The Heart of Business

For more articles from All American Crafts magazines, click here.
by Andy Glanzman

Editor's Note: I have been fortunate to know Andy Glanzman personally and can say without reservation that he lives his life almost as if surrounded by a "charmed circle of achievement," which causes him to demonstrate success in a high percentage of the projects he undertakes. He sleeps only moderately and otherwise is always on the move, creating, thinking, and planning for "what's new," whether it be as founder and CEO of Northern Lights Candles or as creator of a new non-profit Creative Arts Center that he's developing for the sake of his local community. A close friend of Andy's once quipped "one thing you cannot say about Andy is that he's lazy," at which point the close friend and I laughed heartily at the extreme understatement of his comment!

No matter what Andy is doing, he maintains a positive attitude and thinks effectively about both the big picture and the small details. He started selling candles at craft shows 27 years ago, and today his company is a highly respected supplier of candles and home decor accessories to the world market. His consistent focus on "How can we improve what we are doing?" has caused his operation to be regarded by his peers as one of the most innovative, technologically oriented, and rapidly expanding companies in the industry.

One thing I'm certain of is that Andy's ongoing success is no accident, but rather a by-product of his intense optimism, respect for others, and a relentless drive to learn and grow.

My name is Andy Glanzman, and I'm a candle maker. My wife Tina and I got into our craft by necessity (or should I say just good luck) while living without electricity and taking care of an old man who needed help.

After many years of hard work and dedication, we have been fortunate to grow from a small company to a "little bigger" company. Quite frequently people ask me about our business and how we got started. Did you ever think it would get so big? Why do you keep on going? What are the keys to your success? These and many questions like these are asked of us often. I don't mind answering them over and over again because they cause me to reflect on my past and reinforce my goals for the future.

To get the most out of life both personally and on a business level, my lifelong commitment has always been to keep "learning and growing." It sounds so simple but this formula has been one of the keys to my success. And now with a few years behind me, being a little older and a little wiser, I've come to realize how important this part of my formula is and why it is so powerful.

From time to time, everyone's life takes strange twists and turns, some controllable and some not. At these unexpected crossroads, we either turn left or right and many times we take these turns for reasons we'll never know. One thing is for sure, every fork in the road can lead us to a positive lifelong adventure. Back in 1976, a turn I took had one of the most profound and positive influences on my life and the life of my family. As we know, each twist and turn we encounter in life leads us to the present moment. I will tell you a little story that will give you an understanding of where and how I was influenced after taking a turn at one of life's crossroads.

Tina and I moved to the country in 1976 to live with an old friend who was getting up in years and needed our help. His name was Bill Hand. At 85 years old, he had no family left alive. He lived alone in his old farmhouse without heat, water, or electricity and had barely enough to eat.

Although Bill had no money, he was not poor. He knew that he had everything he really needed. He was content and happy. Bill was a remarkable man, generous and caring. Without enough food for himself, he still fed the wild birds that perched by his side every day. On the coldest winter mornings with the snow falling outside, I could hear Bill playing his harmonica and singing happy songs as he was about to start a new day.

We worked hard together, gathering wood and taking care of his sheep and ponies who grazed on the hill outside of town. In order to be able to see at night, we would light up candles we had made during the day. As we sat up in bed, Bill would sit in his worn-out chair and tell us stories for hours about days gone by.

Bill walked slowly several miles each day with a wooden cane. He was never in a hurry, he didn't need to be. He always wore a cheerful expression on his face. His frosty white beard, long coat, and high boots made him look a little like Santa Claus. Bill always gave more than he received. He loved children although he never had any of his own. He was a friend to everyone. Then one summer night, Bill walked up the hill to a grassy knoll, laid down under a starry sky, closed his eyes, and died.

We learned a lot from Bill; he was a teacher in the school of life and will always be alive in our hearts.

We started making candles when we lived with Bill and we're still at it today. Instead of making candles just to see, we're making candles that warm the hearts as Bill did.

Since living with Bill in his old house without electricity, running water, or the other conveniences we've all come to expect, our material life has changed dramatically. We now live in a wonderful home with modern amenities, drive nice cars, take wonderful vacations with our kids, contribute to good causes, and do all the things most of us would like to do after the basic needs for food, light, and shelter have been met. With all the outside changes we've been through, some fundamental things about us have not changed at all. Tina and I are every bit the same on the inside, and the ideals that motivated us back then are the same ideals that motivate us today. In the past as well as today, we have continued to practice a simple formula...our recipe for success.

