A Valiant Daughter – A Poem to My Mother

Today my sweet Mother had to undergo heart surgery to repair three blocked arteries. It obviously has been a stressful time for the family, especially my Dad. But through it all we have come to rely more on God, and to rely on each other. I decided to write down a few words to honor my Mom, and although I like to keep things private, I felt these words may also help others to reflect on how precious life is…to remind you to tell your Mom and Dad how much you love them, and how much they mean to you. Mom is doing much better, and we are grateful to the medical professionals who have worked with her, and continue to provide the care she needs. Here is the brief poem…

A Valiant Daughter 

My Mother is special gift from God who came to this earth

With a primary purpose of fulfilling a great earthly mission:

To bring joy and happiness to her family and posterity.

My Mother is also a valiant daughter of Heavenly parents,

Entrusted to earthly parents who taught her how to

Love unconditionally and place others needs before her own,

As she taught these principles to her children, she has given us a glimpse of the simple things that matter most:

To Love God; to stand up for yourself and for others; to look for opportunities to serve and show compassion; to keep your name in good standing; to make life fun and enjoy the journey; and to always be available to help someone in their time of need.

If a measure of one’s life is to count the special moments and memories

Created through acts of kindness and service, then my Mother’s cup is full and overflowing,

Yes, we would need a cup the size of a stadium to hold those remarkable recollections of feeling unconditionally loved.

My Mother cares about her family more than mere words can express,

And as she wakes each day to face the dawn with its triumph’s, new challenges, opportunities to serve, and ways to bring joy to someone,

She anxiously engages her thoughts to how she can lighten the load,

Or bring joy to someone who may need a little lifting.

A simple card, a quick call, a kind word, or an excuse to hold a family gathering,

These are the things that occupy the mind of a wonderful woman ready to serve.

My Mother magnifies her calling of a loving companion, a caring mother, a trusted friend, a compassionate leader, and a valiant daughter.

A priceless gift far more precious than gold, silver or platinum,

The love and companionship of a loving Mother makes one stop to reflect

On the moments of time that this special woman gives of herself to make someone smile,

And to bring a little joy, and a glimpse of heaven into their life.

The blessings of life are made sweeter by the tender moments shared

With someone who loves you no matter what, and who looks to lift you up.

We see God’s hand in the beauty and majesty of the earth and heavens,

So see we the hand of a loving Mother by the fruits of her labors within her family,

Friends, and others whose lives have been made better by the tender association

Of a valiant daughter of God, and my Mother.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

Veteran’s Treatment Courts Are Expanding

Veteran’s Treatment Courts Are Expanding

I have become a huge advocate of Veteran’s Treatment Courts. Veteran’s courts have emerged as a vital form of therapeutic and collaborative justice with proven effectiveness. When focused upon the unique challenges and trauma that afflict combat veterans, and drawing upon mentors, who themselves have been in combat and understand the frame of mind and spirit resulting from putting one’s life in harm’s way, veterans are able to again become contributing members of society. Having risked their very all to secure our liberties, our veterans deserve nothing less than the opportunity to heal that these courts provide with superior force and effect.

The first veteran’s court opened in Buffalo, N.Y. in 2008. The veteran’s court model is based on drug treatment and/or mental health treatment courts. Substance abuse or mental health treatment is offered as an alternative to incarceration.  Typically, veteran mentors assist with the programs. An important issue that has to be addressed is the eligibility for veteran’s courts in terms of whether charges involving felonies or crimes of violence will be allowed. The inclusion of offenders charged with inter-family violence is also of grave concern to policy makers.

Currently there are 143 veteran’s courts in operation, with several states having multiple courts. That is truly a tremendous leap of support and collaboration over the past six years! States that have five or more veteran’s courts operating are as follows:

States                   Courts

Pennsylvania          16

Michigan                14

Texas                     12

Florida                    12

California                11

Illinois                     10

Wisconsin                8

Alabama                  7

Washington             6

Arizona                    5

Georgia                    5

Missouri                   5

Indianapolis             5

All veterans are eligible in other collaborative courts, such as drug court, homeless court, and mental health court. Combat veterans court survives despite the fact the law no longer limits veterans courts to combat veterans, quite simply because the system works.

State penal codes permit courts to specially handle any veteran who was a member of the military forces and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse, military sexual trauma, or psychological problems as a result of that service.

Several judges have programs that center on the specialized needs of combat veterans. Families have observed that each time their soldier returns from a deployment, their problems are worse. They demonstrate more and more hopelessness and disillusionment. The judge accepts those who had no problems during school and no contacts with the criminal justice system before joining the military.

