Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Interview with Eric Burkhart, author of Mukhabarat, Baby! My Life as a Wartime Spy for the CIA

Can you share a bit about yourself growing up and what drew you to embrace a career as a CIA Case Officer?

This is such an important question to ask, because I have noticed that many Agency Case Officers share childhood experiences. I was raised in France, with French being my first language. My father was in the U.S. Army, and our family made Europe our home until my father's retirement in 1977. 

As a child I was fortunate to experience a number of different cultures. This enhanced my willingness and ability to assimilate into foreign environments as an adult, something which all CIA Case Officers must learn to do. Traveling to unfamiliar places where people speak unknown languages and practice different religions, can be very intimidating. Therefore, growing up surrounded by different languages and cultures proved invaluable to me as I progressed in my Agency career. 

I was also raised in a conservative household, and patriotism was woven into the fabric of my family's traditions. I was raised with a rock-solid faith in the principles for which our nation was founded. CIA officers are dedicated to encouraging freedom around the world, as the intelligence collected from all corners of the globe help our government support Democracy.

When did you leave this career behind, and why?

During my first tour overseas tour in Kosovo working as a CIA Case Officer, I was tasked with meeting a foreign national who had access to important confidential information. This individual poisoned me on three consecutive occasions, while we were meeting over dinner. Although the toxic exposure almost caused my death and resulted in permanent nerve damage, I was able to continue my career for another decade. The Agency was very supportive during this time, and when, in 2010, it became too difficult to continue work because of my health, the Agency sponsored my 100 percent Disability.

You worked in Iraq in 2003; what inspired you to write a memoir of your time there over a decade later?

Although my memoir focuses on my time in Iraq from 2003 to 2004, I also write about other tours (Kosovo, South Africa) and about the Agency in general. I made the decision to write a book as part of Therapy once I had retired. During my career, it would not have been possible (or allowed) for me to write a book. Also, it wasn't until I retired that I felt I had enough experiences to do a book justice. 

One important point I would like to add. Agency officers spend their careers watching news stories provide a sometimes inaccurate perception of the life of a CIA employee. Certainly Hollywood promotes ideas about the CIA and espionage in the 21st century was that has no basis in reality whatsoever. I wanted to write about my colleagues and the everyday responsibilities they accepted working clandestinely for their nation in hostile environments. The glamour never makes an appearance; instead, it is replaced with terrible food, no running water, limited to no contact with family, and the fear of losing your life. 

Read a Review - HERE
CIA offers receive very little positive reinforcement, as they must live cover stateside and not discuss the operation they completed to locate a wanted terrorist fugitive. I wrote my book in order to give them a voice, without having to give up their identity.

Given the time delay, did you struggle at all to accurately remember specific event details or interactions with individuals you mention? If so, how did you go about fact-checking?

CIA Case Officers are trained to pick up on and remember details. The stories that I chose to write about rose to the surface of my memory, because of that reason. Fortunately, I have close relationships with many of my former colleagues. On more than one occasion I was able to reach out and clarify some particular detail in a story.

Writing one's first book can be challenging. How did you approach the writing process? What did you enjoy the most? What was the hardest?

I am fortunate to know a few published authors, including Lindsay Moran, author of the bestseller, Blowing my Cover, My Life as a CIA Spy. Lindsay and I were part of the same training class, and she was serving in Macedonia when I was in Kosovo. She had a front-row seat to the toxic exposure event, and assisted with the proof-reading of the relevant chapters. 

As for the actual mechanics, I began the process by identifying the subject matter of each chapter. Second, I outlined each story/chapter, and brainstormed for weeks to make sure that no details were excluded. I was fortunate; with Lindsay's guidance, the writing came relatively easy. The most frustrating part of the process, was putting to paper the difficult details of certain events, knowing that in the end the CIA review process was likely to redact the best parts of the book.

Is there any advice you can share to help other new writers ready to start work on their first book?
I believe a successful effort must come from the heart, especially when writing a memoir. Choose a subject that refuses to let you go, and you may discover that all along the story just wanted to be shared. Also, if writing non-fiction, consider getting the permission of the persons about whom you intend to write. I sleep well at night knowing that no one in my book was surprised by their inclusion.

