Posted by Sharon Schendel on Mar 17, 2019
Fred Krakowiak takes questions about his experiences in Africa
A sampling of Fred's artwork
A grandfather’s lesson to color outside the lines and make boundaries invisible, in short, to be a maverick, made a lasting impression on Fred Krakowiak, our speaker at the March 14, 2019 meeting.  Despite a long and successful career as a financial manager who oversaw investment portfolios worth over $100 million, Fred felt unfulfilled.
Fred pointed out the importance of recognizing and acting on triggers for life changes. His trigger came after the 9/11 attacks when a client sued him for not fulfilling his fiduciary duties. Although the suit was dismissed as frivolous (Fred’s investment decisions for this client in fact led to a portfolio performance that exceeded that of the S & P by 30%), during arbitration Fred recalled looking out the window toward the Camelback Mountain and thinking: “I’m going to sell my practice.” 
This moment led to a career change that allowed him to pursue a passion for art and wildlife, particularly wildlife in Africa. During his talk, Fred used some of his wildlife photography to parallel some of the challenges that face people looking for change. He spoke of the need to manage stress and the importance of recognizing that not all stress is negative, but that some responses to stress are.
While tracking a lion pride in Africa, Fred and his guide disagreed about which way to go.  The guide pointed out to Fred that he had missed an important clue- the call of a baboon alerting others to the presence of lions. This situation illustrated to Fred the need to trust his senses, and, more importantly, how dulled senses can become during the course of everyday life. Now, when he prepares clients to go on walking safari, he encourages them to visit the grocery store produce section, close their eyes, and notice the smells- not just the sights. His travels to Africa and close encounters with animals also taught Fred to see how the behavior and posture of wildlife could convey life-saving cues.
Africa taught Fred the value of good guides, and that anyone making significant life changes needs a trusted guide as well as a detailed map that outlines the path to the desired change. Such changes are never easy and are often accompanied by anxiety, but Fred said that often life lies on the other side of anxiety.