Transforming people's lives

My passion is helping people get well by refocusing on where their own self-interests lie so they can have more power and influence, not only in their intimate world but in the world at large.

My journey to becoming a professional speaker is rooted in a belief in the power to change, born not of faith but experience. I was a fat kid who became an obese adolescent, surpassing 300 pounds for the first time at age 15 and twice more until topping out at 365 pounds at age 33. During that time, I lost more than 130 pounds twice but couldn't keep it off, all the while certain that I knew all I needed to live happily and productively. So why change?

Today, I'm maintaining a 155-pound loss for almost a quarter-century — and consider the second number far more significant than the first. My first book, "Fat Boy Thin Man," uses memoir techniques to make the case for food addiction as a powerful influence on many lives and on all of society. But I say nothing about dieting and little about food, because I eventually came to understand that weight was "a" problem, but by no means "the" problem.

Professionally, I was a daily newspaper journalist for 30 years, most recently editing for 14 years at the Boston Globe. Additionally, my writing on a range of topics and in the forms of news and feature stories, reviews, and op-eds has appeared in dozens of newspapers and a number of magazines.

My combination of decades of storytelling practice and decades' worth of a unique, personal, and inspirational tale to tell situates me to share my journey's implications with all who want to achieve and maintain healthy, personal change of their own.

I am blessed with a wife, Georgina, who believes both in me and my mission to communicate this message, and a son, Joseph, who is nothing less than a gift of fate. We live together in Arlington, Mass.

photos of Michael

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No one makes it alone, and those who come closest miss out on at least some of the fun. Specifically in developing my speaking business, I've benefitted from what feels like extraordinary assistance from those who have traveled further along the same road. Apparently, this is what speakers do for each other, a condition that is in fact extraordinary. Part of the reward for accepting help is getting to acknowledge it publicly. So, my sincere thanks to Joe Veneto, Margo Chevers, Debby Hoffman Adair, Sue Gunther, Roberta Taylor, Thom Winninger, Randy Pennington, Allan Karl, Chris Clarke-Epstein, Shep Hyken, Susan Keane Baker, Jay Forte, Donna Cardillo, Ford Saeks, Pete Weissman, Jeb Bates, Gwen Acton, and Kenneth Cranell.

I've also benefitted a great deal by reading the brilliance of others, and even to the extent that I think I came up with ideas all by myself, I know I'm not the first person thinking them. Under even slightly different circumstances, I would be the groupies of these people: Wendell Berry needs no introduction from me. He's the godfather of local/organic, and even more dear to me, he makes the case for following the example of nature. Janine Benyus, founder of the modern biomimicry movement, also has established the primacy of nature as the only guide for living. Allan Savory leads the charge for holistic management of grasslands, but underpinning his case is the need to follow nature to learn how we can prosper. Michael Pollan has been influenced by Berry, and it shows. His insightful writing brings macro issues down for individual viewing. The brilliant Bucky Fuller lived an inspiring life fueled by observations of nature and applications of its wisdom. He started early, inventing a boat-propulsion oar in childhood, based on the jellyfish. Among these giants, I'm least familiar with Joanna Macy. I want and need to know more, but already, I know she has a place on this list. 

Georgina Fulton Prager, my wife, is on any gratitude list I make, period. And several other family members have been steadfastly supportive and helpful. Thanks to Rich Prager, Beverly Prager, Sarah Prager, Alex Scalfano, Elizabeth Prager, Adine Storer, and Doug Fulton. Thanks to Phil Werdell, Ron Turmaine, Steve Mayer, Elisabeth and Alan Jones, Shelley Fried, Lisa Dee Port White, and The Rev. Bob Thompson. Maria Rowley dresses me. Bethany Versoy photographs me, very well. ~ M.P.

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