17 Seconds

design of progress bar on blackboard loading an idea

I have always wondered why I am attracted to the number 17. I am not sure why, but I can’t even walk past a roulette table without betting on Black 17.

So today, while on the elliptical, I was listening to a conversation between Wayne Dyer and Esther Hicks. It was both entertaining and interesting, about the fact that it takes only 17 seconds to manifest or create an idea. When I realized that I was listening to this on the 17th of May, I thought I better pay attention and reflect on this and share the 17 second rule. The rule is that it takes 17 seconds for a thought — or a want or whatever you are thinking about — to start to gain momentum and become real.

So after reading and reflecting, I put it to the test and pulled out my weekly play-sheet with all of the projects that I am currently working on, and starting thinking about them. Trying to get some momentum going for them. What shocked me is that I barely really thought about any of them for even 5 seconds before getting distracted. Could it really be that 17 seconds is a long time to think about anything? OMG! How will I get momentum going if I can’t concentrate for 17 seconds?

So I set a stopwatch, trying not to look at it while I gave some of the projects I am working on positive vibes, just thinking about the results. Then, I started thinking about how companies that our group has formed in the past actually did become real from just a simple industry thought process —about what a particular industry did or didn’t do well and where people like ourselves might exploit it. Whether it be Pet Promise, Greenopolis or Wild Oats, it was never one person’s 17 seconds of thought. It was one person, giving to another person, who gave to another person the thought and discussion. And like a snowball building down a hill, it took an entire ensemble of people thinking about it and working on it.

Then, I thought about the fact that a 45-minute call is actually 159 – 17 second intervals. So you get where this is going. On my own, I could not have created or manifested any of those businesses. It was the collective group that built those businesses… One 17 second thought process at a time, that became more and more and more as the ensemble started to grow. Which it always does, if people buy into the idea or value prop.

So today, share your ideas. Don’t hold them tight or smother them because it is highly likely you will not get there on your own. You will get there with an ensemble of others that will join your thought process to string together 1000’s and 1000’s of 17 second strings of thought that will bring the project to reality.

If you have been thinking of a business concept or idea for an organization, today socialize it and see if it gets any momentum. An idea shared is an idea that will get momentum. If you have any question about that, reflect on how many times have you been told by someone that they had an idea —or maybe you said, wow, I had that idea, but nothing ever came of it because you didn’t string the momentum together with others.

I talk a lot about our Innovation Team. We have a daily call, and it is basically just to see if we can string two or three thoughts together to create some momentum.

One day, a friend of mine happen to call me while we where on the group call, so I put the team on hold, and answered the call from my friend. He said, “ Anthony, want to share a business idea.”  I listened to a little bit and asked him if he would mind if I asked him to share his idea with the group, and he said yes. So I merged him into the call right then and there and had him pitch the team. This was a couple of months ago and on last Friday, I received the LLC paperwork for the company. It is up and operating — with revenues after just a few months — incredible how this works.

Onward and upward —

AZ

Leave a comment

Filed under Insights

Keep On Walking

I received an email the other day from a good friend who lives in Montevideo. He told me he had lost everything, including his cell phone. He wasn’t really complaining, he just wanted me to know he couldn’t call me.

I paused, and read the email again. I wasn’t sure how to respond. So, I thought about it and decided to tell him to dust himself off and just start walking. I told him to take a step toward something — anything — but just get up and start walking. And, I also told him, while he walks, make a choice. Make a choice to do something, anything, right now.

Oh, yes, my friend made a choice. He dusted himself off, and now is back in a positive frame of mind. He is really thankful, not just for me, but for his many friends. He is a really likable guy, who, like all of us at some time, hit a low point. But it really made me think how important it is to just make the decision to get up and start walking. To start off in any direction and be able to make a choice to do something –without judgement of whether it is right or wrong. Just make a choice to walk in any direction.

Many times, we get into a “low vibration funk”, and ask ourselves, am I doing the right thing? Maybe your boss is on you. Maybe your finances aren’t where you want them to be. And yes, yes, it happens to all of us! But, we can’t allow ourselves to wallow in it. We can pause, accept it and then… We need to wipe the “low vibration” off our brow and off our hands — as if you are wiping goo off of them, right down to the finger tips — each one. Then you stand up and start moving. Just start walking, and while you are walking, you will feel better. You will feel empowered, then you can start making some choices. (Well, it’s really just one choice, to do something!)

