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'It only takes a minute to change your life'

When Willie Jolley walked on stage to address an auditorium full of teen-agers, he had this to say: "It only takes a minute to change your life." He also told them that money does not determine success. Mother Theresa had no money, and Martin Lut...

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When Willie Jolley walked on stage to address an auditorium full of teen-agers, he had this to say: "It only takes a minute to change your life."

He also told them that money does not determine success. Mother Theresa had no money, and Martin Luther King was not a rich man. But both changed the world for the better. They were successful.

"Money does not determine your success, but if you're successful you can have all the money you need," Jolley said.

The Northland Foundation invited Jolley to speak at the 11th annual Kids Plus Conference on Tuesday at the DECC. Voted by Toastmasters as one of the top five motivational speakers in the world, Jolley is a singer, entertainer and author who is in high demand these days. His dynamic personality motivates audiences throughout the world on topics such as self-empowerment, leadership and team building.

On Tuesday, Jolley revealed one of his secrets to Northland youths. He told them "dreams are the seeds for success." On good days, bad days, happy days and sad days it's important to keep on dreaming. He said the biggest "dreambuster" is drugs, and hanging out with people who discourage you from following your dreams.

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"Tears do not make one difference when you have a problem. You have to dream and take action," Jolley said.

The Northland Foundation took action in 1991 when it created Kids Plus, an initiative to improve the well-being of youths in northeastern Minnesota. Over the years the initiative has grown to include the Kids Plus Community Planning Process, youth leadership programs, the Youth in Philanthropy Program and grants to support children, youths and families.

"We hope to encourage communities to look to young people as resources and tap into their fresh perspectives, insightful ideas and genuine desire to make things happen," said Lynn Haglin, Northland Foundation president and Kids Plus director.

"It's because of the special energy of young people that we consider you the heartbeat of your communities," Haglin told the youths on Tuesday.

The day-long conference features nationally acclaimed speakers and interactive workshops that inspire young people and adults to explore the power they have within themselves to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others.

In addition, an annual Pre-Conference Summit is held the evening prior to the main event. This year the Summit offered 350 youths and adults special leadership training. While adults attended a seminar on the prevalence of bullying and offered strategies on how to create more peaceful environments, the young people participated in an interactive leadership workshop with youth leadership trainer Ed Gerety.

New to the conference this year was a virtual Career Market. More than 50 regional businesses designed hands-on demonstrations for students to explore future career opportunities available in the region.

The conference attracted nearly 2,000 youths and adults from 150 communities this year.

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Towards the end of his performance, Jolley gave the youths an assignment. Twice a day for the next 30 days, they are to look in a mirror and say to themselves out loud: "I was born for greatness."

He said it would change their lives.

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