Vicky DeCoster

Living Her Passion, Chloe Tran, The Bánh Mì Shop

Chloe Tran

Chloe Tran

While growing up in Saigon, Vietnam, little Chloe Tran was already nurturing her passion for entrepreneurship. After her father purchased a color printer, Chloe began printing colorful posters and stickers of her favorite cartoon characters and selling them to her classmates for a lower price than those sold at local bookstores. Soon, Chloe started following recipes to teach herself to bake. She claims she was sneaky at first, but once her parents discovered she wasn’t trying to destroy the kitchen, they were supportive. While relying on her family’s toaster oven to bake her cakes and pastries, Chloe found inspiration within expensive cookbooks and began documenting and practicing new recipes several times a week. By the time she arrived in middle school, Chloe had graduated to not only selling key chains and stuffed animals from wholesale markets but also her baked goods and homemade crafts. It was then that she realized she had a natural talent for entrepreneurship and started dreaming of owning a business one day.

After moving to Nebraska in 2012 at age seventeen, Chloe decided not to attend culinary school and instead enrolled at the University of Nebraska Omaha where she is currently a senior majoring in Business Entrepreneurship and Management. Although she had planned to work for different food companies to gain experience and save money for her future business, an opportunity came her way while she was just a sophomore in college. After her family decided they wanted to invest in a small restaurant, Chloe stepped in to run the shop specializing in her favorite food and drink: Bánh Mì sandwiches and bubble tea. Today, The Bánh Mì Shop is a bustling business located in Bellevue, Nebraska, that employs around 12 and serves a Vietnamese style sandwich made with a light and crispy Vietnamese baguette, fresh mayonnaise, Vietnamese style hams, pickled carrot and daikon, cucumber, and cilantro. Chloe says, “When I opened the shop, I wanted to make the food and drinks as authentic as possible while serving them in a modern café-style environment. I think my business has attracted many customers because of its inviting set-up.”

Inside The Bánh Mì Shop

Inside The Bánh Mì Shop

As a first-time business owner, Chloe admits that it was very scary at first. “I felt like I was walking through a foggy forest. It was a constant battle to learn what I needed, what I wanted, and what I could afford.” The most frightening aspect of her experience was watching the money her family invested leave her pocket every day, before the doors to the café ever opened. She says the limited financial support motivated her to make the business a success, especially because she didn’t have a backup plan. “Running a business feels like swimming against the current sometimes, especially during our first year,” she adds. Thankfully sound advice to keep moving forward provided her with encouragement during the challenging initial days as an official entrepreneur.

Chloe loves owning a business and the freedom that comes with it. Although the freedom is heavy with responsibilities and hard work, she says that she enjoys choosing how she wants her business to move forward, how she can contribute to the community, how she wants her employees treated, and what kind of leader she wants to be. Her support group includes staff and her boyfriend, Aaron, who has been her left hand because he handles tasks that she considers her weaknesses that allow her to be her own right hand and focus on her strengths.

Chloe has gained much from pursuing her passion. She has overcome her fears and realized that she is capable of contributing much more to the world than she originally believed. Today at age twenty-four, she describes her life as full. Although she knows there is still much to do and learn, she lives every day knowing that she is on the right track to doing her best and fulfilling her purpose.

When asked about the advice she would give someone ready to pursue their passion in life, Chloe quoted Winnie the Pooh, “I always get where I am going by walking away from where I’ve been.” She adds, “The smallest step toward your goal is still a step forward. If you believe in your dream, you can always pursue it. There is no passion better than the other; they simply benefit the world in different ways.”

Well said, Chloe.

For more about The Bánh Mì Shop, visit or on Facebook at

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at


How Do You Want To Be Remembered?


Chances are you’ve probably heard the quote by Benjamin Franklin, “There are two things certain in life: death and taxes.” Even though we know death is inevitable for all of us, it can still be morbid picturing the end of our life while asking ourselves, When I die, how do I want to be remembered? Yet, asking yourself that question from time-to-time can shine a light on your past, the current state of your life, and where you want to go in the future. In short, asking “How do I want to be remembered?” allows you to look inward, reflect on the experiences that have brought you to where you are now, and then envision how you want the rest of your life to play out.

