I love my job as a journalist. It is a privilege to interview Tai Chi (Taiji) masters, experts, and scientists who share their profound knowledge and insight on the healing art. I am equally grateful that numerous practitioners have opened their hearts and shared their stories with me. Bill Donnelly of Long Island, New York is one of them.
Established in 1954, Val Executive Resources Group is an executive search firm providing talent services for the financial services and related industries. Bill Donnelly joined Val Executive Resources Group in 1992 as a recruiter in the Consumer Banking Division. He transferred to the Private Client, Trust & Investment area in 1994 with the mandate to expand and develop the business. His department grew more than three times in two years and he was promoted to a Managing Consultant in 1996. Bill is currently supervising a team responsible for servicing regional, national, global and international banks, trust and investment firms on assignments from first level officers through department and division executives. Bill personally focuses on senior level engagements, regularly interfacing with V.P., senior V.P. and executive V.P. level executives as clients and candidates. Hundreds in the industry endorsed him and several posted write-ups in LinkedIn about their relationship with Bill and praised him for his expertise and strategic approach. They all commented on Bill’s integrity and honesty. Even though I don’t know him well, I can sense his honesty. As successful as he has been, he did not hesitate to admit that it wasn’t his dream job.
Born in 1964, Donnell has always dreamed of being a musician and has played music for over forty years. Aside from being a successful financial recruiter and having a family, Bill plays drums with various groups at least a couple of nights a week in the tri-state area (New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut) and is sometimes invited to perform in Boston and Washington D.C. He plays mostly Jazz. In June, he performed with Reza Khan and other talented musicians of Painted Diaries at DROM in Manhattan, New York. They played the their latest CD Dreamwalker, that includes songs from ambient sounds to Brazilian Bossa Nova and African inspired epics. Dreamwalker was a successful project and the CD’s single Sky Lights reached #3 on the Billboard Groove Jazz chart. You can listen to the song via a link here.
At age 6, Bill loved watching Bruce Lee’s 10-second fighting scenes in the Green Hornet TV series. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any Kung Fu school on Long Island then and he never pursued it. His discovery of Tai Chi was purely accidental. In 1998, his wife got a death threat at work. He thought that it would be beneficial to learn self-defense instead of buying a gun. He took classes at Green Cloud Kung Fu on Long Island and learned Choy Li Fut and other Chinese Martial Arts from Sifu Gus Kaparos. A year later, he was enthusiastic about the Chinese martial arts and tried to persuade others to learn. There was an individual who was not physically fit. Bill suggested he enroll in a Tai Chi class and even joined the class with him. The experience was beyond Bill’s expectation and he fell in love with the seemingly powerless martial art. In the past sixteen years, Bill has deepened his knowledge and capabilities by continuously learning and teaching others Tai Chi and Qigong. Occasionally, he gives speeches about the health benefits of Tai Chi and Qigong to diverse groups and performs at various Tai Chi events. You can watch one of his presentations via the enclosed video.
A good drummer knows how to relax his body. Bill stated that practicing Tai Chi made him fully aware of his body and body alignment. He has the knowhow to relax his body so he can play drums at ease and send his Qi (bio-electricity or energy) to the drumsticks as a Tai Chi practitioner does with a sword. He meditates or breathes deeply with a focus early in the morning before he starts off the day. In Tai Chi, body coordination among the eyes, hands, arms, body, legs, and feet is essential; so is drumming. “Through diligent practice, we can reach a higher state of being,” emphasized Bill. Jazz can be improvisational. A good Jazz piece always has a harmonious balance. Bill articulated that it is like doing Push Hands with a partner and there are constant Yin and Yang transitions. A good drummer can sense his counterparts’ tempo just like a seasoned Tai Chi practitioner can “listen” to other’s Jing (internal energy), and accurately seize the perfect timing to play his part and create an overall harmony. Bill also applies Tai Chi principles in daily life in activities as mundane as pushing a shopping cart in a grocery store or getting through a rush-hour subway crowd in the New York Central station. Some of his clients in the banking industry takes private Tai Chi lessons from him and learn how to remain calm, releases stress, or manage conflict at work.
As a performing artist of drums and Tai Chi, Bill appreciates Oscar Wilde’s famous quote, “To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim.”