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Fingerstyle Guitar China 2015

Billy and TJ have been in China with Fingerstyle Guitar China for 2 days thus far.  They will be there touring with Fingerstyle until August 1st.  Here you will find updates from their travels!  For real-time photo updates, view Billy’s FB page here.
 
 

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While in Beijing for his first stop of the tour, Billy had an interview at Fingerstyle Guitar China headquarters, a workshop and a concert.  He then traveled to Wuxi for another interview, concert and workshop.  To finish up his time in China, Billy went to Shanghai for his final concert.

We would like to extend a big thank-you to Fingerstyle Guitar China, Cassandra, Weifang and everyone who made this tour such a success!  Billy and TJ always enjoy their time in Asia and this was no exception.  Enjoying the culture, music and meeting new friends!

 
 

Interview with Fingerstyle Guitar China


 

Beijing Workshop

 
 

Beijing Concert


 

Wuxi Concert


 

Wuxi Workshop


 
 

Shanghai Concert

Fargo, North Dakota – May 2014.
Photos by TJ Jensen.

Florida – February 2014.
Photos by TJ Jensen.

Streaming for Dystonia

On Friday, January 24, Billy gave a very special concert. It was the first time he had performed simultaneously to a live audience and an audience around the world. The concert, “Streaming for Dystonia,” was sponsored by the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) as part of a crusade to increase awareness of dystonia and to help raise funds for medical research. “Somebody in your circle of friends has dystonia,” said Billy at the concert. “It comes in so many forms, from someone suffering from writers’ cramp to someone whose neck muscles spasm so that they can’t straighten up to someone whose voice has become progressively hoarse.” These are all symptoms of dystonia, which makes it’s difficult to recognize,” he explained.
Billy considers himself fortunate to have found a way around his dystonia. He explained to the audience the way he now plays his guitar, with his left hand, and how he had to learn to fail his way to success. “As with dystonia, you can’t be afraid,” said Billy. For three years, Billy had suffered from the symptoms without it being properly diagnosed. During that time he lost his home, marriage, recording contracts and his music. “I’m here to help people find a way out of the trap that is dystonia,” said Billy. “I’m lucky because I can still do something I love to do.”
Billy is passionate about advancing the entire field of neurosciences. “The power of a chronic condition like dystonia, Parkinson’s or epilepsy to beat us down is really tremendous,” he said. Billy finds it an amazing coincidence that DMRF began its research into dystonia in 1976, the same year that he started playing guitar. “The worst thing that ever happened to me has unfolded to be the best thing that ever happened. To have this opportunity to play my music with meaning and purpose is truly a blessing. Thank you to all who turned out and tuned in to build awareness of dystonia!”
For more information about DMRF or to make a contribution, visit www.dystonia-foundation.org.
Written by Linda Ruhland
 
 

interview with donatelle
Interview with Donatelle

Donatelle

Billy’s Message Inspires Innovation in Medical Device Manufacturer

Treasa Springett, president of Donatelle, an award-winning manufacturer of devices for the medical industry, asked Billy McLaughlin to present his story to the company’s leadership team as part of the team’s future vision project, “Changing the Game”.  “I first met Billy during his presentation at an Executive Group Forum, led by Bill Mills,” she said. “I was amazed at the similarities between Billy’s story and what we’ve been experiencing at Donatelle, which is: ‘How do we as leaders face challenges and not fall back on what had always worked before?’” As a sole proprietor and artist stricken with dystonia, Billy simply couldn’t go back to what he had done before. He had to reinvent himself. The timing of Billy’s story happened to fit perfectly with Donatelle’s planning retreat, which was scheduled for the upcoming December.

Treasa surprised her leadership team by asking Billy to make a special appearance at their retreat and to share his story about overcoming “impossible” challenges. “I found Billy’s story empowering; it aligned so well with our leadership culture,” said Treasa. “In the global medical device marketplace our customers are challenged with rapid change every day. Billy’s message encouraged us to embrace change; recognize the need for it, be willing to address the challenge and adapt. Treasa intended Billy’s presentation to be a gift to her leadership team. “I was so excited to be able to book him for our December retreat, it was hard for me to keep it a secret. Billy’s story combined with his humor and music was fantastic,” she said.

Billy was not the first presenter to appear at a Donatelle leadership retreat. This time, however, the team had the added enjoyment of listening to Billy’s music along with his speech. More than enjoyment, Treasa said that Billy’s message resonated with the challenges that Donatelle and all companies face daily: How do you rethink change in the global market, which creates pressures you cannot anticipate? “Billy’s example of overcoming challenge inspired us to become the change we try to create; this had great personal and business relevance to us. Our mission at Donatelle is to create possibilities to improve the quality of life for humankind, one person at a time,” she explained.

