Forget conventional wisdom

“The first step to slaying a dragon is for one person to say, probably drunk in a bar, “It can be done.”—Alexandra Rowland

It’s important to remember there are ALWAYS different ways to look at things. And if ever there was a subject that could use some humor and playfulness, it’s — dare I say it — politics.

Yesterday, I was introduced to a politician who used art and creativity to make massive changes.  And since you gotta first hear about a possibility (remember the four-minute mile?) before you can embrace it, I decided to share a potential new way of governing.

Antanas Mockus, a Columbian philosopher, first made international headlines in 1993 when he was president of the National University of Colombia. To quiet a loud, unrelenting group of protestors, he ceremoniously dropped his pants. As he said, “innovative behavior can be effective when you run out of words.”

Public mooning didn’t go over well with the Board of Regents (or whatever they call university bureaucracy in the South American country), so he was asked to resign.

But within the year, he was back in the public spotlight running for mayor of Bogota. He was able to make massive change in the South American city using what he called a politician’s most powerful tool: imagination.

For example, when he was threatened by a leftist guerilla group, as many Colombian mayors were at the time, he donned the suggested bulletproof vest, but, as a symbol of confidence and even defiance, he cut a hole in the shape of a heart over his chest.

Another time, he walked the streets in spandex and a cape as Super Citizen, demonstrating the power of everyday average citizens.

When Bogota faced a water shortage, instead of the traditional rationing, he introduced voluntary conservation efforts, even running commercials of himself taking shorter showers. Instead of a busy signal on their phones, Bogotans got either his voice or Colombian pop star Shakira’s voice saying, “Thank you for saving water.” And it worked, decreasing water consumption by 10 to 15 percent.

He replaced corrupt traffic police officers with 420 mimes who “policed” driving behavior by pretending to be hurt or offended. Drivers began obeying traffic signals for the first time and within months, Bogota was able to dissolve the old, corrupt transit police force of 1800 officers. Dare I suggest a solution to police brutality?

Antanas was elected twice on a, get this, platform to increase taxes. During his second term, the City Council refused to approve the increase, so he invited citizens to pony up voluntary taxes and 63,000 households willingly paid an extra 10 percent.

Change IS possible, but we first have to be willing to surrender old, crusty policies and entrenched ways of doing things. We have to start looking for new solutions, to ask “What if?”

Antanas admits that some of his crazy schemes did not work. But he was able to deliver many promises because, as he pointed out, people began to cooperate. They had skin in the game. They began to have hope. They became astonished at their own power.

As he said, “Show me a city with a thousand problems, and I’ll show you 10,000 people who can solve them.”

So, while I normally eschew talking politics here on the blog, I thought this radical possibility of governance was worth pointing out.

I’ll end with this quote from filmmaker Adam Curtis, “Yes, change can be risky, but it’s also thrilling and might just lead to something extraordinary.” #222 Forever

Pam Grout is the author of 20 books including E-Squared, E-Cubed, Thank & Grow Rich and her latest book, The Course in Miracles Experiment: A Starter Kit for Rewiring Your Mind (And Therefore Your World) that has just been turned into an app. Badass ACIM (

Why you should give everything you have for as long as you physically can. Shane Burcaw @shaner528

‘Promise me that you’ll always remember that you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.’–Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh

My naysayers (and they are legion) rarely attack my writing (well, a few accuse me of trying to be a standup comedian). The thing they seem to take issue with is my belief that life is meant to be a glorious adventure, that happiness is a choice.

They say things like, “But what about war? What about kids born with disabilities?”

And I refuse to be swayed. Our head space is 100 percent up to us. I read a book over the weekend that, if we were in a courtroom, I would present as Exhibit A.

It’s called Laughing at My Nightmare. It’s by Shane Burcaw, a 21-year-old wiseass blogger who happens to have spinal muscular atrophy. He has been in a wheelchair since he was three. His parents or his younger brother have to pick him up and put him into bed at night. When he has to pee, they have to put his penis (did I just say the word penis in a blog post?) in what he calls “a pee jar.”