Where do you go from here? Will there be other books?
I have worked very hard to regain my health to the point that I can return to work. I hope to return to the Agency in a training capacity sometime within the next year. At this time I can't imagine writing another book.

Connect with the author: Website  Twitter   Facebook

Monday, February 22, 2016

Mukhabarat, Baby! My Life as a Wartime Spy for the CIA by Eric Burkhart

Mukhabarat: Arabic term for intelligence, as in 
intelligence agency. In the West, the term is sometimes
used negatively, connoting repression, often by means of secret police or state terror, in Arab countries.

Synopsis - 

This is the story of a young American who would eventually fulfill his dream of becoming a CIA Case Officer, only to have a promising career cut short after having been purposely poisoned by a contact.

Eric Burkhart was raised in Europe in a bilingual household, and accepted a job in Africa right out of college. Upon his return to the United States, he was hired as an Immigration Agent in Laredo, Texas, working Inspections on one of the busiest port-of-entries connecting the United States and Mexico. This experience is detailed in this humorous, occasionally heartbreaking memoir about choosing to be a survivor.

In 2000, Burkhart accepted a position as a Case Officer with the Central Intelligence Agency. The book includes details of both the notoriously arduous hiring process and the rigorous training program, including Burkhart's eventual successful completion of the Espionage Course taught at the famous "Farm". Burkhart's first overseas working experience was in war-torn Kosovo, where he was unwittingly poisoned by an unstable intelligence contact. Burkhart would struggle with the repercussions of this episode for the remainder of his career, and eventually be obliged to accept full medical retirement from the CIA.

However, before retiring, Burkhart completed tours in Iraq and Africa. His time spent in the Green Zone almost immediately following the occupation of Baghdad, constitutes the majority of this enlightening book. Burkhart exposes the reader to the human element within the CIA, and we are introduced to a variety of characters, some who will seem familiar, and some who reveal the eccentricities we expect with this kind of occupation.

Follow Burkhart through the battlefields of Iraq, past the Iraqi Insurgency, and to his next assignment in Africa. Burkhart leaves no emotion unexpressed as he details his medical struggles with the horrific damage caused to his body from Toxic Exposure. Wracked by pain, Burkhart reaches the point where he must consider quality of life issues, and has to accept retirement as a necessary decision. Burkhart has a story to tell, and leaves no stone unturned during this turbulent time both in his life, and in our history.

Review - 

Mukhabarat, Baby! is Eric Burkhart's first book. It is a  memoir that takes you along the author's unique journey from his international childhood, through a job in community planning in South Africa, work as an Immigration Agent in Texas, the ins and outs of CIA training and assignments in Kosovo and Iraq as a Case Officer (professional spy) for the CIA. No surprise, that it's not the James Bond illusion seen in movies. You don't carry secret weapons and drive fancy cars.  It's intelligence gathering, sometimes in dangerous situations, and requires intelligence, discretion, patience and bravery.

Burkhart has led an truly interesting life and he shares it well. The places he has been and the characters he met came alive for me. There are tough moments he shares about openly, but humour is sprinkled throughout as well. And it's the humour he finds in the people, places and situations around him that I was drawn to the most. He has a talent for picking just the right mix of memories to share. It's clear the author enjoyed working for the CIA and was very dedicated to the missions he was sent on. Having to retire because of the long term effects of a poisoning incident was not easy and having to struggle with the CIA for appropriate compensation a difficult experience.

I really enjoyed reading Mukhabarat, Baby! and will probably give it a second read. My only note to the author is that if you do a second edition, I would take out the few offensive terms near the front of the book - musk ox, water buffalo and fat asses. Honestly didn't appreciate them and was relieved you left them behind at the start.

​Buy the book: Amazon   Barnes & Noble

Meet the Author - 

Great behind the scenes interview with the author - click HERE!

Eric Burkhart was born in North Carolina in 1965, and raised in France by his mother while his father was serving in Vietnam. Eric's parents retired to San Antonio, Texas in 1978, and Eric has considered himself a Texan since that time.

