• 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.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

– Mary Oliver

Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

We need to learn to set our course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship.”

– General Omar Bradley

You must have chaos within you, to create a dancing star.”

– Frederic Nietzsche

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”

– Magical

A truly forgiving person is someone who experiences all the anger merited by injustice and still acts with fairness and compassion.”

– Martha Beck

The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.”

– Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., U.S. Supreme Court justice

If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it.”

– Jesse Jackson

Do you believe it is important to give back some portion of your wealth to support charitable causes?”

– Steven Schussler

Anything not worth doing well is not worth doing.”

– Warren Buffett

We need to learn to set our course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship.”

– General Omar Bradley

When I dare to be powerful—to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”

– Audre Lorde

If your success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all.”

– Anna Quindlen

If it really was a no-brainer to make it on your own in business there’d be millions of no-brained, harebrained individuals quitting their day jobs.”

– Bill Rancic, "The Apprentice"

Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them!”

– Madam C.J. Walker

I’m not afraid of storms,
for I’m learning to sail my ship.”

– Louisa May Alcott

We are not meant to resolve all contradictions, but to live with them and rise above them.”

– William Blake

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

– Goldie Hawn

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

– T.S. Eliot

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

– William Butler Yeats

If you were independently wealthy and never had to work a day in your life, would you still choose to spend your time attempting to become a successful entrepreneur?”

– Steven Schussler

This is the age when magical technologies make more and more radically fun ideas plausible, even easy. You’re only limited by your creativity.”

– Martha Beck

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. 
Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.”

– Mary Jean Irion

The quality of your life is directly related to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably live with.”

– Tony Robbins

If you do work that you love, and the work fulfills you, the rest will come.”

– Oprah Winfrey

Do not say, ‘why were the former days better than these,’ for it is not from wisdom that you ask this.”

– Ecclesiastes, 7:10

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

– Groucho Marx

Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

– Christopher Robin to Pooh

Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail. There’s only make.”

– Corita Kent

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.”

– Charles Dickens

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

– Patrice Wynne, WomanSpirit Sourcebook

There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…”

– John Lennon

The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. The greatest failure is to not try.”

– Debbi Fields, Mrs. Fields Cookies

Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly. Hold fast to dreams, for when dreams go, life is a barren field frozen with snow.”

– Langston Hughes

Sometimes the dreams that come true are the dreams you never even knew you had.”

– Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

– T.S. Eliot

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

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

– Anais Nin

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

– Steve Jobs

When you are asked if you can do a job, tell ‘em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.”

– Audre Lorde

A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind.”

– Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly,
 what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

4oz tequila + 1oz TripleSec + 2oz lime juice + 1oz simple syrup (sugar=water), 1 cup crushed ice. Shake + dance around the kitchen.

– Avenida Margarita

Education is an admirable thing to have, but it is well to remember that nothing worth knowing can be taught.”

– Oscar Wilde

The awakening to the mystery of life is a revolutionary event; in it an old world is destroyed so that a new and better one may take its place.”

– J.J. Van Der Leeuw, The Conquest of Illusion

The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.”

– Henry Miller

Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.”

– Robert Frost

If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.”

– Thomas Edison

A person who learns to juggle six balls will be more skilled than the person who never tries to juggle more than three.”

– Marilyn vos Savant

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