Watching More TV As A Young Adult Predicts Obesity

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This article is courtesy of PRWeb and the University of Pittsburgh, please share your comments below…..

familytvSome people who watch more television than their peers are at increased risk for injuries, new University of Pittsburgh study finds.

The more hours young adults spend watching television each day, the greater the likelihood that they’ll have a higher body mass index and bigger waist circumference, a 15-year analysis by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health revealed.

The association did not hold in later years, indicating that young adulthood is an important time to intervene and promote less television viewing, according to the research published online in the journal SAGE Open.

“We were quite surprised to find that television viewing was associated with subsequent obesity for young adults, but not for the middle-aged,” said lead author Anthony Fabio, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of epidemiology at Pitt Public Health. “This suggests that middle-aged adults may differ from young adults in how they respond to the influence of TV viewing.”

Dr. Fabio and his colleagues analyzed data from 3,269 adults recruited from Birmingham, Ala., Chicago, Minneapolis, and Oakland, Calif., who participated in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study. For 15 years starting in 1990, the participants reported their television viewing habits and had their waist circumference measured and their body mass index (a measure of weight and height that can indicate obesity) calculated every five years.

The more time participants spent watching television when they were approximately 30 years old, the more likely they were to be obese five years later, compared to their peers who spent less time in front of the television. The team did not have data on younger ages.

Dr. Fabio and his team suspect many potential reasons for the association, including that young adults may be more likely to snack during television viewing and consume unhealthy food due to their greater susceptibility to the seduction of junk food advertising on television. In support of that hypothesis, the CARDIA study also found that participants were more likely to eat healthier foods as they aged.

The analysis found that 23 percent of the men and 20.6 percent of the women participating in the study watched four or more hours of television daily. Within that group of heavy TV watchers, 35.9 percent were black, and 8.6 percent were white; and 40.8 percent had a high school education or less, vs. 17.4 percent with an education beyond high school.

A lower family income and higher rates of smoking and drinking also were associated with more time spent watching television.

“Television viewing and obesity are both highly prevalent in many populations around the world,” said Dr. Fabio. “This means that even small reductions in television viewing could lead to vast public health improvements. Reducing sedentary time should be a healthy lifestyle guideline heavily promoted to the public. Our study indicates that the biggest bang for the buck would be in targeting young adults for interventions to reduce television viewing. Healthy lifestyle behaviors should start at early ages.”

Additional authors on this research are Chung-Yu Chen and Karen Matthews, Ph.D., of Pitt; Stephen Dearwater, M.S., of Jackson Memorial Hospital; David Jacobs, Ph.D., Darin Erickson, Ph.D., and Mark Pereira, Ph.D., of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health; Carlos Iribarren, M.D., Ph.D., and Stephen Sidney, M.D., M.P.H., of Kaiser Permanente Northern California.

This research was funded by in part by research grants from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) (R03AG028504) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U49-CE000764). The CARDIA study is supported by contracts HHSN268201300025C, HHSN268201300026C, HHSN268201300027C, HHSN268201300028C, HHSN268201300029C and HHSN268200900041C from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the Intramural Research Program of the NIA, and an intra-agency agreement between NIA and NHLBI (AG0005).

About the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

The University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, founded in 1948 and now one of the top-ranked schools of public health in the United States, conducts research on public health and medical care that improves the lives of millions of people around the world. Pitt Public Health is a leader in devising new methods to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases, HIV/AIDS, cancer and other important public health problems. For more information about Pitt Public Health, visit the school’s Web site at

Marta Rode – If I Knew Then What I Know Now

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Life Lessons From Adults To Children
Today’s Guest – Marta Rode

1. Your message to kids today that you wish you knew back then what you currently know now. Be specific.

I wish I knew more about autoimmune disease. I wish I knew how hard life is with so many of them and that if any of my family had one of the 100+ diseases I was at higher risk of getting one myself. I wish that I knew that if you had one, even a minor one like eczema that this opens the door to some potentially deadly ones and being aware of what goes into my body can be the difference between a healthy productive life or a life with chronic illness and way too much time spent in doctor’s offices or hospitals. I wish I knew that 1 out of 5 Americans (and by association Canadians) are dealing with an autoimmune disease or disorder and out of that 20% of our population 70% are females. I wish I would have known that autoimmune disease is one of the top ten causes of death for female children and women under 65 years old.

