The greatest job in the world!


That’s right, I believe the greatest job in the world is being a hockey goalie! It’s okay, most people think I’m off my rocker anyway. I love being an old hockey goalie, it is part of my being, and most people are a little surprised when they hear about my goaltending experiences from grade school all the way through college because they don’t think I’m built like a goalie. At least in their mind they have a picture of the Mighty Ducks and Goldberg who was the fat kid who couldn’t skate and was the biggest kid on the team, so he got put in the net.

The greatest job in the world…

Many people have asked me over the years why did I want to be a goalie? As a 12-year-old my answer was simple, the goalie gets to play the entire game while every other player on the team only plays 2- or 3-minute shifts before they must leave the ice. And the goalie is the only player who does not have to leave the game and serve time in the penalty box when they get called for a penalty! (Minor penalties only) How cool I thought, when I did something bad and got caught, I didn’t get a timeout!

I grew up in a suburban neighborhood just north of Chicago that had many boys on the block and depending on the season determined what kind of a game we would play in the neighborhood. When school started up and the weather started to get cold you knew it was hockey season and we started playing street hockey from the moment we got home from school until dinnertime. I would always be the first one to jump into the net and start kicking out whatever the guys would shoot at me.

It was my mom who taught me and my siblings to ice skate in the days when they use to freeze the parks for ice-skating. Although I started initially using figure skates I would always be attracted to those kids that were off to the side at the parks who had sticks in their hands and were playing ice hockey. My two older brothers would always play pickup hockey games on the frozen ponds behind our house in the woods, they were too cool for me their younger brother to join them, so I was never invited. That is until they needed a goalie! No one else in our neighborhood wanted to be a goalie and you could not have a good hockey match up unless you had a goalie to shoot at so they started to invite me to play with the big boys all the time.

My dream of being a real goalie started to become a reality when my dad became the attorney for the Niles Park district. He came home one day and me and my brothers were signed up to play organized ice hockey for the Niles Park district.

The greatest job in the world…

Another reason I love being a goalie is how the goalie equipment is so unique and completely different than most of my friends had ever seen before. Unfortunately, it is also very expensive! So much so that I had to use the Niles Park District’s equipment (the gray leg pads and the gloves in the picture)

I never had my own equipment until high school, and then I would always buy used equipment from other goalies I knew who just got a new set of leg pads or new gloves.

My dad was an avid Blackhawks hockey fan and back then those tickets were hard to come by and were not cheap. Every once in a while, my dad would score a couple of Blackhawk tickets that would be standing room only in the upper deck of the old Chicago Stadium.

I remember it like it was yesterday when it was my turn and I got to come to a game, I remember walking up the stairs and barely being able to see through the smoke that would rise to the top of the building. There would always be at least one or two fights in the stands right around us as we watched the Blackhawks go toe to toe with the Boston Bruins or whoever they faced that evening. But the thing I remembered most was the roar of the “Mad House on Madison”

I remember one day hearing a news story about this new rookie goaltending sensation who signed a big contract with the Blackhawks, his name was Tony Esposito. He took the NHL by storm his rookie year and set a record by recording 15 shutouts in a single season. This record still stands today and will never be broken especially given the speed and talent of professional hockey players in the modern era. Because of this record he earned the nickname Tony “O” which always made me smile.


1980: Goalie Tony Esposito #35 of the Chicago Blackhawks poses for a portrait circa 1980. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

During Tony O’s rookie season, I fell in love with everything that he embodied as the ideal role model that would help guide me on my own hockey journey as a goalie.

The greatest job in the world…

There is no better feeling than being a goalie in a close game with time running out and the opposing team gets a break away. That is, the opposing player breaks away from our defenseman and is skating in all alone with the puck on his stick and no one between him and the goal except me the goalie and then making a big save!

Matt Berrafato stopping a breakaway in the 1976 state championship game.

The media both local and nationally loved the Tony O story of a rookie with 15 shutouts while also winning the Calder Cup Trophy (rookie of the year) and the Vezina Trophy (most valuable goalie in the NHL). I devoured every story I could find about Tony O and came across the cover story from Sports Illustrated highlighting the Esposito brothers Phil and Tony.

It surprised me that the writer of the story whenever they talked about Tony O the younger brother the focus was on his mental philosophy about goaltending. There were three parts of his goalie philosophy.

1 – Mentally prepare for every game. (Get psyched up mentally and visualize yourself stopping every shot.)

2 – When they score a goal against you forget about it! There is nothing you can do to remove the goal from the scoreboard. Focus instead on stopping the next shot!

