Tuesday, December 9, 2014

“Make it up,” she said, “dramatic stuff sells!” - Ugly advice from a former best friend

#books #story #stories #happinessn#liar #tribes 


The phone rang.

“Hi, this is Susan Hart*, a woman said, “I hope you remember me. We met at your book reading.” She described herself and I immediately remembered the pretty brunette.  “I did not buy your book at the event,” she continued, “but you gave me your card. Yesterday night I looked up the sample of your book and began reading, and, oh my God, your book is so moving, you even had me crying by the third story.”

OUCH… what happened?... My book is not a sad book, quite the opposite; it is a motivational book…  

“The story about your brother…” Susan continued, appearing to choke up a little bit, “I had to laugh so hard when I read how you defended him when you were children… and, I cried when he died because my brother died - too.” Then, words just bubbled out of her, “I loved it when you beat up that big bully to save your brother because that’s exactly what I had to do for my brother… on more than one occasion.” She paused briefly, “I am just calling because I bought your book at Barnes and Noble and I wanted to know if you have another event where I can get it signed. This means a lot to me. Your story is like my story.”

Naturally, I was floored. Susan wasn’t sad, she was happy; reading my story had allowed her to relive her own story with her own brother.

This wasn’t the first time that this happened. On another occasion, a bookstore owner, who had bought my book, had called me just to say, how important it was to her to read how I learned to overcome my depression after my husband’s untimely death. It’s not a big story, it’s only a few paragraphs long, yet it helped her. Her mother had died recently. A lady named Robin had emailed me how empowering my “chainsaw-story” was; like my husband hers too thought that she should not use a chainsaw. Therefore, she was pleased to read my similar experiences; she thought that it was exciting to know another woman’s feelings about using power tools.

Like every author I like to tell these stories because they are beautiful. Unfortunately, there are also ugly stories. Here is one I have never told.

A few decades ago, still living in Austria, I had one best friend, who eventually became an author. By the time that happened, I had left Austria and moved to the United States, and also, we weren’t best friends anymore. Our friendship had broken apart relatively abruptly. Her mother, jealous of our close friendship, had spread lies about me; the daughter had believed her mother even though what she claimed made really no sense.   

The decades passed and suddenly, there we were, meeting again on a social media platform. In the meantime my former friend’s relationship with her mother had suffered from other things the mother had done. She apologized for being “so silly” decades ago. I welcomed her with open arms. Our old friendship began anew as if nothing ever happened. Regularly we chatted on skype and life seemed good until I was about to publish my book “Naked Determination”. Since she had penned a few books, I sent her a few stories. I thought we would have an interesting discussion.

“Gisela,” she came back, “You need to write more about your husband’s death. You need drama.” I had only written that he died falling from a balcony in the middle of the night.

“There isn’t any more to say,” I replied, “I wasn’t there, there were no witnesses, and nobody knew anything.” Her demanding tone irritated me but still friendly I continued. “Remember, this happened in Austria while I was in Florida. I was more than 5,000 miles away. “

“Doesn’t matter,” she said, “You need something scandalous, that’s what people want. If you don’t know anything, take what you have and build on it. Create emotional drama; that’s what sells.”

I could hardly believe what I heard.

“Are you kidding? Why would I invent something about my own or my late husband’s life? I loved him. Plus, may I remind you that we have two children? Do you really think I am going to invent some story and my children have to live with this lie?”

“Let ‘em deal with it,” she spoke with conviction, “they are adults. You need to write a dramatic story, so your book will sell. Believe me; I am giving you the best advice. I work in the industry. Nobody cares about your childhood stories, your job and travel stories, and all other stories; you need big emotional drama.”

I was so in shock that I hung up. “What a heartless, mean creature!” She also did not call back.

My first thought was that she had gone crazy, but then I was wondering.  Was she right? What kind of stories do people want to read?

Eventually I stumbled over C.S. Lewis’ quote.  
C.S. Lewis said, “We read to know we are not alone.”

I think he was right. Susan Hart called me to tell me that she shared a bond with me because she too had beaten up bullies to defend her brother, who like my brother died too soon. She was happy that she could relive her memories reading my story, even if it involved shedding a few tears.  The bookstore owner had called to tell me that she was happy to read how I learned to overcome my depression, and, how she needed to read that. And, Robin was excited to know that other women too liked to work with a chainsaw.

In his TED-Talk American thought leader Seth Godin explained that people like to form “tribes”, to be with other people, who share their own ideas and values.

Readers care a lot about their childhood stories, their job stories and all their other stories; they want to belong to the tribe, who has common stories.