​After completing college, Burkhart relocated to South Africa for a job in community planning and design. After returning to the United States in 1994, Eric started a career in federal service by becoming a Federal Agent. In 1999 he moved over to the CIA, which became his passion and focus in life. After being poisoned by while working in Kosovo in 2001, Burkhart was eventually obliged to medically retire, but not before extending his career to include tours in Iraq and Africa. Mukhabarat, Baby! is Burkhart's first book.

Connect with the author: Website  Twitter   Facebook

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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Grilled Beet Salad Flatbread

I have had a love affair with beets my entire life.  It all began with the lowly pickled beet that was served at every company dinner when I was growing up.  You have to remember that living in the Midwest many years ago (not going to say how many), we didn't have the amazing access to fresh vegetables year round like we do today. All kinds of fancy Jello salads and pickled beets were necessities to fill out the meal.

When our family moved to California in my early teens, these items weren't as common as the warmer weather and longer growing season extended the availability of fresh produce. And over time, bringing fresh in from around the globe changed everything. Once in a restaurant I even had a salad topped with raw beets that had been finely grated. It was interesting - crunchy with great eye appeal.

It wasn't until I had kids and a garden in the back yard that I rediscovered my love of the lowly beet. I tried my hand at canning pickled beets and they were an instant hit with my kids. I also began to serve them cooked with just a tad of butter, salt and pepper, and found a new passion. The pickled beet faded from my table and I began to embrace the unique flavour this vegetable offered on its own. My kids received this with mixed feelings, but I didn't care.

Traditionally beets have been boiled until tender, peeled and diced. A few years ago, however, I discovered recipes that offered them roasted. SOLD! I loved the fact the process was less messy and the beets developed a more intense flavour. It's been a long time since I saw anything new done with beets, but Holly of Happy Food Healthy Life has done just that. She cooks slices of raw beet on the grill. I am totally intrigued.

For the most part I only share recipes I have tried, but can't wait on this one. It's top of my list of things to make when spring brings barbecue season. If you decide to try it as well, Holly asks that you snap a picture and upload to Instagram tagging @happyfoodholly and hashtagging #inspiredbyholly.

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Grilled Beet Salad Flatbread
Yield: 2 flatbreads, cut into approximately 8-10 pieces
serving size = 2 pieces


2           Whole wheat flatbreads (check out my whole wheat version here)
4           Medium beets, any colors - greens cut off, peeled, and sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1 T       Olive oil + extra for brushing on flatbread
Salt and pepper
4           Large handfuls Kale Italia
1/4 C    Raw almonds, chopped
1 T       Agave syrup
1 C       Balsamic vinegar
2 T       Feta cheese


Preheat grill or a cast-iron grill plate over your stove to medium low heat.


In a small bowl, toss the sliced beets with olive oil and a few dashes of salt and pepper. Be sure to toss the yellow beets separately from the red beets, so the red color won't bleed onto the yellow. Once grill is to heat, place beets in a single layer and cook slowly until there are nice char-marks, about 8-10 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until the beets are fork-tender.

For Balsamic Reduction:

While the beets are cooking, you can start on the balsamic reduction. In a small saucepan, heat the balsamic vinegar until it comes to a rapid boil. Reduce heat to just a simmer, stirring occasionally until the vinegar has reduced to about half it's original amount and is a syrupy consistency. Remove from heat.

For "Candied" Almonds:

Place chopped almonds and agave in a small pan on low heat. Stir often and keep a close eye on the almonds. Make sure they are all coated with agave. The agave will become a deep brown color, and as soon as that happens, take it off the heat. Any longer and it will burn, and you do not want that! Put the almonds on a plate and using a fork, separate the individual almonds so they aren't stuck together in one big clump.

For Kale:

Place the kale in a large pan over low heat. Sprinkle a few drops of water in the pan and cover to create a steam. Let sit for about 2 minutes just so it can soften a bit. Use tongs to toss the kale around. You want it to wilt just a tiny bit so it still holds its crunch and color but it more pliable.

