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John Foppe

Author, Visionary born without arms

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John Foppe: Author, Visionary born without arms

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Born without arms, John Foppe understands firsthand the difficult gaps between envisioning an outcome and achieving it. He once led a miserable, dependent, and limited existence. At ten-years-old, for example, he couldn't put his own pants on. Today, he operates his own company, travels the world, runs a large non-profit agency, and he is a husband and father. 

John has learned that a person's ability to do something is not dependent on having all sorts of ability, time, and money. Instead, making something happen has more to do with one's personal sense of value and ability to cast a vision.

In the field as part of his master’s degree in social work, John saw this scenario play out repeatedly. To his surprise, he discovered that many people subconsciously substitute personal improvement with systems to support their perceived limitations. As an advisor and speaker, John also witnessed this resistant mindset operate in all sort of companies. He repeatedly heard leaders complain about how difficult is to motivate their people.

John has addressed this common performance challenge through years of research, clinical study and field testing, which ultimately led to the discovery of the primary cause of failed vision execution. In light of this important, personally-significant discovery, he has developed a variety of solutions to help individuals and leaders overcome their exasperation and translate their visions into outcomes. 

John’s career in motivation began when his compelling story and methods caught the attention of the legendary Zig Ziglar, who broke his long-standing rule of promoting from within and recruited and mentored John. 

In 1995, John launched a successful corporate motivation business, Visionary Velocity Worldwide, that has taken him to over 25 countries, pro-football organizations like the Miami Dolphins, and to Fortune 500 clients such as Boeing, GE, and State Farm and international companies such as Fortis, ST Microelectronics, and UniCredit.

He is the author of What’s Your Excuse? Making the Most of What You Have, which has been translated into six foreign languages. 

In 1993, the U. S. Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) recognized John as one of the "Ten Outstanding Young Americans." With this prestigious award, the Jaycees proudly spot young leaders before they achieve their greatest accomplishment. 

In the non-profit world, John has put his leadership and motivation skills to work helping the less fortunate by earning a masters degree in Social Service from Saint Louis University and serving as the Executive Director of the Society of St. Vincent De Paul - St. Louis Council.

In 2013, he received an honorary doctorate in Humanities and Public Service from Saint Louis University. 

Today, John resides in his native town of Breese, Illinois with his wife, Christine, and daughter, Faith Teresa.

While the sight of how he tackles life with his toes will amaze you, once you hear his message, you will not be looking at him—you will be looking at yourself!
Being an Executor, Not an Executioner
How to Get Everything Done Without Destroying Anything
Have you ever felt like a hamster on a wheel? The faster you go, the better you get, but better probably isn't enough, so you have to go even faster - an exhausting cycle.

Eventually, work falters. Enter the executioner! Managers crack down with tighter controls. When controlled workers feel they have no choice, they stop taking initiative. Workers also become executioners - slowly killing initiatives with inaction.

John explains how to break the cycle by showing people they can choose to be Executors. Making things happen becomes a way of life. Employees will learn how to be executors through:
  • Walking the "Ellipse," a specific set of practices which mobilize one to navigate problems and maintain the vision.
  • Understanding how 90% of making something happen involves making oneself available.
And Realizing three ways of:
  • paying attention
  • stating intentions
  • applying efforts.
John details five benchmarks for employees to measure their own availability for making things happen. No more painstaking efforts to get people involved. Now, people get involved! When people choose to be Executors, turnover drops, innovation abounds, targets get hit.

Getting It Done or Making It Happen? -Encoding Excellence into Execution
In "Get It Done" organizations, people show up and do their jobs. Work is fine, but not fantastic. In "Make It Happen" companies, employees don’t just do their work - they love their work. Employees don’t just meet their goals - they exceed them. Customers are not simply satisfied - they’re elated.

In this inspiring presentation, John Foppe, a veteran author, trainer, and adviser to executives, reveals how a "Code of Exasperation" can unwittingly exist within an organization defining the difference between "getting it done" and "making it happen". It’s no secret employees can become burnt out, fearful, and complacent. Instead, the secret is how these reactions kill vital initiatives.

John was born without arms, and he once led a life of dependency. He created his disability through exasperated perceptions, reactions and practices. Likewise, John reveals how employees create an organizational reality that either makes or breaks the company’s vision.

The "Code of Exasperation" can’t be purged, but it can be re-written into a "Code of Execution". John teaches how to encode a new reality and healthier roles where people execute in their own way. As employees understand the part they play in the big picture, they naturally embrace the vision. Rather than trying to transmit the vision to people, now people realize the vision through their own initiative. Instead of simply getting it done employees make it happen!

As a result of this presentation, participants will:
  • Learn how to fill the gaps between the company’s vision and desired outcomes resulting in higher productivity, better image and greater profits.
  • Experience how people take on a way of being that encodes itself into an organization’s culture, either making or breaking a vision. Inspiring employees to be the vision improves performance, increases morale, and develops superior service.
  • Identify their "set" perceptions and learn how these viewpoints close off their minds inhibiting creativity and spawning resignation.
  • Stop excuse-building behavior and challenge people to set higher goals.
  • Recognize the four types of exasperated employees and their predominant perceptions, reactions and practices, which increases attrition, angers customers and kills vital initiatives.
  • Identify the "Subconscious Conspiracy" - An unspoken relationship dynamic affecting the norms, values, assumptions, and rituals of an organization that perpetuates blame and kills initiative. Stopping the conspiracy eases conflict, alleviates stress and lowers turnover.
  • Recognize the four types of executor employees and their predominant perceptions, reactions and practices, which creates excitement, prevents costly mistakes and makes things happen.
  • Identify and ignite the "Conscious Covenant" - A transparent relationship dynamic where each person’s strength holds each other accountable creating camaraderie and a willingness to listen and learn.
  • Spot the "Have Trap" - A common motivational mistake of confusing incentives for the goal itself. Avoiding the trap empowers people to think creatively and do more with less.
  • Learn the "Path of the Executor" - An alternative paradigm of self-motivation and self-management where employees consciously internalize a vision and commit to executing outcomes enabling people to solve their problems.

