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Great dreams have led to great life for Magee

Since earning his master’s degree in materials science and engineering from Lehigh in 1996, Tony Magee ’96 has built an impressive career as a professional and personal development consultant, teacher, motivational speaker, and author.

Tony Magee shares his insights with business clients.

His most recent tool for self-mentoring, Can't Shove a Great Life into a Small Dream, is a down-to-earth, how-to book on making the minor changes that result in major life accomplishments.

“At one time or another,” says Magee, “everyone feels cramped and restricted, unable to move forward, held back from getting the most out of life. A dead-end job, no job, a troubled childhood, a ruined relationship, few prospects, having to start over—most people’s dream of a great life is shrinking day-by-day. I believe that they can break through the crush of life. Can’t Shove a Great Life into a Small Dream is about learning to operate yourself more effectively.

“With all of this in mind, I’ve crafted my 12 life-essentials from my own incredible journey, and wrap them in the wisdom of some of the world’s most successful people.”

A fresh start

Within the 203 pages of the easy-to-read, plain language guide, Magee takes the reader through a series of “life-essential” topics that are presented in a manner comparable to a dozen after-dinner chats with a beloved elder relative. With topics ranging from inspiration to self-esteem, goal setting to financing, and balance in life to leadership, Magee distills tough lessons into their most basic principles.

For example, Magee challenges us to examine our long-held perspectives on life:

Others gave us most of [our generally accepted] thoughts, especially the people influencing us in our early years … much of our negative thinking is handed down to us like old clothes. We don’t know better so we put them on and make do… Burn your old clothes and buy brand, spanking new ones—that you picked out, that fit your lifestyle, and represent your tastes, values and aspirations. In other words, let go of your beliefs, opinions and judgments that you inherited from your upbringing. Clear your head of those cobwebs and fill your mind with the freshest, edgiest thinking you can muster.

The freshness of Magee’s approached is achieved in the way it speaks to the average reader. He successfully avoids convoluted descriptions of paradigm shifts and instead opts for clear, concise phraseology making the guide just that—a pocket counselor.

Jack Canfield, co-creator of The New York Times best-selling book series Chicken Soup for the Soul, says: “Tony Magee's Can't Shove a Great Life into a Small Dream is a great book full of practical advice for everyday people who want to achieve their dreams.”

“Hope and a good plan”

When you ask Magee what inspired him to write this book, the alum points to his childhood.

Magee is founder and president of PlatinumStar.

“I was born to a single mom caring for two teenage kids,” Magee says. “My mother had to drop out of high school in the eleventh grade due to certain hardships. She raised us amid the poverty and violence at the hardened Nickerson Gardens Housing Projects in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. My mother told me that I might’ve been born into poverty, but poverty was not born in me. At an early age, she convinced me that it was possible to obtain anything my eyes could see. She said, “Son, all it takes is hope and a good plan.” All I ever wanted was a better life than the one I had inherited.”

Mother Magee’s words of wisdom and guidance grew deep roots in her son’s developing life. Few could deny that Magee has made good on the great dreams his mother held for him. In the chapter on leadership, he discusses the difference between sight and vision.

Pigeons aren’t hunters; they’re beggars. You could feed them just about anything, and they would chow it down. They are also scavengers. Pigeons are commonly found at places where there is an abundance of rubbish to be picked over…[then there is] the brilliant bald eagle… Although the eagle is a physically strong bird, the bird’s most remarkable feature is its eyesight …The eagle’s astonishing eyes are large, second only to its beak as the animal’s primary facial feature. The eagle’s extraordinary vision allows it to enjoy a quality of life that pigeons could love only in dreams. The difference between the pigeon and eagle is this—the pigeon has sight, but the eagle has vision.

In following his own vision over the years, Magee developed a channel through which to share these important family-style, life lessons, and with more than one student at a time. His seminars, workshops, and now this book bring a breath of fresh air to others seeking a different view.

“Imagine,” Magee says, “that you had a penny for each person who ever said, “If I had known then what I know now!” You’d be among the wealthiest people on Earth! The truth is that there are things we all wish we had known before encountering certain events, conditions, or people in the past.

“In addition, many—if not most—of us move through life hoping and dreaming to accomplish things very quickly that will bring contentment and peace of mind. Yet the entire issue in living well has to do with learning to operate ourselves.”

Can't Shove a Great Life into a Small Dream is Magee’s guide for that learning. He’s poured in his own life’s lessons and intuitive counsel into a book that has earned high marks from one of the best-known mentors of the last century.

“With your excitement about life, your commitment to what you are doing, and your bubbly personality,” says best-selling author and mentor Zig Ziglar about Magee, “I believe you’re going to make a difference in the lives of a lot of people”

Beating the odds

The founder and president of PlatinumStarTM Performance Systems, a professional and personal development firm, Magee emerged from a non-privileged childhood to not only survive, but to contribute to the inspirational wellness of others.

“Looking back,” says Magee, “I could see that the odds were against me. However, when I learned about my mother’s death, I realized that I had to keep on going—that I could not enjoy the great life I wanted so badly with a small dream.”

There has been nothing small about Magee’s dreams or accomplishments. Writing Can't Shove a Great Life into a Small Dream was the culmination of a life bursting with many of the measures of personal success.

In 1996, he became the first African-American to earn a master’s degree in materials science and engineering from Lehigh. He went on to earn his MBA from Pepperdine University, and completed Executive MBA studies at Oxford University in England. His academic tenacity and accomplishments, combined with campus leadership opportunities as a member of the Lehigh Greek community, provided the cornerstone for Magee to build a contributing future.

Posted on Friday, January 23, 2004

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