Profiles in Personal Resilience, from STRONGER: Abbey-Robin Tillery

StrongerToday on our blog we’re featuring one of the inspiring individuals featured in STRONGER: Develop the Resilience You Need to Succeed, by George S. Everly Jr., Ph.D, Douglas A. Strouse, Ph.D., and Dennis K. McCormack, Ph.D. These writers–a stress management expert, a skilled entrepreneur, and a Navy SEAL–draw on their own unique perspectives, extensive research on resilience, and wide-ranging examples of standout people to show why some thrive under pressure while others succumb to it. One of these standout people is Abbey-Robin Tillery.


Abbey-Robin Tillery graduated from the International Baccalaureate Program, rose to the rank of captain in the U.S. Army, and earned a Ph.D. all before age 26. Her contributions to military psychology and stress management have led to the formation of clinics and support programs nationwide. Today, at 34, she serves as a Department of Defense Psychologist. However, statistically, Tillery never should have accomplished any of this.

Her childhood was marked by sexual abuse, parental neglect, poverty, and psychological chaos. At age 15, she made the courageous decision to emancipate herself and wound up changing residences multiple times before graduating from high school. She attended an excellent state school, the University of Colorado, and thrived. She completed her B.A. in three years and was accepted into a Ph.D. program affiliated with Stanford University. After only a year in graduate school, she cofounded an early intervention clinic for acute stress disorder. Despite achieving professional success and being “so smart,” Tillery fell prey to a deeply abusive relationship. While making great strides in college, she was secretly being manipulated and exploited.

Coerced into turning over all of her college loan money, Tillery had to work three part-time jobs just to survive. A year into her Ph.D. program, she faced homelessness. Determined not to quit, Tillery found a way to finance a sailboat and live aboard it while completing her education. She had no running water on board, no way to cook, and no bathroom. She ate food out of student, teacher, and doctors’ lounges and sometimes helped herself—without paying—to Sunday brunch buffets at local hotels. Tillery was able to sustain this fragile existence for two years.

Coinciding with her dissertation year, Tillery faced an unplanned pregnancy, resulting from her abusive relationship. She decided to keep the baby and complete her education, finding ways to make it work. Soon came the darkest point in her life—and what saved her. In 2006, she was confronted with irrefutable evidence that her controlling, abusive lover was also a fraud. Deeply shaken, Tillery felt she could not call herself a psychologist or wear the army uniform after being so deceived. Who would respect her?

After two horrible years of self-doubt, Tillery finally found the courage to tell others what she had endured and how she had stumbled. Thankfully, the response was compassion. Teachers saw Tillery as gifted and believed in her. With their help and support, Tillery not only reconnected to her dream of success; she regained her sense of active optimism and belief in herself.


Dr. George Everly, Jr., Ph.D., is considered one of the “founding fathers” of the modern era of stress management and disaster mental health. He currently serves as Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Public Health at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Professor of Psychology at Loyola University Maryland, and Executive Director of Resiliency at UMBC Training Centers.

Douglas A. Strouse, Ph.D., is the Managing Partner of Wexley Consulting HRD, LLC, an international management and consulting firm. He is also the founder of Global Data Source LLC, a national data management and services firm, and is founder and President of the Chief Executive Officers Club (CEO) of Baltimore, a nonprofit organization that provides an educational forum for executives of small and mid-size companies.

Dennis K. McCormack, Ph.D., is one of the original Navy SEALs, and he pioneered SEAL combat doctrine and tactics in Vietnam. Serving as a supervisory psychologist for the Department of Defense (Army), he received official commendation for meritorious performance of duty for demonstrated professionalism and dedicated commitment to excellence as Chief, Department of Behavioral Medicine, Winn Army Community Hospital, Fort Stewart, Georgia.


As we’ve discussed previously on the blog, managers should have the capacity to do more than manage their employees–they should inspire, motivate, support, and partner with them. THE OPTIMISTIC WORKPLACE: Creating An Environment that Energizes Everyone, by Shawn Murphy, provides the tools to do just that. Work can be meaningful and driven by purpose.

Learn more by enjoying the book trailer for The Optimistic Workplace, out this October and available for pre-order:

Shawn Murphy is an independent consultant with 20 years’ experience working with organizations to create workplace optimism. He is the co-founder and CEO of Switch & Shift, an advocacy and consultancy focused on the human side of business.

Click here to watch more book trailers from the AMACOM blog.


