Steps to Happiness in a Crazy Busy World

Happy Mother’s Day in Heaven, Mom.


A Source of Light In a Troubling Time: How Suzie Shane Shows Compassion and Empathy to Serve Patients and Families During the COVID-19 Crisis


Doctors and nurses on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis are our modern day warriors. They inspire us as they go to work every day, at great personal risk, to keep others safe.  Often working twelve to fifteen hour shifts, they have been under incredible stress since the middle of March. Many feel anxious and afraid. Many have trouble sleeping. Many worry about bringing the virus home and infecting family members. Many have chosen to socially isolate themselves from at-risk family members, even within their own homes, and this strains the mental and emotional health of all.  It’s a stressful, anxious time for these healthcare professionals as they heroically go to work every day with great dedication.  

While the doctors and nurses on the frontlines in the ERs and ICUs are incredibly challenged, they aren’t the only ones in the hospital impacted by the pandemic. While elective surgeries have been postponed to give hospitals more capacity, other illnesses don’t stop during the crisis. Heart attacks, cancer, brain tumors, strokes, traumas still occur and must be treated.  

Since mid-March, hospitals in Minnesota – and in other states – have prohibited visitors, in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus.  What impact does the COVID crisis have on healthcare workers, patients and families who have not been infected by the disease? 

In the neurosurgery intensive care unit at a large Minneapolis hospital, nurse practitioner Suzie Shane treats and cares for patients who have had strokes, traumas to the spine and other brain traumas.  These patients are very sick, their cognitive capabilities have been impaired and now, family members are not allowed to visit or advocate for their loved ones in person.  

Suzie said, “This is our most acute challenge today, not having family members at the hospital. Our patients are often confused or under medication, having had a brain injury.  They can’t make decisions for themselves. Not having a familiar face next to them makes them confused and lonely.  Anxiety and depression can set in. The family has typically been a constant presence and now that has been removed. It’s a tremendous challenge for our patients, the family and for us, too.”

When asked how she adjusts her approach to her work, given the current circumstances, Suzie replied, “With communication, compassion and empathy.” 

“Continuous communication with the family, more than ever before, is essential. The new experience of not being allowed to visit their loved one has to be met with more communication and an increased level of empathy and compassion for the families and for my patients.  I’ve got to be there and support them more than ever.”

Suzie continued, “Over the phone is really hard.  Last week, I called a woman who had recently undergone diagnostic imaging that demonstrated a mass in the brain. I told her she needed to come to the hospital immediately and that her husband couldn’t come in with her. Both of them were understandably upset and crying on the phone. It’s hard for me to not reach out and touch a hand or hug them, to console them.”

“So they need even more care and presence from me.  I constantly ask myself, ‘What if it were me? Or my husband? Or my children? Or my parents,’ then I  treat my patients and their families like I would like to be treated.” 

Suzie describes, “That means listening to and patiently answering their questions. This means acknowledging how hard this news must be for them. Acknowledging the challenge of not being able to be together in person while she is hospitalized. I assure them they are in great hands with our team and that we will do everything possible they can do to care for them and protect them. I remind them to be hopeful for a better future, once we get through the process. I tell them we’ll get through it.” 

Suzie said, “Years ago, I knew my calling was nursing. And that purpose gets me out of bed each morning. I’m incredibly blessed by the opportunity to care for patients. Nursing is an honor and it is a privilege to care for others in their most vulnerable state.  It is an amazing honor. That has been heightened over the last few months. Bringing them hope and comfort.  I love my work. My patients give more to me than I can ever give to them.”

When asked about her passions, Suzie replied, “My family and my patients are my passion. My husband, Steve and my two little people, Charlie and Grace. Serving others is my passion.”

Suzie described that one of the benefits from today’s challenge has been an even tighter bond with her teammates. “We’re checking in with one another and encouraging one another like never before. This is new to every one of us  and I see us taking care of each other, too.”  

She also said she’s been checking in with a lot of her nursing friends from college who live in Illinois, Washington, Hawaii as well as the Twin Cities, those who are treating patients with COVID.  She said, “It’s important to talk with those who are in it and get it. It’s important for me to talk through my thoughts and feelings and check in with others.” 