To assemble:

Either microwave the flatbreads or warm over a pan. Brush with a small amount of olive oil. Divide the kale between two flatbreads. Top with beets, candied almonds, and feta. Drizzle with the balsamic reduction. Cut into individual slices.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Cancelled Vows: A Mac Faraday Mystery by Lauren Carr

Police Chief David O’Callaghan and Chelsea Adams’
wedding day is fast approaching.

Unfortunately, at the last minute, David discovers
that there is one small problem to be taken care of before
he can tie the knot—divorce his first wife!

Synopsis - 

Police Chief David O’Callaghan and Chelsea Adams’ wedding day is fast approaching. Unfortunately, at the last minute, David discovers that there is one small problem to be taken care of before he can tie the knot—divorce his first wife!

Lauren Carr takes fans of the Mac Faraday mysteries to the Big Apple in this nail biting adventure. In Cancelled Vows, David, Mac, and Gnarly, too, rush to New York City to dissolve David’s marriage to an old girlfriend—and he’s got five days to get it done. When murder throws up a road block, it is up to David’s best man, Mac Faraday, and Gnarly, K9-in-waiting, to sort through the clues to get David to the church in time!

Review - 

Over the last few years I have become of big fan of light, easy, fun murder mysteries. It's the perfect way to relax after a long hard day. You need great characters, a twisted plot, some laughs, some love, some intrigue - and you shouldn't be able to guess the whodunit until the last few pages.

Author Lauren Carr offers just that. I reviewed three of her books previously, so when I went on a recent vacation I loaded the entire Mac Faraday series into my e-reader and started over from the very beginning. If you love this type of book I suggest you do the same - start at the beginning and enjoy the ride. In fact is now offering a great deal on the full set of 10 e-books featuring all the previous titles in this series.

Cancelled Vows is book 11 in the Mac Faraday Mystery series and is every bit as engaging as the previous ten.  The plot takes us away from Spencer Inn to New York City.  While the initial reason is for Police Chief David O’Callaghan to annul a previous unknown marriage - think Vegas, alcohol and a drive through chapel - a murder occurs while there that pulls Mac in.  He just can't resist a puzzle like this.

From love to bodies in walls to murder - this newest novel in the series is as intriguing as the last. Where Carr comes up with all her plots, I have no idea. But she continues to offer new and interesting twists and an easy to read style that is perfect for relaxing after a long, hard day.

​Buy the book here: Amazon

Meet The Author - 

Read a guest article by Carr called, "10 Facts of Life Gnarly Taught Me" - HERE
Read a previous interview - HERE

PictureLauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday and Lovers in Crime Mysteries and the Thorny Rose Mysteries. Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real live Gnarly!) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with the author: 
Website  ~  Twitter  ~   Facebook

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10 Facts of Life Gnarly Taught Me

Guest post by author Lauren Carr

Read a review of Cancelled Vows - HERE
Fans of the Mac Faraday Mysteries need no introduction to Gnarly, Mac Faraday’s German shepherd, the only K-9 to receive a dishonorable discharge from the United States Army—which they still refuse to discuss.

Highly intelligent, Gnarly has a mind of his own. He is a favorite character for many readers and I enjoy writing his part. Not only is he fun, but being so intelligent, I have actually learned some facts of life from him. Below are just a few things:

1) When it comes being tough, size does not matter. Even though Gnarly is a hundred pounds of fur and teeth, he learned the hard way that bravery outweighs brute. In A Wedding and a Killing,  he got his clock cleaned by a six-pound Chihuahua named Benny.

2) When your owner isn’t around—anything goes.

3) Pay no attention to the cat. No matter how innocent you look, humans will still notice the mess in the kitchen, as they did in The Lady Who Cried Murder.

4) Nagging is a powerful negotiation technique.

5) If you can touch it with your tongue, it’s yours—especially human food.

6) Humans have the 30-second rule in regards to dropped food. For dogs, it’s the thirty-year rule.

7) Humans have complicated everything—mainly their priorities. For humans, it is all about sex, money, and power. For dogs, it is sex, sleep, and food … not necessarily in that order.

8) Dumpster diving is not as much fun as it looks—as Gnarly learned in The Murders at Astaire Castle.

9) Humans are too uptight. They fail to appreciate the little things in life like sticking their heads out the car window and letting the wind blow through their hair.
10) Dogs rule!