So how do you begin contemplating the answer to such an introspective inquiry? First, sit in the moment. Focus on being present and removing all distractions. This time is just for you. Here are a few sample questions that may help begin the process:

  •  What do I consider my successes in life?

  • What are some of my failures and what did they teach me?

  • What have been some of my most influential experiences to date?

  • What do I see as my place or purpose?

  • What one piece of advice would I give my children and/or grandchildren to take into the future?

Maybe you want to be remembered for your volunteer work helping the less fortunate. Perhaps you want to be remembered for your professional successes. Maybe you want to be remembered as a motivational speaker who inspired others with your story of perseverance through challenges. Perhaps you want to be remembered as a father who was always there for his children. Maybe you want to be known as the sister that everyone could count on, even those not connected to you genetically. Perhaps you want to be known as the person who made everyone laugh, even in their darkest moments. Maybe you want to be known as a mentor who provided encouragement to youth needing to believe in possibilities. Perhaps you want to be known as a politician who worked for all people, not just your constituents. Maybe you want to be remembered as the physician who stops his busy day for a moment to hold the hand of a patient having difficulty handling bad news.

Once you decide how you would like to be remembered, write it down. Length is not important. Be as concise or as lengthy as you feel necessary. This is just one example of a remembrance statement:

I want to be remembered as a kind friend, wife, mother, and trusted guide who provided hope to anyone who needed it, listened more than I talked, and helped others find humor in every situation. I want to be remembered for my ability to connect with everyone who crossed my path—for making them feel welcome and reminding them that we are all just doing our best and that it’s okay to make mistakes. Most of all, I want to be remembered as someone who loved, learned, and left the Earth a better place in the process.

It’s okay if the answer to this all-important question changes as you grow and develop personally. Life is always evolving and transforming, so why shouldn’t you? Once you have formulated your statement, hang it somewhere where you can view it on a daily basis. The power behind this statement will help guide you through the present moment and into a clearer future to become all you were meant to be.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at


Living His Passion – Ben Evers

Ben Evers, Farm Focused

Ben Evers, Farm Focused

When Ben Evers was young, his parents purchased property outside Plattsmouth, Nebraska, with the intent of creating a horse farm. Little did he know at the time that the move would be the single most impactful change in his life. As life on the farm presented him with daily opportunities to perform chores, creatively solve problems, work with his hands, and develop a variety of skills, Ben grew up understanding the value of fulfilling work that instills pride. Additionally, he watched his mother walk away from a corporate job to start her own business. As her company developed and grew, Ben was by her side, helping whenever and however he could. Despite his desire to pursue other interests that included playing sports and riding a dirt bike, Ben never forgot the valuable life lessons he learned during his childhood.

After graduating from the University of Nebraska with a degree in Business Management and marrying his wife, Morgan, Ben pursued a career in retail management that took him from big box stores to a family-owned automotive collision repair shop and finally to a major auto parts supplier where he progressively moved up the ladder to become a district manager who oversaw over 200 employees. In 2015 after deciding that fulfillment was more important to him than chasing the dollar, Ben moved with his wife and their three children back to Nebraska with the intent of starting a business and getting back to his roots. A few months later, Farm Focused was founded near the horse farm where Ben first learned to embrace the country life and the value of hard work.

Driven by his love of working with farmers and a respect for agriculture, Ben started the business based on the idea of bringing efficiencies to local growers through soil additives at planting time that ultimately allow the grower to use less inputs (synthetic fertilizers and fungicides) and increase the health of the soil. Additionally, Ben focused his business on improving efficiencies of the diesel engine, the heartbeat of the farm. As the business grew, Ben added another sector to his brand by creating lifestyle apparel items that he originally created as thank you gifts and marketing collateral. Before long, a demand for his apparel helped him discover that there are surprises in every business. Ben states that he eventually realized that Farm Focused is not just a company that helps farmers, but also a relatable brand that people want to be a part of, no matter where they live or work. Since creating a great logo, Ben has built the line from one t-shirt to 10 separate designs in both unisex and female cuts, seven hat designs, and has even branded socks. Ben adds, “The growth of this side of the business has happened very rapidly. Today we are at a point where we are ready to take it to the next level.”

