The University Record, March 18, 1998

Hang on to your passions

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Keynote speaker Vanna Novak shared secrets of self-success with her audience at the 16th annual Women of Color Career Conference March 6. Photo by Bob Kalmbach


By Jane R. Elgass

An audience of more than 900 found itself infused with enthusiasm March 6 when inspirational speaker Vanna Novak delivered the keynote address at the 16th annual Women of Color Task Force Career Conference March 6 in Rackham Lecture Hall. The theme of this year's conference was "Reforging Our Lives into the New Millennium: The Future Is Now."

Novak's energy-filled presentation had audience members clapping and chorusing "Oh, yes" as she reminisced about some of her life events and those of others to create a shared foundation for discovery of what is important to one's self.

Bounding onto the stage to the music of Gloria Estafan, Novak guided her listeners through anecdotes designed to help them take charge of their lives.

Hearkening back 20 years to "The Wonderful World of Disney" television show that many watched as they were growing up, Novak said Jiminey Cricket's song, "When You Wish upon a Star," gave hope to watchers, made them think about their potential.

"When you sing that song, part of you resonates inside," Novak said. "You say, 'When I grow up, I'm going to be . . .' You have hope in your heart."

Unfortunately, once out of childhood and into the workforce, wishes don't necessarily come true, Novak said. We get caught up in life's frenetic pace and forget our goals and what we want.

At the end of our life, we finally realize that the things that were important to us as children are the really important things. "With aging comes wisdom," she noted.

It is the little things in life that count, Novak said, citing Mother Theresa's view that "in this life we can do no great things, only small things with great love."

"Reach out and touch some one," Novak said. "The biggest difference we'll make is one-by-one, one thing at a time."

She encouraged her audience to "be there" for others "in an attentive and most caring way." We never know what tomorrow may bring, so it is important "to say it now," because tomorrow may not come for you or someone you love. "The people who find it difficult to say 'I love you' are the people who need to hear the words the most," Novak stated.

We also should pay more attention to our passions. "There is power in passion, in enthusiasm," she said. "Rearrange your life so you can do the things you're enthusiastic about. You come alive when you do this. When you live in your heart, magic happens.

"Your life begins with you," she said. "You come into and leave life alone. You deserve every bit of success you can garner."

Novak is a nationally recognized expert on persuasive communication and president and owner of M.C. Communications Inc., which specializes in training seminars and keynote presentations on business presentation skills and effective interpersonal communication.