The Art of Transformation | Ben Depraz | Creating Heroes


Get ready to be inspired! Coach Ben Depraz joins host Marc Scheff to discuss creating everyday heroes within startups and medium-sized businesses. Leveraging his experience at BIG Coaching, Ben will share powerful insights on empowering your team to conquer challenges and achieve sustainable success. Tune in and join the conversation as we explore fostering a culture of heroism in business, where every obstacle transforms into a springboard for growth and victory!

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Creating Heroes With Ben Depraz

We’ve got a wonderful expert in the world of transformation in business. Ben Depraz is a cross-cultural leadership and performance coach. His company Big Coaching works with startups to medium-sized businesses. He works a lot with C-level and C-suite people specifically on leadership, purpose, and emotional intelligence.

He’s got a background in NLP, hypnotherapy, and several other things. He’s worked all over the world. He delivers big workshops and does a lot of this work. His goal is to empower others to achieve their fullest potential with authenticity, gratitude, and purpose. Without further ado, I’d love to get the conversation started and I’ll see you on the other side with Ben.


The Art of Transformation | Ben Depraz | Creating Heroes


Ben, it’s wonderful to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Thanks for having me here.

Are you in Paris? Are you in France?

I’m in Bordeaux, Southwest, wine country.

Great wine out there. I’ve been to Paris a few times. I haven’t been much to the countryside. How do you like it out there?

It’s a pretty relaxed life. You can find your stresses everywhere, but it’s lovely. The weather is generally pretty amazing. After ten years in the UK, it’s quite nice. Everybody is chilling here. There’s not much coaching going on because everybody is enjoying life.

That’s something I did want to ask about. Now that we can do things anywhere, it means that we can live in Bordeaux or the middle of not a big city. How does that work when you’re out there looking for clients or when you’re trying to find clients and you’re not in a big city like Paris or London?

Historically, I invested a lot of time in places where my clients were. I lived for five years in London and four years in a other city than London, but traveled every week. I had a lot of in-person presence. However, even during that time, I did build clients in New York where I was never going to. I think for me, my clientele has always been working word of mouth and therefore these networks that were London-based had often connections, friends, or business colleagues in the New York office.

After some time working with them, I would be introduced and the whole relationship would occur online. Nowadays, I’d say that after these ten years, I continue this snowball. Even if I’m at a distance, it doesn’t matter. The word of mouth can continue. However, I do make the effort to travel. I go to London once a month, for example. I try to go to New York once or twice a year because seeing people in person at least once does make a difference. I’m still going in person, but I don’t need to.

I wanted to ask how that works. Has that changed at all since I know you’ve had a new addition to your family if I’m not mistaken? How old is your son?

Daughter, she’s seven and a half months old. I guess it hasn’t changed that much. It has changed because I want to travel way less than I did before, but traveling once a month for three days is not an issue. I’m also blessed that my partner loves looking after her and we do have some community support. My parents now are not far away.

There are systems to help with that. I think the first trip or two was painful because I didn’t want to leave but then you get used to it. I’m very clear about the boundaries of that and how I don’t want to go away for ten days or a prolonged period of time as a personal choice. In itself, it’s not very difficult to keep a small amount of traveling going.

There are a couple of parents that I follow on TikTok and Instagram. The thing that I keep seeing over and over again is people saying, “What do you do for fun?” It’s more and more like, “What I do for fun is be by myself in a room that is locked so that no one can come in.” That three-day trip is great because no one is going to ask you to get the milk, go to the grocery store, move the car, or any of that other stuff. It’s a nice little respite.

Building On Recommendations

My wife travels a lot and it’s nice to have the run of the house as well. It’s nice to have people around as well. The word of mouth, I’m curious. The people who tune in to this are probably at least in the coaching world or a lot of creatives. The idea of building a word-of-mouth business is appealing, but you don’t hang a shingle on the internet and suddenly people are referring you. How would you recommend somebody start a business like that?

I’ve been lucky enough to follow similar content as where you and I met with Rich Lidman’s work and Steve Chandler’s work. I’m speaking here about coaching because I don’t know about other professions, although I sense that it would work similarly. If I have to summarize, it’s going to sound a bit cliche what I’ll say, but it’s relationship building, long-term views, and making sure that your service is impactful and makes a difference.

