When Joseph Bensmihen was six years old and in first grade in Montreal, he didn't understand why he couldn't go to a regular school just because he had cerebral palsy. So he walked into the office of Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, set down his two canes, and insisted on meeting with Trudeau immediately.

Trudeau took the meeting.

As a result of young Joseph's efforts, he became the first disabled student in Canada to be mainstreamed—and the first of his age to graduate from high school (in his case as valedictorian).

By the time JB—as he is now known—turned 50, he built a multi-million-dollar business with his wife, advised half a dozen Members of Congress, met with three US presidents (Clinton, Bush, and Obama), gave hundreds of talks at a wide range of venues, and became a tireless advocate for the elderly and the disabled. All of his life, JB refused to be an outsider. Today he is known as an expert on becoming an insider.

On October 10, during the second week of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Morgan James Publishing will release JB's new book, Taking Your Place at the Table: The Art of Refusing to Be an Outsider. Written for anyone who has felt excluded for any reason, Taking Your Place at the Table offers practical strategies, secrets, and success stories to help readers move from the outside to the inside.

As Bensmihen explains, "My book isn't a magic wand, and it isn't mere inspiration. It's 100% practical, 100% based in real life. It helps people see that they have a place at many more tables, many more ways to get to those tables, and many more opportunities than they may have realized.”

The book's chapter titles emphasize this practical focus. One chapter is titled "Sometimes the Fastest Route to the Table is Asking the Right Questions.” Another is "Assemble a Posse of Advocates Who Will Help You Get to the Table.” A third is "Anticipate the Ways in Which People May Try to Keep You Away From the Table. Then Outthink and Outplan Them.”

Bensmihen emphasizes that his book isn't written primarily for people with disabilities and people who care about them. He insists that "My book is for anyone who wants to get ahead in business, at work, or in life. Most of the book is about getting to the table—moving from the outside to the inside. But it also offers strategies for using your insider status wisely once you get there—and for leaving the table gracefully when you know it's time to move on.”

Bensmihen points to the two canes leaning against his desk and smiles. "Last year, I was the master of ceremonies for the kickoff event for the Miami Marathon. Then I walked in the marathon—with two canes. Some folks wondered what I was doing there. But it's been almost 45 years since I first refused to be an outsider, and today I still grab my canes and go wherever I need to. And guess what? The Prime Minister of Canada is still named Trudeau.”
 


Taking Your Place at the Table: The Art of Refusing to Be an Outsider
by Joseph JB Bensmihen
Publisher: Morgan James, New York
Release date: October 10, 2017
Trade paperback: $17.95; e-book, $7.99; 211 pages
ISBN-10: 1683504526
ISBN-13: 978-1683504528

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