The Barrett Leadership Blog

The Barrett Leadership Blog allows those of you who have read my books or have utilized The Barrett Center for Leadership Development, LLC™ services another means to immerse yourself in the conversation of leadership and organizational development. Therefore, I encourage you to participate in an open and honest manner so that you can continue to develop your leadership from the inside out.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Me, A Remarkable Leader?

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Friday, October 24, 2008

My Teaching Philosophy-The Socratic Method

thinking Pictures, Images and Photos

During my years as a college student, I was lucky enough to be encouraged to ask questions by many of my esteemed professors. But instead of me simply answering the questions the way I believed they wanted them to be answered, they created a classroom environment where I as well as my classmates could seek out multiple plausible answers through open discussions and the sharing of ideas. Creating and maintaining such an environment is the essence of the Socratic Method and is what my teaching philosophy is founded on. My teaching philosophy revolves around the notion that while students will be provided with the knowledge that was promised them in the course syllabus, they will be encouraged to go further and to explore beyond the boundaries of the coursework. This experience is fostered through careful encouragement, facilitated by creating and maintaining a learning environment where knowing “the answer” takes a back seat to the process of arriving at multiple answers/solutions to the same issue.

The students of today will be the leaders of tomorrow, which is why it is so important that they develop the critical thinking necessary for arriving at multiple answers/solutions for the complex problems, challenges, or situations that are facing our ever-changing world. This can only occur if they embrace the notion that living in the inquiry is not only okay, but is the only way they can keep continuously coming up with new ideas and innovations to address real world issues.

A college education can do much more than provide a stable lifestyle. It can expand an individual’s thinking, which can expand that individual’s worldview. Armed with an expanded worldview, that individual can have a positive influence on the lives of those that he/she meets. This aspect of education is what I focus on. This is why I work hard to create and maintain supportive learning environments where students are encouraged to go deeper into the course material by being inquisitive and seeking out answers/solutions on their own. I encourage students to express differences in opinions (as long as they can back up their arguments). I encourage questions, debates, innovative thinking, and learning for the sake of simply learning, just as Socrates did in his day.

In my classroom, students quickly learn that I am not impressed with hearing them simply recite what they read or what was taught to them. They realize that I want and expect a deeper level of critical thinking and open discussion, where new ideas emerge. By holding students to this standard, they come to realize that they are getting much more out of the class than what they signed up for, and that getting a college education is more than simply getting a college degree.

In order to have students explore beyond the course material, they have to be carefully pushed without intimidation. This is achieved by teaching them that having the “correct” answer is not always the most important thing, instead asking the right questions and seeking the answers to those questions is usually how new and more innovative answers/solutions for today’s more complex issues are arrived at. Armed with this contextual change in educational philosophy, students begin to dig deeper, because their curiosity is encouraged and awakened. There becomes a greater interest in the coursework by students, a willingness to take on more responsibilities when it comes time for group projects, and an openness and fearlessness when it comes to sharing new and sometimes radical ideas. Facilitated by the Socratic Method, students learn how to think critically as well as respect the thinking of others by developing their natural curiosity for learning and listening (which is how we receive the knowledge of the world around us).

Education can be a liberating experience for the mind, body, and soul depending on how it is contextualized for the student by his/her teacher(s). I use the Socratic Method so that I can develop their minds by encouraging their natural curiosity. Once that curiosity and inquisitive nature is unleashed, it is almost impossible to bottle them back up, making my students willing and able to go out into the world and address the complex challenges of the ever-changing world. My students are prepared to do more than just get a good job, as they can ask thought provoking questions, think critically, seek out multiple answers/solutions for the same issue, respectfully debate the validity of their arguments, and be open enough to listen to the views and ideas of others. My students are prepared to be leaders.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008


