• December 2015

Kevin Costner Takes Us on an Epic Adventure: Let's Join Him!

We celebrate the final month of 2015 by going on a literary adventure with Kevin Costner. The award-winning actor and director has turned his talents to co-authoring The Explorers Guild: Volume One: A Passage to Shambhala.

“This globe-trotting tale harks back to the storytelling style of Kipling,” Costner explained when he and his fellow authors, Jon Baird and illustrator Rick Ross, stopped by the National Press Club in Washington, DC, on the first leg of their book launch tour.

Sure, it’s only natural for the star of “The Guardian,” “The Bodyguard,” and “Dances With Wolves” to pen an adventure story. But how did he come to connect with Baird and Ross? Why did it take eight years filled with trials and tribulations to bring the book to fruition? And how much magical power does it take for an A-list celebrity to turn a children’s book into a best-seller? Scroll down for our article on the authors.

This issue is also jam-packed with additional delicious adventure stories:

  • Are you ready to have a culinary adventure with your kids? Edible Education’s chefs Ann Butler and Whitney Trent share their kid-tested-and-approved recipes that are perfect for making real food for the 12 Days of Christmas. Anyone up for Two Turtle Doves — Chocolate Pecan Turtles? “It’s easier to make than you think!” insists Chef Ann.
  • This one is for the grown-ups in the house. Pour yourself a lovely glass of Burgundy or Bordeaux, and sit back and relax as you listen to this Grateful American™ podcast starring Gabriele Rausse, who has been dubbed “The Father of the Modern Virginia Wine Industry.” Listen to our podcast interview.
  • A daunting thing happened to Olympic athlete Tara Sheahan when she was 35. Trained as an elite athlete in cross-country skiing, she found her dream job as a VP in sports marketing and television. She left the corporate world to become “Super Mom.” Then she contracted Lyme disease. Read how she got her life back.
  • Financial adviser Carmen Wu helps women 65+ prepare for the financial adventure of their lives in this month’s Retirement column.
  • And, we invite you to take our 12th adventure of the year with Gretchen Rubin as we share her final words of inspiration from her best-selling book, The Happiness Project.
  • Finally, we visit Kevin Costner as a kid. What was his favorite book when he was in elementary school? Find out — and also learn which children’s books inspired the imagination of his co-authors — in this issue’s Book of the Month.

We end the year with this parting thought from Kevin Costner: “I haven’t lived a perfect life. I have regrets. But that’s from a lifetime of taking chances, making decisions, and trying not to be frozen. The only thing that I can do with my regrets is understand them.”

Here’s to the next great adventure of your life. — Hope Katz Gibbs, publisher, Be Inkandescent magazine

The Golden Age of Adventure Returns

ENTREPRENEUR OF THE MONTH: DECEMBER 2015

Kevin Costner, Jon Baird, and Rick Ross offer a splendidly designed, action-packed, globe-trotting adventure in “The Explorers Guild.”

By Hope Katz Gibbs, Publisher
Be Inkandescent Magazine

Behind the staid, public rooms of an old-world gentlemen’s club operates a more mysterious organization: The Explorers Guild, a clandestine group of adventurers who bravely journey to places in which light gives way to shadow and reason is usurped by myth.

The secrets they seek are hidden in mountain ranges and lost in deserts, buried in the ocean floor, and lodged deep in polar ice. The aim of The Explorers Guild: to discover the mysteries that lie beyond the boundaries of the known world.

Set against the backdrop of World War I, with Western civilization on the edge of calamity, the first installment in “The Explorers Guild” series, “A Passage to Shambhala,” concerns the Guild’s quest to find the golden city of Buddhist myth.

The search will take them from the Polar North to the Mongolian deserts, through the underground canals of Asia to deep inside the Himalayas, before the fabled city finally divulges its secrets and the globe-spanning journey plays out to its startling conclusion.

What inspired Kevin Costner, and co-author Jon Baird and illustrator Rick Ross, to write this 784-page epic tale that they describe as “graphic fiction” — a marriage of text and images?

On the East Coast leg of their book tour, Costner, Baird, and Ross sat before a packed room at the National Press Club last month, explaining how the journey of the book began eight years ago.

While the story was originally conceived as an animated movie, after the big studios turned down their 22-minute clip, Baird went to Plan B and began turning the tale into a book.

Initially, Costner acted as his guide in the adventurous project, but “at a certain point, it ceased to be something that was mine,” Baird said. It was something that “he was giving input on and it became something we were working on together.”

A masterful storyteller himself, Costner explained: “It was very important to me that this be what it wanted to be. It wanted to be a novel. Let’s let it exist as that and I’ll go carve the movie out of it someday” if Hollywood decides that it now likes the idea.