3 – Your only job as a goalie is to stop the puck, don’t blame your teammates no matter what the circumstance after a goal is scored against you.

Not only did I model and copy his style of goaltending, the butterfly,

Tony “O” Esposito created the butterfly style of goaltending which is now used unanimously by all goalies.

Matt Berrafato with the Bantam Niles travel All-Stars finishing second in the Illinois State Hockey Tournament 1972-1973.

Matt Berrafato with the Notre Dame Dons varsity hockey team in Niles IL, the 1976 AAA Illinois High School State Champions.

but I also adopted the three aspects of his mental goaltending philosophy which was responsible for me being able to compete at the high school and college NCAA Division I levels.

The greatest job in the world…

I learned 3 important life lessons from being a goalie.

1 – Don’t worry about failing, get up and focus on the next shot.

2 – When you make a mistake, take responsibility, and get better so it doesn’t happen again.

3 – Develop the mental toughness not to worry about what other people think.

One reason being a goalie isn’t easy is that when they score a goal against you especially after making a mistake, you can’t hide. Any other position in hockey when you screw up you can skate off the ice and go sit on the bench. But the goalie can’t leave the ice and hide, the spotlight along with every eye in the arena is left looking at you. When I played college hockey for the Wisconsin Badgers I learned a new meaning for the word sieve. I felt sorry for the opposing goalie after the Badgers scored a goal. As a goalie up in Madison they called you a sieve because every shot went through you. Not only did they call you a sieve, they reminded you that it’s all your fault!

The greatest job in the world…

As a goalie you always feel needed. Although it is true that without a good offense that scores goals you can’t win many games. There is a saying in hockey that if you don’t have a goalie that can stand on his head regularly, you don’t win championships. Can you imagine a goalie dressed in full gear being able to stand on his head on the ice?

Well, a goalie who stops impossible shots especially multiple times in a row is described as a goalie who can stand on his head. Tony O would regularly stand on his head 2 and 3 times in each game and although I was saddened by the fact that in his 16-year NHL career with the Blackhawks he never did experience winning the Stanley Cup. I was happy to see Rocky Wirtz bring Tony O back as an ambassador to experience the last three Chicago Stanley Cup championships.

When I heard the news last week that my goaltending mentor and hero passed away after a brief battle with cancer, I felt a big hole in my heart. Although I never met him in person, he had a significant impact on my life. The lessons he taught me not only allowed me to be the best goalie I could be but also the best version of myself as a successful person in the other arenas of my life.

Tony “O” Esposito, one of the greatest goalies to ever play the game, may he rest in peace.

My passion for hockey and especially for being a goalie have played a significant role in my life purpose finding me!

See my blog post “The Mystery of Inspiration”

Matthew Berrafato

The Elephant Hunter

The Mystery of Inspiration


Definition: – “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.”

December 3, 2020 was the anniversary of an event that changed my life forever. I was introduced to the mystery of inspiration in the most unexpected way I could have ever imagined. It was 45 years ago that one of my best friends, Michael Schwass, while playing the sport he loved, broke his neck.

Just five years earlier I did not even know Michael Schwass but we both shared a love for the sport of ice hockey. He was passionate about scoring goals and I was passionate about preventing goals from being scored. Michael was a forward and I was a goalie.

Now on the surface you might think that goalies and forwards didn’t like each other because of the pain that is caused by each one of us being successful at our positions. However, this all changes when the persons playing these two positions are teammates. Michael and I became teammates when we both made the Niles, Illinois travel hockey team as bantams where our lifelong friendship began.

What are you passionate about? Is one of my favorite questions to ask people. When you answer this question truthfully, can the person you are talking to feel it? I mean really feel your excitement at a visceral level.

My passion for being a goalie led me on a path to being on the ice that fateful evening back in 1975, watching Michael skating in on a breakaway and being checked from behind, and go crashing into the boards headfirst.

We were playing against one of our archrivals Glenbrook North. It is a unique perspective to watch the game of hockey through the eyes of a goaltender. Things happen in seconds and I was watching Mike skating in on a breakaway, something I had seen many times previously because he was such a talented skater and stick handler. I saw him being checked from behind by the defenseman and then crashing into the boards, something that was common when we played a physical team like Glenbrook North.

What was so unique this time was when Michael’s body hit the ice, it didn’t move. After the whistle blew I remember skating up to him and saw our coach Gary Weber kneeling at his feet and after taking his skate off, pinching his toes and asking over and over again, “can you feel this?” Mike’s response, “no, no, no!” Although none of us realized it then, Michael had become a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the neck down, which would last the rest of his life.