A collaborative team decides which veterans will be admitted to veteran’s court. The court does not see a typical array of career criminals in combat veterans court – because the team selects those who demonstrate a commitment to reform themselves as soon as possible. Three simple rules must be followed: 1) The veterans must be honest, 2) show up, and 3) try hard. It is a four-phase, highly structured program lasting a minimum of 18 months. While the veteran must plead guilty to the charges at the outset, upon successful completion, many walk away without a criminal record.

Before a court session begins, numerous professionals meet in a room behind the courtroom. The group includes the judge, two probation officers, a deputy district attorney, a public defender, a Veterans Administration representative, a liaison between the court and the VA, two representatives from the county mental health agency, and sometimes an army captain who works as a judge advocate, assisting veterans boggled down with noncriminal disputes. The team decides which defendants will be accepted into the program and discusses each vet scheduled to appear in veteran’s court that day.

The judge still has the final say, but it is the team, not just the judge, that makes almost all the decisions. A judge is concerned about letting the team down in deviating from the collaborative team’s decision. However, the judge has the final say and may override the team’s decision.

Mentors try to be in court when their veteran mentees appear. Between court dates, each relationship just depends on the two individuals. Some communicate once a week by telephone. Others send e-mails or text messages. Some occasionally meet for lunch or coffee with their mentees. There appears to be a correlation between what happens in court with how much the mentee seems to lean on the mentor.

Estimates indicate that, as of 2012, the U.S. veterans’ population was 23,442,000 (National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics). Of those, 84,000 have already been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD (Maimon, 2008). This does not account for the numbers of veterans with PTSD or other serious mental-health problems that remain undiagnosed. Research indicated that the actual number of veterans with PTSD or major depression is around 300,000 (Maimon, 2008). In regard to substance abuse, research indicates that in 2010 alone, 256,000 veterans needed treatment for illicit drug use; however, a mere 20% of those veterans had received treatment (Office of Applied Studies). In addition, many of these veterans are facing other issues that further compound the problem, including unemployment, strained relationships, and homelessness (Tanielian and Jaycox, 2008). Either because of, or in addition to, these untreated diseases and compounded social issues; more and more veterans are processed through the criminal-justice system.

Conservative estimates are that veterans currently make up about 12% of individuals in prisons and jails, and the 2010 Bureau of Justice Statistics report (cited in Department of Veterans Affairs, 2006) indicates significant rates of mental illness, substance abuse, and homelessness among veterans in the criminal-justice system. The first veteran’s court in Buffalo was a response to the growing number of veterans appearing on their mental-health and drug-treatment-court dockets.

As the mentoring model grows it would behoove the courts and its constituents to share notes on best practices in training and utilizing mentors. What about other programs available to assist veterans?

Business Training and Mentoring are two areas that are sorely missing from the line up of services offered to the veterans that are enrolled into the program. GO*VETS Foundation is a 501c3 not for profit organization established to offer these types of services. The primary services of GO*VETS are to offer training in Entrepreneurship and Leadership for Business; and also assist veterans in polishing their image to be ready to be re-employed in the civilian world. The veterans enter the program and go through a series of online distance learning modules; in person bootcamps and workshops; and a six-month mentoring program. (www.govetsfoundation.org)

I believe we need to add more areas of common sense practices to help our veterans lead a normal and healthy life – and business training is the ticket! I’m very glad that the Veterans Court has expanded into so many states over the past six years, with hopes that additional services can be offered to our veterans. 

email: brian@brianhazelgren.com

Training Our Veterans to be Entrepreneurs

Helping veterans launch a new business, and find re-employment should be at the top of our list to help re-ignite this country. It costs $37,056 annually to support a veteran and his family who is unemployed. In May 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the national unemployment rate ticked up to 8.2%, but the unemployment rate for veterans spiked to 12.7% — more than 4 percentage points higher than the national average. When you start focusing on specific veteran groups, for example post 9/11 veterans, the unemployment rate in Arizona is 27%.  Arizona is proud to be home to 531,910 veterans, and if the same 12.7% unemployment rate is applied, supporting veterans and their families is very costly. To support 12.7% of veterans in AZ (67,553), it costs approx. $2.5 billion annually. Even if we were to only focus on 5% of the veterans who are unemployed in the state, it would save the State of Arizona $125 million annually. Source: U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs 2013.

Not only does this Camo to Company initiative help reduce costs to state governments, it also helps create new jobs. On average the entrepreneurs who take our training go on to create 10 new jobs. If we can effect about 35% of those going through the training, that equates to 3,500 jobs for every 1,000 trained.