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Friday, October 17, 2008

Upcoming NYC Leadership Workshops: Living The Life You Desire

“Living The Life You Desire”
Hosted by Ricky Young (Producer/Host of WHCR 90.3 FM’s “What’s In Your Hand?”)
· Are you living an unhappy, unfulfilled, or unproductive life?
· Don’t know where to turn for help?
· If only someone would supply you with the answers to help you turn your life around.
· Well…, if you are finally fed up with your life and willing to do the work to change it, we have the answers that you need to turn your life around!
· Join Dr. Mario O. Barrett III, Ph.D. author of Leading from the Inside-Out and creator of The Barrett Leadership Model, as he discusses the leadership practices that will lead you to living the life you desire.
· Get your tickets early, as this is an event you do not want to miss.
Dates: Saturday, October 18th
5-8 PM
Black River Dance Center @ 345 Lenox Ave., Bwt 127th and 128th st., Harlem, NY


Sunday, October 19th
3-6 PM
Simply To Empower @ 189-28 Linden Blvd., Bwt 190th and Farmers Blvd. St., Albans, Queens

Each Event’s Admission: $10.00 per person
For More Info or Advance Tickets, Contact: or

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Crushing At The Light: The Drawbacks Of Putting Your Money On Display

Porsche dealership Pictures, Images and Photos

There is a phrase that my brother and I often use. It's called "crushing at the light." What does that mean you ask? Well, it the practice of putting one's money on display for the world to see how "well off" he/she is supposedly doing. A prime example is of this is when an individual pulls up to a stop light in an expensive car, thinking that he/she is better off financially than the individual next to them in a more modest vehicle. In this example, the individual with the more expensive car is crushing the other individual at the light. Now, it may be true that in some cases the individual with the more expensive car is better off financially than the individual in the more modest car, but in many instances that is just not the case.

Books such as The Millionaire Next Door and Rich Dad/Poor Dad, have long argued against the practice of over indulging in material consumption when there is no true wealth behind it, but it seems as though their arguments have fallen on deaf ears in America, as I see luxury car after luxury car racing up and down the streets of New York City. A place where the median salary of $55,000 a year can barley afford you a middle class lifestyle because of the city's exorbitant cost of living expenses. Nevertheless, New Yorkers have been purchasing material items on a constant basis, even putting themselves into extreme financial hardship just to give the appearance of wealth that they really don't have. When I hear of the dismissal savings rate in America, the low 401k balances, and the high credit card debit, it is no surprise. It's all going to support this notion of crushing at the light. The problem is that this way of thinking gives people a false sense of pride and puts them in a very risky financial position, which turns the initial high of purchasing expensive items into an albatross later on. It is no surprise that America finds itself in these trying financial times. There is no financial leadership at the federal , state, or local levels. And there is no financial leadership in many of America's homes.

With inflated home values and easy credit, Americans went wild buying everything their hearts desired. But, that is no longer the case. Crushing at the light is in jeopardy as world markets fear an economic collapse because banks are restricting the free lending they were engaging in for the last 5-7 years. No more easy money. And as home lose value, that means less equity for Americans to spend on over indulgences. What are we to do? How about practicing a little fiscal restraint and save your money? How about practicing some delayed gratification? How about losing the addiction to material consumption?

I argue for something more tangible America. I argue for true wealth accumulation and not this flashy/impostor stuff we have been engaging in. You see, if you are spending on these luxury items, and by no means am I relegating these items to only luxury cars. No, the luxury watches, the luxury apartments, the luxury furnishings, and the mac mansions. Every thing that inhibits your saving and investing is what I am arguing against. Why am I so passionate? I am so passionate because the global dynamics are changing. America is farming out thousands of jobs overseas that will never come back, defined pensions are going by the wayside, as is medical coverage. Once deemed developing nations like China and India are ready to surpass America as economic powers in the coming decades, and many Americans are behaving as though we as a nation can afford to spend like this. What happens if you lose your job today, how would those luxury items support you? What happens if your child gets really sick and your medical coverage doesn't cover the costs, do you think the doctors will take your Gucci shoes as payment? Think America!

I know this might sound ridiculous to many people, but there is a global economic shift occurring, and instead of continuing to spend recklessly for the sake of impressing strangers on the street, saving and investing your hard earned money is what will make you truly wealthy. A man once told me, wealthy people always have their money working for them. What you call extravagant, maybe be pricey to you, but is what they can easily afford to buy without hindering their financial future. Basically, they don't put themselves into risky financial positions for the sake of looking good to others. They understand and value the power of saving and investing, while everyone else is spending in an attempt to mimic their lifestyle.

