#PassionPlayers Jennifer Leggio

unnamedSo this #PassionPlayers feature is neat in that it was actually this series that introduced me to Ms. Leggio. She thought it was a cool series and enjoyed some of the other profiles I posted, so I invited her to play, and here we are :) Jennifer put a lot of thought into these answers – check ’em out!

1. How do you define “passion”? 
Passion is not something that you do; passion is something that is. Passion isn’t an endless love, or a surefire success. It’s something that’s deep within you, and it’s a commitment that you honor regardless of how challenging it is, or how much it might hurt. It requires bravery, and a keen understanding of the blissful line between love and hate. It never stops. It’s never satisfied. It moves you forward, and it keeps you alive.
2. What is your passion?
I have two core passions, and they are of equal intensity.
The first is music, which has been my lifeblood since my youth. I have a modicum of talent, but I am not passionate about creating music. Music can change my emotional state, which is sometimes good and sometimes bad, and it can create “quiet” when I need it. That quiet is actually the sound of whatever music I choose at the moment. It’s such a part of me that it could never be considered noise. If I’m not presently engaged in a conversation, a movie, or a book, you can almost guarantee that I have music playing — especially while I write or I work.
The second is supporting technology innovation, specifically in the area of computer security. Protecting users and organizations is critical, and everyone should be educated on risk, threats, and protection resources. It’s not something I do; it’s something I believe in and choose to action with my talent. This also includes fostering and empowering innovators, by pushing them toward their desired successes, helping them to grow their companies, or using my network and marketing prowess to spread the word about new tools and technologies that can provide better digital privacy or security.
3. How did you know that this was a passion and not just a passing interest?
Oh, that’s an easy one. Because I’ve never been satisfied with any of my passions, and I’ve always wanted more. And even when I’ve had to step away from focusing on them for a short time, I’ve always taken great comfort in the fact that they will always be there.
4. How do you make sure you follow your passion and nurture it?
Simply: I’m honest with myself about who I am and what makes me who I am, and I just live it. I had a talk recently with a brilliant man who emphasized the importance of staying true to one’s “mission.” Sure, we all need and want to make money and pay the bills, but if you stay true to why you do something, you’ll always be successful. Never forget the mission.
5. What is your advice to other people who are trying to find or follow their passion?
Listen to yourself before anyone else. Take the steps to form a level of self-awareness that can indicate your passion, and don’t let your fear stand in the way of you engaging with it, or hinder your benefitting from the potential success of pursuing it. Don’t let others cloud your judgment; no one will ever know your passion better than you do. And there is rarely a passion that is “wrong.”
6. Anything else you want to say?
For some reason while answering these questions, a quote from Elizabeth Taylor popped into my head: “Now is the time for guts and guile.” Guts are required to stay true to your passions and truly live them; guile is required for actively pursuing them in a way that complements and even better fuels your life. I think now is always the time, and the rewards are sweet.

The best form of gratitude is paying it forward

dd-pers-fund-13-nkh-logoThese days, we give a lot of things lip service.

We tell people we love them. We tell people that we are grateful for lots and lots of stuff. We say that we want to make the world better. We say we want to take care of people “at home.” We say we want to give today’s children a solid future.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s great to say these things. However, it’s not always the thought that counts.

Here in the US, today is Thanksgiving. Everyone is posting pictures of their delectable feasts. And that is fine. As it should be. However, what I think about every Thanksgiving, as I eat myself into oblivion and end up in a blissful tryptophan coma, is the fact that there are a lot of people in our own country (and maybe in your own city or town) who would be astonished at our gluttony. Most especially I am thinking about kids who are going to school hungry and who are going to bed hungry. I find myself wondering about how they absorb the fact that they are hungry while other people are eating to the point of being sick just because, well, they can. How can you make peace with an empty tummy when there are so many people overstuffing themselves?

That is why this year I am raising funds for No Kid Hungry.

The stats

You might be interested in seeing some statistics that truly illustrate the problem of childhood hunger in the US. You can view them all here, but I grabbed some for you anyway.

• There are 16 million kids struggling with hunger in this country

• 1 in 5 US kids don’t get the nourishment they need to perform well in school

• Childhood hunger can exist anywhere. Although it is most common in cities, kids anywhere can live in low-income families who just simply don’t have enough to provide food.

• You can’t tell a kid is hungry by looking at them. A child may look like his or her classmates. Hunger is easy to hide, but it may reveal itself through an inability to concentrate or even misbehavior

Helping these kids is super easy

Here is why I love No Kid Hungry. They make it super extremely easy to help these hungry kids.

As you sit with your family and friends, think about these two ways to help.

  1. The Food Network is running a fundraiser till Monday, November 30th. Are you planning on doing any more baking? Maybe that first batch of holiday cookies is on the agenda. Well, all you have to do is post a picture (you probably would have anyway) and hashtag it #bakeitforward. Every time this happens a dollar will be donated to No Kid Hungry. Guess what? A dollar can provide ten meals for children. It matters.
  2. You can visit my fundraising page and donate. Every little bit helps. $5, $10 – that’s awesome. Give up a Starbucks while you’re out Black Friday shopping and send that money to my fundraising page. My team is trying to raise $100,000 by Giving Tuesday. I think we can do it, but we need your help.