2. How did you learn your lesson or what was your lesson? Did you get hurt, did you upset someone, did you get scared?

I learned my lesson the hard way by acquiring one of those diseases. There are about 140 some of which are rare, some are very rare and some are not rare at all like MS, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Ciliac, Crohn’s, Type 1 Diabetes, and on and on. I have one of the rarer ones, Wegener’€™s Granulomatosis, but when you look past the part of the human anatomy being affected, it’€™s no different from all the others on the list. All of us have an immune system that has stopped recognizing the difference between self and non self and is attacking its own vessel. My lesson was that there is a gaping hole in the information about this disease group as a whole that can help people make more educated and conscious decisions in their life that could eliminate contact with a possible trigger if you happen to be predisposed. I got motivated. Motivated into action to do everything in my power to change this and unite all of those with autoimmune diseases to stand together and raise that needed awareness that can save lives.

3. What you would have done differently back then if you could turn back time?

Had I known this info before I got sick I would have done greater research into foods that can help prevent and deal with minor inflammatory responses, I would have stayed away from having contact with anything that would increase the normal immune response to higher than normal levels. I would also have gone in the right direction at the onset of symptoms (currently getting diagnosed with an autoimmune disease is a long, difficult process rife with insinuations of hypochondria and melodrama from society and the medical profession – through no fault of their own, it’s a lack of knowledge and education in this field) and possibly could have had the possibility to reverse the process rather than being stuck with a lifelong incurable disease.

4. Do you convey this message to children in your life today?

Yes, I convey this message to my daughter, to my friends, my community and anyone willing to listen. I wish everyone knows now what I wish I knew then. I started Pajama Day to raise awareness and we have now had two with it growing exponentially. We now have interest from large corporate sponsors and I will make sure this piece of info snowballs forward and reaches maximum velocity to a point where we will find the common thread to all these diseases and autoimmune will no longer be a problem.

5. Anything else you`d like to add?

Here’s a page on my blog that will give you a rundown of our last two PJ Day events in Jasper. We managed to get a TV Breakfast Show to come up and shoot their entire 3.5 hour show live from our town where the Second Annual PJ Day was taking place. You will find links to those live shots, as well as photo links and viedos of our evening show.

– Marta Rode

Paige Arnof-Fenn – If I Knew Then What I Know Now

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Life Lessons From Adults To Children
Today’s Guest – Paige Arnof-Fenn

1. Your message to kids today that you wish you knew back then what you currently know now. Be specific.

I wish I had realized that my definition of success would change over time so that I would not have gotten so hung up on things that really did not matter (office politics, bad bosses, top bonus possible, etc.). I was in such a rush back then to be promoted and receive recognition for my career achievements but really it was much more important long term just to learn my craft and build a strong reputation which I was doing but did not appreciate until much later in my career. I had no idea back then then I would not stay on the corporate path and become an entrepreneur instead and that would in fact be a much happier route for a fulfilling life. I ended up learning a lot more from my tough bosses and career setbacks than I would have if things had gone smoothly. Sometimes not getting what you think you want is actually a gift but that can be hard to see at the time. At 47 I am very grateful for all the bumps and bruises along the way.

2. How did you learn your lesson or what was your lesson? Did you get hurt, did you upset someone, did you get scared?

As the motto of my high school states, discumus agere agendo, you learn to do by doing. I have learned patience, compassion, humility, gratitude through my life experience.

3. What you would have done differently back then if you could turn back time.

I would have chilled out more, gotten less stressed over little things, taken more creative classes in college, and never take my health for granted.