If anyone has a right to dispute my beliefs, it would be Shane. Yet, this amazing young man has more fun and a better attitude than many of us with fully functioning bodies. His mission, in fact, is to rid the world of negativity. He believes we get through adversity by laughing, by having fun.

He has a girlfriend (who he actually proposed to in the book), he graduated from Moravian College, he started a nonprofit to help others with muscular dystrophy (move over, Jerry Lewis) and Rainn Wilson (Dwight Schrute on The office) did a movie about his life. As Wilson says on the cover, “I would help change his underpants anytime.”

But most of all, Shane spends his time coming up with big adventures and crazy schemes. And proving to people that it is only our misguided thoughts that could ever make us unhappy.

P.S. Hay House asked me to mention that, if you’ve been waiting to buy E-Cubed, now is the time. It and its sister, E-Squared, are going for a measly $1.99 on the Amazon, Kindle store.

Pam Grout is the author of 17 books including E-Squared: 9 Do-it-Yourself Energy Experiments that Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality and the just-released sequel, E-Cubed, 9 More Experiments that Prove Mirth, Magic and Merriment is your Full-time Gig.

Lessons on love, joy and the power of dreaming from the world’s oldest CEO

“Behold infinity every day and all that you see shall be given you.”—Glenda Green

I’m writing a story this week about Denver’s Rockmount Ranch Wear. It’s a six-decade business that was started by “Papa” Jack Weil who joyously ran the company until he was 107. He showed up every day, sat at his little wooden desk in the front of the store and was widely regarded as the world’s oldest CEO.

He wasn’t, as far as I know, a student of metaphysics, but the reason his business was so successful and that his snap-button Western shirts are the go-to shirt for everyone from Eric Clapton and Tom Hanks to Robert Redford and Paul McCartney (he wore not one, but two different Rockmount shirts the night he hosted Saturday Night Live) is because Papa Jack believed the following things:

“It’s not who you are that matters. It’s what your dreams are.” Papa Jack’s grandson, Steve, runs the business today. He wrote a book called Ask Papa Jack: Wisdom of the World’s Oldest CEO that gives powerful insight into that magical component of always believing in possibilities, in dreams, in what could be. Forget what looks like reality. Dream! That’s where everything comes from anyway.

“The government predicts possible 7 percent unemployment. If it goes to 10 percent, there will still be 90 percent working, consuming, buying.” Wow! By focusing on what’s working (Nine-tenths of the population is still out there consuming), you get more of what’s working. Most of us zero right in on that 10 percent figure, on the thing that isn’t working. Well, guess what? You get more of what isn’t working. It’s like the speck and infinity I talked about yesterday. Why focus on anything but what you want?

“I was always thinking of something new. And I never stopped enjoying myself, not for a minute.” He nailed it on the head with that one. Love what you do. It’s the door to everything. Enjoy yourself and never STOP enjoying yourself, not for even one split moment. The reason Ang Lee used Rockmount Shirts in his Oscar-winning Brokeback Mountain (the shirts worn by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal are forever entwined and displayed at L.A’s Autry National Center) is because he could feel the love Papa Jack put into all of his products, into creating, into dreaming.

“Every morning I read the obits, and if my name is not there, I get dressed and go to work.” Papa Jack had a great sense of humor. He believed in making things fun. If it isn’t fun, why bother? That’s the key. Always focus on the fun. Infuse joy and delight into everything you do.

“Relationships are everything.” Papa Jack was forever baffled at the popularity of his shirts with such headline-makers as Ronald Reagan, Elvis Presley and even Miley Cyrus. But he was every bit as personable and valued his relationships with every customer, which when it comes to business (and pretty much everything else) is all that really matters.

So yeah, Papa Jack probably never read “The Secret” or studied the law of attraction, but because of his gut instincts and knowing on a deep, visceral level that relationships, love, joy and creativity are the bottom line, he created a life (and a business) that lives on long after he’s gone.

Pam Grout is the author of E-Squared: 9 Do-it-Yourself Energy Experiments that Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality.