Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hope Isn’t A Strategy

Aaron and Paul were best friends, and often spent hours coming up with creative ideas together.  When Paul was in college, he was so broke that he couldn't even afford to do his laundry.  Then he hatched an idea. He contacted a big laundry company with a proposal.  He guaranteed that he’d bring them laundry from hundreds of college students if the company would give him a good price to pick it up and deliver it back to Paul cleaned, folded, and in individual bags.  They agreed on a price, and Paul spread the word by offering free beer to any student who used his laundry service.  Not only did Paul get his laundry done for free, he also made the equivalent of $500 a week.

Aaron had a difficult childhood.  His family was so poor that they were always late paying their rent, and eviction was just a letter away.  When he was twelve, Aaron’s mother became ill and entered the hospital for care.  His father was a traveling salesman and went on the road, leaving Aaron to care for himself.  One evening, he was so hungry that he cut photos of food out of a magazine, laid them on a plate, and pretended it was real food.  He cut up the paper photos with a knife and fork and savored every bite.

One Christmas, Paul asked Aaron to help him make some holiday gifts for his family and friends.  Paul loved to cook, and worked up a blend of olive oil, red wine vinegar, mustard, and other ingredients.  Aaron stirred the dressing mixture and poured it into bottles to give away as gifts.  When they finished, there was enough left that Paul suggested they start a business to sell it.  Aaron said, "There are a lot of rules to running a business.  Fortunately, we don't know any of them."  Paul laughed and suggested the next step was to visit a company to seek some advice.

They found a company who tried the dressing, agreed it was good, and said that they would love to get involved.  They would conduct market research on the product as well as help launch the business, in return for a fee of $400,000.

Paul and Aaron said, "No thanks.”  Instead, they invited twenty friends to a blind tasting of their product against nineteen popular dressing brands, which they spent $40 to purchase.  Nineteen of their friends picked their recipe as the best, and those results were good enough for Aaron and Paul.  They had saved $399,960 doing the research themselves.

Aaron and Paul knew they had a great product, but the decision to donate all their profits to charity really launched their potential into the stratosphere.  As difficult as it is to launch a new salad dressing against established brands like Kraft and Best Foods, they were inspired to beat the odds.  Today, more than three decades later, Newman's Own Dressing has donated more than $300 million to charity.  Paul Newman was best known as an Academy Award winning actor, and his friend Aaron “A.E.” Hotchner was Earnest Hemmingway's biographer, but their generosity left its own mark as well.

Their story reminds me of Crenshaw High School in South Central Los Angeles, where I once taught a business seminar.  Years earlier, the L.A. Riots had devastated the area, and the students were looking to infuse some hope back in their community.  They cleared out a vacant lot behind the football field, getting rid of the trash and “recycling” the area as a garden to grow fruits and vegetables.  Soon after, a local business person visited and offered to help them create a salad dressing out of what they grew in the garden.  They named their company Food from the 'Hood and donated a quarter of their harvest to local shelters, turning the rest into dressing that they sold in local supermarkets.  Half the profits were reinvested into the business, while the other half went to a college scholarship fund for Crenshaw students.  Over the last twenty years, more than $250,000 has been earned toward student scholarships... an amazing accomplishment!

Heading into 2015, remember to tend to your own garden.  Too many people let their dreams die on the vine.  What dreams and positive visions of the future are inside you? This year, let's recycle hope.  They say that hope isn’t a strategy, but I believe it’s where the recipe begins.  Renew your hope.  Plant your dreams.  Imagine a garden full of possibilities, then fertilize with the most important nutrient:  Action!

Here's wishing you a happy, hopeful new year!

Until next week...

Live Your Dreams!

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Holiday Gift from Scott

Hi, this is Scott Shickler, and normally on Wednesdays I send out a weekly story, but today, to celebrate the holiday season, I have a special gift for you instead.

A few years ago, I co-authored a book with my partner Jeff Waller called The 7 Mindsets to Live Your Ultimate Life.  The book has been enormously well-received, and every month people ask me if we have an audiobook version.

