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It took Michael J. Fox eight years to publicly reveal he had Parkinson’s disease back in 1998. He was starring in his second hit TV show and it was no longer something he could conceal. For years he struggled to accept his condition, rarely gave interviews, and deliberately remained out of the public limelight. 

Thanks to determination, ­medication, and his commitment to champion his cause for medical research, he now publicly shares his story and a whole lot more. These days he seems well in control of the disease with only slight tremors and a self-effacing approach to describing his condition.

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Fox spoke Tuesday at ExactTarget's Connections 2012 Conference, the Midwest's largest internet marketing event of the year. When I first saw his name in the speaker line-up I came to expect something in a "rah-rah" type performance. 

Performance it was not.

Fox himself notes, "I tell people the 'J' in my middle name stands for 'genuine.'" Life with Parkinson’s, he says, has been even richer. And he’s become known as an “incurable optimist.” His talk Tuesday delivered to his interpretive namesake, and left us all with five memorable takeaways. 

1. Happiness

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 2. GoalsImage3. Perspective

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 4. LeadershipImage

5. Agility

There's a rule in acting called 'Don't play the result.' If you have a character who's purpose is to end up in a certain place, you don't play that until you actually get there. Meaning, the actor plays each scene as it comes.

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Do this in life and do this in business. You're not at the result until the end, and it's not written yet, so don't "play" it. For the masterful internet marketers in the conference audience this means: be agile, adapt, and consistently move forward. Act as if business is precisely the way you want it to be, and it'll eventually get there.

For everyone else just living life, it means the very same thing.