Howard Brown shows how ‘Shining Brightly’ on a cruise heats up the inspiration


As we cruised together through the Gulf of Mexico aboard Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas, the sunny skies mirrored the soaring spirits of the men and women who were part of the 2024 Reinvention Retreat. This nautical retreat promised passengers “fun, frivolity, food and flourishing.”

I was honored to be the opening keynote speaker to kick off the retreat with a deep dive into how to live a resilient life with hope in these challenging times based upon lessons from my memoir, Shining Brightly.

After my talk, I was showered with encouraging notes called “aha moments” written by retreat participants on small pieces of paper. “Hope is the fuel for a better day, week and year!” Monica wrote. Then, she added a big heart shape to her note to emphasize the enthusiasm she drew from my message.

“I will use these skills Howard taught us to continue building myself into the person I want to be,” Esperanza wrote. 

Many participants told me that my story connected them with deep feelings they had about the challenges in their own lives and their relationships with family members and friends. One person wrote that my message was just what she needed as her own father struggles with a stage IV condition. In my talk, I had explained how I beat stage IV cancer not once, but twice.

Someone else told me that, as she heard me talk about how our loved ones can help us to rebuild our resilience, she was thinking all the time about her relationships with her brother and sister. My talk prompted her to strengthen those bonds.

One of the most important hours I spent at the retreat was with a stranger and veteran struggling with intense PTSD. As I tell readers in Shining Brightly, the key to lending support is a compassionate heart and taking the time to fully engage with those in need. I did not know this man and don’t know about the lasting impact of our time together, but as he walked away, he told me it was his most valuable hour on the cruise.

To sum it up, a retreat on an ocean voyage can be an intensely rewarding experience

While the idea of a cruise in tropical waters sounds like fun in the sun—I found that a Reinvention Retreat onboard an ocean-liner was literally taking participants into some deep waters of self-care, introspection and transformation. Yet it can be an intensely rewarding experience with rippling effects.

Not only was this true for the participants but it was also true for me. As an author and speaker my goal is to motivate, educate and inspire. This venue enabled me to do just that and connect more personally with my audience.

I can tell other authors considering speaking during a cruise: It can be an impactful experience, a potentially ideal setting for the kind of storytelling that we want to share with our readers.

It can also lead to smoother sailing for more book sales. One thing that surprised me on this cruise about the warmth and enthusiasm of the audience response is that people quickly bought up my books! I could have sold twice as many books, but I ran out of the stock I had brought on board with me. Of course, I had plenty of “book plates” I could distribute to people who planned to order the book from Amazon.

In addition my resource guides were included in a keepsake workbook created for participants by Bobbi Govanus, our Retreat Coordinator.

I share these resource guides on my website,, to help individuals and to spark small-group discussions. To get your own free copies, go to this page and scroll down to the blue area.

Want to get a taste of this kind of inspiration I’m describing? 

While you’re on my website, you also can enjoy my weekly podcasts. We just published No. 66 this week, titled My Resilience Code. Each month, I’m now averaging more than 13,000 downloads of my podcasts so that’s evidence of the impact.

And, of course, you can order my book from Amazon directly.

Tip for Authors: This kind of experience builds “raving fans”

In an earlier column, I wrote about the importance of what I call “raving fans”—people who are so moved by reading my book that they want to share the good news with others.

After this cruise, Bobbi told me, “You lit us up!”

For me—and, more importantly, for this retreat’s attendees—it was a clear blue ocean of self-discovery and personal growth.


About Howard Brown

Howard Brown is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, two-time stage IV cancer survivor, author, speaker, volunteer, peacemaker, and health care advocate. He is the author of the memoir, Shining Brightly.

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