Not only has #Values been instrumental in raising $1 million for the purpose of putting 54 under-served students through college in Southern California, it has become an international bestseller and opened doors for me to spread #Values to countries around the world. My most recent stops, Rome and Luxembourg, were both moving and inspirational. After I landed in Rome, I was filled with anticipation and a real sense of duty. I can truly say I was so blessed to be there at such a time as this. And, I must say, even the statues in Rome were anticipating the arrival of #Values!
Rome began with me reuniting with my dear sister, friend and life coach, Marcia Wieder. We spent some quality time together enjoying the city, delicious pasta and genuine fellowship. We were able to pay visits to Basílica San Pietro, Piazza San Pietro, the Treviño Fountain and the Pantheon. According to tradition, if you throw a coin over your shoulder into the Treviño Fountain, you will one day return to Rome. I do hope the fountain keeps its promise. The Pantheon is a testament to the architecture of Rome, and I have faith that #Values will endure just as this magnificent structure has stood the test of time.
Inside the Basílica San Pietro, I got to stand in the same spot where Pope Francis stands when he gives mass. I was truly honored just to step on that sacred and special ground. The items surrounding the Pope are the gifts he has been given from his favorite fútbol team, Equipo San Lorenzo. They won the “Copa Libertadores” and gave their grand prize to Pope Francis.
I was also privileged to visit the home of Monsignor Giacomo Pappalardo where I felt such deep gratitude for the apostolic favor I have been granted – it is said that “apostolic favor” was granted to the apostles as they easily spent time with kings, queens and members of government and parliament. Simply standing outside the door to the Monsignor’s office transformed me to a place in my heart that stretches beyond words. I was able to meet with Monsignor Pappalardo three times while in Rome, and each time we spoke further about the topic of values-based leadership: how leaders must lead with values, how people come first and how governments in Europe are dependent upon the North American government. The Monsignor shared freely how he feels about the message in the book about employees losing confidence in their leaders due to greed and selfishness; he continued to reinforce his letter while turning to the first pages of the book, in which he talks about getting back to high moral values of honesty, a sense of duty and responsibility, fairness, firmness and the value of keeping your word to those in leadership (see page vii). He expressed how deeply he felt and how glad he is that I am here in Europe spreading #Values.
We also broke bread together, and he prepared a private mass and prayed for my brother Fernando’s terminal illness and the work of my book. Sitting in the private living room of Monsignor Giacomo Pappalardo and being a part of a private mass with him while getting directly blessed was surreal. With him, I left a signed and dedicated copy of #Values for Pope Francis, which he will get to the Pope.
My next stop was Luxembourg, where I spent time with my dear friend Annica. She had several pleasant surprises planned for me. Upon arriving, my brother and father’s song was playing. She was just starting to prepare all of my favorite dishes: cheeses of all kinds with olives, followed by sautéed mushrooms and white onions and steak and asparagus as the main course. Seeing how every detail was handled with such care made me feel so very special! But, how did Annica know these were my favorite? Well, I found a note with recipes from none other than my very own daughter Alexandria! She told Annica what I loved and how to prepare it. Now, that’s what I call a very warm welcome!!!
The next day, I presented to business leaders, refugees and students residing in Luxembourg; fourteen countries were represented in the audience! The participants asked very engaging questions similar to those I often hear in the United States: How do I prepare for people with values that are different than mine? How do I manage my time to ensure all areas of my life are well handled? What high level leaders have I worked with and impacted?
As my trip came to a close, #Values continued to be at the forefront of every encounter I had. We got to the airport early to find the flight was delayed two and half hours. I had a copy of #Values signed by General Julie Bentz of the Pentagon and the Monsignor from the Vatican. I showed the book to one of the security guards at the airport, Francesco, and he wanted a copy. I promised to send a copy for him and another one for the head of the security for the international terminal in Rome. Once I arrive back to the States, I will be sending 10 books for all the heads of security in Rome.
While getting ready for my trip back to the United States the next day I received a text from Annica. One of the participants in Luxembourg had already read 38 pages of my book, and here’s what he said: “Dear Annika, I feel that the book is a good hands-on and scientifically researched insight into the relationship between values and personal as well as professional outcomes that any person: leader and non-leader, who is interested in personal development. This woman’s life and anecdotes are all packed together in an inspirational story for all.”
This note, together with the article that the national newspaper of Luxembourg wrote about my presentation titled: “Business guru in Luxembourg: Dr. Betty says ‘lead with values,” gave me the feeling I am on the right path.
It’s hard to believe that not long ago I was shooting a Facebook Live video from the breathtaking rooftops of Rome. As I boarded the plane home with thoughts of sunny California on my mind, I thought of how proud I am of the work I have done, and just how much I look forward to what’s coming next. #Values continues to extend its reach across borders and around lives. For that, I am thrilled and grateful.