Many times, my own choice is very simple. Maybe I go on a hike and really concentrate on what I am grateful for, what’s good in my life. I find that starting with something positive, no matter what it is, or how small it seems in the scheme of things, is a good base to build from. Then my next choice might be writing, visiting a friend, or enjoying some chocolate — that’s really all there is to it.

Now, what if this is not just you in a “low vibration funk”, but it’s your company, your job, your family or a group of friends? Well, in my experience, it’s really the same set of tools. You get the group together, in person, and address your feelings. Talk about the fact that you are all in a “low vibration funk” and that you are bound and determined to get out of it.

So, instead of walking, you start talking. Talk about what everyone is doing that is right, really positive, and good. Build on that, focusing on just one thing that is going right, and stay there. Stop anyone who tries to bring in any negativity. Do this no matter how small the positive thing. And then keep walking forward, until the next positive thing presents itself.

Of the many turn-arounds (of both major and small companies) that I have been involved in,  this is the exercise that I look forward to the most. It takes getting all the senior management around the table and asking them what is going right? I ask them to start by describing the business they are involved in, and that usually gets everything going. And every time, there is a positive morsel that can be built on.

Now, sometimes, it is not strong enough to turn the company around, but just by focusing on something positive, the energy changes. With a positive energy, the company becomes much more viable.

These ideas are centuries-old insights, just like chopping wood and carrying water. The best example of this was when I was in Sao Paulo a few years ago for a global brand summit, and the case study that was presented was about Johnnie Walker Whisky. They showed advertisements from multiple countries, all with the same exact story, just different language and actors. This really drove home to me the premise on which Johnnie Walker has built their brand. For the last 100 years, theirs has been one of the most successful advertising campaigns across the world, because no matter what the language, the message is always the same.

So, remember, whether you are in Montevideo or Brussels, it is a fact that all of us go through ups and downs. And when we are down, the best thing we can do is keep on walking. Dust yourself off and start walking.

And when you are back in a positive vibe, salute with a glass of Johnnie Walker. Yup, doesn’t get any simpler than that!

Walk on–

AZ

Leave a comment

Filed under Insights

Aspire To Greatness

Hiking Success Silhouette, Man Trail Runner In Mountains

Recently, I met with a young medical doctor. He is looking at the entire medical care industry differently, and questioning why we do things the way we do. For instance, why are certain medications, surgeries, and procedures prescribed — just because they are standard operating procedure? Well, in fact, none of us are the same, and medicine shouldn’t be one size fits all.

I was captivated by this young doctor, who is looking at the world in a totally different way. In my mind, I saw so much potential for this MD. I was thinking, wow! This guy is the next Surgeon General! His future is so bright, what a joy it was to be sitting with him.

So I had to ask him, what did he aspire to be? He paused, looked at me like, really? You are asking that question? He was caught a little off guard. I did not press him, but then began a dialogue on my contribution to his career, which was not going to be from a business perspective at all. My contribution was going to be continually asking him to Aspire to Greatness!  Every day. Visualize being the next Dr Oz. Visualize being the next Jonas Salk.

So, it reminded me that we all have absolutely incredible skills —incredible skills that no one else has except us. No one else has our individual, unique perspective on the world.

So how are you going to Aspire To Greatness today? Will you visualizing the life you want? The accomplishments and bounty you deserve?

The first step is to identify your aspiration, write it down, and put some interesting details around it  —feel it, smell it and start being it. Yup, start being it today and it will happen.

There are so many steps you can take immediately to get you back on your path to greatness.

By just visualizing your aspiration, you are creating momentum. By telling the first person you see today what you are doing gives it more energy. Go online, start reading about the subject. Start becoming an expert. Each day, visualize your aspiration. Visualize the greatness and take one action to make it a reality, and it will happen.

This is the process that all people that accomplish greatness go through. And today, with the tools you have available, like the web, you can become an expert, an accomplished artist or even a performer.

There is only one step you need to take. You just have to chose to start. That is the one thing that all famous authors, artist, performers, doctors and scientists have in common… They all started when they where not famous. In the same way that you are right now, they took one step — every day — towards their aspiration. And then one day, they looked up — or saw a billboard with their mug on it, or heard a song they recorded on the radio — and they paused and said, “Thanks!”  Because they had accomplished everything they visualized and aspired to… Just like you will! Yup, guaranteed!

