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Parents, mentors, leaders, role models, teachers.  These are just some of the names you can put to someone that sets examples for others.  You might take on these roles without even knowing it.  Or if you do know, you might not give it the amount of forethought it deserves.

Parents, teachers and others who have a younger generation in their care spend much of their time talking.  You tell, direct, advise, preach, and lecture. You expect that when you talk kids will listen.  Same goes for leaders, managers, and supervisors.  They make rules and create processes.  They train and coach.   There’s usually a good blend of talking and written documentation such as policies and guidelines.  You expect this will keep the team in line and productive.  

Haha!  Not in real life.

Why is it that no one follows directions?   No one does what their told.  WHY IS NO ONE LISTENING!!  

No one is listening because what you DO speaks substantially louder than anything you could ever say.  Leading by example in every area of life and work is the surest path to parenting, teaching, managing and coaching success.

Want children to be good listeners?  Stop what you’re doing and look at them when they talk to you.  Want children that are tolerant and patient?  Stop yelling at the driver that cut you off in traffic.  Want children that take care of themselves?  Put down the bag of Cheetos and Coke and go for a walk.  Need your team to treat customers with care and respect?  Stop complaining about what a pain in the neck it is to serve them.  Expect collaboration when work is at its peak?  Stick around on Friday afternoon.

Human beings model what they see.  When you’re doing one thing and saying something different no one hears you—no matter how loudly you yell.

Everywhere there are people that want to be just like you…don’t let them down.

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Most entrepreneurs and small business owners have followed their passions, talents, and purpose. They want to do what they love every day. They have a service or product that they’re super excited to share with the world—they love it so they know you will love it too. 

Entrepreneurs are a different breed. Confined by “cube farms”, exhausted by office politics, and gasping for air at the lack of autonomy and empowerment that working for someone else demands, they set out on their own.

Their goal may be having the best pizzeria in town, the most fashionable boutique, or the most respected financial advisory firm. The entrepreneur is chasing their dream, whatever that may be. They chase this dream because it’s meaningful to them, it speaks to something in their soul, it aligns with their talents—and they are passionate about it. With plenty of talent and passion, a great product or service, and the drive to succeed, they open their door for business.

It’s a recipe for success…or is it?

Being the best gourmet cook on the block is not the same as running a restaurant. Having a green thumb with a yard that makes your neighbors envious is not the same thing as owning a landscaping business. And graduating from college with a degree in marketing is not the same as opening and running an ad agency. 

Operating a business and knowing the businesses products or services are two completely different things that require completely different skill sets. One requires passion, talent, and endless drive. The other requires skill in people management, marketing, accounting, records, documentation, efficiency, technology, writing, social media, networking, and influence…and this isn’t everything. Most entrepreneurs realize this the hard way.

The good news is that IF you are open to getting help, IF you don’t feel the need to be a “one man band”, IF you can be open-minded to the ideas of others, and IF you’re humble enough to realize that you don’t know what you don’t know then your dream might just make it.

In any business, the best, most effective, and success ensuring strategy for an owner or leader is to hire super smart people with diverse skill-sets and empower them to do their jobs The same applies to the solo entrepreneur--engage experts, coaches and mentors—and listen to them. Otherwise the passion and drive that gets you up in the morning will give way to the worries and concerns that keep you up at night.

If you’re talent and passion is to have a successful business so you can share your product and service with the world, don’t do it all by yourself. Find people with talents and passions different from your own to help you make your dream a reality. Remember, it takes a village.

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If you’re hanging on to something, how do you reach for something else?  Unless you have four hands, you can’t.  This is a concept that is very difficult for people to understand.  They give it a passing thought but don’t take time to REALLY think about how the “hanging on” might be impacting their life.

I was thinking about this last night.   How can I illustrate this concept so it's more visual—more concrete rather than just words?  Then I thought of my granddaughter Reese as she played on the monkey bars this past weekend.   And I realized it’s just like that!!