I ask to all those crushing at the light-Is the car note, insurance, and gas that you are paying for that luxury vehicle hindering your financial future? If you are being honest with yourself and the answer is no then fine, continue to do what you are doing. If the answer is yes, then you need to make a drastic change because very soon, you may find yourself needing the money that you are wasting now.

Save and invest. Learn about the market. Learn about real estate. Learn about money and finance, and then start building true wealth. After you have gotten to a point where your money is working for you, then you can start spending in a responsible way, because your financial future is secure. But anything other than that is just playing with fire.

mansion Pictures, Images and Photos Pictures, Images and Photos

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008


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Monday, October 13, 2008

Can’t Get No Satisfaction

Satisfaction Pictures, Images and Photos

In our rapid-pace world, we have forgotten how to derive satisfaction out of the simple pleasures in life. Here’s a trick: the faster we go, the more attention we need to bring to areas of our lives that truly gives us satisfaction. The Latin derivative for Satisfaction is “enough action,” meaning that we’ve done enough; it’s time to stop and take notice. Enough action. Let’s bring this to our lives.

These insights came to me late in life, provoked by our digital age, where it seems that dissatisfaction reigns as the norm. As leaders we can tend to focus on loftier visions or goals. We tend forget how little it takes to bring satisfaction into our lives. These times of more, bigger and better, can lead us to think in grandiose terms, or in profound accomplishments. We might think, “If it is not big enough, it’s not satisfying.” Let's question that a bit.

Identify the Satisfaction in your life
This year I took on the practice of identifying what leaves me satisfied, and bringing it into my life, as a practice, daily. I am writing a book, and I've found that the writing process gives me a great deal of satisfaction, but how much is enough? I decided that doing “something” every day would be rewarding. Whether that’s writing new text, revising it, or having a conversation with someone about something I’ve written, I engage something every day, and have begun to enjoy the process.

Another item that gives me satisfaction is cooking. I cannot always cook an elaborate dinner or pasta sauce (which takes all day) every day, but I can make a colorful salad that is healthy, appealing, and tasty each night. I’ve found new ways to use blueberries, strawberries, artichoke hearts, pepperoncinis, kidney beans, strips of steak or salmon, red onions, spinach, cukes, squash, tangerines, nuts and cheeses to create several kinds of healthy salads. Each night is an adventure, and the color is extraordinary, like a work of art.
Enough action.

To support my writing I’ve learned to view my reading as developing ideas. I include some provocative reading in each day: whether it's inspirational, or simply pleasure-reading, I look to each day to stretch my mind by completing a chapter, magazine article or a few online news and opinion columns that provoke thought in unpredictable ways. I find that once I engage ideas, writing come to the surface.
Enough action.

Practice of Satisfaction
Finally, I’ve learned these last two years that I can be intense which can undermine my best efforts. I saw this especially in my activities, where I got too attached to results. Instead, I now embrace the practice of simply doing something every day toward a practice for life. For instance, with my physical activities, I've let go of results and simply engage in something daily: a run, some lifting, biking or Yoga. I do something -- not too much -- each day, and attempt to learn from my body and my breathing as I endeavor to become a more centered being.
Enough action.

Take this insight into your life. Look at what inspires or satisfies you. Then break each down to something simple that can be brought into your life daily: What is it about gardening, writing, reading, bogging, music, cooking, cleaning, knitting, Soduko or crossword, running, walking, yoga, or biking that can leave you satisfied daily or weekly?

To enliven life requires that we mindfully bring attention to these smaller things, experiment with them, and learn how to integrate them into our lives daily. Remember, satisfaction comes from the joy in just enough action, which can come from anything small or smaller. What pleases you? When can you say, enough action!?!