You can learn a lot of little pieces of languages and little systems that can help you create let’s say more referrals organically. Being your first clients, for example, think of you when one of their friends is going through something similar or something that you could help with. There’s a way to help your people advocate for you a bit more proactively or a bit more consciously because otherwise, you don’t come to mind.

If you leave it hoping that people will refer people to you, not much is going to happen. Maybe a bit, but not enough to build a business. I think following the prosperous coach approach and other systems of that very same philosophy, but implementing a lot of the advice and systems I’ve learned. Over time, it builds up. It’s not a one-year thing, but the snowball does occur.

The network grows and over time, I now have enough. A lot of it is self-sustaining. When I say this, I’m constantly rechecking with people, reconnecting with old clients, and offering them time to hang out because some of them are also friends now and you keep it alive by constantly focusing more on the relationship than trying to sell something. That’s what I’ve done for years. It sounds very simple but it does work if your service is good.

Yes, reaching out to old clients and reconnecting or reminding them that you exist. It’s hard and this took me a while, honestly. I’ve been in the solopreneur business for a long time. Only now am I starting to build real systems. It’s simple things like after I talk to someone, setting a reminder in a month to reach out to send them an email.

I read Steve Chandler’s book titled How to Get Clients. It’s a quick read. I read it in the afternoon. It’s a 200-page book, but it’s big print, very short chapters. Have you read it or you’re about to read it? One of the things that people ask, “What’s the book about?” It’s about how to get clients but half the book is about referrals. Half the book is about how important referrals are.

One tidbit that stood out to me that I feel like I should have known, but clicked in when I read it in his book was that you have to nurture the same way that you nurture people to create the client relationship or a potential client relationship. You nurture the referral. He says it well in the book. If I refer somebody to you and you say thank you, that’s great. If I never hear again and I have another referral, I’m probably not going to refer them to you because I have no idea how that went.

Nurturing Referrals

Now when I get referrals and if somebody ends up signing on or even if they don’t, at each meeting, I’ll remember that’s my trigger to write back to the person and say, “By the way, I met with your person. I wanted to thank you again.” If they sign up, I certainly send them a nice little gift or offer them a free session and that kind of thing. Is there a standard procedure you have for nurturing referrals?

I think about exactly what you said. I might even keep them a little bit more in the loop at first through voice notes most of the time but it could be if I’m on a quick call with them, I’ll add, “By the way, thank you for referring me to Suzy. We’ve had a great conversation so far. There are a few things she’s going to do and then maybe we’ll talk again but it was great to connect with her and she enjoyed our time together. I wanted to thank you for this.”

As you said, a little message like this, regardless of what happens. When there’s more clarity around what happens, I will have another message. Sometimes with clients I’ve worked with for six months or more, a year or so on, after a few months of working together, especially when cool stuff happens, which tends to happen, I will send a voice note again to the initial person who referred us by saying that I’m having a great time working with their friend.

I’m grateful because a lot is happening in their life. That’s great. Thanks to them for having introduced us. Even sometimes, when something cool happens, for example, a client thanks me, which does happen. I’m not sending myself flowers, but sometimes they do. I’ll take some of the credit but I’ll also say, “I’d love for you to go and say this to whoever was the referrer. Without them, this wouldn’t have happened.”

I helped them go back to the cause and effect and they said, “That’s great that you give me some credit, although you did all the work, but it’s great that you give me some credit.” Think about it, without this person putting us in contact, this is not happening. It’d be great. I think they’d love to hear from you what has happened thanks to them. I make the client go back to the referral as well to send them some love and to show them that because it’s true. People like making a difference. Why not share more appreciation all around?

Encouraging them to deepen that relationship with their friend or colleague. Also, what strikes me is an authentic connection to this concept of gratitude or appreciation. You are here. They did this thing, but also they gave you a recommendation and you were the one who took it. Go back and appreciate that moment of opportunity that you saw that you took. Appreciate the person who provided that opportunity. I think that’s beautiful. Also, it’s great to have some work for you.

What I’ll say on top of that is if you say thank you once, it looks like it’s about the money. It’s like, “Thanks for sending me business.” That’s the first time but if you say it multiple times and you keep saying it later down the line always in a genuine way, you have no guarantee that there will ever be more referrals from that person. You’re doing it based on trust and gratitude and genuine, but without asking, “Could I have more referrals, please?” I think that all of these subsequent thank yous are much more about the real appreciation and gratitude for making that difference instead of for sending money to my bank account indirectly. People feel that. If you say it once, they can tell a bit.