Let me reiterate – every little bit helps.

So, definitely indulge today and for the rest of the weekend. Enjoy your family and friends and fill that belly with everything good. But I highly encourage you to take just a minute – really, just a minute – and donate to No Kid Hungry. When a dollar can provide ten meals, what do you have to lose?

#PassionPlayers Scott Monty

2014 Headshot - railing landscape

I think I started hearing about Scott Monty about a year or two into my social media experience. Everyone kept talking about how he was a great social media role model, and what he was doing at and for Ford was really something everyone should take note of as they struggled with their own social media marketing campaigns. I thought it was interesting that for all of the compliments, Scott didn’t seem to be one of those folks who had to remind everyone how awesome he was via blog posts or tweets. He just did his job and did it well.

I have had the great privilege of getting to know Scott a bit better over the last few years and have found him to be thought-provoking, way too smart, and extremely kind. Add to that the fact that he is a bigger Sherlock nut than me by a large margin and you know why I wanted to feature him here.

1. How do you define “passion”?
To me, passion is something that gets your heart racing, something that can get you motivated even when you really don’t feel like doing anything. We all face the drudgery of some tasks from time to time, but when you’re so interested in something that you lose track of time or other responsibilities – that’s passion.

2. What is your passion?
I have a few, but the one that has taken priority for many years is my interest in Sherlock Holmes. To some, this may seem like another literary character, but for me, it has opened up a whole world of friendship, scholarship and technological tinkering (the last of which is also a passion of mine).

3. How do you know that this was a passion and not just a passing interest?
For me, it clicked when I discovered how many other people shared this interest. Not only were there massive amounts of books about the topic, but I discovered an underground network of individuals across the country (and later across the globe) who were also interested in Sherlock Holmes. Our shared passion means that we always have other people to connect with.

IHOSE logo4. How do you make sure you follow your passion and nurture it?
Oddly enough, in one of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Dr. Watson poses as a collector of Chinese pottery in order to infiltrate the home of the antagonist, who is an expert on the topic. When quizzed about his deficiency of knowledge, Watson excuses it with his busy medical practice. The villain’s reply sums up my feelings about nurturing your passion: “That is no answer. If a man has a hobby he follows it up, whatever his other pursuits may be.”

So f​or me, part of it is connecting with other people to fuel that passion, and constantly finding ways to express my own interest. That has meant creating I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere, a website and podcast dedicated to Sherlock Holmes.

5. What is your advice to other people who are trying to follow their passion?
Find other people who share your interest and a place (online or offline) where you can meet to discuss it together. A passion without someone to share it with is an addiction.

From there, you’ll get ideas about how to harness your energy and do something with it, like writing a book, exploring a new place, or building something. Having some sort of proof of accomplishment – whether it’s a stamped passport, a website, a magazine, or photos of an experience – is a great way to demonstrate the value of your passion.

6. Anything else you want to say?
Thank you for being so passionate about what you do! It’s great to be able to share a story with someone who’s interested in hearing about it.

#PassionPlayers Susan Fox (aka GagasGarden)


I met Susan quite serendipitously on Twitter a few years ago. She was looking for help on Twitter and I happened to see her tweet, so I jumped in. From that point on, we have developed a friendship just as purty as Susan’s roses :) As it happens, Susan is a highly skilled and respected rosarian, so I think I have learned more from her than she ever could learn from me. Susan is one of the sweetest and most passionate people I know, so I hope you enjoy her answers here as much as I did!

1. How do you define “passion”? 

A: Passion is a force greater than you, a calling. One morning I didn’t feel like going outside and yet I knew I ‘had to’ take a picture of ‘Legend’ because the moment would be lost if I did not. Nature is perpetually in motion and that motion and light changes everything every second. Einstein’s Theory of Relativity states that in the time it has taken to write this sentence the room around me has changed. How much more does a blossom change in a minute, an hour, a day?  My passion is a compulsion.

2. What is your passion?

A: Rose growing, gardening, photographing and writing about moments in the garden and sharing it with people, often times with a sense of humor. Showing folks in pictures the beauty that surrounds us in simple pleasures.  Also educating folks that if they want to grow roses they too can do it.  I realize that at any given moment I may be the only witness to an event that will never come again. I feel it’s an obligation to share that moment with as many people as I can.

3. How did you know that this was a passion and not just a passing interest?

A: My Mother’s favorite flowers were peonies. They bloom first in the spring in Northern Illinois so she wanted me to apply bone meal around the peonies first and get them ready for the spring bloom. I realized roses might be my passion when I just wanted to hurry up with the peonies to get to the roses. Now I love peonies and just about everything that grows.

4. How do you make sure you follow your passion and nurture it?

A: You will know when you are following your passion because your passion whisks you along with it. A passion is a driving force, and the fuel for passion is generosity and sharing. The more you give it away the more it comes back to you and grows in ways that one cannot measure.  
Heirloom_Sunrise5. What is your advice to other people who are trying to find or follow their passion?

