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My name is Hans Hageman and I was long overdue for a bio remodeling! Unlike a lot of bios or “About” sections, this one is going to be in the first person. I’ve always been a first person sort of guy and even my eyes started to glaze over as I read the old CV.
Why You Might Want To Listen To The Don Quixote of the Coaching World
My path as an educator had led me to become a Reiki master under William Lee Rand and a Master Practitioner of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP). These are the tools for the mental game. On the physical side, I have gone in deep – much like I did in the education game. I’ve received Ashtanga Yoga teacher training from David Swenson. I’ve received Level 1 Coach certification from USA Track & Field and USA Boxing. I am also a Sports Performance Coach certified by USA Weightlifting and an HKC (Hardstyle Kettlebell Certification).
I believe that, to a great extent, we earn the bodies and faces we have in middle and old age. There are obviously exceptions. My parents couldn’t armor their vital organs against the stress of caring too much – the stress that eventually killed them. But at the end, I want to have more laugh lines than frown lines; the spine of a Spartacus instead of the demeanor of a Dilbert. I want to be known as someone who loved and who taught people to be better than they ever thought they could be.
The creation of my coaching practice comes from the same place that created our fitness studio, Brownstone Fitness. It comes from the same place that moved me to the practice of law, and the creation of three schools. It comes from a place of faith and love. So, when I say “I’m a coach,” it’s as simple as that and a lot more complicated.
That's A Lot Of Stuff!
I know, I know!- I’ve done a lot of stuff. The things I mention here are the result of a strong sense of mission and a little A.D.D. When I talk to people who have read my bio, many of them look away and mumble, “Wow, you’ve done a lot of stuff!” Only I can see the cartoon bubble that then appears above their heads as they say to themselves, “And now you’re a personal trainer?! I wonder what happened?”
What happened, is that I continue to be unreasonable, stubborn, arrogant, passionate, hopeful, and caring. Those qualities allowed me to get through Princeton University, Columbia University School of Law, and got me to join the post-Vietnam ROTC and Army Reserve (where I worked on my fear heights by rappelling out of hovering helicopters in the 101st Airmobile school).
The Adult, Responsible Me
My parents’ work with in the civil rights movement, their groundbreaking work with drug addicts, and their belief in standing up to bullies of all sorts, made my decision to practice law a natural one. My righteous indignation and interest in liberation theology took a temporary detour as I began my career at law firms that specialized in real estate and mortgage-backed securities. I had student loans to pay off, for goodness sakes!
Getting tired of not being able to describe what I did for a living to my mother gradually moved me closer to my original path. My next law job as an Assistant District Attorney in New York’s Office of Special Narcotics, really allowed me to understand what it meant to “do justice.” Eventually, seduction reared its evil head as I packed up the U-Haul and moved to Washington where I held the long title of “Minority Chief Counsel and Staff Director for the United States Subcommittee on the Constitution.” I met a bunch of lobbyists and a couple of lifelong friends and had a front row seat to the disturbing process of how laws get made.
The declining health of my parents and a desire to avoid the siren song of lobbyists who whispered to me about life after Capitol Hill, led me back to New York. I took a job with an innovative public defender’s group that joltingly and convincingly let me know that there was no way I was going to save the world through the practice of law. One good thing about the job was that it allowed me time to put together a plan for an independent middle school (before charter legislation was even a gleam in a hedge fund manager’s eye!) that would serve children who had not done well in the public system. I got seed money with the assistance of John Kennedy, Jr. and a professional backgammon player who was a friend of the family. The start-up years of The East Harlem School at Exodus House required me to wear a bulletproof vest because of death threats from crack dealers who didn’t appreciate my interference with their entrepreneurial efforts outside my school. I survived with the help of a skinny, Irish cop on a motor scooter who stood with me on many summer evenings when all I wanted to do was hide and cry, a statue of St. Michael given to me by a stranger, and friends I had made on my path. The school is now run by my brother and is coming up on its 20th anniversary in its new $25 million dollar facility. I couldn’t stay because I would have missed the death threats, fighting rats, restarting boilers, and unclogging sewer lines – in addition to the teaching, cooking, and parenting. I finished up there with a little more than fifteen minutes of fame and awards from places like Essence Magazine, the Robin Hood Foundation, the Boy Scouts of America, the Princeton Alumni Association, and New York Law School. I got to make the run of interviews on CNN, ABC, CBS, WNEW, and New York 1. I maintain my sense of humor as I look back at the articles in the New York Times, People Magazine, Essence Magazine, and the Christian Science Monitor. You really are in trouble when you start believing your press clippings.
Also around this time, I took my minuscule savings to start The Sulaxmi Girls School in Lucknow, India. My wife, Bernadette, created the Salus Foundation to support our wonderful local partners, Shashi and Suri Mehta. They do the heavy lifting on a day-to-day basis for poor Hindu and Muslim girls. It’s hard to believe we’re in our tenth year!
I took my fundraising and pedagogical savvy with me to become the executive director of Boys & Girls Harbor, a youth development organization with a budget at the time of $14.5 million. While there, I created an independent high school that brought together teens who society had tossed away - the bullies and the bullied, the wolves and the lambs. They learned together and respected each other. They hosted students from Brazil, Hong Kong, and Senegal. They received praise from the French Minister of Education. They traveled to work projects in Ghana, Senegal, and Nicaragua where they cleaned neighborhoods, tutored little kids, and assisted in the creation of micro-gardens for AIDS patients. Then… they were told their school would be shut down. My board decided they no longer wanted to work with “those kind of kids.” I pressed those board members on their code language and told them I would not continue to do their bidding if they shut the school down. The board believed that the “golden handcuffs” of salary and pension would keep me there and keep me quiet. Guess what? I am now a Ronin - a samurai without a master - in the world of personal and business development.