These subsequent thank yous go beyond mere courtesy. They express genuine appreciation and gratitude for the positive impact made.


It a great advice. “You did the thing. Thank you.” I’ll say even if I’ve had referrals that I’ve explored with someone and we chose not to work together, I’ll write back and say, “We decided that it wasn’t the right time or whatever reason. I still wanted to say how much I appreciate it.” I was talking to a friend who referred a new client. The thing about referrals is it’s a lot different than I got this great notebook and it’s a good deal. Go get this notebook. If you don’t like that $8 notebook. We’re still friends and it’s okay.

If I refer someone to you, for example, I’m putting my name on the whole experience. I’m putting a lot of trust and my reputation in your hands. What I hear you saying also is you’re going back to that person and you’re offering them that reassurance like that was a good move on your part. You can trust this process. I’m going to keep you updated so you’re not totally in the dark about whether or not besmirching your reputation all over the place.

Leadership Challenges In Smaller Businesses

There was something we were talking about before the call that I wanted to touch on. I know that you work with a lot of corporate clients, small businesses and medium-sized businesses, a lot with leadership. I love getting some nuggets on this show like something that somebody can take away. What would you say is a common issue that you see in small and medium-sized businesses in leadership?

Several things come up, but the one we started touching upon was the gap between what people think and say they value or what they find valuable in a way they want. It could be more relationships, intimate relationships, more money, higher performance from one of their team members, whatever, and what they value.

By actually, the root of the word actually means in action, what they value. I’ll give you a silly example, but it does play out in leadership, although the example I’m going to share with you isn’t. If someone says they value financial independence and they don’t save and invest anything from what they earn, I’ll challenge that. I think there is a fundamental incongruence there. You say you value one thing, but you don’t take the actions that would reveal that subconsciously, and through your actions, you do value it.

If you value financial independence, the people who do, they’re the people who keep building it every time they get money coming in. They will invest in their financial independence. If you’re trying to earn as much as you can, but every time you earn, you spend it, and let’s say you invest in courses, I’ll be like, “Whatever the courses are, that’s what you value.” You might say you want to earn more money and value financial independence but if you invest in yoga retreats and spiritual retreats, you value yoga and spirituality.

At least you value it way more than you do financial independence and so helping leaders, anyone, but in particular in my work, leaders, first, become more self-aware of how congruent they are. Do they actually value what they say they value or is there a split? Where does it show up? That’s the first thing, and then applying it to the people that work for them.

In teams, I had a guy in venture capital who wanted someone in his team and a client who wanted someone in his team to work harder. He felt like she wasn’t putting in the effort that the job required. He was thinking about ways to make it happen. When I was discussing with him, it looked like her behavior clearly showed that she didn’t value the job of an investor nearly as much as he did.

She wanted more work-life balance and valued her family and her health more. It’s not like there’s a right or wrong, or good or bad. People value different things. Looking at her behavior, she might say she wants to be an investor. She might say she wants to become a principal or whatever, but her behavior is showing that there are other things that she wants more and she’s not owning that.


It’s not like there’s right or wrong or good or bad. It’s just that people value different things.


Trying to help her get something she says she wants when fundamentally her behavior is turning the other way, there’s first a layer of self-awareness and ownership to acknowledge before we try to make any changes. I think that’s something that all of us can look in the mirror quite often more than we do and think, “Are my actions demonstrating that I value my life what I say I value, that I spend time and energy on the things that are important to me, or are there two different things that would solve a few problems,” if you could reconcile that?

I think that’s one of the things that’s hard to do sometimes when you’re talking to somebody to find that gap because I’m not sitting next to them all day at the office saying, “You’re doing all.” You have to create a space where they feel they can be transparent and honest about their behaviors. Whereas a lot of times we’ll make excuses to say, “I think I’m doing all the right things.” You can’t call them on if they’re not sharing that.

What would you recommend? That’s one of the trickiest things I think, especially in any organization is first of all, getting aligned on a vision on values so that everyone feels a sense of ownership, accountability, and motivation to put in the time and put in the work that they need to do. In a scenario like that, if a leader has gotten clear on whatever the values are for themselves and the organization.