After his performance, Billy was invited to join the group for an evening of fun and conversation. It was exciting for him to learn that some of the devices Donatelle is designing will treat the symptoms he suffers from focal dystonia. Treasa and the Donatelle leadership team look forward to having Billy return again to a future retreat. Treasa mentioned, “I’d like for Billy to delve deeper into his story so that we can learn more about his journey. Also, I think it will be great fun to add another hour of musical entertainment following his presentation so that we can continue to enjoy listening to Billy play.”

interview with donatelle

Billy with Treasa Springett

Epilepsy Foundation of Western WI
Epilepsy Foundation of Western Wisconsin

Epilepsy Foundation of Western Wisconsin

 “The Epilepsy Foundation of Western Wisconsin leads the fight to stop seizures, find a cure and overcome the challenges created by epilepsy.”

“There are not enough words of gratitude to Billy McLaughlin who was our incredible speaker for the Epilepsy Foundation of Western Wisconsin’s Share the Flame and Silent Auction on December 3rd, 2013 at Fanny Hill Dinner Theater in Eau Claire. Our guests who are business professionals, medical staff, family, and personal supporters of our mission, were absolutely amazed at Billy‘s powerful performance and inspirational story. He kept all of us spellbound, with his presentation and music.
“Many of our guests knew of his music and talent in the 1990’s and were amazed at the challenges he has faced over the past years with focal dystonia which forced him to relearn how to play his guitar. His personal story as a single father with a son, who has many challenges with epilepsy, warmed our hearts and created understanding  in the reality of how difficult living with seizures can be. His amazing personality, and determination to make his marvelous comeback and his life more meaningful and positive made an awesome impact on everyone!

“Billy has a kindness, charm, and caring demeanor about him, and he is able to relate, and talk to anyone! He changed our way of thinking and feeling and gave us the hope and new goals to focus on in our work and in our lives. Billy spoke to us as friends and left us with wanting to hear more of his music and his compassionate message over and over again. We are thankful for the uplifting “gift” Billy gave us that touched our lives and filled our hearts with his magic!”

-Lou Kelsey,Director of Client Services and Community Resources. Epilepsy Foundation of Western Wisconsin


 

Minnesota SHRM 2013 Conference
Minnesota SHRM 2013 Conference

Minnesota SHRM

Minnesota Society for Human Resource Management (MNSHRM) State Conference

On October 13, Billy McLaughlin kicked off the annual conference for the Minnesota Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The conference brought together human resource professionals and consultants for new ideas, shared thoughts and best practices in employee engagement, education and new ways at looking at HR problems. Following his kickoff speech, Billy, accompanied by his string quartet, added an unprecedented element to the evening’s festivities as well.  For an event that is typically filled with continuing education and legal content, Billy and his ensemble were a deviation from the norm. Attendees responded positively to Billy’s addition.
Mary Gummerson, office manager for McGladrey LLP and chair of this year’s SHRM event, said that Billy exceeded expectations. “He wonderfully related the HR profession into his experiences and challenges while entertaining us. He also reminded us through his challenges that the thinking we need to do to solve a problem is not always in front of us.” Mary commented that the SHRM conference does not usually have a musical component. “It was a good fit. Members raved about it; I heard people mention that Billy was fantastic.” She added that Billy’s combination of entertainment and speaking contributed to the overall success of the conference. “He has overcome difficult challenges to become an incredible inspirational speaker who reaches people on an emotional level,” she added.
Jennifer Taschner, human resources director for Fiduciary Counselling, Inc., was among the attendees at the SHRM event. She said, “The foundational core of our work is to know, understand and have empathy for the employees we serve. Yet, there is so much separation due to legal paperwork and compliance updates. Billy’s story brought me back. He made an emotional connection through which I was able to share in his trials, experience his success and see the happiness he now has for the work he is doing.”
In response to hearing Billy’s music at a SHRM conference, Jennifer said, “Music is important in everyone’s life; it touches us in many ways. When I was growing up, we had an improvisational music instructor in grade school. She taught us the value of free-form learning. That understanding has translated into my professional life. Through Billy’s music I am reminded to think creatively, especially in a world that is constantly changing. In my HR role, it’s important to see individuals for what their talents are.  Billy’s combination of music and an emotional message made sense, especially speaking to this group. He is an inspirational singer, songwriter and presenter with a unique style that you wouldn’t expect.”
 
All photos taken by TJ Jensen

Interview with Secura Consultants

Interview with Secura Consultants

Secura Consultants


 
Once a year, Secura Consultants hosts the Twin Cities DI Day. The annual event is designed to enlighten financial professionals on the many ways disability impacts the lives of individuals and their loved ones. It is also intended to encourage these professionals, through their roles as insurance providers, to help people avoid the devastating and unnecessary financial side effects that accompany a disability.
 
Last month marked Secura Consultant’s 12th annual Twin Cities DI Day, which was held at the Minneapolis Convention Center. President George Davidson invited Billy as keynote presenter. “Billy wove a tapestry of story, talent and passion for music, which was an incredible experience for attendees,” he described.
 
