The Academi of Life regularly invites inspirational thought-leaders to share their wisdoms in enlightening Evenings in Conversation. These conversations touch on a range of life lessons, from neuroscience and spirituality, money and morality, commitment, happiness, and much more. Here, everyone has something to teach as well as learn- it’s all a part of conversation.

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We all know the current global economic system is severely troubled. Most people believe that corporate greed plays a major role in today’s economic turmoil and that human values are lacking in business decisions and actions. Money worries top the list of many people. Patricia Aburdene one of the world’s leading social forecasters and co-author of four Megatrends books with John Naisbitt—including the New York Times bestseller Megatrends 2000, has discovered another emerging megatrend which she describes in her latest book, Conscious Money. She believes that if you look below the surface of the current economic disaster, there is a holistic, values-based economic transformation underway opening the door to a new era that can bring fulfillment and prosperity. This emerging megatrend she calls: Conscious Money. Conscious Money is a growing movement of people who draw on values, creativity, and the power of human consciousness to clarify and guide their financial choices. Join us for this new, profound and life-changing conversation as Patricia shares how you can make financial choices that reflect your values by: Identifying your unique personal values Breaking down barriers to financial success Partnering & working for companies that reflect your values Expressing your values through conscious shopping Investing in enterprises that honor the planet Patricia has discovered that people want their money life (where they earn, spend and invest their money) to better reflect the values espoused in their personal and spiritual lives. They want to make financial choices that reflect their values and awareness. They also want to develop a new economy and a way of life that grows out of their true values. "We have a new economic era now – where sustainable values and the genius of human consciousness outperform fear and greed." – Marianne Williamson
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Are you one of those people who have been looking for love in all the wrong places? Or perhaps you are someone who has found love, only to find that it fizzles out faster than a lit match in the spring rain? Have you genuinely tried your best to leave behind your pattern of unfulfilling relationships, only to find that you keep on going back to them, again and again? Dr. Srini Pillay will spend an evening with us to unravel the mysteries of love and help us make wiser more informed choices about the loving relationships in our lives. He will address the following questions with cutting-edge scientific answers: Why do so many people look for love in all the wrong places? What can you do about this? Why you end up doing all the wrong things in love despite your best intentions? How can you change this? Why does loving someone else require that you love yourself first? How can you achieve without the hype of a contemporary tabloid? Why do you repeat your destructive patterns of falling in love? How can you escape these patterns? Why does love become so boring so quickly? What can you do to lead a more sustainable fulfilling romantic life? Dr. Pillay will also explain in everyday language how our fears complicate finding and forming loving relationships that last. By helping us understand the science of love, Dr. Pillay will help us move through the roadblocks that prevent us from living a satisfying, fulfilling and magical life. "The secret to living life successfully is to recognize that you can be different from what is happening to you." - Srinivasan S. Pillay
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After having to turn back during her first attempt at climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, Herta Von Stiegel vowed to return a decade later in a big way. For her 50th birthday, Von Stiegel paired a group of seven people with disabilities with able-bodied climbers to benefit Enham, a non-profit that empowers people with disabilities. The emotionally charged climb to the top was captured in her award-winning documentary The Mountain Within. She also wrote a book about the experience, The Mountain Within: Leadership Lesson and Inspiration for Your Climb to the Top. The book weaves a dramatic narrative of the gripping Kilimanjaro climb with personal stories of other mountains met and mastered; stories about the obstacles some of the world’s most influential leaders face in knowing themselves and their values, being true to both while ascending the highest peaks. Full of practical wisdom, courage and inspiration, The Mountain Within expands our understanding of what achievement means and the roads we can take to get there. Von Stiegel’s second attempt was a success. She learned that life may be full of obstacles, but it is the mountain within that most often needs to be conquered. Her story reveals several invaluable lessons for today’s business leaders: Ruthlessly prepare Use failure as a stepping-stone for success Hang on to your vision Know when it's time to come down from the mountain "It’s the mountain within that needs to be conquered one day at a time." – Herta Von Stiegel
