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ACAP - The American and Canadian Association of Peru

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ACAP - The American and Canadian Association of Peru Page 1 of 3 An Association of
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An Association of Canadian and U.S. Citizens Residing in Peru

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July 2006

Interview with David Fischman

By Alan La Rue

David Fischman, a best-selling author here in Peru, has always felt a special connection with the United States. He attended Georgia Tech University for his undergraduate degree and received his Masters from Boston University. One of his dreams has been to publish a book in the country that gave him his education, and this year, he finally has had his chance. His book "El secreto de las siete semillas" has recently been translated into English and has been accepted for publication and distribution in the US.

David Fischman is one of the founders of "La Universidad de Ciencias Aplicadas" and "Cibertec". He is a successful lecturer and has sold more than 260,000 books in Latin America. He spoke to the ACAP Newsletter shortly before leaving to the United States to promote his book.

The English version of the book is titled The Secret of the Seven Seeds. Using a Peruvian business person as the protagonist, the book shows the reader seven simple steps that he or she can take to grow as a person and find lasting happiness.

ACAP: David, you are best known as an author and speaker on topics of leadership. Isn´t a book on self- improvement and happiness a little off-track for you?

No, not at all, because deep down, this book is about leadership, since you cannot lead others unless you learn first how to lead yourself. This book shows the reader how to develop the strength of inner leadership that will allow them to lead a more gratifying and happy life and will help them develop the presence of mind to influence others in the workplace.

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ACAP: What motivated you to write this book?

The story of The Secret of the Seven Seeds is based mostly on my personal life. I was the neurotic, materialistic, egocentric person in the story, however, I was fortunate enough to find a few people who helped me put true meaning and happiness in my life and I wanted to share this testimony with readers, and to show them that change is possible as long as there is desire to improve.

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ACAP: This book sold very well in the Latin American market, but what makes you think that this book will be successful in the USA and Canada?

I would say that this book is even more relevant in the North American marketplace than in Peru. Did you know that the income per capita in the U.S. has increased over the last 20 years, but the level of happiness has remained the same? According to authors like Martin Selgiman, many people in the USA are living on a "Hedonic Treadmill" which means that even though more people are living under better economic circumstances, their appetite for more money and comforts continually increases, which in turn delays his/her happiness. I am certain that when a person takes their last breath he/ she is not going to complain about how many cars they did not buy, or that their house was not luxurious enough, but on the other hand, many will regret not having been close enough to their family, or not having helped other people when they could have.

After all, business people get stressed-out all over the world! In Peru, in the United States, in Canada, wherever. I am an entrepreneur myself, so I understand what these folks are going through, and let me tell you, it is not easy. I started my own business in my garage a little more than 20 years ago and by the time I was 35 I had accumulated millions of dollars in assets, but the only thing I really wanted was more. I had prestige and status; in fact, I had everything I wanted, except happiness. Nothing was enough for me. So, I lived this experience in the first person, and I know how it feels to be trapped by your ego. I had it all, but at the same time, I had nothing. I finally hit bottom and found some people who gave me some guidance. I was very fortunate to learn some simple rules that changed my life for the better, so now its my turn to pass along what I learned.

ACAP: "Happiness" is a pretty broad concept David. How do you define it?

Michael Argyle, a great researcher of the emotions of happiness, says that happiness has two components: life satisfaction; and, the amount of positive or negative emotions you feel. My book deals with both and provides the reader with techniques to analyze their life satisfaction and gives them techniques to feel more positive emotions, and fewer negative ones.

ACAP: But isn´t happiness genetically defined in individuals?

According to research, 50% of happiness comes from genetics, but the other 50% comes from will. I am addressing the part that comes from will. There is no doubt that with a bit of application, everybody has the opportunity to become a happier person.

ACAP: Your book suggests the practice of meditation as one of the seeds of self-improvement. Why do you think business people should take meditation seriously?

Dr Benson from Harvard University, who studied the practice of meditation of monks in Tibet, discovered what he called "The Relaxation Response". He found that the hypothalamus gland, which generates the flight or fight response by pumping adrenaline into the bloodstream whenever we are threatened, is the same gland that can also pump relaxing chemicals into our body. He found that meditation activates this relaxation response that counteracts stress.

Meditation allows businesspeople to be distant, objective and balanced, which are fundamental for making smart decisions. People who meditate do not

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react with negative emotions towards work problems. They learn to react by becoming responsible for the problem but without the weight of negative emotions. They live more peacefully.

Besides that, there is a range of other studies that have shown that people who meditate feel younger, healthier, and happier and a study at Harvard showed that high blood pressure patients return to normal pressure levels after only five years of daily meditation. It is not an exaggeration to say that meditation can save your life, and at the very least, has the power to improve your life.

ACAP: David, if you had read your own book 20 years ago, how would your own business life have been different?

I would probably have more money than I do now. There were many business decisions that I took just to boost my ego that in hindsight were awful decisions! Back when I was starting out, I wanted to be the most important business entrepreneur in Peru! As a result, I created many companies just for sake of feeling important, not necessarily because I had competitive advantage. If I had read my book 20 years ago, and had taken the message to heart, I would have put my ego under control, and as consequence, I would still have some of the money I lost.

ACAP: If you had to summarize the central message of this book in one paragraph, what would it state?

There is an old saying that goes: "life is something that happens while we are out making other plans." The idea behind this book is to prevent our lives from passing before us. We must take advantage of our life and realize our mission. The book serves as the necessary pause in our work day to help us realign our goals and reset our priorities about what's really important. Moreover, the book provides us with seven concrete tools, which I call seeds, which anybody can use to achieve personal mastery and obtain the necessary balance between life and work. Only an individual who has balance and strength can confront and tackle the pressures that the corporate world places upon us, in Peru, in the United States, wherever.

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Av. Angamos Oeste 1155 Miraflores, Lima 18 Tel 222-6359 • Fax 441-4545 Email office@acap-peru.org

Office Hours: Monday - Friday: From 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM

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