Highlighted posts on my home page.

How to rethink age as a benefit, not barrier

Here’s my TEDx Temecula talk from Sept. 29. Below is the introductory description provided by TEDx.

What holds you back from reaching your true potential: your age or your attitude and the expectations you believe the world demands? Instead of seeing age as a barrier, what if we viewed age and experiences as building blocks to create our future?

This guiding belief has opened worlds of possibilities for Gillian Larson, including the opportunity to star in the Reality TV show Survivor at the age of 61. It also gave her the outlook she needed to reinvent her life after she was kicked off the show six days later.

On stage, Gillian shares her insatiable appetite for challenge and adventure, inspiring and challenging audiences of all ages never to let age keep you from what you want to achieve. In fact, age might be the very factor that catapults you to new opportunities. Gillian Larson was born and raised in South Africa and now lives in California. She is married and has three married daughters and seven grandchildren. She worked as an RN for 38 years and is very involved in her community and taps into her many life experiences creating ongoing new chapters in her life to make a difference in the lives of others.

One of Gillian’s significant achievements was being selected for the TV Show Survivor at the age of 61 in 2008, which she has parlayed into many opportunities, such as creating Reality Rally a 3-day fundraising event for a cancer resource center raising thousands of dollars every year.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.

Nelson Mandela Passes, Gillian Larson remembers

I grew up in South Africa during Apartheid, learning–from our white community–that there was a terrorist in jail, called Mandela.

I also grew up hearing stories from my wonderful Nanny, Mabel, about a man of passion and vision for our country who was in jail, called Mandela.

“Is that what a terrorist is?” I wondered.

Mabel instilled in me an African heart, as she taught me many African songs and what she and many saw as a future for our country inspired by this man they knew had a destined path that they should all follow.

“Madiba” as he was known, was to become one of the greatest men in the world, a man who would leave his mark.

As a child he said “I hoped and vowed then, that among the treasures that life might offer me, would be the opportunity to serve my people and make my own humble contribution to the freedom struggle.” His vow became his dream that he spent his life fighting for, and for that dream, Nelson Mandela spent 28 years in prison.

I stood outside of his cell in 1999 and could feel that charisma that was his, despite the diminutive size and sparseness of his cell where he lived for so many years.

All of the guides running the tours were once political prisoners. Our guide, Patrick, showed us around, reflecting the same gentleness and humility that their leader had shown in the many years he spent among them.

When asked how Patrick could be so forgiving, his answer, “One will never right a wrong with another wrong. We were taught by Madiba that to make it all right now is to just tell the story, so others will know, and to let it go for our own and our countries inner peace.”

In 1998 I was privileged to be several rows away from Mr. Nelson Mandela as he became the 3rd person in history to be awarded an Honorary Doctorate not in a Commencement ceremony. George Washington was the first. I remember every moment of that magical experience as the Harvard Choir and the African choir the Kuumba Singers sang in unison and harmony all 3 versions of the South African National Anthem. That was so significant and symbolized what Mr Mandela had strived for. A unified country for all the peoples of South Africa. Towards the ceremony’s end, the ancient bells of Harvard pealed out adding to this significant and magical time.

One regret I have from that day was I did not attempt to approach him as he told a story of a little girl who was “cheeky enough” to have asked to be invited into his home for tea. I was “Cheeky enough” to ask to shake his hand but I didn’t. “Fear is temporary, regret is permanent,” as I always say.

Nelson Mandela has always been my hero, and on every Survivor Show application, I put him down as such. I have always tried to follow my dreams and to make a difference where I can and if he could do that for his entire life despite all the hardships, I could do it in a life that is basically easy. Mr. Mandela once said, “It would be very egotistical of me to say how I would like to be remembered. I’d leave that entirely to South Africans.”

Mr. Mandela, in your humility you may never know the incredible impact you have made on millions.

We mourn your passing but celebrate your life. You will be remembered, and let us all do so by making a difference where we can. I try to follow his philosophy “Always try to inspire others to be greater than they think they can be.”

I challenge you to do the same.

12 Speaking Engagaments in 5 days in Canada. What a priviledge.

Leigh Sherry of LJS and Associates in Bradford, Canada booked me to speak to 12 different groups in September 2013.  What an honor and privilege to get in front of so many to share my message. “Dream it, Believe it, Prepare for it and Do IT !!” I am so energized by this privilege I have had since Survivor that I have endless energy and could have spoken to more groups. A major part of why I do speaking engagements is to thank my audience for all they do in their lives and the difference they all make in the work they do. We all cannot be a Mother Theresa or a Nelson Mandela but we can all touch our immediate world and make a huge difference in what we do around us for others. Thank you to all of those attending my 12 engagements for all you do. The LJS and Associates  motto is ” Be the Bridge” Tag line. Taking YOU across the bridge from where you are today to where you want to go. I love it. My talks certainly match that.