Behind the scenes interview with the author - HERE!

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~   Facebook

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Inside Out: Straight Talk from a Gay Jock by Mark Tewksbury

About a month ago I watched a program in the OUTspoken Biography series called Take Up The Torch. This inspiring and informative documentary offered a look at Canadian LGBT athletes both past and present and offered a platform for them to share their stories and concerns.

I was deeply affected by each of the athletes who stepped into the spotlight to share. It could not have been an easy decision to become so visible in a sports climate that still has a long way to go in accepting diversity. And let's face it, it's sad that the need is still there for them to stand up and be heard. Performance, not personal life, should be the focus.

One athlete who I was especially drawn to was Mark Tewksbury. It was obvious he brought deep knowledge, well-thought out ideas and personal insight.  As someone who competed many years ago when staying in the closet was the key to success and endorsements, he brought history, honesty and clarity to what has to be an emotional subject for many.  After the show I decided to check out his memoir - Inside Out.  While it is out of print, I thankfully was able to snag a used copy for a reasonable price.

I couldn't put it down and consumed it from cover to cover in just over two days.  Definitely review worthy!

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Synopsis - 

Moving, humorous, motivational, sometimes painful, but always direct, Inside Out reminds us that living with integrity is not always straightforward, but is certainly worth an honest pursuit. More than one man's compelling story, Inside Out is an inspiration for anyone facing a personal conflict, revealing that the most insurmountable challenges can be transformed in the ultimate triumph of a full life worth living.

Review - 

For those who do not know, Canadian Mark Tewksbury is a highly decorated competitive swimmer. You can read just a few of his achievements in his bio below. He also is a highly sought after public speaker. One thing he shared in his book was something Dale Carnegie said,  always speaks as if those in your audience were fourth graders. I agree. Keep it simple, keep it clear, keep it from the heart. He managed to do just that with this book as well.  I couldn't put it down and consumed it from cover to cover.

This is more than the story of how he began to live a fully open life.  This is a story of how the sports world functions, especially the Olympics. But the problems in the sports industry extend far beyond this one organization, it's just the most well recognized example.  It also is made clear that there can be a tremendous personal cost when living in the public eye. Media are always looking for the next story to splash - something negative and shocking preferred - to increase sales. Media can also be used for smear campaigns when someone stands up to criticize the status quo in an established industry.

As I read, there was no doubt in my mind about how difficult his journey was from a young age. Living a double life, feelings of disappointing those around you and carrying secrets all take their toll. The fact you have to hide creates the feeling that something is wrong with you. The inability to talk honestly about it adds to this burden. When he finally came fully out, the question was always  WHY. Tewksbury shares about his journey not to gain sympathy, but to allow others to understand the cost of living a double life. Somehow the author found the perfect balance in the story line between personal, public and his work to improve the sports industry.

I had to buy this as a used copy. Very sad. This is a book I feel should be made widely available in high school and public libraries. There is not only support for those of diversity struggling with acceptance, but great information for athletes in general.

Kudos Mark Tewksbury. You're now on my list of dying to interview. Perhaps it's time to consider a second edition.

Meet the Author - 

Mark Tewksbury is best known as a gold-medal-winning Olympic swimmer. His remarkable sixteen-year athletic career included three Olympic medals, numerous world records, and inductions into three major halls of fame: the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame, the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, and the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Although retired as an athlete, Tewksbury remains a highly respected public figure. He delivered prized swimming analysis for the CBC from the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, hosts the Discovery Channel's popular How It's Made show, and is Co-President of the first World Outgames, Montreal 2006.

Tewksbury has spoken to millions as part of his eighteen-year speaking career and remains much in demand as an inspirational speaker to companies and organizations around the world. For his active humanitarianism, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Western Ontario in 2001, and in 2005 Tewksbury was awarded the International Person of the Year Award at S?o Paulo Pride in Brazil. He currently lives in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

For more on Mark Tewksbury, please visit

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Asian Turkey Meatballs with Lime Cilantro Dipping Sauce

My last dinner get-together for 12, I wanted to keep things easy to eat as we would all be walking around with our food on strong paper plates. The menu definitely needed to feature things that did not need to be cut with a knife and the meat portion needed to pair well with recipe I was dying to make for my friends - Yam Pad Thai.

