Mother Teresa once said, “To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.” Many women are so busy filling the lamps of those they serve that they often forget to put oil in their own. We must take care of ourselves to be at our best for others. I hear a great deal about burnout and I know it is not something new, but it is bigger than we have seen before!

As a child, one of my favorite movies was "The Wizard of Oz." My dad usually had weekends off, and after dinner on Sundays, it was family TV night and to watch the Wonderful World of Disney. I loved Disney and the joy it brought. When I was growing up we did not have all of the options, choices and devices in homes there are today. Is it better or not? I am not casting an opinion on this subject area, but on the content of what I was exposed to as a child to form this perspective of “heart.”

Each year, "The Wizard of Oz" would play, and we made sure to watch it. One character, the Tin Man, was found in the woods all rusted. With a few squirts of oil, he was soon moving and talking. However, he discovered he did not have a heart and wanted to ask the Wizard for one. The Tin Man said, “A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others.”

How do you feel about this comment? I believe we should focus less on how much we are loved by others and more on the love we hold within ourselves to share with others. We must first learn to love ourselves and discover how our love can be shared. I would like to know others thoughts. Do we spend a great deal of time seeking and searching for others to show love to us? How are we showing value to others? When we are at our workplace, do we show value to others? Do others show value to us? What does it look and sound like?


Leadership is about helping others discover who they are and how they impact the lives of others. We aim to have a positive impact on those around us and be the support system they need to continue growing. "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” In this case, please pay attention to the leader in your corner, guiding you in building others up. The importance of feeling good and feeling safe is what keeps individuals in your organization. As an individual, working with this mindset, it allows you to support those by your side. Together we can make our homes, workplaces, and communities better.

Take time to fill your own lamp with oil, and in doing so, you will be better equipped to light the way for others. Here are steps to lead with heart effectively and retain positive leaders:

  1. Self-Care and Well-Being: Prioritize your own health and well-being. A well-rested, healthy leader is more effective and resilient.
  2. Authentic Connections: Build genuine relationships with your team. Show empathy and understanding, and be present in your interactions.
  3. Empower and Support: Encourage others to take initiative and provide them with the support they need to succeed. Celebrate their successes and learn from their challenges.
  4. Continuous Learning: Commit to lifelong learning for yourself and your team. Share knowledge and create opportunities for growth and development.
  5. Positive Reinforcement: Recognize and appreciate the efforts and contributions of your team members. Positive reinforcement fosters a motivated and engaged workforce.
  6. Vision and Purpose: Clearly communicate your vision and the purpose behind your work. Help others see how their roles contribute to the bigger picture.
  7. Model Integrity: Lead by example with honesty, transparency, and integrity. Your actions will set the tone for the entire organization.
  8. Adaptability and Flexibility: Be open to change and encourage innovative thinking. Adaptability helps navigate challenges and seize new opportunities.

By leading with heart, you not only enhance your own leadership but also create an environment where others feel valued, supported, and inspired to grow. It does not mean your high expectations, goals and standards change, but your approach looks at the entirety of the effects. This is the essence of retaining positive leaders and fostering a thriving, collaborative community together. Leaders are working to recognize the shift in needing to serve the self-care needs of all to build capacity.


Self-Care and Well-Being

As leaders, we often pour our energy into supporting and uplifting those around us, sometimes at the expense of our own well-being. However, to truly lead effectively, we must prioritize our own health and well-being. A well-rested, healthy leader is more effective and resilient, able to face challenges with clarity and strength.

Imagine yourself as a lamp that illuminates the path for others. To keep shining brightly, you must keep your lamp filled with oil. This means ensuring you get enough rest, maintaining a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and taking time for mental and emotional rejuvenation. When you prioritize your own health, you model the importance of self-care for your team, creating a culture where well-being is valued and supported.

By taking care of yourself, you enhance your capacity to lead with wisdom and compassion. You become a beacon of stability and inspiration, guiding others not only through your words but through your actions. Remember, self-care is not a luxury; it's a necessity. Prioritize your health and well-being, and you'll find that your leadership becomes more impactful and sustainable.


Authentic Connections

In leadership, authentic connections are the foundation of trust and collaboration. Building genuine relationships with your team goes beyond the surface level; it involves showing empathy, understanding, and being fully present in your interactions.

