Anthea C. Stratigos has been a friend of mine for many years. She is the CEO of Outsell, Inc. and the author of Magic in the Mundane: Making Life’s Ordinary Extraordinary.
Whenever I have been in a meeting with Anthea, I am struck by her ability to listen, to synthesize, and to bring out the best in any group. After reading her book, which is full of her wisdom, I reached out to her so that I could share some of her counsel with you.
Most people don’t have an attitude to find magic in the mundane. How do you cultivate it?
It’s about turning negative into positive and finding the glass half full. It’s born in gratitude and finding good things however and whenever we can. It’s easy to be negative in this world with media strife, bickering on social media, agita in so many places. How we do life is a choice, and there’s alchemy in choices. That’s where the magic lies. We make hundreds of choices a day, often unconsciously. Cultivating our choices is how we cultivate magic.
You’ve done what many hope to do at work and at home. Talk to the young, aspiring entrepreneur who is balancing a new business venture with a family. What do you say to that individual?
Be patient, follow your heart, take risks, and make a difference in this world. Leave your legacy and don’t squander the time you have here to leave the world a better place. Make sure you have fun along the way, live joy, and take care of yourself and those you love. And if something doesn’t feel right, stop doing it; listen to your inner compass.
You have a variety of practices – health, meditation, writing, gratitude, on an on. What practices have had the most meaningful impact on your life?
Writing, journaling, and walking have always been very meditative for me and relaxing. I’ve also been really consistent about taking care of myself with a monthly massage, facial, mani/pedi. During Covid with so much shut down, I’ll give myself a facial or mani at home. It sounds fluffy but self-care is like putting on the airline mask. You have to take care of yourself to take care of others. I have to say sitting down to dinner every night with my family was one of our most important rituals. It kept us connected. Having coffee with my husband every morning, similarly, does the same.
You work with leaders in very different businesses; your career has given you a unique perspective; you’ve seen leaders on top, and those struggling. What does Anthea say makes a great leader?
They hire great people, create the forum for clear direction, are respectful and focus on the team, clients and outcomes. The best leaders I’ve seen know when to push and when to pull. I’ve seen some leaders who leave their team rudderless. Others who are too controlling. The best leaders I’ve seen know what they’re good at – some are operating leaders, some turn-around, some growth-oriented leaders. Knowing the circumstances that best suit them and vice versa is a sign of a great leader because they are self-aware.
As I read your book, I saw it as a daily journal and challenge to myself. I would find myself practicing anything from screaming loud to picking weeds. Have others commented about reading it in a journal-like way?
Yes, I’ve had many people tell me they read different parts of the book each day, and they like the ability to use the Miracle Musings portion of the book to reflect and journal in their own way. Others say they hear my voice and feel like we’re sitting across from each other having a conversation.
The book is meant to be opened at any time, and the right chapter will find you. But if you choose to read it front to back that works, too. Life’s magic happens every day, and in no particular order, so I also hope people will visit the website and share their own stories. My stories are just the beginning; we are all finding our own magic in the mundane every day.
I have earmarked many of the chapters, and written names in the margins of folks I want to share something with. I’m sure the chapters are like your children, but what are your top three chapters?
When I saw this question, I went back through the book and found I had a hard time choosing. I love Pick Weeds and Sit in Every Chair because they take us through everyday places. I also love Trust Right Time, Get Dressed, and Make Requests. Eat Well is a favorite too.
You have so much advice and a lifetime of wisdom packed into this book. Tell us more about your process of writing it.
I would write in spurts. You could say it was a work in process for years, starting with that memo Thriving Tips that went to our team in early 2000s. When I turned 50, I committed to turning it into a book and told a woman’s group I’d joined that I was working on it. We met each year in Telluride. But between work and family the writing would follow in fits and starts, sometimes sitting down and getting a lot written weeks at a time. Sometimes going through a creative drought, like when my brother was so sick. It was hard to mix left and right brain during a time that felt like survival.
When that women’s group had its 10th anniversary trip in September 2019, I vowed I wasn’t going to that annual getaway with the book not done. I finished it in March 2019, five months prior to our fall anniversary. Accountability can be a great motivator!
It wasn’t until I finished the manuscript that I thought about my grandson, Grant, illustrating the book for me. His oils and other art are out of this world, and I thought it would be awesome if he’d take the project on. He was 10 at the time and spent last summer doing the drawings. It was an awesome collaboration.
For more information, see Magic in the Mundane: Making Life’s Ordinary Extraordinary.
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Photo Credit: Amos Bechtold