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Valedictorian Of The School Of Hard Knocks – Exclusive Interview With Rachel Cipriano

Rachel Cipriano is the CEO of Magnificent Resilience, a company dedicated to equipping others to become the best version of themselves. She is a professional speaker, teacher, therapist, author, and coach who has a passion to empower others to rise above their obstacles. Her mission is energized by a personal journey of being the daughter of a traumatized combat veteran and the sole survivor of her family of origin. She has received commendation in the fields of mental health and addictions precociously opening her first psychology book at the age of seven. Rachel has a master’s degree in Counseling and is currently writing a book, Trauma and Resilience: 7 Secrets to Becoming Stronger in the Broken Places.

Rachel Cipriano, Magnificent Resilience


Introduce yourself! Please tell us about you and your life, so we can get to know you better.


I have always been passionate about learning and transformation. My older cousin used to check out psychology books from high school for me as I had exhausted the resources at the elementary level. My parents described me as someone who is a leader and not a follower, a person with her own mind. These attributes came in handy because I was born into a chaotic family environment. My father suffered the effects of PTSD from his service as a combat Marine in Vietnam. My mother lost her third child to SIDS when I had just turned 5. The atmosphere of our home was full of grief, rage, and depression. My father nicknamed me his little hermit because I retreated to my room diving into books to escape the turmoil whenever possible.


After my parents’ divorce when I was 9, life left me ricocheting back and forth between homes. Like an elusive search for a pot of gold, my parents’ desperate attempts to find love led to even greater instability and danger. Eventually, relatives intervened, which I deeply appreciated. I attended college and was emancipated by the age of seventeen. Now, I had to sort through all the traumas. This proved to be far more complicated than I could have ever anticipated. While I was quite proud of earning my master’s degree by the age of 23, loneliness led to poor relationship choices.


I did my best to work through the tremendous pain from the past. Unfortunately, it overwhelmed my efforts at times like a tidal wave that is just too high to rise above. The traumas became compounded. Because of unresolved issues, I would choose unhealthy relationships that would further subvert progress. These people were all too familiar to my subconscious even though I was determined to choose more wisely. My journey included plenty of therapy; the most effective I experienced was EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing). It allowed me to integrate my here-and-now awareness with wounded emotions lying dormant from the past.


My life today is like a dramatic before and after photo. I have reclaimed the joyful spirit that had become trapped in all the brokenness. My faith, family, and commitment to lifelong learning are the three keys to my recovery. Craig and I have been married for 23 years and have two amazing adult children, Tiffany (22) and Joey (20). Our tabby cat Precious adds plenty of sass and fun to the mix. We enjoy exploring the Florida beaches, attending museums, and entertaining friends. I look at my adversities as a tremendous opportunity to bring support and resilience to others. Ernest Hemingway once said, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are made strong at the broken places." This insight resonates with my experience, as well as those of my clients. Magnificent Resilience is more than a business; it is a mission with a story arc of redemption. Would I have chosen this thorny path? No, I am not quite that courageous. However, the beauty I have exchanged for the ashes has been undeniable. It leaves me in a perpetual state of awe and gratitude.


What inspired you to start your own business, and how did you get started in your field?


After working in the psychiatric and addiction arena for five years, I took time to stay at home with my children while remaining active as a community volunteer. One day I heard a well-known speaker and author describe a program she offered to train others. I was very intrigued with her presentation and soon learned she had an impressive client list. Years prior, I had told people I would become a motivational speaker intuitively knowing my story could provide support to others who have struggled. After some research, I attended her seminars, even traveling to her home in Henderson, NV for the privilege of learning from this amazing woman.


I knew this was my pathway, but it took time to build my network and establish clients. The National Speakers Association of IL offered Speaker University and Speaker Academy. I attended every additional event that I could, benefiting from generous speakers who were willing to offer tips over caramel lattes. Business coaches also provided invaluable insight and direction. At one point, I was a candidate for the television program, Shark Tank. However, my daughter had begun high school, and this proved to be a difficult transition. I quickly pulled back the reigns to attend to my daughter’s needs. When the lockdowns occurred in 2020, I once again had the opportunity to live my message of resilience. My family and I moved from Chicago to the Tampa Bay area. Like my father, I had always been a bit of a renaissance person discovering some new skills to add to my repertoire which have included classroom teaching, online tutoring, and improv acting. All these endeavors have added to the richness of my role as the CEO of Magnificent Resilience.