4. Do you convey this message to children in your life today?

I try to share these lessons with my nieces, nephews & godkids every chance I get!

– Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO, Mavens & Moguls

Sharon Pelham – If I Knew Then What I Know Now

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Life Lessons From Adults To Children
Today’s Guest – Sharon Pelham

I wish I knew that I am fine just the way that I am and that what I think of myself is far more important than what anyone else thinks. I have large, almond-shaped eyes, and I didn’t start to dislike them until I was in high school when a boy that I had a crush on called me “fish eyes” in front of others.

I remember being stunned and hurt that someone would say something like that, especially about a physical attribute that I couldn’t change. I just stood there before saying something like, ‘I do not!’ while his friends laughed.

It was in that moment that I gave another person the power to influence how I felt about myself. And that is a dangerous thing to do. Every attribute that others admired in me melted away in light of one person’s cruel remark said to get a laugh and boost his ego. I don’t even remember his name, but I won’t forget how those words made me feel and how I began to look at myself differently as a result of them being spoken.

From then on I wanted to, but couldn’t, make my eyes smaller; however, I could look away when someone was speaking directly to me. Why? Because in my mind if the person focused on my eyes, they would see how big they are and how much I looked like a fish, all because someone told me they did. I didn’t have enough self-confidence or self-esteem to know that my eyes were and are just fine the way they are.

It didn’t matter what my parents or friends said, I let what he said mean more than what I thought. Even worse, I internalized it. Some years after the high school incident, during an exam for my first pair of glasses, the simple words of my optometrist made me realize that I should be grateful for my large, almond-shaped eyes. You have wonderful eyes for glasses he said. I mumbled something about them being so large and he said, very quietly, “Do you know what some people would give to be able to have your eyes, to be able to see? “œ In that moment, I realized that I was blessed to have my sight and that I should be thankful for it. And I stopped being defensive about the size of my eyes.

I’d held on to what someone else thought about one of my physical attributes for far too long. What a relief it was to take that power away from someone who had no right to it in the first place. During the years and romantic relationships that followed, I‘ve received compliments on my eyes. I appreciate them, but I don’t take them to heart.

My eyes are beautiful because I believe they are and that is what matters and I tell the children and young adults in my life that all the time. One last thought: Knowing what I do now, if I had an opportunity to go back to that day in high school my response to my ‘crush’ would have gone something like this: Really? Is that lame, stupid remark the best you can do?  I then would have rolled my ‘big eyes’ and walked away.

– Sharon Pelham, Founder, Executive Consultant, Smith Carey Communications

Emily Westerfield – If I Knew Then What I Know Now

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Life Lessons From Adults To Children
Today’s Guest – Mike Domitrz

1. Your message to kids today that you wish you knew back then what you currently know now. Be specific.

As a professional speaker, Author, owner, and educator of the Date Safe Project. I want to send messages to parents and kids on the importance of safe and healthy dating, making the right choices in relationships, covering topics such as sexual assault, intimacy, and making the right choices. I wish that kids knew how to feel comfortable enough with themselves to stand up and speak out on what they want.

2. How did you learn your lesson or what was your lesson? Did you get hurt, did you upset someone, did you get scared?

My lesson learned was an unfortunate one, and one that i’ll never forget. The life changing event not only happened to my sister, but to our entire family. My sister was raped. I have since then dedicated my life and time to devote my knowledge to teens and parents educating them on how to handle situations like these and hopefully prevent these situations from happening in the future with the right education. I was indeed hurt, upset, scared, and a million other emotions including anger. The most prominent emotion was action. I wanted to take action and help others from going through the same feelings myself and my family had.

3. What you would have done differently back then if you could turn back time.

I don’t know if there is anything I could have done differently regarding this incident. As unfortunate as it is, it’s become my journey and passion to help educate others on this life lesson and learn from the past.

4. Do you convey this message to children in your life today?

I convey this message to each and every child or parent I can.

5. Anything else you`d like to add?

I would like to add that this experience has given me the right perspective to be able to speak knowledgeably about these topics. I think it’s great that more men speak out on these topics. Helping people is my passion, and i’m so lucky I can do this everyday.