When asked how her work is creating impact, Suzie thought for a second and thoughtfully answered, “Impact. I’m being a source of light during a troubling time. Being a source of light for patients and family members. As one who cares and feels deeply. Being a source of light for my co-workers by being affirmative and positive.  Being a source of light for my husband and children by making the most of our days together. Having an attitude of gratitude for all of our blessings.”

Suzie Shane lives her life to be a source of light to others. She’s living purposefully and creating an enormous impact, especially during this uncertain time. Thank you to all the healthcare workers who are keeping us safe. Thanks to all the nurses this National Nurses Week. And a big thanks to you, Suzie, for serving with purpose, love and care. 

Providing Safe Passage Down the River of Life During the COVID-19 Crisis

By all accounts, Chris Bentley is a happy, accomplished, and successful man. He knows where he’s going and where he’s been. Blessed with a strong faith, a beautiful wife and family, a thriving business, a close network of friends and good health, life is good. Chris lives purposefully and with passion, creating a positive impact for many. 

He makes the world a better place. He operates with great clarity and is deeply fulfilled. He is at peace with his past. But it wasn’t always this way. Here’s Chris’s story. 

As the first-born child of a 19-year-old mother and a 29-year-old father, Chris remembers his childhood vividly. Now in his early 60s, he recalls how he continually sought affection and affirmation from his father while growing up. 

Chris’s father was a stoic workaholic from the Bay Area. When Chris was young, his father moved the family to Grants Pass, Oregon, his dad went to work at a small Savings and Loan bank. Chris refers to his father as “emotionally stoic.” His dad wasn’t physically abusive, but he was emotionally abusive and never expressed pleasure in any of Chris’s actions, activities, or accomplishments. While his mom loved and quietly encouraged Chris, she too, desperately sought her husband’s approval and affection and was careful to not anger him. 

As a boy and young man, Chris hoped through hard work and perfection, he would eventually earn the love of his dad. He pushed himself relentlessly. In high school, Chris excelled academically, made National Honor Society, and worked side jobs. He was an all-conference football player, an expert skier and student body president. 

A few years after their move to Oregon, Chris’ father started Orange Torpedo Trips. During the summers, Chris served as a guide on the Rogue River in southern Oregon. As a guide, he safely led novice paddlers for nearly a decade, paddling over 10,000 miles of whitewater. 

His senior year, Chris was recognized as the Jaycee’s Student of the Year and received scholarships to Oregon State and the United States Naval Academy. Unfortunately, despite the many achievements, there were no acknowledgements or compliments from his dad.

At the Naval Academy, Chris placed in the top 10% of his class, lettered in boxing and was selected as a company commander. His father never visited him, never called, and never wrote. After graduation, for the first time in four years, his father visited Chris at the Academy, but there was no “Congratulations, son. Well done. I’m proud of you. I love you.” 

Following graduation and flight training, Chris was assigned to a P3 Orion “sub hunter” squadron to hunt Soviet submarines. As a Naval Flight Officer, Chris and his crew of 13 pursued Soviet submarines in the oceans of the world. As Mission Commander, Chris made sure his crew arrived back to base safely. 

After the Cold War ended and after fourteen years of service, Chris took leave from the military and entered the private sector. 

For the first forty years of life, Chris realized he strived – to no avail – to make his father proud. He worked extremely hard, was disciplined, goal-oriented, and persistent. His motto was “Failure is not an option.” Yet, as focused and as hard as he tried to win his dad’s love, he never succeeded. As Chris recalls, “My dad never delighted in me.” 

Some years later, his dad passed away. He and Chris had been estranged for twenty years. 

Now, Chris is an accomplished and recognized financial advisor. Today he helps investors navigate up and down markets, avoid financial potholes, sail through recessions and arrive at retirement safely. 

When Chris’s colleague Dave unexpectedly and suddenly passed away, Chris assisted Dave’s widow, Liane, to get her affairs in order. 

As Chris worked with Liane, he recognized widows need help managing through the financial shocks of early widowhood, because couples often divide responsibilities and the widow doesn’t always have the knowledge or wherewithal to tackle alone what was once a dual effort. 