I spoke to 5 different  groups in the Children’s Aid Society in Brandford. Single Moms, Teen Mom’s, Foster Parents, Staff. I know I touched a chord in many and do know that something I said watered their seed of desire in their hearts and they left with a renewed flame burning inside of them.  Several shared with me in the group what is did for them and tears were the testament. I spoke to 3 different student classes at Laurier University where I fit right into their school motto “Inspiring Lives” The students were engaged and had many questions. I know that what I said will take many through their journey of life starting on that lecture bench. I spoke to an assembly at the Niagra Christian College  to students from many countries who come to Canada for High School. Such a pleasure talking to students from China, Japan and other far away places. The Best Western Hotel Staff wondered why they had been “assigned” to hear me speak. ” What do I need to know about Survivor’ was one pre speaking comment. The post comment was ” Wow, was that powerful and exactly what I needed to hear. ”  I spoke at a staff meeting at Braemar School and I know the faculty enjoyed what I had to say as much as I enjoyed sharing. I shared my story with The Brandford Hospice Volunteers and toured their wonderful facility and spoke to Staff. What an amazing job they do and we are so lucky there are people in this world that can help us take the last steps with our families as we leave this world.    I highly recommend Hospice Care to all who have that need where ever they live.

I was the keynote speaker at the LJS and Associates Client Appreciation Reception. The Jazz band and delicious horsdoevers set the stage for a great evening. Wine, food, inspiration and an audience. What more could I ask for !!!!

Thank you Adam and Crew from Atomic Spark for co-sponsoring the event and for capturing my talk on Live Stream to the world. See one  evening video in archive.

Thank you Leigh Sherry of LJS and Associates for the pleasure and privilege you opened up for me in an amazing week.

Thank you Tyler Masur for being my excellent Personal Assistant and driver all week. It was such a pleasure knowing that you had all the details, helped set up, ran the AV and took the photos. We were always on time and were a dynamic duo where ever we went in a tightly packed week. Thank you. You will go far in life. You have “Got It !!!”

To book me for your organization see https://gillianlarson.com/speaking-engagements-fee/

Please give me the privilege to be in front of “your people.”


“Never Give Up”

When I do my speaking engagements and in all I do, my message is of persistence, belief in oneself and ones ability. To always  “Dream it, Believe It, Prepare for it, DO IT !!!” I hear from many who hear me or read what I do how I was an inspiration and helped them move towards their dream. I encourage others to share their stories and to know that everything we say can and does have a ripple effect. We may know where some of those ripples touch but it is mind boggling to think that our ripple may travel far and wide and touch many.  I feel it is my honor and a privilege to have that possibility.

One of my ripples reached all the way to Canada several years ago. Julie Comeau was following what I do and it watered her seed of her dream in her heart. She had been struggling with many physical problems and decided she would  “never give up” and she would come out of the other end of her struggles and have her story to share and inspire. She did. She came out the other end of her dark tunnel with a powerful message of “Never Give Up” which she wrote in her book. Her book can be purchased to help you come out of your tunnel and be inspired to do what you are capable of.


This was her comment to me

From Julie Comeau, Author of Never Give Up – The Inspiring Journey Of A Real Life Survivor

[quote]Gillian is one of the most amazing woman that I have encountered, her strength and her determination inspire me to keep moving forward no matter what. In all she does and through all the people she helps she not only touches one life, she touches thousands at a time. Gillian touched my life back in 2009 when I had lost all hope and wanted to give up. Just by seeing how determined this amazing woman was made me feel energized and rebooted in a way like no other. Her compassion and her dedication is remarkable in so many ways. The effect that Gillian has on people is lifelong and in all that she sets out to do she accomplishes with great determination and her uniqueness makes her one of a kind. Having Gillian touch my world has truly been life changing.[/quote]

Thomas Edison penned that well. “If we did what we were capable of, we would  totally astound ourselves.”

The Reality Rally Story

201204_RealityRally2012_2336Gillian Larson had an unexplained passion and drive to get onto the TV show Survivor and after 8 years of applying she got on for the season filmed in Gabon, Africa becoming the second oldest woman contestant ever and only 1 of 9 contestants over 60 in all seasons to play. She applied for 8 years, was ready and prepared to play for 39 days and love every minute of it but played for only 6 days. Little did she know as her Survivor flame was snuffed out the flame of Reality Rally was being ignited.

Saddened and disappointed she started walking 5 hours a day in the jungle thinking what can she do with the experience that perhaps was the root of that passion to play. Suddenly realizing what she had in her hands, Reality Rally stated forming. Celebrities, Charity, City of Temecula became her “Fun for Funds” idea. She had read Michelle Watson’s story, www.michellesplace.org, and knew that this was the cause she would support with the same passion she had for Survivor. She knew that Reality Stars and other mini celebrities now have that opportunity to do good with their “fame”. She just knew Temecula would embrace an event that would bring in money and exposure from all over the world due to the Reality Star following. Forming her event tag line “ Nobody makes a greater mistake, than he who did nothing because he could only do a little ” Edmund Burke. was the seed she knew would germinate and grow as Reality Rally would be drawn to the idea for many to be able to do a little that would amount to a lot benefitting many in many ways. She just knew that people do want to do something and just need that vehicle to do it.