After searching cookbooks and the internet, I decided on Asian Turkey Meatballs. There were lots of recipes out there to choose from, but one of my guests needed to avoid soy sauce. That made it important to find a recipe where there were lots of other flavor notes and very little soy sauce as I needed to be able to remove that ingredient from the recipe without affecting the taste too much.

In the end I was drawn to a recipe from Skinnytaste. As always, there were a few changes made. Once combined, I found the meat mixture really soft. Perhaps my ground turkey had more water in it or was less lean, I do not know. I did a quick internet search on other recipes and it indicated I could double the panko crumbs so tried that. The mixture was still very soft, but better. I kept my hands buttered while rolling the meatballs to keep the mixture from sticking. I think there is a reason the mixture is kept wetter. Turkey is so lean it can be dry when cooked. It's a way to assure a moister cooked meatball.

Skinnytaste uses 1/4 cup for each meatballs making them larger than normal. As this was for a party, I wanted a cocktail size, so rolled them accordingly. 500 degrees in my oven proved really hot so may experiment next time with taking this down just a tiny bit next time.  Remember, every oven is different, so needing to make slight adjustments is very common. Just keep them small.

Because of the soy sauce issue, I offered an array of other dipping sauces, but the meatballs were honestly really tasty on their own. I'm going to make this recipe again for my family as shown in the photo with the Lime Cilantro Dipping Sauce and served on the bed of Zucchini noodles. What a great low-carb meal!

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Asian Turkey Meatballs with Lime Cilantro Dipping Sauce
12 meatballs - 4 servings of 3 meatballs each

Meatball Ingredients:
1/4 c              Panko crumbs (I doubled this, but try it as is first and then decide)
1-1/4 lbs        93% lean ground turkey
1                    large egg
1 T                Ginger, minced
1                    Clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp           Kosher salt
1/4 C             Chopped fresh cilantro
3                    Scallions, chopped
1 T                 Low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp               Sesame oil

For the Dipping Sauce:
3 T                 Reduced-sodium soy sauce
1-1/2 tsp        Sesame oil
1-1/2 T           Fresh lime juice
1-1/2 T           Water
1 T                 Chopped fresh scallion


Preheat oven to 500°F. ( a bit high in my oven).

In a large bowl combine the ground turkey, panko, egg, salt, scallions, garlic, ginger, cilantro, 1 tbsp of the soy sauce and 2 tsp sesame oil. Gently mix with your hands until combined well. Shape meatballs 1/4 cup in size and transfer to a baking sheet. Bake until cooked through and browned, about 15 to 18 minutes.

For the dipping sauce: mix the lime juice, water, soy sauce, and remaining 2 teaspoons of oil in a bowl. Add the scallions and set aside.

Transfer the meatballs to a serving dish. Stir the sauce, then drizzle a little on the meatballs. Serve the meatballs with the remaining sauce on the side.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Right Or Almost Right: The Fine Line Between Phenomenal Success and Average Results in Network Marketing by John Haremza

“Network marketing changed my life beyond my
wildest imagination,” says John. His story is amazing, 
from living in a trailer park to a well-known network marketing leader. And his story can help you to 
make your dreams come true too!

Synopsis - 

Right or Almost Right is based on John Haremza’s 25 years of success in network marketing. It’s John’s answer to the questions so many ask such as, “Where’s the money? Why am I not seeing the success I expected?” As John says, “I meet so many intelligent, hard-working, dedicated network marketers who are struggling. They are not seeing the results they expected, and they always as, “Why?”

John believes that the small subtleties of how the network marketing business is done make the big difference between making a little money versus making a lot of money, between success and struggling. He addresses many of the basics of doing “the business,” from prospecting to leading your organization, and points out what is “right” as compared to what is “almost right.”

John has lived every example contained in his book. “Network marketing changed my life beyond my wildest imagination,” says John. His story is amazing, from living in a trailer park to a well-known network marketing leader. And his story can help you to make your dreams come true too!