Chris learned that in widows’ most vulnerable of times, they may not have anyone to help them with the practical issues of maintaining a home. Perhaps their husbands handled the financial affairs and managed the investments, so they are uninformed. Or they don’t want to rely on family members for help. In a time of grief, suddenly the widow is faced with overwhelming decisions. She is simply unprepared. 

As Chris did more research, he found that while there were many books available to widows, there was no organization that provided widows with timely financial and legal guidance at no cost. 

Recognizing the need, he offered to address it with some of Liane’s new friends from a widow’s support group. The widows were extremely grateful for Chris’s guidance and interest. From this experience, he felt called to do more. 

Chris founded Wings for Widows, a public 501(c)(3) non-profit, that utilizes “angel teams” comprised of a financial professional and an experienced widow. After a comprehensive assessment of the widow’s situation, they provide the widow guidance to address her financial and legal needs. 

Wings for Widows offers a gentle hand to ensure new widows don’t face a dark and taxing time of life alone. With plans to grow Wings for Widows far beyond Minnesota, Chris has found his purpose and has taken hold of a very big dream. 

Looking back on his life and reflecting, Chris’s “red thread” of purpose – the theme that runs through his life – was suddenly apparent. It is to provide safe passage for others. He’s written his purpose statement and purpose story, which he’s allowed me to share. 

“As a young man, I was a river guide – helping our guests navigate more than 40 miles of whitewater. I provided safe passage from the put-in to the take-out.

As a naval officer, I was a Mission Commander – getting my crew to station, prosecuting enemy submarines, and returning home after 10-hour missions. I provided safe passage from take-off to landing.

As a sailor, whether skipper or crewman – I weathered storms topside, at the helm, day and night, ensuring safe passage of our sailing vessel and the passengers entrusted to my care.

As a financial advisor, I guide clients through up and down markets to help them retire comfortably and realize their dreams. I provide safe passage during a lifetime of living and investing.

As the founder of Wings for Widows, I provide safe passage for new widows, from heartbreak and loss to a future of hope and possibility.

The purpose, then, that seems to define me is: 

To provide safe passage down the river of life, helping others to experience adventure, find and feel joy, and live life fully.

The impact Chris seeks to make: “To make certain no new widow has to go it alone.”

Since COVID-19, Wings for Widows has had to pivot to fulfill its mission. As face-to-face meetings with widows are currently not possible during stay-at-home, Wings for Windows volunteers are offering more video coaching and consultation using Zoom and by phone.  They are bringing in speakers with expertise valuable to widows, such as Caryn Sullivan, a contributing columnist to St. Paul’s Pioneer Press Opinion page, a widow for over ten years and author of award-winning memoir, Bitter or Better: Grappling with Life on the Op-Ed Page, on Zoom video calls to discuss Navigating Grief and Loss in a Pandemic.

On April 27, Chris launched his new book, The Legacy Planning and Conversation Guide: The Workbook for End-of-Life Planning. The book quickly became an international bestseller in multiple categories in the USA, Canada and Australia.  

It’s the ideal playbook to help singles and couples to get their affairs in order before they die.  It is a thorough and compassionate framework which gently guides couples through the discussions they would prefer to never have.  There are things to know, things to do and things to discuss before you die. The conversation guide deftly navigates these tough topics.”  

Chris asks, “If death is a sure thing, why don’t we prepare for it? Don’t we have some moral obligation to our spouse and family members to make thing easier when we die?”  Chris adds, “This book guarantees the most important people in your life – the ones you love and care about the most – will be prepared for the day you die. By completing this workbook, you’ll have done the things necessary in life to make things more manageable in your death.”

Through Chris’s work as a financial advisor at Bentley, Kroyer & Associates, as the founder of Wings for Widows, and as an international bestselling author of The Legacy Planning and Conversation Guide – particularly during the pandemic – he’s creating an enormous impact today and in the future.  He is providing safe passage down the river of life – and beyond. 


