Decide Success – Reclaiming Posi-spective

April 8, 2013

My mother had said to me hundreds of times, “Everything happens for the best..” Almost a year after I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, her favorite commentary changed. “Well, remember John, everything happens for a reason.” What had always been the “best” was now a mediocre “reason”, solemn and unexplainable “reason”?

When I confronted her about it, she reluctantly explained, “I can’t imagine that your Parkinson’s disease is for the best.” I felt a sudden rush. I didn’t know it then, but I had been looking for something to inspire me. Right then and there, I made the decision to give her optimistic “best” back. Somehow, some way, I would make my having Parkinson’s “for the best.”

The fog and denial that I had been living in started to lift. I felt a purpose. That’s why I wrote this book.

I was a successful student and professional. The same principles and steps I used to develop my life then apply equally to living life to the fullest after a life-changing event. Your own medical condition or one of a loved one, personal loss, change in your job or even relationship situation can suddenly stop you in your tracks and change the your life as you had known it to be. It does not have to break you. You can make it “for the best”.

I sometimes feel scared. I know what the long-term looks like. I have seen people diagnosed with Parkinson’s “not doing so well.” It would be a lie if I said I didn’t put myself in those shoes for a millisecond.

At times, I need to lean on my wife Bernadette. Reminding myself to “Let go and let God.” I have to force myself to bring my focus back to what is now and follow my “life purpose.” Then I can be the person you see in my inspirational talks. The voice you hear when you read this book. The person you talk to one-on-one and look to for hope. The enthusiastic, passionate and inspirational person who is John Baumann.

It’s through pain and fear that builds a warrior. That’s why you fight. There is not a person throughout history that made a difference who did not have to fight. I see the fear in the eyes of the people in my audiences. They want to fight, but need guidance to find their mission. They find peace in my words of hope. I am determined to make my Parkinson’s “for the best” and I will succeed. Make the decision. DECIDE SUCCESS. I live the title of my book.

Who am I? I graduated from Cornell Law School in 1986 and summa cum laude from the University of Massachusetts School of Business. I worked as an attorney from 25 years including as top lawyer for a NASDAQ-listed company. I am on the faculty of the University of Louisville School of Business. I am also the Chair of the Make-A-Wish Kentucky Board and have been Parkinson’s Proud since 2002. I have provided inspirational talks to groups, including in Texas, Alabama, Vermont, Missouri, Florida, Oklahoma, Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina, Indiana, St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands and several locations in Canada.

DECIDE SUCCESS uses short stories to bring the success principles to life, engaging imagery. I have dedicated my life to inspiring, explaining my twelve action steps to achieve the success you truly desire to, and bringing hope to as many people as possible. You will have an actual plan to be more successful after reading this book.

Thanks, John
Faculty, University of Louisville

My speaking focuses on helping people create a plan to succeed and then successfully implement that plan. Talks are based upon my book and audio-book DECIDE SUCCESS which explain the 12 action steps helping professionals, students, supervisors, front line workers, even people who have had a life-changing event (I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2002 at 41 years old), basically everyone.

Check out my most recent:
(1) YouTube Video:
(2) Article:
(3) Full Presentation Video:
(4) Radio Show on Success: (February 9, 2013)
(5) Celebrity Cyclist Davis Phinney’s praise: (video on opening page)
(6) Radio Show on Parkinsons:
(8) Audio-book version:
(9) Appearance on CNN HEADLINE NEWS:


We all felt inspired and enjoyed listening to your presentation. Even though we are not living with Parkinson’s, we felt boost of motivation to continue helping those who are living with this disease. I am motivated to make more personal phone calls to people living with PD and asking how they are doing. Sometimes that “extra” bit of kindness truly makes a difference to someone. I am also motivated to research program ideas and partner with other organizations that may have similar values.

I learned that life is unexpected and that you cannot control it. What matters is your attitude!

-Great way to end the day, brave man, thank you very much!

-Good, excellent, great, outstanding speaker, very moving!

-Inspirational who just “gets it”

-Positive thinker and very funny!

-Honest speaker but also humorous!

Parkinson’s Society of Southwest Ontario, Canada, Symposium Keynote Presentation

“whatever hand life deals you, whatever life changing adversity you have to endure, you still have some control over it.” “You don’t have to just to live well,” he advises,” but live an Amazing Life.” The formula he proposes: Faith in yourself, discipline, determination, desire, intensity, and inner strength.


Yes, you touched every person at our conference, who will in turn change and impact so many others. The feedback from our participants was overwhelmingly positive. You are the only speaker to ever receive a standing ovation. Thank you for taking time to share, motivate and inspire. We are blessed to know you.


I will be honest. During the first 10 minutes of your presentation, I started reading work related material on my laptop. For surely, I had watched your You-Tube and seen your videos and knew what to expect. Surely, as a therapist I had studied this disease, the pathological components, the psychological components, the treatment alternatives……..Surely, I understand it.

Not so much. You caught my attention and I was enthralled. You were able to couple the impairments you experience with the emotions felt. You walked us through your life with the disease through “your eyes”. A perspective that a therapist/nurse rarely has the chance to hear. We get so busy telling patients how to deal with x, y and z, but our eyes are blurred by the science of it all most of the time.

You did it through truth, Through your humor, humility and determination to tell your story. One that most deservedly needs to be shared.

I will advocate to have you share your story. I appreciate your determination, diligence and dedication.