Barry Lewis Green
and Epic Engage

The Character Leadership Company

TM

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Barry Lewis Green
and Epic Engage

The Character Leadership Company

TM

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Barry Lewis Green
and Epic Engage

The Character Leadership Company

TM

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Monthly Archives: July 2015

The broadCAST: Hot Summer Advice

The broadCAST™ is a new monthly weigh in by members of The CAST™ of Epic Engage™.  Experts in their own right, we ask members of The CAST™ to answer a question of simple but possibly profound nature.  For August 1 (not halfway through Summer), the question was:

What is one thing you would recommend others do to both enjoy and grow this summer?

RAY HOLLISTER SAYS…Ray

Smile! Sound simple? You bet it is – and it’s even easier than it sounds. As much as I’d like to write something of immense profundity, the simple fact is that this one simple ‘thing’ will make magnificent strides in one’s growth and joy over the summer. And here’s a fun little twist; it can change your life! Seriously!

Here’s the ‘what’: Deliberately, without warning, and with warmth, smile with at least 10 people every day. Oh, there’s one catch; these 10 people need to be OUTSIDE your daily sphere of connection. They can be strangers or people you haven’t spent time with in the past week.

Here’s the ‘why’: Smiling is a voluntary act that immediately creates an ‘obligation vacuum’ to the receiver of the smile. When you freely give a smile, the most common reaction is to ‘return the favor’. That is what you are after, the return smile.

Here’s the ‘how’: Smiling creates muscular reactions in your face that in turn create various chemicals in your brain to fire off. Without getting technical and scientificy (it’s a word!), your brain starts firing off ‘feel good’ chemicals and your body begins a process of being in a ‘happier’ state. Sooner or later, your face will get the message and your smile will go from ‘Consciously Created’ to ‘Unconsciously There’ – and the feel good endorphins and chemicals still fire off into your brain and body!

What is the result? Others will assume you are friendly (and smart!) and give you credit for being a nice person with no evidence to support that ‘feeling’ other than they smiled back and unintentionally fired off the ‘feel good’ chemicals into their brain as they were looking at you! WIN!! Not only will you enjoy your summer more, but you cannot help but have personal growth when you find yourself responsible for putting smiles on the faces of others. I know it sounds simplistic (it is). I know it sounds way too easy (it is). I also know that works (it will)!

Ciao, Ray Hollister

Ray Hollister is all about resilience and potential. He works with organizations to reveal extraordinary resilience and unlimited potential in everyone.   His powerful presentations will not only energize and inspire you, but also reveal how YOU can make radical, immediate changes to how you perceive, handle, and experience adversity resulting in experiencing life in a new and thrilling way.  www.rayhollister.net

JOEL SWEENEY SAYS….

Summer is the perfect time to relax and ‘chill’. Given the weather we have had so far, this may have an additional meaning. But that is not the typeJoel-Sweeney of chill I am referring to. Everything seems to take on a more relaxed pace this time of year, so it is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of this time to do something for ourselves. That may be spending more quality time with family and friends, reading a good book, starting a project that you have been putting off because you didn’t have time OR just use the opportunity to simply relax and be.

For many of us this is the lease stressful time of year. It is the perfect time to do something for ourselves, whatever that may be, and recharge our batteries. I see this time of year as a gift. What are you going to do with your gift?

Joel Sweeney is all about effective communications. He is a professional speaker, trainer, facilitator, personal coach and author of The Wedding MC Handbook and Little Helpings of Food for Thought with his third book, The Speaker’s Tool Box, just released in the Fall of 2014. Through his focus on communications training and his keynote speeches, Joel helps individuals and organizations maximize their potential. His messages are thought provoking, entertaining and laced with connection, humor and enthusiasm. www.JoelSweeney.com

SHEENA GROBB SAYS…

One thing I would recommend others do to both grow and enjoy this summer… is actually quite simple. Try starting off every morning for the next grobb30 days drinking a large mason jar full of distilled water with a full lemon squeezed into it…. and see how your life changes. I sometimes add a few drops of Stevia to sweeten if I need it that day.