Back in 2011, I started a foundation to help our veterans. GO*VETS Foundation was created as a 501c3 charitable cause to assist our military veterans with their transition to the private sector and being more self reliant by helping them launch their own company, expand their existing small business, or find employment. (www.govetsfoundation.org)

The purpose of the Foundation is to give back to our military veterans who have courageously served their country, by providing intense business training in a system that is vastly improved over what has been available.  This Entrepreneurial Training system has been tested and proven for 10 years as the basis of an entrepreneurial system at a major university in the U.S. Over 3,500 MBA students were trained. From those trained, students launched over 1,000 businesses that created over 12,000 jobs.

I built this system, and helped develop the entire Entrepreneur system at the university including competitions, local business leader mentoring program, the curriculum, materials and a degree in entrepreneurship.

Through our network of corporate partners, GO*VETS Foundation is also in a position to help facilitate employment opportunities for veterans not ready to start their own business. Through this Re-employment initiative, we teach innovation, leadership, strategic business tools, looking for opportunities, forming strategic partnerships, along with many other traits that we need in our businesses. The bottom line is this, if they are not ready to start a business, that is totally fine. They will be better served in the company they end up working for, as they learn these new, innovative and entrepreneurial skills.

You can always check out my website and see how we are doing this, and providing training for entrepreneurs of all walks of life, including our military heroes! (www.brianhazelgren.com)

Jeff Foxworthy: A Country Founded by Geniuses but Run by Idiots

January 22, 2014 Leave a comment

Sometimes we just need to take a break and listen to a little humor. Jeff Foxworthy is funny, down to earth and a man with common sense. I thought you might want to see his new comedy about A Country Founded by Geniuses but Run by Idiots. When you boil it down to how simple this really is, I keep asking myself…”what country do we live in?” Enjoy a little humor…but try not to get to angry with the reality we now live in…


A Country Founded by Geniuses but Run by Idiots

by Jeff Foxworthy:

If you can get arrested for hunting or fishing without a license, but not for entering and remaining in the country illegally — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If you have to get your parents’ permission to go on a field trip or to take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If you MUST show your identification to board an airplane, cash a check, buy liquor, or check out a library book and rent a video, but not to vote for who runs the government — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If the government wants to prevent stable, law-abiding citizens from owning gun magazines that hold more than ten rounds, but gives twenty F-16 fighter jets to the crazy new leaders in Egypt — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If, in the nation’s largest city, you can buy two 16-ounce sodas, but not one 24-ounce soda, because 24-ounces of a sugary drink might make you fat — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If an 80-year-old woman or a three-year-old girl who is confined to a wheelchair can be strip-searched by the TSA at the airport, but a woman in a burka or a hijab is only subject to having her neck and head searched — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If a seven-year-old boy can be thrown out of school for saying his teacher is “cute,” but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly acceptable — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If hard work and success are met with higher taxes and more government regulation and intrusion, while not working is rewarded with Food Stamps, WIC checks, Medicaid benefits, subsidized housing, and free cell phones — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If the government’s plan for getting people back to work is to provide incentives for not working, by granting 99 weeks of unemployment checks, without any requirement to prove that gainful employment was diligently sought, but couldn’t be found — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If you pay your mortgage faithfully, denying yourself the newest big-screen TV, while your neighbor buys iPhones, time shares, a wall-sized do-it-all plasma screen TV and new cars, and the government forgives his debt when he defaults on his mortgage — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If being stripped of your Constitutional right to defend yourself makes you more “safe” according to the government — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

What a country!

How about we give God a reason to continue blessing America !

Failing Forward

John Maxwell is an author that I highly respect. His writings are simple and straight to the point. More importantly, his words resinate with many people because he can say what the rest of us are thinking, and then he mingles in some excellent advice. So, to share with you some of his writings, this blog is about what John Maxwell terms as “Failing Forward.” I hope you enjoy what he is trying to tell us. Here it is…

Failing Forward

The essence of man is imperfection. Know that you’re going to make mistakes. The fellow who never makes a mistake takes his orders from one who does. Wake up and realize this: Failure is simply a price we pay to achieve success.

Achievers are given multiple reasons to believe they are failures. But in spite of that, they persevere. The average for entrepreneurs is 3.8 failures before they finally make it in business. 

When achievers fail, they see it as a momentary event, not a lifelong epidemic.

Procrastination is too high a price to pay for fear of failure. To conquer fear, you have to feel the fear and take action anyway. Forget motivation. Just do it. Act your way into feeling, not wait for positive emotions to carry you forward. 

Recognize that you will spend much of your life making mistakes. If you can take action and keep making mistakes, you gain experience.

