Not long ago, I gave this talk in New York, and there’re two ladies…. They’re secretaries in the advertising company, and they’re just typing, all day they’re typing…. Then after the talk, they said, “We want to start our own advertising business. Can you tell us what to do?” Then I said, “You read the book, and you start the company with the book.” Then they started a new company. They rented a small room, it’s actually not an office, it’s an old apartment. And they started their own company [Kaplan Thaler Group]. Now I show you their building, in the middle, this is their building in New York. They bought this building. Now their company is 1 billion dollars, it’s four times bigger than my company…. So like that, I helped many people.
It is questionable if such conversation with the two “secretaries” ever took place:
A) In reality, both women have graduate degrees and were already highly-successful ad execs: Linda Thaler Kaplan received a Master’s degree in Music in 1975, was Senior Vice President, Group Creative Director at J. Walter Thompson (1978-1994), and was Executive Vice President, Executive Creative Director at Wells Rich Greene (1995-1996); Robin Koval received an MBA in 1983, and was Executive Vice President of Interpublic’s Gotham, Inc.
B) Years before reading Geshe Michael’s The Diamond Cutter, as it was not even published, Kaplan and Koval launched their own advertising agency, the Kaplan Thaler Group. Thanks to their combined experience and connections in the industry, the company quickly grew from a small start-up in 1997 into a billion-dollar business by 2006.
Robin Koval and I have written two best-selling books — Bang! Getting Your Message Heard in a Noisy World [in 2003], and The Power of Nice [in 2006]. We were researching ideas for the first book and I fell upon The Diamond Cutter [first published in 2000], which I found incredibly insightful. We were so impressed with its philosophical ideas that we quoted it in our first book; and then expanded on some of its themes in the second. I owe much of the success of our company to the beliefs in The Diamond Cutter, and I feel so lucky to have found this book when I needed it most. For me, one of the most powerful themes in The Diamond Cutter is the importance of creating positive imprints in our lives. I believe, wholeheartedly, that our success has had more to do with the seeds of those imprints, many of them planted years ago, flowering in ways we couldn’t have imagined. Those imprints have blossomed to bring us success and goodwill, and have helped to create a nurturing work environment here at the agency. I love telling young people that the most important thing they can do to insure their future success is to start planting those seeds today!
While the book provided philosophical musings for two already highly successful businesswomen, it is questionable if planting karmic seeds, in actual practice, has led to any phenomenal success for two of Geshe Michael’s closest female students: his ex-wife Christie McNally, and his personal assistant Mercedes Bahleda.
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