July 4, 2022
tony digiovanniMany of you know Jim Paluch from JP Horizons. Jim is one of the best speakers that Landscape Ontario (and many other landscape associations) have repeatedly engaged at many seminars and conferences. For over 30 years, Jim has been a perennial favourite. His skill at energizing and motivating an audience is unrivalled. He has positively influenced thousands of people, including me. Jim has also done a great deal of consulting with individual members. Many have commented that Jim’s work has changed the way they operate. I have heard some say that their encounters with him have changed their lives.     

Jim was one of the first individuals to use email as a tool for constant engagement. His Friday morning email newsletters were welcomed by thousands. They were always full of wonderful stories that provided wisdom and encouragement, as well as practical and relevant information to help get you through your week. On a number of occasions the topics were so timely that it was almost like he was reading my thoughts.

I find myself using “Paluchisms” like, “hard on process, soft on people” or, “you have a choice: you can be a builder or destroyer,” on a regular basis. His 52-week, Working Smarter Training Challenge introduced the concept of Lean Management to the landscape profession. His Sales Jams events helped participants reach for results beyond what they ever imagined. He was one of the first to come up with a peer to peer leadership program; I attended one of the events held at Wentworth Landscapes. Jim also founded Come Alive Outside — an organization focused on pulling young people away from their computer screens in favour of exposing them  to the wonders of nature.  

Without a doubt, Jim is one of the most positive, supportive, energizing and inspiring individuals I know. So imagine my surprise when I received a note from him a couple of weeks ago to let me know about a book he wrote called: The Depressed Motivational Speaker -
A Story About Choices.

In his characteristic contribution-oriented manner, Jim’s book is focused on helping people deal with depression. It provides hope, wisdom and solutions.    

The book tells a fictional story about a depressed motivational speaker who, after a non-fatal suicide attempt, finds himself in an ambulance driving to a special institution designed to help people who have had the same experience. The story chronicles the experiences and interactions of the depressed motivational speaker with a number of fellow patients as they go through the recovery process.   

The characters learn how important it is to realize they are not alone and that they have the power and the courage to make the right choices.

The book was riveting. I found myself totally immersed in the lives of the characters as they made great progress. I was stunned at one of the scenes near the end. Just when I thought the patients were about to be victorious in their struggle, there is a shocking setback that would eventually make sense at the conclusion of the story.   

While reading the book, I was puzzled by the character of the depressed motivational speaker. Could there be some autobiographical similarities to Jim Paluch, who I have known for over 30 years as one of the most inspiring and positive individuals? Was it really possible for someone so outwardly caring, successful and influential to be privately battling with depression?   

Here are Jim’s own words explaining his motivation for the book:
“You see, I really am the inspired, energized, and positive person you have known for so many years. The guy on stage and in your boardroom and in meetings having a blast with a room full of people is truly me. I’m also a guy who has battled depression for most of his life.   

One of the discoveries I was able to benefit from through my work over the past 35 years was realizing that I am not alone in this struggle. It would not be a stretch to say that every day I interacted with at least one person who had experienced or was still experiencing the stifling effects of depression in themself or another person in their life. This feeling wasn’t something only I had been cursed with! I also realized if I could learn to conquer depression, I could also help others do the same. Thus, the journey of writing The Depressed Motivational Speaker began.”  

Although the book is a fiction, it is informed by Jim’s feelings, experiences, struggles and choices. His motivation for writing the book is the same as what I have observed for many years: Jim authentically wants to help people. For over 30 years he has focused his wisdom and positive energy on the landscape profession. In his retirement, he is expanding his audience.  

I highly recommend the book. It can be found on Amazon or Kindle. Obviously Jim’s mission to “energize a zillion people” continues.
Tony DiGiovanni CHT
LO Executive Director