Well, after many months in the studio, I’m excited to say it’s being released on iTunes, Amazon and Audible in the first weeks of the New Year for around $25.

However, in the spirit of giving, and to say thank you to everyone who has supported us in one way or another, we would like to give you a free 7 Mindsets audiobook with no strings attached.

I’m a parent of two teenage boys, and Jeff has three kids all under age 12.  All we want for them is that they pursue their passions, have meaningful relationships, and feel they can make a difference with their lives.  Frankly, it’s what we want for ourselves and our friends, family and colleagues as well.

We’ve found that our book has the power to transform lives.  Its principles help people who are struggling as well as those who have pretty good lives but want even better ones.

For those who don’t know, The 7 Mindsets are a blueprint for changing the way you think and live, based on three years of research into what the world's happiest and most successful people have in common - it's not who they know, it's not what they know, it's how they think... their mindsets!

The 7 Mindsets have changed our lives tremendously, and I truly believe they can inspire you to new levels of success.  So please accept this gift, listen to the book, and take action on the parts that resonate with you. 

Here's your free gift...

Click here to receive a unique code for your free audiobook edition of The 7 Mindsets to Live Your Ultimate Life.

And if you know someone you think could benefit from learning and applying the 7 Mindsets in their life, let them know about this offer and they can get this free gift, too!

But don’t wait too long, because I have to take this free offer down before millions of people sign up and shut down the internet.  Seriously, though, I’m going to keep the free offer open until January 7th.

Just click here and you'll be prompted to enter your name and email address so we can send you your code.  The only thing I ask is that you're open to sharing your thoughts on the book and maybe giving me some feedback.

Can one book change the lives of millions of people?  I think so, but it’s time for you to find out.

Here’s wishing you a Happy Holiday and an extraordinary New Year! 

Scott Shickler

P.S.  Don’t hesitate!  Click here to get your free 7 Mindsets audiobook before the offer ends on January 7th!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Angels in Indiana

With the holidays in full swing, I decided to do something different this week.  What follows is a story by an unknown author about the power of giving that I thought was worth sharing during this season of generosity…

“One morning during the winter of 1960, I woke up to find that my children’s father had left.  I had less than a dollar in my wallet and six hungry kids to feed.  If there was a welfare system in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it.

“I put on my best homemade dress, then loaded all the kids into our old Chevy and drove off to find a job.  The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in town.  I tried to convince whoever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything.

“No luck.

“The last place we went was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop called the Big Wheel.  The old woman who owned the place needed someone on the graveyard shift, from eleven at night until seven in the morning.  She paid 65 cents an hour, and I could start that night. 

“After racing home, I bargained with our teenage babysitter to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night.  We agreed that she could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep.

“That night, when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers, we all expressed our gratitude for Mommy’s new job.  And so I started at the Big Wheel.

“As the weeks went by, our heating bills began to strain my meager wage.  I was paying over half my nightly tips to the babysitter, and the tires on our old Chevy had begun to leak.  Each day, I had to fill them with air on the way to work, and again before going home.

“One bleak morning, I dragged myself to the car and found four new tires in the back seat.  There was no note, just those beautiful brand new tires.  Had angels taken up residence in Indiana?  I made a deal with the owner of the local service station to clean up his office in exchange for mounting the new tires.

“Christmas was coming, and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids.  I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning.  Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on my boys’ pants.

“On Christmas Eve, the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel:  the truckers Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe.  They sat and talked through the night, leaving before the sun came up.

“When it was time for me to go home on Christmas morning, I hurried to the car.  I was hoping the kids wouldn't wake up before I could get the presents from the basement and place them under the small cedar tree we’d cut down near the town dump.  It was still dark and I couldn't see much, but there appeared to be some dark shadows in the car.

“I peered warily into one of the side windows, and my jaw dropped in amazement.  My old battered Chevy was filled to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes. I scrambled inside and faced the back seat.

“Reaching back, I pulled the lid off the top box. Inside was a whole case of little blue jeans in kids’ sizes!  Another box was full of shirts to go with the jeans.  I peeked inside some of the other boxes and found candy, nuts, bananas and other groceries.  There was an enormous ham for baking and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and cookies, pie filling and flour.  There was a whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items.  And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll.