The mystery of inspiration entered my world later that season in the spring of 1976, our senior year. We were fortunate to continue our postseason by winning strategic games at the end of our schedule and we entered the Illinois state high school hockey tournament as complete underdogs because of the loss of our star player. No one expected the Notre Dame Dons to do anything in the state tournament, but then no one understood the silent inspiration of our fallen captain Michael Schwass, which we all carried in our hearts into every game. We ended up getting white-hot just at the right time, winning five games in a row against teams we were lucky to beat during the regular season, if at all.

The first mysterious paradox of Michael’s inspiration materialized when it was announced to all of us that the team we were to face in the championship game of the state tournament was none other than, you guessed it, Glenbrook North! (No, I did not make up this story!)

As we huddled together in the locker room before the most important game of our high school career, I couldn’t believe my ears. The locker room was located under the bleachers of the Randhurst Ice Arena and the walls were literally shaking! As the 2700+ fans stomped their feet on the metal bleachers, the entire building shook.

As we hit the ice and began skating around the rink, suddenly the entire crowd erupted in thunderous chanting “Stosh”, “Stosh”, “Stosh”! (Michael Schwass carried the nickname of one of his favorite Chicago Blackhawk players, Hall of Famer Stan Mikita “Stosh” as he was known around the NHL.

Unbeknownst to us our coach Gary Weber had gone to the hospital and convinced the doctors to allow Michael to come to the game. The crowd erupted because Michael “Stosh” was wheeled into the Randhurst Ice Arena and it was the first time he had been out of the hospital since the accident!

We were all inspired like never before by our captain and we won the championship game 4 – 3. Glenbrook North never had a chance!

I handed the championship trophy over the glass to Michael because he was the inspiration for all of us to be the best version of ourselves.

The First Step Foundation, another mystery of inspiration.

After high school, I went up north to play hockey as a Wisconsin Badger for UW Madison and during my freshman or sophomore year, I got a call from my other co-captain at Notre Dame, my good friend Tony Salemi. He invited me to the first fundraiser for Mike Schwass. The event was unlike anything I had ever seen in my life. It was a “Roast” of the entire Chicago Blackhawks hockey team organized by Michael’s newfound friend, the late Keith Magnuson. I have no idea what the specific results were from this event; all I know was that the banquet hall was packed with over 2000 paying supporters along with a huge live auction!

During this weekend trip home, I had breakfast with Tony to review the awesome event that Tony had assisted in planning. It was at this breakfast meeting that the mystery of inspiration from Michael struck again.

Definition of Inspiration: “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.”

Tony and I looked at each other and said “we need to start a not-for-profit company/organization to help our fallen teammate.” The realization hit both of us that Michael is going to need our help long-term and not just as a single event, and the First Step Foundation was born.

“Never underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come.”

Over the next 10 years or so a bunch of tenacious Notre Dame hockey teammates, Notre Dame coaches and friends under the leadership of myself, Tony and Don Hitzel (another co-captain and our legal counsel), the First Step Foundation qualified as an official 501(c)3 nonprofit company in 1991!

Michael continued to inspire all of us by getting his college undergraduate degree in psychology and then going on to get his Masters in Social Work (MSW) as a quadriplegic who couldn’t even turn the pages of his books! Wow!

Over the next 19 years the First Step Foundation raised thousands of dollars through nine annual golf outings and a number of other fundraisers, paying for Michael Schwass, MSW to counsel other quadriplegics to deal with the many life challenges that come with the territory of living life paralyzed from the neck down. This was the God-inspired vision of the First Step Foundation that came wrapped in the mystery of Michael’s inspiration.

The unlikely path of the mystery of inspiration.

Here is where the mystery of inspiration takes what appears to be a strange and unexpected turn. Due to Mike Schwass and his amazing drive to research and try any and all treatments for a cure to allow him to walk someday, the First Step Foundation got introduced to serving US military veterans.

One of our largest benefactors was a for-profit company named Laurus Technologies. The owner and founder was a good friend of mine John Udelhofen. John was so moved by what he saw the First Step Foundation accomplishing, he wanted to do more because of the huge need he saw in all of the military veterans returning home from their tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan. So he created a new non-profit called Laurus Foundation and hired Jim Dolan as the executive director.

Enhancing this connection to the military came through my good friend and mentor Wayne Messmer, known nationally as “Chicago’s Original Voice of the National Anthem.” He introduced us to the Chicago Wolves Organization which eventually adopted us as one of their local charities they supported through Chicago Wolves Charities.