These days we both go to work as company leaders with the intention of doing everything we can to learn and grow personally as well as to inspire those around us to do the same. After years of new experiences and continual learning, we know it's possible to do more than we ever thought probable. Because of this positive experience, as you would expect, our credo became, "Everything is Possible." As leaders, we try our very best to get this mindset across to the people we come in contact with each day. We feel responsible to lead by example and teach the basics for success. We know how important this recipe has been for us, and we also understand the importance for others. True success is not measured in dollars and cents but, whether on a business or personal level, is measured in incremental improvements and ongoing accomplishments. Like a turtle winning the race, success in life comes to those who continue to advance and persevere. It's about one step at a time, always moving forward, and like a laser, focusing and refocusing on the goal. It's what I would term "mountain climbing." Find a mountain (a goal) that's a little higher and steeper than you climbed before and go for it. Always plan and prepare for your journey understanding there will be uncertainties and unforeseen setbacks.

Sometimes it's a two-steps-forward and one step-back process, possibly followed by another two-steps-forward and one step-back again and again and on and on until the mountain is climbed. Then you can look out from the mountaintop and celebrate your success. It's a high feeling and the view from this new peak helps to broaden your vantage point and put future objectives and challenges in greater perspective. After that mountain is climbed, it's time to look for another that will be just a little bit higher and a little bit tougher than the one you just climbed. That will stretch your abilities and skills.

This kind of goal setting is exciting stuff and very gratifying, but the truth is I have been known to drive some people a bit crazy with this high level ambition and forward motion. In our company, employees are asked every day they come to work, how can we do things better? These are healthy questions that always lead to new solutions and perpetual improvement. It's a very creative process for sure and can be lots of fun and challenging, but only certain people are willing to embrace this kind of creative mindset each day, week after week, year after year. After 25 years of practicing our recipe for success as a way of life, I have discovered that those who do, find themselves doing many exciting things that they never thought possible and this simple formula has contributed significantly to their success.

In closing, I will outline what I consider the top attributes for successful living. I don't think you can be truly successful by leaving any of these elements out. They all go hand in hand and are enhanced by each other. As you grow, if you vertically integrate all these building blocks into your life, you will always be successful and life will be wonderful.

1 Dream Big and Set High Goals
Dreams, goals, and visualization have always been important ingredients in the formula for success. You can never hit a target unless you can visualize it first. To be successful in both business and your personal life, think big and then set goals that will stretch your abilities.

2 Believe in Yourself
Confidence in yourself is necessary in order to succeed. We must continually work on our personal belief system. Although we must be humble, our self-esteem needs to be strong. When facing a challenge we need faith in ourselves and belief that we can do it, because in reality we can!

3 Work Hard and Stay Focused
Nothing replaces hard work and focus on the road to the top. Hard work requires physical and mental fitness. The road is not easy, so don't expect it to be. Be prepared for failures along the way. Ultimate success requires a mindset that does not give up and never loses focus on the goal.

4 Find Mentors and Be Humble
Mentors are like jewels. They are there for us to connect with and learn from as we go through the twists and turns of life. Almost everything we try to do has been done by someone before us. The experience of those who have preceded us is invaluable. We need to search out mentors and be their humble students. They will help us through the hard times and instill confidence as we go forward.

5 Be an Optimist
The optimist will always win, and the pessimist will always fail. This fact will never change because this is natural law. Whether you believe you can or believe you can't, you will always be right. Only an optimist can live a successful life.

6 Associate with Winners
Surround yourself with people who are winners in the game of life. You will tend to become like the people with whom you associate. Let these individuals influence you in a positive way, inspiring and motivating you to do your best. If you want to win, surround yourself with winners.

7 Be Proactive and Seize Opportunity
If you want to be successful, you must make a proactive effort to do so. Don't wait for good things to happen; you have to make them happen, and no one can do it but you. Every day we all wake up to opportunity. Those who learn how to identify and act upon those opportunities will become successful.

8 Develop a Creative Mindset
To live a full and successful life we must develop a creative mindset. By exercising the creative part of our brain, we will strengthen our ability to do new things in new and effective ways. Creative thinking leads to solutions and progress. Solutions and progress lead to accomplishments.

9 Help Others To Be Their Best
The greatest contribution we can make to others is to help them be their best. Whatever we can do to assist others to fulfill their potential is meaningful and valuable to them. By helping others to succeed, we help ourselves as well. There is no higher calling than to help others improve their lives.

10 Be Healthy
Taking care of your mind and body is paramount to your success. All of the above ingredients can only be attained when you are healthy. A healthy mind and body free you to focus on your goals and dreams.


Recommended Just for You