When you connect authentically, you create an environment where people feel valued and heard. This fosters a sense of belonging and loyalty, motivating your team to give their best. Authentic connections also enable open and honest communication, where ideas can flow freely, and challenges can be addressed constructively.

As a leader, strive to know your team members not just as employees, but as individuals with unique strengths, aspirations, and stories. Show genuine interest in their lives and listen actively to their concerns. Your authenticity will inspire them to trust you and to bring their whole selves to their work.

Remember, leadership is not just about guiding others; it's about walking alongside them, sharing in their journey, and celebrating their successes. By cultivating authentic connections, you create a resilient and unified team capable of achieving great things together. Embrace authenticity, and watch your leadership and your team thrive.


Empower and Support

Empower and support—two pillars that elevate leadership from good to extraordinary. As a leader, your role is not merely to direct but to inspire and uplift those around you, enabling them to reach their fullest potential.

Empowerment starts with trust. Believe in the abilities of your team members, and give them the autonomy to make decisions and take initiative. When you trust your team, you instill confidence and encourage innovation. Empowered individuals feel valued and are more likely to contribute creative solutions and take ownership of their work.

Support is the companion to empowerment. Providing the necessary resources, guidance, and encouragement ensures that your team has what they need to succeed. Be their coach and cheerleader, offering constructive feedback and celebrating their achievements. Your support creates a safe space where they can grow, learn from mistakes, and continuously improve.

Remember, the greatest leaders are those who build other leaders. By empowering and supporting your team, you cultivate a culture of growth and resilience. Your leadership legacy will be defined not just by your successes but by the successes of those you have empowered and supported along the way. Embrace this dual role with passion and dedication, and watch your team soar to new heights.


Continuous Learning

Continuous learning is the cornerstone of impactful leadership. As leaders, our journey of growth never truly ends; it evolves with every experience, challenge, and opportunity we encounter.

Embrace the mindset of a lifelong learner. Stay curious and open to new ideas, recognizing that every day offers a chance to learn something valuable. Seek out knowledge, whether through reading, attending workshops, engaging in discussions, or exploring new technologies. By staying informed and adaptable, you position yourself and your team to navigate the ever-changing landscape of today's world.

Modeling continuous learning sets a powerful example for your team. When they see you investing in your own development, they are inspired to do the same. Foster a culture where questions are encouraged, and mistakes are viewed as learning opportunities. Support your team's growth by providing access to training, resources, and mentorship.

Remember, the best leaders are those who never stop growing. Your commitment to continuous learning not only enhances your own capabilities but also drives innovation and excellence within your organization. Embrace the journey of learning with enthusiasm and dedication, and you will unlock endless potential for yourself and those you lead.


Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool that can transform leadership and drive success. As leaders, acknowledging and celebrating the efforts and achievements of our team members is essential to fostering a motivated and engaged workforce.

Recognize the value of positive reinforcement in building confidence and encouraging repeat performance. A simple "thank you" or a word of appreciation can have a profound impact on someone’s day. When you take the time to acknowledge the hard work and contributions of your team, you create a culture of respect and encouragement.

Remember, positive reinforcement goes beyond just praising results. Celebrate the small victories and the steps taken towards improvement. Highlighting the progress and effort put in by your team members reinforces the behaviors and attitudes that lead to success.

Be specific in your praise, pointing out exactly what was done well and why it matters. This helps your team understand the direct link between their actions and the positive outcomes, reinforcing the behaviors you want to see repeated.

By consistently applying positive reinforcement, you cultivate an environment where people feel valued and motivated to excel. Your leadership becomes a source of inspiration, driving your team to achieve new heights. Embrace positive reinforcement, and watch as your team's confidence, performance, and satisfaction grow exponentially.


Vision and Purpose

Vision and purpose are the lifeblood of extraordinary leadership. They are the guiding stars that illuminate our path, infusing our work with meaning and direction. As leaders, it is your vision and purpose that inspire and drive those around you to achieve greatness.

Crafting a compelling vision is your first step. Your vision should be a bold declaration of the future you aspire to create—a future that excites and energizes your team. It should reflect your highest aspirations and paint a vivid picture of what is possible when everyone works together with a shared goal in mind.

