Level up, Week 1: Finding your starting point


Welcome to Week 1 of our group study of The 5 Levels of Leadership! I’m excited to join you in this journey! Each week, we’ll tackle a section of the book, with insights, discussion questions, and an assignment. If you’re leading a group, you can use the section labeled “Facilitator’s Guide” to lead group discussion. We’ll also use the comments section to create group discussion right here on the blog.

If you’re a group leader, remember that your primary responsibility is to put people at ease so that they will participate freely in all discussions. To do that, you need to focus not on being interesting, but on being interested – in each person’s background, opinions, and goals. Plan to speak no more than 20% of the time. Ask a question and truly listen to responses. This is not a time for giving advice or challenging people’s answers. Instead, you and other group members can ask follow-up questions for clarity or deeper insight. This week’s focus is on helping group members get to know one another better.

If you’re not in any kind of “real life” group, I strongly encourage you to find at least one other person to learn along with you. It will multiply this study’s effectiveness for you both. However, if you end up doing this study alone, then you can consider this blog your group. Commenting and reading the comments of others will still give you insight and encouragement.

For this week, we have a lot of work to do in only seven days. Besides reading the introduction (which I encourage you to do early in the week), you and every member of your group need to complete the four-part assessment to determine where you are currently as a leader.


You Can Have a Leadership Game Plan for Your Life, pages 1-20

Leadership Assessment, pages 21-36

(We will discuss this reading assignment in NEXT WEEK’S post.)

DISCUSSION (Facilitator’s Guide):

1. (Icebreaker) Share with the group your name, your favorite hobby, and the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten.

2. Why did you agree to engage in this study?

3. In what area of life do you most greatly desire the ability to develop influence with people?

4. What do you see as your greatest obstacle in leadership?


Do the leadership assessment on pages 21-36***.

This will require intentionality and follow-through if it’s to be completed in a week. But it’s EXTREMELY important to know your starting point. If you’re tempted to skip the assessment because of all the steps, you’re greatly undermining your growth in leadership through the study.

The assessment consists of four parts:

  1. Assess your own leadership characteristics.
  2. Determine how you lead specific followers. (If you don’t currently lead anyone, assess your influence with specific friends, colleagues or family members.)
  3. Ask those same followers (or people you influence) to measure your leadership.
  4. Tally results.


***If you don’t have a hard copy of the book or would just prefer to print out assessments, The John Maxwell Company has provided a pdf of the assessment HERE that you can download and print. Please do not distribute, and print and use only what you need to do the assignment.


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  1. 1
    John C Maxwell says:

    Share with the group your name, your favorite hobby, and the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten.

    • 1.1
      Samuel says:


      I’m Samuel Kucik. I love everything including computers and the most unusual thing I’ve ever eaten would have to be pirohy, it’s one of Slovak national dishes and it’s really delicious.

    • 1.2
      Angie Burrell says:

      Coffee with friend/travel
      It was Chinese, some time ago, my friend ordered for us :) I don’t remember what it was but I remember where I was & who I was with :) I’ll have to ask what it actually was.

    • 1.3

      Alice Flanders, reading, although these days between e-mail, facebook etc. Not much time for reading, do you mean intentionally? or by accident?

    • 1.4
      Paris Smiles says:

      Hello Everyone, you can call me Paris. One favorite hobby for me is reading. The most unusual thing that I have eaten are squid and frog legs.

    • 1.5
      Matthew Maziarz says:

      Hello my name is Matt,

      My favorite hobby is Baseball. The most unusual food I have ever eaten was pupusa while i was on a humanitarian mission in El Salvador. They were amazing!!

    • 1.6
      Monique Zawadzke says:

      Hello I’m Monique

      I’m reading the book and found this to go along with it. I’m transferring to a new store and want to move and grow there as a leader and mentor.
      Weirdest thing I ate was probably with japanese friends but I couldn’t name it either.

    • 1.7
      Eleanor says:

      Hello everyone!
      My name is Eleonora Voroskalevskaya. You can call me Eleanor.
      One of my favorite hobby is cinema.
      The most unusual things I’ve ever eaten was some dishes at restaurant ” Macao”. I don’t remember what it was. Sea combs? :-) And something else… :-)

    • 1.8
      Tunde Sanyaolu says:

      Hobby : Reading to learn. Unsual food eaten : None.

