Saturday, October 31, 2009


So I've been thinking about inspiration--both in terms of what and who inspires me, and how others might be inspired by what I say and do in my life. This has been prompted by two events in the past two days.

The most recent is my discovery of a website that I had never even heard of before, but perhaps you already know about:

And all I can say about this website is Wow! Imagine over 500 of the world's greatest thinkers, creators, innovators, expressing their passion in short talks that are entertaining, inspiring, informative, sometimes astounding. Check it out.

It led me to think about the people who have most inspired me in my life, all of whom I've already mentioned on these pages. Ray Bradbury, Norman Cousins, Leo Buscaglia, and others. What did they have in common? Well, one thing I think they all shared was they didn't spend a lot of time thinking about how they could inspire others. No, they spent their time on their passions. Ray spends his time mostly writing and talking about creativity..still as he approaches ninety. Norman spent his time, for many years, as one of the most prominent magazine editors in the world, leading Saturday Review to great honors and influence--and then, after triumphing over his own illness, wrote the bestselling Anatomy Of An Illness and worked hard to get doctors and medical schools to pay attention to the immune system and endorphins and other brain secretions. And Leo, Leo was all about Love, talking about it, laughing about it, living it. I still so vividly remember seeing him talk to large audiences and with just his words producing the effect of having everyone wanting to hug everyone else when he was finished.

No, none of these people worked hard at trying to inspire, their own passion was the seed of their inspiration. Contrast that with some of today's famous motivators who work so hard at trying to come up with the right phrase or quote to inspire their audiences. They aim at inspiring not with their passion and knowledge, but trying to find the inspiration spark to ignite others. I'm sorry folks, it just doesn't work that way, and you can see this so clearly on Think about who has inspired you the most in your life. Do you think this was because they were focused on trying to inspire you, or because you were moved by the passion, excitement, and joy they had in what they were doing and teaching?

The other event that got me to thinking about this was a reminder that I am not completely forgotten in the motivational world despite having vanished for twelve years. I awoke yesterday morning to my daily motivational quote from Nightingale-Conant, and lo and behold, it was me:

"Wealth is not a material gain, but a state of mind."
— Jerry Gillies: Author, Speaker and Radio Personality

Of course, I haven't been a radio personality for thirty years, and it's an old quote, and NC probably hasn't a clue that I was incarcerated for twelve years, but it still felt good. And has inspired me anew to come up with some more current and even more relevant quotes.
One inspired by my prison adventure:

Freedom Isn't About Wide Open Spaces
It's About A Wide Open Mind

More on this at my prosperity blog at:

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Before going to prison in 1996, I rarely read The New Yorker. Sometimes I browsed the cartoons or the Talk Of The Town feature when I would find a copy in the doctor or dentist's waiting room, but that was it. But a fellow inmate shared his copies with me, and I got hooked. The main reason was that it took me into a sophisticated, elegant--yes, even elite--world far beyond my incarcerated environment. I could escape into art and theatre and dance and satire and in-depth articles about everything from street food in Bangkok to to what J.P. Morgan was really like as the richest man in the world in the early days of the 20th Century.

Thanks to friends such as Jack Canfield, I soon had my own subscription, and it was the one publication I absorbed from front to back each week. My subscription expired just as I was being paroled, and with no one now picking up the cost, I did not renew it, especially since discovering: What a rich and varied website! The first thing I discovered was the weekly 15 minute podcast in the upper lefthand corner, dissecting the political issues of the past week. Then the cartoons, and even some animated versions of New Yorker cartoons. Then, most of the articles from each week's issues, and a huge archive of articles from past issues. You have to be a subscriber to access a few of the articles, but most are offered on the website free of charge. And then there are all the blogs from the top-notch New Yorker writers and reporters...something not available in the magazine itself.

I'm always finding things I wasn't looking for. Like this amazing panoramic photograph of Beijing, which was featured on one of the blogs without any fanfare or announcement.
Check it out, play with the controls at the bottom. And wouldn't you like to see the same thing done with New York, London, Paris?