The farmers that Ben deals directly with on a daily basis all primarily grow corn and soybeans. He states that one of their biggest challenges is the current state of the commodity market. Unfortunately as smaller acre farmers start to fall off and massive yield farmers continue to produce higher yields than ever before, an increase in supply is outrunning the demand. Because of this, there are many progressive growers who are looking for better ways. That is where Farm Focused steps in to help.

A typical day at Farm Focused involves office business as well as time working on a diesel engine, walking fields conducting comparison analyses between treated and untreated soil, or staffing a booth or space at a county fair or other event. The company continues to evolve and change as Ben learns more about the industry and identifies opportunities to bring further products and services under its umbrella.

Ben openly welcomes the personal growth he has experienced over the last few years. “I have seen a different side of life and I am a happier and more content person today. Professionally, I have gained new perspectives that have allowed me to look at things a little differently.” He advises those who want to pursue their passion to build self-confidence first and then decide that you are going to make it, no matter what unexpected obstacles pop up on the path to living a dream.

John D. Rockefeller once said, Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great." Three years ago, Ben Evers did just that when he stepped outside his comfort zone, listened to his heart, walked away from a corporate job, and jumped into building a business that would not only provide him with fulfillment, but also support his family. As he walks the fields and searches for innovative ways to help those who provide the world with food, there is no question that Ben is putting his all into going for the great. Rockefeller would be proud.

For more about Ben and his business, visit

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at

How to Write a Happy Story Every Day

It can be a seemingly daunting request to write a happy story in just four words. But a recent Twitter hashtag prompted many around the world to take a stab at it. What resulted was an inspiring list of posts that included:

Had courage to change.

Passionately living my dream.

Love makes a family.

No one’s truly alone.

Sometimes even a creative hashtag can become a gentle reminder of how we should be mindfully living on a daily basis. When the sun rises each morning, we all face an important choice whether to write a happy story or a negative one.

Contemplating how to write our own happy story forces us to look inward and find gratitude for love, kindness, or friendship—not things—and also to embrace awareness for our purpose in life. Asking introspective questions of ourselves is a wonderful way to grow personally while making a positive contribution to the world.

Tomorrow, before your feet hit the floor, close your eyes and think about how you want your story to be written. Tap into your emotions and then recognize all you are feeling. Then think about how you want to conduct yourself despite your challenges. How do you want people to remember their interactions with you? What do you want to accomplish that will make you happy?

Keep a journal next to your bed. After you have identified your story for the day, write it down. Some examples might be:

Today I am going to:

Make a positive difference in someone’s life.

Show confidence in all I do.

Treat myself like I would a friend.

Practice positive self-talk.

Believe in myself and my abilities.

Take one step toward making my dreams come true.

Tell my children I love them no matter what.

Remember, you are the only one who can tell your story. Although you may not have the power over unforeseen events or hurdles that may occur along the way, you do have the power over your attitude and how you choose to impact those around you.

Writing your own happy story every day allows you to live in the moment and create the life you deserve. With every sunrise comes a new beginning. Get busy writing.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at


Living His Passion – Caleb Pollard

Scratchtown Brewing Company partners (L-R): Shay Reilly, Jade Stunkel, Mike Klimek, and Caleb Pollard

Scratchtown Brewing Company partners (L-R): Shay Reilly, Jade Stunkel, Mike Klimek, and Caleb Pollard

When he was a kid growing up outside Nehawka, Nebraska, Caleb Pollard really wanted to be a farmer, just like his dad. But when life took his family in a different direction, Caleb instead attended college, married, and eventually landed roles in the private sector as well as in economic development policy and consultation. Through his work, Caleb interacted regularly with prospective and current small business owners. To witness each of them chase their dreams and work toward goals was incredibly inspirational for Caleb. From that point on, he was hooked on entrepreneurship. In 2008 as career advancement and family led Caleb and his wife, Christine, to the edge of the Eastern Sandhills in Nebraska, he had no idea that a yet-to-be-identified passion was about to begin brewing.

After marveling at the variety of beer in his local bottle shop in the early 2000s, Caleb started home-brewing with a co-worker. His venture into brewing was accidental. Caleb says, “I loved the creativity, independence, and connection to agriculture that was the beer industry.” After traveling extensively and visiting wineries and breweries across the United States, Caleb decided he was ready to pursue a new business venture.