It is amazing how many of us have even unusual stories in common. In his review, Amazon top book reviewer Dennis Littrell wrote, “…Finally I was amused by Hausmann's story about "the Casablanca Principle" in which she assuages herself as she breaks up with a boyfriend by using this famous line from the Humphrey Bogart-Ingrid Bergman film: "We'll always have Paris." The idea of emphasizing the good times together is typical of Hausmann's attitude toward life. I was amused because after I broke up with a girlfriend with whom I had travelled a bit in the U.S., she liked to say with a smile, recalling the Bogart line, “We’ll always have Colby, Kansas" (where we stayed one night)….”

Needless to say, I never imagined that somebody shared my “Casablanca Principle” story, but Dennis Littrell does (and who knows how many others).

As for my former friend… She turned out to be like her mother, who was a liar too. The apple did not fall far from the tree. Her tribe must be the tribe of liars.

And my book? It won Gold at the International Readers Favorite Awards 2014. While it may never become a #1 Amazon bestseller it makes readers happy.  

~*~

Gisela Hausmann is the author of fifteen books including multi award winning ‘NakedDetermination, 41 Stories About Overcoming Fear’. She lives with her two cats Artemis and Yin-Yang in Greenville, SC.

* Names have been changed to protect others' privacy.

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Thrill of Finding Much More Than We Expected...

So very often we get disappointed when we believe in others. As we go through life we find out that many, who pretend to be lions (on facebook or elsewhere) are really  just playful kittens, who don't care about much else other than their own fun.

As a motivational author (a multi award-winning, good one) I always believe that the best will be brought out in people - sooner or later. 

Then again, too often we invest and give, only to find out that the recipients of our efforts take our support for granted. Others stay stagnant, never moving on to bigger or better goals even though we believe they could achieve more. 

However, on rare occasions we notice people or organizations that keep growing and getting better every day. We treasure these experiences, which reassure our beliefs in humanity and a forward thinking society. Indeed, I had such an experience during my recent visit in Miami and I would love to share it with everybody. 

When in 2011/12 I penned my motivational book 'Naked Determination, 41 Stories About Overcoming Fear' I included a story about the fear of natural disasters or events we cannot control. I experienced this type of fear in 1998 when Tropical Storm Mitch cut a disastrous path through my backyard. This relatively small tropical storm created more damage in Key Largo, FL than any other hurricane that had passed by in recent years. Not even mighty hurricane Andrew's outer bands had caused that much damage.

After the storm passed Red Cross volunteers showed up to bring food and offer help. The impact of their actions felt huge. It is an amazing experience to find out that people who we do not know care about us! This positive feeling makes up for so many prior disappointments because we feel that we received help when it mattered. I never forgot it and I will never forget. 

A decade later, when I penned my book I decided  to donate 5% of my book's earnings to this great organization. Not only did I want to tell the story, I wanted to give back, so more people could be helped. In the months that followed I occasionally communicated with the Red Cross via phone or email, and I sent them checks. 

Then, last September, an amazing thing happened; my book 'Naked Determination' won 1st Place; Gold, at the Readers' Favorite Awards 2014 (Non-Fiction - Motivational). The award ceremony would take place in Miami, FL. Even better, the Red Cross' office was only ten minutes from the hotel where authors stayed and all events took place. Clearly it was fate. This was my opportunity to meet my heroes in person. 

Indeed, on November 22 I met with Alfred Sanchez, Executive Director of  The American Red Cross of Greater Miami & the Keys. Again I learned about amazing massive action and effort. In this day and age too many people think, that just "liking" something on social media, creates a positive result.

The Red Cross is NOT resting on their laurels. This great organization that has received the most Nobel prizes in history (Henry Dunant received the First Nobel Peace Prize 1901 and The International Red Cross received Nobel Peace Prizes 1917, 1944, and 1963) is moving forward every day. 

While South Florida got a breather (no major hurricane has struck in a last few years) the Red Cross focuses on a new campaign against, what at first glance, appears to be a nuisance enemy and a lot less scary than hurricanes or wars - house fires. 

However, every day house fires kill 7 people and injure 36; additionally, in the United States house fires cause $7 billion of damage per year. The Red Cross aims to reduce deaths and injuries caused by home fires by 25% in five years, with its Home Fire Preparedness Campaign.

For this campaign S-FL Red Cross volunteers canvass their neighborhoods to inspect fire alarms, change batteries, and even provide new fire alarms. The Red Cross is making their communities safer, house by house.  