The treatments and doctors Mike discovered while treating spinal cord injuries were also effective in treating post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI), both suffered by military veterans during combat.

What was the common thread between all of these connections that led us to serving not only individuals who suffer physical spinal cord injuries, but also the invisible physical injury to the human brain through PTSD and TBI? Every one of these individuals – John Udelhofen, Jim Dolan, Wayne Messmer, Courtney Mahoney (Chicago Wolves) – was touched by the inspiration of Michael Schwass.

One of the many lessons we learned from our involvement with military veterans was just how debilitating brain injuries can be for returning veterans. What I mean here is that if you returned home with a physical injury such as losing a limb in combat, it was easy for the medical community to diagnose and treat. However, if you returned with some form of PTSD, it was difficult to diagnose and to treat because it cannot be physically seen. A number of the doctors we were introduced to, specifically Dr. John Turner and Dr. Frank Yurasek, were able to properly diagnose many of these veterans because of their understanding of the human brain and the entire nervous system. One of the biggest challenges is the fact that the symptoms of PTSD and TBI are almost identical. These two practitioners along with others have been able to diagnose in many cases that TBI was one of the direct causes of their problems. And then they were able to treat the brain injury directly and with very positive results. All this was being done without the use of pharmaceuticals most of the time.

The underlying result of not being diagnosed correctly and still having PTSD can have a direct correlation to the staggering rate of suicide amongst our veterans. The power of these organizations and their programs (such as Healer Warrior) are beginning to have a positive impact on veteran suicide but there is a long way to go.

Healer Warrior

In my coaching practice, I teach my life coaching clients a process of how to discover their life purpose. A core principle in this process is sharing your passion with other people you meet in life. I believe when you do not fully express your passion to the point where people feel your excitement, you are stealing the opportunity for others to be inspired by you!

If I had not infected Mike Schwass and Tony Salemi with my passion and excitement for being the best goalie I could be, the many quadriplegics and US military veterans we have helped may not have ever been cured from the effects of their PTSD and TBI.

A good friend of mine once said “you want to make God laugh, show him your plan”.

Who would’ve thunk that my passion for hockey and being a goalie would lead to Michael Schwass’ inspiration being powerful enough for us to win the state championship, and for us to create the First Step Foundation that would eventually lead to finding a solution to the debilitating effects of TBI for many of our military veterans including possibly saving their lives from suicide!

This quote by the way, came from my good friend Michael Schwass, MSW.

Stosh, may you rest in peace!
(1959 – 2010)

Please check out these websites and pass them along to any veterans and/or their families that you know are struggling.

Dr. Frank Yurasek

Dr. John Turner a Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist

The clinic offers alternative and functional means of medicine including chiropractic neurology, acupuncture, nutrition, allergy relief, applied kinesiology and homeopathy, in addition to traditional chiropractic care.

Illinois Joining Forces

At Illinois Joining Forces, we know that sometimes it can be challenging to find the support you need, when you need it. Since our founding in 2012, we have been determined to make an impact. The core of our efforts is to connect service members, veterans, and their families to the services and resources in their local communities.

The Beat of a Different Drummer

My love for rock ‘n roll began early in my life because of the influence of my older siblings. When the Beatles invaded America, it was my oldest brother who began smuggling their music into our home unbeknownst to our parents. It was useless for my parents and their generation to think they could stop or even slow down the invasion because their music was playing on every AM radio station. When we saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show, which was my folk’s favorite TV program, the music scene would never be the same!

When I got to high school, a new group of friends introduced me to a new band that I had never heard of named Rush. The very first song I listened to was “Working Man”…

and thus began my lifelong love affair with this Canadian rock band. Rush, known for its musicianship, complex compositions, and eclectic lyrical motifs, drawing heavily on science fiction, fantasy and philosophy, has always had such a unique sound like no other band, and I loved it!

When I saw the first news alert on January 10 “Legendary drummer Neil Peart of Rush has died,” although I was surprised, it didn’t sink in.

It wasn’t until later that day when I got a text message from my good friend from high school, who was with me when we saw Rush live in concert in the mid-70s, whichsaid “I’m sad, just saw that Neil Peart the Rush drummer died. He was maybe the best in the world!” That’s when it really hit me and began to sink in.

I immediately went to YouTube and searched Rush. One of the first videos that caught my eye was “Rush – Xanadu” (the official music video). I put on my headphones and cranked it up as loud as I could and listened to one of my absolute favorite Rush tunes!