You start out with two hands on the same bar. You can't go any further unless you’re willing to "let go" with one hand while hanging on with the other.  So, you let go and reach for the bar a little further out in front of you.  That process continues until you get to the other side—your destination.  On the playground as in life you’re only able to move forward by letting go, a little at a time and reaching for something further ahead.

Sometimes while you’re crossing the monkey bars you fall off.  Maybe you went too fast, maybe you got distracted, maybe you tried to skip a bar and get to the other side faster.  This happened to Reese last year—she fell off and broke her arm.  Falling hurts.  But it’s a part of life—a part of learning—a part of growth.  The thing is, when you fall, you have to get back up and try again.  Reese was brave.  Her arm healed and she’s back on the monkey bars trying new things, hanging on AND letting go.  She knows that hanging on too tight and not trying new things takes away the fun of being at the playground.  

How are you enjoying the “playground of life”?
Are you letting go enough?
Are you reaching enough?
Do you get up after you fall?

Remaining stuck on the first bar with both hands holding on tightly might be safest route, but really, it's no fun and gets you nowhere.  So be brave!  Let go!  And reach for those things in life that you really want!

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You all want things to be perfect.  Guess what…they’re not.  Not now, not ever.  Perfection in any form is just another word for paralysis.  You analyze, over analyze, research, question, think, and overthink.  For businesses and professionals this can be catastrophic.

Problems exist, you’re stuck, don’t know what to do.  So you do nothing.  And what happens….NOTHING.  The problems remain or escalate into bigger problems.  

It’s time you learn that there is no perfect solution.  It’s time you embrace a little bit of managed risk—and faith.  Making smart decisions and moving forward in a way that makes sense involves relying on what you know (wisdom and experience), seeking out what you don’t know and being okay with “just enough” information.  Just enough is similar to the 80/20 rule.  You may have only eighty percent of the information you think you need but chasing after that other 20 percent will only prolong your problems.  Why?  

Because with that mentality you will NEVER be satisfied that you have enough information.  

What you are shooting for is “just enough” information to make an intelligent decision.  THEN ACT!  Actions taken based on a foundation, even if not perfect will yield good results.  No action=no results.   

  • Wishing will not work.

  • Hope is not a strategy.

Waiting for a perfect solution will leave you waiting for a VERY LONG TIME—at which point you may be too late.  Your business has failed, that job you wanted went to someone else, your best employee quit, your customers have found someone else to serve them.  I see this every day in every way.

Which way are you going? Don’t let your success slip away from you. TAKE ACTION!

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Is it just me, or have you turned into a nation of robotic words and motions with no personal connection?  You walk into a store, make a purchase at the cash register, and the clerk says “have a nice day” without any emotion…and without even looking at you!  Someone bumps into you in the hallway and they mutter, “excuse me”, without a pause, without a look, without any real sincerity.  Your boss says “good job” without the least bit of realism or gratitude.  Don’t you hate that?

“Going through the motions” has permeated every aspect of life.  You no longer think about what you say, you don’t stop to look people in the eye, and you don’t look for any bit of authenticity in our words.  It’s just the same words, over and over…blah, blah, blah, blah.  There’s no authentic connection.

The same is true of our actions.  You go through the day, the week, the month, on autopilot until one day five years later you’re like, “how did I get here”?  It’s similar to when you’re driving your car, get caught in a day dream, look up and suddenly 50 miles have passed.  You think, “how did I get here”?

Is that what our lives have come to?  Autopilot and blah, blah, blah?   If authentic relationships and living a meaningful life are what you want, you won’t get it this way.  And while I can’t speak for everyone, I can speak for myself and many of the clients I’ve coached—authenticity and meaning are a big deal.

So how do you get more authenticity and meaning into our lives and reduce the blah, blah, blah?

You do that by being intentional.  Being intentional means that you think about what you want, who you are, and what you want to express.  You think about the connections you want to make.  You think about your goals, your dreams, your passions.  You think about what you want to leave behind.  And from there you make intentional choices.  You don’t speak without thinking .  You don’t mutter and not make eye contact.  You MEAN what you say and you connect with the person you’re talking to.  You also break out of the normal routine and decide what activities, tasks, and actions should be a part of your day.  You stop doing what you did yesterday just because it’s comfortable and familiar.  

