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LEAD IN LIFE Virtual Book Tour




Succeed in the New Era of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Business / Leadership / Biography


Date Published: September 28, 2021

What do a single rose in a crystal vase, a box of tomatoes, a knitting needle, a basketball, and a tingling earlobe have in common? They are all signals to Dr. Laura Murillo to live life to the fullest every day. A high-energy, results-focused change agent in the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) space, her undeniable passion for life stands as the foundation for her personal and professional brand.

As President and CEO of the award-winning Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, she has the uncanny ability to see a situation, not for what it is, but for what it can be. In Lead in Life, People. Passion. Persistence: Succeed in the New Era of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Murillo guides readers through the incredible, sometimes devastating, and victorious experiences that comprise her success—from earning a doctorate while pregnant, parenting a toddler, managing a parent’s illness, and working full time, to hosting multiple TV and radio shows in English and Spanish concurrently, and being appointed to the Washington, DC Federal Reserve Board’s Community Advisory Council, and more.

She uses her lived experiences as the daughter of immigrants, a woman, an executive, a media producer and host to inform her perspectives and insights as an authority on DEI, guiding corporations, organizations, and institutions to adopt a genuine culture of DEI. In this new era of DEI, corporations must make a solid, lasting commitment to full representation, fairness, and inclusion of all voices in every decision, at every level of a corporation, all the time.

Lead in Life illustrates why everyone in a corporation has value and a voice that must be heard.


LEAD IN LIFE stack of books




We came from nowhere. My mom and I were running errands for the day and had just finished exchanging some items at Gulfgate Mal on a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning. There H was nothing unusual about the day, except a feeling in my gut. 

As we pul ed into the parking spot, I noticed to the left and front of the spot there were bushes, small shrubs—no big deal. Yet, something inside me whispered, “Don’t park there.” I didn’t pay much attention to the voice. After all, we were just running in to return a few things, and then we would be out and on our way. Not listening to my intuition that day ultimately changed my entire life. 

At eighteen years old and fresh out of high school, I had the world in the palm of my hand. I felt invincible and I believed I could succeed at just about anything I set my mind to. I had developed an unshakable focus and a dogged work ethic while working at my dad’s neighborhood restaurant from the time I was ten years old. I started out just piddling around, waiting tables and helping in the kitchen. Over time, I took on new responsibilities, like greeting customers, cashing out the register at the end of the day, and ordering supplies, all the necessary tasks of running a family business. By engaging with the employees, I was able to speak a lot of Spanish and appreciate the hard work they did every day to feed their families. As the youngest of nine, I was the one who tagged along with my dad to the restaurant. I felt a deep connection to both of my parents and was honored to have a solid relationship with both of them. 

With our errands complete, and back at the car, I slid into the driver’s seat of my shiny red 1985 Ford Thunderbird, a graduation gift from my dad. As soon as my mom opened the passenger-side door and eased down into the seat, a man appeared on her side, startling us both. 

He pushed her into the seat, reached across her body, and aimed his gun just inches from my head. His voice was rough with anger, his breathing quick with the urgency to get what he had come for, whatever that was. 

“Get out of the car now!” He said. “Leave everything. Get out now.” 

“No, no, no!” my mom screamed, shaking uncontrol ably, unable to move from her seat. 

With a quick glance at the perpetrator, I took stock of him. He was about twenty years old, slender, and tal , wearing a green T-shirt and blue jeans. Somehow, I managed to remain calm, almost too calm. “Take what you want,” I said. “Just let us get out of the car.” 

As he pressed the gun into my right temple, his hand shook, and I could feel the vibration of his nervous grip on the handle with his finger on the trigger. When I didn’t move, he pressed the barrel even further against my flesh. I turned my head slightly towards him and looked deep into his eyes, searching for an indication that there was at least an ounce of reason within him, something that would ignite the compassion to spare my mom and me from any further trauma. Instead, all I saw in his eyes was desperation and anger. With my mom still screaming and nearly hyperventilating, a frightening thought crossed my mind. Oh my God, he’s going to kil me in front of my mother, and he’s going to kil her too.  Despite the urgency of the moment, I felt terrible that she would have to witness such a scene. No parent should ever have to experience that kind of tragedy. 

“Get out!” the gunman shouted, louder this time, with more anger and desperation and the gun firmly against my head. “I’m not playing with you.” 

Then came the sound, like an echo in a dark room, bouncing off cement wal s. Click!  He pul ed the trigger and, with that simple act, had the power to destroy my life. My eyes shut tightly and my shoulders raised to my ears in tense anticipation, ready to feel the pain of the bul et entering my head and exploding. In a mil isecond, I envisioned the horror of remnants of my brain tissue splattered throughout the vehicle, covering my mom, the car seats, the windshield. Yet, that simple click yielded nothing. The gun had jammed. With uncontrol ably shaking hands, I quickly grabbed the driver’s side door handle and pushed the door open. 