The idea of founding a brewery in Ord, Nebraska, started as any good business does: over beers and a cocktail napkin in 2009. Once he met partners who were as passionate about brewing beer as he was, Caleb knew they had to pursue the opportunity or live a life of regret. Still, he knew that timing was critical and patiently waited for the right opportunity to transform his passion to reality. In 2011, he and his partners formulated their goals and plan of action. In January 2012, they established the company, sought financing, and acquired real estate in downtown Ord. On December 1, 2012, Caleb and his partners broke ground. Ten months later, they opened the doors to Scratchtown Brewing Company. In the summer of 2013, Caleb left his secure job and dived into the business full-time. Inspired by the advice of a former business owner—“You are either all in or you are not. There is no such thing as half-pregnant.”—Caleb accepted that entrepreneurship is not for the uncommitted. He adds, “It was a startling, humbling, and hard lesson to learn.”

Today, Caleb relishes in entrepreneurship that comes with three benefits: creativity is rewarded financially, the buck stops at his desk, and success is derived from a team effort. Whether times are good or challenging, he is thankful for the support he receives, both personally and professionally. “That engagement helps me work through the ups and downs of business ownership,” Caleb states. “Having a solid network of people that help you keep perspective is essential to getting beyond this self-is-my-business mindset.”

Scratchtown Brewing Company has evolved into a solid, profitable business. With a growing payroll and forty percent of the brewery’s business now outside of Ord, Caleb is thrilled to see Scratchtown bring much happiness to his community and beyond. He adds, “To have brand recognition in other states, not just Nebraska, tells me we’re building a reputation based on excellence and good storytelling. That’s exactly what we set out to do.”

Caleb has great advice for anyone wanting to pursue their passion in life. “Make sure your passion will actually make you money and make you happy … you can’t perpetuate a business unless it perpetuates itself.”

Steve Jobs once said, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” When one walks into Scratchtown Brewing Company, sits at the bar, and samples one of their delicious beers while conversing with one of the owners, it soon becomes evident that Caleb and his partners are passionate about what they do and that determination fuels their journey every day.

Life has come full circle for Caleb. Now as a business owner who persistently sets and works toward goals, he is successfully chasing his dream—and perhaps in the process, quietly inspiring another young person who has no idea their own passion is brewing.

For more information about Scratchtown Brewing Company, visit

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at

Living His Passion – Evan Ludes

Evan Ludes while on a storm chase near Red Cloud, Nebraska (July 2015).

Evan Ludes while on a storm chase near Red Cloud, Nebraska (July 2015).

Evan Ludes has always had a keen interest in the weather as far back as he can remember. While a little boy growing up in the heartland, Evan clearly remembers once scrambling to his family’s basement during a tornado warning and later emerging to see an incredibly vibrant rainbow. His connection with the camera began soon after he began capturing photos of various subjects around the house with his mother’s cell phone. But when his parents gifted him with a point-and-shoot camera for his birthday, the sky quickly became his favorite subject. Driven to capture the sky’s incredibly diverse palette of colors and textures, it was not long before young Evan began sharing his photos online and drawing an appreciative audience.

Although he was largely self-taught, Evan also drew inspiration from others photographers like Blair, Nebraska-based, Mike Hollingshead, who is undeniably one of the best weather photographers in the world. But it was not until fellow photographer, Chris Allington, invited Evan along (with his parents’ approval) on a storm chasing adventure that his interest in weather photography was escalated to a new level. His first chase was a high risk event in Oklahoma that quickly became a crash course in what to observe when chasing and photographing weather and thunderstorms. As his life’s journey led him from high school to attend college with a major in graphic design, Evan continued to pursue his passion of capturing one exciting weather event after the other.

Evan says his favorite part about weather photography is the challenge of finding the ideal location to take the best photos and videos. He says, “There are few things more satisfying than blasting towards a storm, setting up in front of it, documenting its most beautiful stages, and re-positioning ahead of it before it overtakes you.” Still, he emphasizes, weather photography and videography requires him to maintain situational awareness to avoid the risk of putting himself in harm’s way. He adds, “You always have to have an escape option to avoid the storm if something changes or goes wrong.”