    • 1.9
      Janet Macy says:

      Good afternoon!

      My name is Janet Macy. I’m a oldish (64 y/o) registered nurse and still working full-time. I love to read. When it’s not too hot, I enjoy the garden and flowers. I Have recently started blogging and am. enjoying that.

      I doubt that I’ve ever eaten anything unusual. Maybe Swedish Sil – pickled herring.

    • 1.10
      Johan says:

      Hi my name is Johan.

      I love reading, sport, and the outdoor life.

      The most unusual food I have ever eaten was crocodile.

    • 1.11
      Luis says:

      Hi. My name is Luis Ruiz from Puerto Rico. My hobby is read books related with personal and professional improvement. I am not eating anything strange

    • 1.12
      Peter Preble says:


      I am Peter Preble, and my favorite hobby is lawnmower racing! That’s right lawnmower racing. Check it out.

      I am not really sure what the strangest thing I have ever eaten is becasue I am not sure what it was, and I was affraid to ask!

      • 1.12.1
        Virgilio says:

        Hi there,

        I´m Virgilio, 39 y/o. Lately I´ve been riding my Harley a lot.
        Unusual food? Frog.

    • 1.13
      Matt in Clermont, FL says:

      Hello, my name is Matt Dial. As for a hobby, time flies when I am doing programming or development projects on the computer. The most unusual thing I recall ever having eaten were frog legs that my cousin and I hunted and prepared many, many years ago.

    • 1.14
      Cvinal says:

      I enjoy reading and doing crafts. I have eaten frog legs, crocodile, and squid. I like to try new foods and really anything fried taste a lot like chicken

    • 1.15

      I’m Brian and I play ice hockey as a hobby. The most unusual thing I’ve ever eaten is squirrel. Didn’t know it til I was done.

    • 1.16
      Adrian B says:

      Hi I’m Adrian,

      I’m interested in racquet and extreme sports.

      The most unusual thing I have eaten would be fried salty ice cream.

    • 1.17
      Dmitriy says:

      Hi, my name is Dmitriy. My favorite hobby is travelling and reading. I like to explore different food. Probably the most unusual thing I ate are meat of kangaroo and chicken/cow brain.

    • 1.18
      Tracy Zentner says:

      Im currently into yoga. Most unusual food? I live in the Midwest, so it would have to be Indian cuisine. Or something my kids made.

    • 1.19
      Jan Kelley says:

      Hi! My name is Jan Kelley. I enjoy birding with my husband. I’m a pretty tame eater, but I did venture as far as frog legs once.

    • 1.20
      Chad Miller says:

      My name is Chad Miller My favorite hobby is a toss up between golfing and boating. I would say the most unusual food that I eat is probably pickled pigs feet.

  2. 2
    John C Maxwell says:

    Why did you agree to engage in this study?

    • 2.1
      Samuel says:

      Because I want to be able to enjoy my life to the fullest and help others to do the same.

    • 2.2
      Angie Burrell says:

      I love anything “Maxwell” & am keen to hear what others say & learn from them & their experiences

      • 2.2.1

        I am working with Eric Lofholm, Bob Burg, and Marybeth Hrim. Wanting to work with you is a corollary. Also, Marybeth said you are 10 times as valuable as someone else I work with. Name not mentioned. .

    • 2.3
      Paris Smiles says:

      I am interested in growing into a better Christian/person and becoming more focused in life.

    • 2.4
      Matthew Maziarz says:

      A wise man once said “In leadership, if you’re through growing, you’re through.”

    • 2.5
      Monique Zawadzke says:

      I’m reading the book and want to get more out of it by feeding off comments by like individuals.

    • 2.6
      Eleanor says:

      I have my own business in network marketing. I’m working and communicating with many different people. This knowledge is very necessary to me.
      (Sorry, my English is not good).

    • 2.7
      Janet Macy says:

      I will probably be asking myself the same question in a few days.

      I’m not involved in a Bible Study at this time. Other than reading my Bible through in 2012.

    • 2.8
      Tunde Sanyaolu says:

      To interact in order to learn from and to share ideas with those who are “up, across and down.”

    • 2.9
      Latoya Palmer says:

      I want to attract better caliber people to me and in order for this to occur I need to improve myself. Also I want to share the insights with others.