Review - 

Right or Almost Right is a how to book by a successful network marketer offering guidance for those interested in or currently working in this field. It offers a focused, positive and clear message on how this type of marketing works, what it's advantages are - wealth creation and free time - and what it takes to be successful, step by step. The author offers an easy to read writing style that will work well for busy entrepreneurs who need to fit these lessons into their few quiet moments.

I love when an author of this type of book shares his/her personal story first.  Who are they and where they have come from are their credentials. Their story offers the reason WHY I should listen to what they say. Haremza struggled in school because of his Dyslexia and was working as a maintenance manager when he began his journey in network marketing. His is truly a rags to riches story. Want to know how he changed his life? It's all here in the pages of Right or Almost Right.

There are several things I felt hit the mark in this book. First - his small step philosophy can be applied to every area of life. Next, dream big and write down your goals. To stay focused and excited, review these goals twice every single day.  The author also walks you through his Circle of Success - Prepare, Share, Follow up, Get a Positive Decision - and guides you on how to approach each step along the way.  Lastly, the message is clear that creating success takes serious hard work -

"There is always a cost. What will it cost to pursue your dream? The cost of 
pursuing your dream is infinitely less than the cost of letting your dream die.
The cost of neglect is far, far greater than the cost of discipline."

​Buy the book: Amazon  Barnes & Noble   Book Depository

Meet The Author - 

John Haremza author picAfter he graduated high school, John got a job as a machine operator at the potato chip plant. When he was promoted to maintenance manager he thought that this $22,000 a year job was the best job he could ever hope for. Then he was introduced to Network Marketing and his life changed forever.

John’s story is one of those American rags to riches, from adversity and obscurity to a life of dreams. Now after spending 23 years in network marketing John has earned over $12 million. He has been responsible for product sales of over $500 million. His teams have earned over $200 million in commissions and he is featured in numerous publications and has produced 100’s of sales tools to support his teams.

​Currently, a regular speaker, consultant and author, John hopes to bring his message of Right or Almost Right to the masses.

Connect with the author: Website   Twitter   Facebook

Monday, February 1, 2016

Dean Thullner's New Event - RED: A Positive Day!

This year I was offered the opportunity to be a part of the media covering St. Paul's huge annual fundraiser – Brilliant! It all began with an 8Q interview for Metro-Living-Zine with the one and only Dean Thullner. When you're first and only connection (other than a brief introduction in the audience at an event) is through email and Social Media, it's not as easy to get to know someone. No worries, from that moment on we seemed to keep running into each other at event after event.

As an interviewer, I was strongly drawn to his story of receiving an devastating AIDS diagnosis along with the declaration he would not live long. Fortunately that prophesy proved premature as new treatments for AIDS were made available. It is a testament to his spirit that he has chosen to commit many, many hours of his life each year to giving back by running numerous fund-raising events.

The last time I spoke with Thullner – before Christmas – he mentioned a hush-hush new event he was developing that would run in February. Now that the cat is out of the bag, it's perfect timing to pursue a new interview so I can share all the exciting details. RED:A celebration of colour, couture,community, and caring, is due to hit the stage at the Commodore Ballroom on February 20th. More information and how to purchase tickets can be found at I have also included a press release at the bottom.

Thullner and I still need to have that one-on-one conversation over a cuppa to get to know each other better, as well as a in depth interview where I can hear the full story of his unique journey. I am sure that will happen soon.

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What is your current career(s) – paid and unpaid?
My husband David Veljacic & I own and operate Volume Studio – hair salon at 1209 Bute St. in the heart of the Davie Village – soon to be Jim Diva Plaza. I also run a non profit events company under the same name, Volume Studio. This company is active in raising funds for mental health, addiction, HIV and AIDS. Our focus is bringing communities together to support one another.

Can you share an interesting thing (or two) about your journey to reach this moment?

As a long time survivor of HIV/AIDS, I have had tremendous support from the community. I started this company to thank St. Paul's Hospital for all they did for me, my friends and the gay community as we struggled to deal with this devastating pandemic. Through this learning process, I now have the opportunity to share my skills and help other foundations and societies reach their goals in raising funds, awareness and removing stigmas.