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dreams? No, Expectations

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Iconoclastic Thinker

Tonight, I was corresponding in real time with a friend back in the States. We have known each other for several years and she wrote and told me she felt like an “outcast”. Now, I know this lady well. Our e-mails number in the hundreds, if not the thousands over the years. She came to Thailand to study with me for a five day Master Thinker program. She is a doctor who lost her practice, her spouse, house and all her worldly belongings because she stood up for people. She took on the entire health care system single-handedly and was a whistle blower. They sought to destroy her but couldn’t ever diminish her spirit. She has been a source of inspiration for me since before I met her. They even made a movie about her but it only served to make her more of a target. She is an iconoclastic thinker. I will not use her name in this article because she has been targeted enough.

I immediately wrote her back the first thing that came to my mind. “The iconoclastic thinker is always an outcast. I use the stones that others throw at me for batting practice. It improves my focus, aim, accuracy and distance.”

Most great leaders in virtually every field are iconoclastic thinkers. Most managers are not. Most managers urge their people to “think outside the box!” What they don’t tell them is, “Don’t think outside mine!” For the iconoclastic leader, there are no boxes. They simply do not exist. A few examples? Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Jesus Christ, the Buddha, Copernicus, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and many, many more. We are surrounded by them, but instead of listening to them, we are usually the ones casting stones.

Iconoclastic thinking is not just the domain of leaders, and here is where it gets really interesting. An iconoclastic thinker is anyone who thinks upstream while everyone else around him or her is relaxing on their inner tubes of perception and idly floating downstream. They can be a teacher, a parent, a friend, an enemy or even the smallest child.

Have you ever felt like the odd-person-out? Welcome to the world of iconoclastic thinking! Understand, it is not about being right or wrong, but about thinking differently. You can place your own values on your thinking (and you will) but know that others are just as ready to place theirs upon it too (and they will). Expect others to think differently from you, and the stones they toss will not hurt nearly as much.

I cannot think of a single iconoclastic thinker who lived his or her life without pain, attack, and opposition. We all, at different points, ask ourselves, “Is it worth it?” The resounding answer is, “Yes!” Sure, we have our moments of doubt. One of the signs of a real iconoclast is a constant challenging of our own beliefs. Another is unflinching flexibility as situations and circumstances evolve. Still another is the ability to act according to those beliefs despite the fear of the unknown that inevitably accompanies them. That is the essence of courage and commitment. That is the makeup of the iconoclastic thinker. Do you qualify? If not, why not?

Keep in mind that the iconoclastic thinker does not always go against the tide. Great iconoclastic leaders have a way of coalescing what other believe or want to believe and lead the way to change and evolution. There was a great experiment conducted in Japan that is known as the “100 Monkeys Experiment”. It involved a troupe of monkeys being relocated on an island with only a supply of yams (sweet potatoes) to eat, something that was outside their normal diet. One day, a female monkey from the troupe, picked up a yam, went into the sea, washed it and began eating it. Soon, all of the troupe was doing the same thing and they all survived as a result.

The fact is that we are all potentially iconoclastic thinkers. We all have ideas and thoughts that run contrary to the winds of current thinking. I suspect that passion is what divides the iconoclast from the masses. What is your purpose in life? Are you willing and able to pursue it with a passion that is unfettered and undeterred? Are you willing and able to take the hits from others? If so, welcome to the world of the iconoclastic thinker. Get off your butt and get out there and involve and include others. It doesn’t matter what the area of human endeavor is involved.

Artists, musicians, poets and dancers, are all iconoclastic thinkers when they break out of the mold and take their art in a new direction and to a new level. The same is true for business people, politicians, and theologians. When I was 11 years old, I remember one older kid who came up with a system that revised how we packed groceries at the store in which I worked that increased customer service and raised our level of tips. I still consider him a genius, an iconoclastic thinker. Management was totally opposed to the change but he convinced us all to try it just on one shift and management could not deny the results. I was so inspired that I decided to apply what he had taught us to my newspaper route and the result was that I doubled it within two weeks! Iconoclastic thinking can be contagious to the point of becoming mainstream.

Find your purpose and pursue it with passion. Be brave enough to think differently and have the courage to follow the dictates of your heart, mind and spirit. Live what you preach. Walk the walk. Dare to be different!