    • 2.10
      Luis says:

      My business is growing and I want to have the knowledge to creat great leaders that can develop others leaders

    • 2.11
      Peter Preble says:

      I need to improve upon my ability to lead God’s people and to inspire them to what God has in store for them.

    • 2.12
      Matt in Clermont, FL says:

      “You must have something to give before you give it away.” I want to improve myself, achieve goals and help others do the same.

    • 2.13
      CVinal says:

      To interact with others.

    • 2.14

      I love John and he’s never steered me wrong. Plus I feel that I am missing some elements in my life and they relate to leadership. Plus, ivevseen this presentation two times now and been blown away both times. I have to know more.

    • 2.15
      Russ says:

      I look forward to learning from some others leaders there struggles and victories. I think this will be a good format. Level 5 leadership “pinnacle” is a strong desire for me.

    • 2.16
      Adrian B says:

      Helping the ones around me by leveling up my Leadership Skill

    • 2.17
      Jan Kelley says:

      I am the librarian at a small Bible college. I have a great opportunity mentor students and I want to model the best leadership possible. I also want to lead our library to the next level of service to our community.

    • 2.18
      Chad Miller says:

      I am an elementary principal and I have many of Mr. Maxwell’s books. I just accepted the principalship of a new building and hoping to continually grow as a leader. I left a principal’s position where I feel that I was somewhere between level three and four after three years of building relationships. Now, I am back to level one and feel I am going to have to work even harder in my new position. I am hoping to learn from all of you that are in this study. I may not keep up all of the time. I am currently taking coursework toward my doctorate and my wife and I have a two-year old.

  3. 3
    John C Maxwell says:

    In what area of life do you most greatly desire the ability to develop influence with people?

    • 3.1
      Samuel says:

      In every areas honestly. Friends, family…

    • 3.2
      Angie Burrell says:

      To align their Christian life/walk with their professional life.

      • 3.2.1

        I wish to influence people to work with me to build our network marketing company. I also wish to influence people on several areas where marketing has convinced many, many people of falsities that can harm them, and everyone else.

    • 3.3
      Paris Smiles says:

      Being a better example of Christianity/Child of God in my daily walk.

    • 3.4
      Monique Zawadzke says:

      Mostly through the work I do. The diversity is great and I want to influence all.

    • 3.5
      Matthew Maziarz says:

      I want to help influence people to find their passion in life and start living the life they deserve.

    • 3.6
      Janet Macy says:

      At work – a hospital. I am a registered nurse in a management position. Trust me , I need all the help I can get.

    • 3.7
      Eleanor says:

      In every areas of my life – family, work, friends and other.

    • 3.8
      Latoya Palmer says:

      All areas need improvement. If I had to choose 1 then networking it would be.

    • 3.9
      Luis says:

      I want to develop in every area because I think we always need to growth in every area. But in the area of develop leaders in my organization is the most important to me now

    • 3.10
      Tunde Sanyaolu says:

      Deeply interested in influencing people to identify and attain their potentials; likewise, I want to be influenced.

    • 3.11
      Jude Irvin says:

      Greetings! My name is Jude and my favorite hobby is, as much as my body hates it, playing flag football and softball. Being from South Louisiana, not many foods scare me, but the most unusual, and most delicious food I have ever eaten was a seafood spaghetti at a harbor side restaraunt in Marseille, France. It was covered in eel, octopus,, and squid and the richest pasta sauce I have ever tasted.

    • 3.12
      Matt in Clermont, FL says:

      I’ll start from where I am today. First and foremost I want to influence my immediate family (wife and three young children) and extended family (Dad, Mom, sister and her family, in-laws, etc.). Then I would like to expand my influence at the small family business I manage. I would also like to be a better friend, church member and disciple of Christ. Lastly, one of my goals is to grow a new business and I would like from the outset to be the best leader there that I am able to be. [This seems to be a pretty long list…maybe one of my obstacles is trying to cast my vision to broadly.]

    • 3.13

      In business and eventually, family.

    • 3.14
      Russ says:

      As a leader (Pastor) I lead volunteers, I want to be able to lead in a way people “buy in” to the vision I’ve placed before them. Commit to the purpose and hunger to see others follow along with them.

