America, truly the land of opportunity where anything can, and will, happen. I’m fortunate to be in a position where business is allowing me to travel but my recent trip to Los Angeles and Washington was personally fruitful as well. I experienced and learned so many fun things that I can apply both in my personal and professional life, here are a few of my key takeaways:
1. Age is nothing but a number. Sure, we’ve heard this before and we all know some old folks who are badass but generally speaking, people tend to seriously turn down the excitement level as they age. If you take nothing else away from this post, let it be this: just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you have to be boring. In fact, let me simplify it even further: HAVE FUN! While I was away, I saw so many active and (seemingly) happy people. But most impressive was the amount of 60+ people I saw roller blading, playing volleyball, running at such a speed their dogs were about to roll over and die, and entertaining audiences with dance numbers that would put Shakira to shame. You don’t have to wait until you’re 60 to have fun, though. Think about what makes you happy and do more of it, it is never too late.
2. There is so much good in the world. This is not limited to the U.S., of course, but with the horror and fear the media portrays – particularly about this year’s election – it’s easy to lose sight of what’s good - and there is so much good. Over the last few days I’ve seen countless small acts of kindness; people willing to help the less fortunate without pause, several random exchanges of compliments and genuine politeness. I’ve seen old friendships renewed and new friendships made. I’ve seen a room of strangers collaborate and help each other achieve their goals. People everywhere just wanted to be nice, not for anything in return, not for personal gain or acknowledgement, but simply because they are inherently good.
3. I love Lego (again). As a success coach and marketer, I absolutely loved this tidbit about one of my favorite childhood toys. In 2014 Lego came out with an animated movie about figurines coming to life. After paying Hollywood, the production studio and the actors, the profit from the movie was small, by Hollywood standards. However, in the year that followed the release, Lego saw a 15% increase in sales that were directly tied to the movie. This resulted in a $675 million profit. Not to mention the continued sales year after year, as well brand loyalty they’ve reignited for generations to come.
A large part of the movie’s success was because Lego went in with an open mind. They did not go to Warner Bros and tell them to make a movie about their existing product line. They wanted each member of the team to channel their inner-child and collectively come up with a creative story line and offered to craft new toys to fit their vision if necessary. Why does this matter? As an entrepreneur, intrepreneur or stay at home parent, it is worthwhile to think about the big picture and outside the box. While every step may not return immediate success, do not be discouraged, use each one as a method of getting you to your end goal.
4. Tea leaves don’t lie. I had my fortune read by Irish Tea Leaf Reader, Patricia McCarthy, in Santa Monica. She was dressed like the Queen and had the face of a friendly Irish soul. She wasn’t charging anything for the reading, and only accepted donations of whatever you could spare. Of all the fancy shops and designer logos that adorned Main Street, that is where I wanted to spend my time and money. Whether the reading was a hoax or not, I wanted the experience, if only for the laughs.
She stirred her bowl of tea and asked me to rest my tea cup on the lip of the bowl while she poured positive thoughts into the mix. I was then instructed to scoop my cup right down to the bottom of the bowl and collect as many tea leaves as I could. After giving them a few seconds to settle, I was told to pour the tea out (the liquid represented everything that did not serve me), leaving only the leaves, and ultimately my fortune for the next year.
The tea leaves told her that I owned my own business, among other, more specific things that were surprisingly accurate. They also told her that this would be a prosperous year for me, that my business would continue to evolve and grow. And you know what, whether the tea leaves have some supernatural ability to predict the future or not, they’re right. Which leads me to my next point.
5. Hope is alive and well. There are so many aspiring artists, working double, even triple time, to make their dreams reality. There are so many entrepreneurs hustling every day to create a business and a life they’re proud of. There are so many students, studying in coffee shops and investing in their future. There are so many parents, getting their kids ice cream and off to karate practice. The hope for a better tomorrow is inspiring, I could feel it in the air as I felt the sun on my skin. Have hope and hold onto it, it is a good thing and a good thing never dies.
I went to America with certain objectives but abandoned the structure of my everyday life and trusted things would fall into place as they were meant to. I opened my mind and therefore opened the door for unforeseen yet incredible opportunities that reconfirmed that life is truly what you make of it.
Despite the madness the election has sparked, I've returned with a sense of rejuvenation, some necessary tools to continue building my dream and memories to last a lifetime. To the old friends I saw, the new friends I made and every stranger in between, thanks for a fabulous trip.