ah-HA noun: An instant at which the solution to a problem becomes clear.
Sandy’s definition: (verb) Powerful momentum from within that can strike at any time.
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ah-HA noun: An instant at which the solution to a problem becomes clear.
I’m obsessed with Aha Moments and how they affect our lives. They aren’t just a moment. I’ve realized what differentiates a great idea from an Aha Moment, it’s the momentum. The Aha Momentum kicks in if it’s truly a life changing Aha Moment. You can’t let go of the idea. You have that giddy feeling. You have to follow through. You become obsessed and you take action.
I’ve been so inspired by the Aha Momentum that can start a biz or change a life. I want to share Aha Momentum stories on this blog. Stories from both biz and life..
Have you experienced the Aha Momentum? If so, I’d love to hear your story. If not yet…I hope you do! Maybe these stories will inspire you to be creative and allow yourself time to just dream & think. It’s from those places that ideas start to brew and eventually strike you as the Aha Momentum!
I came across a TED TALKS video online and loved it because it made me smile & I just wanted to show it to other people! (Link is at the end of this post)
The speaker was Ruth Kaiser talking about her Spontaneous Smiley project. She’s all about optimism and choosing our lives by choosing our behavior. You will love her story because she took her hobby and spread it with a smile… It’s turned into a grassroots movement that not only makes everyone smile, but helps kids through OperationSmile.org and she has a book coming out this March. She’s creative, fun, lovely & very smiley…enjoy this AhaMomentum story:
What was your AHA Moment for starting your biz?
As I write this I can’t help but feel like I am riding on the Good Ship Who’da Thunk?! What started as my goofy hobby being shared on Facebook has evolved into so much more. The Spontaneous Smiley now involves 1000s of people worldwide finding and sharing photos of Smiley Faces in everyday objects. What really turned it from goofing around, into a project about promoting the choice of happiness, was messages like these:
I wanted to tell you how much you’ve inspired me the last couple of years. When you first started your smile project here I wasn’t in a good place. We were fully immersed in the cancer world, I had no job and I didn’t have much around me that was either happy or made me happy (except the animals). I watched as you posted pic after pic and happy ‘stuff’ and kept thinking “OK, if I just hang on, she’s certainly got enough happy to share. Maybe some will rub off.”…Everyday there was some silly thing that someone found a smile in, some SO silly that I couldn’t help but smile. I still look at your pics, read your blog postings and am so glad that I followed the little light you put out. It took a lot of work to get back… but at least I’m happy and in control of my future. For the part you had, and the inspiration you gave, I thank you : )
@SpontaneSmiley U are a stranger to me but a month ago u gave me kind words that’s motivated me more than u can imagine.
What made it feel like THE one idea that you had to follow through with?
The decision to launch a website so that Spontaneous Smiley could be more than just Facebook fun, was really the moment I committed to thinking of the project as something to put out into the world beyond just social media. It was the step that said, “People, across all cultures, are responding to the simple message of: Stop and notice how life is really great!”
The biggest Aha moment came when I was getting requests from strangers who wanted to use my Smiley photo for their profile pic, or asking if they could use Smiley Birthday Cake to send to a friend. The charm of the photos was clearly contagious. Why not seeing if Spontaneous Smiley could be a book, a calendar, greeting cards, posters and Tshirts?
Where were you when you had the AHA moment?
You’ll laugh! It was a nay-sayer who helped me realize how popular Spontaneous Smiley really was! I was at the home of a neighbor who just could not “get” what Spontaneous Smiley was all about. He’d read an article in the local paper and kept asking, “But what’s the point.” It was as I was defending the effort, the followers’ passion, the idea that by slowing your life down you improve it, the inherent fun, etc. that it hit me. Yes, he was one of a small handful who don’t get it, but that leaves everybody else who does.
Did you feel the Aha Moment turn into Momentum? How long did that feeling last? Did you wake up with that giddy feeling for several days?
I left the neighbor’s house 100% sure that I was going to put Spontaneous Smiley out there, through every avenue I could find. I was equally sure that if I made the presentation, there would be people out there who would be excited to help me bring Spontaneous Smiley to a larger audience.
What were the first few steps you took to turn the AHA moment into reality?
I have to admit a lot happened by my being kind of a dopey, novice, who was naive enough, to simply ask. This optimistic and honest approach has been a wonderful guiding force for my Spontaneous Smiley Project.
