ABOUT MICHAEL BANKS
The thread that has run throughout Michael’s life is his desire to make a positive difference in the world. He has done this through his passion for education and authentic and skillful communication.
Born in the suburbs of London Michael was sent to boarding school when he was eleven years old. It was there, surrounded by relentless teasing and bullying, that he decided that “It doesn’t have to be like this!”. Thus was born his spiritual quest and mission to make a positive contribution in life.
In the late 70s Michael’s urge to make things better took him to Peckham Adventure Playground in South London after he had graduated from Reading University with a BA Degree with Honors in English and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education. While at Peckham, at that time the most violent and depressed part of London, Michael helped start a community bookstore and newspaper and was a union leader. His adventure playground, where he worked primarily with criminalized Jamaican youth, was considered by the Inner London Education Authority to be the number one out of one hundred and twenty three adventure playgrounds in London.
After three years of rewarding but extremely stressful work Michael left to join a pioneering and progressive group of companies intent on proving that the integration of spiritual practices and principles into business could yield great success. Initially this approach sparked a great deal of controversy but over a relatively short period of time the experiment proved to be very successful and spawned many imitators in the years that followed. Michael became a senior trainer in the training company in the group. Programmes Training Ltd was thought by many in the 80s to be the premier provider of interpersonal skills training in the UK.
After eight years in this organization Michael emigrated to the USA in 1989. Arriving with one suitcase and two names and numbers he started from scratch and gradually built his reputation as a world class leadership expert. Having successfully designed a team building program for American Express he was invited to work with their executive teams around the world. Then in 1996 Michael joined KRW International. KRW was acknowledged then as America’s leading executive coaching firm. As a senior partner for six years Michael spearheaded the company’s growth until the fallout from 9/11 almost destroyed the firm. Around this time his marriage fell apart and he had to leave his beautiful big house on the Hudson River in New York and his high paying job at KRW.
Reduced to impecunity, and no longer married or leading a prestigious leadership firm, Michael was actually happier than he had ever been! He had replaced his two dimensional life on the corporate treadmill with a new found freedom. For the first time in his life Michael became rooted in a community - Mill Valley, Marin County, San Francisco Bay Area. Emerging from his recent meltdown he was able to appreciate the value of relationships over the pursuit of fame and wealth. He took up cricket again after a hiatus of 29 years and realized a lifelong ambition by performing his spoken word pieces to live audiences backed by professional musicians. During this period Michael also wrote a couple of articles for National Geographic. One reflecting his passion for cricket was entitled ‘Cricket: The Myth Exploded’ and the other, feeding off his lifelong love of music, was about a young Australian beat boxer called Dub FX.
And it was in this period also, in 2005, that Michael met the love of his life, Karin Jordan. After their first time together Michael said “It was like coming home.” After a lifetime of different relationships and at the age of fifty he had finally found his soul mate. Karin, also English, is a beautiful, caring, warm hearted, fun loving woman. She has a wicked sense of humor and is beloved not just by Michael but by everyone who knows her. Karin has stood by Michael over the years through thick and thin, and in 2014 gave Michael the ultimate gift of her love by saving his life when she donated one of her kidneys to him.
As an independent leadership advisor Michael continued to coach executives and their teams, facilitate corporate retreats, lead workshops on communication skills and speak to groups. Michael loves to be on stage in front of people with or without a microphone!
And then in 2012 Michael was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and everything changed. What followed is described in his book ‘Gotta Kidney?! A Journey through Fear to Hope and Beyond’.