For leaders and meeting planners who need
a dynamic keynote speaker or trainer to
inspire, enlighten & motivate your members
at your next Conference or In-service ...

Programs to help you improve your:

* Attitudes, Aptitudes & Actions in your job,
* Teamwork, Customer Service, Leadership,
* Ability to positively influence others.

collage of terms covered in Kim's keynote

(952) 938-4472 | | 3665 Woody Lane, Minnetonka, MN 55305

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Meet Kim Ratz ...

Dad was a minister and outstanding speaker; mom was a music major and great musician. I'm known as "the speaker who sings." Go figure...

For as long as I can remember, I've been known to stand in front of people, speaking and singing about ways to be hopeful, strong and happy in the face of life's challenges and confusing situations. Now, many years later, I'm so content about how that passion has played out, further reinforcing the power and magic of having dreams, and the courage to go after them. However, it hasn't happened overnight, nor has it been easy ...The choice in 1994 to start a business as a self employed speaker-trainer-songer-songwriter was a HUGE exercise of confidence and effort to overcome the unexpected adversity and change of a job layoff ...

I grew up in Iowa and Minnesota during the 50s and 60s and had a good life - good schools, good neighborhoods, stay-at-home mom - the American dream. Graduating high school I thought I was going to be the family's fourth generation Presbyterian minister (that speaking in front of people thing :) ... Except I was a restless college student in the early 70s, and when my parents moved to Oregon I left the Univ. of MN to hitch-hike around the country for the better part of the year ... I worked various odd jobs including singing in coffee houses and bars and on the street for spare change, not quite sure what was next ... That was when I found myself with some people in 1972 who introduced me to the Univ. of Oregon and Eugene, where I soon found myself enrolled in a program that really resonated with me - it was called "Community Services & Public Affairs." This interdisciplinary program brought students together from a broad range of majors, and were my first classes in what would shortly become a 20 year career I would love - Community Education. Grandma and dad gave me their blessings to deviate from plans for the ministry to pursue this program I was so interested in.

Yet before I even graduated from the Univ. of Oregon with my B.S. degree, another unexpected development awaited. My new wife and I wanted to go to spend the summer of '75 somewhere in Alaska - any of the bigger towns, to experience "the last frontier" before returning to Oregon at the end of the summer to complete my internship at a school in Portland. Based on a letter of inquiry to about 10 hospitals in Alaska, Mary Lou was hired "sight unseen" as an RN at the hospital in Juneau. So in June of '75 we loaded everything we owned into our VW, drove up to Prince Rupert, B.C. and onto an Alaska State Ferry, cruised up the Inside Passge, and began our three month adventure in Juneau. Once again I'm glad we were resilient when we noticed the opportunities open to us once we were there. I met a local principal who helped arrange a paid internship in a community ed. program that was set to begin in his school that fall, rather than return to Portland to complete an unpaid internship ... That 3 month adventure to Alaska would turn into a wonderful 10 year stay in Juneau where we had our two babies, launched both our careers, and had lots of adventures.

During that first job as a Community School Cooordinator in Juneau, I was awarded a graduate fellowship from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to return to the Univ. of Oregon in 1977 to work on a Master's Degree in Community Education / Public Administration, which I completed within the year. Upon returning to Juneau the fall of '78, I began working in the Alaska Dept of Education, helping each of the state's 49 school districts start a community education program. I also was elected to serve terms on the Juneau PTA and the Juneau School Board, taught several classes at the Univ of Alaska-Juneau, and performed leadership roles on several educational committees and associations. We moved to Fairbanks in 1985 for five more years in Alaska, where I continued my career in community education and public relations with the local school district and as the executive director of the regional adult learning center. In 1990 our family moved to Minnesota for the warmer winters and to be closer to our parents, where I worked with the Hopkins and Brooklyn Center School Districts in the Twin Cities metro area.

Then in 1994, 20 years into a career I loved (Resume), -- more changes were lurking ...

Shortly after being hired by Brooklyn Center I learned the district was facing a severe funding shortage that would lead to deep budget cuts. (And it wasn't because of me -- honest!) Being the newest administrator with shortest tenure, mine was the first contract to not be renewed for the next year... It was shortly after this devastating event that I REALLY started to understand the meaning of the phrases, "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade," and "Life is what happens when you're making other plans." I'd been thinking about becoming an independent contractor for several years now ... I had two decades worth of experience and skills in leadership and working with people, organizing to meet community problems, and giving presentations at state and national conferences ... I knew people in almost every state ... I could do consulting, training, keynoting, and maybe even figure out to weave in the guitar and singing in some fashion...

And so, in 1994 I began my 2nd career as a speaker, trainer, singer-songwriter. Because the bulk of my professional and personal experience involved working with children or other agencies and groups who work with children, as well as with learners of all ages, most of my business involves working with educators and other professionals who work with kids and life-long learners. Now in my 17th year of self-employment, and as much as I loved what I did in community education for those 20 years - I REALLY love what I'm doing now. I get to work with people all over the U.S. and Canada, sharing stories and songs that have helped me to do more than "just get by" in the things that are important to me, but to "THRIVE," and that I know can and will help others too. It doesn't get any better than this - fulfilling a dream you've had since you were a child.

Please remember I didn't say it was always fun or easy. Running a business involves real risk, and there are always things you have to do you don't particularly enjoy either ... I expect this to be another risky year ... Yet this is the continued point: When the going gets tough, it's important to be congruent, to be you and not somebody else, to have the courage and confidence to do what you think is the right thing, and do the best you can. I continue to find that when you do these things, no matter the challenge, you can look back at your choices with content and not regrets. My sincere belief in this notion, based on experience and example, is a big reason why my message is so well received by others - it's a message of hope, grounded in reality and common experiences. That, and the music...

In my other life roles and goals, I also enjoy children. A lot. Just ask my grown kids if I ever act silly when I encounter kids. They bring out the kid in me, plus, I strongly believe in the saying: "You don't quit playing because you get old; you get old because you quit playing." Plus I'm now a grandpa, a role I've looked forward to and know I will enjoy in the years ahead ... To keep up with kids, I continue to swim laps every day, and it's also important to exercise my faith. On Tuesday nights you'll find me teaching adult swim classes through my local YMCA. Vacations almost always involve water, and where the goal is to leave the watch, laptop, phone and hustle and stress behind, and you need a paddle to go where it really gets dark at night and you can't hear the engines of civilization - to give myself the time to ponder what's REALLY important in life. Some of my best insights emerge following a good vacation - life balance is a talk I strive to walk too.

Hopefully this gives you a much better idea of where I'm coming from when I work with people. If you'd like to know more, give me a call so we can talk - I'd like to hear about you and what you're working towards, and how I might be of service or support. Meanwhile, I truly wish good things for you, and ask you to remember that - you DO make a difference to yourself and others - please make it a positive one! Positively yours --

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Since 2006 Kim has been proud to sponsor:

Kim is proud to sponsor Make a Difference to Children"July is National Make a Difference to Children Month"

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952.938.4472 (Central TZ)

3665 Woody Lane,
Minnetonka, MN 55305

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