For instance: I wanted to get Spontaneous Smiley into a newspaper. A friend who was a reporter offered to help me write up a slick, official looking Press Release. I said no thanks and instead sent out a Teacher Ruth style, pictures everywhere, goofy and playful project description and ended up in newspapers and magazines in the US, China, Europe and South America…
I wanted to see if I could get on the TV news…local news would certainly be cool, but what about asking the big dogs at the networks. Couldn’t hurt to Google around and search Facebook to see if I might take a shot in the dark. I happened upon a fellow at CBS whose posts I saw on Fbk because of a friend, of a friend, of I don’t even really know…and I ended up on The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=5993121n&tag=mncol;lst;1
Then I wrote a child’s book of optimism and had no clue how one gets their foot in the door of the world of publishing…so I posted on my Fbk status that I could really use some advice. Someone I didn’t know replied that he had a friend who knew everything about kids’ books. He gave me her name and I sent her a FBk message. As we chatted back and forth in messages, I came to learn she was an Editor at Random House. Lo and behold A Smiley Book of Colors is coming out in March!! www.tinyurl.com/3c2qyd6
Knowing I wanted to connect with like minded people, I had my kid (he’s way tech savvy) set up Google searches for key words like Smile, Optimism, etc. If I read something interesting, I’d shoot the person an email telling them all about Spontaneous Smiley. That’s how I connected with a great guy named Ron Gutman who had done a TED Talk about smiles (one of the most viewed TED talks:www.ted.com/talks/ron_gutman_the_hidden_power_of_smiling.html). In our email exchange I learned he was curating a TED Talk, so I pitched the idea that Spontaneous Smiley can fit at any Ted Talk, no matter the theme. I shared my feeling that any Ted Conference could use a few moments of levity and all those heavy thinkers really needed an opportunity to lighten up! Bah-da-bing, bah-da-bing, I got a TED Talk. www.vimeo.com/26190208
A kind participant that day told me it was refreshing to see a Ted speaker who was endearingly nervous – that was me all right. No one had asked if I’d ever done any public speaking so I didn’t mention that the TED Talk (in front of 350,000 people via simulcast) would be my first attempt! LOL and then the clicker wasn’t working for about 40 seconds.
After the event, to thank Ron, I offered to loan him dozens of Smileys for an installation in his new offices (www.HealthTap.com). And now I have made dozens of lovely connections with people who visit his Silicon Valley company and find themselves cracking a grin at the walls and walls of Smileys. Ron just wrote a book about Smiles forTED’s new publishing company and is included information about Spontaneous Smiley and 12 of my Smiley photos (http://www.amazon.com/Smile-Astonishing-Powers-Simple-ebook/dp/B006IS4WW0)!! How cool is that?!?
I also got the idea that so many people being so excited about Spontaneous Smiley could be channeled into doing some good and approached Operation Smile (www.Operation Smile.org). The Smiley community donates $1 for every Smiley uploaded to the website. I funded uploads until the first surgery was earned. Then my Orthodontist, then a member of the Spontaneous Smiley Project, then another dental office and so on. I am constantly seeking people to step into the sponsor roll. So far we have funded 18 FREE SUGERIES, one Smiley at a time (www.spontaneoussmiley.com/smileathon.htm).
How did that moment change your life perspective?
By confronting a nay-sayer, I was forced to put into words what I had known all along. It was like having to come up with a Philosophy or Statement of Purpose in a way that shook me into action. I was so invigorated with the idea that I was onto something, that I have plowed forward without self doubt.
When you went through challenges, did you go back to the power of your AHA Moment to give you strength?
In a very real way, the challenges I’ve faced with The Spontaneous Smiley Project have been about two things. One, do I spend money when none is coming in? And two, where will I find enough hours in the day to apply my best effort when I do have a full time job!
The first challenge has been a tricky one. I have 3 kids I’m in the middle of putting through college on my own. I’m not whining here, just stating the truth: man, oh, man college is expensive. And darned if those kids don’t want to eat and have apartments! As I was already incurring lots of debt, it was scary to incur more. But I knew Spontaneous Smiley needed me to throw some money at it, if it was going to get out to the world.
The second challenge, is what it is! Yes, I am often working late into the night on projects for Spontaneous Smiley and then popping up and out bright and early to go be Teacher Ruth at TOT DROP (my small chain of drop-in preschools in California). It’s taken lots of self discipline and organization of my time to make it all work. But, good golly Miss Molly, nothing comes without work. “Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Thomas Edison
What do you think you’d be doing if you hadn’t had your AHA moment?
I’d still be chugging along as Teacher Ruth. I don’t think The Spontaneous Smiley Project has changed how much focus I have toward my day job. Before Spontaneous Smiley I had been very actively growing TOT DROP. But with the downturn in the economy we instead scaled back from seven locations to three. That would have happened regardless. And truthfully, not feeling the need to explore and negotiate for new sites freed me to focus on Spontaneous Smiley.
Who do you want to thank for either the idea, the inspiration or for helping you get there?
It’ll sound corny, but I want to thank my hubby. He has been unflagging in his support and unquestioning in his acceptance of decisions I made following my gut.
Also, was there someone who helped you along the way through some small gesture that turned out to be a major turning point?
Scott Kleinberg at RedEye Chicago was the first reporter to write a piece about The Spontaneous Smiley Project. I was a nobody yet he took a chance. His article immediately made it easier for me to get other reporters to take a look.
What 3 (hashtags) words describe your life as an entrepreneur?
#JoyRising #MakeItHappen #Optimism
You can learn more about her Spontaneous Smiley Project via the following links:
TED Talk: www.vimeo.com/26190208
FBk group: www.facebook.com/groups/SpontaneousSmiley/