You Reap What You Sow - Harvesting Strong Business Execution Practices

When it comes to creating a culture of business execution, leading thinkers and visionary executives realize that employees need to make every practice an execution practice.

In this presentation, John defines execution practices and reveals how cultivating these practices positively impacts an organization’s culture.

John highlights the four root purposes of an execution practice and presents how our daily mindset influences the way we fulfill these purposes. He emphasizes the value of a "holistic" approach including every aspect of ourselves in the cultivation of execution practices. Moreover, he outlines how to integrate this holistic approach into our daily work.

In addition, John identifies the four basic functions of an execution practice. He explains how to design our daily practices to support the successful outcome of these functions and create a culture of execution. He reveals the 12 success factors that emerge when employees make every one of their daily practices into an execution practice.

Finally, John describes the productive affect strong execution practices have on the culture of the organization, and he explains how the presence of execution practices ultimately determines whether there is feast or famine.
  • When we approach our daily practices with a mindset of execution, we are more fulfilled.
  • When we design our daily practices so that they strategically achieve successful execution, we are more productive.
  • When we integrate execution success factors into our daily practices, the organization prospers.
  • When every practice is an execution practice, the entire organization harvests a culture of execution.

Within Reach - John Foppe’s Signature Speech

John Foppe was born without arms, but he believes all things are within reach. As a child, he had difficulty doing the simple things most of us take for granted, and he led a life marked by dependency. At ten-years-old, John couldn’t put his own pants on. Today, he travels the world as an author and owner of a successful international training company.

In this fascinating, poignant, but ultimately inspirational speech, John recounts his transformation from victim to victor. But, more importantly, he helps you discover your own place in the world. Applying his own experiences and the special insights he’s developed as a trained counselor, John dispels these common motivational myth:
  • I can do anything.
  • I must stop feeling sorry for myself.
  • I must change my attitude.
  • I must overcome obstacles.
  • If it is to be, it is up to me.
  • I was born to win.
  • If John can do it without arms, then I can do it.
In addition, John reveals how to silence your internal self-critic, do more with less, and stay motivated. "All things are within reach, when you reach within."

Walking By Faith - John's Christian Testimony
Life is a journey - a process of discovering who and what you are. Sometimes your journey may take unexpected detours that make you feel scared or alone, and other times the journey can lead to opportunities that require you to stand on your faith. No matter where your journey takes you, the twists and turns of life help shape who you are. In this presentation, John testifies how Christ's love has unfolded in his life and sustained him along his journey of dealing with the fears of contending with a disability. John's message centers on the beliefs that God loves each of us unconditionally, and our birthright as children of God remains one that calls us all to wholeness and holiness. He offers the listener a deeper understanding of God's unconditional love for us, and how that love frees us to live more peacefully and completely.
"...I have admired the way you have handled yourself and have spread your message to so many people. Each week, we try to win football games, but you are succeeding daily on a much higher level - you are winning the game of life, and your messages are helping so many others reach their potential as well. That is so much more important than any football game."
Jimmy Johnson, Former, Head Coach, Miami Dolphins

"If life is a struggle, you will learn from [John Foppe] that self-pity is corrosive of personality and must be rejected before it damages you spiritually."
Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago

"Encouraging, caring, informative, humorous, life-changer - all describe John Foppe the man. Invite him to address your group. You and your people will benefit in your business... I guarantee it."
Zig Ziglar -Author and Motivational Teacher

"John was far from being the type of motivational speaker whom I have seen around so many times; the self-centered, guru-like type of lecturer that I did not want to bring into the UniQuest journey. John spent close to a day with our 100 UniQuest participants. He connected with them, encouraged them, and stirred their thoughts and emotions...He is in the best sense of the word: authentic. Listening to him, you simply have to relate to him. There is no escape, no place to hide..."
Markus Vorbeck ,Project Manager UniQuest Corporate Learning & Management Development UniCredit Group, Italy

"The evaluation of our Fortis Talent Event 2007 has been very good! Our Senior Managers were impressed by your story. You gave an interesting insight on perceptions, excuses and conditions. It changes the way people think!"
Martine Rijken, Fortis Talent Development Consultant Netherlands

"Thank you...for your personal coaching you did without words."
Gerald Krenn, Head of Retail Marketing Bank Austria Creditanstalt Member of UniCredit Group

"John has the ability to put a person in contact with the deeper part of oneself, creating the possibility of starting the beautiful voyage of change."
Elisa Conti,Training Manager ST Microelectronics

"It is now several weeks later, and your keynote message is still the "buzz" of industry."
Sheri Hamilton, Conference Manager VISION Hi-Tech Training & Expo