Purpose is what gives life to your vision. It’s the deeper why that fuels your actions and decisions every day. When your purpose is rooted in the well-being and success of those you lead, it becomes the heartbeat of your organization. Share this purpose with passion, making it the foundation of your culture and the motivation behind your efforts.

But remember, a vision without action remains a dream. Engage and empower your team, fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation. Encourage each person to bring their unique strengths and ideas to the table, creating a sense of ownership and commitment to the shared vision.

As you lead with vision and purpose, you cultivate an environment where everyone feels valued, inspired, and driven to contribute to something greater than themselves. Your leadership ignites passion, fosters resilience, and builds a collective spirit that can overcome any challenge.

Stay true to your vision, and let your purpose guide you. Together, you can achieve remarkable things and create a lasting impact. Lead with clarity, passion, and unwavering commitment, and watch as your team rises to meet the extraordinary potential within them.


Model Integrity

Modeling integrity is at the heart of exceptional leadership. It is the foundation upon which trust, respect, and credibility are built. As leaders, your actions set the standard for your team and create the ethical framework within which your organization operates.

Integrity means consistently doing the right thing, even when it is difficult or inconvenient. It means being honest, transparent, and accountable in all your dealings. When you lead with integrity, you demonstrate a commitment to values and principles that inspire others to follow suit.

Your team looks to you as a role model. By embodying integrity, you show them the importance of standing by their convictions, taking responsibility for their actions, and treating others with fairness and respect. Your behavior sets the tone for the entire organization, fostering a culture of trust and authenticity.

Remember, integrity is not just about grand gestures; it is reflected in the everyday choices you make. Whether it’s admitting a mistake, giving credit where it’s due, or making decisions that align with your core values, every action contributes to a culture of integrity.

When you model integrity, you build strong, resilient teams that are united by a common sense of purpose and ethical standards. Your leadership creates an environment where people feel safe to express their ideas, take risks, and grow both personally and professionally.

Stay true to your principles, and lead by example. Let your integrity be the guiding force that shapes your leadership and inspires your team. In doing so, you will cultivate a legacy of trust, respect, and excellence that will endure long after your tenure.


Adaptability and Flexibility

In the dynamic landscape of leadership, adaptability and flexibility are not just valuable traits; they are essential skills that enable us to navigate change, embrace challenges, and seize opportunities.

Adaptability means being open to new ideas, perspectives, and ways of doing things. It requires a willingness to step outside your comfort zone, experiment with different approaches, and learn from both successes and failures. When you embrace adaptability, you position yourself and your team to thrive in an ever-evolving world.

Flexibility goes hand in hand with adaptability. It is the ability to adjust and pivot when circumstances change unexpectedly. Flexibility allows you to respond with agility, creativity, and resilience, turning obstacles into stepping stones and setbacks into opportunities for growth.

As leaders, your capacity to adapt and be flexible sets the tone for your organization. It fosters a culture of innovation, where ideas are welcomed, experimentation is encouraged, and continuous improvement is the norm. Your adaptability inspires confidence and trust in your team, showing them that change is not something to fear but something to embrace and harness for progress.

Remember, adaptability and flexibility are not about compromising your values or vision; they are about finding creative solutions and staying agile in pursuit of your goals. They require a mindset of curiosity, resilience, and a willingness to evolve with the times.

By embracing adaptability and flexibility, you empower your team to navigate uncertainty with confidence and to turn challenges into opportunities. Your leadership becomes a catalyst for growth, innovation, and sustained success in an ever-changing world.

Stay adaptable, stay flexible, and watch as your organization thrives in the face of change.

Can you lead with empathy? Are you leading with empathy? Why lead with empathy?

I love to ask questions to get the mind thinking, to reflect and to stretch. What do you know about empathy in leadership and is it important for everyone to know about empathy? Please share your thoughts as I talk about emapathy.

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Gather 'round, champions of education!

Picture this: a room buzzing with energy, minds ignited with passion for progress. That was the scene at the Illinois Association of Title I Directors, where we embarked on a journey of insight and empowerment.

In our small group breakout session, we did a mini version of one of my workshops and dug into the book a little. Together, we embraced the wisdom of "What do we see?" and uncovered the power of the Two Rules.