His two most exciting shoots occurred first in July 2010 in South Dakota as he and a storm chasing crew headed west in an SUV with a glass sunroof for what looked like storm with a typical moderate risk for large hail and a marginal risk of tornados. But as Evan already knows, Mother Nature loves surprising humanity. What Evan and the rest ended up witnessing was the storm structure of a supercell that produced the largest hailstone on record near Vivian, South Dakota—nearly the size of a bowling ball. The second shoot occurred in Mapleton, Iowa, during a tornado outbreak in April 2011. Evan states, “The chase was significantly different than most as it occurred mainly after dark. I’ll never forget standing several miles south of a tornadic supercell, hearing nothing but crickets and grass blowing as lightning illuminated the silhouette of several tornados in the distance.”

Evan's photograph of the world-record hailstorm in Vivian, South Dakota (July 2010).

Evan's photograph of the world-record hailstorm in Vivian, South Dakota (July 2010).

Evan’s hard work and talents have not gone unrecognized. To date, his work has appeared on most major networks and shows including ABC’s Good Morning America, the CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, NBC’s The Today Show, The Weather Channel, Weather Nation, and several local news stations. His first television debut was when he was just sixteen and interviewed by The Weather Channel’s Carl Parker about his photography. His work has also been featured on a handful of book covers, albums, and most recently, on the cover of Robert Oldshue’s November Storm.

In pursuing his passions of storm chasing and weather photography, Evan has gained a great sense of humility. He says, “There’s nothing that makes you feel smaller than watching the stars above a departing thunderstorm, and there’s no better reality-check than a lightning bolt crashing less than a hundred yards away from you.”

He advises anyone wishing to pursue their own passion in life to seek out others who share that same passion and grow together. Evan adds, “Find someone who motivates you to push the envelope.” He says that if it hadn’t been for other photographers like Chris and Mike, he may never have chased storms, traveled, eventually moved to Rapid City, South Dakota, or met his wife through an online photography forum.

Dorothea Lange once said, “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” Every time Evan Ludes chases and ultimately captures an exciting weather event, he inspires all of us to take a moment out of our busy lives, look to the sky, and respect its amazing power and beauty.

For more about Evan and his work, visit:

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at

Living His Passion - Mark Ervin

Mark Ervin hard at work in his home office.

Mark Ervin hard at work in his home office.

Mark Ervin first became passionate about art and drawing when he was five years old. He remembers lying on the floor of the bedroom he shared with three of his older brothers and watching his brother Bill copy, not trace, a profoundly authentic recreation of panels from his Peanuts paperback book. After grabbing a pencil and paper, Mark didn’t draw cartoons, but instead the back view of a Camaro and Mustang racing on a track. At that moment, Mark’s fiery passion for cars, racing, and drawing was born.

Years later, Mark decided he wanted to be a syndicated cartoonist and cartoon satirist and had already developed a five-year plan to learn the craft in a highly creative environment and then bring it home to Nebraska to become a freelance illustrator. On the last day of visiting his sister in Los Angeles in the spring of 1989, Mark and his wife, Jennifer, stumbled onto the California Institute of the Arts, a school founded by the Walt Disney Company that focuses on developing fully rounded artists, animators, and filmmakers. After meeting with the dean and showing his portfolio, Mark was accepted. That winter, just before semester break, The Simpsons premiered on the FOX network. By April, the studio was calling and inviting students to test for positions on the show. Mark quickly jumped at the opportunity.

After passing several challenging tests, Mark landed a gig as a background artist and quickly began working on proving himself to the director as he set up the scenes for the character animators. During the first hiatus, Mark worked as a character animator on the first season of Rugrats, and worked as a storyboard artist on their second season. In 1992, he returned to The Simpsons and worked as a character layout artist, drawing and animating up to twenty scenes a week. In 1994, he was asked to assist directing a show and in 1999, he was promoted to director. One year later, he hired on at another studio to direct episodes of Futurama where he remained until July 2001 when he and his family decided to return to his wife’s hometown of Neligh, Nebraska. Mark says, “I was ready to leave my 80-hour-a-week job and be closer to family again.” The Simpsons hired him as a freelancer until 2012 when studio budget cuts prompted them to release all artists working remotely.