    • 3.15
      Adrian B says:

      Right now I do this just on in my Personal and professional life, how ever I would like to extend it to the communal level.

    • 3.16
      Jan Kelley says:

      Mentoring future Christian leaders and moving my organization to the next level.

    • 3.17
      Chad Miller says:

      Professional, as an elementary principal, I want to continue to build upon my relationships with staff, students, and families. At home, I hope to influence my son and be a role model for him.

  4. 4
    John C Maxwell says:

    What do you see as your greatest obstacle in leadership?

    • 4.1
      Samuel says:

      Lack of discipline

    • 4.2

      People do not believe me. They don’t have faith in me. I don’t know how to express myself in such a way as to encourage them to follow me.

    • 4.3
      Paris Smiles says:

      Lack of communication.

    • 4.4
      Monique Zawadzke says:

      The people who act one way when I’m around then act completely different while I’m away. And the people who talk about it also.

    • 4.5
      Matthew Maziarz says:

      Building credibility.

    • 4.6
      Janet Macy says:

      I allow people (co-workers) to walk all over me. I’m not good at standing up for myself when I know it’s the right thing.

    • 4.7
      Eleanor says:

      My greatest obstacles in leadership are my own discipline and problems in decision of conflict situations.

    • 4.8
      Latoya Palmer says:

      The lack of confidence when expressing myself in a professional manner. Although I may know the information, down to a science, when it is time to put the plan into words it comes out shaky.

    • 4.9
      Luis says:

      My family. They don’t understand my need to developed myself in those areas

    • 4.10
      Peter Preble says:

      I get distracted very easy, I need more focus.

    • 4.11
      Tunde Sanyaolu says:

      Associates who do not believe in helping other people.

    • 4.12
      Matt in Clermont, FL says:

      I believe my obstacles are: Lack of faith (or an abundance of fear), lack of focus, and an inclination to distrust others. Digging a little deeper, I think that fear is at the root of all three.

    • 4.13

      My team is not very big, so noy much chance to practice. And bigger than that, I keep dropping the ball and letting other things get in the way of my commitment.

    • 4.14
      Russ says:

      My greatest obstacle in leadership is myself and an ugly word procras……. I’ll tell you the rest tomorrow!

    • 4.15
      Adrian B says:

      The ability to understand the other people drivers and desires in life!

    • 4.16
      Jan Kelley says:

      Discipline to focus on what is most important. It is easy to get lost in the weeds of busyness.

    • 4.17
      Chad Miller says:

      Have you heard of the LMX theory? This is where the leader develops an “in-crowd” and therefore a “out-crowd”. While the in-crowd loves work and enjoys coming to work, the out-crowd feels unwelcome at times. I have to do a better job of this. In education, and maybe in any profession, it is easy to gravitate to followers that are strong supporters. In my case, I feel I tend to develop an “in-crowd” from staff members that are flexible and willing to have discussions with me regardless of if we agree or not. I think I develop an “out-crowd” from teachers that are difficult to work with. To be able to be stronger leader and be more influential, I need to bring everyone into the “in-crowd” and develop relationships with everyone.

  5. 5
    Angie Burrell says:

    My greatest obstical is that the leaders above me are Step 2 leaders :)

  6. 6
    Angela Santiago says:

    Don’t have a hobby but I like to collect journals. Haven’t had anything unusual to eat but willing to try…I love food!

  7. 7
    Juraj says:

    I’m Juraj and I’m 30. My hobby is reading and because I like to eat almost everything so the most delicious is almost everything :-)
    Once I had whale … it was great 😉

    Take care!

  8. 8
    Andy Hammerschmidt says:

    My name is Andy Hammerschmidt, love to golf and I’m a huge fan of the MN Twins and MN Wild. Strangest thing I ever ate was in Manila, something called balut

  9. 9
    Jim says:

    I love shrimp in hot sauce and my group of coworkers have started the study. I love to run.

