Serendestiny - doing what makes you come alive

Chances are you’ve seen this inspiring quote from H. Thurman,  “Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive ; then go do that.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

What makes you come alive?  What puts the light on in  your eyes?

One of the things that does it for me is … writing.

Tennis player Pete Sampras was asked what it was like winning his first U.S. Open.  He said, “No matter what else happens the rest of my life; I’ll always be a U.S. Open champ.”

That’s one of the many  benefits of writing.  It is so TANGIBLY, ENDURINGLY REWARDING.

Many things are fleeting. Quality books are not.

Yes, writing a quality book is a front-loaded project. 

You pour your heart, mind, soul … and plenty of what Bryce Courtenay called “bum glue” …  into writing a quality book.

But it will still be out in the world,  years later, making a positive difference for others and a propserous living for you.

I am just re-experiencing this glorious phenomenon,

We’ve just released a new e-version of Tongue Fu!® … which was first published (ahem) 16 years ago! 

How satisfying it is to know this book is still positively influencing people around the globe.  I’ve welcomed this opportunity to update the content and include examples of cyber-bullying, internet gossip and what to do when someone’s texting at dinner.

What’s this mean for you?  It’s the beginning of a new year.  You have a fresh start opportunity to do what makes you come alive. 

If that is writing, then resolve to put pen to paper or fingers to keys today.  It’s time to get your experience, expertise and epiphanies out of your head and into the world.

I promise. You will never regret writing – you will only regreat not writing when you had the chance.


Why should we jot the thought when it’s hot?

I’ll always be indebted to former National Geographic photographer Dewitt Jones for teaching me why it’s smart to ink it when we think it.

Hall of Fame speaker Dewitt (who lives part-time in Hawaii and can be found online at and I were enjoying a walk/talk along a Maui beach discussing the topic of intuition.

What is intuition? Where does it come from? Why are those intuitive nudges never wrong? How can we capitalize on them?

Dewitt was doing something that puzzled me. We’d go about 100 yards and Dewitt would stop, whip out a little notebook and pen from his pocket and write something down. We’d go another couple hundred yards and Dewitt would stop again and scribble something else down. He kept doing this until I finally asked, “Dewitt, what are you doing?”

He said, “Sam, I used to get ideas and think, ‘That’d be an interesting tidbit for my next column,’ or ‘I’ve got to include that in my keynote tomorrow,’ but then I’d get caught up in other things and forget all about it.

I realized I make my living from my mind and I was throwing away these golden insights that were being gifted to me. I promised myself I’d start writing down ideas the moment they occurred to me so I wouldn’t lose them. Now, it’s become a habit.”

How many times have you gotten an intuitive flash – a whisper of an idea – and then gone about your day and forgotten it?

If there’s anything I’ve learned in twenty years of researching, writing and speaking about the fascinating topic of creativity, it’s that this is how our best thoughts occur. They POP! into our mind. And if we don’t write them down, they’re gone.

From now on, realize that if you want to make your living from your mind, you need to record those flashes of brilliance in a notebook you carry with you everywhere you go so you can explore their potential later.

Carry a digital recorder, call yourself on your cell phone and leave a message, DO SOMETHING to capture those ideas before disappear.

Remember, they don’t call ’em fleeting thoughts for nothing.

You may not know where this idea, thought seed or phrase fits into your work. Just trust that it will.

Our greatest minds, from Einstein to Mozart, have understood and honored the power of the “muse.” As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Learn to watch that gleam of light which flashes across the mind from within.” Bestselling authors know if they’re fortunate enough to be gifted with a revelation, it’s their responsibility to write it down. If they don’t, it’s gone, perhaps never to be recovered.

I call this, “Muse it or lose it.”

When you take the time to record ideas as they occur to you, they will be there waiting for you, days, months, years later when you’re ready for them. You will have captured those gleams of insight and will be in a position to capitalize on them (and set up SerenDestiny in the process.)

As Saul Bellow said, “I never had to change a word of what I got up in the middle of the night to write.” From now on, INK it when you THINK it and MUSE it so you don’t LOSE it.

Sam Horn, America’s Intrigue Expert, and author of POP! Create the Perfect Pitch, Title and Tagline for Anything (Perigee-Penguin), helps individuals and organizations create one-of-a-kind ideas and approaches so they break out instead of blend in.

The 17-time Emcee of the world-renowned Maui Writers Conference, she has helped thousands of people get their ideas out of their head, onto paper and out into the world where they’re making a positive difference for others and a prosperous living for their originators.

“If you wait to write your book, you’re a waiter, not a writer.” – Dan Poynter

As the 17-time Emcee of the Maui-Hawaii Writers Conference, I’ve met many people who say THIS is the year I get my book finished — and then life intervenes, their best intentions fade away and it never happens.

Want to know one way to keep your resolution to finish your book this year?

Craft a book cover and post it on your refrigerator where you’ll see it several times every day.

Put your ideal endorsement from a well-known thought-leader on the upper right hand corner of the cover.