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Scientists have discovered the secret of healthy permanent weight loss – and it’s got nothing to do with dieting! People are over-weight because they are imprisoned by their bad habits. The fatter someone is, the more habits they have. Charles Duhigg award-winning New York Times business reporter has written a new book: The Power of Habit …why we do what we do and how to change it. The book examines the specific ways in which people are learning to radically manipulate habits –either their own or those of other people and confirms that once we understand how habits really work, and how change occurs, we can develop new habits or get rid of old ones with the same basic tools. This discovery will inspire people to re-think many aspects of their daily lives. Duhigg will explore why some people, companies, and communities never achieve real transformation, while others remake themselves almost overnight. He will share the key to conquering our most stubborn vices. We will learn that transforming a habit – or a life – isn’t necessarily easy or quick. It isn’t always simple. But it is possible. An article adapted from his new book ‘The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.’ was recently featured on the front cover of the New York Times Magazine ‘By the time we reach adulthood, we are driven as much by habit as by anything else, and there is infinity of habits in us. They do not merely rule us; they inhibit us and make fools of us.’ –Warren Bennis
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Each of us has a deep need to forgive and to be forgiven. But how do we forgive? How does the mother whose husband and daughter were gunned down by terrorists forgive the men that murdered them? How do the parents whose teenage daughters were killed by a drunk driver embrace the person who robbed them of their children? And how do we forgive the multitude of lesser wrongs and inevitable slights that we will face throughout our lives? Writing with her father Archbishop Desmond Tutu, The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World, Mpho Tutu offers a unique and practical guide on forgiveness that we can apply to our own lives. Father and daughter explain the universal four-step process of forgiveness: telling the story, naming the hurt, granting forgiveness, and choosing to either renew or release the relationship. Quotes from the book: "In our own ways, we are all broken. Out of that brokenness, we hurt others. Forgiveness is the journey we take toward healing the broken parts. It is how we become whole again. Forgiveness is ... the way we stop our human community from unraveling." "With each act of forgiveness, whether small or great, we move towards wholeness," they write. "Forgiveness is how we bring peace to ourselves and our world." "Without forgiveness, we remain tethered to the person who harmed us. We are bound with chains of bitterness, tied together, trapped ... Until we can forgive the person who harmed us they will hold the keys to our happiness, they will be our jailor." "There is no one who embodies the virtue of forgiveness like Desmond Tutu. With this book, he and his daughter take forgiveness out of the realm of mystery and offer a handbook on forgiveness, revealing this most exacting and freeing of human capacities in all its complexity and transformative achievability." - Krista Tippett, Host/Executive Producer of On Being
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The question of whether or not the soul exists cannot be answered by science, but we can study the causes and consequences of people's various beliefs about the soul, and that is the area in which we are beginning to make progress," says Daniel Ogilvie. Throughout history, the fate of the soul has been an underlying theme in religious debates. Nearly every religion postulates that something survives after the death of the physical, and that something is called the soul. Centuries have been spent arguing over this entity's ultimate fate, yet there remains a deeper issue: What exactly is the soul and where is it? Is it really God's gift to humans, designed to distinguish us from the base animalistic nature of other species, or is it something that we have invented on our own, to soothe our consciences? Daniel Ogilvie, a Professor of Psychology at Rutgers University, has dedicated the last few years to exploring these questions and in 2009 he initiated the Rutgers University "Soul Searching Project" and taught a course on the human soul titled "Soul Beliefs: Causes and Consequences." During this Sunday Morning Conversation he is opening the discussion to us. Pulling from psychology, evolutionary theory, history and more, Ogilvie will address the following questions: What is the soul? Why are soul and afterlife beliefs so common in human history? Are there adaptive advantages to assuming souls exist? How do these beliefs shape the worldviews of different cultures and our collective lives? What is the role of competing afterlife beliefs in religion, science, politics, and war? Ogilvie will explore how gaining a better understanding of the soul and beliefs regarding its final destination, will lead to a better understanding of religion, faith and human nature. So come and join us as we all embark on our own "soul searching" journey.
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