Many of us go through our days dehydrated, and if you’re like me – a love of that morning coffee (or two) can make you feel like you’ve had all the hydrating you need… when it’s quite the opposite.  When I started making the conscious effort to drink lemon water (and a lot of it) first thing in the morning before anything else, I felt like a new person. My mind was clearer, my energy level sky rocketed, my digestive system thanked me… even my skin felt softer.  I would venture to say the rest of my day was positively affected by this choice every morning… especially in the heat of the warmer months.  So if you’re looking to grow and enjoy this summer… start it off by hydrating and refreshing yourself with lemon water.  See how the rest takes care of itself.

Sheena Grobb Singer/Songwriter and Speaker… is humbly amazing. “It is without a doubt a masterpiece of songwriting and soundscape. Really incredible, soulful music. She will definitely get a huge audience in time, trust me.” Alex Wharton, Abbey Road Studios. A songbird from the age of two, songwriter at ten, with 3 albums under her belt, a nomination for the Western Canadian Music Awards, and over 500 tour dates across Canada, the US, and the UK, Sheena Grobb (one of Canada’s best kept secrets) is spilling over. With the release of her newest album, The Breakless Heart, mastered at Abbey Road Studios in London, and a life changing music video created by Lindsey Nelko (past choreographer with So You Think You Can Dance), Sheena is embarking on her most meaningful project yet – The Living Compassion Project™ – inviting others to “unlock their lives” through sharing their stories… as she begins to share hers. www.sheenagrobb.com

WILLIAM MURRAY SAYS…william-murray

I frequently think about the enormous garden that was my grandfather’s pride and joy. Like those who worked with the earth, he knew the best time to prepare and plant his seeds was in the spring. However, it was during the summer months when you had to invest time out in the sun tending to your crops in order to develop a rich and bountiful harvest.

Summer is also the perfect time to tend to your own personal ‘crops’. At this time of year, most of us take a little vacation, breaking from our normal routines and living a little bit slower – what a perfect time to grow!

One activity that I have taken up this summer is keeping a journal. I use a little pocket notebook and write down my thoughts and ideas as they travel through my head. Some days, I have little to write; other days, I fill pages with personal musings and, more often now, reflections about what I want my life to look like. This isn’t writing to be shared with another else, so I can write, scribble, and sketch whatever I like! It’s for my eyes only.

Journaling is a fantastic way to grow. There are many important skills that we all need to develop in today’s fast paced world. One is self-awareness. Another is authenticity. The simple act of keeping a journal, of writing out your ideas, feelings, and perspectives, is an easy way to increase your own personal awareness and speak with a voice that is authentically yours.

If we believe that our thoughts shape our actions and our actions shape our lives, then the investment of time to capture and explore our own thoughts can bring immeasurable returns.

William C. Murray is all about humanizing our business in two core ways: providing amazing service and building strong relationships. His passion for service excellence comes from years of hands-on experience in the hospitality, tourism and retail sectors. William is an author, story teller, an occasional painter, and a full time teacher with over 15 years of experience. He holds a PhD in management with a focus around meaning creation, language, and sensemaking.  www.williamcmurray.ca

BARRY LEWIS GREEN SAYS… BLG 2

I can’t believe I am saying this.  Walk.  I cannot say for anyone else, but I had found myself becoming that guy who hops in the car to run to the store.  I find myself busy, even and especially in Summer.  Though I am away from the classroom, I am face and eyes and heart into my work and joy with Epic Engage™.  We are now walking daily and  it is making the difference… fresh air, great conversation and fun.  Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t “break the rules” and go with a second.  I started Reikki this month.  I am not a cynic. But I have a healthy skepticism, while remaining open.  I consider myself spiritually inclined.  It has been a great experience, but one piece of advice given me was to stand on the grass bare foot and let that feeling rise up through.  It is freakin’ refreshing.  So, ultimately, my advice comes down to finding some part of the rebel gypsy in you.  It inspires connection and creativity.  Peace.  🙂

Barry Lewis Green is an educator.  He is a dynamic motivator.  Yes, he is a motivational speaker of substance.  He is an expert who speaks.  Barry is The Unity Guy™. EPIC Engage™ is an extension of The Unity Guy™. It is a team with a mission born of Barry’s work.  He is about epic and noble leadership and wholehearted communities at work, school and everywhere; advancing together in thought, will and action. He is about uniting diverse talent to create cultures of growth. www.epicengage.com and www.theunityconnection.com

Until September, enjoy August; it means “majestic”!