Identifying home, school and community need to work together in order to find the solution we need to achieve. All of these areas need to work together to support our youth in feeling good and feeling safe. We also stated staff need this as well. Talking about self-regulation for everyone and how to support issues which they are facing. I will unpack the post-it notes they left of “What they see” and maybe they are issues you do as well. Stay tuned for the feedback.

The other workshops in my series include "How do we see?"—a courageous exploration of our lenses, revealing biases and shadows lurking in the corners. It is not easy, but by confronting our blind spots, we unleashed the potential for genuine connection and understanding.

Next up in the list of workshops is : "Who are we seeing?" We examined our focus—are we casting our gaze wide enough, or are some faces slipping through the cracks? Through introspection and analysis, we committed to inclusivity and fairness in every aspect of our work. It is easy to have a vision or mission statement that states All students will or All students are……. However, are we only focusing on a small portion of the population of our student body.

And finally, the pinnacle of the series: "Why are we seeing?" Armed with insights of the journey to chart the course to 20/20 vision. This workshop will set the goals, plot the steps, and ignited the flame of transformation both professionally and personally.

As we reflect, let us carry forth the torch of illumination. Let us continue to see with clarity, empathy, and purpose. For in our shared vision lies the power to shape a brighter future for all. Onward, warriors of enlightenment! 🌟💪 Lead with Two Rules!! Feel good and Feel Safe today…..and all of the tomorrow’s with asking the right questions.

Each person received the gift of my book for attending my session.

Thank you IATD board for the short addition of Lead with Two Rules!! Blessings to all! Reach out to me anytime to find solutions to the problems you face.

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This time of year for those in education is the time where we need a little extra fuel in our cups. Kids are testing so they need a little extra. Staff are working to help keep students motivated and fueled, so they need extra fuel themselves. Let’s face it we all need it to try to keep up with everything right now as the world keeps turning and throwing curve balls pretty fast at times.

Start out your morning with a full cup! Take just five minutes to calm yourself. Plug your ears with your favorite noise or no noise at all. Fill up your cup with the words you need to hear throughout the day. Do a few exercises of the best kind, smiling. Look around to find the things, people, places, and special memories which make you smile. Keep those in your cup and use them throughout the day. At the end of the day, store up all you collected from the day to fill up your cup for a brighter day tomorrow. Remember, your cup is your source of strength and inspiration. Keep it full, and let it overflow with positivity, ready to tackle whatever challenges come your way.

In the year 2024, as the echoes of a nation ring with calls for change in education, we find ourselves at a pivotal moment in history. The sentiments reverberating across communities and classrooms alike are clear:

"We need a change in education." "Education needs to reform to meet the needs of students." "Education is going through an adjustment period now." "AI will help to facilitate the needed changes to support learning with more technology usage." "Recharging education is needed to retain teachers." "Rethinking education to support what students need for the future." "Focus on social emotional needs of learners to address mental health."

These sentiments, while echoing from various points in history, carry an urgency that demands our attention. It's a call to action to not just improve what we've always done but to fundamentally rethink our approach to education.

”Only education is capable of saving our societies from possible collapse, whether violent or gradual.”~Jean Piaget

”Human history is a race between education and catastrophe.”~H.G. Wells

”As we face an increasingly febrile future, the answer is not to do better what we’ve done before. We have to do something else. “~Sir Ken Robinson

As we stand on the shoulders of giants like Jean Piaget, H.G. Wells, and Sir Ken Robinson, we're reminded that education isn't just about imparting knowledge; it's about shaping societies, preventing catastrophe, and navigating the uncertain future with agility and wisdom. I have been influenced by all of them through my studies, listening to TED talks of Sir Ken Robinson and his books. One of his books titled, “Imagine If…Creating A Future For Us All” is where I found the quotes I shared. As leaders, we need to read daily and stretch our minds to always ask questions, reflect and strive to answer why.

The truth is, our current systems are fractured, failing to deliver on promises of equity and excellence. Despite our best efforts to "raise standards" and "leave no child behind," and promise “every child will succeed”. Equity, to me, means ensuring that every child in our nation has equal access to opportunities. However, it's clear that we're not allocating resources to schools evenly or providing consistent levels of quality staffing. The reality remains stark: we're falling short of our aspirations. The question is Why?