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Monday, October 6, 2008

Revisiting The Past With Today’s Perceptions

We all have past experiences we would rather forget and have derived many ways of doing so. Some seek psychiatric help. Others “blank” such experience out. Still others “reshape the original” reality into something more palatable and less painful. The most common approach we have been taught is to “learn” from the experience, let it go and move on. I think I have tried them all. Much of my childhood and months of my Viet Nam combat experience is blank. Both contained very painful experiences I strived to forget. A few years ago, I decided to try something different.

The human mind is “wired” to forget pain. A few years ago, I had a very serious motorcycle accident and nearly died. I can recall the incident in minute detail . . . except for the pain. Sure, I am aware there was intense pain but that realization is not nearly as clear as the other details, which are still as clear as crystal.

The fact is that every experience, good or bad, contains lessons. For example, from my motorcycle accident, I certainly learned the benefit of wearing a helmet! The question is, why would we want to revisit them? Ah! This is one of the keys I have discovered through Transformational Thinking to expanding awareness, and this is what I want to share with you in this article.

Usually, when we revisit (remember) an experience, we tend to do so with our perception of that time, like an old tape replaying. A few years ago, I began to wonder what it would it would be like if I revisited past experiences, good or bad, with today’s perception and began to do so with incredible results. In fact, I am beginning to understand that this is the key to the door leading from knowledge and experience to wisdom.

We are able to “see” details that were always there but that we were simply unable to focus upon at the time because of our mind focusing only on those factors centered upon survival or pleasure. In other words, we are able to expand our consciousness of the event when we look at it with our current perception.

The first thing to consider is that, no matter how painful the experience was, it is over. We are impervious to further pain! That takes care of the fear factor, often a difficult barrier to get through. Once past that, we can now look around and “notice” all the other things that were happening at the time and such an experience has always been rewarding for me ever since I began applying this technique. It is, I suppose, very similar to what some describe as an out-of body or near-death experience. Through emotional non-attachment, we can find much to learn from the original experience we may have missed on the first time through.

Many claim that we should focus on the future rather than the past. I disagree for a good reason. In order to create a better future, we must understand the present and, in order to do that, we need to know how we got here from there. We need to develop our minds to clearly focus on all three: the past, present and future, in order to become more adaptable and successful. It is only through this expansion of awareness that we can grow.

Let me put it into perspective. I lived much of my life with anger and that limited my ability to expand my perception. Every time I revisited an “bad” experience of the past, I did so with that anger. Later on in life, I was able to remove that element of anger but it was a while before I decided to revisit those events or experiences. When I did, I had a totally different outlook! I was also able to learn so much more that I had missed during the original happening.

Although this may be a difficult concept for some, consider the following: As I revisit an old experience with new perception, I change the original event because I change the actual experience (or at least my perception of it). Now, I proceed to the next event with that changed perception and the result is equally or more so different. We are talking about expanding one’s life experience here and nothing less. Think about what that means!

That is precisely what I have done and, the more I do it, the greater the parameters of my perception expands. Every revisit is more expanding. It is a spiraling cycle achieved with nothing more than the mind. It is something we are all capable of doing.

If you really want to improve your life, this is a great starting point. Can we really change the past? No, but we can change or expand our perception of it. You have that power right now. Start right now. Pick an experience and relive it, not with the intention of re-experiencing what you did then, but with what you know now. Look at it with the purpose of discovering all the learning points you lay have missed the first time through. Do so without fear or anger, but with love and a desire to learn more. You will be amazed at the results.

The past, present and future are all interconnected. They are not the linear journey we have all been taught to accept. Learning is not a one-time event. Not if you learn how to revisit the path with your current perception to create a better future and realize that will be a different experience every time you do. It will change you current perception and the cycle simply continues to expand into true awareness and wisdom.

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Are We On The Wrong Path? Eastern Philosophy's Approach To Self-Fulfillment And Sustainable Happiness

Being born and raised in a western culture, I found it very difficult to train my mind to embrace the eastern philosophies of Buddhism and Zen. Some of you may be asking, why consider eastern philosophy at all? Well, I have come to realize that there are fundamental flaws in western philosophy as practiced in America. Many of us know that these flaws exist, but are so consumed by the dogmatic practices of western philosophy that addressing these flaws can only occur during a catastrophic societal breakdown like what we are currently experiencing with the Wall Street crisis.