Draw the title of your book in HUGE letters so you can see it from across the room and so it’s branded in your mind and memory.

Put your professional photo on the cover and your name in big block letters at the bottom.

You’ve heard the saying, “Out of sight, out of mind?”

If you don’t post a reminder of your resolution where you will frequently see it; it will soon get lost in your mental clutter.

By putting a visual reminder of your book in a prominent place, you’re keeping it “In sight, In mind.”

Furthermore, displaying a mock cover of your book helps you picture it as a “done deal” instead of it simply being something you hope to do . . . someday.

Many of my consulting clients say this helped them (finally) complete their book.

Try it. It only takes a couple minutes and it could be the difference between you “talking” about becoming an author — and completing a quality book that gets your message out in the world where it makes a positive difference for others and a prosperous living for you.

And if you’d like help holding yourself accountable for completing a strategic, profitable book; attend my POP! Your Book, Business, Brand and Career half-day, public workshop for the Independent Writers of Southern California on Jan. 24 at the Pasadena Convention Center.

Email us at for details about this workshop that can help you get your book out of your head and into people’s hands.

This year, don’t be a waiter; be a published writer.

Have your ideas dried up? Has your creative project come to a screeching halt? Are you staring at your computer and the words won’t come?

You’re in the right place.

I love to write. There are many times when my mind’s on fire and it’s a joy to have my fingers flying on the computer keys, trying to keep up with the flow of thoughts pouring out of my head.

It was a surprise then, when I was working on my book Tongue Fu! for School, and writing became hard work. I was grinding it out because I had to turn my manuscript in to my publisher at the end of the month, but I wasn’t liking what I was producing.

I would re-read what I had written (I know, a fatal error) and would go “Euch.” I knew it didn’t sing, knew it wasn’t “alive,” but I kept slogging it out because I had this deadline to meet.

I was creatively procrastinating one morning (reading the newspaper instead of writing) when I came across a fascinating article in USA Today about David Kelley, Hollywood’s former “Golden Boy.”

The article pointed out that, for a while, writer/director Kelley could do no wrong. He was the first person to receive an Emmy for Best Comedy (Ally McBeal) and Best Drama (The Practice) in the same year. Incredibly, Kelley was writing and directing BOTH shows at the same time – a grueling, almost unimaginable feat.

Then, for some reason, his pilots were getting cancelled and his shows were tanking in the ratings. The reporter’s opinion was that his plots were getting increasingly bizarre and middle-America viewers were having a hard time relating to his unrealistic story lines.

When asked why Kelley seemingly couldn’t do anything right, a TV critic said tongue-in-cheek, “Of course he’s lost his golden touch. He’s married to Michelle Pheiffer, he lives in a $15 million dollar home, and all he does, 24/7, is write, drive to the studio, direct the shows, and drive home. He’s become disconnected.”

A light bulb went off in my head. Here I was trying to write a book about dealing with difficult people in schools – and I wasn’t spending any time in schools. I had lost touch with my audience and writing had become an intellectual exercise. I was trying to think up the book instead of accessing my target audience and asking what THEY thought, what THEY wanted, what THEY encountered.

I got up from my chair and drove over to my sons’ school. That day I interviewed several teachers, the principal, a guidance counselor, and a few of Tom and Andrew’s friends.

Sample questions included, “What do you do when a parent accuses you of not caring for their kid? What do you when teachers complain that they’re not getting paid enough (which is true)? What do you do when a fellow student bullies you?”

By the end of that day, my mind was filled with the angst, frustration, mini victories and mixed feelings of pride and powerlessness that are a fact of life for many educators and students.

I sat down to the computer that night and the incredibly compelling stories I had heard, the confrontations I had been told about, the insightful responses they shared poured out. One afternoon of re-connecting with my intended audience renewed my passion for my project and brought it alive – because I had gotten out of my head and into the world of my readers.

Has your creative project come to a screeching halt? Have the ideas dried up? The passion disappeared?

Perhaps you’ve allowed this project to become an intellectual exercise. Perhaps you’re grinding it out because you’ve got a deadline and you’ve become completely detached from your topic, audience, and purpose.

That doesn’t work because that’s isolated creativity. That’s simply purging what’s in your head – without intent. If your intent is simply to finish your project, you can accomplish that – but that won’t make it sing. You will have a completed project, but it will be lifeless and working on it will be joyless.

For creative work to become transcendent, we must have a clear intention of how it will deliver tangible value for people. We need to visualize individuals in our target audience and imagine how this project, product or program will solve a problem they’re facing. We need to get up from our chairs and go out into the field and talk with our readers and customers and ask what they think. Find out what keeps them up at night and then go back to work with their voices, issues and concerns in your mind so your project, program or product reflects and meets their needs.

Do you have a suggestion on how to keep those ideas coming? Have you developed a way to beat writers block? If you’re one of the first three people to share your idea-generating suggestion with these blog readers, I’ll send my CD I Can’t Believe I Wrote The Whole Thing to you, free.