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‘Secret Millionaire’ Dani Johnson inspired to share her path to success

Author success speaker Dani JohnsChicago Tuesday July 12 2011. | Jean Lachat~Sun-Times

Author, success and speaker Dani Johnson in Chicago, Tuesday, July 12, 2011. | Jean Lachat~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 30, 2011 12:18AM

Upon meeting the statuesque, effervescent blonde — dressed to the nines with blinding bling on her fingers — one might think “Secret Millionaire” Dani Johnson has always had it all.

But Johnson — business owner, author, life coach and one of the charitable millionaires featured in ABC’s reality TV hit last spring — will quickly dissuade you.

“My parents never worked. My mother and father neglected us, with the television on 24-7 while they were drinking or on cocaine, and beating the crap out of us. I had to go through some hard knocks,” says the 42-year-old Texas native, who was in town recently to promote her new book.

First Steps to Wealth (Call to Freedom Intl., 299 pages, paperback) is an intriguing manual purporting to teach downtrodden Americans the “12 Laws of Success” that helped Johnson get where she is, and how to get free of debt. It’s free for the asking, at Dani

Johnson was featured in the launch of “Secret Millionaire,” a series where some of America’s most successful, self-made millionaires leave their wealth for a week to live in a poverty-stricken area — at the end, gifting $100,000 or more of their own money to unsung community heroes they find.

It triggered a media gabfest on Johnson’s personal story, subsequently shared from Oprah’s couch.

Raised by drug-addicted, welfare-dependent parents, in a home with all manner of child abuse present, Johnson was pregnant by 17, and found herself evicted and homeless at age 21.

Astonishingly, Johnson earned her first million dollars by age 23.

Today, she’s the multimillionaire owner of Call to Freedom Intl. and other companies in marketing consulting, publishing, and life coaching. She also runs the nonprofit King’s Ransom Foundation.

“My parents groomed me to fail financially, emotionally, relationally and socially,” the mother of five writes. “It doesn’t matter what kind of a start you had. All that matters is how you finish.”

At 21, suicidal and living out of her car, she was down to $2.03 to her name, Johnson writes, when she underwent a spiritual awakening. Led to try her hand at sales, Johnson, through trial and error, perfected her sales skills to accumulate her first $1 million in two years.

Over the next decade, however, she’d go broke again many times.

“There’s three things you need to know about money: how to make it, which most people know, how to keep it, which most people don’t have a clue on, and how to turn it into your slave,” she says.

She maintains she was spiritually driven to write First Steps to Wealth, and offers free to others what she’s learned in her 20 years of business experience.

“One is that it’s absolutely possible to be completely debt-free,” says Johnson. “It starts with simple things like don’t go to the grocery store when you have a house full of food. Eat everything in your pantry. And pay off your credit cards.”

And giving to the needy, Johnson writes, is critical for success. “It comes back. Giving of yourself, no matter how small, will transform your life,” she asserts.

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