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Strong Capital Management

Dear Mr. Zander,

There have been many times in the last 18 months that I've wanted to send you a message to thank you for inspiring me follow my dreams. And today our worlds once again connected. You spoke in Palm Springs and a gentleman arrived 10 minutes late and you "invited" him to the front row. He accepted. After the presentation he stopped to talk with you and told you that your students are very lucky to have you as a teacher. He meant it and you hugged him. It was a definitely a connection. For that I thank you because I've told him for years how much of an impact you've had on me.

The gentleman was my boss - although we regard each other as co-workers and friends based upon our mutual respect for each other and our respective talents. And I'm the young lady you met at Strong Capital Management when you presented to the group in Menomonee Falls, WI. I sat in the center of the front row and later joined you at dinner in Strong's Blue Room. When we went around the room to introduce ourselves, you commented on how we played with each other with our eyes through the entire presentation. I still remember that evening - it was magical and has stayed with me. And for that I again thank you.

Now that I've explained who I am and the special event that is prompting this letter, I'd like to share two things with you to brighten your day. Last year in honor of my 30th birthday, I traveled to France with my friend Carol (also from Strong). The plan was to be back in Menomonee Falls the day before my birthday so that I could share the day with my friends. Well, through bad scheduling on our part, we missed our connecting flight because we needed to travel across town from Orly to Charles Degaulle and didn't allow ourselves enough time. When we arrived at Charles Degaulle and were told that they would not process us even though we were 1 hour early, we looked at each and said "what would Ben Zander do?" We booked a room at the airport hotel. When we woke up the next morning, we went for a walk and sang "Happy Birthday" like you've never heard "Happy Birthday" sang before. The Japanese men that were standing near us thought we were strange - but that's okay. We smiled and said "how fascinating"! Everything ended well and my 30th birthday latest for 36 hours as I traveled back home across the time zones. It's a day that I will always remember.
And now on to the even bigger event in my life. At the time that we had met at Strong, I had worked there for 8 years. It was my first job out of college. I was in the process of buying a house and I was destined to work there for the rest of my life. My spirit and soul yearned for more, but I was always the steady, sensible, stable person who took the known, safe path. That's when the gentleman who had been my boss at Strong (but who had left the year before) - the same gentlemen that you "invited" to the front today - called and presented me a career opportunity in Southern California. What? Me? Leave Strong? Move away from everything I've known?
Well, I did! I now live in Southern California and I work in Newport Beach. And it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. I can honestly say that I couldn't have done it without your inspiration and your message to embrace life - and the many long talks with you in my head! I am happier now than I have ever been in my life. And I am more confident and carefree than I ever thought I'd be. I love life and I love being silly! And most of all, I just love being me!
So thank you ... thank you for sharing yourself with my friend today ... thank you for inspiring me and being my friend .... thank you for being you!
Kind regards,
Karen Hoefler
Technology Project Manager
State Street Corporation

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