More Chicken Soup

    Reprinted from the High Point Enterprise, April 10, 1997

    More chicken soup

    Latest book focuses on workplace

    By Melody Hennessee
    Staff Writer

    Grandma didn't care if the doctors said it wouldn't work. When you were sick, she fed you homemade chicken soup It was good, hot and easy to digest, plus it really did make you feel better.

    The series of books "Chicken Soup for the Soul" has gotten the same reaction. More than 11 million copies have been sold so far, and the authors have introduced a new book called 'Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work."

    Authors Maida Rogerson and Tim Clauss visited High Point earlier this week during a three week publicity tour that took them through Texas, Tennessee and North Carolina. Clauss, Rogerson and her husband, Martin Rutte, approached their friends the two original "Chicken Soup" authors, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. with the idea of bringing "Chicken Soup" to the workplace

    "The workplace is very dispirited, and we think it's a place where people could use some chicken soup " Clauss said.

    "We wanted our book to be positive." Rogerson said. 'We figure there's enough negativity in the workplace and in life, so we really wanted to focus on the positive examples of people who are approaching their work with some courage, compassion and creativity"

    After sending out letters to 3,000 people across the United States and Canada, plus posting their request for stories on the Internet the authors received 600 submissions. They narrowed the field to 160 and sent those stories to volunteers - from policemen to farmers - to read. They narrowed the stories to 85 Then Clauss, Rogerson and Rutte added a few of their own as well as stories from a few famous people such as "Roots" author Alex Haley and Wendy's restaurant founder Dave Thomas. Even High Point's own Nido Qubein, chairman of Creative Services submitted a story titled 'Let Your Light Shine," which is included in the "Lessons & Insights" chapter.

    "The common bond is that these are all people who are doing some extraordinary things at an ordinary job," Rogerson said. " We wanted to add the famous people, not to put them on a pedestal. but to show that they, too had to struggle. We hope that by sharing these stories we will give other people inspiration.

    The first story in the book's introduction tells about a businessman who, spent a month working in one of Mother Teresa's shelters in India. When he met the tiny nun, he burst into tears. "All the times when he had been self-centered., busy or focused on his own gain flashed before his eyes and he felt an enormous sadness that he had missed so many opportunities..."

    Mother Teresa walked over to him, put her hands on his shoulders and said, "Don't you know that God knows you are doing the best that you can?"

    That's a message that needs to be replayed in the workplace, the authors said .

    "We all are doing the best that we can," Rogerson said, "so let's recognize each other and acknowledge each other's work:'

    The authors especially wanted chapters on acknowledgment, service and following your heart at work. Other chapters cover love, caring, creativity, overcoming obstacles, courage, and lessons and insights

    Rogerson contributed a story on acknowledgment called "Two Ripe Bananas," which was a gift from a poor farmer as a way to thank an artist for including him in her work.

    Two ripe bananas doesn't sound like much of an acknowledgment, but this was an extremely poor area," 'Rogerson said "Two bananas was a lot for this gruff old guy, who couldn't put his gratitude into words."

    She also wrote The Massage is the Message," about a grocery store offering

    neck massages to customers waiting in long lines on Thanksgiving. The point is that all grocers should offer free massages, she said.

    "The point is that service has really fallen off," Rogerson said. "As we get increasingly competitive service will be the thing to separate a good company from a mediocre one"

    Clauss contributed his own story and tips about dealing with stress in the workplace, "Stressbuster."

    As a freshman at Valparaiso University he was one of a few students who had the occasion to meet the president emeritus and chancellor Dr. O.P. Kretzman. The wise old man offered this advice to the

    young Clauss, "Take one bite out of the apple at a time It s a lesson Clauss has always remembered, even though he admits he doesn't always follow it.

    Through his own experiences at work, Clauss added 126 stressbusters to that first one.

    "Stress is one of the biggest obstacles we face at work and in life," be said "There are so many little things that we can do to relieve stress - go for a walk at lunch, take a deep breath, do some stretches, talk to your parents, do some gardening and let go and 'let God.'"

    Taking these simple truths and simple stories, the authors have helped to start "Chicken Soup Groups" at Fortune 500 companies such as Southwest Airlines, Sony Music Entertainment, and Lucent Technologies. The people get together read a few stories and share stories of their own.

    "Then they begin to look at each other not as vice president, secretary or floor sweeper, but as human beings," Rogerson said. "We all feel the same pressures. We have to get the kids to school on time, take care of an aging parent or, perhaps, deal with marital problems. We start to realize that we're all in this together. There's the sense that we can do this. We can overcome this problem; we can find solutions ourselves."

    Published in October, the "Chicken Soup for the Soul I at Work" stayed No. 5 on the New York Times Business Bestseller List from December 1996 to February .