“Mommy!” I yel ed. She was frozen with fear, unable to exit on the passenger side, where the gunman leaned across her body. With little thought, I took hold of her hand and snatched her petite body across the center console and out my door, her shoes still on the floor where her feet had been. In what seemed like one swift movement, the gunman hopped into the passenger seat, slid over to the driver’s side, and drove off, leaving my mom and me standing in the parking lot of Gulfgate Mal , shaking and in shock. I watched the car speed away, the strap of my mom’s purse dangling out the passenger door. Relieved that we were still alive, I stood there, holding my mom tightly, and we cried. 

In the days that fol owed, I was terrified that the gunman would find us and try to kill us. He had driven off with not only my car, but also with our purses, which included all our identification. My mind went wild, thinking of all the things he could do with that information. To help ease my concerns, my dad changed the locks on every door in our house. We canceled our credit cards and got new ones. I got a new driver’s license and replaced all the other items that were stolen. Stil , I was in a state of panic, afraid to leave the house and afraid to be there. I felt like a prisoner in my own home. My mind created scenarios of the gunman regretting that he didn’t shoot us and coming after us to finish the job. There I was, eighteen years old, having been held at gunpoint, and I was a total wreck. My life had been spared and it was just beginning, but I was afraid to live it. 

College was next in my future, and I knew the transition would bring a very different experience from my years at Austin High School, where my classmates voted me Most Likely to Succeed, Most Popular, and Class President, and where I graduated with honors among the top five percent of my peers. Austin High School is in the Houston Independent School District located in Houston’s East End. 

By the time I entered college, I was working three jobs—at the family restaurant, at my sister Lupe’s beauty salon, and at a radio station. 

I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up, but I loved helping people and I thought being a journalist, in some capacity, would be important because I saw so few people in that space who looked liked me. With so much on my plate, I buried my emotions about the car-jacking and didn’t tell anyone about the emotional turmoil I was experiencing, partly because I didn’t want anyone to pity me and also because I didn’t want to feel like a victim. I was losing days and weeks, focused on what could have been instead of being grateful for what was. 

In short, I was living in fear. 

Even more than the fear, I felt a grave sense of guilt for having put my mom in harm’s way. I blamed myself for not trusting my intuition that told me not to park in the spot. My poor decision could have ended both our lives. I was overwhelmed with guilt that I had endangered my mother’s life. Interestingly, my mother’s response was to panic at the moment of the attack, but fol owing the incident, she was surprisingly calm and thankful to God that nothing happened to either of us. Our responses were so different, and whether I realized it or not, I learned by watching how my mother responded to the event. She was resilient and she quickly moved on, even though I still suffered from the trauma. 

Thankfully, about three weeks later, the police arrested the gunman and found he was tied to a string of similar crimes in other states. That didn’t do much to ease my mind. I was still traumatized by the incident, and I worried I would never be able to function normal y. Everything startled me. I knew my fears were unfounded since the gunman had been caught, but fear had carved out a place in my mind that caused me to isolate myself from the world, from my life. 

One day, while at home alone, I began saying aloud to myself, 

“Mom’s okay, you’re okay. Everything is going to be okay.” I paced the floor of my bedroom, ringing my hands and staring at my feet as I placed one foot in front of the other. “Mom survived. You survived. You are here, now, and you have to live.” It was as if someone outside of me was giving a pep-talk, hoping to snap me out of a darkness that threatened my existence. I was a young woman with a future, but I had allowed a terrible experience to paralyze me with fear. I knew I couldn’t go on living like that. I realized then that I wanted more. I wanted to live. That strong desire ignited in me a resiliency I didn’t know was there. I realized I had a choice. I could either let that one person, that one incident, control and overpower me, or I could use that experience to my benefit, as an opportunity to strengthen myself. I chose life and made a conscious decision to live every moment with urgency, to be joyful, more appreciative, more thoughtful, and more engaged with each person in my life. An incredible zest for life was created, and I wil ingly embraced it. 

My decision to release the fear and instead embrace the power to control my thoughts and actions felt wonderful. Somewhere deep inside, a determination grew that would not allow one person to keep me from being the best I could be. Instead, I realized how fortunate I was to survive being held at gunpoint and that I would not let my life be in vain. 

Despite how traumatic that event had been, neither my mom nor I had been physical y hurt, and I was grateful for that. In fact, the incident made us even closer than we had been. It was a strange, terrible experience only the two of us shared. Yet, I had to choose how I would live with it. I chose to acknowledge that everything was okay, that I was resilient, and that I would persist in every endeavor going forward. 