Now, why do I use the term flaw? I use this term because there are many instances when western philosophy or customs don't align with the individual, society, or nature. In this specific case, greed was the culprit. Wall Street, our elected officials, and corporate elites may not agree with this assessment, but whose interest would it serve if they agreed with it? Not theirs.

To be fair, greed does not occur on its own. It is nurtured in a western philosophy that is based on the concept of survival of the fittest, which espouses that the more I produce, the more I earn. Now, I have no problem with the purity of this concept provided certain regulations and safeguards are in place to protect the society at large from unscrupulous and unethical business practices caused by greed. The crisis we now find ourselves in was allowed to fester because there were no safeguards and little regulations in place to protect the global public against excessive greed facilitated by:

  • deceptive bundling of mortgage backed securities by Wall Street executives

  • predatory lending practices by banks and mortgage brokers

  • irresponsible and overspeculating by real estate "investors"
All of these groups blindly bought into America's old adage of greed is good (watch Micheal Douglas' portrayal of Gordon Gecko in Wall Street). This philosophy has been celebrated and pushed by America's business elite since the inception of this nation. Facilitated by their money and power, America's corporate elite have used their campaign contributions to our elected officials to create unhealthy alliances that do not serve the best interest of society at large. In addition, special interest lobbying groups funded by these corporate elites have silenced the voice of the common individual. Now, many industries are deregulated in the name of a free marketplace (telecommunications, energy [Enron-Need we forget?], financial markets, and radio broadcasting are some of the now deregulated sectors of our economy). Is greed at play in these markets? Yes. But, why?

Western philosophy pushes the notion and ill-fated practice of pursuing self-fulfillment and happiness through excessive consumption of material goods and services (entities outside of our being). This practice of excessive consumption spawns consumerism, which is fueled by the pursuit and acquisition of the almighty dollar. This is why Americans are constantly chasing the buck and why we go to work everyday, even though we may hate what we do for a living. Our western philosophy has conditioned us to believe that money's ability to buy us things leads to happiness. The problem with this notion is that while money can buy us a sense of safety and security in the form of clothing, food , and shelter, it can't do much more than that. Of most importance to us is that money cannot provide sustainable fulfillment and happiness, because it is an entity outside of our being. Therefore, it does not and cannot address the internal workings of the human spirit.

Western philosophy embraces an outside-in approach to life, which often times leaves the mind, body, and soul defenseless to the world's negative distractions and influences. I am not here to say that eastern philosophy is better than western philosophy. But I am here to present you with an alternative if you find that how you are living your life no longer works for you, society, or nature.

What are the signs that your life no longer works for you? Here are some hints:

  • You feel disempowered and disempower others versus feeling empowered and empowering others.

  • Life is not seen as a fun adventure, but rather a required chore.

  • You can't find or don't even realize that your not living as your authentic self (the essence of what it means to be you, the uniqueness that makes you special).

Eastern philosophies (Buddhism and Zen) are very different from western philosophy, as there are no hard and fast rules that implicitly or explicitly impose their will on individuals to live their life a certain way in order to attain a "material-based" notion of happiness and fulfillment. Still, there are some guidelines. But know that these guidelines are all geared to empowering the individual as he/she relates to the world in a synergistic (balanced) way, leading to sustainable happiness and fulfillment. In the eastern philosophy,

  • the western philosophy's outside-in approach is replaced with an inside-out approach.

  • the western philosophy's consumerism is replaced with humility and simplicity.

  • the western philosophy's survival of the fittest dogma is replaced with embracing and aligning the mind, body, soul, and nature.

In eastern philosophy, no entity is left out from experiencing life to the fullest should it choose to do so. So, what path are you on? Is it working for you? If not, could you use a change in philosophy?

Think about it.

The video below will give you a little insight into the eastern philosophy's teachings of mind, body, soul, and nature. I invite you to take a look.

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