Mary Bolton

Bringing Joy to Young and Old By Sharing Songs That Inspire


Mary BoltonHow can an elementary school music teacher make an impact on thousands of others during the COVID-19 stay-at-home crisis?  After all, teaching music at school is about active participation. Now, there is no dedicated music room, few if any musical instruments available, and physical separation and technology limitations make teaching music by Zoom a challenge.  What is a music teacher to do?

Mary Bolton’s purpose is, “I know how powerful music can be in someone’s life and how much joy and positive energy it can add. My purpose is to bring that joy to young and old by sharing songs that inspire.” She lives her purpose each day as an elementary school music teacher and a musical performer. Mary’s challenge during the COVID-19 period, like so many others, is how to stay true to her purpose while we are sheltered-in-place?

Every year, Mary’s approach on day one of school has always been to make her learning environment welcoming, exciting and fun.  She says, “I greet my students, show them love, encouragement and support in class. I’m interested in and kind to them. I’ve found that approach works well. If they feel safe and my love for them, they’ll generally return that love, and it makes it more likely they will learn and love music, which is my goal. If they love music as children, they’ll love music the rest of their lives.”

When Minnesota Governor Tim Walz shut down schools and ordered stay-at-home in mid-March, schools began distant learning shortly afterwards. Mary and her colleagues, using a new technology platform called Quaver, are now able to reach children at home so they can continue to learn music. Quaver provides songs, allows students to play a range of virtual instruments and learning games on their devices. She supplements Quaver with her own videos, music challenges and messages to stay connected with her students and keep them inspired with music. She looks forward to the day when all can be reunited at school.

In addition to her daily teaching, Mary felt there was more impact that could be made to help others through music. As a lover of live music, and with live music venues now closed indefinitely, Mary took matters in her own hands. She decided to lift the hearts and spirits of those who are missing live music. She decided to give them hope and inspiration.  And for an hour or so, she decided to help them forget their worries.

Starting Friday, March 20 at 8 pm, Mary began to broadcast live performances from her Orono home using the Facebook Live function from her page @MaryBoltonMusic.  Mary said, “People miss going out and hearing live music. We’re all stuck at home for the foreseeable future. But people can still enjoy live music.  We just have to be a little more creative.”

Performing on keyboard, Mary described her style of music. “My inspiration is to create my own version of songs that I’ve loved for years and songs that I’ve just discovered. I love all musical genres including, rock, country, folk and jazz. Some of the artists and groups who have inspired me are: Sheryl Crow, Alison Krauss, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Norah Jones, John Prine, Sade, Pat Benetar, Lady Gaga and Journey.”


Since her first livecast – which Mary calls her #VirtualMusicParty – Mary has sung and performed seven consecutive Fridays at 8 pm, typically performing 12 to 15 songs.  Her 23-year old son, Nick, who has returned home from southern California for the stay-at-home duration, solos two songs and joins Mary for one or two duets.

Singing and performing songs from over fifty artists, Mary’s fan, Alex Divizio of Virginia, comments, “I love your style, Mary. You can sing everything from Andy Williams to Amy Winehouse.”

Each hour-long #VirtualMusicParty is full of audience participation and engagement. Mary’s husband, Chuck, serves as the behind-the-scenes emcee.  He describes his role as, “Roadie, soundman, videographer, photographer, social media specialist, carnival barker, chef, bartender and dishwasher.”  Chuck asks people to post where they are watching from, what they are drinking and gives folks shout outs throughout the show. He interjects humor, banters back-and-forth with Mary and teases the audience to click “hearts for Mary” in order to hear more songs. Each week he shares some fun facts about Mary, a segment he calls Something About Mary.  Mary’s biggest fans “share” her broadcast to their Facebook pages, so family and friends can view, resulting in each week’s #VirtualMusicParty being seen by over 5000 people.

Mary’s fans hail from across the US, with international viewers from Canada, Japan and Taiwan, also joining the fun. Here’s what her fans say about Mary’s weekly performances:

Ellen Townsend of Hayward, WI says, “I really enjoy Mary’s Facebook Live music performances every Friday night. It’s something fun and enjoyable to look forward to after a long week working outside the home during the current situation. Mary is so talented and a joy to listen to. Her events are very well scripted and done so professionally with the help of her husband Chuck. The songs she performs are familiar and easy listening, with a different theme every week which adds to the fun.” Ellen’s husband Roy chimes in, “Every Friday morning my wife reminds me, ‘We’ve got a concert tonight!’ We look forward to them every week. Mary is a great singer and musician.”