When you plan your week, ask yourself, “what do I want to feel and experience this week”.  Who is it important for me to connect with?  What is most important in my life and what will I do to make sure I invest is that.

I know you’re all thinking that’s easier said than done.  I get that for sure.  However, if you expect to enjoy life and not just exist, making a meaningful life a priority is the only way to get there.  

For example, you can say over and over that getting healthy is really important and something you want and need to do.  But if you never get to the gym, is it really that important to you?  Yes, you’re busy, you have jobs, kids, cooking, cleaning, homework, laundry….  But look at the gyms and fitness centers.  They’re full of people JUST LIKE YOU that MAKE TIME to invest in themselves and what’s important to them.

You all get the same 24 hours every day.  Will you continue to “go through the motions” and make excuses or will you take ownership of your life and live intentionally?

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Time moves SO fast, yet SO slow.  It really depends on your frame of mind.  Like when you don’t want summer to end time speeds by like a blip on our radar.  When it comes to waiting for something, for instance, the end of a tragically long winter, time moves like a snail in quicksand.  How to you keep from driving ourselves crazy???

Since I launched my business nine months ago I feel like time as gone fast—so much to do and not enough time to do it.  And slow—why hasn’t the business grown faster?  In reality, nine months is a drop of time in the life of a business.  It’s my impatience and the perception that after nine months I should “be there” that is making ME crazy.

I’ve been reading the book “Pour Your Heart Into It”, by Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks.  While it might seem like Starbucks was an “overnight” success, the coffee giant was actually many years in the making.  Starbucks was founded in 1985 (although it went by a different name for the first two years of business).  In 1987 Howard Schultz bought Starbucks Coffee Company and took on that name for his chain of coffee stores.  In 1992 Starbucks had grown enough to go public on the stock exchange.  It wasn’t until 2005 that Starbucks hit the Midwest—twenty years after the first store was opened in Seattle.  

So what does this mean to you?  It means that overnight successes are more a perception than a reality.  It means that there is a process of learning, growth, set-backs, change, realignments, and progress.  Rather than rushing through it and wanting everything to happen “right now”, you have to trust the process, take time for due diligence and enjoy every day of the journey.  This is true not only in business but in life.  

You can’t control time. All you can do is sit back and enjoy the ride.

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You love to win.  No doubt about it.  Winning is fun, exhilarating, and gives you a sense of success and accomplishment.  If given a choice, you would pick winning over losing…every time.  But here’s the thing…it’s the games you LOSE that teach you…if you let them.

You feel unsuccessful when you lose.  Like you’ve failed.   You can be defensive and angry about it.  So how do you take those feelings and turn them into life lessons?  

Losing with grace is a skill everyone could all improve upon.  Losing with grace and being happy for the other team or person opens up your hearts and minds to the idea that even putting yourself out there to compete is a win in itself.  And when someone is more successful that you are, they should be acknowledged for it.

Losing can teach you to look back on your actions, take accountability, and determine what should change.  Rather than being defensive and placing blame it gives you a chance strategize, plan and set improvement goals for the next game.

Sometimes no matter how hard you try or prepare, you won’t get the victory.  Rather than feeling defeated, losing gives you the chance to exercise your resiliency skills.  Resiliency in its most basic form is the ability to recover.  This skill is needed to successfully manage the times in life that you don’t come out on top.  Resiliency can’t be learned from winning.

You should always applaud your efforts and willingness to get in the game regardless of the outcome.  Repeatedly putting yourself in “the game” is a win.

Losing—Learning Opportunity

Getting in the Game—Priceless!

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career.  I’ve lost almost 300 games.  26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed.  I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed.  Michael Jordan

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One of Coco Chanel’s most famous quotes is “A girl should be two things, classy and fabulous”.  She spent her entire life becoming the woman depicted in this quote.