Onward!

AZ

Leave a comment

Filed under Insights

Be Marvelous In May

Inspire Someone sign on a summer day

May is here! The birds are chirping loudly, the days are getting long and warm, and I was happy to be waking up in my own bed. I was reflecting, thinking about how special spring is. I was also thinking about my recent trip and all I had learned.

May is here! The birds are chirping loudly, the days are getting long and warm, and I was happy to be waking up in my own bed. I was reflecting, thinking about how special spring is. I was also thinking about my recent trip and all I had learned.

My thoughts where bopping all around and then one stuck. It was how important everyone in an  organization, or business, is. No matter what their status or position, they are extremely important. As a leader, you need to recognize that every touchpoint with a customer or consumer is incredibly important, and ultimately, your responsibility.

The reason this thought was gaining momentum is that I’d just come off a 10-day business trip. It felt pretty long, with meetings in four cities from coast to coast. While enjoying the birds chirping and the Southern California sunrise, I felt compelled to tell you the story of “Rosie”.

Last Friday, I had meetings in Bentonville, Arkansas, but needed to be in New York by Monday. So, rather than flying back and forth to San Diego, I stayed in Dallas at the Za Za Hotel. It was a cool, kinda hip place, and had a great, positive energy that helped me stay at 35,000 feet. But, as I reflected on my stay, the most incredible thing about that experience was one particular women who worked for the hotel’s housekeeping staff. Let’s call her “Rosie”. My first morning there, I ran into her on the elevator. I asked her how she was, and she said with a big smile, “Fantastic!”

I was blown away. I smiled and said, “That’s my line!” And then we both started laughing. By then, the elevator was opening and she was walking along beside me and she told me that she comes up with a positive word everyday and uses it all day. I immediately asked her what her word for tomorrow would be, and she said, with that big smile, “Awesome!” Then I said, “OK, then I will be extraordinary!”  Then she said, “Fantastic,” and quickly walked on.

I was kinda shaking my head with delight, not sure I wanted her to leave. It seemed crazy to me, how this women in a maid’s uniform, had transformed the attitude of the entire multi-million dollar hotel, and did it better than the sharply dressed concierge or even the front desk people.

Later, having a cup of coffee at a little table outside of the hotel restaurant, I couldn’t help but reflect on how the manager of this hotel probably had no idea how special this women is. How much she made my morning, and probably did the same for a lot of others, not to mention keeping the spirits of the housekeeping staff upbeat and positive.

Then, I thought about all of the touchpoints businesses have with their consumers, and asked myself, what if you could assure that every interaction with your consumer could be as fantastic as mine was with “Rosie”? What if there where no call centers, just real people, with genuine concern, and real skin in the game? What if you had motivated employees, at every touchpoint, no matter what the particular business is? What if you had a positive word, everyday —like

fantastic, awesome, extraordinary — that you asked all of your employees to use for the entire day?

Well, I am going to start with the month of May, and would like anyone reading this (Hi, Mom!) to  do something for the entire month of May, and that is… drum roll please…  Let’s be Marvelous in May!

So, when anyone ask you how you are doing you are not just “good”, you’re “MARVELOUS!”

Upon my departure from the hotel, I saw a women, on her hands and knees, cleaning the marble floor in front of the elevator. Guess who it was? Yup! (Who could have written the script?) It was Rosie, and I asked how her how she was doing, and she looked right in my eyes and said, with that big smile, “Awesome!” I thanked her, and at that moment, as I walked to my car, I thanked God for Rosie.

What if a consumer walked away from your brand, your business, or your institution and said, “Thank God for your business”? Now that would indeed be Marvelous!

Onward…

AZ

Leave a comment

Filed under Insights

Earth Day 2015 Highlights Positive Change

great acts are made of small deeds - ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu quote printed on grunge vintage cardboard

 

In the Sunday, 4/26 Washington Post, is the story of how Kraft is taking artificial colors and preservatives out of their macaroni and cheese, which is a really a great thing, good for them.

Since Linda Bonvie and I wrote Chemical Free Kids in 2002, we have been pounding the drum on artificial colors and preservatives. But it took something else, something that we didn’t have early in the 2000s, to make it happen. It took vibrant social media vehicles like Facebook and Twitter, and an individual like the “Food Babe”, Vani Hari, to lead the social media buzz.

