Author: Success In A Bundle

This page is an ongoing blog for Success In A Bundle, LLC. It is a source that reflects on topics that are relevant right now. We are passionate about healing the world so there is an emphasis on positivity as well as the nonprofit sector. Collectively, as a human society, we have all the answers to eliminate all problems. Individually, we know nothing. Spread love.

This Firefighter Saved Her Life After a Tragic Car Accident. Now They’re Getting Married



By Liz Welch

On March 29, 2012, 18-year-old Stephanie Kaufman talked her big sister, Brandi, into going to get pizza with her and friend Savanah Pierce, also 18. The Pizza Hut was roughly five miles away from their mom’s home in Houston, Missouri, but Brandi was hesitant. She worried the car wasn’t safe – her mom had just bought it used, and Brandi had a bad feeling about it. Stephanie insisted on going and on driving, and Brandi sat in the back – one of the only reasons she survived the crash that killed both Stephanie and Savanah. The other was Dustin Blair. When the then 26-year-old volunteer firefighter responded to the accident, he had no idea the woman he saved would be the woman he’d propose to a year later. The two plan to get married May 15, 2015. They shared their story with Cosmopolitan.com.

RELATED: 18 Signs You’re With The Man You Should Marry

Brandi: I begged Stephanie to fasten her seatbelt. Neither she nor Savanah were buckled in. Stephanie laughed at me and said I worry too much. I do. I am 11 months older than Stephanie and have always played that role. Stephanie was the free spirit; I’m the cautious one.

We crashed about three miles from Pizza Hut and hit an embankment and then a bridge. I heard gravel being kicked up, like a shower of BB gun shots pinging against the metal. The car shook wildly, then screeched. Then everything went black and silent.

Dustin: I’d just finished cleaning up a six-car pileup and thought I was done for the day when I got the call. I raced as fast as I could to the scene, on Highway 63. When I pulled in, an EMT was loading a young unconscious woman who was covered in blood into the ambulance. I did not know then that it was Stephanie. All I knew was that she was barely alive. She had been driving the car – the woman who had been in the front passenger seat had died at the scene. Their car had slid down a 15-foot embankment. Then I learned there was a third victim still trapped in the car. I ran down to help and found two other firemen trying to cut the door open. The girl they were trying to save was covered in blood and would scream every time the car moved. It was so bad that the EMT said she was at risk of even greater injury from our rescue efforts. She needed to be stabilized – or she could die. So I smashed the back window and crawled in.

It was clear she was in terrible pain – she was whimpering, and then when I touched her, she started cursing at me. It took time, but I finally managed to place a plastic C collar on her neck to stabilize her spine and head. I had no idea where her injuries were and knew I had to protect her spine in order to prevent further injury. Once she was secure, the other guys pried the door open. That felt like forever.

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Brandi: My next memory is waking up in the hospital, hooked to machines. Everything hurt. My mom was by my bed, crying, and I had no idea why. I have no memory of the accident. The doctors told me my body was like a bag of puzzle pieces: I had shattered my right arm from my shoulder to my wrist and fractured both hips in 13 places. My sternum moved five inches downward. I also had bleeding on the brain, so they had to keep me unconscious. I had no idea what day it was.

Dustin: After we loaded her into the ambulance that day, I couldn’t stop thinking about her. You see a lot of tragedy as a firefighter, but something about this girl stayed with me. I worried about her. I found out that she had been airlifted to Springfield hospital and decided to pay her a visit. She was still unconscious, so I sat with her mom and learned that her name was Brandi, and that the first woman I saw that day – the one who was still alive – was her sister, Stephanie. She died at the hospital. “Does Brandi know?” I asked. Her mother shook her head no and said, “I am worried that will kill her.”

Brandi: I drifted in and out of consciousness for days. I remember waking up once, five or six days after the accident, and seeing my godparents. “Where’s my mom?” I asked more than once. They said, “She’ll be back.” When she finally returned, her face was puffy and splotchy. I had a bad feeling and asked, “Where’s Stephanie?” It was all starting to come back to me. We had been in a car. We had just bought pizza. The car screeched.

Mom burst into tears. She did not say that she had just come back from Stephanie’s memorial service, but I knew then that my baby sister was gone. My grief at that moment was bigger than the pain from my broken bones. I went back to sleep hoping I’d never wake back up. I wanted to be with Stephanie.