During his final years with The Simpsons and beyond, Mark began rendering cars again. “I missed it and knew I had learned a lot of skills as well as a different approach on how to not just draw cars, but also to tell a story with the car as a main character,” adds Mark. As an automotive artist, he has created a brand, built clientele through social media, and developed a reputation for creating stories that contain memories and details that tell more about the car’s owner than the car itself. Today when Mark is not drawing cars, he is storyboarding for an animated show being developed for Netflix. His current goals as an artist are to one day publish two books in development, create calendars and coloring books, and write and illustrate a children’s book.

A Mark Ervin original, "Dart in the Dark"

A Mark Ervin original, "Dart in the Dark"

Mark’s biggest supporters are his large family and his closest friends. Pursuing his passion has provided him the opportunity to use his God-given talent to enrich, entertain, and mentor others with similar dreams. His advice to anyone interested in pursuing their passion is simple yet profound. “We do what we love for ourselves, but what we do influences others. We have a huge responsibility to make sure that what we do is edifying to others.” As an artist, Mark believes no one has to shock in order to be relevant. “There are far more people out there who appreciate the beautiful than there are those who enjoy the edgy. Artists should explore the edgy, but pursue the beautiful.”

Through his art, faith, and love for his family, Mark is a shining example of the message Lailah Gifty Akita once shared, “Find your purpose and passionately live it.” Every time Mark creates art and shares it with the world, he is an inspiration to others to do the same.

For more about Mark and to view his work, visit:

Another Mark Ervin original, "61 Special"

Another Mark Ervin original, "61 Special"

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at


Three Ways to Build Drive in Teens and Young Adults


It’s easy to place the dreaded “lazy” label on someone who appears from the outside to lack drive on the inside. But when thinking about the bigger picture, it’s important to recognize that there may be deeper, underlying issues that are prompting the lack of motivation. Thankfully there is good news. Through careful guidance, unbiased listening, and authentic encouragement, it is possible to build drive in someone who is seemingly floating through life without direction.

Teenagers and young adults are often the victims of this negative label. They may be living the life their parents want for them or haven’t yet discovered the one thing they love to do more than anything else. Simply put, they have little reason to get out of bed in the morning. So they don’t. This type of behavior angers those who love them, and ultimately causes rifts, frustration, and perhaps even depression.

So what can you begin to do as parents to help your children move in a positive direction?

1.      Help them identify one or more passions or strengths. Although it is tempting to transfer our own agendas onto our children, it is often a strategy that unfortunately backfires. We are all on our own journeys in life, each with different passions and strengths. Therefore what might work for you, may not work for your child.

As early as possible, begin asking simple questions like, “What do you love to do more than anything else in the world?” If they answer, “Sketching landscapes,” then it’s time to encourage them to sign up for a community art class at a local museum. If they reply, “Helping others,” then begin guiding them to find an interesting community organization and then reach out to begin volunteering. If they respond, “I enjoy solving math problems,” then help them find a way to tutor students whose strengths lie in other areas. If they answer, “I love to write,” it’s time to inspire them to begin journaling, writing stories to publish, or even meeting with a local author. Through a process that focuses on more listening than advising, he or she will eventually identify their passions and unique strengths.

2.      Communicate that it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s really true that we learn much more from our failures than our successes. But too often our good intentions as parents cause us to focus on protecting our children from failure rather than teaching them how to deal with failure. When your child makes a mistake that does not cause irreparable harm to others or endanger himself or herself, push aside your own worries about how others will view you as a parent and become unattached to the outcome. Then begin sharing stories of the mistakes you have made in your own life, what you learned, and how you recovered to become a better person. Through an open and honest dialogue, you are gently guiding your child to understand that mistakes are part of life and that you do not, under any circumstances, expect perfection.

3.      Assist them in creating a plan. An easy way to help teens and young adults begin visualizing a plan for their lives is to encourage them to create a vision board. After gathering several magazines, encourage them to cut out pictures that represent their dreams and place them on the vision board. While thinking about what they want more than anything in the world and then watching it all unfold on poster board that hangs in a prominent area where they see it every day, your child will begin to believe that they can attain their goals with hard work, perseverance, and support from you.

By letting go of our own agendas and focusing on passions, strengths, positive communication, and the visualization of a plan, it is possible for our children to emerge from the dreaded “lazy” label and transform into self-motivated leaders who know that being perfect or living the dreams of others is not the key to attaining a happy life.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients (that include teens and young adults) move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at


Living His Passion - Robert Lopez

Robert Lopez in front of In front of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City (Rome).