This Kraft announcement might not seem like a big deal, but it is a huge deal and a tremendous example of how people like the “Food Babe” and a buzz mob on social media — without scientific or food industry experience — can make such a big difference in the world.

Yes, the “Food Babe” led a significant campaign via social media to get Kraft to remove these artificial ingredients. And the wave of people demanding it got so big and so strong that Kraft didn’t have a choice. It’s a wonderful example of how our collective voice is an incredible tool for change and we should all give the “Food Babe” some kudos, because her work has required a tremendous amount of diligence — or chopping wood — over the years for the good of all of us, especially children.

My immediate thought, though, is where is the “Waste Babe”, or the “Medical Babe”? And my second thought is, Wow! What an incredible time we are living in —and that we will eventually have a “Waste Babe” a “Medical Babe” and even a “Health Babe.”

In fact, I am sure we already do… Because people are waking up everywhere to take action to make this a better world. Here are just a few of many examples: Who would have ever thought that protein producers, like Tyson, would realize that gestation crates, antibiotics and hormones might not be a good thing to continue using and commit to doing something about it? This is fantastic news for the long term effectiveness of antibiotics. A lot of voices, stimulated by Wayne Pecelli, CEO of HSUS, were heard on this issue. And, who would have thought that Blue Bell Ice Cream would actually recall all of its product —not just the cartons in which Listeria was found, because they couldn’t find the source of the bacteria. Blue Bell deserves some kudos. And while we are giving these shout-outs, Pepsi is actually taking aspartame out of its products and replacing it with a plant-based blend. This is a really important change, too. Thanks, Pepsi!

These are all really encouraging signs of significant change, happening right in front of us. And I just wanted to call it out, so we could all say thanks for all the positive decisions, and to all of the people in these organizations, making these changes.

It feels so good that so many have started looking at the world the way we should be looking at it — healthy, happy, light, fun — and awesome and incredible. All this fantastic news, in a matter of a few short weeks, leaves me feeling encouraged and inspired to continue chopping wood and carrying more water by supporting the emerging “Babes” across all segments of society.

Momentum of great change is happening, and now, at this time in my career, I need to do everything I can to support these advocates, to keep them on a high vibration and make sure they are effortlessly chopping wood everyday and carrying water. And let’s not forget the 100s of thousands of great people working in those companies, doing the right thing by making critical and sometimes painful formulation changes. Companies like Pepsi, Tyson and Nestle.

Net is, you are all awesome and incredible. And maybe we should take a moment and give those companies mentioned, who are doing the right thing, a little love, too, by supporting the changes they are making via an email to them. Let’s thank them for doing the right thing. And, of course, also thank the “Food Babe,” and other advocates as well. It is always nice to know that what you do is appreciated. I know I am going thank them all! And hopefully they will all feel happy, healthy, light, fun, awesome and incredible!

Tally Ho!

AZ

Leave a comment

Filed under Insights

To Escape Negativity, Climb To 35,000 Feet

Landing passenger airplane in the sunset

Soar higher to escape negativity

This weekend, I decided to stay in Dallas versus flying in thunderstorms back to San Diego. So, I had some time to reflect. I had a cool Uber driver taking me to my hotel when someone cut in front of him. Then, on the freeway, the other driver expressed his anger (you know what I mean!) Mohamed, the Uber driver, remarked that there is so much anger today.

I concentrated on that statement for the next couple of days and it was amazing to be consciously aware of how pounded we are, all of the time, with negative messaging. The news is terribly negative. Most television shows —other than Diners, Drive Ins and Dives (my favorite) are so negative I can hardly sleep after watching. So I was trying to stay in a positive vibration, no matter how much negativity bombarded me, and really, consciously, working at it.

This required me to turn off all the news feeds I typically surround myself with and to be very conscious not to have any negative thoughts at all.  Yup, none. Well, almost none.

Wheewww! What a challenge this has been and what an eye opener to the environment that surrounds us. This has not been easy, for sure.

What I have been trying to do is, in effect, fly above the negativity. The analogy I have been using for myself is flying a plane. In the same way that flying a plane at 35,000 feet is much more energy efficient (because the air is so much thinner than at 20,000 feet) no matter what the situation, I elevate myself to a higher thought process —a kinder, more empathetic, bigger view.

