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  June 4, 2010
Happiness in Hard Times

 
About this time of year, several decades ago, I graduated from high school in a small suburban town just south of San Francisco.  San Bruno was made up of mostly working class families and consequently there was barely enough money to keep families fed and clothed.  Vacations for the Kalb family were mostly camping trips in the local mountains or spending a brief weekend up along the Russian River just north of the City, so it’s not surprising that by the time I had graduated, I had never left the state of California.   
 
For a graduation gift, my parents presented me with a plane ticket to visit my grandparents back in New Jersey, whom I had only seen once before in my life when they came to California to visit when I was about 7 years old.  A few days after graduation, I was transported to the east coast where I spent the next three weeks with my grandparents, my aunt and uncle, and my three cousins.
 
As a part of my adventure, I decided one day to take a bus from New Jersey to visit New York City.  Now, I had spent a great deal of time in one of the most picturesque cities in the world (San Francisco) but it paled in comparison to the "Big Apple".  I remember walking everywhere that day, visiting the Empire State Building, Central Park, and Times Square. 

Before I headed back to the Port Authority (NYC’s central bus station), I stopped by a local book store to select a book for the seemingly long ride back.
 
The book I selected that day was written by a Washington insider named James C. Humes, who was, among other things, a speech writer for 5 different Presidents.  The book was a collection of funny stories, anecdotes,  and ideas of how to behave like a Washington insider, called "How to Be a Very Important Person" (it’s out of print today and somewhat dated...but if you can find a copy, it’s a very interesting book). 
 
In one section of the book there was a chapter entitled "How to meet and rub elbows with famous authors".  Mr. Humes went on to describe how most famous entertainers such as movie actors, TV personalities and rock stars were generally unapproachable but well-known authors were seldom recognized on the street and were generally very open to personally returning correspondence. In fact, many well-known authors are constantly on the road promoting their books and might actually enjoy having dinner or a cup of coffee with an admiring fan.
 
So now jump forward in time about 20 years.  I’m at a small bookstore in Hong Kong looking for a book to read on my long journey back to Los Angeles (I know...old habits are hard to break) when I come across what appears to be a fun looking book.  As I leaf through it a bit and peruse some of the contents, I really start to enjoy what I am reading so I purchase a copy of "Follow Your Heart" by Andrew Matthews.
 
On the way back to LAX, I find that I am unable to put the book down and read it cover to cover in a few hours time.  The author was able to summarize most of my own philosophies about a positive mental attitude, taking responsibility for your own life, and creating a world around you where you no longer are a victim of your surroundings and background but rather a happy, positive, caring person.  It was at that point where I decided to actually take some of Mr. Humes’ advice and write to Andrew Matthews.
 
Thanks to the Internet and e-mail, I discovered that Andrew lived in Australia and that he had his own publishing company, Seashell Publishing.  I also found out that he had written several other books as well and was quite well known in most places in the world (other than the United States...where the giant publishing corporations rule the roost and where lesser known authors need to basically sign their lives away in order to be published and promoted).  Andrew’s books have sold in excess of 5 million copies world-wide and translated into 35 different languages.  He continues to speak to thousands of people each year promoting his concepts about life, work, prosperity and family.
 
I wrote Andrew an e-mail telling him how much I enjoyed his book and that I’d like to purchase some additional copies for some of my friends.  To my surprise, I had a personal response back from him within 24 hours!  He was excited that I had written to him and extremely pleased that I had enjoyed the book so much. He would be happy to get me some more copies for my friends and even offered to autograph a few copies.  He asked me several questions about myself and what I particularly liked about the book.  We continued to correspond every few months on a variety of topics.
 
In 2003, I had the opportunity to actually travel to Australia and wrote to Andrew to see if he and his wife Julie were available to have dinner with me and my girlfriend Susan. To my surprise, the Matthews’ accepted our dinner invitation and we spent the entire evening laughing out loud and enjoying each other’s company.  A newfound friendship with two incredible people was begun through the help of two random book purchases.
 
In the years since, Andrew and Julie have had the opportunity to travel to San Diego to visit Susan and me and I’ve had the opportunity to travel back to Australia for Andrew’s 50th birthday gala last year, making new friends some very interesting and talented people in the process.
 
Most recently, Andrew has embarked on a new book project which is perfectly timed for the turmoil in today’s world.  The new book is entitled "Happiness in Hard Times".  In the book, there is a collection of stories from individuals who overcame great adversity to find happiness and success.  It’s a must read for anyone (whether you’re already happy or just need a little inspiration) 
 
Unfortunately, the book won’t be available here in the U.S. until August (after which time it’ll be available exclusively on Amazon).  However I have a fantastic offer for the regular readers of the OptiFuse blog...
 
Please send me an e-mail with your name and address and I’ll send the first 20 respondents a FREE signed copy...I’ll even pay the postage (well...to those readers in the U.S...if you happen to be one of the many readers who live in another country, then I’ll need to ask you for postage or provide me with your UPS/FedEx account number). 
 
Happiness in Hard Times
 

That’s it...nothing to buy...no contest...no quid pro quo
 
This is just our way to say thank you to the extended members the OptiFuse family...
 
May all of your days (and nights) be filled with joy and happiness...

Thank you very much for continued support of OptiFuse where we hope that hard times never find you...


Jim Kalb
President
OptiFuse
jimk@optifuse.com

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