The Real Idealism

Now here is quite the read.  An end to capitalism?  It is a timely read, given my recent post on another article on Holism.  Truthfully and personally and professionally, my jury is still out.  Way out.  But the questions are being posed.  Idealism demands it.

I am an idealist and glad for it.

Do not confuse cynicism for critical thinking. Skepticism is not cynicism.  Skepticism is a hearty level of discernment.  Discernment is a virtue.  Discernment is a virtue of considered thought; powerful indeed. It crafts possibilities out of looking at situations for what they are and need to be.

Idealism and skepticism can be partners.  Not cynicism.  Cynicism not only assumes but assures itself of a state of being in things that is less than noble and good. It will find what’s wrong, like discernment. The difference is it presumes things are truly flawed at core. It is convinced of same.

No doubt, there are realities in need of change. No doubt.

Cynicism never inspires change; it but delays it by breeding a sense that “nothing is really to be trusted”. If nothing is to be trusted, then why bother?

Idealism is not idle dreaming. It is believing in something better and working for it. The virtue of idealism is the stuff of great change, throughout history. I wonder if the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had instead said “I have a dream but people are not ready for or smart enough for it.” What he did was put out a dream and then worked towards it. The building of that dream continues, long after his death.

Change demands leadership and leadership demands discernment, idealism and commitment. Give me THAT, any day and for the rest of my life. Discernment will keep me real. Idealism will make me believing. Commitment will bridge the gap.

I’ll take that.  Onwards with discernment, idealism and initiative, locally and globally.  Conversations around culture and who and what we intend to be as organizations of all kinds… they await.  We are part of that; helping build strong and youthful cultures of excellence, growth and change.

Peace, passion and prosperity.

Barry Lewis Green, The Unity Guy™

Character, in Question?

A question of character?  Over my last few posts, I have directed considerable attention towards character and its vital role in finding solutions to social and organizational challenges, locally and globally. I have linked with the work of the World Economic Forum and PwC, in so doing.  In response, there has been kind and constructive engagement; and commentaries as to the need for specificity.

The bad news is that the study and application of character does not, in and of itself, produce concrete steps or solutions for anything.  The good news is that the study and application of character provides a breeding ground for growth in capacity and creativity to find such steps and solutions.  Discernment, openness, wisdom, courage, trust, integrity… and many other virtues… can be the foundation for higher quality dialogue and development alike.  I grew up in a family business where I witnessed the application of character to the work of growing a successful business.  I have witnessed, in so many in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors alike, the power of character to rally conversations, develop solutions and take action.  I am a believer by witness and experience.

Social science is unpacking a very old idea.  Websites and institutes are directing their attention.  Wikipedia is in the game.  TED is paying attention.  Character is not warm and fluffy; nor is it about easy answers or 7 steps to anything.  It is not about positive thinking or pie in the sky.  It is about work, and collective wisdom… and that does not come from a briefcase or bag.  I suggest that we have work to do; and it may not be simple or pretty.  It will require conversation, understanding and action.  And, it is not the realm of gurus.  My own work around character born of my 13 years with The Virtues Project™ says, to me, that this is freakin’ hard work; but vital work… and the kind of work that can unite us, if we dare.

I personally contend that character is the starting point of all great and small solutions.  That does not mean that trust or courage or empathy (all virtues) are actions in and of themselves.  It does not mean that they are “steps” to anything.  It does mean that their application becomes a breeding ground for advanced capacity.  Character is strength.  Strength is character.  At some level indeed, we all know this.

Still, we can now identify hundreds of virtues, all of which have purpose and value that is context specific. In looking at any given situation and determining what strengths of character are called upon, we enhance our capacity to respond to a given situation.  My parents knew this in business.  Many have known this over generations.  This is not new, but it does need to be said.,  It is ancient and eternal wisdom, common sense… that is not common practice.

But in a world of increasing proximity and uncertainty, there needs to be a return to such strengths.  Do I have the answers?  Nope; except that conversations around the applications of these strengths are crucial in our times… and we will be part of that conversation.  Virtues are not the domain of the young or old.  They are not exclusive to ethnicity or color of skin or body politic.  Indeed, the virtues are the one thing that make us all human.  I have long professed that humanity is a high standard and inhumanity is base.  As we practice and sharpen the things we call virtues, we grow in our humanity.