I came close several times. During one of several incidents where I flatlined, I had a vivid dream. I was standing in front of golden gates with Stephanie. She was ahead of me and said, “You can’t come.” Then my grandpa Jack appeared. He had been dead for years. “Brandi,” he ordered, “Get your ass back down there.” Stephanie chimed in, “Mom needs you.” When I woke up, I told my mom this story and saw, by the look on her face, that it was true. She whispered, “I can’t lose you too.”

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Dustin: I went to visit Brandi once again – and this time got to meet her. She was still swollen and had cuts and bruises all over her face and arms. It was a miracle she survived. Her mom said more than once that I was the reason. I didn’t feel responsible, but I did feel intense relief that she was going to make it.

Brandi: I vaguely remember seeing Dustin standing next to my bed at the hospital that day. I did not make the connection though that this was the man who had saved me. At that point, I was still struggling with the fact I had survived. I spent the first month in rehab, where I had to learn how to walk again and how to do things with my left hand, as my right one was so badly shattered, it was useless. A month later, I was still in a wheelchair and needed help doing everything, including bathing and going to the bathroom, so my doctor sent me to a nursing home to continue my recovery. All of my injuries made it impossible for me to get around without help. My mom is as small as I am; she could not lift me and the house was not wheelchair accessible. Plus, she was still grieving for Stephanie. It was too much for both of us.

At 19, I was the youngest person in the nursing home by almost 50 years. Those days were the hardest – I really wished I had died that day with my sister. I missed her so badly. My survivor’s guilt was more painful than any physical healing. Why me? Why her? It did not make any sense. And then there were days where my physical pain was so intense that I was thankful that Stephanie did not have to suffer. She was in a better place.

My mom came to visit me often. I was still in rehab when she told me about the firefighter who saved me. I started thinking about this man and the role he played in my story. Finally, one day, I just blurted out, “Is he hot?” She smiled and nodded her head yes. I wanted to meet him and all the other guys who responded to that call that day – but not until I could actually walk into the fire department and shake each of their hands. That finally happened in November, five months after the accident. My mom set it up. We both thought it was an important part of my healing.

Dustin: Brandi’s mom walked in first. When Brandi followed, my heart stopped for a moment. I could not believe it was the same girl I had seen in the hospital only months before. My first thought was, “Whoa. She looks pretty good!” Everybody wanted to talk to her, so I hung back. Finally, I approached to say I had to go to work, which was true. Her mom suggested we take a picture together. We posed by the fire truck together, and I had a feeling this was the start of something big.

Brandi: I felt something similar. I cannot describe it, other than to say it was electrifying. I posted that photo on Facebook later that night and wrote, “If it were not for the man in the picture, I would not be here.”

At the time, he had a girlfriend. But four months later, my cousin invited me to go out with her boyfriend and his friend. It was Dustin. I could not believe he wanted to date me! I was still a mess in many ways. But Dustin had seen me at my worst. He had seen how far I had come.

Our first date was March 20, 2013 – less than a year before the first anniversary of the accident. Then my mom bought and planted a tree as a memorial for Stephanie in St. Peters, where she and I grew up. It is three hours away from where Dustin lives, but he came to the planting anyway. He brought Jordynn, his daughter, who was 4 at the time. I was so glad that he wanted to introduce me to her. We had only gone on two dates prior to that, but I knew it was serious and I thought he must agree. I also knew that this man saved me in more ways than one. He made me want to live again.

On April Fools’ Day, I posted on Facebook that we were engaged as a joke. It was only two weeks after we had met, and I knew my mom would think I had lost my mind. Instead, she wrote on my wall: “I wish it were true.”

Dustin: So did I. I knew Brandi was the one for me. It took me another year to pop the question. I asked her mom first. I wanted her blessing. She gave it to me.

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Brandi: Dustin proposed on April 20, 2014. My best friend had just gotten married the day before. We were still in the hotel room we had rented for her wedding when he pulled the ring box out of his pocket and said, “Brandi Kaufman, will you marry me?”

I paused. My heart was shouting yes, but my thoughts were stuck on Stephanie. How could I move forward with a happy life knowing she’s not here? I thought of all the nights following the accident where I would just lose it – I’d curl up in a little ball and weep. I’d say over and over, “Why her? Why not me?” And every time, Dustin would wrap his arms around me and say, “There is a reason for everything.” I soon realized that the reason was him.

Dustin: Brandi thinks I gave her a reason to live again, but she also gave me one. Watching her heal, seeing her resilience, made me realize the strength of the human spirit. It made me excited about the future.