Barb Piper of Northfield, MN says, “I like the whole family affair. Her husband and son supporting her. I enjoy the connecting of people from all over the country. I like that she is on the ‘big stage’ along with all the greats like Gaga, whomever is doing FB Live.”

A young couple in Frankfort, KY, Will Bolton and Haley Hardin, describe their views of the #VirtualMusicParty, “I have really missed family and friends during the COVID outbreak. On Friday nights, when Mary and Nick sing, I feel like I’m with them. Thank you,” writes Will. Haley adds, “I love watching Mary’s Friday night performances. She sings beautifully and needs to keep doing them. Also, I enjoy watching Nick perform.”

From Taipei, Taiwan, Apo Hsu writes, “Bravo, bravo, bravi tutti! Thank you! What a joy this is. Encore and more, Mary!”

Orono, MN residents George and Jacki and Jones tune in weekly, too. Jacki says, “We look forward to the #VirtualMusicParty every week. Your voice brings us much happiness, Mary. Beautiful!” George comments, “Mary brings great joy to all her listeners. In these times, music is the best medicine.”

Mary’s passionate about music and she is creating quite the impact, for both her students and her loyal fans of @MaryBoltonMusic. She says, “My passion for music began as a child listening to music on our big stereo with my dad, listening to my mom play the piano and playing the French horn with my sister. Since then, I was part of the school band, choir and musical theatre. In college, I decided to pursue music education and I turned my passion into my profession. I’ve been living my passion of sharing my love of music through teaching and performing for over 25 years.”

During the COVID-19 crisis, with many suffering from fear, loneliness and grief, Mary Bolton is lifting hearts. She’s living with purpose, passion and having a great impact on others during a time of need.  At a time when we could all use a little more inspiration, she’s bringing joy to young and old by sharing songs that inspire.


Positively Impact Others in the Chaos of Life

When the men’s small group that Dave Hemink is a member of collectively decided to mine for and define their individual life purposes, just over two years ago, little did Dave know how valuable that exercise would be in the throes of the COVID-19 crisis.

At the time, Dave was a division president of a $1B global publicly-traded medical device company. As a seasoned leader with twenty-five years of experience running companies, he knew a lot about leadership. The father of two teenage girls and married to his amazing and beautiful wife, Kristin, for nearly twenty years, Dave had a loving family and an important job. Once Dave’s purpose was clarified, it suddenly opened an entirely different way of thinking.

Purpose is the overarching guiding principle that gives your life meaning.  Most people haven’t clarified their purpose. Together with the other men in his group, Dave reflected on some deep questions, his life experiences, his values and gifts.  Dave said, “We looked within and clarified our purposes. Your purpose is deep within you, it is there. It’s up to each person to find it.”

After thoughtful consideration, Dave defined his purpose as: “I live life to break barriers, create paths and enable people to live purposeful lives, that positively impacts others, while living in the chaos of life.”

When the COVID-19 crisis hit the US in full force in March of 2020, we all experienced chaos in our lives. Dave included. Dave is the chief executive officer of Nonin Medical, a Plymouth, MN-based medical device company, that has been a world leader in innovating and manufacturing pulse oximetry systems for 35 years.  The mission of the company is to improve the quality of people’s lives throughout the world by expanding the capabilities of noninvasive measurements.

The pandemic and resulting public health crisis have created a shortage of pulse oximeters, which have been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a critical clinical therapy in treating COVID-19 patients, citing: “Oxygen therapy is a major treatment intervention for patients with severe COVID-19. All countries should work to optimize the availability of pulse oximeters and medical oxygen systems.” Dave and the Nonin team provide the equipment needed for healthcare workers and patients on the frontlines of this global pandemic.

