Joey Reiman is a man who bubbles with optimism, but he looks at the 2016 presidential field with less than the usual enthusiasm he applies to his life.
The world needs a JFK-type idealist, but “how can we have a candidate like this when we have options instead of elections?” Reiman said. “We need to start looking at candidate as people who are heroes, not generals.”
Reiman sees the same problem in his natural environment, the business world, where too many CEOs approach their jobs as generals, focused on financial victory regardless of the collateral damage.
Reiman promotes a different approach in his new book, “Thumbs Up! 5 Steps to Create the Life of Your Dreams.” The Atlanta resident will talk about the book Sunday, Nov. 22, in the penultimate session of this year’s Book Festival of the Marcus Jewish Community Center.
As the title suggests, Reiman’s five-step approach is based on the hand, an inspiration he gained from his battle against paralysis in one of his hands after a horrible car accident in Italy four decades ago: the positive sign of a thumbs-up; the pointer finger pointing to your purpose; giving the middle finger to fear; the fourth finger marching forth (Reiman’s businesses always give employees March 4 off); and little is the big new.
In his rapid-fire style, he can talk you through the steps in a matter of minutes, and his book doesn’t take more than a few hours to read. The goal is for the inspiration from the book to last a lifetime.
“You can just look at your hand to be reminded,” he said in a phone interview.
Reiman said his book is a response to the “meaning tsunami going on right now. The world is looking beyond money to meaning.”
The world is suffering from two predominant negative effects, he said: anesthesia and amnesia. Especially in the West, society provides countless options for people to numb themselves, from drugs and alcohol to television and sex. People go along with that anesthetized life, he said, because they’ve forgotten that the world wasn’t always like this and that for most of history we lived in villages and were part of communities that cared about one another.
He cited the example of waking up in the morning. Once, we were filled with surprise and excitement to wake up each morning and see that there was still a fireball in the sky. “When you lose the idea of surprise, wonder and imagination, which I would argue is the most important organ in the body, it doesn’t make for the kind of day we ought to be having.”
So Reiman is trying to refocus people, from his readers to his students at Emory’s Goizueta Business School, who “unlearn what you learn in all the other classes,” on the things that matter. He talks of aligning aspirations to dreams and pursuing a life of purpose, and he reminds businesses that their employees are interested in the currency of kindness and appreciation, not just money.
Even politics can’t slow down Reiman’s optimism. “We don’t have a candidate like that yet,” he said about a political idealist. “One will evolve eventually.”
By Joey Reiman
BenBella Books, 222 page, $19.95
At the festival Nov. 22