Tuesday September 16th 2014

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How I found Wizard Academy

My story about how I found the Wizard Academy is a telltale sign about my general nature. I drove by that sign at least twice a day, five days a week for about 4 years and had no idea what the Academy was. I thought, “there are a fair number of old hippies that live out here,”, scratch my head and not give it much more thought. Then a friend of mine got married at the Chapel Dulcinea, the free wedding chapel at the Wizard Academy. They said to pull into the driveway and turn left. So I did exactly that and thought the Wizard Academy was a wedding chapel. Again I scratched my head and didn’t  give it much thought.

The Wizard Academy’s path and my path were destine to intersect. Read on.

A friend of mine was flying to Santa Monica to attend a spiritual psychology college. She was sitting beside a complete stranger and when they exchanged small talk, they realized they were going to the same place. Before the plane touched down, my friend said to Mia, the stranger beside her, “You’ve got to call Jean Backus when you get back to Austin”, and she gave Mia my phone number. Mia phoned me to sch a lunch. Toward the end of the lunch, I decided to tell Mia I was writing a book. She looked straight at me and asked, “Have you ever heard of the Wizard Academy?” I stopped breathing for a split second and asked her to describe it. She said it was outside of Austin. I asked a few questions and finally said, “It just can’t be that place down the street from me. That sign by the side of the road. That’s a wedding chapel!”. She laughed then explained if I turn into the driveway and turn RIGHT, I would see the buildings. I saw no buildings but then I didn’t remember looking to the right either.

That night I walked from my house to the Wizard Academy and timed it:  12 minutes. I turned right instead of left and was stunned. I thought, “When did they do this? How could they have built all of this without me knowing it?” I had never seen a single car pull in or out of the driveway.

Mia told me they were going to have a grad reunion in two weeks and she invited me and Andrew. I walked to the Wizard Academy every night for the next two weeks and it is an understatement to say I was intrigued. There was a lot of detail, intricate detail. This was no ordinary school designed and built by ‘old hippies’. No, this could only be built by a wizard.

The day came for the grad reunion. I was beyond awe. The campus tour was magnificant.  It had been so long since I was moved like that from deep within. I felt free like I did in grade school at recess running with wild abandon. Wow, I had THAT feeling again. How cool is that?

I did something I have never done in my life. I handed my credit card to someone working in the food line at the lunch buffet. “I want to sign up for the next class. I don’t care what it is. I gotta be here.” She took my credit card then, in a few hours, handed it back to me.

I showed up for class 10/30/07. It was Michelle Miller’s class on Branding for Women. There were 9 people in the class. I am a CPA. An Accountant. I had no business taking an advertising class, I thought. How wrong I turned out to be is nearly embarrassing.

Now, let me digress for a moment. You see, I was a very burned out tax accountant. For thirty years. I had built two CPA firms. I was on the second one and it was 17 years old. I could never imagine myself burning out on accounting. I had a love affair with taxes,  tax planning and challenges and I was good at it. My favorite word was ‘No’ because I would always find a loophole…some weird exception in the tax code that would legitimize an otherwise questionable transaction. I experienced a deep depression overnight. For one year. I went through all the ‘stages of grief’. I know them well. I called it the dark night of my soul. Finally, one day around 8/07, I made a list of what I really, really, really wanted.

I wanted my passion back, I wanted to learn again, I wanted to be around people who did not know me, preferably international, some place where I was not the ‘go to’ nor the mommy. I wanted to be the infant this time. Some place close to home. Then I put the pen down. Then I picked it up and added, “a place to bring my magic wand.”  I smiled and folded the piece of paper up.

We went around the room and introduced ourselves. “Hi, I’m Craig from Australia”, “Hi, I’m Dave and this is Julie from Nebraska.” “I’m Jane from Halifax.” As we went around the room it occurred to me that I the only person from Texas, it was International, close to home, I felt passionate and was so sold, sold, sold. I could barely breathe with enthusiasm and excitement I hadn’t felt in decades. I was experiencing a dream come true. I was trying to digest it. I slowly reached my hand into my purse and pulled out my magic wand and gingerly laid it on the desk.

I was surprised when Michelle said the class was two days. I thought it was one. Then I realized that I didn’t even know how much it cost. All of a sudden I was concerned. What an idiot! Then I found out the price and was told since I was a ‘grad’ (having gone to the grad reunion), it was half price. Wow! So, I spent the night and didn’t sleep a wink, just kept processing and assimilating the information from the day. I was so happy and it was sincere – from the core. I couldn’t wait to share it with Andrew. I had found nirvana. Just like that. Snap! Overnight, I went from deep depression to deep contentment. I was in love.

I gifted myself a class a month for a year. After 12 classes and one year, Roy asked me if I was interested in teaching a class.

You see, on the first day of Michelle’s class, I had a new dream. The theater screen in the classroom is around 25 feet tall and looks enormous. Michelle used mixed media in a way I had never experienced. In a magical way. Powerpoint, YouTubes, music, interaction, movie clips, etc. It was interesting, mezmarising and fun. She could have sold me air.

My dream was for that screen to be behind me rather than in front of me. I would design and teach a class about money…some day! Roy said that standards were high. He said they would provide the place and a hot meal. It would be my responsibility to put butts in the seats. I asked how many people the room would hold. He said 100. He said his staff would critique me and he would give me feedback, I would tweak it and come back and do it again and again until he felt it was student-paying worthy. He said if I could get 5 people to come see my dog and pony show on a Friday, outside of Austin, it would be normal, if I got 15 he wanted to know what I did.

I took it seriously. I needed to prepare the material from scratch and put butts in the seats. THAT was a TALL order. Nine months later, I stood in front of 100 people at my big debut. (Nine months to give birth to it…just noticed…). After the standing ovation that shocked me, Roy told me I was “in”. My class is Money & Cool Chicks and I have taught it several times now.

Then Wizard Academy Press published my book.

I was a student, learned about the Academy customs and became the Academy, so to speak, when I was asked to be on the Board of Directors. I talked to each Board member. I was honored.. I was so happy. That was 12/09.

That’s the whole story of how I learned about the Wizard Academy four years ago. They say, “Give to the place that feeds your soul.”  Roy says everyone will have to be rescued at some point in their life – either physically, emotionally or financially.

What’s interesting is that my story is not out of the ordinary for people who find the Academy. It’s what makes the Academy so intriguing

How did you find the Academy? Were you as destined as I was?

Hope to see you there soon.

-Jean Carpenter-Backus


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One Response to “How I found Wizard Academy”

  1. Ok Jean,
    I’m asking (again), how do I become the 1st man to take your Money & Cool Chicks class?


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