The Self-Education and Leadership Foundation (S.E.L.F.) was born long before its incorporation. 1999 was the year I met Robert Ripley, retired cellist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and my next-door neighbor. Mr. Ripley had ways of cutting through nonsense and excuses to reveal what really mattered in any situation, and he became one of my early mentors. Life as a musician had taught him that clarity of communication matters, and he made it his mission to convince me that anyone who communicates with great skill has communication secrets to share, and that I should seek these people out avidly to acquire their knowledge.