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A Talk with Karen Cortell Reisman: The story behind personal letters from Albert Einstein

This is part one of Karen Cortell Reisman’s interview with Marlene Jones of the Chicago Examiner.

Karen Cortell Reisman is an author, motivational speaker, and cousin to Albert Einstein. She is a communications expert and executive public speaking coach who has coached thousands of people. In her one-woman show, Letters from Albert Einstein, she brings wisdom and insight from personal letters from her cousin, Albert Einstein, to audiences around the country.

Karen, when did you first find out about the personal letters from Albert Einstein?



They have been a part of my knowledge base since I was born. I’ve always had this knowledge. The relationship is between (Einstein and) my father’s mother -all my father’s side of the family, Marlene. Einstein and my grandmother were friends their entire life. In fact, in Europe, they somewhat grew up together. They weren’t in the same place, but they had a lifelong friendship and a lifelong correspondence. So, when I grew up, my parents already had some of the letters from Einstein and they were just a part of (my life). I mean my mother had some of them framed and in a corner. She had them framed in K-Mart frames, using masking tape or scotch tape on the back to keep them in the frame. And of course today, an archivist would die to see that.

What surprised you most about those letters?

I would say the genuine closeness and admiration that Einstein had for my family, particularly my grandmother and thereby… my father. He admired people for their strengths and my grandmother had those strengths. She was a very dynamic, insightful, funny, bright human being and he saw those characteristics in her.


Your one-woman show, Letters from Einstein, includes wisdom from Einstein and touches on family stories from the holocaust. How have people responded to your keynote, Letters from Einstein?How has social media affected your ability to get your message out?

I like social media. I’m probably not using it to the extent it can be used – I mean I have some fan pages on facebook, and the one I find the most helpful is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is helpful to me in getting out my message about my business. And by linking in to many, many different people, then I can go and see whom we have in common, so it is easier for me to open up doors, to have conversations with decision makers.

This is Part One in a series of two articles based on my interview with Karen Cortell Reisman. Watch for Part Two to hear what Karen has to say about improving your public speaking and communicating well on social media.

Contact me at marleneExaminer@me.com if you would like to share your story about how social media has affected your life or your success.

Happily, I will tell you that all audiences respond…It doesn’t have to be an audience where people are very familiar with the holocaust… Everybody responds to the story. I’m very clear when I share my keynote that I am honored to have this legacy of being related to Albert Einstein, but it is a passive event in my life. I am in awe of what my mom’s side of the family did in order to survive during extremely difficult times… But all of us, through design or by default, have to survive and overcome obstacles in our lives.


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