If you click on the center window it will disappear so you can see the photo fully. Also, if you just watch and wait, it will spin around a full 360 degrees.

It may or may not happen for you, but I find that I feel smarter regularly reading what this magazine and its website has to offer. And not just in the sense of being more intelligent, but smarter in the sense of that old term, "the smart set," meaning the "in" crowd, those in the know, on the leading edge of what's going on in the culture, in the arts, in politics. The only thing missing on the website is the ads, and these too can take you into a whole other world.

Perusing one issue of The New Yorker, I found ads for custom moccasins, Ansel Adams art portfolios, adventure trips to Galapagos with licensed naturalists, uniquely designed jewelry, grandfather clocks, Vermont maple syrup, a sampler of 15 varieties of Maine potatoes, a cashmere watchcap (just $110...quite a bargain for The New Yorker readers), and a video called Kitty Safari that promises cats will love watching its birds, mice, squirrels and other prey (I suppose pacifists and animal rights groups might object to this). In other words, many items you won't find at Target or Walmart. And it doesn't matter that I've never ordered anything from the dozens of ads in each issue, just knowing that stuff is out there gives me a greater sense of the richness of the outside world.


Friday, October 23, 2009


On a pretty regular basis, I come upon new and fascinating websites, some of which open whole new worlds of discovery, some of which are just entertaining, visually appealing, at their highest level of interest and entertainment in those first few moments of discovery.

One of the latter was stumbled upon when I did my monthly Google Search on my name, and came up with:
That one "e" missing from the name brought up a whole new site, and check it out mainly for the 3D visual animation, which is something I'd like to find out more about and eventually use on one of my own sites in some other form. The most pleasure I got from this one was in the finding it and seeing it for the first time. This reminds me of an experience I had in church (and in citing these two examples, I am not trying to make any veiled reference to the ephemeral quality of religion) when making eye contact with an absolutely stunning young woman. She gave me a big smile and nod of recognition so that I would have thought I knew her, but she is not someone you would ever forget once catching even a glimpse. In the hospitality period following the service, she came over to me and introduced herself and we started talking. And disillusion immediately set in. She had an annoying voice and as we were talking, the term, "as dumb as a tree stump" came to mind. But that does not negate those first moments of eye contact and flirtation. And by the way, the message was given on Sunday by Wes Nisker, a fascinating guy who talks about science and spirituality and you should listen to one of his talks (he's also quite funny) at:

And finally, in another serendipitous discovery, I did something I rarely do, watched the Jay Leno interview (I usually just catch his monologue)--It was an interview I wouldn't have thought I would enjoy, with Rainn Wilson, a co-star of The Office. I've never been a big fan of the show, which I admit is well-written and performed, it just isn't my style of comedy. But Rainn is quite interesting and his parents, as he described them, even more so. They were sort of hippies in the 1970s, all living on a houseboat in Seattle. He was exposed to all sorts of spiritual adventures and lifestyles of the unconventional. And he has started a pretty amazing website:

This one can entice you in for hours of curious and fun exploration with its many videos.

While there are some pitfalls to the sheer amounts of material available online, one thing it should have abolished completely is boredom. How can anyone be bored at any age with so much stuff to discover, learn about and learn from, and play with. And I find that, for my own creative health and sanity, I have to do some budgeting of my Internet activity. So many hours spent learning how to do business online and improve and eventually monetize my blogs, so many hours writing the blogs and researching and writing my upcoming books, so many hours checking out sites that offer new and unusual and fun things to watch and listen to, and so many hours trying to find and reconnect with old friends and old fans--to let them know I am back in the world and would like to reunite in some mutually positive way.

Happy Surfing,

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


So the inspiration from this comes from Rev. Sonya Milton, the minister of the Unity San Francisco church. Sonya likes to present lessons based on stories and one of the most intriguing and thought provoking ones was her choice this past Sunday. It started out as a simple little tale about a poor man and a scrawny cow, but when you check out the following link, and scroll down to the tale of The Unexpected Guest, you will see it has much great significance, provides much food for thought, and gives each of us a way of examining our own lives to see what might be holding us back from our true potential.