– Mike Domitrz, Founder of The Date Safe Project

Jacqueline Marcell – If I Knew Then What I Know Now

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Life Lessons From Adults To Children
Today’s Guest – Jacqueline Marcell

I Wish I Knew What Sugar Addiction Was When Young

After a lifetime of misery battling my weight (same 30-40#’s again and again), compulsive eating and through every imaginable diet and psychological program known, I have finally solved this issue and it has been the biggest SHOCK OF MY LIFE. It has been over a year now that all my cravings have magically gone away—but only after going through a month of BRUTAL withdrawal—from eliminating all insulin spiking foods: sugars, starches and grains. I had been eliminating them 80% for many years, since my Brst. Cancer in 2004 because I was told sugar feeds cancer, but I still had cravings I just thought were normal. it wasn’t until I immersed myself in studying the science of leptin/insulin/adrenalin resistance and dopamine/serotonin and sugar/carbohydrate addiction that I finally understood what had happened to me. I learned how to go off those foods 100% and get through the withdrawal and get to the other side without drugs. IT IS HEAVEN ON THIS SIDE.

I am so FURIOUS I didn’t know any of this when I was young (numerous doctors and weight loss programs never told me), because I could have had a much happier life and I believe even prevented my cancer. I will never go back to those foods, as I so clearly see them as the poison they are for me. Finally, no white-knuckling determination trying not to eat them, incessant exercising—instead, eating is simply effortless. I am on a mission to spread the importance for people to understand the science of chemical food addiction, which removes the shame of being unable to control yourself.

Additionally, Alzheimer’s is now termed Type 3 Diabetes, so I am doing everything I can to spread this science.

Jacqueline Marcell, Speaker, Consultant, Author of ‘Elder Rage, or Take My Father… Please!, How to Survive Caring for Aging Parents’, Book-of-the-Month Club, Print/Audio/eBook

Scott Maloney – If I Knew Then What I Know Now

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Life Lessons From Adults To Children
Today’s Guest – Scott Maloney

1. Your message to kids today that you wish you knew back then what you currently know now. Be specific.

I now know as an adult what adults try with some success to teach our youths – to abstain from underage drinking and to make responsible decisions when of legal drinking age. No one ever likes to hear “I told you so!” after a decision that we made. It’s my hope that the youths learn from my mistakes and don’t need to experience them on their own.

2. How did you learn your lesson or what was your lesson? Did you get hurt, did you upset someone, did you get scared?

I learned my lesson through as the result of a near fatal decision I made under the influence of alcohol my senior year of college. A decision that nearly ended my life and affected my family forever. No one is invincible, not even a 21 year old in the prime of his life. I hurt myself, my family and I scared everyone I care about.

3. What you would have done differently back then if you could turn back time.

If I could go back and redo my life as a 21 year old I would without any hesitation. If I could go back and not make a silly decision to impress a few lower class-men my life would be a heck-uva lot better than it is today but I don’t deserve to complain because I got lucky!

4. Do you convey this message to children in your life today?

I do convey the message of responsible decision-making to students audiences ranging in size from 25 to 3,500 at a time …

Scott Maloney

** Interested in taking part in this web series, email the webmaster using the contact link above.

Kim Randall – If I Knew Then What I Know Now

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Life Lessons From Adults To Children
Today’s Guest – Kim Randall

My message to kids today is to educate yourselves on nutrition. Know what foods are doing to your body long term and learn how to make healthy changes now rather than later in life where lifestyle changes become harder to make and keep up with. Get out and walk or run daily, start a routine and stick with it. The reason why I am so focused on this is because I am an overweight 30-something year old that never really had the proper nutritional knowledge growing up. A hot home cooked meal was considered healthy where-as today it would be seen as not the healthiest. Trying to reboot your schedule and create new routines is extremely hard as an adult and I do wish that I had started exercising more often when I was a teenager. Start early so you aren’t running into the issues and problems adults my age are. Eat fresh and raw more often and save the processed foods for an occasional snack.