“In the past few months, Nonin has seen a dramatic increase in demand for its mobile pulse oximeters. I don’t think anybody could have predicted what we are seeing today”, said Dave. “We’ve been fighting this from day one and the global demand for pulse oximetry products globally has been unprecedented,” Dave further stated. Nonin Medical’s executive chairman, Phil Isaacson, added, “The people who have been buying from us in the past are now trying to buy 10 times more. We can’t keep up.”

Dave and the Nonin team are literally working around the clock, expanding manufacturing capabilities and strengthening their supply chain to provide pulse oximeters to healthcare professionals worldwide to diagnose and treat COVID-19. “We have product lines that are up 2,600 percent,” reported Hemink.

Dave said his purpose helps center him during this unprecedented period. “My purpose is front and center now. Your purpose is magnified at different times of your life. You live it – it is embodied in you in times like these,” said Dave.

“As a leader, you have a lot of tools at your disposal, I compare it to a mechanic’s Craftsman red tool chest. Some of the tools you use daily, some of the tools you will never use, until one day, you have a unique job that requires a unique tool.  That is where we are today.  The COVID-19 crisis has our team reaching so far in the back corners of the tool chest.  That chaos component is amazingly real. We’ve got supply chain issues and challenged suppliers. We are an essential employer and we’re committed to keeping our team members safe and well. We have customers who are demanding and desperately in need of product. Every hour it is something different. What I’ve learned is you live your purpose – and that tool chest – to guide you. To provide the team with the path”, Dave continued. “I think of purpose as the grout between the tiles. It holds everything together.”

When asked how he uses his purpose to lead his team, Dave replied, “I’m using it to create calm during the chaos, so I can give our team members the confidence to act. They are doing heroic things. The definition of a hero is an ordinary person in an extraordinary time who takes action. That describes our team members.  They are having to really stretch – sometimes doing things they’ve never done – for the greater good.  Figuring out as we go, as we’re driving 120 miles per hour. For example, helping our suppliers open shuttered factories in the Philippines and India. Finding new sources of raw materials to meet our customers’ demands. Figuring out how to process and ship orders even faster.  Working with the FDA proactively and creatively to accelerate new product approvals. We’re doing this and more, all in real time. I couldn’t be any prouder of the team and the amazing work they are doing.”

If meeting the dramatic demand for Nonin products wasn’t challenging enough, while ramping up their production capabilities, Nonin Medical has had to deal with additional chaos, when one of the first diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota was an employee of the company. “Suddenly, that individual, as well as 10% of the Nonin team, were in proactive quarantine, just when Nonin needed every hand on deck. Thankfully, no other team member to date has tested positive and the individual who tested positive has recovered, is healthy and back to work,” said Dave.

Christine Horton, Nonin’s vice president of global marketing states, “Great leaders and individuals grow from adversity and chaos. I see Dave as someone who is positively impacting others through the chaos of life. He’s navigating the company, the leadership team and individuals through this adversity in order to better everyone. It hasn’t been about Dave, about his title or any of that. He could have any title and people would follow him. He doesn’t need to lead with his title. They are following because they feel empowered when they follow him. He’s navigated us through so many obstacles, where we could have had failures, we’ve found opportunities. We are finding solutions. He’s navigating us to make the entire company better and very, very rapidly. In a very short time.”

“The character of a leader is defined in the time of a crisis. This is who we are and what Nonin is all about. It’s a new frontier and we need new solutions. We’re flexing our adaptable muscle for those on the frontlines. This can be – and will be – our finest hour. Having a clearly defined purpose is my rudder in the chaos of life, so I can provide the leadership all our stakeholders desperately need,” Dave said.

When leaders lead with a clear purpose, everyone benefits. It serves as your North Star, the overarching principle that gives your life meaning. Would you want to be led by someone without a purpose? What if that leader, without a clear purpose, was you?

Leading with purpose provides a path, that positively impacts others in the chaos of life. In today’s unprecedented time, while leading Nonin Medical, Dave Hemink is creating great impact.

Making an Impact During the COVID Crisis, One Person at a Time: Alli Swanson, the Loving Image Shaper


As a young girl, Alli was the gregarious and outgoing one. Her older sister by 17 months always sent Alli ahead to meet new friends and try new experiences. It seemed everyone she came into contact with became a friend.

