Change The Way You See Yourself

May 28, 2008

As part of the Idea Sandbox’s Post2Post Virtual book tour, I got the pleasure of reading the book “Change the Way You See Yourself” by Kathy Cramer and Hank Wasiak. I also got the opportunity to ask Hank Wasiak some questions.

I would like to thank Hank Wasiak for being a part of this and for sharing his insights.

I didn’t want to expand on the book and not just reiterate the book’s points, because you should really read the book yourself). So, without further ado, I’ll just jump straight to the conversation.

Derrick: Could you share with us your personal story? How did you get started on the ABT journey, and what got you inspired to write the book?

Hank: Sure. After a long career in the advertising business I was a pretty well established deficit based thinker. Solving problems, dealing with roadblocks in the marketplace and clients, nay-sayers and creative critics were everyday fare. So I spent most of my time on the DBT side by default. Then, about 8 years ago, while I was Vice Chairman of McCann Erickson, I traveled the World working with our global clients and our local agencies. Over 55 countries that I can remember.

An interesting pattern took shape. The most energetic and motivated creative people and some of the most innovative and creative work was being done in emerging markets and Central and Eastern Europe. And here’s why. It was all new and exciting to them, they were eager to learn, trying new things, grateful for every marketing dollar they had to spend and the NIH syndrome didn’t exist. Then about that time I also became a Reiki Master. I just felt there had to be a better way to do business and live my life. Then I met Kathy Cramer who introduced me to ABT and it all clicked. I began putting ABT into practice in my life and in our business at The Concept Farm. Kathy and I both realized that now was the time to take it out to the world in a new and creative format…and here we are on our second book.

Derrick: “The Secret” is something that has been getting really widespread recently. Do you have any thoughts on it – how do the ideas in The Secret compare to ABT principles?

Hank: The “Secret” certainly has benefited from substantial PR and media exposure. I’m not fully versed in all of what it espouses so it’s probably best that I don’t comment on it in any detail. That said, here’s what is relevant about Asset Based Thinking. As it’s brought to life in our books we provide the reader with a simple, powerful and purposeful way to see and live everyday life. It’s a very real and concrete process and practice that is based on over two decades of research and practice by Dr. Kathryn Cramer and The Cramer Institute. ABT is a choice that we make. It teaches us who to look at ourselves and the world around us through the lens of what’s working and possible so we can make the most of every situation.

Everyday we’re bombarded with news, much of it negative and it’s easy to become preoccupied with problems and focus on what’s wrong and missing in our life. So easy, in fact, it’s almost a natural response. This kind of Deficit-Based Thinking (DBT) can, over time, drain the life out of anyone. Now imagine if you focused on what’s right in this world instead, harnessed your strengths rather than letting weaknesses debilitate you, and highlighted opportunities rather than problems? These small shifts can make seismic differences in your life.

Derrick: Do you think the digital hyper-connectedness of today’s world (with the Internet and all) has an effect on ABT? Does it make it more important? Does it make it any easier to live an ABT life? For example, part of ABT is taking a stand and showing up, I think that in today’s world where we can all create blogs and have our say easily, it becomes a lot easier to establish our beliefs and take a stand. How else do you think the Internet has made a difference?

Hank: You’ve hit on a very important point. The internet is very relevant to this book in two important ways.

1.The Tiltle/Subject Matter: Never before has the power of the individual to stand out and make a difference been greater and or more exciting. That’s why Time Magazine named YOU as their Person of The Year in 2006. Asset Based Thinking, as brought to life in “Change The Way You See Yourself”, is tailored made for the internet/digitally empowered world. You are now able to access information, resources and people to help discover and nurture “Your Mighty Cause”, expand your Circles of Influence and create your Signature Impact. All of this made possible by the internet for people of all ages. The perfect vehicle to help build a positive ABT conspiracy.

2. Creating The Book: Leveraging the digital world and breaking the mold is something that Kathy and I had in mind from the very beginning. We used digital technology in the design of the book to deliver an incredibly powerful, engaging and emotionally rewarding reading experience. The enabling power of the internet and digital technology freed us up to create this book in such a way that  would not have been possible just 10 years ago.

We are big, big fans of what is happening and possible “ on line” and how it can influence our collective ability to change our personal lives and the world for the better and have a real tangible impact.

Derrick: You mentioned that you’re working on a book focused on teens. Would the ABT journey be different for teens? If so, how?

Hank:Interestingly enough it will not be that much different in terms of content, visual style and design. Kids, and especially teens, “get” ABT right away when it’s explained to them. So, they will take the same journey we adults do.

There is however, one very cool element in this book that makes it very special. Teens have been involved in helping create the book from the very beginning. The design concept for the book is “Teens Call the Shots”. Kathy held ABT workshops with teens in which we learned their ideas and thoughts about ABT. Then we gave kids digital cameras and asked them to take photographs and interpret the ABT concepts and practices in their photographs. The teens are amazing. More than 80% of the pictures in the book will be from the teens themselves. Wait ‘till you see it!

Derrick: Finally, if you could sum up your message in one or two sentences, what would it be?

Hank: You know that classic question Is the glass half full or half empty? Well, it’s the wrong question. Instead, ask yourself…”What’s in the Water?” That’s where the assets are. Make the most of what’s in the water and watch your glass fill to the brim.

Derrick: Is there anything else you want to share with our readers?

Hank: Just that we are very appreciative of all the support we have received for our first book and the initial reaction to “Change The Way You See Yourself” is very very satisfying. We love being part of the blogging community and are eager to help and contribute in any way we can. Kathy and I will be launching our own blogs on the ABT website next week and hope that you all will join us. ( )

Welcome to the positive ABT conspiracy.

Derrick: Thanks again, for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. Really appreciate it.

Be sure to check out the book, Change the Way You See Yourself, and check out the rest of the tour at two of my favorite blogs – the Personal Branding Blog tomorrow and Make it Great on Friday.

Don’t Lie

Mar 17, 2008

Undercover Black Man criticized (actually, ‘criticized’ is an understatement) Margaret Seltzer for her book “Love and Consequences”.

Using the pseudonym “Margaret B. Jones”, she wrote that she was half-white, half-native American, and raised by a black foster mom. She wrote what was supposedly a personal story about how she used to be involved in gangs and drugs until she turned her life around.

The book got good reviews from the press and critics, until it was discovered that the whole story was fiction. And that’s where Undercover Black Man (among others, I’m sure) picked it up and lambasted her for lying.

The thing is, she could have avoided all this by stating up front that it was a fiction book. Maybe she thought it wouldn’t have had as powerful effect. But there’s nothing wrong with a powerful, moving, fictional story.

By passing it off as a true personal memoir, she lied. And it’s cost her. Her book has been recalled, and no doubt her reputation (as well as the publisher’s) has been shot.

The whole fiasco just goes to show how important honesty and authenticity is. Edgar J. Mohn once said “A lie has speed, but truth has endurance.” In today’s world, that’s even more true, I think.

With the connectivity of the internet, you can’t hide anything forever. Sooner or later (most of the time, sooner), you’ll be found out. And with the power of the internet, where everyone’s voice is amplified, that lie can cause you more damage than ever.