My last piece of advice for kids today is to go ahead and be different. It’s OK to be unique and it’s highly applauded and sought after as adults. No one wants to hire all the same “clone-like” people. Diversity makes companies thrive so yes… go ahead and flaunt those red polka dotted pumps you git at the thrift shop. They’re just as unique as you are.

Kim Randall, CEO and Social Brand Strategist, KiMedia Strategies

To our readers: Are you interested in participating in our If I Knew Then What I Know Now series? If yes, use the contact form above to reach out to us with your story! Your message may inspire children to make a right decision in life. Look forward to hearing from you.

Emma Hunter – If I Knew Then What I Know Now

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Life Lessons From Adults To Children
Today’s Guest – Dr. Emma Hunter

No One Is Thinking About You!

I remember being in fourth grade, it was my birthday, and the annual book-fair was taking place in our school library. Soon, it would be our class turn to visit the library, and buy all the books, pencils, erasers, and other cool items we wanted. Before departing to the library, my teacher announced to the class that there would be a drawing. Whichever student’s name she drew from the box would be able to get any free item they wanted from the fair. She stuck her hand in the box, and I couldn’t believe it—my name had been called! I was so excited. I loved the book-fair, and now I had the chance to get any item I wanted for free. The moment she called my name, I knew I wanted something special. Maybe stickers, pencils with cool erasers, markers, or a paint-set.

Just seconds before we were to leave for the book-fair, the teacher made a comment to the class that sent my heart twirling into sadness. She encouraged us to go to book-fair, and buy a book that was at the fifth-grade reading level. Doing so, she noted, would help us improve our reading comprehension, and prepare us for the reading/writing sections of future MEAP tests.

I knew my teacher would be very pleased if I bought the book. But there was a problem. I wanted to color! Not read a boring book!

All the students in my class were huddled around the right section of the book fair. That’s where all the fifth and six-grade level books were located. And the teacher was even helping students pick out which books to buy. I stayed with the crowd for about 30 seconds or so, but wasn’t entirely happy.

Nervous of the repercussions of what would happen if I strayed, I hesitantly started making my way to other sections of the book-fair. Lo and behold, located at the left side of the library, I found an item I fell in love with. It was a plastic purse, and inside of the purse was a “Clifford The Big Red Dog” book with cool coloring utensils, a pencil, and Clifford eraser! I started fantasizing about how fun it would be when I got home, and had a chance to start reading, coloring, and using the cool eraser.

While I knew it was what my heart wanted, I kept the purse on the shelf and proceeded back to where my classmates and teacher were. There I felt safe, but not happy. I was doing what everyone else was doing. My teacher would be happy, and no kid could possibly make fun of me for choosing an item for a little kid. I picked up a fifth-grade level reading book that I thought might interest me. “Just maybe,” I thought to myself, “I can enjoy reading it.” But as much as I tried to convince myself, I couldn’t. Should I stay with the crowd and get the book? Should I go back, and get my Clifford package? Would the teacher be disappointed if I didn’t challenge myself with a “big-kid” book? Would the other students make fun of me for choosing Clifford—a book for babies?

booksI slowly proceeded back to the left-side of the library to admire the Clifford package one more time, but didn’t dare pick it up. I reluctantly started walking back to the crowd. But as I was heading back, something from within caused me to stop walking. There I stood in the middle of the library—half way from what I really wanted, and half way from gaining the approval of others. I felt trapped. Maybe I could get my Clifford without anyone noticing? I could keep it on the down-low, hiding it as much as I could with my hand. And so that’s what I did. I had made my choice: Clifford it was. No one was going to notice anything.

