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The Setback That Launched My Comeback Was Truly Fascinating

Kristin at the mic with arms up and she is smiling

“The greatest value you can add is to become more of yourself.” – Sally Hogshead

I came across the work of Sally Hogshead a few years ago when my divorce journey had recently begun.  If you have been through a divorce and subsequently faced the “dating after divorce” mountain/monster/nightmare, you probably spit out your coffee just like I did when I heard Sally say that.  Become more of myself?  Didn’t a twenty year relationship just crumble because I was so my-self and he was so him-self and our being so our “self-s” didn’t work?  Aren’t we now supposed to re-invent our self, change our self, discover a new self in our “new chapter”???

Stay with me here because this post isn’t actually about surviving divorce and I wasn’t looking for post-divorce advice when I came across Sally’s work. True that I learned of Sally’s “How to Fascinate” when I was struggling with self-image (and questioning pretty much everything about my broken self) post break-up, but I was simultaneously diving into entrepreneurship and marketing strategies to take my nonprofit mission to a new level and launch my speaking career.  To that end, I became obsessed with Bob Burg’s Go Giver podcast… and I found episode #15 where he interviewed Sally Hogshead.  I can still remember listening to it over and over again.  I was fascinated, no pun intended but totally a perfect pun.

At that point in my journey, I was stuck.  I couldn’t think straight.  I couldn’t create a darn thing… and creativity is kind of my thing.  When life hits you hard – a break up, a devastating diagnosis, a business fail, etc. –  it’s hard.  If you are like me, your mind gets stuck in a vicious circle of all the negative things people think about you, and your “failure”.

So when I came across the tagline “Discover how the world sees you” I thought, “Sweet Jesus I am obsessing with that already – thanks no thanks.”  But a little voice in my head said, “Why not get some new information from a whole different point of view.”  Best.  Advice.  Ever.

Sally Hogshead believes that when you become more of yourself, who you are at your core, you have the most success.  She says: Your hidden talents, your highest worth, your unrealized potential – the best parts of you might not have been obvious to you before. But now they can be. And with that knowledge, you can use your Fascination Advantages to grow your life, your team and your career.

Through a quick series of questions at the How to Fascinate website I found out that my “primary advantage” – the quality that runs deepest in my bones – is Passion because I “connect with emotion”.  My secondary advantage is Power because I “lead with command.”  Put those two together and I get the picture that the world sees: The People’s Champion.  The three adjectives the fascinate program uses to describe The People’s Champion are dynamic, inclusive and engaging.  (I hear a lot of heads nodding that this suits me!)

Kristin at the mic with arms up and she is smiling
The world sees: The People’s Champion

Now, Sally Hogshead developed this system so that once you know how the world sees you, you can tailor your work and message to serve in that way.  And that worked for my work.  However, it first helped me to pull my sad self out of the pit I was stuck in.  When I saw that “People’s Champion” title come up on my screen, I swear to you I completely geeked out.  I started playing scenes of my life in my head… times when I was in the zone, happy, doing work and life stuff that made me feel ah-maaaaazing.  I had sort of a slow motion movie playing in my head of my life’s wins and seeing how positively I impacted people – and full disclosure here because you’ve read this far and now we are like BFF’s and all –  I’m pretty sure I had “Eye of the Tiger” playing in my head as I was envisioning all my past wins and psyching myself up for a whole new journey! 

It was the final piece in launching my comeback. 

I switched my mindset that day to celebrate who I am at my core, and if you have followed my journey, I think you can now see when that switch went off.  As a matter of fact, one of my team members at the nonprofit I lead,, said to me one night, “Kristin, I don’t know what happened, but we have had more growth and impact in the past six months than we have had in years!” 

Indeed, Sally Hogshead is brilliant.  In a world where everyone seems to be saying that you have to change a few things about yourself to serve people well, her idea to instead be more of who you already are is, well, fascinating.

Fast forward a couple of years to now, and I am about to board a plane to California to accept one of the highest honors in my field – which I call the “Grammy” of our work.  I am being honored by Global Genes as a “Champion of Hope” for the entire, global, rare disease community.  It’s been a team effort to move mountains for the people we serve in the rare eye disease community, but I can’t imagine I would have been able to lead with such impact had I not learned what is truly fascinating about myself.

Kristin with CHampion of HOpe 2019 title

I discovered that the world sees me as “The People’s Champion” and then “my people” give me the title “Champion of Hope.” It’s been an extraordinary journey for this Mom of three that started out slammed into a hopeless pit with not one but two babies diagnosed as blind.  Hope has carried me a long way… and I work everyday to give others the ladder to get out of their own hopeless pits.  How about you?  Go take the quiz and see how the world sees you… and then get in touch and see if we can be fascinating together…  maybe I’ll draft a real-life Team of Hope Champions!

Instagram post of Sally Hogshead is a split screen of her before the break  she took and after.  Before pic is her walking looking unhappy.  The after pic her arms are stretched wide and she is ecstatic!
Sally Hoghead’s Instagram post

A final thought: As I started creating this blog post over the weekend, I stumbled on the most recent post from Sally in my Instagram feed.  Turns out life had hit Sally pretty hard recently, and she took time off. This is her side by side picture of the “pre and post sabbatical” How serendipitous my journey is.  Just when I am celebrating my own fascinating comeback… so is Ms. Fascinating herself.  I think Sally Hogshead will be my #1 draft pick on my Team of Hope Champions ?

Kristin Smedley is a 2019 Champion of Hope Award winner. She is an author, non profit leader and TEDx speaker.  She originally planned to be a third grade teacher… and then two of her three children were diagnosed as blind.  Kristin now shares her journey of raising her kids to not just survive challenges, but to thrive!  She speaks around the globe regarding blindness and resilience,  and she just launched her new series teaching people to SEE: Set Extraordinary Expectations!  Watch her TEDx talk here and order her new book here.  If you  are interested to have Kristin speak at your upcoming event,  email her at or contact her here!

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About Kristin Smedley

Kristin Smedley is the Best Selling author of Thriving Blind: Stories of Real People Succeeding Without Sight and Brilliantly Resilient: Reset, Rise and Reveal Your Brilliance. A recognized expert in the blindness and rare disease communities, Kristin won the highly regarded Champion of Hope Award and was named an Ambassador for the National Organization of Rare Disorders. Kristin is a popular, in demand speaker who has been invited to share her message internationally.


As CEO of a global patient organization, she coordinated legislation (H.R. #625) that became the first in US history to be submitted in Braille. Kristin spoke at the FDA to help achieve the first ever FDA approved gene therapy to treat an inherited retinal disease in the United States. Her TEDx Talk, book and international summit change perceptions of blindness, and sparked a global movement, Thriving Blind Academy, that is solving the unemployment, literacy, and financial crisis in the blind the community.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kristin co-founded Brilliantly Resilient to help people come through life’s challenges and setbacks brilliant, not broken.