Last Friday, a colleague, who was across the county, yet still flying in the same thunderstorms I was, gave me the gift of this analogy to me. He said the pilot came on and told them that it was more fuel efficient to circle for an hour at 35,000 feet than to try to circle at 20,000 feet for 20 minutes.

Everyone on the plane began to kinda process the math and the common sense of it —that the air would be much lighter at 35,000 feet and that the atmospheric pressure and gravity would increase the closer the plane got to the earth. Little did I know at that time, what a special gift that was and that that analogy was going to be my tool, my saving grace for eliminating negativity around me. I can’t tell you how many times this weekend I have said, almost out loud, that I am just going to fly at 35,000 feet and refuse to go any lower. No matter what.

I will tell you, 35,000 feet is a really incredible place to be. You do feel so much lighter. Negativity can feel, many times, like trying to move mud. As a result of just my partial success in accomplishing this a few times during the day, my spirit is much brighter and bolder and I am excited about everything that is unfolding in real time.

So, my thoughts and actions today are focused on doing everything I can to keep my vibrations at 35,000 feet and just appreciate the beautiful people that I am meeting and enjoying. As I have said in other blogs, high vibrations attract high vibrations, and this is a beautiful thing. Just by flying at a higher vibration, I have met some really interesting and cool people this weekend.

Oh, and Mohamed is picking me up to visit the cultural aspects of Dallas and Ft. Worth. Out of probably 100 trips to Dallas, I haven’t done this and typically wouldn’t even think of doing it. Amazing how much more time I have by not watching the news or reading newspapers and magazines. And how fun it is, flying at 35,000 feet.

It will be really interesting to see how this goes once I get thrown into the mixed vibrations of my next stop this week, New York. Oh my, that is going to be a challenge! Even though, truth be told, I do kinda miss the news. Oh no! I am sliding already… What will I do?

I will be highly conscious of how flying at 35,000 feet works in the New York business environment. Really, as I write and think about it, I am kinda hyperventilating about it.

So, maybe we should all try this together. Let’s make this a challenge for all of us. So here is the challenge: just one time during the work day, practice flying at 35,000 feet — above the negativity — versus getting negative, angry or saying something that isn’t kind in meetings, even though you may want to.

Catch yourself. Pause and change your thought process to positively. Think about the situation and the person and rise above —to 35,000 feet. Visualize flying in light air, above the rocky thunderstorms, by thinking and being sympathetic and helpful, and saying something kind. Yup, aim for just one fly over at 35,000 feet each day to start. Then, when we each get home or with the team for dinner, do it one more time with family and friends.

My hope is that flying at 35,000 feet two times per day — one at work and one with family and friends — will turn into 4 times per day and then 6, and on and on, until you are in a positive and gracious vibration all the time.

Oh, my, what a beautiful thing. It gives new meaning to onward and upward.

AZ

Leave a comment

Filed under Insights

Small Steps Create Big Ideas

Think Different card with a beach on backgroundI’ve been working on a project with the chairman of a company who was really pushing the idea that people need to think outside the box and push the bar higher. These are things that I am sure you would know that I totally agree with. But there was a subtle difference in this situation. He was dictating what the outcome should be, which was the big idea or go home.

What I realized, right then and there, was how polarizing only looking for the big idea can be. And, oh no! How many times have I probably been guilty of the same thing, causing people to give up too early. If you only chopped wood or carried water when you thought you had the big, big idea, I am not sure that you would ever get there. What I am sure of, though, is that the way to the big idea is to take action on 1000’s of small ones.

It has always taken a lot of small steps on the journey and we can’t forget this. Especially when we are challenging people to be creative, we have to remember that it is a cumulative process, and through these small steps will come the big, big idea.

I have to admit, it was a little painful going through this process as an outside advisor. I had never before thought that if someone else dictates what they want — and dictates that they only want the home run — that it is counter-productive to getting where you want to be.

So if you’re working with someone, and you want to accomplish something big, don’t polarize them by pushing only for the big thing. Encourage them to take small steps and chop wood everyday. There is a lot to be said about enjoying the journey. Many times, it is the cumulative thought process and confidence that come from working on those smaller steps — as well as the people that join you along the way — that creates the atmosphere so you can come up with the big idea. Or should I say maybe the big, big idea!

Leave a comment

Filed under Insights