  10. 10
    Yvonne Green says:

    My name is Yvonne Green – My 1 word for the Year is Learner [ although I know you did not ask that ] Enjoy reading, studying, taking notes My favorite thing is seeing people come to Jesus and then discipled The strangest thing was Caviar

  11. 11
    Latoya Palmer says:

    Greetings to all my name is Latoya Palmer. Helping people is my favorite hobby. So by going through and taking in this information I plan on sharing it. Hmm, not sure if there is 1 thing I have eaten that was unsual. I love to mix leftovers and create new things which causes a few stares in breakroom at lunchtime =)

  12. 12

    Happy New year first of all :) My name is Janine Lockhart, one of my hobby I love most is dancing for the Lord. The most unusual thing I have ever eaten is octopus with collard greens. Actually the reason why I decided to join this study, I had actually started to read this book with a mastermind group, but lost focus for other reasons. I want to help as many people in Personal Development and let God use me to be influence to them in a positive and uplifting way so they can in turn help someone like themselves become a better person. I don’t know what my greatest obstacle is in leadership is yet. But standing in front of a room full of people you don’t know and scared you might mess up the words coming out of your mouth in every sentence:)

  13. 13
    Eric Ofori says:

    My name is Eric and the most unusual thing I’ve ever eaten is octopus. It takes good. And my hobby is reading and watching or playing soccer.

  14. 14
    jessie says:

    Hi everyone. My name is Jessie. My favorite hobby is writing/reading. And the most unusual thing I ever ate was probably something I had in Iraq…..it was a great pizza, but I had No idea what was on it and didn’t want to ask!

  15. 15
    Jude Irvin says:

    Greetings! My name is Jude and my favorite hobby is, as much as my body hates it, playing flag football and softball. Being from South Louisiana, not many foods scare me, but the most unusual, and most delicious food I have ever eaten was a seafood spaghetti at a harbor side restaraunt in Marseille, France. It was covered in eel, octopus,, and squid and the richest pasta sauce I have ever tasted.

  16. 16
    Liane says:

    (1) Hey, my name is Liane. I have a few hobbies and it’s tough to choose, but if I have to, it would be mountain biking. The most unusual thing I’ve ever eaten (or attempted to eat anyway) is oysters. (2) I agreed to engage because I want to challenge some things in my own life so that I can make more of a difference for someone else. (3) I would like to be a published author and then speak to people and affect how they think. (4) I think my greatest obstacle is believing in myself; and believing that God believes in me, instead of standing a way off and passively watching me fail. As I battle challenges from my childhood I’m afraid that my future will be the same as my past.

  17. 17
    Marius says:


    My name is Marius. My hobby is reading and the most unusual thing that I had to eat was alligator meat, which was good. I want to engage in this study because I want today to be better that yesterday and worse than tomorrow (continuous improvement, right? :) ). I want to be able to make a good change in the live of as many people as possible, starting with my inner circle. I see as obstacles, full discipline, but I am on the right track to get it under control.

    I can’t wait to start this study in order to contribute myself as much as possible and also to learn from other people’s experiences.

  18. 18
    Susan says:

    Happy New Year!
    My name is Susan. My favorite hobby… I love learning, scrapbooking, exercising, giving, I could go on and on, I love life and helping others to love their life!
    Most unusual food I’ve ever eaten would be octopus.
    I engaged in this study because I’m reading the book and I would love to hear what others have to say as they read it.
    I greatly desire to increase my connectivity with others.
    My greatest obstacle in leadership is believing more in myself ~
    Thank you for this opportunity ~ I love learning, especially with other great amazing people and most importantly by a phenomenal teacher.

  19. 19


    My name is Dave and I enjoy coaching & officiating lacrosse and helping others grow in their strength zones.

    The most unusual thing I’ve ever eaten was a cow’s eye. Wasn’t terribly awful, but not something I’ll be endeavoring to do again anytime soon.

  20. 20
    chidi says:

    first my name is chidi, and as for hobby i love reading and research thru net and d most on usual food i eat is crocrodile

  21. 21
    chidi says:

    the reason why i engage in this conversation is to enrich and inspire my inspiration thru the same minded leader as me with the same vision and ambition

  22. 22
    Jennifer White says:

    Hello everyone!

    My name is Jennifer, I work in relationship marketing/sales. I am looking to find ways to move past my comfort zone. I don’t really eat strange foods, I rarely change what I order.

    Have a great day!!!

  23. 23
    Eleanor says:

    Hi, I’m Eleanor and the most unusual food I have eaten is alligator. Yes, it tastes like chicken!
    It’s hard to pick just one favorite hobby! It’s a toss up between reading and repurposing/restyling women’s clothing.