What you don’t know about Coco Chanel is that she can teach you about life.  The way she lived, worked, and presented herself can teach you about hard work, respect, overcoming adversity, and how going against the status quo can result in radical change.

Would you be surprised to know that Coco Chanel was an orphan?  Abandoned by her father after her unwed mother died, she was placed in a convent and lived there being raised by nuns until she was eighteen.   It was in the convent that she learned how to sew.   When she finally left the convent, Coco went to great lengths to reinvent her past, making up a new history and hiding facts about her unwed mother.  Coco feared the stigma of poverty and illegitimacy.  She worked her entire life to gain the dignity and respect that in 19th century France would never be given to someone born to her lot in life.

Coco spent her life designing clothes for women and building the Chanel Empire.  She didn’t design just any clothes but clothes that completely broke the mold for how women dressed.  She dared to be different and provided women with both style and comfort.  Prior to her menswear inspired clothing, most women wore corsets and layers of frilly, poofy, impractical fabric.  Her designs changed the face of women’s clothing forever.  Think about the iconic Little Black Dress.  To this day, it’s a go-to piece for women the world over when they want to look stylish and classy.

So what, right?

Well, Coco had no design training, no formal education, no lucky breaks, no mentors, and no mold to follow.   Yet she set out and achieved what she dreamed of through sheer will, determination and hard work.   Coco left her mark on the world and while doing so earned world-wide success and the respect of the fashion industry and women everywhere.   

What can you learn from Coco Chanel? 

That you’re past does not determine your future.  That who you are inside matters much more than any external factors in your life.  That sheer determination and effort are the most important ingredients on the road to success.  That failure should not dampen your drive and enthusiasm but teach you to do things differently.   That one person thinking outside the box can change the world.  And finally, that you should always be classy and fabulous!

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There are situations in life when “settling” is good—encouraged even.  In these situations. it’s more like compromising and being flexible than settling.

You’re going to dinner with a group.  Everyone wants something different.  You concede to go wherever the majority decides.  Good move.  You like the food even if it wasn’t your first choice and the company is what’s most important anyway.

You’re going to the movies with a friend.  She wants interesting and you prefer rom-com.  You let her pick and end up at a movie that makes your Top Five Worst Movies list.  Cool.  You’re flexible.  And if this happens enough you can have a good laugh about how your friend picks the worst movies—EVER (really this happened to me).

Areas of life where you should NOT settle?  Relationships, careers, jobs, where you live….just to name a few.

If you find yourself saying any of the following, you might need to re-evaluate and make some changes.

  • I should be happy with my relationship. At least someone loves me.

  • I should be happy with my job. At least I’m getting paid.

  • I should be happy living here. At least I have a nice house.

  • I should be happy with my career. I get lots of respect.

Remember, “I should” is different than “I am”.

When it comes to important decisions in life there are big reasons that people settle.  

  1. For whatever real or perceived wrongs you have done, there is a feeling of not being worthy of what you really want. You feel that you should just be happy with what is offered--even if it’s not what you want. Your reasoning is “take it now, something better or more suitable will not come my way because I don’t deserve it”.

  2. You’re afraid to follow your own path in life and be yourself for fear of criticism, rejection, or failure. “If I do this my (mother, father, spouse, friends), will think I’m crazy. If I fail I will be judged and criticized.” You believe that making your own choices will result in the loss of love and approval.

First let me say that if you find someone that is perfect, unblemished, no baggage, no skeletons then I’d like to meet them.   Honestly, this person exists only in your mind.  Well and maybe theirs. There are people who want you to believe they fit this description…but they don’t.  They work with smoke and mirrors.  It’s time to start believing that you are as worthy and deserving as the next person.  The only outstanding question is…are you ready?

Second, I’d like to throw out the names of some very famous “failures”.  Michael Jordan—cut from his high school basketball team.  Dr. Seuss—first book was rejected 27 times.  Walt Disney—was fired and then went bankrupt several times before he built the Disney empire.  I’m sure these people suffered plenty criticism and judgment about their ability and choices.  But the thing is, doing something of your own choosing is far better than sitting on the sidelines doing nothing—even if it means one of those “sideline critics” judges you.  What do they know anyway?  They’re on the sidelines.

