Resilient people see a bigger vision. Although setbacks will cause a loss of something, resilient people can be proactive and take action to get to the other side. They understand they grow through adversity.


Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Keynote Speaker and Author Mj Callaway, CSP, CVP.

Corporate trainer and motivational speaker Mj Callaway is an award-winning author of 11 books and founder of Bounce-Up™ University. Her sweet spots include creating changemakers, boosting resilience, and increasing productivity. She’s known for shifting team attitudes, producing strategic results and you can find her at www.MjCallaway.com.


Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?

Thank you Savio for the opportunity. Friends have used two words to describe me: underdog and survivor. Although these words makes me smile, I would agree. In the last decade, I’ve survived domestic abuse and two cancer diagnosis. While recovering from a major surgery the pandemic hit. Because of these adversities, my business has stalled and jump-started several times, yet like the little engine that could, I can move forward.

I would add to what my friends say that “status quo” is not a place I’m comfortable with — I’m always looking to improve results.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

During my time as one of the top five sales executives for a national building company selling three times my yearly sales quota, I was at the tail end of a divorce and had attended a support group for women whose spouses/former spouses had an addiction.

One woman with facial and body bruises shared she couldn’t leave her marriage because she couldn’t support her kids with her dead-end job. That night haunted me because I knew if I didn’t have the sales skills and business experience it could’ve been me.

A few weeks later, I gave a sales workshop for the support group to give participants a foundation that could be a springboard to a new career. That workshop initiated the idea for my current business Mj Callaway Training + Development. I knew if I could teach others how to sell, they would always have a livelihood.

My lesson: When we can show others a way to improve their lives, our own lives become more significant.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

It’s about giving professionals and organizations the tools and techniques they can implement immediately so that they can Bounce-Up regardless of the adversity, setback, or change they’re facing or have faced. It’s about taking the setback and bouncing up higher and stronger instead of bouncing back.

Most people never do an audit around the core group of people, the “inner circle influencers” in their lives. One of my business programs is called Power Team: Grow Your Business with Your Circle of Influence. The first step is to do a Toxic Audit — pinpointing the people who are holding you back or draining your energy. After we do the Toxic Audit, we work through the associations and organizations and the people you NEED to achieve your goals. This program has become so popular that I’ve customized it for non-profits, including library associations.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

The first person who comes to mind is a long-time friend, Beverly Breton, a strategic content consultant. We met at a writing critique group about twenty years ago. Although writing is how we connected, our friendship and conversations cover everything from family to goals to business. Bev is the person I go to when I have all these ideas swirling around and I want to jump in and do all of them at the same time. She knows exactly what questions to ask to help guide me in the right direction. She grounds me.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

Resilient people see a bigger vision. Although setbacks will cause a loss of something, resilient people can be proactive and take action to get to the other side. They understand they grow through adversity.

The characteristics or traits of resilient people include:

Self-efficacy: They believe in their ability to overcome whatever obstacle comes their way. They will thrive. They will bounce-up™ as I like to call it.

Fearless: They will take action even when life throws darts.

Bigger vision: They are able to look beyond the challenge or change and understand that the current situation will pass.

Solution finders: Resilient people will ask questions to solve the problem rather than staying stuck in the problem. They take action, which takes courage.

Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?

It takes courage to be proactive and to take action. By being proactive, you’re moving forward which boosts your resilience factor because you’re moving out of the status quo. You’re moving forward. You’re growing. You’re seeing a bigger vision.

When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

That’s an easy one — my millennial son Josh. When he was five years old, he was told he wouldn’t be good at sports because of a bone disease that caused an issue with his left hip. However, he played point guard through high school and college. In October 2021, he ran an ultra-marathon, that’s 52.4 miles as a fundraiser for Young Women’s Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation. That’s resilience! He ignored what the doctors said to him as a child and showed what one can do when you’re determined and resilient.

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?