My book regarding trauma and resilience is in process, and I am actively seeking new opportunities to spread my message. Florida has a resilience initiative headed by the governor’s wife, and I would thoroughly enjoy being of service. My commitment to bringing my message of strength to others is insatiable.


What sets your business apart from others in your industry, and what do you feel is your unique selling point?


As mentioned, I have a repertoire of skills which I bring to the personal growth space. Opening my first psychology book at age 7 is rather uncanny. Attaining degrees in psychology and addictions by the age of 23 with full scholarship demonstrates depth and drive. My passion for neuroscience, history, anthropology, politics, economics, philosophy, and religion adds a multi-disciplinary approach that lends complexity to my insights. Furthermore, I communicate these points in a clear, articulate way having the ability to customize my approach to diverse age groups and industries.


Most importantly, I am a woman of great love and compassion. I remember on the first day of graduate school the professor wrote the word empathy on the whiteboard. He explained this was not a construct that could be taught but was essential for clinicians. This is the reason I know being the valedictorian of the school of hard knocks is my greatest credential. The maltreatment I experienced in those formative years was instrumental in cultivating a rare empathy and ability to connect with people from diverse backgrounds. If I had a nickel for every time someone said, “I never told anyone this before, but…”, I would certainly enjoy a much greater degree of wealth. While it is true some become callous through adversity, I believe that is where nature meets nurture. My background allowed me to cultivate tremendous grit, but it did not seem possible for my sensitive soul to become hardened to the plight of others.


My faith, boundless curiosity, and pure joy in learning invigorate this brand. My charisma, passion, and effervescence energize my speaking engagements, coaching sessions, and videos. My commitment to seeing transformation in the lives of others comes from a place of genuine authenticity, and I receive consistent feedback this shines through to audiences and clients.


Can you tell us about some of the services or products your business offers, and how they help your clients?


Magnificent Resilience offers speaking services which include seminars, workshops, and retreats available for up to a full weekend. Keynotes are also a big part of what is available. Life and leadership packages are offered on a 3-month, renewable basis. Zoom consultations, in-person meetings, homework, phone calls, and written materials are provided. Life coaching involves a host of issues from empty nest, divorce, transition management, and parenting support. The leadership packages usually involve those at the executive level. I especially enjoy working with entrepreneurs assisting them in breaking through personal barriers which have impeded their full potential.


My signature presentation is Magnificent Resilience: The Psychology of Success and Significance. Other topics include emotional intelligence, leaders of integrity, and establishing greater influence/impact. I also offer Christian speaking. Most recently, I have conducted a webinar and interview regarding the mental health fallout from the COVID response. I am passionate about speaking more on this topic as levels of depression, anxiety, stress, and suicide have risen to a very concerning degree. I am available for podcasts, phone interviews, in-person interviews, and any opportunity to spread the message of resilience to those especially, but not limited to the healthcare industry. While it is my target market, I have spoken with great ease to corporations, professional associations, job seekers, churches, and mom’s groups. Looking to the future, what are your goals for the growth and development of your business in the next few years?


My vision for this business is expansive. I look forward to completing my book on trauma and resilience which will focus on concrete tools to assist people facing their own challenges. Globally, we are in a time of transition and uncertainty, and this can spike levels of fear. Speaking of that primal emotion, its effects have been devastating and pervasive over the last three years. This is the reason I feel even more passionate about getting my message out on the global level. As mentioned, I would like to work both in the private sector and within government as I believe I could be of great service to both. I am currently taking active, concrete steps to realize these goals. My message is that no matter how painful or difficult the circumstance, it contains a silver lining in its cloud to make a difference for others. Through this unexpected benefit, adversities take on a degree of a positive meaning even though they may originate from the most painful of sources. Everyday is an unexpected gift because I am the soul survivor of my family of origin. I could have easily succumbed to the darkness that led to my older brother’s suicide. I think of my parents and brothers every day. I ask God to give me the strength to realize all they were meant to achieve but did not have the opportunity to do so. I feel a tremendous sense of gratitude and purpose, always excited to see what comes next!


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Youtube, or visit my website for more info!




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