The hard thing is when you discover that the world around you isn’t quite as aligned with you as you had hoped. The way I think about is this article I wrote called The Puzzle of You. It’s you’re a shape. Your identity, the way you behave, and your actions are all a shape. You realize that you want to change that shape. New actions, more aligned. There are pieces that you fit around your people, business, and all these other things.

If you change your shape, they also have to accommodate that shape or change their shape to be more aligned with who you want to be. It sounds in this case, you might have an employee or even a boss who’s not aligned with that identity that you’re living into. In this particular example, what would you recommend that leadership do if they realize we’re clear on our values now, we’re clear on what our expectations are, and they’re not being met by the current way that we’re operating, or even this current improvement on the staff or their behavior.

Vision In Action

How does one then approach that? If you’re in the room, you can have these conversations. You can facilitate these conversations, but a lot of times I know that people go back to the office and have to figure this out themselves. What are some of the things that people do in this scenario to make sure everything is now aligned with this new vision of who they are?

I’d come at it from the perspective of for every individual, including this person who is not fully aligned and underperforming, I want to come at it from the place of what’s the empowered path for that person? The empowered path is one of two ways usually. If she becomes aware of what she values truly, there’s one of two choices.

Either she decides to acknowledge what she does value currently, which is say health, family, and so on. She then chooses to do that and so for example, leave her job as a VC investor and find something that’s a lot more congruent with that life. Choose to love what you’re currently doing, which is trying to prioritize family and health, and so on, or go and do what you love.

If you’re saying you want to be an investor, then align your behaviors to the requirements, the expectations, and the needs of that path. That might mean sacrificing a bit more some other values that you will deprioritize. My sense is that this is one of the two ways. You either love what you do, or you go and do what you love.

I learned this from my previous mentor, I think it’s Gal Stiglitz. I think it’s a very simple binary choice of empowerment. Anything in between, and we often find ourselves in between, is not wrong. It’s just a more disempowered version of you where you’re in one place and you’re wishing for something else. It’s like the grass is greener somewhere else and it’s not you at your best.

Now I come from this place and I’m coaching my client, helping him think through how can he help that person make that choice with respect and dignity, but how can he help her? Instead of pushing her out or forcing her to improve, how can he lay out the conditions for her to become self-aware that she’s got this choice and which one would be most authentic for her? We don’t know. We can’t choose that for the person.

That might require, first of all, his work to be super clear. What are the expectations of the role and the company? Often these are not properly communicated. Often my client was a bit disgruntled with her performance, but when we dug into it, the company had never been clear how high the standards were. Now you’re being unfair. You’re pissed off at something that she was never even given the real standards to hit.

She’s not hitting them, but she doesn’t know that that’s the target. Not really, it’s all a bit fuzzy. I think one of the things you can do is be clear with people already from the hiring process saying, “Look, in this place, this is what will be needed. This is what will be required. This is what’s going to be hard.” I’m not saying put people off, but almost because that will help them filter and decide, “You know what? I don’t want that.“

I hear you saying that and the thing that I’m hearing underneath that is also that I love this idea around leadership. If you’re effectively leading, then you are creating other leaders, even if that’s creating a sense of self-leadership. I hear you saying that, to go to somebody and say, “We realize we haven’t communicated this clearly. I’m going to tell you what we need in this role.” I also want to support you in getting what you need in your life. I’m going to tell you that. I’m going to give you the choice.

There’s a line that I’ve been seeing a lot recently from Adam Grant. They did all this research and I forget exactly what the phrase was, but it’s one of those “These nineteen words will change you” kind of thing. It was powerful, I forget what the context was, but it works in business. I’ve got kids and it is crazy how well it works with kids but to say, “Listen, I’m going to have this conversation with you and my expectations are high for you. That’s because I believe that you can meet them.”

“Now the choice is yours. Do you want to step into that role, which I believe you can do, and I will support you in doing it, whether that’s getting you more training or getting you whatever support you need or if you’re choosing not to do this, how can I support you in getting into a role that’s more effective so that we can also have what we need in this role if it’s not for you?” In a way, it’s also quite vulnerable because you’re having this conversation where the other person could say, “You know what? It’s not for me.