Life is playing a poor hand well. The greatest battle you wage against failure occurs on the inside, not the outside.

Why worry about things you can’t control when you can keep yourself busy controlling the things that depend on you?

Handicaps can only disable us if we let them. If you are continually experiencing trouble or facing obstacles, then you should check to make sure that you are not the problem.

Be more concerned with what you can give rather than what you can get because giving truly is the highest level of living.

Embrace adversity and make failure a regular part of your life. If you’re not failing, you’re probably not really moving forward.

Everything in life brings risk. It’s true that you risk failure if you try something bold because you might miss it. But you also risk failure if you stand still and don’t try anything new.

The less you venture out, the greater your risk of failure. Ironically the more you risk failure — and actually fail — the greater your chances of success.

If you are succeeding in everything you do, then you’re probably not pushing yourself hard enough. And that means you’re not taking enough risks. You risk because you have something of value you want to achieve. 

The more you do, the more you fail. The more you fail, the more you learn. The more you learn, the better you get. 

Determining what went wrong in a situation has value. But taking that analysis another step and figuring out how to use it to your benefit is the real difference maker when it comes to failing forward. Don’t let your learning lead to knowledge; let your learning lead to action. 

The last time you failed, did you stop trying because you failed, or did you fail because you stopped trying?

Commitment makes you capable of failing forward until you reach your goals. Cutting corners is really a sign of impatience and poor self-discipline. 

Successful people have learned to do what does not come naturally. Nothing worth achieving comes easily. The only way to fail forward and achieve your dreams is to cultivate tenacity and persistence.

Never say die. Never be satisfied. Be stubborn. Be persistent. Integrity is a must. Anything worth having is worth striving for with all your might.

If we look long enough for what we want in life we are almost sure to find it. Success is in the journey, the continual process. And no matter how hard you work, you will not create the perfect plan or execute it without error. You will never get to the point that you no longer make mistakes, that you no longer fail. 

The next time you find yourself envying what successful people have achieved, recognize that they have probably gone through many negative experiences that you cannot see on the surface.

Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward.” 

― John Maxwell, Failing Forward

Categories: Success Tags: ,

Ridiculous Salaries For Athletes, Or Creating Jobs? I’m Weighing In!

December 6, 2013 Leave a comment

I think I have had enough of how far we are willing go to keep up this stupid game of professional athletes and agents trying to outdo the salaries of others. Somebody has to say it, and call out the ridiculousness of professional sports contracts. This past week we have seen Major League Baseball contracts rise to an obscene level. This morning I wake up to the news that Robinson Cano will receive a $225 million contract for the next 9 years to play baseball for the Seattle Mariners…but the deal is not yet totally finished. He wanted a $305 million deal for 10 years, but did not get it. Wow. Really? This of course is on the heels of other contract negotiations that happen every year at the conclusion of a professional season – whatever the sport. Is it never enough?

As a former four sport athlete who did pretty well in my day as an All-American in two sports, and All-State in all four in high school, I had to hang up my jersey during college due to devastating injuries. But life seemed to go on for me. As an athlete who has played on high school state championships, and a collegiate national championship team, and to watch my kids play sports, I am so excited to watch athletes participate in the sport of their choice! But I have to say something here about these ridiculous professional sports contracts that seem to have no end of how much athletes will be paid.

In comparison, I run a foundation today for military veterans to help them with their struggles of lack of employment, and help them start businesses. It is truly an honor to server those who have sacrificed so much on our behalf. Doing this kind of work is also a great eye-opener to how screwed up our thinking is. An athlete who is coddled, and pampered and given millions of dollars each year to entertain is a stark contrast to the comparison of our military heroes who have fought for our freedoms. Our soldiers come home to oppressive debt, uncertainty of making a living and supporting a family, and very high unemployment…to the tune of 30% unemployment for young veterans.

Can you image what the impact would be, or how many jobs could be created, if small businesses had access to the same amount of even one highly paid athlete? I have done a little number crunching, and I can tell you that if small businesses had even a fraction of the money spent on these athletes, they could create billions in revenue, and tens of thousands of new jobs.

Since I helped create the Entrepreneurship system at a major university, and have taught over 3,500 students to specifically learn how to launch and grow a successful business, I have seen what the numbers look like. Here is a quick overview of the impact that $225 million, or in this case $225 million over 9 years could be for creating jobs based on a 10 year study of creating, launching and teaching entrepreneurship to 3,500 students.