Rewrite the above statements to say:

  • I will be happy with my relationship.

  • I will be happy with my job.

  • I will be happy with where I live.

  • I will be happy with my career.

Now go after what you really want—because you deserve it!

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Think about some of the most memorable, popular and effective brands.  Apple, Mercedes, UPS, McDonalds.  What do these brands say to you?  If you’re like most people, when someone mentions Apple, you think innovation.  Mercedes—luxury.  UPS—fast, on-time delivery.  These brands create a promise and give the consumer an expectation.  If I choose this brand, I will get…..

Branding helps businesses know who they are and how they want to be perceived by the consumer.  It also helps define who they’re not.  McDonalds for example does not offer steak, wine, and table service.  It’s not who they are and when you see their brand you know that, without question.

Whether aware of it or not, you display a personal brand.  The question is whether you do it intentionally, or by default.  

Creating a strong and authentic personal brand requires you to understand deeply and completely who you are and be confident in showing it.    A believable brand demands truth and consistency.   Knowing your personal brand and living it every day builds credibility and trust with others.  There are no pretenses.   Your brand is a promise of what others can expect from you.  You “walk the talk” proudly. 

Remember that your personal brand is not a reflection of your past, your failures, or what others want you to be.   It’s all about who you are today and what you want to be known for—your reputation.  Think about it as the words you want others to use when they think of you, introduce you, see you and describe you.

What are the values, attributes, and characteristics that describe and define YOU?  To help you create your own personal brand, I’ve included two links.

Creating and living your unique personal brand every day tells the world that you are happy and confident being you. And nothing is more freeing and liberating than that!

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This may seem like an odd question.  “I don’t have people”, you might say.  “I have friends, family, co-workers but I don’t think of them as my people”.  

“My people” is just a phrase that refers to those you spend the most time with—at home, work, and having fun.  The people you confide in, love, live and interact with.  From time to time it’s good to take a look at these people, individually, to evaluate how they impact your life.  It might be easy (and safe) to say that everyone in your life is awesome…supportive….helpful.  If so, I’d like to have your people as my people.  

Because when you think about it honestly, can you really put everyone in your life in the “awesome, supportive, and helpful” category?  Not likely.

When surrounded by people that fall into the “awesome” category, your self-esteem is higher, your confidence soars, and your negative self-talk is kept quiet.  These are people that love and like you…despite youy mistakes and weaknesses.  These are people that love and like themselves as well.  They don’t play games, aren’t jealous or spiteful.  They see your best qualities and remind you what they are.  They minimize your weaknesses and failures and remind you that you’re wonderful no matter what.  

People that struggle with their own worth and live in fear of their own weaknesses and failures can be toxic to you well-being.  Identifying these people is necessary so you can make intentional decisions about how and when to interact with them.  It’s not always possible or advisable to simply cut others out of your life.   However, you can arm yourselves appropriately to deal with them when necessary.

Seven Ways to Deal with Negative or Toxic People

  1. Understand that their criticism and negativity is NOT about you (even though you may be the current target).

  2. Understand that there is history behind their behavior and feelings (their lack of self-worth, their childhood, previous negative relationships…)

  3. Avoid confrontations and defensiveness. You may have logic on your side but when dealing with someone who is fighting inner turmoil, the effort will be frustrating and futile

  4. Remove yourself from the situation. Comments such as “lets agree to disagree”, “I hear you and appreciate your thoughts, now let’s move on”, let’s not discuss this right now, let’s enjoy our time together”, could help diffuse whatever is coming your way.

  5. Remind yourself that you DO NOT need to act, solve a problem or own what is happening.

  6. Minimize your time with people that are toxic or avoid situations that bring out the worst in them.

  7. Rarely, depending on the situation, it might be necessary to simply remove someone from your life.

Go forth…find your AWESOME people, your tribe, your peeps and know that’s where you belong.


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People that engage Life Coaches often have three things in common.