I transitioned from fear, guilt, and grief to joy, happiness, and a zest for life. My appreciation for life grew daily, and I became obsessed with living my life to the ful est. My focus turned to accomplishing as much as I could. I decided that whatever I put in my mind to do, I would do it and take nothing for granted. From then on, I committed to live every moment with urgency and passion. That single decision was a pivotal choice point in my life, allowing me to see the power and impact of my resiliency and the value of taking these lessons from life experiences and moving forward with people, passion, and persistence. 

About the Author

Dr. Laura Murillo

Dr. Laura Murillo is the President and CEO of the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Under her leadership, the Chamber has set unprecedented records in membership and revenue, becoming one of the most influential Chambers in the nation, a clear testament to her exceptional leadership. The youngest of nine children, Laura Murillo was born to Mexican immigrant parents and was raised in Houston’s East End/Magnolia, where she began working at age ten at her family’s restaurant. She is the proud mother of Marisa and Mia, both graduates of St. John’s School in River Oaks. Marisa earned a mechanical engineering degree from Columbia University, in New York City, and is an astrophysics researcher. Mia is a sophomore at Georgetown University in Washington DC and maintains highest honors.

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The Diversity Playbook Virtual Book Tour

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Transforming Business with Inclusion and Innovation

Non-fiction / Business / Leadership / Diversity and Inclusion

Date Published: June 8, 2021

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Hephzi Pemberton’s first nonfiction, business book The Diversity Playbook provides an empowering and uplifting experience. It contains proven expertise, factual examples and practical tools to transform your business and leadership approach with inclusion and innovation as a central shared goal and priority.

Her book demonstrates with clarity, relevant case studies and the latest research, as well as an applicable exercise in each chapter, to show how leaders and firms who embrace and embed inclusion and diversity into their business will benefit. They will be the businesses that innovate and adapt more rapidly. They will have a workplace culture that the latest talent seeks out and stays with. They will reach a wider set of customers and clients who feel valued and understood. They know that to achieve these benefits and many others besides, leaders and businesses now and in the future will have to take inclusion and diversity seriously.


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Inclusion and Long Term Value – Chapter One Blog:


The leaders and firms that embrace and embed inclusion, diversity and equity into their business will increase their long-term value. They will innovate and adapt more rapidly. They will have a workplace culture that talent seeks out and stays with. They will reach a wider set of stakeholders, who will feel valued and understood. They  know that to achieve all these benefits you have to take inclusion and diversity seriously. 



There is substantial research to show that diversity brings many advantages to an organisation, including: stronger governance; better problem-solving abilities; and increased creativity and profitability. Employees with diverse backgrounds bring a wider range of perspectives, ideas and experiences. They help to create organisations that are resilient and effective, and which outperform organisations that do not invest in diversity. 



McKinsey’s global study of more than 1,000 large companies found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. For ethnic and cultural diversity, top-quartile companies outperformed those in the fourth by 36 percent.



A Boston Consulting Group study found that companies with more diverse management teams have 19 percent higher revenues due to innovation. This finding is significant for tech companies, start-ups and industries where innovation is the key to growth. It shows that diversity is not only a metric to be strived for, it is actually an integral part of a successful revenue-generating business.

About The Author

Hephzi Pemberton

Hephzi Pemberton is a UK business founder and advisor, who believes in the power of good business to transform society. After completing an undergraduate degree at Oxford University, Hephzi began her career in Investment Banking at Lehman Brothers. In 2009, she co-founded Kea Consultants, a financial headhunting firm that specialises in investment and high-growth organisations, which she quickly grew into a profitable and sustainable business.

In 2018, Hephzi founded Equality Group, an Inclusion and Diversity specialist business focused on the Finance and Technology industry. Equality Group helps companies to diversify their teams, using their executive search service, and creates a more inclusive cultures with their consulting and education services. Equality Group has partnered with many leaders in sustainable investing, such as Generation Investment Management, and Private Equity and Venture Capital firms who are committed to being leaders in inclusion and diversity.

Hephzi has been angel investing since 2010 and has invested in technology start-ups across AI, Logistics, Health and Beauty, E-Commerce and Education. She has also advised a number of businesses on their hiring practices, board composition, compensation structure, strategic and fundraising plans.

Alongside her commercial experience, Hephzi has founded a social enterprise called Kiteka, empowering female micro entrepreneurs in Uganda to access digital opportunities through mobile technology. Hephzi has sat on the board of trustees for three other charities focused on youth employment, homelessness and community development.

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Virtual Leadership Tour

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Business, Leadership & motivational

Date Published: Nov 3, 2020

Publisher: Lucid Books Publishing


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How do you lead employees well when you don’t physically work with


In Virtual Leadership, Bart Banfield simplifies the complexities of working
and leading in a twenty-first-century remote work environment. Through these
pages, you will learn:


– How to influence those you lead in a virtual work environment

– Why change within the workplace is inevitable

– The benefits of health and wellness in the virtual work environment

– How to create a culture of coaching within your organization

– Why self-awareness matters and makes you a better virtual leader


The world’s workforce is changing rapidly, and businesses must evolve or
risk getting passed by. Virtual Leadership will show you concrete principles
of effective leadership for the twenty-first century.