What 3 things would you like people to know about you to give them a sense of who you really are?
  • I love ice cream.

  • Did I mention I love ice-cream

  • Oh, I almost forgot, I love ice cream
Highest moment so far?

Hearing that if I took three pills a day, I could live my life expectancy – OR – marrying my husband David. It's a toss up really.
What are you working on right now? In the next 6 months?

RED - "A Positive Day" is my current passion. The gay community is doing relatively well in regards to survival and support with HIV and AIDS, however there are many individuals in marginalized communities who still suffer terribly. In recent years, the numbers have escalated in the Downtown Eastside, especially amongst Aboriginal women, women on the street in general, the homeless and the mentally ill.

I have asked the Gay community, who have had tremendous support, to give back in turn to a challenged community that is in need of help. This fashion event will follow the life of a gay male and a straight female – both HIV Positive – throughout their "Positive day.” The show will feature 60 plus selected cast members and models portraying the community and their friends! It will be a fun, sexy experience and will end in a night of dancing to one of Vancouver's finest DJ's.
Who and/or what inspires you?
Helping out - giving back!
How do you personally define success?

Going to bed at night knowing I did my best.
Favourite quote?
“Water seeks it's own level.”

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Press release!

RED is not only the talk in politics this month – it is also the talk of the HIV/AIDS community as Positive Living BC announces, RED … A Positive Day! A celebration of colour, community, couture & caring

Vancouver, BC, February 20th, 2016 –An all-star cast of local dancers, models, designers, fashion retailers, hair stylists, and make-up artists will create fun and drama on the runway to support the work of Positive Living BC and its 5,700 HIV-positive members across BC…All in front of an expected sold-out crowd at the historic, grand Commodore Ballroom(868 Granville Street).

RED A celebration of colour, community, couture & caring, will take guests on a 90-minute theatrical journey through the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS.  The inaugural event involves over 200 volunteer artists, entertainers and technicians donating their time and talent to benefit Positive Living BC’s campaign to create a new home for its members’ services, “Room to THRIVE!”

Twenty years ago, people were dying from AIDS… we lost many of the most artistic, creative, passionate people in our community,” said the show’s producer, Dean Thullner.  For Thullner, the event is a dramatic homage to them, as well as “a reminder that all of us are still needed and affected in this cause,” says Thullner.  “As a gay man living with HIV I’ve had a lot of support dealing with my illness from my community and this is an opportunity for Vancouver’s finest creative community to pay some of that forward and remind aboriginal women and men and so many others struggling with HIV that we are still a community that cares and understands the need for support!”

RED is going to re-energize our community in ways we haven’t seen in decades,” says Valerie Nicholson, Chair of the Positive Living BC Board. “Already, we’re excited to see so many dedicated, talented and giving volunteers putting on this extravagant show to help our members THRIVE.”

The impact of living with HIV is often forgotten now that so many are living longer with the disease, but as Thullner’s own life illustrates, the journey is not an easy one.  “There are times I needed critical support, and I want to make sure that support is there for everyone who needs it.”

Proceeds from RED bolster the health and confidence of some of the most marginalized people living with HIV across the province, empowering them to manage the social, medical and legal challenges of living with HIV. Positive Living BC is Canada’s largest HIV organization run by and for its HIV-positive members; annually, the Society sees over 16,000 visits. Funds raised at RED means Positive Living BC’s HIV-positive members access during these visits HIV-specific naturopathy, dental hygiene and attend transformative Healing Retreats. RED also helps support different populations, including men (via social and networking groups), indigenous peoples (peer navigator training), and women (ViVA program).

To purchase general admission tickets for RED! ($60 in advance; VIP Tables of 6 for $600), see a full list of RED talent, or for more information about the event, please visit
For more information contact:           Media Inquiries:                     Sponsorship Inquiries:
Dean Thullner                                   Adam Reibin                             Dena Ellery
Producer                                              Director of Communications    Director of Development
778.996.5678                                      Positive Living Society                Positive Living Society
                                                            604.612.0002                              604.893.2264
Hamed Tayyebani