“As I drove through empty streets with the sun slowly rising on the most amazing Christmas of my life, I sobbed with gratitude.  Yes, there really were angels in Indiana that December… and they hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop.”

The holiday season is a great time to reflect on the Live to Give Mindset, because giving isn’t just about gifts.  It’s about offering something, whether it’s food or help or even just a thank you, to remind others that they’re not alone. Happy Holidays!

Until Next Week…

Live Your Dreams!

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Uncork Your Passion!

A few weeks ago, I flew to London to set up a new 7 Mindsets Academy to teach students the 7 Mindsets as part of their school curriculum.  I travel frequently, and was thrilled when Delta upgraded my seat to first class.  With my dinner, I was served a glass of wine called Inception Chardonnay.  I’m not much of a wine drinker, but I do like the movie Inception, so I was willing to take a few sips... maybe seven of them.  That experience inspired this week’s story…  

From the time she was five years old, Andrea was interested in food.  She enthusiastically cooked her way through her childhood and into high school, honing her ability to pick out and focus on particular flavors.  During college, which Andrea attended to study economics and finance, she got the opportunity to take a wine tasting class for beginners at a local restaurant.  She knew nothing about wine, and simply thought the class sounded fun.  Unexpectedly, she found herself captivated.  She was intrigued by the vast range of factors that affect wine character.  Suddenly, her youth spent cooking and thinking about flavor combinations seemed more relevant than ever.

Andrea graduated and went to work on Wall Street in the investment world.  She had been recruited by one of the top investment banks in the country, Morgan Stanley, but while working for them, she was also indulging her enthusiasm for wine.  In her free time, she volunteered at a little wine store called the International Wine Center as a pourer, which allowed her to take classes for free and meet wine makers and experts who came into the shop.

One day, while helping out at a tasting for Krug, one of the world’s most renowned Champagne makers, Andrea had a revelation:  She genuinely loved wine and everything about it, and faced the fact that her career in investment banking was going to become extremely consuming the longer she pursued it… which might eventually get in the way of her passion for wine.  That was just not going to work.

The next day, Andrea approached her boss and said, "I like investment banking, but I love wine and want to try and make a living at it, so I'm going to leave."  To her surprise, he said, "You know, that's great.  I wish I had the guts to do the same."  And that was that.

Andrea bought a Eurail Pass, a youth hostel card, and a plane ticket to Europe.  There, she traveled through various countries for six months, sleeping in cheap hostels and learning as much as she could about wine, from growing and harvesting grapes to barrel-aging to the history and significance of some of the most important winemaking regions in the world.  One of the most interesting things she learned that the Europeans know so well is that wine doesn’t have to be expensive to be really, really good.

Andrea’s impressive willingness to risk her future in pursuit of wine knowledge helped her get a job in a prestigious wine department when she returned home.  She was mentored there by Kevin Zraly, one of America's most famous and entertaining wine teachers, and she went on to become the first female cellar master at the restaurant.  She never looked back. 

Andrea’s list of accomplishments since her days on Wall Street is enormous.  She earned her Master Sommeliers Diploma, making her one of just eighteen female master sommeliers in the world.  She was the first woman ever named Best Sommelier in the U.S. by the Sommelier Society of America.  She is the author of several books, a TV show host, has been a Dean of Wine Studies, and is the recipient of numerous culinary-world accolades including three James Beard awards. 

Today, Andrea Robinson is one of the country’s leading wine educators.  She has her own line of stemware, as well as a video wine education course that highlights her simple, engaging method for enjoying and demystifying wine. She is also the Master Sommelier for Delta Air Lines, and she selects all of the in-flight wine for first class customers.  After just a few sips, I can tell you that she knows her stuff.

Andrea connected her passion to her profession, and wasn’t afraid to make a career change to ensure she was pursuing her dream.  Discover what inspires you, and then make it a major part of your life.  Like a great wine, living your passion only gets better over time.

Until Next Week…

Live Your Dreams!

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