Adding the graphic illustrations to the book was Baird’s idea, because he had written books using this engaging technique to hook readers and advance the story. So he went hunting for an illustrator on Craigslist of all places.

It didn’t take long for artist and filmmaker Rick Ross to see the ad and respond. The gig was right up his alley.

As the publisher of the online, graphic fiction anthology Agitainment Comics, Ross was the lead artist for the graphic novelization of Spike TV’s “1000 Ways to Die,” and he created artwork for numerous animated-motion comics, including for the Cinemax television series “Femme Fatales.”

Together, the three-man team gives us a wonderful way to end 2015. Here’s their message to us: Gentle Reader — It is the boast of modernity that Man has mapped and measured, claimed and contested this Earth down to its last inch. He has tamed its moods and subdued its monsters, and lit it from end to end with the fires of his ingenuity. So we are assured. Yet we who have been canvassing this same Earth through the centuries — who have been every place in it that you would care to go, and many more that you would not — we incline to a different view.”

What is Costner’s big dream for this giant adventure story? “My lofty goal is that 150 years from now, ‘The Explorers Guild’ will be held in the same regard as the novels penned by Rudyard Kipling and Joseph Conrad,” he says. “And my greatest hope is that it could be an heirloom. Thank God for storytelling. It helped me find my place in the world.”

Do you have the spirit of an adventurer? Click here to find out.

The Adventurous Spirit of the Entrepreneur: Do You Have It? Do You Need It?

Do you eat chaos for breakfast? Are you hell-bent on making your company the biggest and best it can be? For generations, that’s what it reportedly took to be a successful entrepreneur — grit, determination, and an adventurous spirit.

But according to The Hartford’s 2015 Small Business Success Study, released on Sept. 29, fewer small-business owners are focused on growing their business now than in 2012 — yet more of them are feeling successful about how their business is operating and say they are optimistic about the economy strengthening this year.

The fifth annual study shows:

  • In 2015, 33 percent of small-business owners — down from 41 percent in 2012 — said their primary goal is to grow their business significantly, which means a large increase in sales, revenue, and staff.
  • Fifty-five percent of owners say they are looking to maintain their business at its current size, a proportion that has been largely consistent over the past few years.
  • Even though more than half of owners have a maintenance mindset, 73 percent feel successful about how their business is operating now, up from 69 percent in 2011.
  • And, the proportion of small-business owners who are optimistic that the national economy will improve this year has increased from 33 percent in 2012 to 52 percent in 2015.

“It is encouraging to see better overall sentiment among small-business owners; however, the decline in owners focused on growth is something all of us need to pay attention to,” said Christopher J. Swift, CEO of The Hartford, a more than 200-year-old insurance company based in Connecticut.

“There is no better place to be an entrepreneur than in the US, so it is imperative that we work to create an environment that better fosters small-business formation, success, and growth.”

So what are the top characteristics of today’s highly successful business owners?

1. It depends on how successful they are.

Based on an analysis of data over the past few years, The Hartford’s study found that owners who take more risks and feel optimistic about the national economy tend to be more inclined to say their business is extremely or very successful.

  • In addition, the highly successful business owners are not as conservative as those who feel slightly or not at all successful.
  • In the 2015 study, one-quarter (27 percent) of owners who feel extremely/very successful about how their business is operating right now rate their overall level of risk as “risky” rather than “conservative,” compared to just 14 percent of those who feel they are slightly/not at all successful.

2. Talented employees matter.

The analysis also found that owners who feel their business is operating highly successfully are relying on better qualified talent, better guidance from other professionals, and even bank loans. In contrast, owners who feel less successful seem to be taking on the load and stress of running a small business more on their own.

  • Those who feel their business is operating less successfully and have not hired or not hired as much as they would have liked this past year are more likely to say this is because they are taking on additional responsibilities themselves compared to those who feel highly successful (38 percent vs. 21 percent).
  • Highly successful owners who have not hired or not hired as much as they would have liked in the past year are less likely to say the reason for not hiring is that their business is not growing, compared to those who feel less successful and have not hired (20 percent vs. 59 percent).

3. Optimism rules.

When asked which theme song would be their small-business anthem, respondents said:

  • 35 percent: “My Way” by Frank Sinatra, reflecting those who are determined and hardworking.
  • 21 percent: “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey, because they are hopeful and optimistic about achieving their goals.
  • 14 percent: “We Are the Champions” by Queen, because they have persevered and overcome.

For more information on these survey results, visit thehartford.com/successstudy.