Brandi: Right before the accident, I had broken up with a boyfriend and was devastated. I thought that guy was the love of my life. I was crying to Stephanie days before she died, and I remember she said, “Forget about him! Something better always comes along.” She then quoted Marilyn Monroe: “Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” Those words have become my mantra. I said yes to Dustin and to living a life that would make my little sister proud.

It’s Official: Micromanaging Kills Productivity

New research suggests the more you try to dictate how and when employees work, the less they will accomplish.

Ever wonder what really makes employees work harder?

Let’s start with what doesn’t. Contrary to the instinct of micromanagers everywhere, watching over your employees’ shoulders and dictating where and when they should work is perhaps the worst tactic for productivity. 

New research from University of Pennsylvania professor Alexandra Michel finds highly educated employees work more when given autonomy over their schedules. In fact, they’ll often work to the point of exhaustion. 

Michel saw this herself, when she began her career at Goldman Sachs years ago. There, the average investment banker burned out after nine years and typically quit by age 35. To understand this, Michel spent 12 years studying young executives at two large investment banks.

When employees were pressured to work more, they were less inspired, she found. But when allowed to set their own pace, taking fewer vacations and working on weekends, they could accept it because it was their choice, Michel explained in the summer issue of The Sociological Quarterly, where her study was published. 

Of course, employee-dictated schedules aren’t without their flaws. Michel noted many autonomous bankers worked excessively hard, suffering “debilitating physical and psychological breakdowns” as well as back pain, insomnia, addictions, and eating disorders. Others often sacrificed personal needs at the expense of a healthy work-life balance. So while the work schedules were on their own terms, their judgment, creativity, and ethical sensitivity suffered, making life miserable for those around them. 

What’s your take on how much autonomy employees should have regarding their schedules?

5 Ways to Know You Are Ready For Entrepreneurship

Some employees dream of the day they can fire their boss and become the master of their own destiny. How do you know when the time is right?

Some employees dream of the day they can fire their boss and become the master of their own destiny.  How do you know when the time is right?  If these five bullets describe you you’re ready to make the transition from employee to entrepreneur.

Understand the difference between tasks and responsibilities. Employees wait to be handed a task to carry out.  Even if you carry out that task to perfection, it doesn’t mean you are ready to be an entrepreneur.   Taking responsibility means asking questions about the task you intend to complete.  If you regularly ask these questions, you are on your way to becoming an entrepreneur:

  • Is this the best way to accomplish this?
  • Does this even need to be done?
  • Will someone always need to check my work?

Grow up!  You are now an adult and you act like it.  Chuck Blakeman says this best:

Adults ask questions, most importantly, “Why?” Unlike the Silent Generation, they don’t live passively but are self-motivated, self-managed, creative, and problem solvers. They don’t shut up; they make waves. They don’t sit down; they are highly visible. And they don’t expect the company or other adults to take care of them.

Take a risk!  Most employees value security over anything else.  They want the security of a paycheck.  The security of a pension.  The security of “knowing it all” without the fear of owning any responsibility.  An employee will never take a leap from the edge because it’s too risky.  The fear of failure is far too compelling to take a chance.  At the same time, entrepreneurs do not take foolish risks.  They have counted the cost and understand the cost and reward of risks.  If you ever want to lose employee status, you have to jump in anticipation of the payoff.

Stop thinking you can do things everything by yourself.  The Lone Ranger had Tonto to depend on for help. You need someone to lean on for advice, accountability and support. A major role change is going to be stressful, no matter how positive it may be. Finding a mentor, business coach or trade organization of fellow professionals can be invaluable. Having a support system will give you perspective and lead to stronger choices earlier in your transition.

Don’t wait for the perfect plan… none exists.  Employees are always waiting for the perfect plan to be in place before making a move.  In their minds, the world is completely linear and the best time to take action happens when the stars of the universe align perfectly.  Throw that nonsense out the window. Only Hollywood writes those kinds of scripts.  Planning is a good idea, but the minute you put something on paper, it will need adjustment.  Take General Patton’s advice here: “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”  Just get started with your new project, business, or venture.  It is not going to finish itself, and it will never go as you plan. And that’s fine in the world of the entrepreneur.

Are you ready to do your own thing? Please take a moment to share this article and your comments with others.

This Deli Makes $50 Million a Year By Staying Small

smallgiants

It’s crazy to learn about a deli that makes $50 million dollars a year. It’s stranger yet how they’ve done it.