And that is not soft, warm or fluffy.  I also contend that there is not one arena on the planet where character cannot play a role in advancement… economics, politics, technology, health, education, whatever.  Character and its strengthening does not limit capacity.  It grows it.  We are better able to listen to one another and discern for understanding.  We create better dialogues, over simple arguments.  That added capacity results in higher creativity.  We are truly empowered, not simply by action… but by strength of character.

No, this is not a post that has concrete steps for addressing specific problems.  That is the realm of capacity and creativity and collective wisdom.  This is a post that speaks to the foundational piece; character, and its science.  So, if you are looking for something like steps and strategies, I will offer the 5 from The Virtues Project™, with my own understanding at play.

First, we can speak to the language of virtue.  We need to have real and substantive conversations about these strengths, what they mean and how they can impact our systems and habits.  Second, we need to heighten our attention to observing, reflecting and learning around the application of these strengths.  In any given situation, which virtues are called upon and which worked?  Third, we need to have conversations around boundaries and identities using this language.  Instead of codes of ethics… consider codes of character.  Who the hell are we as individuals and organizations and countries? Once we identify who we are as those individuals and organizations, we need to consider how our systems honor who we are.  Do our economic cultures honor who we are as a society?,  If not, how do we make them so?  Does our company culture honor who we are as the people running and operating it?  If not, we need to seek alignment.  And, we need to be present, hearing and listening with purpose.  These are not simple steps.  They are areas for conversation and exploration so that we can build cultures, locally and globally, that serve those they are intended to serve.  It is about integrity and alignment.  No, these are not simple and measurable steps.  No two organizations are alike.  But these are guidelines to creating cultures and economies and systems that respond to the people they are ultimately intended to serve, at the local, regional and global level.

This is both small picture and big picture stuff.

I don’t have the answers but I have some of the questions.  There are no quick fixes, no immediate transformations.  There are necessary and collective conversations… and they are happening.  We need more of them, and to be prepared to do the work that takes character and converts it into both capacity and creativity to develop cultures and systems that work.

Proximity and uncertainty in our world demand it.  The dialogue among equals awaits.  No simple fixes; just the hard work of defining a better way.

Peace, passion and prosperity… through character put to work.

Barry Lewis Green, aka The Unity Guy™

The Comfort Zone is Cool

Consider, for a moment, all the talk about THE COMFORT ZONE.  During my days with Dale Carnegie Training®, we talked about it and challenged it.  It was core to our work, and rightfully so.  Countless books continue to speak to the need to reach beyond it, even way beyond it.

But what is comfort?  Dictionary definitions include relief in affliction; consolation; solace; a feeling of relief or consolation; a state of ease and satisfaction of bodily wants, with freedom from pain and anxiety.  And what could be wrong with this?

Nothing.  As with most things in life. moderation is everything.

I like to think that real and sustainable and sustaining growth can be characterized by four core stages… expansion, consolidation, reflection and comfort.  Each step is crucial.  Expansion is what we often mean by growth, but following expansion there must be a consolidating of the resources and results of the growth… a coming together and the necessary organizing of the outcomes.  There must needs be reflection on the experience too, to learn what worked and what did not. 

Still, there must be a process of normalizing the results to create consistency of the goodness of the growth; comfort.  This is that space of comfort and settling in.  It allows us time to enjoy the harvest of expansion, consolidation and reflection.  It gives us time to breathe.  The danger is getting TOO comfortable and neglecting the need to return to the cycle.

Maybe we should moderate our talk of a comfort zone… moving from demonizing it to understanding that running any river requires times of expansion, consolidation, reflection and comfort.  It is how we travel the river.  Without it, we burn out and lose sight of the purpose of growth… its enjoyment.

Peace (comfort), passion and prosperity.

Barry Lewis Green, aka The Unity Guy™

Strength is Built

Today, I start with a song that I love.  Yesterday I felt the need to say this. And this morning, I feel the need to write.