My mind’s eye brought me back in time to 1974 to the front row seats at the International Amphitheater in Chicago where we witnessed my favorite group up close and personal playing this song. I always thought it was the unique vocal sound of Geddy Lee and the incredible guitar riffs of Alex Lifeson that attracted me most, but now I know it was the creative genius of Neil Peart that was the driving force behind my musical attraction to Rush. (This Xanadu video highlights the hallmarks of classic Rush ballads, at least 10 minutes in length, complexity, and deep philosophical lyrics.)

Over the next few days I devoured any YouTube videos I could find on Neil Peart and Rush, interviews, documentaries, and other songs and concerts. I was fascinated to learn about some of the passions that were deep within this iconic drummer. The interview with George Stroumboulopoulos highlights what lies beneath the beat of this drummer.

What I enjoyed most about this journey of discovery into who the man was beneath the Rush drummer, is how Neil never backed down on following the beat of his own drums, no matter what anyone else thought, especially the music critics.

Are you aware of the purpose for which your own drum beats? If you don’t know or you are not sure, don’t worry, you are not alone. Focus on your God-given gifts/talents and your passions, and then look at the people you can serve with those gifts/talents and your passions, and your purpose will emerge! Neil used his gifts of writing lyrics and his passion for drumming to serve people by allowing them to be inspired and moved by the music he created through Rush. He understood his purpose!

Neil died at the young age of 67; let his death be a reminder to all of us. No one lives forever, and no one knows exactly when our time on this planet will come to an end. Are we living our lives according to what we are called to do?

What are you waiting for?

Here are Neil Peart’s top 10 rules for success where he leaves all of us some pearls of wisdom, as only one of the greatest drummers of all time could do.

This is one Rush fan that will miss you and your gifts!

Neil Peart, rest in peace.

Matthew Berrafato

The Elephant Hunter

The Greatest Motivation

The more I recognize the reality that I could now be in the final third of my life, a new urgency is in the air.

My ongoing quest for continuous improvement on my way to becoming the best version of myself always seems to lead me to change my behavior in some way. This begs the question, what is the best way to motivate oneself to make a change in one’s behavior necessary to improve?

Today one of my favorite movies introduces what I believe is the greatest motivation of behavioral change. The story is Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol”, and I think one of the best adaptations of this classic Christmas story is the 1951 movie starring Alastair Sim.

I can remember watching this movie when I was only 12 or 13 years old one night when I was all alone. To be perfectly honest, to this day scary movies are not my favorite genre. But rather than admit to my brothers and sister that I was afraid, I would watch movies that would give me nightmares, and this one was no exception! When I first saw the ghost of Jacob Marley with all of his rattling chains

I knew I was in trouble.

As Scrooge settles into bed for the evening, he is suddenly awakened at midnight by the ghost of Christmas past.

Although I was startled by this first ghost I was hardly frightened.

Then comes the ghost of Christmas present

and this ghost was bright and cheerful and I found myself entertained and relaxing without any fear. Little did I know that I was being lulled into a false sense of security in preparation for meeting the real star of the movie, the ghost of Christmas future.

Why do I call the ghost of Christmas future the star of the movie? Is he not the catalyst that finally motivates Scrooge to change his behaviors the very next day, positively altering the outcome of his life? This behavior change allows him to impact the world around him in a whole new and exciting way!

I have renamed this character COD, he is your Checkout Date, the greatest motivation!

Tony Robbins, the well-known speaker/motivator, author and coach, has made it his life’s work to study human motivation. He believes that most human beings are motivated by one of two things – pleasure or pain –  and the most powerful of these two is pain. He feels that the vast majority of people will be more motivated to avoid pain, than to gain pleasure. Scrooge is a great example of this principle in action. He changed his behavior to avoid the pain of what COD was showing him about his possible future.

The elephant hunting philosophy is all about becoming the ideal person you would like to become in each of your seven life arenas (physical, mental, spiritual, career, family, financial, and social). 99% of the time, it will require each of us to change our behavior in some way to help us come closer to becoming this ideal person. I believe that COD is the greatest motivating force, allowing us to realize that we only have a limited amount of time to accomplish our purpose for being on this planet. Although this is true for all people no matter what your age, it is especially true when you find yourself in the final third of life as I do.

A sure sign that you are either in your final third of life or at least approaching this stage in your own life is the increase in the number of weddings and funerals within your sphere of influence. Out of these two types of events, it is the funerals that are impacting my world more than the weddings. Three of my close friends during this past year lost their spouses, and another one of my high school classmates passed away. The thing that got my attention with these particular funerals was how close my actual age was to the four people who died. (I say actual age because the calendar says that I’m 61, but I tell people that I’m only 39! You are only as old as you feel!)