  24. 24
    Russ says:

    Hi my name is Russ Ponder
    The most unusual thing, (for me) which is not very unusual as I am a vry picky eater is fried green tomato.
    My favorite hobby has been following by two boys from field to field court to court, diamond to diamond, and track to track. That all comes to end this may as my youngest graduates High School. Secondary hobby is photography. Looking forward to going through this book with each of you.

  25. 25
    Tom says:

    Hello, all…!

    My name is Tom.

    Favorite hobbies are sports, such as ice hockey and golf, travel, and my 5 kids.

    The most unusual thing I’ve eaten? Two things qualify for mentioning. On my last trip to the Far East, Taiwan and Hong Kong were both included in the trip. In Taiwan at a sushi shop I had just off the boat live sea urchin, and in HK I tried snake balls at a 5 star restaurant. I can live without repeating either, although the local sushi house in Taipei was simply outstanding.

    Regards to all.

  26. 26

    Greetings from Jamaica! My name is Teddy A. Jones my hobby is going to the river and the most unusual thing I have eaten is frog’s legs at a Vietnamese restaurant in Dallas, Texas.

  27. 27

    […] Follow JohnCMaxwell on Twitter. Or visit John’s Facebook page. Introducing a new daily video program, A Minute with Maxwell. Sign up here. It’s free! Level up, Week 1: Finding your starting point […]

  28. 28
    Charmza Adriaanse says:

    Hobby reading/keeping fit/dogs/ workshops

    It is a great way to give our kids the edge and for personal development of course. But first and foremost my main aim though is for immediate and extended family , We want to make every effort to equip them to live influential lives.

    greatest obstacle –
    approval (100% buy in) assertiveness

  29. 29
    chidi says:

    the greatest obstacle i’ve expereince in course of my leadership is having evil uncle and other relative fighting me both spiritaul and physical to stop me from climing the ledder. But i never give up, i keep trusting and believe God to achieve my maximum potential.

  30. 30

    My greatest hobby is life and how to live it at it’s full potential. The specific hobbies are just details.

  31. 31
    Roger says:

    My hobby is to gather technical information to understand the world we are living in.

  32. 32
  33. 33
    Jim says:

    1.Hello myb name is Jim,
    Favorite hobby is being with family and friends.
    Most unuasual thing I have eaten was chicken feet.

    2. I agreed to do this study for personal developement.

    3. Both personal and business. I want to learn how to be a servant leader. To be able to influence those around me to know the greater parts of this life we live..

    4. Biggest obstacle is myself. Belief in myself.

  34. 34
    Nicholas G. Yannacopoulos says:


    1. My name is Nicholas Yannacopoulos and I am Greek (living in Greece),
    my favourite hobby is sailing and one of the most unusual (and extremely delicious) foods I have tasted is sea urchins !!
    2. I wish to do this study so as to enhance and upgrade my leadership level and skills so that I may pass them and add value to others.
    3. Politics & Business Teams.
    4. Lack of self discipline.

  35. 35
    Inah Stephen says:

    my desire is to become the chief servant leader in my country.

  36. 36
    Brian says:

    I have a Level 1 question I’d like to pose to the group. When discussing the 5 Levels with others, some are quick to give examples of less than stellar leaders who are very successful and have successful organizations. What are some of the arguments you would give to support that despite being successful, Level 1 is “a good place to be, but not a good place to stay”.

  37. 37
    Deborah says:

    Hello there!

    I grew up on a hunter’s diet with home made bread. Our meals included rabbit, raccoon, muskrat, possum, groundhog, moose and deer. Occasionally, we would try something really risky like red-dyed beef or pork from the store. I miss ma’s cooking.

    Hobbies? Reading, marketing, real estate, thrift stores

  38. 38

    […] of The 5 Levels of Leadership. (Just finding out about it? You can still do the study! Just click HERE to go back to Week […]

  39. 39

    […] ofThe 5 Levels of Leadership. (Just finding out about it? You can still do the study! Just click HERE to go back to Week […]

  40. 40
    Dona Sotto says:

    Hi everyone! I’m Dona. My favorite hobby is to travel.:) the mos unusual dish that i ate is the frog and the rat farm. These are exotic foods in our country and they taste just like a chicken.

  41. 41

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