Advocate for Freedom, Equality & Justice

Michaëlle Jean

Michaëlle Jean has had a variety of interesting roles in her life. Compassionate and caring, she has always used them to support her advocacy for freedom, equality, and justice.

The year 1968 was a dangerous and frightening time to live in Haiti. Dictator François Duvalier was jailing and torturing anyone who spoke out against his brutal government.

Many victims and their families tried to escape, and a lucky few made it to Canada. That’s how a little girl named Michaëlle Jean wound up in the small Quebec town of Thetford Mines.

She grew into a beautiful, well-educated woman who could speak half a dozen languages. Although Jean now enjoyed a peaceful, prosperous life, she never forgot the suffering she had seen—her father tortured, poor people oppressed, women and children brutalized.

So Michaëlle Jean worked at a women’s shelter and with new immigrants to Canada, helping others improve their lives. She began a successful career as a radio/TV broadcaster and filmmaker, and used her position there to shine a light on injustice and suffering around the world.

As she worked to build a network of women’s shelters across Canada and write about the hardships of immigrant women, Jean used her remarkable brain, but led with her heart. She became known for her sympathy for anyone fighting on the side of freedom and equality.

Then, in 2005, her reputation for caring and compassion led to an amazing opportunity; a chance to make an even bigger difference in the world. It came in the form of an invitation from the Government of Canada, asking if Michaëlle Jean—the former immigrant girl from Haiti—would like to be the next governor general!

As the Queen’s official representative in Canada, she met world leaders, hosted important conferences, and traveled the globe as a spokesperson for the nation.

But most importantly, in this position Jean was able to lead and inspire others to follow her example. As governor general, she dedicated herself to breaking down barriers —between French and English, black and white, rich and poor, east and west, north and south.

After her term as governor general came to an end, Michaëlle Jean was chosen by the United Nations to be a special envoy for her homeland of Haiti, giving her a fresh opportunity to help tackle the challenges in that troubled country.

She continues to lead with her heart, lending her voice and energy to care for the underprivileged, and helping to make the world a better, more caring place.

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This is an excerpt from the book Inspiration to Live Your MAGIC!™, 75 Inspiring Biographies by Larry Anderson. It is available as a print book from Amazon.com and as a Kindle e-book.

He Has Sold 100 Million Books


Paulo Coelho

The most widely published Brazilian author of all time, Paulo Coelho has sold close to 100 million copies of his books and has also been a theater director, an actor, a songwriter, and a journalist. 

When Paulo Coelho told his parents he wanted to be a writer, they thought he was crazy—literally. The Brazilian teenager’s parents had him committed to an insane asylum!

Paulo escaped three times before he was finally released and ready to follow a more normal path through life. He then enrolled in law school, as his parents desired.

But his creative instinct was too strong to be locked away, either behind bars or inside his own life. He had to break free. So Paulo dropped out of school, became a hippie, and traveled around Brazil looking for his inspiration. He found it through music and started writing amazing, strange, and wonderful songs. Soon, Paulo Coelho’s work was being recorded by some of the biggest singing stars in Brazil.

Unfortunately, the oppressive military government at that time thought his songs were too subversive because they talked about freedom and defying authority. Coelho was arrested and tortured for his beliefs.

However, nothing would stop him from using his creative powers. Years after his release, Coelho went for a walk— a 500-mile walk along a road in northern Spain. He used the time to reflect on his life, and he came to the realization that he still wanted to be a writer.

So even though he was now middle-aged, Paulo Coelho started on a new career as a novelist. His first two books went nowhere, but his third book, The Alchemist, made world history. It has sold more than sixty million copies (one of the bestselling books ever written), and holds the world record for being translated into more languages—seventy-one—than any other book by a living author.

Since then, Coelho has written more than two dozen books, sharing his unique world view with readers everywhere. He has also been a pioneer of sharing his work for free—his publisher once caught him pirating his own books online. His greatest life lesson, he says, has been to never surrender your dreams or give up on making them come true. “The secret to life,” according to Coelho, “is to fall down seven times, but to get back up eight times.”

Paulo Coelho is also an outspoken activist for peace and social justice. He is a Messenger of Peace for the UN, an Ambassador to the European Union for Intercultural Dialogue, and a member of many other organizations that advocate for peace.

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This is an excerpt from the book Inspiration to Live Your MAGIC!™, 75 Inspiring Biographies by Larry Anderson. It is available as a print book from Amazon.com and as a Kindle e-book.

My 2012 Quest

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