On Halloween this year at a networking event in Libertyville called Freedom One

attendees were encouraged to come dressed in a costume as their favorite movie character, so I came as COD!

As I slowly walked up to the front of the room to introduce myself, you could hear one of my favorite songs playing loudly over the speakers “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult.

My advice to you is simple but powerful, like the lyrics in the song say “Don’t Fear The Reaper” –  let COD motivate you to change your behavior for the better.

A key element to becoming the best version of myself at this stage in my life is staying relevant in all my life arenas during the Final Third.

Matthew Berrafato

“The Elephant Hunter”

Bite #2 — Motivation to Change Behavior — Wellness & Health Promotion

Do you know someone in your life that for some reason is not taking care of themselves physically? Is there someone that you know that is an intelligent person, has a successful career and family and yet is making lifestyle choices that are literally shortening their lives? I think that we all know one or more people that we care about that continues to make poor lifestyle choices knowing that their choices are probably going to end their lives prematurely.
Ever since writing my first book Elephant Hunting I have been totally intrigued when I meet intelligent people who are fully aware of the fact that the lifestyle they are living is statistically going to end their lives earlier than the averages.
My new book is going to look closely at a simple but powerful concept that I believe will motivate a certain percentage of the population to make the decision to change their lifestyle behavior for the better. This concept has to do with one of the most powerful three letter words in the world, why. I think this little word holds the secret for what is keeping people from changing.
Why are you here?
The age-old question that philosophers have been debating and pondering for thousands of years. Why are you on this planet? What is your purpose for being? Do you really know the answer to these questions? I believe that once you know the answers to these questions you are on your way to finding the motivation necessary to change your lifestyle behavior. However, there is a second question that is as important as the first that you also need to answer which will hold the remaining key to your success:
Are you currently pursuing the answer to the first question (why you are on this planet) in your current job or vocation? In other words, are you currently pursuing your passions in life?
If you know the answer to the first question, and you are pursuing your life’s passion through your current career, vocation and family relationships then I believe you will change your lifestyle behavior for the better.

Do you recognize this character?

That’s right, you know him as the Grim Reaper! What in the world does the Grim Reaper have to do with taking charge of your own health and well-being? Everything!!! Let me remind you of a simple fact, if you are a human being you are going to die. It’s just a matter of when. I really don’t mean to insult your intelligence, I know you realize that someday you’re going to die. I am convinced that if a person knows why they are here and they are currently pursuing their life’s passion and loving it, they will want to do everything possible within their power to make sure that the Grim Reaper is as far away from them as possible.
I am here to remind everyone that the lifestyle choices I am talking about are the following; nutrition/eating, sleeping, exercise, smoking, and drinking. Each one of these are things that we can choose to do or not. They have nothing to do with those things that are out of your control such as injury or illness/DNA. One of the many reasons I am co-authoring this new book with my personal physician Dr. Mark Levy is because he has studied the facts and the facts state that by making better choices within these five lifestyle categories you have the power to put distance between you and the Grim Reaper.
Our new book and this blog are all about giving you tools to help you figure out why you are here in case you don’t know. And if you do know, how to change your lifestyle behaviors which are things you can control to give yourself more time to do those things you love to do before the Grim Reaper comes to take you away.
I encourage you to take the time and watch the video I have included from Simon Sinek as he discusses — How Great Leaders Inspire Action. He does a great job in this 18 minute video explaining the importance of this little three letter word — why. As the elephant hunter it is my purpose to help others find the why in their lives.
Matthew Berrafato
“The Elephant Hunter”

Wellness & Health Promotion — Bite #1 — Healthy Fast Food article

Although it has been many months since my last post I am excited to be back in the
saddle again and sharing ideas that you can use in order to Take Charge of your
own health and well-being.

I will be shifting away from the topic of health care reform now that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the law of the land. I hope that any of you that have read my blog
in the past understand that it was not the intent of the law that I disagreed, it was a matter of how the law was going to go about solving the health care issues in our country that I was concerned. One of the positive outcomes of this legislation was to focus attention on what I believe is the key to getting our arms around how to control healthcare costs going forward and that is wellness and health promotion. Unfortunately the new law barely scratches the surface of bringing wellness and health promotion to the forefront of the health care system. Therefore, it will be my intent to focus my blog entirely on bringing ideas and tools to my readers that will help them when they choose to get healthy and stay healthy. We as Americans need to Take Charge of our own health and well-being if our current and future health care systems are to have a fighting chance.