You take the risk of exposing yourself because you’re more clear. Instead of hoping or expecting that the person will be a top performer on their own and intuitively get it, you have to be clear about what you want and that has a cost. You’re asking the person, “Are you someone who wants to make that choice? Maybe you’re not. If you’re not, that’s okay. I respect that. If you are, maybe you need a bit of help and coaching and mentoring to get there, but at least you will have made that choice.”

If they choose and they still fail, at some point the company can decide to say, “We tried, but clearly you’re missing some pieces that we can’t impart to you.” Fair enough, that can be the outcome too but I think a lot of the work was put into how can you improve the requests, the demands, and the expectations of the company on all these different projects. How exactly would you like them to be delivered?

Make that clear. Don’t make it judgmental. Don’t judge the person. They have different values from you. It could fit if they choose, or it could not fit. It’s not a question of whether they’re a lesser person. They just have different values. Often we don’t even know it. We don’t even know what our values are because we’re comparing ourselves to everybody else. We’re being influenced. We have this clash between what we think we should value and what we do.

All of us, the self-awareness of that is quite difficult to come by. You can do personal work but still, it’s a never-ending process of refining. Who am I? What do I care about actually? Accept the trade-offs because when you own who you are and you live by it, you know that you’re cutting yourself off from a lot of other lives that other people are living. Sometimes some things look good. You will say, “I’d like to have this but actually, I don’t want the full package that comes with it so I let it go.”

I’m a very creative person. I see the possibility. When opportunities come, whatever they are, I get excited and say, “This would be cool.” The question that I have to ask myself and that maybe this employee would want to ask is, “Are you excited for this vision to come to life?” Probably yes, that’s exciting to think about.

“Here are the things that are required to make that happen. Would doing that every day excite you?” There’s a great quote by David Bowie. He says, “You might think that it’s pretty great to be an international rockstar married to a supermodel and you’d be right.” I think about that and I said, “There’s a life I’d like to live.” Do I want to do all the things that he had to do? That doesn’t sound quite as exciting.

I want to live by some of those values in my own way, but to do that. No, and that’s what we have in the society where we have all these people, whether it’s famous coaches or famous artists or big business people saying, “I want that.” What you don’t see is the expectations and the work that had to go in to get there to live those values. The question for me is how does someone do what they love or love what they do when that vision isn’t quite fully realized? There’s that whole road you have to walk or run or crawl.

It’s a process. I say it like that. It sounds like it’s a quick flip of a switch, but it’s not. Figuring out what you love is a long process and not easy. Every step along the way we’re like on the Hero’s Journey. We’re challenged and we’re tempted to come off the path because it’s scary. If you truly follow what you love, what you would love to do, I’m speaking here more in a vocational context, so in a profession that’s meaningful to you, you’ll have a hundred thousand opportunities to quit because so many people around, even though well-meaning will not be necessary allies or not exactly in the way that you’d hope.

There will be your self-doubt, there will be their doubts, there will be the moments where it’s not working. There’ll be constant possibilities to exit that. It’s a long process. It’s not that easy. I mentioned both because I think both can be profound. You have people who choose to love what they do currently not strive for something else than who they already are, and find a lot of grace and life satisfaction in that. You have others who take the bull by the horns and decide to go and do what they love and fight for it for a long time. Two different adventures. I think both are profound for personal growth and we can’t choose for someone else but I think anything else than one of these directions it’s you choosing the disempowered path.


The Art of Transformation | Ben Depraz | Creating Heroes


Loving What You Do

That’s beautiful, choosing the disempowered path. That’s a confronting thing to say in the mirror. The last thing I’ll say is what I’m hearing, love what you do. I see this a lot, especially with people who maybe have a passion or something that they don’t want to turn into their vocation, whether it’s something creative. I love to train jujitsu. I don’t think that I want to make that my profession for various reasons. I think I’m too old to make that my profession at this point but the fact is you can love what you do as part of a larger vision.

I can do a thing that serves a purpose. When we had our first kid, we had a lot of expenses and this big expense came and I freaked out. I went and got a temp job. I could describe it, but I was intensely overqualified for this job. I went into the interview and the manager, the final guy to come in and talk to me sat down and said, “It’s nice to meet you, but why are you here? Why do you want this job? The funny thing is I said, “Can I be honest? I want a job that I don’t have to think that hard about. I’m going to do this in my sleep. I’m going to be a great employee.”