Robert Lopez in front of In front of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City (Rome).

Robert Lopez’s dream to become a travel agent first took flight when he was just twelve. While walking to school in Los Angeles, Robert’s path took him around a corner and past the travel agency, Ships N’ Trips. Enthralled with the possibility of traveling to all the places advertised in the agency’s window, Robert eventually met an agent who showed him how to use a computer and told him all about life as a travel agent. Although he also considered a career as a chef, it seemed Robert’s destiny was already laid out for him when he decided to attend travel school and eventually accepted a job in reservations at United Airlines. Even as Robert began what would become a lengthy and successful career in the travel industry, he dreamed of opening his own business.

Robert says it was his father who ultimately inspired him to work for himself, rather than for someone else. The right opportunity finally presented itself twenty years after Robert started his first job at United Airlines. Although Robert was hesitant at first, he decided to take the plunge in memory of his father who always encouraged him to persevere through his challenges.

Today, Robert proudly owns Freedom Travel agency—a place where he connects travelers with unforgettable experiences. A typical day begins at around 6:00 a.m. when Robert checks the weather forecast and news around the country to see if there are any delays ahead for his clients. Then he responds to emails, answers questions through his social media accounts, plans vacations and business trips, and handles all the other aspects of running a busy office such as balancing books, creating email blasts, and networking with potential clients. Before calling it a day, he once again checks news and weather. Robert, who has traveled to nearly twenty-five countries that include Amsterdam, Jamaica, El Salvador, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Hong Kong, relies on his own experiences to counsel his clients on the best places to visit and stay.

When Robert took the leap of faith to start his own business, he received one piece of advice he never forgot: to always be himself. It’s a goal he pledges to achieve daily. Since becoming an entrepreneur, Robert has worked hard to build his clientele, gained insight into all he is capable of accomplishing, brought balance into his life, and discovered his own sense of spirituality.

Robert advises anyone wanting to pursue their passion in life to make it a reality. “If it’s something you love to do and makes you happy inside—like it almost completes you—then don’t ever let the fire burn out. It may not happen early in life, but be sure to keep stoking the fire and seeking fulfillment.” Robert adds that owning a successful business is not just for him, but created and built upon every day in celebration of his father who taught him that all things are possible through hard work and a belief in himself.

All these years after he first walked past a travel agency in Los Angeles as a curious twelve-year-old boy, Robert is living proof that finding our passion in life is not as hard as we think. Sometimes it is just right around the corner. We just have to be intuitive enough to recognize it.

To learn more about Freedom Travel or to book your next travel adventure, visit


Use Your Unique Gifts to Find Purpose

Everyone is born with an innate talent that makes them unique. Some people have the ability to be empathetic listeners. A few can listen to a song just once and then play it on the piano. Some can lead a company to achieve previously unimaginable success. Others can perform miracles in the operating room with tiny surgical instruments. Some have the talent for weaving a compelling tale that makes readers weep, laugh, or both. Truth be known, we are all gifted.

Imagine what would happen to the world if parents made it their mission to help their children identify their unique gifts and then find a way to utilize them to attain their purpose in life. No matter what your age, it is never too late to uncover your innate talents and then adjust your life accordingly. So, how does one identify a unique talent?

The easiest way to identify your innate talent is to think about what you are doing when you feel happiest in life – when you never look at the clock, never think about what you will have for dinner, and ignore your buzzing phone. For one person, it might be building a bookcase in the garage. For another, it may be swirling around a ballroom with a dance partner. For others, it might be singing opera, taking photographs, or designing a room in a home. For someone else, it may be helping others through a crisis. For another, it may be leading a team at work to surpass goals.

Once you have identified your innate talent, now it is time to create a plan to incorporate more of it into your life—and perhaps even parlay that talent into a career. Could you start a business where you design and build bookcases on demand for clients or stage homes before they are put on the market? Is it possible to network with the director of a nonprofit and find a way to work with those affected by natural disasters? Do you have the means to open your own studio to teach ballroom dancing, join an opera company, or begin a photography business?

To incorporate positive change into your life, transform your thinking and focus on using your gifts to attain personal fulfillment. As Howard Thurman once said, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

 Life is short. It’s time for you to come alive. The world is waiting.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at