Most restaurants grow their revenue by opening more locations and eventually developing a franchise model like Subway. You sell more and more sandwiches as you open more and more stores. The problem is that the quality inevitably declines. Your restaurant becomes more about volume than great food and remarkable service.

Zingerman’s, a deli based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, faced this fork in the road: open more locations or face continually stagnating revenue growth. Instead of choosing the conventional franchise path, they blazed their own trail.

 

They grew from $5 million to $50 million in annual revenue in a way that allowed them to stay small and preserve the things about the company that made them special. But it wasn’t in food or service where they innovated to drive 10x revenue growth but in an unexpected way — by innovating on organizational structure and company culture.

Keeping It Zingy — Zingerman’s Community of Businesses

From the very beginning, Zingerman’s founders Paul Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig had set out to do something totally original and “build an extraordinary organization.”

But rather than focus on profits like everyone else, they wanted their company to have a different organizing principle — one “where decisions would not be based on who had the most authority but on whoever had the most relevant information.” This would allow “everyone to help run the business” and each employee to feel “personally responsible for its success.”

So in 1994, with the deli producing $5 million in annual revenue, the founders sat down and wrote their vision statement for what they called “Zingerman’s Community of Businesses,” a loosely organized group of local businesses under the Zingerman’s umbrella that gave its employees an opportunity to become partners.

Each ZCoB business would be founded and operated by a Zingerman’s employee-turned managing partner who had gone through extensive in-house training on Zingerman’s company culture, values, and how it does business. Both the managing partner and Zingerman’s would contribute capital to get the business going. The result is a bunch of small startups based on the Zingerman’s company culture and brand, all based locally in Ann Arbor.

Like the startup world, some ZCoB businesses have failed while others have succeeded. Today, ZCoB spans nine businesses along with “650 employees, 18 managing partners and combined annual sales of $50 million” of which the Deli only accounts for $14 million.

Do Well By Doing Good

Business journalist Bo Burlingham calls companies like Zingerman’s “small giants,” which are “companies that choose to be great instead of big.”  In tech, it’s companies like 37Signals, Moz, Wistia and Buffer that eschew VC cash in favor of growing slowly so that they can build a company that’s unique and remarkable.

But it’s hard not to focus on making money, because entrepreneurs are besieged by near-constant pressure to expand and grow.

Small giants think differently, sharing seven characteristics:

1) The leaders question the usual definitions of success in business and imagine other possibilities

2) The leaders build the kind of business they want to live in, rather than accommodating themselves to outside forces

3) The companies have an extraordinarily intimate relationship with their locations

4) The companies cultivate exceptionally intimate relationships with customers and suppliers, based on personal contact, 1:1 interaction, and mutual commitment to delivering on promises…

5) The companies have unusually intimate workplaces…

6) The companies may have unique corporate structures and modes of governance

7) The leaders bring passion to whatever the company does. “They had deep emotional attachments to the business, to the people who worked in it, and to its customers and suppliers…”

via Book Summary: Small Giants

For Zingerman’s this alternative thinking meant eschewing the well-trodden franchising path and imagining a new way to structure their company, all based on the values that inspired them to start Zingerman’s in the first place.

The happy twist is that small giants like Zingerman’s ultimately find financial success beyond their wildest dreams, and they do it by choosing not to focus on money.

Time Warner rejected $80B offer from 21st Century Fox: Sources

Twenty-First Century Fox, the media empire run by Rupert Murdoch, made an $80 billion takeover bid in recent weeks for Time Warner but was rebuffed, people briefed on the matter said on Wednesday.

The bold approach could put Time Warner in play and might again ignite a reshaping of the media industry, prompting a new spate of mega-mergers among the nation’s largest entertainment companies.

Mr. Murdoch has built a global media juggernaut over nearly five decades spanning studios, television channels and newspapers, in part, by pursuing bold deals that were often rebuffed at first by the targets of his overtures, only to later acquiesce.

The Time Warner Center in New York City.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
The Time Warner Center in New York City.

Together, Fox and Time Warner would become a colossus with an array of television networks and channels like Fox, Fox News, FX, TNT and TBS; the premium subscription channel HBO, movie studios like Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Brothers and other high-profile outlets. It would also combine Fox’s growing sports business with the broadcast rights that Time Warner owns for professional and college basketball and Major League Baseball, among other sports.

The combined company would have total revenue of $65 billion.