“I’m going to do everything you ask. I can do other things. I’m happy to jump in, never going to complain because it’s for this other purpose. It’s for this purpose of supporting my family, of supporting my creative thing.” That’s another interesting way to go in with maybe with an employee this to say, “I know you have these other things. Is it possible to step up in this way in service of you? Can we find that balance?”

I think what you described there is exactly an example of an empowered approach to it. I’m not saying everybody should live a life where they love what they do all the time and that their job is their passion. No, but you’re in this role and you are in my book loving what you do because you’re doing it for the sake of your child.

One of my favorite work experiences I’ve ever had.

You’re honest about it. You’re not there complaining that you have to do this for the sake of financing your family, which again would be you’re doing the same everyday life, but your experience of it is so much more disempowered and incongruent, whereas yours was very much clean and aligned. There was one final thing I wanted to say.

The last piece I want to share on this is, for example, your jujitsu. When people want to make that choice, all I’m saying is be fair to yourself and manage your expectations because what people do is, “I don’t want to be a professional jujitsu fighter,” but they look at the professional jujitsu fighters and then they are disappointed in themselves for not being there or doing the things that these guys do.

Now you’re being unfair to yourself. You want to do these two separate things and then you compare it to the number one in the worlds that only do one of them and you feel like a failure towards them. That’s not fair. If you choose to do multiple things, embrace that that’s what you chose and you’re not going to be Michael Phelps or Hussein Bolt or whoever in any one of them because it’s not possible compared to the people who chose one thing and one thing fully. It’s more about embracing the package and then managing your expectations about this, then you can have a wonderful life.


The key to a wonderful life lies in embracing what life offers, while also managing your expectations about it.


That’s amazing. I want to close things there. It’s a great place to stop but Ben, if people are curious about what you do, where can they find you?

Email or on my website, which is They can find me on LinkedIn as well. Benjamin Depraz or Ben Depraz.

Ben, I want to thank you again for your time. What a great conversation. I can’t wait to release this one.

It was a lot of fun. Thank you.

What a great conversation. I love what Ben had to say about finding that gap between your values and your actions. It’s such a hard thing to do, and it’s such a wonderful thing to do with clients. I wanted to say at the end of this, we are just getting started with this podcast and we love offering all of these tools and insights to help you grow.

I would love to ask if you would help us grow. Like and follow and do those things but the best thing you can do is share these episodes with your friends. Encourage your friends to listen, and encourage them to send in their ideas. We’d love to get more content out there that serves you and what it is that you want. Like, follow, and share and wherever you listen to podcasts, you can listen to it. We are on YouTube and I look forward to seeing you next episode with our next guest. Thanks for tuning in.


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About Ben Depraz

The Art of Transformation | Ben Depraz | Creating HeroesBorn in France and raised in diverse locations including the UAE and Thailand, Ben is a cross-cultural leadership and performance coach. A Summa Cum Laude graduate of HEC Paris and SciencesPo Paris, he initially ventured into investment banking with HSBC in London. However, his experiences led him to pivot towards a path more aligned with his passion: unlocking human potential. Dedicated to a career in coaching and leadership development, he has invested significant time and resources in training.

For 7 years, Ben worked for iDiscover360, a London-based boutique firm specializing in leadership, purpose, and emotional intelligence. He founded and led the Coaching Division, became a partner and conducted 50+ personal development seminars across eight countries. In 2023, Ben decided to focus his work on 1 on 1 transformation through his company BIG Coaching. His clientele is as diverse as his experience, ranging from startup founders to C-level executives across industries like Private Equity, Venture Capital, Retail, and Tech.

Ben’s qualifications include a Diploma in Neuro-Linguistic Programming from The Coaching Academy and a Hypnotherapy Practitioner Diploma from the Training Alliance Group. He also completed Steve Chandler’s Advanced Client Systems program in the USA and participated in immersive experiences led by organizations like Tony Robbins International, Embercombe,, the Wim Hof Method, and Landmark Education. Currently residing near Bordeaux, France, with his wife and daughter, Ben continues his lifelong quest to empower others to achieve their fullest potential with authenticity, gratitude, and purpose.

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