Whether we are talking of financial markets and global economies, or political issues and developments, or social concerns and ideas…. we are, these days, seemingly and increasingly driven by a sense of urgency or immediacy.  We want action and results, and we want it now; or we have given up hope of same because we have come to the conclusion, personally or even collectively, that “it just doesn’t happen”.  Both urgency and apathy are born of the desire for immediacy.  We want what we want and we want it now.  Credit and financing is the birth child of same.  Apathy too, because when we see that it doesn’t typically happen overnight, we far too often lose belief and hope that it can.

For me, the topic of addictions became a powerful conversation over the last 48 hours.  There is much talk these days around ideas that addictions are not diseases but choices.  Other schools of thought indicate otherwise.  Personally, I find and contend that the discussion is not unlike whether Pluto is a planet or not. No offense meant but semantics it seems to me; just me.  My personal and professional understanding and experience of what we consider to be addictions (whether disease or not) is that:

(a) they start with a single choice, to try something

(b) they result in some bio-chemical change of state that is “hard to beat”

So, it does indeed start with a choice.  But that choice does not remain simple once started.  The slippery slope is steep because it involves our body chemistry.  Whether we are talking cocaine, ecstasy, alcohol, gambling, sugar or love, these things change our biochemical state and our body not only craves the feeling but wants increasingly more.  You can call that a disease or not.  We do know it is chronic; and chronic is long term.  If I had a chronic cold, it would start to be considered somehow a disease.  That all being said, the naming is not important.  The understanding is.

So, if an addiction starts with a choice, but then changes our body chemistry in a  way that makes the need arise, continue and strengthen, how do we “beat” it?  Well, again hoping not to offend, we do not beat it with the chronic need for immediacy, itself an increasing addiction.  We do not beat it once and for all.  The cellular memory remains.  We remember how it felt, even momentarily to have the substance of our addiction.  That memory remains; and tempts us.

Those who I know and have known that have been successful in facing their addiction have not beaten it; for once you assume it dead, it is not unlike a Phoenix.  The same goes for depression.  It is there, waiting, ever patiently.  What these remarkable people have done is gotten up each day, faced the music, had the dance, and took the lead.  What they have done is that each time they stumbled, they practiced the mastery of the dance.

Those who really know me, know that I am a fan of the War of Art by Steven Pressfield. In it, and from my take, he speaks to the need to sharpen the blades daily and go to work.  That is the creative process; and creativity is a work in progress.  It is also a path through both pain and pleasure alike.  To me, it is what Joe Calloway speaks of in addressing consistency of practice as a strategic strength.  Indeed, my own past experience as a Trainer and Coach with Dale Carnegie Training® for 12 years reminded me of this too.  It is about the track record.  We build a track record of experience that reinforces both our skill and strength.  We never actually complete the journey.  Mastery is a life long process.

I have seen this in the people who have personally inspired me, whether in terms of their ability to ride the waves of business growth and build successful businesses over time and not overnight... or whether in the friends and colleagues who I have witnessed rise above personal challenges, including addictions, one day a time, one battle at a time.

So, where am I going?  I have long been and continue to be a champion of the power of character,  It is the soil and breeding ground for increased capacity.  Increased capacity, in turn, results in greater creativity to find both inspiration and solution.  If that is the case, we need to care for the soil, strengthen it.  My work as a Master Facilitator with The Virtues Project and as The Unity Guy with Epic Engage… and my own personal and professional journey… has all taught me that character is strength and strength is character; and it does not happen overnight.  You do not buy strength of character.  You build it.

Yes, you build it.  I grew up in a family business that centered around both masonry and relationship building.  You do not build strong walls by rushing the brick work.  You lay each brick, the next brick, with precision and care.  If you do it right, it makes the laying of the next brick just a little easier.  At times, you may even have epiphanies of great learning that significantly advance your bricklaying but you can never forget the fundamentals.  And it is still one brick a a time.  If you do that right, you build remarkable structure to your life that is true to you.  I witnessed that true for building successful relationships too.  The family business was built on relationship building and the building of trust.  Long an admirer (since childhood) of Chinese culture and its powerful patience through history, I might suggest that the Chinese call it Guanxi .

So, bringing it back to addictions, character is the foundation of both capacity and creativity.  Character is built not on immediacy or urgency.  It is build on practice and mastery, turning failure into success, trial into triumph.  It is built on understanding and accepting our vulnerability (thank you Brene Brown for this gift of acknowledgement).  But, it is built… not won or achieved.  It is earned.

