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Book details
  • SubGenre:Personal Memoirs
  • Language:English
  • Pages:150
  • eBook ISBN:9781098323332
  • Paperback ISBN:9781098323325

The Penultimate Step

by Vanessa Bucklin

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Raised a farmer’s daughter, Vanessa shares her journey step by step through triumph and heartbreak.  It is her hope that a small town girl from Montana, USA can inspire and encourage you to believe in yourself and courageously take the next step towards your dreams, whatever they may be.


The penultimate step is the second to last step prior to takeoff, particularly in the long jump event. It sets the jumper up for the correct trajectory and is critical in launching the athlete into the jump with purpose and conviction. As in sports, without having the preparation and focus in the penultimate step, a person cannot channel forward movement into a successful launch in life. Raised in rural Montana, Vanessa Bucklin graduated from UNLV and began her business career in Las Vegas. She married her college sweetheart, moved back to Montana to start a family, and was a bank vice president by the time she was twenty-five. She was successful, but she wasn't fulfilled. Despite numerous obstacles, she decided to open an insurance agency from scratch. Her thriving business has become a cornerstone of her small community, generating jobs, creating partnerships and alliances, serving neighbors, and giving back. In addition to her professional path, she shares stories about her youth, her core values, her mentors, and her family. Some with great humor, others heartbreaking. She pays tribute to her parents, who gave her a solid foundation, and to her brother, who died way too young. She talks about how she took up running as a way to heal following a tragedy (a competitive runner, she has completed eleven marathons and three ultramarathons). She honors those who have inspired and supported her. Bucklin believes that your opportunities shape and unfold by how you perceive them, and the only limits you have are those you impose on yourself. In both running and business, she had to learn to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. She followed the simple but fundamental rule that you have to crawl before you walk, and walk before you run. And as the primary breadwinner in her family, she was determined not to fail. Like many working mothers, Bucklin has had to contend with the guilt over having to put her newborn in day care to return to work, and has had to figure out how to balance career, family, and training for marathons—as well as running the farm that has been in her family for four generations. She also shares a few proud mom stories about each of her three children, who clearly have been paying attention to the life lessons she is teaching. Bucklin discusses the many penultimate steps in her life—seizing opportunities, searching and driving for answers, and reacting and responding positively to the circumstances. She recognizes that as in running, there are good miles and bad miles in life, but they all come together to define her as a person. She realizes and appreciates all the components of her experiences just as she enjoys the various trails, twists, and turns in her runs. Most importantly, she finds that the greatest treasures are not found just at the finish line but rather all along the way. She shares the many lessons she learned as she sought her truth: I am a simple girl raised as a farmer's daughter in rural Montana. I am not rich, famous, or extraordinary in any way, but I have worked hard, been brave and determined, and have had a positive perspective along the way. These same qualities are free and available to anyone who desires success. And if I can achieve success as a mother, runner, and business owner, I believe you can effectively penultimate step into your dreams as well.

About the author
Vanessa Y. Bucklin was raised a farmer's daughter in rural Montana. She attended the University of Montana to study business and transferred to the University of Nevada Las Vegas her junior year, where she graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in finance. She started her banking career at Wells Fargo Bank in Las Vegas in commercial lending. Later she transferred with the company back to Montana and received her MBA from the University of Montana. Bucklin was a vice president of commercial and agriculture lending when she decided to start her own insurance company. In 2013 she founded PCI Conrad, LLC, and is a licensed agent and financial services professional. Since 2013 she has been a qualifying member of the Million Dollar Round Table, the premier financial services membership for advisors worldwide. She has received multiple awards and numerous committee appointments for her leadership in the industry. She received her Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designation in October 2018. Bucklin currently serves on the Alumni Board of Directors for the University of Montana. She and her husband, Tyler, raise their three beautiful children, Claire, Nick, and Colette, in Montana. They are busy with their careers and their farm raising wheat, barley, and hay. Bucklin enjoys outdoor activities with her family and is an avid runner. She has completed eleven marathons and three ultramarathons.

Book Reviews

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Inspiration Vanessa shares a life journey filled with lessons in setting and achieving goals despite some sometimes overwhelming obstacles. In sharing her very personal struggles and emotional ups and downs, she provides a roadmap in how to creatively meet challenges while balancing the demands of family and career. And she does it with integrity, sensitivity to the needs of others, and commitment to her community in Montana. She reminds us that we can accomplish major personal goals in the face of adversity if we are self-disciplined, open-hearted, and unwilling to compromise. Read more