Two incidents come to mind, and both have to do with writing. When I first started writing, I tried children’s fiction. During a coaching session with a well-known children’s author, she said, “You’d have to be on drugs to like this story.” She did me a favor because I realized my writing voice and style were more suited for non-fiction.

After I had my first traditionally published co-authored book released, a colleague said, “Your writing is so horrible you’ll never get published.” What’s crazy about that incident is I had about 200 articles published in parenting magazines and a Warner Books publication (under my pen name Rulnick). Today, I have 11 books published.

Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?

When I left my marriage because my safety was jeopardized, I started over with 500 dollars and some personal belongings. I didn’t even have a bed. At the time, I left a salaried position and had taken a commission-based position with a national builder. I didn’t know anything about the industry. When I was asked during the interview process if I knew the difference between a header and a footer, I said “yes.” On the first day, I realized their header and footer were not the same as mine — in a word document. Within six months, I was one of the top five sales executives.

How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?

My family moved six times before I hit high school. My dad was way ahead of his time and was an original house flipper. Most often, we moved into neighborhoods with all boys, and I had three brothers after me. I found that joining sports teams, and other social groups allowed me to make new friends. I even joined the eight-grade choir even though my singing sounds like Cameron Diaz in My Best Friend’s Wedding. Becoming an action taker became a foundation for the way I handle change, challenges, and adversity.

Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Become a changemaker. A changemaker goes beyond intention. A changemaker actively tackles the problem. Before I became co-president of the National Speakers Association Pittsburgh, our chapter lost almost half of our membership. One of the major changes we implemented was to create a community, so members felt like they were seeing their friends each month. We created strategies, ice breakers, and social events that enabled members to get to know each other on a deeper level.
  2. Be a solution generator. Become the person who generates solutions for change, challenges, and setbacks. Ask, “What can I do right now with what I have?”
  3. Implement Flip-It. In my book Bounce-Up, I share the steps to flip it. Write down the negative word or thought. Then, convert it to a positive word. Write down the positive word and say it out loud three times to cement it.
  4. Build your Power Team. When you build a strong “inner circle of influencers,” you multiply your brainpower and your efforts. I get asked a lot about how to create your Power Team and created a digital program (https://www.mjcallaway.com/power-team) to help others.
  5. Embrace adversity. Embrace your Henry, as I coined adversity. Although no one wants to go through adversity, it makes us stronger. The experience of adversity gives us power and knowledge to know we made it through once we can do it again.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Give the next generation the steps they can take and the techniques they need to become a changemaker instead of a change breaker. Encourage them to be proactive.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

It would be Donald Miller. I’ve been part of his Business Made Simple programs and read his books. I’m fascinated by how he turned a book into a thriving empire.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Sign up for my bi-weekly newsletter that offers tools and techniques to boost resilience and results at https://www.mjcallaway.com/bounceupchronicles. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/MjCallaway. Connect on LinkedIn at www.LinkedIn.com/in/MjCallaway.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Savio, thank you for offering the opportunity to share my insights!

Author(s)

  • Savio P. Clemente

    Board Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), #1 Best-selling Author, Syndicated Columnist, Podcaster, and Stage 3 Cancer Survivor

    The Human Resolve LLC

    Savio P. Clemente coaches cancer survivors to overcome the confusion and gain the clarity needed to get busy living in mind, body, and spirit. He inspires health and wellness seekers to find meaning in the “why” and cultivate resilience in their mindset. Savio is a Board Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), #1 best-selling author, syndicated columnist, podcaster, stage 3 cancer survivor, and founder of The Human Resolve LLC. He has interviewed notable celebrities and TV personalities and has been featured on Fox News, The Wrap, and has worked with Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, BuzzFeed, Food Network, WW and Bloomberg. Savio has been invited to cover numerous industry events throughout the U.S. and abroad. His mission is to provide clients, listeners, and viewers alike with tangible takeaways on how to lead a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. Savio pens a weekly newsletter in which he delves into secrets to living smarter by feeding your “three brains” — head ?, heart ?, and gut ? — in the hope of connecting the dots to those sticky parts of our nature that matter to living our best life.