and television appearances bring in about $4.5 million a year. He also gives inspirational talks in prisons and high schools across the country.
Perhaps Brown’s popularity stems from the fact that he tested his award-winning advice on himself first. He’s not only the company president–he’s also a client: “When life knocks you down, try to fall on your back. If you can look up, you can get up.”
IYANLA VANZANT HAS FOLLOWED HER OWN
advice. “You can create your own destiny,” says the 44-year-old best-selling author and nationally renowned inspirational speaker. A survivor of incest and domestic violence, she uses her experiences to help others transform their lives.
It took nine years of abuse for her to muster up the strength to leave her husband and change her life. “I now realize I could have left at any time,” Vanzant recalls of her first marriage. “Back then, unfortunately, I didn’t realize I deserved better,” says the Brooklyn, New York, native. She went on to graduate from Medgar Evers College and earn a law degree from the City University of New York.
She and her three children relocated to Philadelphia, where she worked as a prosecutor for the District Attorney’s Office. “I practiced law for three years before I decided to teach,” says Vanzant, who is also a grandmother of four. “But I wanted to create my own curriculum.”
Today, Vanzant travels the world on a mission: to spread her message of spirituality, self-help and divine power. “Contrary to societal teachings, change is an inner process,” she says. “You must work from the inside out–not the other way around.”
In 1990, she authored her first best-seller, Tapping the Power Within: A Path to Self-Empowerment for Black Women (Harlem Readers & Writers; $10). She has since sold over a million copies of five more titles, including Acts of Faith: Daily Meditations for People of Color (Simon & Schuster; $20) and The Spirit of a Man: A Vision of Transformation for Black Men and the Women Who Love Them (Harper San Francisco; $20).
This year, Vanzant headlines the six-city African American Women on Tour conference (for more details, call 800-560-2298). As founder and executive director of the Inner Visions Spiritual Life Maintenance Network, a nonprofit organization, she also conducts her own workshops and lectures around the world.
Despite great success, she opposes the commercialization of her profession. “There are those who are more concerned with money than the mission,” says Vanzant, who is also an ordained Yoruba priestess. “To me, inspiration is not an industry, it’s a ministry.”
Although she is a minister, author, wife and mother, Vanzant refuses to define herself solely by these terms. “Labels are very dangerous,” she says. “I am simply an ordinary person dedicated to doing special things.”
“Whenever you think you’re having a bad day,” says writer and lecturer Dennis P. Kimbro, “be thankful you’re not among those who didn’t wake up at all that morning.” It was his eternal optimism that helped him trade in his $55,000-a-year job as a manager with SmithKline-Beecham to