The reality is that our existing systems are fragmented, falling short of their pledges to uphold equity and excellence. Despite initiatives to "raise standards" and ensure no child is left behind, and assurances that "every child will succeed," the truth is evident. Equity, to me, means ensuring that every child in our nation has equal access to opportunities. However, it's clear that we're not allocating resources to schools evenly or providing consistent levels of quality staffing. The harsh truth remains: we're not meeting our goals. The question arises: why is this the case?

But amidst this challenge lies an opportunity for transformation. It begins with a commitment to repair broken systems, starting with those within our control. Whether you're a teacher, administrator, or leader in any capacity, the path forward is clear: lead with intention, empathy, and a relentless focus on building relationships.

In my book "Lead with Two Rules," I emphasize the importance of consistency and connection in leadership. By addressing students and staff by name, fostering an environment of trust and camaraderie, we lay the groundwork for meaningful change.

This isn't just about policy reforms or technological advancements; it's about the human touch—the simple act of showing up, being present, and truly seeing those we serve. It's about recognizing that education is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor but a deeply personal journey that requires tailored support and understanding.

So, as we confront the challenges of the present and chart a course for the future, let us heed the echoes of change that resound across our nation. Let us embrace innovation, empathy, and a steadfast commitment to building a brighter tomorrow—one student, one relationship, at a time. For in the end, it's not just about what we teach but how we empower the next generation to shape a world that is yet to be imagined.

It is home, school and community working together to solve the problems we face. I hear, I see and I know we are lacking self-regulation, respect and the motivation needed to achieve. We will not be able to fix these issues over night because together we have created the issues we face for years now. However, we can begin today with Two Rules and trust. Together We Can e the solution today for a better tomorrow.

"The beauty of spring is seen in the new growth. As parents, we watch the growth of our children as their roots provide a solid foundation on which they stand to stretch out to touch the unimagined as they flower into what we always knew they could."~Brenda Yoho

One of two trees planted at my home as a reminder of my parents and their support. It is also a reminder of my other family members who have passed on who played a significant part in my life. We planted one of these trees for my mother as a gift for her birthday right before my wedding. I can remember looking out at it before heading to the church. I would be leaving home for the first time at the age of 19 to travel to the state of New York to begin the life as a Navy wife.

Lead with Two Rules

Growing up, I observed a lot and developed a love for reading. Education posed a challenge for me, as I lacked additional support systems at home and we did not have access to modern learning tools like we have today. While my parents gifted me a set of encyclopedias that I cherished, I sometimes struggled with the content.

Having a supportive environment is crucial for a child's success. Fortunately, I had a loving support system that provided encouragement and all the resources I needed to thrive. Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Cole Chiappialle, the author of "LEGACY, your story has purpose." Reading his book allowed me to reflect on my own journey. Cole had a community of support systems, school was a positive source for him and a loving father.


Cole’s name may sound familiar to you if you are a sports fan and especially football. He was a running back at Penn State. I am not a big sports fan, but have found myself surrounded by a group of former football players. I may finally get myself back into shape! This group is great! My grandson’s love sports but they are big hockey fans. However, my son-in-law played football.


Cole's upbringing, marked by his mother's struggles, resonated with me. His book doesn't just provide details but prompts reflection, empathy, and an understanding that our responses to challenges define us more than the situations themselves. "LEGACY" is a testament to the power of Lead with Two Rules—a philosophy that empowers youth to make choices, ask questions, build positive habits, and realize they are not mere victims but resilient over-comers.

Life presents numerous challenges, and "LEGACY" teaches us that we can all make a difference in our lives by embracing the principles of Lead with Two Rules. Cole dedicates his life to carrying on the LEGACY his dad provided him of love, sacrifice, dedication and support. He will continue to pass this on so this LEAGACY will continue. “What matters are the choices you make today, the choices that will affect those behind you for years to come.” - Cole Chiappialle

Cole's book is deeply rooted in the loss of his father and the profound impact of his father's dedication to improving his life. The pain of losing loved ones is something familiar to those who have experienced such loss. In my own life, I have faced multiple traumatic losses. I was by the bedside of both my parents, caring for them in their final stages. Cancer, in particular, has been a devastating experience. When I was diagnosed, I made the choice to shield my grandchildren from this news.