As part of Fox’s proposal to buy Time Warner, people briefed on the proposal said, Fox indicated that it would sell CNN to head off potential antitrust concerns since Fox News competes directly with CNN. Putting CNN on the auction block would likely stir up a bidding war for the news channel; both CBS and ABC, a unit of the Walt Disney Company, have long been seen as interested suitors.

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Fox first approached Time Warner in early June, these people said. Chase Carey, the president of Fox and a longtime top lieutenant to Mr. Murdoch, met privately with Time Warner’s chief executive, Jeff Bewkes, these people said. Later that month, Fox delivered a formal takeover proposal worth $85 in stock and cash for each Time Warner share.

At the time, the bid amounted to a roughly 25 percent premium to Time Warner’s stock price, these people said. Fox indicated it would pay 60 percent of the price in stock and 40 percent in cash. The media giant said that it would raise $24 billion to help pay for the deal and stressed that its bid was not dependent on financing. At $85 a share, Fox would be paying about 12.6 times the company’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization last year.

Fox estimated that a combination would create $1 billion in cost savings and possibly more, primarily by cutting sales staff and back-office functions, these people said. Fox insisted in its letter that it planned to keep Time Warner’s most successful managers and creative executives as well as its various channels and studios.

Time Warner’s board discussed the proposal at length, the people briefed said, and early this month sent a terse letter rejecting the offer, saying that it was better off remaining independent.

Among the points of contention: The stock portion of Fox’s offer would be made using nonvoting shares, these people said. Unlike Time Warner, which has no controlling shareholder, Fox is controlled by the Murdoch family and has two tiers of stock, voting and non-voting.

Representatives for Fox and Time Warner could not be immediately reached for comment.

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It is unclear what Fox’s next steps will be. With the disclosure of the takeover approach, pressure from Time Warner shareholders could mount on Mr. Bewkes to begin talks. About 70 percent of Time Warner shareholders, including many big mutual funds, also own shares in Fox.

While the talks between Fox and Time Warner have thus far been considered friendly, people involved in the discussions said that Mr. Murdoch is determined to buy Time Warner and is unlikely to walk away.

Mr. Murdoch has been planning the deal with his inner circle: Mr. Carey; his son James; and the company’s chief financial officer, John Nallen, people briefed on the matter said.

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Already, a team of Wall Street advisers have been hired on both sides: Fox is being advised by Goldman Sachs and Centerview Partners, while Time Warner has hired Citigroup and other advisers.

For Mr. Murdoch, an acquisition of Time Warner might be a capstone to his long career. People close to him have long said that he sees such a combination as a natural part of a consolidating entertainment industry. Time Warner itself has been part of several of the highest-profile mergers of the past few decades, including the merger of Time and Warner in the 1980s and the disastrous $165 billion sale to America Online at the height of the dot-com boom.

Mr. Murdoch’s approach follows Time Warner’s spinoff of its legacy print publications, a move that some analysts have said could spur the interest of potential suitors. Beyond Fox, however, it is not clear who would have both the interest and the financial firepower to pursue a deal, though rumors briefly arose that Google was interested in some sort of partnership.

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Mr. Bewkes was asked last week by Variety magazine about speculation that Fox or Google might seek a deal. He replied: “I know nothing about it.”

—By CNBC anchor and New York Times reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin

Google Earth Ad Tells Lost Boy’s Miraculous Story

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A new ad (video below) for Google Earth has gone viral, thanks to the emotional and heartwarming story of Saroo Brierley, who used the app to find his family 25 years after he was separated from them. Then a five-year-old boy in India, Brierley was lost after accidentally boarding a runaway train. He ended up being adopted by a family in Australia.

But for 25 years, he was intent on finding the family he inadvertently left behind. Brierley acknowledges that it was exactly like searching for a needle in hay stack, but that he knew that the needle was at least there. Armed with nothing other than the memories his five-year-old self harvested of home, Brierley fruitlessly searched. And searched. And searched.

Years passed. And then, a breakthrough: Google Earth. Using the app, Brierley searched. outward and around from the Calcultta train station where he was discovered as a boy. He spent countless hours using the technology to tour the streets of India, relying on his memory to find his home. With persistence and dedication, he eventually found it and was reunited with his mother and siblings–all thanks to Google Earth.

The Google Earth ad isn’t the first time Brierley’s told his story; in fact, he wrote all about it in his book, “A Long Way From Home.” But whether you’ve already heard the story, or are being introduced to it for the first time in the following video, there’s no denying that it packs emotional punch. After all, what are the odds that a boy an ocean away from home would ever be reunited his family? Probably the same as finding a needle in a haystack.