che announcer would toss the watch off a cliff, or have a car run over it, or put it through some horrid physical event. He’d then retrieve it, hold it to his ear and announce “Can take a lick’n but keeps on tick’n.”
That’s Nancy.T ake a deep breath and read the timeline of a woman who now runs Nancy Vogl Speakers Bureau in Michigan. Just writing this leaves me stunned at her experiences and her amazing grit and personal determination that events will not determine her life.
Growing up in Lansing, Michigan, the oldest of six children, she found herself mothering her siblings, with very little attention given to her by either of her parents. Following the drowning of her youngest brother, her mother’s mental illness manifested into paranoid schizophrenia; her father became an obsessive compulsive. Both became severe hoarders such that at one time there were 170 cars on the property and 14 German Shepherds!
As a teenager, Nancy ran away twice, only to be forced home. Desperate to get out of the house, a few weeks after turning twenty, she married a man who abused her mentally, verbally and occasionally physically. Small wonder that by the end of ten years, pregnant with her third child, she said, “That’s it.” She managed to get him out of the house, but she was left with no car, no money, no assets. By the way, she also put that husband through law school. The latter is significant because, in addition to receiving no alimony, she had to fight for child support for eighteen years.
During those days as a single mother of three little ones, her frequent refrain was “I’ll find a way,” which helped her get through one challenge after another.
Trying to make ends meet while selling real estate when interest rates were over 20%, Nancy became mesmerized by the writings of Wayne Dyer. She put her used car up for collateral to get a small loan so that she could put on an event featuring Dr. Dyer. She began marketing and selling tickets even before Dyer had agreed to speak! Five weeks before the event and after her seventh contact with Dyer, he finally said yes. The huge success of that event pushed Nancy in a new direction. She fell in love with the spoken word and its ability to influence an audience.
Her reputation grew by creating rallies with other speakers like Og Mandino, Norman Vincent Peale, actress Ann Jillian, Denis Waitley and Les Brown. Oldsmobile and Chevrolet both asked her to create learning centers for their employees. Local companies began asking her to help them secure a speaker for events.
Og Mandino, who had become a much-needed father figure to Nancy, urged her to start a speakers bureau and take commissions. Nancy Vogl Speaker Bureau was born.
All was “ticking” along for several years until Nancy, the “Timex watch,” was pushed off a cliff once again.
Within a short timeframe, General Motors cancelled vendor contracts by the hundreds, including hers; her mother was put in a psychiatric hospital; her oldest daughter had a baby out of wedlock; and then beloved Og died suddenly, leaving her devastated.
Determined to find a way, Nancy purchased a speakers bureau in another state, only to discover after everything was finalized that they owed thousands of dollars to speakers. Nancy paid off every speaker out of her own pocket, which ultimately proved to be a very ethical choice but a poor fiscal decision.
As Nancy related this story to me, I just wanted to put my head down and cry. Still her saga continued. She ended up living in the basement of her office space for nearly a year, struggling to find a place to even take a shower every day.
The final straw: One of her brothers assaulted her. She filed a police report that got him arrested. However, her Dad bailed him out, and her ex-husband was his attorney. Betrayal reined supreme.
After all that, Nancy knew she needed a change…a big change.
Escaping north to Traverse City to regroup, Nancy cried while walking along the beach, wishing for some peace.Her intuition said to pick up a local newspaper. Voila: an ad for an apartment just a block away popped out at her. It was the perfect answer. But where to get the money?
Miracle: On the drive home, Nancy figured how much it would take to make the move. She asked God for a sign, one that would tell her if she was supposed to leave the only town she’d ever lived in. When she arrived back to her office, an unexpected letter awaited her containing a check for the EXACT amount she needed to make a fresh start. It was an affirmation she wasn’t supposed to give up...which she would be reminded of yet once again.
Ten days after moving, 9/11 happened, destroying the meetings industry for years. Nancy lost every single contract she had on the books. She was in a new town, with no support system, and a business that went down the tubes.
One silver lining: During the turmoil of figuring out yet another plan of action for her life, she fell in love. A good thing, because she needed support when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor a few years later.
Let me stop here. Her announcement of the brain tumor is fodder for Part 2 of her amazing story… a story captured by the visual of Nancy driving her car, pounding on the steering wheel and saying once again, “I’ll find a way.”
Nancy’s way of dealing with so much trauma can instruct all of us:
Stay focused on your intention. Intention is what you want rather than what is showing up in your life.
Bless everything that happens to you as it is there for a reason; it makes you who you are. Regrets are useless.
Never give up. Pick yourself up quickly. Live in the moment even as you work to create the life you want.
Find a victory every day, something to be thankful for, something that propels you forward.
Know what life wants of you, discover your purpose, and build your life around it.
Find who needs your help now and do something for them. It takes the focus away from your pain and hurt and allows you to know that you still can serve.
Allow others to help YOU. It creates a circular energy field that benefits everyone.
Reframe what happens so you see possibilities rather than problems.
Laugh often and out loud. Let others laugh with you.
With these last two lessons, take a deep breath. Ponder. And watch for Part 2 of Nancy Vogl’s “Timex watch” saga.