After completing my treatments (4-25-22), I am grateful to be two years cancer-free. However, the specter of cancer remains a constant presence in my thoughts. It's a reminder that once cancer enters your life, its impact never truly fades away.

Pick up a copy of Cole’s book, LEGACY, Your story has Purpose at www.colechip.com If you do not have a copy of my book yet, please grab a copy https://www.amazon.com/Lead-Two-Rules-Feeling-Good/dp/B0CNL9DS6V

Lead with Two Rules imparts the essential skills required to tackle the multitude of challenges we encounter in life's journey. Just as Cole's experiences illustrate, possessing these skills can be the determining factor between success and failure. Our choices not only shape our own lives but also influence those around us profoundly. When the realms of home, school, and community align their efforts, remarkable transformations can occur.

By delving into Cole's narrative, you'll witness firsthand how these dynamics play out in his life. Consider how your own story reflects the impact of home, school, and community on your journey. Can we strive for improvement? Absolutely! Society reflects the pressing need for these enhancements, and together, we can make a difference. Cole’s father made an impact that changed his life and now many generations to come.

I have written about this and talked about listening several times. I repeat it because of how important it is for all of us to be mindful in doing this on a regular basis. Have you ever been misunderstood? Has someone only heard a few of your words, but not all of them to completely understand you?

"The Art of Active Listening: A Key Skill for Personal and Professional Growth" emphasizes that listening goes beyond merely hearing words; it involves grasping the deeper significance behind them. Whether in our personal or professional spheres, mastering the art of active listening can revolutionize relationships, resolve issues, and bolster decision-making capabilities.

Effective communication extends beyond verbal cues; it encompasses understanding the unspoken messages conveyed through various channels. Trust, a cornerstone of any relationship, evolves gradually as individuals dismantle the barriers when trust is earned. Expressing emotions or comprehending the underlying reasons behind them isn't always straightforward, highlighting the importance of active listening in deciphering the 'how,' 'what,' and 'why' of one's feelings.


Supporting active listening involves adopting certain practices and techniques. Here are some steps one can take to enhance their active listening skills:

  1. Give full attention: Make a conscious effort to focus entirely on the speaker without distractions. This means putting away electronic devices, maintaining eye contact, and refraining from interrupting.
  2. Show empathy: Seek to understand the speaker's perspective and emotions. Reflect back their feelings and validate their experiences to create a supportive environment.
  3. Practice nonverbal communication: Use nonverbal cues such as nodding, smiling, and leaning forward to convey interest and attentiveness. These gestures encourage the speaker to continue expressing themselves.
  4. Ask clarifying questions: Paraphrase what the speaker has said to ensure understanding and ask follow-up questions to delve deeper into their thoughts and feelings. When I am talking with a student I always like to say, “tell me more, what if…, how did you____, how do you think they_______, what now?”
  5. Avoid judgment: Suspend judgment and refrain from jumping to conclusions or offering unsolicited advice. Create a safe space where the speaker feels comfortable sharing openly. I utilize a great deal of wait time, hardly speak, but do provide questions to prompt not to interrogate.
  6. Provide feedback: Offer constructive feedback that acknowledges the speaker's message and encourages further dialogue. This demonstrates active engagement in the conversation.
  7. Practice patience: Allow the speaker to express themselves fully without rushing or cutting them off. Silence can be an essential part of active listening, providing space for reflection and processing.
  8. Be mindful of cultural differences: Recognize that communication styles and norms may vary across cultures. Respect cultural differences and adapt your listening approach accordingly.
  9. Stay present: Avoid letting your mind wander or thinking about your response while the speaker is talking. Stay fully present in the moment to absorb and understand their message.
  10. Reflect on your listening skills: Regularly assess your listening habits and identify areas for improvement. Actively seek feedback from others to refine your active listening abilities over time.

By incorporating these steps into your communication practices, you can become a more effective and empathetic listener, fostering stronger relationships and deeper understanding in both personal and professional contexts.

"I only have 2 rules!"
© 2024 Brenda Yoho
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