Chicago…While often known as “The Windy City” in doing some reading I learned it used to also be referred to as the “City of Broad Shoulders”. The latter reference as a result of its strong industrial focus well into the early 1900’s and was referenced by a poem written by Carl Sandburg in 1916.
Which, I find particularly interesting because my Lithuanian grandparents immigrated from their native land separately, before they were married, to Chicago. They settled into a very blue collar, hard working neighborhood that probably epitomized the “Broad Shoulders” motto. My Grandfather left by escaping his homeland, as Lithuania was under Communist rule at that time, by way of Ellis Island, and they landed in Chicago where they lived well into the 90’s before passing.
From the annual Thanksgiving visits to Chi-town growing up, in what was a more “real” neighborhood than the manicured lawns where I grew up, the “City of Broad Shoulders” serves as a nostalgic reminder of a City that I really love and served as a new anchor for the Razgaitis family immigrants years ago.
Chicago’s event on Wednesday 5/21 (yikes, I cringe at writing that–I just got behind and couldn’t catch up in my writings) marked the end of our Road Tour.
The journey really started about five weeks ago, heading off to Korea then to China with the FLC. Immediately we returned to Lacey to embark on a nearly 20-city tour over a period of about 25 days. During this five week we logged a good number of miles.
21,970, to be exact. And that’s just the airline miles.
Four different countries (as a native Texan, I’m counting that state as the fourth) and over 20 different states during this period of time. And, Chicago marks the end of the official Tour, and the countdown to Convention here in Seattle from July 10-12th continues…
Regan, Stephen, and I were really excited to arrive in Chicago–really for many reasons. One, this is Regan’s hometown and you’ve already heard my connection. But, two, there is simply an amazing team in the Chicago and surrounding area. And, finally, three, it marked the end of what has been both an exhilarating–and at times–and exhausting journey. But we’re coming to this event feeling refreshed, invigorated, and even, possibly, a little nervous for the final event. We just wanted it to be spectacular.
Normally I don’t brag about the hotels, but the Renaissance Schaumburg is one of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed in. It’s comparable to the Grand Inter-Continental Hotel in Seoul, really sleek and modern. Very hip. It was a great atmosphere for an event.
The leadership reception was an absolute blast, I think we did more laughing than we did talking. One group from Freeport, IL gave us these pretzel pins which we wore proudly (100 years ago a bakery in Freeport flooded the city with pretzels, thus the name–see all this useful trivia you’re learning?). From the leadership reception we went to the main event.
And, part of the buzz/rumors circulating around the event were that we almost went to jail instead of the hotel. But, the short of the story is that our transit didn’t show up as scheduled in Chicago (this became a rolling comedic theme in a few cities, only fitting that it happened in our last one) so we jumped in a cab. But, it was more of a handicapped van, with no more than a seat for two people plus a lot of space for a wheelchair. We were minus the wheelchair, so Regan and Stephen took the bench seat in the back and I piled up the luggage and took a seat on the bags.
Sadly, in the process of this I actually sat on “Stephen DVD” (he was asleep in the bag) and broke him. I knew he was too good to be true and that it couldn’t last forever. A loyal and consistent friend both was borne and passed on this trip, which is why I’ve dedicated this blog entry to the final remains of “Stephen DVD”, who died a violent but expedient death by being crushed by a pretty big Lithuanian guy in a filthy dirty cab without shocks driven by a crazy non-English speaking Greek man who wasn’t wearing a seat belt.
Which is, precisely, the story. The cab driver was without seatbelt (clearly, no desire to even make it to the proverbial 77.2 years of age, which incidentally just increased to 78.1 this week). So, at a toll booth we were pulled over and he was ticketed. Somehow this story twisted into “we almost got arrested” which is a far more interesting albeit less true story.
Back to the event…
The general session was exceptionally well hosted by David and Becky Ylinen–I continue to be so impressed with them, their tenacity and willingness to simply take meaningful steps forward every day of every week is inspirational. This event was well served with leadership from all over the Midwest, from Illinois itself to Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, and beyond.
Which, was part of the reason there were well over 325 people at this Chicago event. Great leadership. Tons of energy.
I mean, tons. When we walked in the room it was oozing with energy. It was almost like you could see the energy like a fog or a mist, there were just a bunch of really excited people to be at this event, to be together with a group of excited people. This subject alone, energy…momentum, is subject for another blog entry, particularly since I just returned from an annual Direct Selling Association event and could share some interesting learnings.
So tonight Stephen took the stage, and for the first ten minutes I couldn’t tell whether it was going to be just a really good session or something exceptional. I remember looking at Regan saying just that…But then, at about the 11th minute, something changed. I don’t know what it was, but something sparked. And the rest of the night was magical.
Stephen’s presentation was, hands down and unquestionably, the best I have ever seen. It was 35-minutes of amazement–he was funny and focused, charming and credible, inspirational and factual. It was the best presentation of the science, our advantage, and the incredible difference our products make that I have ever seen by him or anybody else.
And it continued like that throughout the evening; Regan was really exceptional. Dr. Tim Kaufman hosted the testimonial section, and one of the most incredible ones I have EVER heard was from this guy named Eric who has been on Univera products for two months. A while ago he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, went to Mayo for surgery and was told he would be paralyzed on the left side of his body for at least six months if not permanently, in addition to needing six months of PT before he could go home. The thought that a someday successful outcome would be if he could walk around the mall one time and then be exhausted the rest of the day.
The day after surgery he was able to move his left arm and leg and took his first step with the help of a PT; he went home in TWO WEEKS using a cane and brace on his left leg, and after a few more weeks was able to give up his cane! And just a few weeks ago he was told to give up the leg brace…His surgery was only two months ago, and you can see him standing in the panel of those giving the testimonials–second from right. Amazing. He credited his recovery to God as well as what the Univera products that enabled his body to restore and renew itself.
The whole evening was magic to me, from each of the speakers to the hosts to the testimonials to all the Associates and guests. All along we have avoided saying “well, this was the best event”, but the Chicago event took the title. Among some many exceptional events across the Country, this was a unique event probably for a whole host of unique factors.
I suppose the reason I get behind on my blogs is because they’re rather long. But, they’re rather long because I’m really passionate about this business, what we’re doing, the people we’re doing it with, and the cause of it all. The Chicago event, as exceptional as it was, serves only as a representation of the amazing things that are happening across North America to both people’s health as well as their financial success and the opportunity that exists behind this.
And, beyond both these aspects, there’s our cause. The mission of “Bringing the Best of Nature to Humankind”, to get these products to every man, woman, and child, is something special. But it’s not just “what” we’re going to do, but it’s “how” we’re going to do it that makes this special.
Which is precisely why I hope that you come to see and celebrate who we are on July 10-12th right here in Seattle, Washington.
Thanks, friends, for making the Road Trip in inspiration for the three of us, for connecting us to your community, and for making a difference.
I’ll conclude this posting, with more to continue, with the last photo the three of us took before ending this part of the Journey when we got back home. Today, as I was posting the pictures, I broke into fits of laughter because I looked into the background of the photo and noticed the Golden Arches. Completely without intention, the way our limo driver took this picture was with the McDonalds Golden Arches in the background. And, they’re not just in the background, they’re resting like a halo on Stephen’s head. Hilarious.
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