She had a natural gift for making friends. Perhaps it was because she started out by liking and being genuinely curious about them.

Her friends describe her as fun-loving, empathetic, caring, kind, patient, generous, an excellent listener, and a trusted friend.

In middle school, she enjoyed braiding her sister’s and friends’ hair and then trying out new hairstyles. They loved it when she made them look beautiful. Then came the makeup, nail polish and hair color. Alli joyfully assisted everyone in her circle to look their best. Her services were in high demand.

The bathroom she shared with her sister looked like the work sink and mixing station at a beauty parlor! And it smelled like a laboratory! But one thing was clear to Alli, she loved helping others look beautiful and she was passionate about making a bigger impact with her talents.

After graduation from high school, she chose the Aveda Institute for cosmetology training. The purpose of Aveda resonated with Alli and her values: “To care for the world we live in. To strive to set an example for environmental leadership and responsibility, not just in the world of beauty, but around the world.”

She was a natural. A quick study. She rapidly developed her skills, and she committed to becoming her best for her clients. She excelled at Aveda and following graduation she quickly built up a loyal clientele at a salon in the trendy 50thand France shopping district of Edina, a Minneapolis suburb.

In a fast-paced, crazy-busy, turbulent, and distracted world, Alli welcomes her clients with a kind word, a smile, a caring and empathetic ear, a healing touch and an ability to make time slow down. A momentary oasis from the chaotic day-to-day grind. With love and great skill, in an hour or two, Alli brings out her customers’ pure essence and makes them look and feel beautiful. In addition to a great hairstyle, Alli captures the hearts of her clients, connects with their minds, and bolsters their self-esteem. Alli loves making others feel beautiful, creating lasting friendships along the way. She is unique. She is passionate about being a loving image shaper.

Alli’s purpose: Helping others look and feel great, and uplift their happiness, confidence, and self-image.

Alli’s calendar fills up months in advance. For years, she’s been voted by her clients as the “Best Hairstylist” in Edina Magazine’s Best of Edina annual survey.

You find meaning when your actions reflect what you value, what is important to you, and what gifts you enjoy and want to give. Your gifts, values, and passions can guide you toward your purpose. You just have to commit. Just like Alli Swanson.[i]

When her Edina hair salon, Sloane’s Beauty Bar, closed in compliance with the Minnesota governor’s March 17 executive order to slow the spread of the Coronavirus , Alli and her clients had no idea of when they could meet again to take care of their hair and beauty needs.  Alli sensed the “stay-at-home” order could be indefinite, so she packed up her tools and products in anticipation of finding another way to safely meet her clients’ needs.

After Governor Walz continued the “stay-at-home” order on April 9 to at least May 4, Alli knew she needed to take action to assist her clients and help them feel a bit better about themselves.

Using Facebook, Instagram and text messages, she offered all of her clients a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) touch up kit. Her DIY offering includes contactless delivery, a customized premium professional hair color formula for that particular client and the steps each should take to touch up their roots.

Accompanied by her two daughters, four year old Mollie and one year old Lucie, strapped in their car seats, Alli delivers the touch up kit to the front door of her client, gives her a quick text or call to let them know their package has arrived, and then Alli, Mollie and Lucie, wave and share greetings from a socially-safe distance.

Her client, Megan Swenson, says about Alli’s DIY kit and personal delivery service, “I absolutely loved my drop off kit from Alli! My poor hair hasn’t seen her love in months, so when she offered a DIY kit I was eager to get my mitts on one! I have to admit, I was extremely nervous about it.  Mostly because I have an appreciation for Alli’s skill set and also because my hair once turned green during college when I tried to experiment with hair dye.

The drop off kit included professional hair color, supplies, and easy to follow directions. It was honestly so easy even my husband helped. The color turned out great! My roots aren’t showing and my grays are covered. Thank you so much, Alli!”

A way to lift up the spirits and hearts of her clients, one person at a time, and make people feel a little better while we all navigate the COVID-19 period.  Alli Swanson has found a way to make an impact on others during this crisis.

[i]Alli Swanson interview by Chuck Bolton, 2019.

“Not On My Watch!”