The numbers from my experience are laid out like this: 3,500 students taught, roughly 34% ended up starting a business (1,190) and these small businesses created an average of 12 jobs. (Several of the businesses created hundreds of jobs, but on average it is about 12). The economic impact is 14,280 new jobs created, and roughly $92 million in annual revenue. Staying on our theme of 9 years – the combined 9 year revenue is about $835 million. On average these new companies raised about $57,000 each to launch, which comes to about $67 million raised to launch 1,190 businesses. The revenue produced with these 1,190 companies is 12X the initial investment!

Let’s get back to my question, “can you image what the impact would be if small businesses had access to the same amount of even one highly paid athlete?” If you take the same kind of formula, it would equal $2.7 billion! Now I realize that there is not an exact comparison of these two examples of athletes and business owners, but the notion of creating jobs for many, versus a ridiculous number being paid to one person, it really is crazy.

I also know how much time and effort, blood sweat and tears athletes put into building their career. That is not in question here, what is in question is how much are we willing to keep shelling out to be entertained? And, when will we stand up and start helping small businesses get to the next level of creating jobs, generating revenue, and growing our economy?

Millions of people love to watch athletes perform, and I am certainly one of them. It’s time to start thinking more clearly about creating more jobs. What if we took it even one small step further…what if we had the athletes take 10% of their pay and donate it to a charity that will do good in local communities? Now that would be something that is newsworthy and worth writing about!

Business Is Booming Working With Our Charitable Cause

November 20, 2013 Leave a comment

Lately, I have been asked several times what it took to raise over $1 billion over a 7 year span while working with an amazing charity. What I have noticed is that SME’s (Small to Medium Enterprises) are looking for a reason to be involved raising charitable funds, and charities are always looking to find a positive way to promote their brand and raise more funds. In light of this I decided to create a workshop that goes into a lot of depth of the positive results that come from charities and SME’s working together to create something special.

Another trend I have seen during the past year is that many charities are looking outside of the traditional fund raiser who has been focused mostly on securing major gifts from high net worth individuals, and instead have broadened their search for entrepreneurial, big picture, visionary leaders who bring more innovative ideas to the table. This is GREAT NEWS for the charity and for the entrepreneur because both will benefit from the more “entrepreneurial thinker.”

I have so many stories to share about this topic, and will share several of them over time, but the message I want to drive home today is the power behind the brand, passion, contacts, and innovation that combine together to create immense success. Many charities and corporations that I have worked with over the past decade seem to have excellent programs in place – but lack a few important elements to really drive home the mission in the minds of potential donors to the cause. Charities are usually run, well, like a charity…meaning they tell people to just give them money because they will do good things with it. That is not the question on the mind of the donor or corporation. The real question is “how will you show a return on my investment?” Other than just feeling good about doing good, charitable causes need to show some measurable ways of a return on the investment made by people/companies.

DeLon Mork is one small business owner who goes above and beyond to make a difference in his community. He owns a quick serve restaurant (Dairy Queen) in Madison, SD and he has a passion to raise money for children in his area. A father, and a business owner, DeLon wanted to make a difference in local community by participating in an annual event to sell his signature product (Blizzard) and take the proceeds to be donated to his local children’s hospital.

Madison, South Dakota has a thriving population of 6,809 people. So to measure success it would be great for DeLon to sell to 25% of the population, or around 1,700 Blizzards in one day. But that seemed too low, and DeLon set out to really make a difference, and ask his friends, family, employees, vendors, the mayor, the county supervisor and a whole lot more people in Madison and the surrounding areas – to buy two Blizzards. The results the first year DeLon’s store participated were simply amazing…he sold over 12,000 Blizzards and raised over $34,000! He caught the vision and shared his passion with as many that would listen. He even drove 75 miles to deliver Blizzards to businesses who pre-purchased the cool treats.

The local hospital was more than thankful for DeLon’s passion, and they rewarded him with some catering contracts, some local PR on the radio, in print and on TV by asking their media contacts to run a story about DeLon’s success. This in turn has not only brought in more business to Delon’s DQ, it has endeared him in the hearts and minds of the local and surrounding customers. The return on his investment has been immense. The ROI to the local customers is huge as they can stake a claim to the money raised to help sick and injured children in their community.

Here are three things businesses and charities need to remember when they are asking customers and donors to do business with them…And a friend of mine, Nancy Haggerty taught me why this formula is so important. As a customer or donor, I want to know:

  1. Do you care about me?
  2. Can I trust you?
  3. Do you excel at excellence in all that you do?

When you prove this to your customers, you will always come out ahead! And, you and the business will look back and say that your investment, or their investment was definitely met with a solid return.

Make it a great day!


send me a note if you agree…brian@brianhazelgren.com


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