Our shopping time was nearing the end, and I was keeping the package on the down-low. While I was making my way back to the crowd, my teacher came up to me and asked: “What did you get?” I reluctantly showed her the package, and what came out of her mouth shocked me! “That’s a nice choice,” she said with a big smile on her face. I couldn’t believe it. What!?! It was a nice choice? But I thought she would disapprove because she was encouraging us to get a fifth-grade level reading book?!? But no, I was wrong, she thought it was a nice choice. And for the other students thinking I was a “baby” if I got Clifford, you know what? They didn’t even notice what I got. They didn’t even care. They were all caught up with their own books, and what they had bought. Both my assumptions of what my teacher and classmates would think of me were wrong.

I didn’t realize it at that time, but that experience offered a great life lesson. It was a lesson I would have to learn over and over again in my own life: You are free to live the life you are meant to live. The choice to be true to yourself starts and ends with you. People can tell you whatever they want. They can share their advice. They can tell you their opinion about the choices you are making. But at the end of the day, it’s completely up to you as to whether you follow your dreams in life. I know now more than ever in my life that my happiness will be derived only by having the courage to pursue my dreams. And no matter how it looks to others, you come alive when you know deep within your heart that you are living the life that is right for you.

Emma Hunter, PhD, Life Coach and Author of Where’s The Love?, Confessions of a Soccer Mom, and Failure: The Key to Success

Mary Lee Gannon – If I Knew Then What I Know Now

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Life Lessons From Adults To Children
Today’s Guest – Mary Lee Gannon

I was asked to present to high school students as part of a program entitled “Pittsburghers That Make a Difference.” My topic was Goal Setting. When first asked to do this all I could think about was how boring a topic this would be to teenagers. It was even boring to me. And then when I found out that one of the other presenters was the veterinarian from the National Aviary who was bringing the Froot Loops bird I knew I was in trouble. So I decided to focus my talk on something kids and many adults tend not to think about – failure.

What happens when you set a goal, are working toward it and realize the goal was a mistake?

Forty-four percent of college graduates change their major between the second semester of their freshman year and graduation day. Eighty-three percent of a recent graduating class of Duke University were working for a different organization within five years of graduation and 43 % had changed careers at least once.

Setting goals and readjusting them is an ongoing part of life.

Remember two things with respect to setting goals:

#1. Begin with the end in mind – Know where you ultimately want to be.

#2. It is important to fail early – Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks.

If you have made a bad career choice, define your transferable skills and start researching other opportunities. Transferable skills are in the following three key areas: 1) Organization of Information, 2) Communication and 3) Fixing and operating equipment and systems. If you are in school and majoring in something you feel will ultimately not make you happy, diversify your course selection and change majors or minor is something new if it is too close to graduation.

Your job, your ongoing education, your relationships, your outside activities – they are like a boat at a dock. You will get one. You will get in it. Your boat will start to pull away from the pier. If you have a set of oars, you will drive the boat. If you don’t the boat will drive you. You probably won’t sink – unless there is a terrible storm where faith and self-worth will come strongly into play. But you will more likely find yourself in the same inlet circling the same waters over and over never being able to pull out of the harbor and into the sea toward a destination.

Think about people whom you have heard repeatedly say, “I hate my job.” “I hate my life.” “If only he would…” They haven’t taken hold of the oars.

Goals are not notions. Goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results Oriented and Timely. “I am trying” is not a goal. It’s a notion.

“I will do it within this amount of time” is a goal.

So ask yourself, if circling the inlet is good enough for you? Who is driving your boat?

When I graduated from high school I went off to college in Michigan where I majored in an allied health profession and took a job in the Houston Medical Center upon graduation. In my first month living in Texas I knew I had made a mistake. Houston, though lovely, was not where I wanted to live the rest of my life, but I could gain valuable work experience there that I couldn’t get in any other part of the world. I hadn’t anticipated how much I would miss my family and the familiarity of a town I loved. I really didn’t want to fall in love and marry someone and have to live away from things that m nattered to me the rest of my life so I set a goal – I would work in Houston for two years (personal goal with a time-frame) and then move to a place where my professional experience would stand out (professional goal with the end in mind). Two years to the day I moved back to Pittsburgh. Sure while in Houston I had to focus on smaller goals like where I wanted to live, what kind of furniture I’d buy, how long I wanted my commute to work to be. But the ultimate place I wanted to be was back in Pittsburgh with great work experience behind me.

