President and CEO of Lifedesigns, LLC
Gail Blanke is founder, president, and chief executive officer of Lifedesigns, LLC, a company whose vision is to empower men and women worldwide to live truly exceptional lives.
A renowned executive coach and presentation skills trainer, Ms. Blanke has advised CEO’s, college presidents, a jazz musician, and even a presidential candidate who remarked, “You’ve enabled me to find qualities in myself I didn’t know I had and express myself with power, grace and persuasion. What a difference you’ve made…if I’d met you 10 years earlier, I’d be President by now.”
Current clients include executives at GE, NY Presbyterian, Merck, TIAA-Cref, Bank of America, McGraw Hill, Feeding America and Gannett. Considered one of the finest motivational speakers in the country, she has delivered keynote addresses for scores of corporations and organizations including GE, MasterCard, JPMorgan Chase, UBS, AXA Financial, Citigroup, Bank of America, Merck, American Express, Harvard Business School Women’s Alumnae Association and the National Federation of Women Legislators. She’s also delivered keynotes for many universities, including, among others, Beijing University, the University of Virginia, the Stern School of New York University and Columbia. Articles about Ms. Blanke and her books have appeared in Newsweek, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, Ladies’ Home Journal, Redbook and Self. O, The Oprah Magazine, refers to Gail as “The Motivational Maven.” Recently, she delivered a keynote address for the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” gala in New York and is a member of the board of the New York Chapter of the American Heart Association.
A featured business and career coach on AOL Coaches and a best selling author, Ms. Blanke is currently at work on a new book called, Do You Want to Be Right? Or Do You Want to Be Happy? Her last book, Throw Out Fifty Things - Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life, was published in hard cover by Grand Central Publishing, went to paperback in 2010 and has been featured on The Today Show, CNN International, CBS Sunday Morning, Fox & Friends, Chuck Scarborough, Good Day New York and NPR’s “Tell Me More” with Michel Martin. The book won the prestigious “Books-for-a-Better-Life” award from the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Ms. Blanke’s prior book, Between Trapezes: Flying into a New Life with the Greatest of Ease, about thriving on change and mastering the art of self re-invention, was published by Rodale in August 2004. The website www.oprahselects.com included Between Trapezes on its list of “must have” books. In My Wildest Dreams, Living the Life You Long For was published by Simon & Schuster in June 1998 and appeared on Amazon.com’s Best Selling Books list and the New York Times Business Best Seller List. Ms. Blanke has appeared as the sole guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show using concepts from the book to help empower audience members to create the lives of their dreams.
Ms. Blanke’s first book, Taking Control of Your Life: The Secrets of Successful Enterprising Women, sold more than a half million copies. Her column, “The Motivator” appeared monthly for two years in Real Simple magazine. Ms. Blanke has appeared monthly on Martha Stewart Whole Living Radio, as well as on CNN International, CBS 2 Sunday Morning and Fox News where she critiques President George W. Bush’s second inaugural speech. She recently appeared on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, discussing the need for women to take control of their heart health and can be heard frequently on NPR.
Ms. Blanke was one of the youngest female senior vice presidents of Avon Products, Inc., where, in addition to her responsibilities as global head of public affairs, she motivated and inspired Avon’s half million sales representatives to live the lives of their wildest dreams. A member of the Chairman’s Executive Council, she led the re-positioning of Avon as the world’s premier direct selling company for women and launched the widely acclaimed Avon Breast Cancer Awareness Crusade, which has raised more than $740 million to date. Prior to her experience at Avon, Ms. Blanke held numerous executive positions at CBS including manager of special promotions for the New York Yankees.
She is a past president of the New York Women’s Forum and the only member to hold that position for two terms. She is a past chairman of the board of Fashion Group, International. In 1997, she was elected a corporate director of Sweetheart Paper Holdings, which was one of the country’s leading paper suppliers.
Ms. Blanke has received the Women Who Make a Difference Award at the 1999 International Women’s Forum Conference, the 1994 Matrix Award for Public Relations presented by New York Women in Communications, Inc. and the 1994 Star Award presented by the New York Women’s Agenda. In 2003, she was named president of the New York Women in Communications Foundation which provides college and graduate school scholarships for deserving young women, and was among the first wave of women to be inducted into the YWCA Academy of Women Achievers.
Ms. Blanke is a graduate of Sweet Briar College in Virginia and majored in acting at Yale University Graduate School of Drama. She and her husband, F. James Cusick, a writer, have two grown daughters, Kate and Abigail, and live in New York City. Please visit her website at www.throwoutfiftythings.com