According to George, much of Billy’s ordeal was the result of his loss of income due to the sudden onset of his disability. “When something like this happens it changes the complexion of everything,” he explained. It is an example of why George is committed to communicating the message that disability protection is an important part of planning for financial well being. He wants to make certain that people in the financial services industry include disability as part of the conversations they have with their clients. “It’s not all about fun and lake cabins, it’s also about risk planning,” he said.
In the 12 years that Secura Consultants has sponsored DI Day, George cannot remember anyone who has delivered more impact than Billy.
“He is an incredible star who will make it hard for us to provide comparable talent next year. His ability to be open, disarming, funny and engaging is rare. Often in a presentation, you get what feels like canned commentary.  While I am sure that Billy knew what he was going to say, it felt more like we were having a conversation with him. The same is true when he plays guitar, it comes through him and is very soulful. I had never seen him play before; I was mesmerized. It is clear that he is a unique talent. You can’t appreciate what he has lost until you hear what he has gotten back.”
 
In his efforts to curb the financial distress caused by disability George said, “All we can do is deliver the message. I don’t think that I could have found anyone better to do that than Billy. I have sent a correspondence about him to others who do what I do in this industry. He is a tremendous spokesperson.” George believes it is important that people fully understand financial impact of a sudden disability. “When I think of what it would’ve been like if Billy hadn’t made his turnaround; what the world would have lost!”
 

Pictures by TJ Jensen 2013

Interview with Upsher-Smith

Interview with Upsher-Smith

Upsher-Smith


 
Dave Stefanoni, head of early-stage commercialization and advocacy, and Mark Evenstad, president and CEO of Upsher-Smith Laboratories, Inc., comment on Billy McLaughlin’s performance at a recent company event.
 
Billy was asked to give a presentation to the Upsher-Smith Community, an assembly of employees and invited guests, with the intent of raising their awareness and understanding of the types of challenges Billy encounters with dystonia as well as the challenges he faces with his son’s epilepsy. “Originally, I had wanted to ask Billy to do a more intimate version of his music and leadership story that he presented during the gala for the Epilepsy Foundation. When Mark heard of the plan, he decided to invite the entire company together on the lawn outside our building,” said Dave.
 
“People at Upsher-Smith are kind, caring and open-minded. When they observe and hear someone like Billy, they work harder, better and faster to develop solutions that people need to live healthier lives,” said Mark. “That’s why I hold these events. They give us a picture of who we are working for while attaching a face and a story to our efforts. As far as I’m concerned, the faster we can solve problems involving the central nervous system, the better it will be for all,” he explained.
 
The company has hosted similar outdoor events to employee groups, including a panel of parents whose children have epilepsy and an adult woman with epilepsy who shared her life experiences. One of the reasons for this exploration is that Upsher-Smith is developing drugs that treat seizure disorders. They are currently working on three products that include standard therapy, rescue therapy and treatment for refractory symptoms.
 
Billy’s presentation was scheduled so that it bridged normal and after-work hours. It took place on the lawn outside the building. Mark noted, “When I sent a company-wide email announcing Billy’s presentation, the excitement was high, but expectations were unknown.  People did not expect to be as captivated as they were by Billy. I looked around the audience and all eyes were fixed on him as he told his story. This is unusual during an after-hours event where people like to visit and chat. Whatever expectations they may have had were blown away, mine included.”
 
Among the takeaways for Mark was the fact that after Billy resolved to learn his music left handed (having lost the use of his right hand to dystonia), he would not settle for anything short of playing his hardest song before returning to stage publicly. Also, the inspiration he shared from having been at the top of his craft before crashing and burning and then pulling himself up again while helping his son as best as he could modeled behaviors that, according to Mark, “any of us would be excited to witness.”
 
Billy’s presentation also served people at Upsher Smith beyond those who were working on the drugs specific to epilepsy. Dave had wanted to acquaint other groups with people afflicted by epilepsy as well as their caregivers so that they might feel less removed from all that had been going on with the new products and advocacy program.
 
“Billy has a unique ability to weave levity and music into the serious subject of epilepsy. He created the perfect platform to make an impact. Billy helped to rally our people behind our goal; he let them know that everything they do helps to fuel our success. The results were better than I had anticipated. Billy aligned our organization. The feedback we received was exceptional. Mark mentioned to me that it was one of the best events we had ever put together. I don’t tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, but the thing that touched me about Billy is what he’s been through. Through it all he remains positive, upbeat and willing to give of himself and his talent. I also happen to love his music. Billy provides the unique experience of a concert motivated by a story – there’s not too much of one or the other,” said Dave.
 
According to Dave, “I would absolutely ask Billy back to do another performance. However, I’d like to do it somewhat differently next time. As we continue our efforts in this area, I would love to see us become a bigger partner by helping to sponsor Billy’s tour in such a way that more people can hear his message, especially those who are directly impacted by epilepsy. As our efforts evolve, we can touch others with this message. Billy will help us increase awareness of what epilepsy is and how to handle it. Eventually we can make progress toward how epilepsy is being dealt with in the legislature, schools, jobs, transportation and housing. Creating this voice is a big part of our ultimate goal.”
 
*Thanks to Dave Stefanoni and TJ Jensen for capturing some great pictures from the event!

 
 

25th Anniversary Concert Photos

Pictures from TPT’s 25th Anniversary.
Pictures taken by TJ Jensen.