Alfred Sanchez and Gisela Hausmann

Just because there are no hurricanes or other natural disasters in South Florida the Red Cross is not sitting on their hands, they work to prevent future catastrophes.

Additionally they manifest themselves as an organization that not only saves lives, but also strengthens communities. The Red Cross' volunteers are ambassadors who spread the contagious feeling that communities matter. 

When I decided to tell my story ("A Warm Meal..") I never guessed that the Red Cross could and would impress me even more. Like many people over the age of forty I occasionally wondered whether communities hadn't been tighter before the days of smart phones and social media. Meeting Alfred Sanchez and his dedicated team showed me how an 151 year organization not only stays relevant but becomes a player in influencing the future. I am in awe. Thank you, Alfred. 

The American Red Cross
  • provides disaster relief
  • supports America’s Military Families
  • is the largest single supplier of blood and blood products in the U.S.
  • provides Health and Safety Services
  • and its International Services are part of the world’s largest humanitarian network, 13 million volunteers in 187 countries reach an average of more than 100 million people across the globe
It is an amazing experience to find out that people who we do not know care about us!

If you want to learn more 

~*~

Gisela Hausmann is the author of 15 books, including multi award-winning 'Naked Determination, 41 Stories About Overcoming Fear'. Born in Vienna Austria, she graduated with a masters degree in Arts of Film and Mass Media from the University of Vienna.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Is it really a good idea to keep 'producing content... content... content'?


#blogs, #new, #content, #excitement 


These days we hear much too often, "Produce content, content, content...", "Blog often...". "Share content on social media - often", and that is what most people do. Inevitably, many blogs sound similar. All of us will read blogs and wonder, "Didn't I read something similar last week?"

If we catch the same blog author repeatedly blogging similar content as the next blogger, we begin to believe that one of them may have read another blogger's findings. After 'getting inspired' the blogger could have blogged his/her own wisdom, which may be very similar to the original blogger's findings. That's when we start ignoring a blogger, who we feel does not add anything new to the topic. 

Additionally, if a business owner blogs too much, we have to wonder, how  s/he finds the time to write these blogs. Does this person have a ghost writer? Whose ideas are we reading?  Lastly, in the days of e-publishing anybody can publish an ebook. Why would anybody spread his or her best knowledge for free, non stop? 

Printing money causes inflation. Sharing too much content devalues words or minimizes their effect.

When, on June 6, the CIA posted its first 'official' tweet 300K people shared it. Even the CIA's thank-you-tweet was retweeted by 15K. In the month of September the CIA tweeted about once per day and about 300 people retweeted each tweet. 

People seek the rare and special. We get excited about new ideas and concepts we have not heard yet. 
~*~

Gisela Hausmann is an award-winning author of inspirational story books including "Blogs are Like Chewing Gum - There's Got to Be Something to Chew on" She graduated with a masters degree in Arts of Mass Media from the University of Vienna, Austria.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What would Robin Williams say, if he could have 10 seconds on air, right now?


You miss him, I miss him, the world misses him, his friends, and most importantly, his family misses him, more than any of us can imagine. 

Robin Williams was sooo funny! My late husband was so funny too. I remember seeing with my own eyes, when at a get-together two people fell off their chairs, while laughing about my late husband's jokes.

Robin Williams was outspoken. He packaged important messages into funny words. 

Depression is a terrible condition.  It makes people want to be quiet, not talk, not move, not do anything. 

I have had depression, after my husband's death, though it was not clinical depression.

Many people around us are a little bit depressed. Many people are lonely, including some of our friends. 

Here is what helps: Never ask "What happened?" Talk about something in the future, something good, that will be coming... There always will be something. Friends can help people with light depression by helping them to believe. To overcome light depression people have to focus on good things coming. They have to gain a positive outlook. If that does not happen, many light depressions can add up to big depression.

I believe if Robin Williams could come back for 10 seconds, he would say: "Call that friend you haven’t heard from in weeks, or even months… Take him out, talk about something in the future... If the friend does not want to go out, say 'You don't have to dress up, we are just going to a burger joint'..."

It is not about big action, it's about calling and sharing a moment in time, focus on a future, which becomes an option again because of your call.

 ~*~

Gisela Hausmann is an award-winning author of inspirational story books. She graduated with a masters degree in Arts of Mass Media from the University of Vienna, Austria.
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Friday, July 18, 2014

The easiest Path to Success = Reducing Opportunities to Fail

#success, #determination,

'A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step'. Lao Tzu

While that is true, most of us find that “keep walking the path” is a lot harder than “starting the journey”. Trying to lose weight is an excellent example. It is a goal millions of people aim for. Everybody, who goes to a gym, knows that January 5th is the busiest day of the year at gyms nationwide.. Only a month later everything is as it always was. What happened to the New Year’s resolutions? Why did so many people give up? I think it is because they are making things too difficult for themselves. 