homeThen I got back to Pittsburgh and set another goal. In two years I would buy a house. Well I hadn’t figured on falling in love so that goal got tossed out the window when I married and bought a house with my husband. We had four children. I continued to work in my profession before my first child was born but I was beginning to see
that while I was very fulfilled in an allied health profession at 25, there really wasn’t a lot of room for advancement and I couldn’t imagine doing this work at 45 or even 26 for that matter. I have an entrepreneurial spirit and that personality type breeds restlessness and achievement.

I was at a crossroads: I could continue doing allied health work forever. (Remember the people that say they hate their job?) Or I could work at something new – which was risky. I decided to fail early at my first career choice and regroup.

So I started building a corporate gift business and an antiques business on the side while I was working in a large physician’s office so that when we started a family in two years, I’d have something in place for home. (Calculated risk with a time frame that gave me the luxury of a paying job while building a business on the side.) I had always loved writing and after my first child was born I began writing on a volunteer basis for organizations for which I was volunteering.

What happened was that the corporate gift business and antique business were getting too large to manage from home and I did not want to work outside of the home while my children were young so one day I saw an ad that said the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was looking for freelance writers and I sent clips of my writing in to the PG for consideration. (The goal of staying at home with my children was ‘keeping the end in mind’ and being a reporter held a calculate risk of rejection.) I didn’t have a degree in journalism but that didn’t stop me. I’ll never forget what the PG editor said when he hired me. “Mary Lee, you can write like you are having a conversation around the dining room table. We can’t always find that.” So by now I had pretty much realized that I was not going back to the profession in which I had a degree. I was writing five stories a week for the PG. I had picked up a lot of freelance work such as being the public relations director of a public school district, the executive director of a trade association, freelance business writing and graphic design and more – all work I
did from home.

WriterI taught myself to write grant proposals when the public school district asked me to help them secure a grant for a summer program for special needs children. This work was not in my contract but that didn’t matter to me. I saw this as an opportunity to learn a new skill for which there was a need in society. I went to the Foundation Center of the Carnegie Library and looked up everything I could on grant proposals and then started calling funders all over the city to see if they would read my proposal. We succeed and the district was awarded $68,000 for the program. Next we pursued a grant to put AstroTurf on the athletic field. I then started to see that raising money was not just about the written proposal but more about the relationships between those asking for money and those giving away the money. I mentored under a keen school board member and we secured that grant as well – $450,000. I never got paid for working on that grant either. And I wouldn’t be where I am today without having volunteered to learn how to do this work.

The school district awarded me a citation from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for my efforts in securing these grants. Shortly after this and when my youngest child was in school full time I took that citation on an interview which resulted in me being offered a full time executive director position at a hospital foundation in charge of all of the hospital’s fundraising. Now remember, I had never worked as a professional fundraiser. They were not offering me the job of major gifts officer, event planner, vice president of operations or any of the other myriad of jobs in the fundraising profession. They were offering me the lead job because of measurably what I had accomplished in a short period of time – $518,000 in grants on my first two attempts to fund raise.

I was with that hospital for less than two years and was then offered the position at a much larger hospital as president of their foundation where our capital campaign goal was $5 million over two years and we raised more than $10 million. That led to a bigger position at a hospital foundation where I was just recently recruited.

“I will do it by taking these steps it in this amount of time” is a goal.

Again: If you only remember two things about goals remember this:

#1. Begin with the end in mind

#2. It is important to fail early – don’t be afraid to take calculated risks
and adjust your goals.

So ask yourself, “Who is driving your boat?” Do you want to get out of the inlet to a destination or is circling the same waters OK with you?

What are the steps to get there?

It was Christopher Columbus who said, “You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” Pick up your oars and start now!

Mary Lee Gannon, CAE, President, / Gannon Group