Pancreatic cancer is a wicked disease. I know more about it now than I ever would have cared to learn. Only nine percent of pancreatic cancer patients survive five years. It’s the third leading cause of cancer deaths, and it’s expected to get worse.

My client, who I now refer to as my friend, was supposed to be in the nine percent. He did everything right. His cancer was caught early. He prioritized treatments. He had already achieved remission once and was well on his way to doing it again. He kept a positive attitude. And, he worked tirelessly at his own expense to start the Destroy Pancreatic Cancer foundation, which is committed to providing hope and a plan to all pancreatic cancer patients.

He was supposed to survive.

But on May 20, 2017, just two days after we worked so hard to launch (and, on my birthday while touring Italy), John R. Couvillon unexpectedly passed away.

Countless people were devastated, including me. But the lessons he offered me in the brief amount of time we worked together to make his life’s mission a reality tempered my sadness. I was instantly overcome with gratitude, faith and hope for what we would still do in his honor.

As I reflect on the goals I want to accomplish before 2017 comes to a close, I find myself less stressed, more optimistic of success and quite certain of the benefits I bring to small and growing professional services businesses as a marketing professional.

Here are the three greatest takeaways I received from my very successful client and dear friend.

  1. Insist on living and working with an abundance mindset

I’ve always leaned towards optimism, but choosing abundance changed how I show up for my clients. And, it could change how you serve your clients, too.

When launching a non-profit, the heart always has more passion than the pocketbook has money. Like many consultants, I bill hourly for services such as website design, content marketing and graphic design. I also agree to perform a certain amount of work within a budget. Each month when I would inevitably run out of hours, I allowed my passion to work for free. I considered it my contribution to the cause.

Some say that’s a sure fire way to go out of business!

But I believe in the power of reciprocity. Do the right thing with the right attitude, and somehow, you’ll attract more of what you give. Sure, there will be some who take advantage. But 99 percent of the time, I’m rewarded financially, and even more importantly, with deeply respectful, rewarding relationships.

Takeaway: The power of reciprocity is real. What you give is what you will attract. So offer your talents generously and trust that you’ll be rewarded.

  1. If thoughts determine our reality, doesn’t it pay to think only about success?

More than once, I witnessed John investing in people when others questioned the business sense of doing so. His word was as good as an iron-clad contract, so if he promised something to someone, he followed through even when he was forced to move in another direction. Honesty and trustworthiness were values he was not willing to compromise, and this surely contributed to more than 22 years of success as a business owner and CEO.

Thoughts are very powerful, and it’s wise to be mindful of how we are responsible for most of our own experiences. Understanding the concept of a self-fulfilling prophecy means believing in your ability to succeed. You simply can’t think about failure and expect success.

John taught me the importance of being truly authentic in every choice you make and keeping a positive attitude. Do what you love and have faith that you’ll find the path to success.

Takeway: If people don’t agree with your decision or share your values, that’s ok. They’re not your people. Let go. Your success depends on you.

  1. Avoid the temptation to jockey for position­—scarcity is one of the world’s biggest lies.

John C. Maxwell, Steven Covey and Brene Brown have shed light on the detrimental effects an attitude of scarcity can have in our personal and professional relationships. Brown said, “Worrying about scarcity is our culture’s version of post-traumatic stress. It happens when we’ve been through too much, and rather than coming together to heal (which requires vulnerability) we’re angry and scared and at each other’s throats.”

Nothing productive ever comes from being at each other’s throats. So when that level of fear creeps into the workplace—whether it’s just one person or it’s pervasive in the culture—a business is at risk of quickly losing sight of its mission, vision and values. Employees focus more energy on getting their due credit and share of the profits than they do on serving clients.

Takeaway: Stay in your own lane. Focus on finding moments to be grateful for and people you can honor.

Clients come and clients go. That’s the nature of being a marketing consultant for small and growing businesses. It’s why I have a personal marketing plan that keeps me focused on business development.

But more than ever, I’m open to possibilities and alternatives that I once might have overlooked. I learned from my friend that I can’t control the outcome. The disease, whatever that is, might have the last word. But living and working with an abundance mindset today means I’ve already achieved success.

Need hands-on help with your marketing? 

Real go-getters, Traverser Marketing supports start-ups, small businesses and well-established organizations in reaching their goals and fulfilling their missions by developing and executing dynamic marketing programs that deliver. Not an expensive marketing agency, we’re experienced, passionate and creative professionals who enjoy helping people succeed. Call 404.850.0586 or email

Also, if your organization is looking for a worthy cause to support, I invite you to learn more about how you can provide hope to pancreatic cancer patients by visiting