Cover art for The Optimistic Workplace Management is out. What’s in: stewardship, defined as caring for people and things that don’t belong to you.  THE OPTIMISTIC WORKPLACE: Creating an Environment That Energizes Everyone by Shawn Murphy provides managers (stewards!) with the philosophy, examples, and tools they need to create a truly meaningful workplace–one in which, instead of simply managing employees, they can inspire, motivate, support, and partner with them.. Journalists, booksellers, book reviewers, librarians, and media professionals interested in workplace happiness (and practical plans to achieve it) are invited to request The Optimistic Workplace for review.

When it comes to work these days, we’re expected to do more with less—but is this nose-to-the-grindstone philosophy the best way to run a business? Alarmingly low employee engagement numbers indicate otherwise.

So, if pushing everyone harder isn’t the path to productivity, what is? Supported by the latest research, this eye-opening book argues that our best work is the product of a positive environment. That’s good news for you as a manager. While you can’t personally transform the corporate culture, you can influence the workplace climate and create meaningful and lasting change.

Advocating a steward model of management, The Optimistic Workplace reveals how to:

Explore personal and organizational purpose—and align them for astonishing results • Overcome resistance and skepticism • Build camaraderie and deepen loyalty • Increase intrinsic motivation • Help your team find meaning in their work • Identify goals collaboratively and track progress • And more

Examples from companies large and small demonstrate how this people-centric focus ignites employee potential, increases innovation, and catapults the organization to new levels of performance. Far from being a wish-upon-a-star discussion of workplace happiness, this book presents an array of surprisingly simple strategies as well as practical 30-, 60-, and 90-day plans designed to focus your actions and make employee optimism not just a worthy goal—but a real and measurable result.

SHAWN MURPHY is an independent consultant with 20 years’ experience working with organizations to create workplace optimism. He is the co-founder and CEO of Switch & Shift (, an advocacy and consultancy focused on the human side of business.

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Random Quotes from New Books This August: Round 2

With all the new books we’re publishing this August, we’ve split our new releases into two posts. Enjoy our second batch of quotes from this month’s books:

Millennials with Kids: Marketing to This Powerful and Surprisingly Different Generation of Parents by Jeff Fromm and Marissa Vidler

Jacket cover of Millennials with Kids

“Brands that sit on their Big Data and don’t leverage it to create a better customer experience are missing the mark. When used correctly, Big Data can enable brands to create predictive analytics based on the spending patterns of the most loyal customers. … Millennials are ripe for programs that collect this type of data because, as a whole, they are more likely to share personal information with brands if they receive benefits” (page 186-87).

Your Own Terms: A Woman’s Guide to Taking Charge of Any Negotiation by Yasmin Davidds, PsyD with Ann Bidou
Jacket cover of Your Own Terms

“Women often operate on the assumption that when we agree quickly, we’re providing satisfaction. Actually, we’re doing the opposite. Saying ‘yes’ too quickly reduces the sense of ‘winning’ and, therefore, satisfaction. You value something more when you have to work for it! So make no mistake: Collaboration does not mean quick capitulation” (page 13).



Venture Mom: From Idea to Income in Just 12 Weeks by Holly Hurd
Jacket cover of Venture Mom

“The organizational tool Candice developed, called ‘The EDWIN,”’ short for Educational Winners, is designed to help kids organized and store essential documents and important papers, helping them to build skills that will not only help them in the runup to college applications but long after. She originally intended to use her system for her own clients. However, when the private school where she worked bought The EDWIN for each of their ninth graders, she realized there was a market for her product—one that would enable her to reach a much broader audience” (page 88).

High-Impact Human Capital Strategy: Addressing the 12 Major Challenges Today’s Organizations Face by Jack J. Phillips and Patricia Pulliam Phillips
Jacket cover of High-Impact Human Capital Strategy

“Engagement is usually a principle component or determinate of a ‘Great Place to Work.’ There are many Great Place to Work programs, ranging from the most well-know, Fortune’s ‘100 Best Companies to Work For,’ to those of a particular professional field, locale, or specialty (such as diversity). For example, in Fortune’s ‘100 Best Companies to Work For,’ two-thirsd of the determinate for being on the list is the score of an engagement survey given to a randomly selected sample of employees. This is very powerful data, and a positive score is desired by the executive team as they build a great place to work. Being included on such a list helps attract and retain employees, and although the award itself is intangible, it is obviously connected to tangible measures” (page 113).



Want to sample other AMACOM books? Check out our Random Quotes from New Books series.

Author Sean Grover on the Today Show

Sean Grover, author of WHEN KIDS CALL THE SHOTS: How to Seize Control from Your Darling Bully — and Enjoy Being a Parent Again, appeared on the Today Show on July 28th, 2015, interviewed by Jenna Bush Hager.

Watch the segment titled “Why children bully their parents and how to regain control” here.