I have been working over the past four years on my new book that I am co-authoring with my personal physician Dr. Mark Levy. The working title of our book is “Take Charge of Your Own Health and Well-Being” — It’s Your Personal Health Care Crisis. We are very excited because we are getting close to our publication date which is scheduled for the beginning of fall 2011. It is our intent through this project to create a toolkit available for all that will continue to evolve in helping people to make the decision to take charge of their health and well-being. There will also be tools included that will help you to keep your commitments to yourself and follow through on implementing your strategies to accomplish these worthwhile goals.

To begin the process of offering valuable content to all of our readers that are in line with the goals of our new book I am enclosing an excellent article I came across that I want to share with all of you to use as a tool to help you on your journey to Take Charge of your own health and well-being. If it is your goal to get healthy and stay healthy then I know this article will come in handy.

We all lead extremely busy lives and many times due to the numerous commitments for yourselves, spouses and children the only option available for breakfast, lunch or dinner is fast food. After reading the article I am enclosing you will be armed with the knowledge and information you need to make healthier fast food choices. With the One Bite Connection at your fingertips the old adage “there was nothing I could do” can be a thing of the past.

Healthy Fast Food






If you have enjoyed reading this article and it helps you to make better decisions about the fast food in your life please feel free to share this article with someone
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If any of my ideas resonate with you or if you have additional comments or ideas that can help other people on similar journeys of getting healthy and staying healthy, I would love to hear from you.

Matthew  Berrafato

The Elephant Hunter

B.I.T.E. #11 — The Big Picture

I know it has been a while since my last post. One of the reasons for this is I continue to get overwhelmed with the sheer volume of information coming at us each and every day surrounding this healthcare reform debate. As the details continue to unfold around the bills that have been introduced so far out of Washington are we losing sight of the big picture? I think we can safely say that no matter what the final outcome surrounding healthcare reform, healthcare in this country along with health insurance in this country is going to cost us something. There is no way that healthcare is going to be free. Whether it remains totally unchanged (which I firmly believe is not going to happen) or a public option ends up being introduced, they are both going to cost us money out of our pockets. That being said, what I think we need to focus our attention on in the big picture is the issue of freedom. Freedom to choose our doctors, freedom to choose our health insurance plans, freedom to make health care decisions about ourselves and our families with our doctors, freedom from rationing of care , freedom from unnecessary tax increases. Anything within healthcare reform that messes with any of these freedoms in the wrong way needs to be avoided. The free market system that has allowed us to become the great nation that we are given the chance will produce the best solutions that maintain these freedoms at costs that can be afforded.

Maintaining these freedoms can only be possible in the long term if we as a nation get healthy and stay healthy. When looking at the big picture we must pay attention to the one fact that everyone can agree on, based on the current path we are on as Americans no system can support the weight of our collective unhealthiness. Therefore, any solutions that are being offered throughout this healthcare reform debate must have workable and realistic wellness solutions along with the tools and incentives required for Americans to redirect their lifestyles by changing their behavior in a way that will positively affect their health and well-being. We are kidding ourselves if we think that by making any modifications to health insurance and the health care system without effectively addressing the issue of getting healthy and staying healthy that we will be able to maintain these freedoms. (Remember, I’m talking about lifestyle choices that everybody no matter what kind of genes you have can decide to change.)

I read an article today written by Grace-Marie Turner that addresses recent polls in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and the New York Times on Americans and what they want in their health care reform. The title of the article is “Americans Do Want Health Care Reform”. Do you want freedom and liberty? Or do you want apparent security without freedom? Which camp are you in?

When dealing with a topic like health insurance and healthcare reform the complexities are mind boggling. As we begin to see the specific details of the plans coming out of Washington (HR 3200 which is over 1000 pages long) it is easy to lose sight of the big picture and the thing that most Americans hold near and dear to their hearts, FREEDOM!

I have a question for you, how do you boil a bullfrog? When I first heard this question I was puzzled because I knew as a young boy catching and releasing many frogs and bullfrogs that it seemed almost an impossibility that anybody could ever boil a bullfrog. Bullfrogs are strong and fast jumpers, and if you were to take a pot of water and bring the water to the boiling point, the minute you dropped a bullfrog into the boiling water it would jump out of the hot water as quickly as you put it in. However, if you were to take the same pot and put some nice cool refreshing water into the pot and placed a bullfrog into the water gently. Then as you proceed to incrementally turn up the heat on the water eventually the big old bullfrog would get drowsy and begin to fall asleep. As soon as that bullfrog was to fall asleep, you could turn up the heat ever so slowly until eventually the water is boiling and the bullfrog is completely cooked! As our country reforms health care let’s not lose sight of the big picture, because in the big picture our freedom is just like the bullfrog, if we’re not careful we may fall asleep and our freedom will get cooked!

