Friday, January 30, 2009


So, Jerry, who were the people who most influenced you, who were your mentors and teachers? I get this question asked a lot in one form or another. I think my first mentor was Dale Carnegie, of HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE fame.
My father had all his books, and as it was my habit to read everything in sight, I quickly gobbled these up. He was so down-to-earth and folksy, and right-on with a philosophy that many talk about today as if it was something brand new.

Another powerful force in my life was Ken Keyes, Jr., author of the multi-million copy selling HANDBOOK TO HIGHER CONSCIOUSNESS. When I first met him in the 1970s in Florida, and attended a number of his Consciousness Weekend workshops, I was really impressed with his grasp of how the human mind works, and how to program it in a positive way.
I interviewed him extensively for my early book, FRIENDS: The Power and Potential Of The Company You Keep. One of the things I learned from Ken which has served me well all my life is how foolhardy it is to make a major decision when
you are emotionally upset.

Ray Bradbury has been inspiring me since I was twelve years old and read his adapted work as graphic stories in the old E.C. Comics classics like Tales From The Crypt. He is, of course, the honored author of such iconic books as Farenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles, but my favorite may be his collection of essays entitled ZEN IN THE ART OF WRITING. I first actually met Ray at the Santa Barbara Writers' Conference in 1980. When I joined the faculty of that annual event, he and I had a number of conversations. Ray is, as he approaches 90, still one of the most creative people I've ever known. He is still one of the most entertaining writers and speakers on the planet. When I talked to him at length for my book, PSYCHOLOGICAL IMMORTALITY, he told me:

"I think busyness is everything--I don't care what you do as long as you're busy and as long as you love doing it. Orchestra conductors live to be 90 because they're vigorous and curious. Curiosity is another important factor--if it takes long to achieve and still offers challenges. Busyness connected to curiosity. Because you haven't learned it all. The whole thing is the fun of living!" A man who truly walks his talk.

Ray is a true Renaissance man, which always intimidates me a bit. Quite often I feel pretty good about who I am and what I have accomplished in life, several successful careers, six published books, etc. And then I think about all Ray Bradbury has done and is still doing and I feel pretty small. The same is true of the late Norman Cousins. What a mind, what a mover, shaker, and doer! Author of the bestselling ANATOMY OF AN ILLNESS, Norman was the longtime editor of the prestigious Saturday Review magazine, at one time he was the youngest editor of a major U.S. magazine. He was a great writer as well as editor and strong advocate for peace. He served three U.S. Presidents as a diplomat, and was awarded the United Nations Peace Medal as well as fifty honorary doctorate degrees. We were connected in several ways. He was the cousin of Rupa Cousins, the only woman I ever considered a true soulmate, and still a precious friend (her successful businesswoman mother, Sidney Cousins, grew up with Norman and had many delightful stories about his perceptive mind). Norman and I were on the board of The Inside Edge, a support group for leaders that met weekly in Beverly Hills. And I interviewed him extensively for PSYCHOLOGICAL IMMORTALITY. If you've ever heard of endorphins, Norman Cousins is probably responsible, as he first reported on the healing properities of these brain secretions in ANATOMY OF AN ILLNESS, which actually originated as an article in the New England Journal Of Medicine. He became a senior lecturer at the UCLA School of Medicine, where he promoted research into endorphins and the brain's many other secretions. He provided a bridge between traditional and holistic medicine. He certainly met Ray Bradbury's model of being vigorous and curious.

During a conversation, Norman gave me the phrase that became a mantra for the rest of my life. I asked him what he found to be a common denominator for all those happy and very successful men and women he had met and/or interviewed in his long career. Presidents, kings, CEOs, movie stars, Nobel Prize winners, humanitarians, spiritual leaders. He said, "Jerry, there is one thing they all had in common and one thing only, just about every morning they woke up with robust expectations." That was it, "robust expectations"--how's that for something to aspire to?

And just by concentrating on that concept, I've found I could create it throughout my life. Even in the dreary and dehumanizing Folsom State Prison. Every morning, waking up with something positive to look forward to, something to be strongly anticipated. How did you wake up this morning? Think about it.

Norman Cousins led an exciting and fulfilling life, he left his thumbprint on the world in a major way. And you know what he considered to be the worst disease? Boredom. Someone once described boredom as "hostility without passion." As I look back on all these mentors,
I can say they were rarely bored or boring. And because of their influence, my life has been far from boring and filled with robust expectations. There's material for more on mentors, I've
left out one important influence who probably will get a whole article, my friend Leo Buscaglia.
I was lucky to get to know him before he was a world famous figure of inspiration, but he was
always a mentor. And one brief fact about Leo that always amazed me: Every single time he
spoke, just talking, no exercises or demonstrations or games, just talk--every single time, the
audience at the end would break into spontaneous hugging, of Leo, of each other, a regular
lovefest as we would all get down to our basic humanity and reach out for one another. To
be continued for sure.

I hope to mentor people myself, in this amazing new healthy dark chocolate business I've gotten involved in and discuss in several earlier postings. If you'd like to explore this with me, get in touch by e-mailing me at You can also find out more and see some informative videos on the subject at the
websites of my friends and upline sponsors, Susannah Lippman at, click on Chocolate For Health, and Hope and Thom Kiah at

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