Frank Pleticha, a marketing research manager at a financial services firm in Minneapolis, enjoyed his job, but he wouldn’t have gone so far as to call it his purpose.

He had recently attended a seminar where the speaker challenged the attendees with what Frank described as a life-changing question: “What gives you juice?”At that time, Frank struggled to answer the question.

A few months later, a friend invited him to attend a human trafficking panel discussion at a local college. Frank described the event as a “complete eye-opener.” While Frank had heard of sex trafficking in India and Thailand, he was shocked to hear how prevalent it was across the US. The convergence of major expressways and an international airport, combined with close proximity to the rural Upper Midwest and other factors, earned the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area the dubious distinction of being one of the leading metropolitan areas in the US for sex trafficking.

Minneapolis Police Department Sergeant Grant Snyder’s remarked, “Don’t think sex trafficking is a problem in another part of town. It’s taking place within two blocks from here. Right now. It’s happening in your comfortable suburb where you live. And the kids who attend your junior high schools and high schools are being targeted. That’s a fact and that’s how insidious this problem is.”

Frank learned that human trafficking is growing faster than any other criminal industry. That commercial sexual exploitation of children victimizes two million children globally. Additionally, this modern slavery has an annual revenue of $32 billion, exceeding the annual revenues of Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, and the National Football League – combined!

Frank volunteered for anti-trafficking training, attended more seminars and events, and watched documentaries such as Nefarious: Merchants of Soulsand The Whistleblower. As he heard the pain of the victims, their sense of loss, their lack of self-esteem and hopelessness, their stories broke his heart. And learning the average age of those forced into prostitution in the US is thirteen, he was on fire. This revelation ignited Frank’s passion to do something. He proclaimed, “No, God! Not on my watch”and he began to act.

He connected with Trafficking Justice, a Minnesota-based volunteer organization that shares facts about how people are exploited today. The organization brings hope and healing to victims. Frank learned that in order to slow the growth of sex trafficking, three audiences need to be addressed: victims, traffickers, and buyers.

Frank sees his purpose of eradicating this injustice in Minnesota similarly to how William Wilberforce, a British politician and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade in the 1800s, saw his mission. He borrowed Wilberforce’s quote to British Parliament, when he speaks to others on the evil and pervasiveness of sex trafficking in Minnesota, the US, and world. “You may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say that you did not know.”

Frank spoke to the pastoral team and members of his church, Grace Fellowship in Brooklyn Park, to build awareness. Through a series of events and sheer persistence, things began to move. Frank calls the shift similar to turning a giant, heavy flywheel. It takes a lot of effort to get it moving at all, but with persistent pushing in a consistent direction over a long enough period of time, the flywheel builds momentum, eventually hitting a point of breakthrough.

While Frank has been a catalyst, one person can’t do it alone. He’s building the team at Grace Fellowship and elsewhere to take a multi-faceted approach to addressing victims, traffickers and buyers. As Frank has mobilized his church’s talent, time and financial resources to focus on this problem, he speaks of a future vision, ideally five to ten years out, when sex trafficking in Minnesota is discussed in the past tense.

Over the past few years, Frank’s eyes have been opened to a world that he’d never seen. It’s changed the course of his life. A man of deep faith, Frank firmly believes this crisis screams for a Christian response of compassion for the victims, justice for the buyers and traffickers, combined with redemption for all. His hope is to see a recovery ministry, with each service filled with people going through the recovery process and having hope for a better tomorrow.

Frank’s goal is to bring hope to the victims and to end sex trafficking in Minnesota. He’s not doing it for the fame and adoration. Even if no one knows his name, he yearns for the day when he hopes to hear Jesus Christ say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

The crisis of modern-day sex slavery doesn’t need interested observers, it needs incurable fanatics. Frank is an incurable fanatic.[i]

Frank’s gift statement: Through my gift of empathetic and active listening, I help channel resources and contacts to the broken person sitting in front of me.

Frank’s purpose is: Being a channel for those in broken situations to get connected to the Healer.

The impact Frank is aiming for in a decade: “To eradicate sex trafficking in Minnesota and beyond!”

[i]Frank Pleticha interview by Chuck Bolton, 2019.