Small-Business Success Study Methodology: Braun Research conducted a telephone survey among small-business owners across the United States on behalf of The Hartford. A total of 2,003 interviews were completed with small-business owners of for-profit businesses with fewer than 100 full-time employees who have been in business for at least one year. The study included a nationally representative sample of businesses in the United States. One owner, co-owner, principle owner, or sole owner per business was interviewed. The interviews were conducted between July 7-16, 2015. The margin of error is ± 2.1 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

About The Hartford: With more than 200 years of expertise, The Hartford (NYSE:HIG) is a leader in property and casualty insurance, group benefits, and mutual funds. More information on the company and its financial performance is available at www.thehartford.com.

Some of the statements in this release may be considered forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. We caution investors that these forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance, and actual results may differ materially. Investors should consider the important risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ. These important risks and uncertainties include those discussed in The Hartford’s 2014 Annual Report on Form 10-K, subsequent Quarterly Reports on Forms 10-Q, and the other filings made with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Hartford assumes no obligation to update this release, which speaks as of the date issued.

Once you find something you love to do, be the best at doing it.”

– Debbi Fields, Mrs. Fields Cookies

Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.”

– Leon Joseph Suenens

Why am I whispering when I have something to say?”

– Eve Ensler

Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.”

– Albert Einstein

We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.”

– Charles R. Swindoll

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

– Charles Darwin

Your own words are the bricks and mortar
of the dreams you want to realize.
 The words you choose and their use establish the life you experience.”

– Sonia Croquette

Do one thing every day that scares you.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”

– Robert Louis Stevenson

The less effort, the faster and more powerful you will be.”

– Bruce Lee

You often meet your fate on the road you take to avoid it.”

– Goldie Hawn

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

– Anais Nin

You only live once. But if you do it right, once is enough.”

– Mae West

Death is to lose the earth you know, for greater knowing; to lose the life you have, for greater life; to leave the friends you loved, for greater loving; to find a land more kind than home, more large than earth.”

– Thomas Wolfe

I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent.”

– Thomas Edison

You may ask me for anything you like except time.”

– Napoleon

Passion makes perfect.”

– Eugene Biro

If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more.
 If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.”

– Oprah Winfrey

We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”

– Winston Churchill

You’ve got to be willing to crash and burn. If you’re afraid of failing, you won’t get very far.”

– Steve Jobs

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. 
Now put foundations under them.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Nurture your mind with great thoughts; to believe in the heroic makes heroes.”

– Benjamin Disraeli

Who cares if my glass is half empty or half full; I still have something to drink.”

– Optimism rules

Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.”

– Jalaluddin Rumi

A great secret of success is to go through life as a man who never gets used up.”

– Albert Schweitzer

The great use of life is to spend it on something that will outlast it.”

– William James

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.”

– Abraham Lincoln

Success is the necessary misfortune of life, but it is only to the very unfortunate that it comes early.”

– Anthony Trollope

A lot of people have ideas, but few decide to do something about them now. Not next week. But today.”

– Nolan Bushnell, founder, Atari

I may not be able to change what takes place, but I can always choose to change my thinking.”

– Michelle Sedas

I’ve come to confirm that one’s title, even that of president, says little about how well one’s life has been led. No matter how much you’ve done, or how successful you’ve been, there’s always more to do, to learn, and to achieve.”

– Barack Obama

It is easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them.”

– Alfred Adler

How do you stay resilient? It’s about momentum. Like riding a bicycle. If you stop you fall over. So I keep pedaling.”

– Diane Lane

That man is richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.”

– Henry David Thoreau

As each woman realizes her power, she transforms the world.”

– Patrice Wynne, WomanSpirit Sourcebook

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

– Leonardo da Vinci

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which obstacles vanish.”

– John Quincy Adams

Think of yourself as on the threshold of unparalleled success. A whole, clear, glorious life lies before you. Achieve! Achieve!”

– Andrew Carnegie

That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

– Friedrich Nietzsche

You take your life in your own hands, and what happens?
 A terrible thing: no one to blame.”

– Erica Jong

Think of yourself as on the threshold of unparalleled success. A whole, clear, glorious life lies before you. Achieve! Achieve!”

– Andrew Carnegie

If you would create something,
 you must be something.”

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Some things are destined to be—it just takes us a couple of tries
to get there.”

– J.R. Ward, Lover Mine

‎The biggest flaw in our existing theory of capitalism lies in its misrepresentation of human nature.”

– Muhammad Yunus

The music is all around us. All you have to do is listen.”

– August Rush

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.”

– President Calvin Coolidge

Entrepreneurs willingly assume responsibility for the success or failure of a venture and are answerable for all its facets.”

– Victor Kiam

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”

– Mark Twain

Always look at what you have left. Never look at what you have lost.”

– Robert H. Schuller

He who wants to tear down a house must be prepared to rebuild it.”

– African Proverb

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