I Meet the Most Awesome People…Goffinet McLaren


This article was originally published in print in South Carolina Woman magazine…

I have a beef with most book reviewers. A lot of times, book reviewers are nothing but readers and seldom go beyond that. Many of the authors whose writings I review each month in my book review column are people I have personally gotten to know and talk to at length about their writings. That’s one of the reasons I’ll seldom write a negative review. If I read a book I don’t like I’ll just toss it aside. I suppose I could tell you about a bad experience as a public service, but I’d rather spend time on good reads, on book that are a good time investment, and authors worth meeting.

My friend Mary Anne Benedetto, the author of 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing, introduced me to a friend of hers, another local author. Her name is Goffinet McLaren, and she wrote Sullie Saves the Seas. It’s a children’s book about a seagull who purposes to help preserve his habitat and keep his friends safe. McLaren is no stranger to the ocean. She grew up in Carrickfergus, a small coastal town in Northern Ireland. She and her husband retired to our shabby chic Pawleys Island in 2006. She’s seen the mess people leave on the beaches at times and how it damages the ocean and threatens marine life and sought to do her part by writing the book.

Ordinarily I don’t review children’s books, but I thought hers was different. It’s not just a pure entertainment or ‘go-to-bedtime’ book. This one teaches an important less that is multigenerational and is best when shared. In other words, I think the lesson is learned best coming from someone older, someone like Sullie, who would like to teach the younger birds. I know that some of you still have small children or small grandchildren running around. If you do, I would urge you to check out this book and read it to them. Instead of just reading it myself, I decided to take turns reading it with my boys. I read a chapter then my oldest would read a chapter. That way I could also get their point-of-view for the review. They enjoyed it immensely, and kept asking me when we could read more. Both of them really got the story, and it resonated well with their own efforts to keep the beach clean. We often go down to play and pick up trash while we’re there.

The book is great and, to be honest, even though it’s written as a book for kids, I think adults could gain a lot of insight from it as well. It’s available at many of our local independent booksellers and also online. Maybe you could also catch up with Ms McLaren at a local event or book signing. It’d be so worth it to get an autographed copy and listen to her Irish accent.

I met with her and her husband at Applewoods in Pawleys Island for brunch recently and had the opportunity to hear more about their life story. It’s amazing. Just the story about her name is an awesome one involving World War II pilots, priests on the run from Nazi’s, and a mix of tragedy and heroism. I’m trying to whet your appetite without telling you too much because I want you to buy her next book when it comes out. Her next work is a memoir about that story. I’ll keep you updated. For now, you can check out more about her Sullie book on Amazon.

In addition to Ms Goffinet, I’d also like to recommend a conference coming up in August where you’re sure to have the opportunity to meet some other great folks.

I’m talking about The Global Leadership Summit hosted by Willow Creek Community Church. It’s been going on for more than a decade. Since 1996, the Willow Creek Association has held an annual Leadership Summit.

Speakers at the Leadership Summit have included Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, Karen Hughes (Special Advisor to President George W. Bush), Lady Vols’ women’s college basketball coach Pat Summit, Bishop T.D. Jakes, University of Southern California president Steven Sample, Yahoo!’s Tim Sanders, business author and leadership consultant Marcus Buckingham, Rick Warren, (pastor and author of The Purpose Driven Life), and former United States Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The 2006 and 2009 Leadership Summit featured Bill Hybels interviewing U2 frontman Bono. In his first appearance Bono blasted the church for not doing more to help relieve poverty-stricken areas of the world. His second appearance was mellower. In so many words, he told Bill Hybels that the church was doing pretty good. Bono’s 2006 challenge resonated with Christians and non-Christians all over the world and caused social change.

Although the event is live at Willow Creek’s campus outside of Chicago, it is also simulcast live in churches and other facilities all over the world. Christ Community Church in Conway will be the Myrtle Beach area location for this year’s Summit simulcast. They will be showing both days of the event live and are already signing up early bird registrants. I’m part of the staff working as promotional strategists for the event, so if you need additional information, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Now that I’ve hopefully whetted your appetite, let me give you the facts about the Summit. It takes place August 9-10. Various speakers are scheduled throughout the day, so don’t worry if you can’t spend the entire time there. Working folks are coming in and out all through the day or just dropping in to hear their favorite speakers. Like many conferences and seminars, it’s cheaper if you register early, so jump on in.

The lineup for this year includes…

Bill Hybels, Pastor of Willow Creek

Condoleeza Rice, former Secretary of State

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great

Patrick Lencioni, business guru

…and more

It’s a pretty impressive lineup. The only thing missing this year is a rock star.

I’ve attended several summits in the past, including last year’s. They’ve meant a lot to me and have helped me to recharge my batteries and learn new lessons to help me find success in various areas of my life.

So far, I’ve talked a lot about the religious aspects of the summit. After all, it’s offered at a church and features several pastors. It’s alright to attend though, even if you aren’t religious. Neither are all of the speakers. I remember one year, famous business author Ken Blanchard got up on stage and let fly with a few four-letter words before he realized it. Although the Summit is unapologetically Christian, it doesn’t mean that the speakers and the sites are out to convert you or brand you with a scarlet whatever for being different. There’s enough business, leadership, and life content that anyone should be able to walk away with a deeper education.

Leading up to the summit, various churches and businesses will be hosting preview sessions showcasing speakers from past summits. Keep an eye out in the paper, on the Summit website, and my Facebook page to keep track of any pre-summit events. If you’re not sure you’d like to attend the entire event, the Summit preview events offer a free opportunity to take it for test drive, sample a flavor, kick the tires…you get the message.

I hope to see you at the Summit or one of the other events. Come find me if you make it out there.

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