That seed planted in Gillian’s heart, started with a budget of zero and no funding and due to a Production Team of 48 and over 600 people making it happen it is going into their 3rd year, Reality Rally has become the premier Reality Star event it is, one of Temecula’s most attended events bringing in money from over 12 countries and every one of the 50 States. It attracts people who want to do “a little” from 37 States and approx 512 cities around the world to play, party, sponsor, donate and volunteer. Hundreds of Reality Stars coming from over 30 shows have raised funds and attended without compensation and the So Cal Surf Dogs and other schools and organizations have been a part of the weekend attractions. www.realityrally.com is watched in over 96 countries and talked about in 46 languages. How does one explain the involvement and excitement……passion, belief and an honest interest in others. Gillian devotes endless hours a week to this passion, does not draw a salary and is in awe at how it all comes together.

The weekend of “Fun for Funds” is a full weekend opportunity to mix and mingle with the Reality Stars you have watched on shows and spend time with friends and family just having fun for a great cause. Weekend events are a golf tournament, a Celebrity reception at Wilson Creek Winery, Autograph signing, an Amazing Race type game all over Old Town Temecula for the public to play with the Stars completing 13 Challenges put on by 13 Temecula organizations, A Kids challenge Field, a Red Carpet Celebration party at South Coast Winery, after parties at Pala Mesa Golf resort and The Stampede and a volunteer appreciation, Breakfast with the Stars.

For full information and to see the event captured by our 24 Imagery Team Volunteers browse the entire website, www.realityrally.com. Gillian encourages YOU to do “your little to amount to a lot” today.

In order to fully appreciate the amazing event Reality Rally has become, you must know the story. How did an event of this magnitude spring from the depth of disappointment. Why do over 110 Reality Stars from over 30 TV shows flock to Temecula every April. What draws over 600 volunteers to participate and make it what it is. Why do their amazing Sponsors help provide almost everything we eat, read, listen to, play and enjoy at prime venues throughout the town of Temecula California. What encourages the Temecula organizations to be the Challenge Checkpoints in the Amazing Race type game.

Reality Rally Radio – Meet the 2013 Sponsors and Reality Stars

Listen to Reality Rally Radio as I introduce you to one of our special sponsors for Reality Rally in support of Michelle’s Place, the family from Bellavado Avocado Oil in Valley Center, Calif., plus we get to speak with reality stars coming to Reality Rally 2013 on April 5 – 7.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Listen to my interview with Robbie Motter

Recently, I was on Robbie Motter’s Diva Weekly Strategies for Success radio show hosting on the Blog Talk Radio network. I had an opportunity to discuss my 12 P’s for success on the show!

Robbie is a marketing and public relations consultant certified national speaker and Aathor. She is the senior VP of the American Seminar Leaders/Contacts Unlimited Speakers Bureau, and serves as the NAFE Western & Mid Atlantic Regional Coordinator. Robbie serves on many boards of directors across the country. She worked in top positions in corporate America before starting her own company, Contacts Unlimited in 1985. She has been a single mother raising three children all whom are grown now and all whom hold top executive positions.

Enjoy the program below, and you can visit her website and check out her weekly show on Thursday at 5 p.m. PT. on the Women’s Business Talk Radio Network.


Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Golden Retriever rides to victory in California dog Surf-a-Thon

A young Golden Retriever and semi-pro surfer, Ricochet, rode the waves to victory on Sunday at a California annual dog Surf-a-Thon, but it was a novice therapy dog that emerged from the water as a new star to watch.

Bo Diddley, a 5-year-old therapy dog, sat his way to a second place finish on a longboard in the extra-large dog heat in his first foray in the San Diego canine surfing scene, delighting his owner and his trainer. READ MORE

More from the Surf Dog Ricochet website.

Reality Rally Temecula – Fun for Funds April 4 – 7

Do you have what it takes to beat a reality star at their own game?  Can you Beat the Best and Race with the Rest? Race around our town with or against TV reality stars collecting clues, choosing challenges or just come out and meet them.

A weekend of  Fun for Funds to benefit Michelle’s Place, our area cancer resource center. Full information on the 2013 event – being held April 4 – 7 –  will be posted online as details become available.

Sign up for the newsletter to be kept informed.

Motivational Speaking Engagements

Take a look at my promotional video to get a flavor of me! I have now attended more than 400 events at organizations, schools, corporations, service groups and more. I have been the keynote speaker, I have been the entertainment, I am everywhere delivering my message of being the best you can be because you CAN be.

I have delivered my message to thousands. I actually do not believe in motivational speeches as I believe that motivation must come from within. I believe my talks are inspirational and I hope  something I say waters that seed of a dream in your heart and mind and helps it grow into a fulfilled dream.

That makes me the million dollar winner of my season!  You CAN do anything you want to do if it is reasonable. Do NOT listen to people who tell you you cant.  YOU are the only one who knows what YOU are capable of doing. Do IT today.  I do not charge for local schools and service groups. I charge $50 for gas costs out of the Temecula Valley area. Travel costs covered  for all distant travel. Coorporate bookings negotiated.

Please read some of the testimonials on my webpage. People seem to love what I say and I love saying it. School kids from K-12 all sit and listen for 45 minutes. It is fascianting to watch.

Call me today at (781) 962-8234 or contact me.