A: We all know children ask difficult questions and a child asked him a very difficult question. What was God doing before the creation? The Pope pondered the question and knowing that God is Love, Pope Francis said: paraphrased a bit, “God was loving. I can say to you to find your passion, love. Love persons, animals, plants, places or things and you will find your passion. Because the Pope also said “God is beauty”. Whatever name for a creator you believe in I know we can agree on that statement. Roses and the garden connect me to the creation in ways nothing else can and thereby connects me to you.
6. Anything else you want to say?

Thank-you Margie for asking me to share about my passion. The passion and generosity of spirit of Margie and in folks I have met through Margie has multiplied the love and caring I have seen in so many ways and any way that I can show people about the beauty of sharing my passion I am more than happy to do so.

Editor’s note – Susan’s very kind words were in fact unsolicited :) 

#PassionPlayers Tom Redwine

Tom onstage at Shareholders 2012 IMG_0527

Tom is an incredible person and a great friend. He is one of those people I’ve felt I have always known. To be honest, I can’t remember exactly when or how we connected! It just seems like he has always been around, and that is ok with me. I have always admired Tom’s great passion for music, and not surprisingly, that is what he focused on here. Enjoy!

1. How do you define “passion”?

As an urge to create or explore in a specific area or direction. It’s not uncontrollable but it is urgent. You’re compelled by something not terribly logical or very easily explained, and you feel diminished or slightly less “you” if you don’t pursue it in some way.

2. What is your passion?

(Wait, I only get to pick one? Just kidding…) Music! I enjoy just about everything musical; listening, discovering new favorites, making playlists for friends or road trips, singing, playing bass and performing, whether it’s a jam session, open mic, or an actual paying gig.

3. How did you know that this was a passion and not just a passing interest?

I was hooked at an early age; I remember obsessively listening to “American Top 40” and rock & roll radio stations on my transistor radio as kid. I loved watching the Monkees after school on TV. I collected 45’s and LPs (yeah, I’m old), traded, discussed and argued with friends about what we liked and didn’t like, made mixtapes for friends (and girlfriends), and vacuumed up any information on my favorite artists from magazines. “Obsession” doesn’t quite capture it.

My parents started me with piano lessons just before adolescence kicked in; I wound up quitting after my teacher wouldn’t show me how to play “Beth” by KISS. (Teenage hormones & discipline do not mix very well.)

My first real rock concert was Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (“River” tour, 1981). That was not my first rock show though; months before, I’d seen my first local bar band and was awestruck by their take on Queen’s “Dragon Attack.”

Later on, my buddy Bert showed me the electric bass. Turns out that I took to the bass more naturally than piano, and soon I’d played a few times with friends in informal jams, which led to playing at parties, being in bands, writing songs, learning how to really sing (and not clear the room), and eventually some paying gigs.

I had a lot of fun working in radio, starting at my college radio station (WUSC) and two local commercial stations (WSCQ & WNOK) before moving into a retail career.

Even when involved in other projects, like community theatre, I kept coming back to music. In fact, the first time I had a chance to direct a play, I chose a musical (“Nunsense”). By the way, you have to be a little nuts to tackle a musical as a first-time director, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

Music capped my retail career when I worked in Walmart Radio, first as production manager then general manager, programming music and commercial content for Walmart stores and Sam’s Clubs throughout the US and Canada.

4. How do you make sure you follow your passion and nurture it?

I find music in a lot of places, but I mostly use the internet and Spotify to discover new artists and sounds. Trying to keep my ears open to the new keeps me from getting old! ;^)

Also, I try to play at least ten minutes each day, even if it’s just improvisational noodling. Most of the time I’m actually pursuing a goal, such as learning a new song, writing something, or finding a new way to play something old and familiar. I find You Tube videos to help me learn new songs or decipher a complex pattern. Chord structures and tabs are available on different sites, but I’m mostly driven by my own desire.

5. What is your advice to other people who are trying to find or follow their passion?

Outside of my piano lessons, I had little encouragement (and quite a bit of discouragement) about pursuing music for a career; when I got older and could see how many different jobs and roles one could have involving music, I realized that my parents and past counselors had been short-sighted. Considering the amazing opportunities that we have via global communication with the internet, there are likely even more opportunities than before. If you keep your eyes and ears open to the possibilities, you’ll likely find opportunities to pursue your passion – and get paid for it – throughout your life. Acknowledge the doubters and try to stay grounded, while you just keep reaching for those stars!

6. Anything else you want to say?

I’d be remiss if I didn’t plug some of the amazing artists that I’ve been listening to (and I’d love to know who YOU are listening to as well!):

Sara Morgan https://youtu.be/6g488J1sjtY

Stardog https://youtu.be/XxC8ldrXecg

Gregory Porter https://youtu.be/9HvpIgHBSdo

Jason Isbell https://youtu.be/ZtgPeNKpnyw

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats https://youtu.be/1iAYhQsQhSY

Leon Bridges https://youtu.be/pgS_xob1x4A

Chris Stapleton https://youtu.be/4zAThXFOy2c