Matthew Berrafato

Elephant Hunter

B.I.T.E. #10 — “It doesn’t take a brain surgeon ….”

“It doesn’t take a brain surgeon…….”

Have you ever used this line before? I will usually use this statement when speaking about something that is not as complex as most people think it is. Sometimes when I find myself debating the issues on health care reform with people I’m starting to believe that maybe it is more complex than brain surgery. That is why once again I am going to stick to my guns and continue to address one bite at a time the most pressing healthcare reform issues.

In one of my earlier bites, B.I.T.E. #2, I talked in general terms about The Public Plan run by the government. Over the past couple of days we have now seen two separate bills that have been introduced under the category of health care reform and both of them so far have included “the public plan” run by the government. For the first time we are starting to see some of the details of this public plan and I am encouraging all people to pay attention and take a very close look at what is being proposed. Don’t stop there, once you understand some of the details it is imperative that each one of us contact our representatives in Washington to voice your concerns or approval, but especially your concerns. Remember, whatever is decided on health care reform of this magnitude once it is implemented never in the history of our country has ever been reversed. The consequences will be dealt with by future generations of Americans, our children and our children’s children.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has scored the bill from the House at $1.5 trillion. The CBO’s score for the other bill introduced by the Energy & Commerce, Ways & Means and Education & Labor tri-committee was over $1 trillion. Do any of you remember the example I gave you in B.I.T.E. #4 giving you a frame of reference? Let me refresh your memory on just how big $1 trillion is. If 1  million seconds of time is about 11 1/2 days, 1  billion seconds is 32 years, 1 trillion seconds is 32,000 years!

So far there are three ways that these new bills are going to provide the funding to come up with these incredibly large amounts of money.

1 — Tax the Wealthy. New taxes equaling at least $540 billion over 10 years. (I am including the following link that is an article written describing exactly how this new tax on the wealthy would work.)

                Taxing the Rich — article

2 — Employer Mandate (employers would be mandated to offer health insurance to its employees or face a penalty tax of 8% of their payroll for noncompliance.)

3 — Health Insurance Company Fees (New fees would be levied against all health insurance companies that would equal between $75 billion and $100 billion over 10 years.)

All of the above taxes and industry fees could be even higher should the savings being outlined in the legislation fail to materialize. Just because you currently are not considered wealthy doesn’t mean you will not be taxed in the future to pay for this unsustainable legislation.

One of the scariest and eye-opening comments was made by the CBO director Douglas Elmendorf, “the bills won’t meet the Presidents promise of reducing health care costs over the long term.” This legislation will not only increase the already staggering deficit, but it will also negatively affect our economy due to the employer mandate causing employers to reduce their workforce even further by having to lay off additional employees due to these new increased costs.

If any of these facts are disturbing to you now is the time to make a phone call to your representatives in Washington. If you are not sure who your elected representatives are you can use the links below to find out who they are and how to contact them by phone. Our voices must be heard, we must let them know in Washington that our country and our economy cannot withstand this staggering financial burden.

Matthew Berrafato
Elephant Hunter

B.I.T.E. #9 — The Magic Question

Consumer Driven Health Care (CDHC) is a major paradigm shift from how we all view health care in America.

“We have to change our thinking about buying health care services. We need to treat these purchases as we would any other necessary purchase. You want to know what you are getting, why you need it, and how much it costs.” Says Greg Dattilo and Dave Racer in their short but powerful book Why Health Care Costs so Much. The Solution: Consumers

            I highly recommend that every American read this little book. It is only 76 pages and it is the size of a small pocket handbook. This is the clearest description I have read so far explaining the entire concept of CDHC.

            The magic question is How Much Does This Cost? I shared this question at the very end of B.I.T.E. #8. Since this question has never been asked within the current health care system is going to solicit a lot of raised eyebrows and puzzled looks. Many of the providers will give you a number of excuses of why they can’t answer that question, but I implore you to persist until you get the true cost of the health care service or product. This question seems to be magical because each time it is asked the true price will have to be given or the consumer will not accept the product or service. Once you the consumer gets the price then and only then can you shop for the best price. When enough consumers ask the Magic question of each and every health care provider for every healthcare product and service the free enterprise system will cause the price to stabilize and eventually come down. As I said in B.I.T.E. #8, if there is not any skin in the game from the consumer, the consumer has no incentive to ask the magic question. It is time for all of us to start asking how much does this cost?

Matthew Berrafato
Elephant Hunter