If I was to leave with a thought (and I will) it is this.  Consider the virtues as innate strengths within that are ready to be accessed. There are hundreds. Here are 100 alone. Think of them as acorns needing attention.  Draw upon them.  Practice them.  Learn from their application.  Choose your identity by practicing those you most desire.  Honor your spirit by doing so.  I choose to continuously draw upon nobility, wholeheartedness and zeal.  How about you?  Find those that will most help you build what I call your “Great Wall of Shining”.  Find those that will help you build your daily battle amidst the challenges faced.  Do not give up, neither assume the challenges have given up.  It might seem like a tiring notion, but it is the real one.  You can only do the best you can and you can only do it today.

Each day is a brick.  lay it well.  Tomorrow there will be another.  Therein lies learning, mastery and character.  Therein lies your capacity and creativity..  Therein lies your strength.

Peace, passion and prosperity… for the long run.

Barry Lewis Green, aka The Unity Guy™

If you would like a cool, funky and free poster of 101 virtues to draw upon, for your office, boardroom or bedroom (or any room)… email Nicole at info@epicengage.com and we will send you one.  We love it and them, and rely on them through the trials and triumphs alike.  Peace.

True Capital Markets

“Intuitively we know that there is a link between trust and creating value, not just economic but also societal value,” says Piers Cumberlege, Senior Director, Head of Partnership at the World Economic Forum.

This, from….

The Leadership, Trust and Performance Equation: An initiative by the World Economic Forum

advised by PwC

read more here at PwC

I had my two cents yesterday, on a drive through St. John’s.

Now, consider the value and power of trust and trustworthiness as true capital.  Consider the contributing virtues of integrity, accountability, truthfulness, reliability, responsibility and justice in economic affairs and their supporting financial systems.  Without them… apathy and alienation, conflict and contention.  With them, comes a faith that augers well for healthy and robust prosperity and long term investment.  Until we understand that the mechanics of failing and failed economic systems cannot be effectively addressed unless we look at our motives and missions for said systems, we will not “get it”.

Truly sustainable economic systems require the sustaining strengths of character.  This is not about “being good”.  It is about being great.  Without character as a foundation to economics and finance, we remain “doomed to the crap shoot” that investment and financial markets have too often become, filled with speculation and fear; and short on long term and far reaching prosperity.  We end up with excessive disparities in prosperity and, as nature would have it, no bird can fly with only one wing strong.

We need conversations around, consultations on and commitment to a market-inspired, but character-driven economic system.  We need conversations around what I call the character quotient; the consideration of virtue as it applies to economic systems that inspire and serve… economic systems at the organizational, community, and global levels.

Peace, passion and prosperity… for all, sustainable and sustaining, without the mood swings of immediacy.

Barry Lewis Green, aka The Unity Guy™

TRUST and TRUSTWORTHNESS

You Inc. shared an interesting article on a powerful study that commenced in the 1960’s… my first decade.  Have a read.  The findings are interesting indeed.  What strikes me most is the vital role of two powerful virtues in business, at work, in school and throughout community.

Trust is that which we place in others, or a place or an idea.  Trustworthiness is the sense that we ourselves can be trusted.  Consistency of care and excellence in practice builds it.  I would add that, while the virtues themselves are important, an equally important factor has to do with the question of that in which we place our trust.  These children all trusted.  Many trusted the fact that no second marshmallow would appear.  They trusted in the untrustworthiness of their potential benefactor.  Those children who waited showed trust that the promise would indeed (and in deed) be kept.

So, going forward, maybe you might ask yourself and your team some questions.  Maybe you ask your customers..

  • In what do you place your trust?
  • In whom do you place your trust?
  • What is it that you trust in those in whom you place it?
  • What factors make someone or something trustworthy for you?
  • For what do you most want others to hold trust in you?

These are powerful questions that will not only guide future decisions but demonstrate whatever track record you have come to believe.  Ultimately, you get to decide that which you will trust and how you wish to be trusted.

In business, school and community… choose wisely.

Peace, passion and prosperity.

Barry Lewis Green, aka The Unity Guy™

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