Dear 'GMA' Advice Guru Top 20 Finalists: Annie Zirkel

Read an application from one of our finalists.

ByABC News via GMA logo
November 26, 2010, 10:05 AM

Nov. 26, 2010 — -- Annie Zirkel from Ann Arbor, Mich., is a finalist in the Dear GMA Advice Guru Contest. Read her application below!


If you are looking for someone real, who encourages others to be better versions of themselves, who has been through many challenges and has learned to be good to myself while treating others kindly as well then we should talk. My name is Annie Zirkel. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor and Relationship Consultant in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I give advice for a living but ultimately I hope I help others find their own answers. I took the long way to my career by first making just about every mistake there is. By my late 30s, floundering in both my marriage and the parenting of my three sons (one of whom has severe disabilities) I had some Aha moments and discovered that what I was lacking was a thing called skills. Who knew? So I started learning, eventually earning a counseling degree. I have been passing on my brand of wisdom ever since. I write and teach workshops on parenting, couplehood, bullying prevention, communication skills, power struggles, optimism and gratitude. ...I believe that the key to success is keeping your eye on the prize. In most cases that means good relationships with the people you love, the people you like and the people you spend your time with. I encourage solutions that hopefully, not only resolve dilemmas, but also rise above them. My thinking is that we only have so much time on this earth, so let's make the most of it. So if you are looking for a passionate, positive and down-to-earth professional as your GMA Advice Guru, then let's talk. Either way, thanks for your consideration and take care.

What's the best advice you have ever given? What was the result?

The best advice I've ever given was actually just feedback. I see many parents in my practice who don't seem to know that they already are good parents. Sure, some parents screw up big time, and even good parents can always improve but the message that seems to get lost is that most parents are committed, caring, responsible parents on their way to creating committed, caring, responsible children. Often when I remind a good parent of their strengths I am stunned by their genuine surprise at hearing this praise. In some cases these words have brought parents to tears because so many parents come to me fearing that they are failing their children. Obviously, I do not suggest that there aren't real issues to address but it amazes me that parents don't hear this enough. And I am always so glad to have the opportunity to help them remember.