Excerpt: 'The Wisdom of Ginsu'

A couple of months later the strike ended and everything returned to normal. At least we thought it did. You see, we decided to meet with K-Tel International (more on this later) about having them sell the Miracle Painter in Europe. So on December 16, 1976, I took an American Airlines flight to Chicago with the intent of catching a connection to Manitoba, Canada, where the K-Tel offices were located. A few days before the flight I had been watching a TV program called "Terror at 30,000 Feet" in which an elderly police officer is escorting a prisoner on a flight. The detective in the film starts getting pains in his left arm and suffers a massive heart attack, and the convict takes over the plane. Now here I am at 30,000 feet and I start to get strange feelings in my left arm. I was 35 years old at the time and I figured I couldn't be having a heart attack, but I panicked a little because I had just seen that movie. It's a good thing I did panic. I told the flight attendant of my problem and she quickly made an announcement asking if there was a doctor on board. There wasn't, but a nurse showed up and was concerned about me. They asked if I thought I could continue on to Chicago and I felt that I could. When we landed in Chicago an EMT squad immediately got on the plane and started all sorts of medical procedures including performing an EKG, taking my blood pressure, and even starting an IV. Now I was really getting concerned. As the male passengers were getting off the plane they were looking at me as if I was a freak. The females had sympathy and concern in their eyes. They took me by ambulance to Resurrection Hospital, which served O'Hare Airport, and I ended up in intensive care with a heart attack. My day trip to Manitoba turned into a seven-day hospital stay in Chicago.

Let me tell you, that was an eye-opener. I previously told you that I felt that I was holding the whole world over my head during our time of crisis. Well, after the strike ended I still felt that way, but I guess I thought it was okay to wipe the sweat off my brow. When I did that, the whole world came crashing down on me and I had the heart attack. Ed and I had been smoking two packs of cigarettes a day in our offices. That day was the last time I ever smoked anything, and within a year Ed had quit also.

Now it was time for another zig. Within four weeks I was back at the grind brainstorming our next product with the guys and doing all the other things necessary to ensure the success of the company. As I write this I am 63 years old, so I guess the zigs I made over the last 28 years were good ones.

It's difficult to teach people to zig. Hopefully this story will serve as inspiration for you to start thinking in the same way we do. Don't be thrown off your game when others zag. Concentrate on the situation and find a good zig to get you through. We have said and will say again throughout this book about the importance of training your mind to think differently. Picking a man to demonstrate the Miracle Painter in a tuxedo instead of just a regular guy on a ladder is a good zig, picking a Japanese name for a knife that came from Ohio is a good zig.

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