One of my friends took a different approach. Akila is one of my Egyptian friends in Vienna, Austria. We spent a lot of time together in the Eighties. 

“Wow”, I noticed one day, “You look great! How much weight did you lose?” 

“23 lbs in the last six weeks!” Akila announced proudly. 

“How did you do that so quickly… Which diet did you do?” 

“Oh, diets are too complicated for me,” Akila said, “all I did was to cut the appetizers, and I now walk the stairs to our apartment instead of taking the elevator.” 

To understand how perfect this concept was, one has to know a bit about Akila’s lifestyle. Her Egyptian family was very social. Every other weekend they had some kind of get-together or attended one of their friends’ parties. As customary in their home country, tables were always loaded with tasty appetizers, to be followed by an excellent dinner. 

Akila decided to simply pass on the appetizers. That allowed her to still have dinner with her friends and not appear anti-social. Honoring her home country’s culture at the time, Akila did not join a gym, where most members dressed like Jamie Lee Curtis and John Travolta in the movie “Perfect” (1985). She also substituted the Stairmaster by walking real stairs a few times per day. 

Akila’s success came from the decision to create her own two simple rules, which she could follow easily. Had Akila decided to skip the great parties she might have felt isolated. Had she decided to enroll into a gym, she (or her parents) might have felt uncomfortable. Both of these feelings deter all of us from following through, even if we do take the first step

Achieving solid and continuing success is a lot about reducing opportunities to fail.

Tailoring your action plan to your lifestyle:

  • puts YOU in charge of your destiny rather than some program, whose creator knows nothing about you and your lifestyle
  • gives you the opportunity to avoid personal issues, which is a requirement for lasting change

So, if you feel intimidated by men with ripped six-packs don’t buy a membership at a gym, but maybe start rowing, which you can do alone, on a lake. 

If you hate working for a corporate giant, but aren’t sure that you really want to run your own business, don’t overcome the hurdle of actually starting your own business, but hire at a small business, where you’ll have more space (and influence) than in the cubicle at your old workplace. 

Here is an interesting detail, which is not too well known:

Lao-Tzu’s famous quote is not a correct translation. The exact translation is:

"The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one's feet."

The space “beneath your feet” is your space. Lao-Tzu meant to say we have to start our journeys from our turf.
~*~

Gisela Hausmann is an award-winning author of inspirational story books.She graduated with a masters degree in Arts of Mass Media from the University of Vienna, Austria.
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Friday, July 11, 2014

Does nature deserve the same attention as the bodies of supermodels?

#nature, #photographs,#supermodels, #photoshopping



Before I get to the difference in attention toward pictures of nature and pictures of supermodels, I need to show that even the way how we experience taking pictures has changed.

Most interestingly in the "good old days" when a roll of film was expensive we did not care that much about "how perfect the picture was", we wanted to capture the moment. In contrast, today, when all of us can shoot and alter pictures digitally, capturing the "real moment" is not good enough anymore.

It is a distant yet vivid memory for me - the special moments when somebody would take a picture of me in the Seventies. Then, pictures were never taken carelessly; it was too expensive. In 1970, Eastman Kodak, the same company, which today trades at 3 cents per share, was ranked #27 among the Fortune 500.

At least in Europe people took pictures only at special occasions; shooting all 36 pictures available on a roll of film could take months. If pictures weren't perfectly white balanced it didn't matter. The only thing that counted was that a precious keepsake had been created.

Even in the late Eighties taking pictures still had issues, especially for travelers. Film rolls came with ISO ratings of 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1000. The worse light conditions were (e.g. inside a castle or a museum) the higher the ISO rating had to be in order to shoot a fabulous picture. However, not all types of film were available in every country. Therefore travelers had to make best guesses when loading their cameras with a new roll of film.

For instance my picture of a young artist creating an ice sculpture for the International Ice and Snow Festival in Harbin, China, 1987, is shot on ISO 100 film though light conditions would have called for film rated ISO 200. Still, I took the picture anyway and preserved a moment in time, which will never come back.

Today, cellphones with built-in cameras, memory cards, and Photoshop have changed all of that. Capturing a moment is not special anymore. All difficulties are gone. I bet even in Harbin China, memory cards are being sold in every corner store. Additionally, if I wanted to, I could create the sun in the upper left corner of this picture, thereby altering history.

This has become our way of life. Every day, we get to see altered pictures on websites and in our social media feeds. 

As our rivers, lakes, and oceans get dirtier, we see more depictions of gorgeous blue waters, even though these waters may have never been that blue, not even in the Seventies. And, though in real life we might see a perfectly blue sky only five to ten times per year, most nature pictures show what used to be called a "perfect picture day". I think this term is no longer being used, photoshopping has made it obsolete.

While our Facebook, Twitter, and especially Pinterest feeds show beautiful luscious green trees, in reality deforestation, droughts, heat waves, and climate change in general kill and threaten trees worldwide, including many that have outlived generations of people. Rarely ever do we get to see these authentic pictures in our various social  media feeds.

The process of altering pictures creates a dangerous side effect - the impression that "somewhere else" everything is ok even though we might know that the woods in our neighborhood are dying.

Sadly, while many organizations fight against altering the pictures of super-models demanding that models are being shown the way they really look like, there is no such movement defending nature. Isn't nature our super-environment?

I treasure my childhood pictures because I own only 69 photographs of myself between the ages 2 and 12. Will future generations have to treasure pictures of "real" natural environments the same way?

If you want to take a stand for nature please post unaltered pictures at your social media platforms, state where they were taken, and write "We need to keep these woods, lakes, rivers this beautiful", then SHARE!
~*~

Award-winning Gisela Hausmann is the author of 15 books. Born in Vienna Austria, she graduated with a masters degree in Arts of Film and Mass Media from the renown University of Vienna.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Why would anybody read Joe Schmo's autobiography? (You'll be surprised)

#autobiography, #story, #stories, #inspiration, #motivation, #empowerment

Joe Schmo
Main Entry:     Joe Schmo
Part of Speech: n
Definition:     the hypothetical average or ordinary person
Usage:          slang; pl. Schmoes



There was a time when autobiographies were penned only by the rich, the famous, and the beautiful. During my teenage years and early twenties I read lots of these stories, especially in the subcategory 'famous adventurer'. 


Then, in 1986 my home country Austria experienced the "Waldheim scandal". In his autobiography Kurt Waldheim, a former Secretary of the United Nations and about-to-be-elected Austrian president, had left out a few details about his life between 1938 and 1945, when he, like every able man, had to serve in the German Armed Forces. This led some people to believe that he had been involved in atrocities during WWII.

Finally, a lengthy investigation proved that Waldheim had been an insignificant soldier during WWII, who had not done anything wrong but most likely been a coward hiding behind a desk, including when he wrote his autobiography. Contrary to that, Lance Armstrong's 'It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life' contains a lot of lies. 

Probably most famous people's autobiographies either omit something or contain smaller or even bigger lies. That's because the purpose of such autobiographies is to help shape their authors' legacies. 

Then again, even if all autobiographies of famous people would be 100% true, would e.g. reading Ted Turner's 'Call Me Ted' help you to win the America's Cup, or found a cable TV network, and/or become the second richest landowner in the United States?
 [Naturally, I read 'Call Me Ted' anyway; as an adventurer, mass media expert, and environmentalist I admire Ted Turner.] 
The autobiographies of the rich, the famous, and the beautiful (not to talk about politicians) are meant to entertain while at the same shaping their authors' legacies.

Of course, that's always been the case. Thousands of years old monuments tell the stories of their countries' emperors, the politicians and "stars" of their times. In those days nobody but the rich and the famous could afford penning their autobiography to an obelisk or even a triumphal arc.

However, I bet at the same time, in every village lived at least one old man or woman, who could tell stories of how it was before their village got occupied by foreign forces or about a strange weather pattern, which indicated that horrible storms were coming. Or, how it came about that somebody in this village found a plant, whose extracts could heal a certain disease. And while surely the people enjoyed traveling to Rome and seeing the monuments, probably they found it more important to listen to the stories of this old man or woman. What he or she had to tell could actually truly influence their own lives in a positive way. In fact, when visiting native tribes we always get to hear stories, which have been passed on for generations, because these stories are the ones, which are truly important to the tribe members.

So, here it is: Joe Schmo's autobiography has been read and treasured since the beginning of time because it's purpose was, is, and always will be to help others. Happy Reading! 
~*~

Gisela Hausmann has penned 11 books, including her award-winning life-skills-book-autobiography
Naked Determination, 41 Stories about Overcoming Fear.

Her most read and thought provoking blogs from 2012-2014 have been published in
Blogs are like Chewing Gum, There's Got to be Something to Chew On.

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http://giselahausmann.com/BOOKS.html