Attitude is a superpower. How positivity helps executives soar:
• Maintain belief. In "Madness, Miracles, Millions," Joseph and Larry Semprevivo tell how the family dealt with myriad setbacks before flying high with Joseph's Lite Cookies, now a multimillion-dollar firm.
The impetus for the book came from family matriarch Josephine.
"She said we should let everyone know you can lose everything and still bounce back," said son and company CEO Joseph Semprevivo.
• Take baby steps. The troubles began in the 1970s, when the patriarch, Larry, suffered a printing press accident that crushed his right arm and left him unable to work. "It was very hard for my dad to be in that situation and lose everything," Joseph told IBD.
Out of desperation, the parents bought a second-hand press, and Larry taught Josephine how to print fliers in the family garage in Cherry Hill, N.J., for a drugstore.
• Make a leap. With time, Larry was able to work, but East Coast winters pained his damaged arm.
The family moved to New Mexico to start anew, first working at, then launching, a restaurant. What sustained everyone, Joseph said, was "that never-give-up attitude."
• Sweat for it. When Joseph was diagnosed with diabetes, the family developed sugar-free ice cream and cookies to satisfy his sweet tooth. The cookie sideline ended up eclipsing every previous business endeavor.
• Find strength. The way you think affects how you act. "The Mayo Clinic reports a number of health benefits associated with optimism, including a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular problems, less depression and an increased life span," said "Win-Ability" author Darlene Hunter.
• Flip misfortunes. To be a victor instead of a victim, view problems as blessings in disguise.
"If you change your thinking, you will change your behavior; if you change your behavior, you will change your results," Hunter said.
• Celebrate effort. Bert and John Jacobs had just $78 between them after five years of selling their custom T-shirts from a van along the East Coast. A particularly disappointing sales trip didn't stop the duo from throwing a party when they returned home. Over drinks, friends shared opinions of the brothers' latest designs.
A drawing of a smiling bohemian elicited the most responses.
One partygoer wrote: "This guy's got life figured out."
• Welcome input. The duo refined the image and distilled the sentiment to a catchphrase: "Life is Good." Two days later, the 48 shirts they'd printed sold in less than an hour. The little T-shirt company caught fire. Life is Good is now a $100 million clothing firm with a simple motto: To spread the power of optimism.
• Be affirmative. In their book, "Life Is Good," Bert and John Jacobs describe positivity as the secret sauce of their Boston upbringing. Mother Joan engaged the six Jacobs kids with this prompt: "Tell me something good that happened today."