The rest of this won't make much sense if you haven't read the story. But what it is about, and remember the Kabbalah is a mystical tradition which always involves hidden meanings, seems to be to me the fact that we all hold onto things that keep us from having more in our lives. Over many years, I've written about many of these attachments and the importance of letting go of them. Old beliefs, jobs that are not terrible but do keep us from soaring higher, friendships that do not nurture or enrich us, relationships that have some good qualities but do not allow us to come into our own as totally fulfilled human beings. We all have our scrawny cows we are willing to hang onto indefinitely.

In Moneylove and in many seminars over the years, I've used the analogy of the trapeze artist, who in order to grab onto the new trapeze bar must get go of the old bar--holding on just doesn't work. I think a useful exercise is to ponder what scrawny cow or old trapeze bar you are tightly holding, that one thing that would toss you into your own prosperous and majestic future once you let go of it. Life is always about letting go, making room for the future. As my old friend and mentor, Ray Bradbury puts it so eloquently:

"Jump off cliffs and build your wings on the way down."


Saturday, October 3, 2009


I am often aware that perhaps the greatest treasure I possess is a small and faithful band of true friends. This is not a new realization. After all, over thirty years ago, I wrote a book, FRIENDS--The Power And Potential Of The Company You Keep. On the jacket of that book, I had these lists:

Some friends:
make you feel good
bring out the best in you
give you a fresh viewpoint
challenge and stimulate you
make you feel alive and energetic
respect and appreciate you

Other friends:
make you think less of yourself
drag you down
manipulate you to their advantage
never level with you

One of the reasons I survived and triumphed over twelve years of incarceration was that I had the love and support of several very special friends. And most of these are mentioned in the acknowledgements for FRIENDS. Five women, in particular, were mainstays of the nurturing energy I got from the outside world while inside those prison walls. One of these, Susannah Lippman, I dedicated that book to. The others,
Rupa Cousins, Rachel Harris, Mary Ann Somervill, and Julie Coopersmith, are all also still very important aspects of my personal friendship wealth. I'm taking a moment here to smile as I pat myself on the back for my exquisite good taste in choosing friends.

In a world where someone can have 300,000 "followers" but not a single real and true friend, the company you keep is significant. In prison, you rarely have the choice of the company you keep. Of necessity, your standards have to be lowered a bit, so when they deliver a new "cellie" who is going to share your 10 x 6 foot living, eating, sleeping, bathroom space, you exult in the fact he is not noticeably psychotic and doesn't have running open sores.

A few friends, of course, dropped by the wayside during my time in prison. Some people just aren't equipped to support someone who has fallen into the quagmire of our justice system, saying basically, "Whoa, I didn't sign up for this when I agreed to be your friend!" There is a popular stereotype or myth in prison that most friends on the outside last at most two to three years before they weary of the one-way nature of the relationship. And I found this to sometimes be the truth of the matter. So the friendships that persist and even grow over a much longer period, despite the fact that the prisoner is not in a position to fully reciprocate, are even more amazing.

I thought about friendship in terms of the late Michael Jackson, much in the news since his passing. The saddest aspect of his life, despite his fame and millions, was that there was not one single person who stood out as a true, enduring friend--someone who was always there for him. A friend of mine was hired by Michael some years ago to be a consultant for him on how to emotionally deal with his great wealth. She was invited to join a two week cruise in the Caribbean on a luxury yacht, the only other passengers being Michael Jackson and Diana Ross, one of his few close friends in the entertainment industry. After one week, Diana Ross left, not being able to take it anymore. My friend stayed, and said the most poignant part of the experience was how very alone this famed, immensely rich young man was--and this was before he experienced his major negative publicity and loss of stature in the world.

So the next time you want to ponder your assets, or count your blessings, just sit down and make a list of the friends you have.