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About the Author

Bart Banfield

Bart Banfield is the superintendent of EPIC Charter Schools, the largest
public school in the state of Oklahoma, and one of the largest virtual
schools in the United States. Since becoming Oklahoma’s youngest
public school superintendent at the age of twenty-seven, Bart has been a
pioneer, innovator, and leader in the virtual learning-work environment.
Bart has been a public school educator for over twenty years and holds a
Master’s Degree in Education Administration from East Central
University. Bart has been happily married to his wife Jennifer for
twenty-four years and they share three children (Bo, Jake, & Bryn)


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Counting Hope Tour

Follow Up to Hopey: From Commune to Corner Office.
Memoir, Business
Publisher: Hunter Street Press
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If you thought Hopey: From Commune to Corner Office was compelling, then Counting Hope will further inspire and challenge you.
In her memoir sequel, we follow Hope Mueller’s journey into adulthood as she unwittingly recreates the dark, chaotic world she was attempting to escape. As Hope finishes college, she digs herself out of drug addiction and abusive relationships to ensure her survival. She charges forward to build a better life for herself and her two daughters. Hope reveals the most intimate and painful events of her life while illustrating an unwavering motivation to improve her circumstances and discover her true worth.
Ultimately, Hope’s story shows how small, daily steps towards confidence propel us forward, even beyond our darkest hours, to a place of more joy, more purpose, more fulfillment. Written in heart-pounding flashbacks and encouraging looks forward, Counting Hope is an epic journey of liberation, empowerment, and eventual success.
About the Author
Hope Mueller is an author, inspirational speaker, and a successful executive. Hope lives in northern Illinois with her husband and actively parents her four daughters and grandson. She sits on multiple non-for-profit boards, and has launched a local scholarship fund. She is the chairman and president of a charitable organization being developed in 2019. Hope’s passions are found in promoting and developing leaders, youth STEM activities, and in-need community support and investment. Her early years were marked by her experiences within a hippie commune that shaped her approach and interaction with the world, and allows her to create order out of chaos.
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Twitter: @hpmueller242
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Outfoxing the Gaming Club – Blitz

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Biography, Business
Date Published: May 2018
Ex-Casino Employee Spills All of the Unseen Corruption
Running Rampant in the Business!
Ideas flow freely through the work environment, and the good ones are scooped up and put into action. But what happens when your ideas are suddenly being claimed by someone else? What if you found out that your employer was hiding secrets from the public? A job is supposed to secure one’s finances, but what if it was actually the cause of your financial troubles?
All of these questions – and more! – are addressed in Pascale Batieufaye’s tell-all memoir, Outfoxing the Gaming Club: A Former Worker Reveals All. From the kitchen to guest services, Batieufaye exposes the corruption and exploitation present in one of the world’s biggest casinos, Resort Casino, where he worked from 1996 to 2004
Through the book’s pages, Batieufaye details how corporate executives undermine their employees and use their ideas as their own, as he found was done with his own ideas when he shared them with leadership at the gambling powerhouse. He also details the mistreatment of the Native Americans he witnessed, who built the very grounds that now contribute to their injustice.
“I have centered Outfoxing the Gaming Club on the emotional suffering I faced while working for my previous employer,”shares Batieufaye. “The book outlines guiding principles for those who have experienced maltreatment and anxiety in their own workplace. Readers will discover the crookedness that occurs right under the noses of the patrons, and unearth the oppression that the employees had to deal with on a daily basis.”
An exposé for both gamblers and those opposed to it,this book details:
· How his own ideas were stolen from right under Batieufaye’s feet
· The mistreatment of Native Americans involved with the company
· Corruption’s role in the mental health of himself and other employees at the company
· Gambles employees took when attempting to contribute, knowing all too well they may not receive proper credit for those ideas
· The emotional suffering that workers had to deal with on a daily basis
· And so much more!
About the Author

Pascale Batieufaye attended Johnson & Wales University, where he studied travel and tourism. He is technically an animal rights activist and aspires to open an animal rehabilitation center for rescue animals. His principal occupation has been a part time school bus driver since the end of 2012, which allowed him to write five unpublished manuscripts in his spare time. Before that, Batieufaye ran a video store which closed up at the hype of Netflix’s driven internet power. He has also held some backbreaking jobs, such as courier driver (independent contractor) and Skycap/baggage handler, although nothing seems to take as much of a toll as his work with a major, corrupt casino corporation did, as detailed in his book Outfoxing the Gaming Club.
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