They are in some way dissatisfied with an aspect of their life or career.  It might be personal, work, a relationship, or the fact that they’re feverishly running on that proverbial “hamster wheel” and getting nowhere.  Hint, that hamster wheel…it’s not moving forward, only in circles.

They have fear or a limiting belief that is stopping them from taking action (I’m not good enough, people will criticize me, I might fail).  They may not always recognize it, but if fear and limiting beliefs were not part of their life, they would have already taken care of what's bugging them.

And finally, they are unsure.  They don’t know what to do.  They don’t trust their knowledge, wisdom and inner voice to lead them in the right direction.  And sometimes when the situation is truly overwhelming they can’t “see the forest for the trees”.  They’re too close.

The result?  Frustration and Paralysis.  What’s a person to do?

Well, let’s say you had a huge boulder in your front yard.  Every day you look out at this big, ugly boulder and wish it was gone.  It blocks the view of the beautiful flowers you planted.  Mowing and trimming around the boulder is problematic.  It’s truly a thorn in your side and it’s not going anywhere.  You think about it often.  You WANT to get rid of that boulder (frustration).  But how?  Every time you think about the process of moving it you feel fear (paralysis).  It will be too hard, how would I do it, what will my neighbors say?

I know you’re all thinking…GET SOME HELP!  And of course, you’d be right.   If the problem actually was a big ugly boulder in your front yard, you’d call someone to help you get it moved.  No brainer, right?

The same holds true for those figurative boulders in your life…dissatisfaction, fear, uncertainty.  

There is no reason to live in paralysis when you can reach out for help. And when you have someone on your side supporting, encouraging, and helping you, the boulders in your life don’t seem so big and ugly after all.

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In the classic story, Alice in Wonderland, Alice has a conversation with the Cheshire Cat about which way she should go.

'Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?'
'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.
'I don't much care where —' said Alice.
'Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat

A great many people live their lives this way.  If you don’t know where you’re going in life, then any path going in any direction will do.  Whether you acknowledge it or not, you are all heading in one direction or another--on our own path or the path of someone else.

The path you’ve taken may be the expectation of your parents...or a spouse.  Maybe you chose our own path--but for the wrong reasons.  Reasons that have little to do with what you really want and everything to do with what others will think of you.  Keeping up with the Joneses…a common trap.

What keeps you stuck on the wrong path?  


Fear of failure, criticism and judgment.  Fear of not being good enough.  Fear of someone not approving of your choices.  Fear of the unknown.  But, follower beware.  At the end of this path is regret.  Regret over what could have been.  Regret over unfulfilled desires, unreached goals, and passions left behind.  Regret over not being true to who you really are. 

Ask yourself, “does that path belong to me”? If the answer is “yes”, then take action. Create your own life map. Blaze your own path and take it in your own unique direction! You won’t regret it.

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Some may view personal image as superficial or shallow. Others feel it’s an unnecessary evil of society—having to “dress the part”.  These perceptions are often voiced by people who don’t fully understand what personal image is about.  It goes well beyond just clothes.

Your personal image serves a similar purpose to a company’s brand.  It’s what you put out into the world every day-what you want others to know about you.  Personal image in an outward expression of what’s inside.  It tells the world who you are, how to treat you, and where you’re going in life.  More importantly, it tells the world how you feel about yourself.

People spend a great deal of time and money getting an education, “paying their dues” at work and in relationships, and seeking personal growth.  Yet their personal image says, “I’m insecure”, “I’m not aware”, “I don’t care”.  Poor personal image prevents people from making eye contact, holding their head up, walking with confidence, speaking up, or finding the relationships they deserve.  It’s a roadblock to success in every area of life.

Identifying your best personal image, making peace with and loving your authentic self are critical parts of success in every area of life.  Showing up every day like you mean it--as a confident and put-together version of yourself will help you gain the respect, credibility and success you deserve. 

So, take a long hard look in the mirror and ask, “would I do business with me”? If the answer isn’t a resounding YES, then maybe it’s time for a reboot.

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